November 2007 Archives

Friday, November 30, 2007

By popular demand, the 33% off sale price for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course has been extended until Monday night (December 3rd.) Be sure to place your order online (or have it postmarked) before midnight, Monday.

Today's first article is from the SurvivalBlog archives. I wrote it back in August of 2005. For the sake of the many newbies, I am re-posting it:

There may come a day when you have to put all of your training and preparations to use. That will be ultimate test of whether or not you have a true survival mindset. Do you think that you are ready for WTSHTF, physically and mentally? Assuming that you live in the suburbs, try a weekend “grid down” test with your family. This will test both your mental preparedness and how well you have prepared for the basics. Here is how it is done: Some Friday evening, unannounced, turn off your main circuit breaker and shut the valves the gas main and the water main. Leave them off until Monday morning. You might be surprised how the weekend goes. One thing that I can guarantee you: Some of the most accurate lists of logistics that you will ever compose are those written by candlelight.

Now, assuming that your weekend test goes well, extrapolate to a situation where your entire community is in the same circumstances. Then add to that some turmoil: bullets are flying and perhaps there is even the occasional stray mortar round. The recent civil wars in Kosovo and Macedonia are good points of reference.

Hello Jim,
Todd's article [on Friday, November 23rd] was a good discussion on the all encompassing aspects of your retreat. It has been some time since security has been discussed on the blog, namely security systems. Here are some things that could, (should) alert you to a detrimental event at your intended retreat when you do not live there.
Have a security system wired into you future retreat, motor home, CONEX, outbuilding, etc... I would venture a cost range from $300-to-$2,000 to cover your structure from basic to very well covered. Monitoring varies and will likely run around a Dollar a day.

There are countless options that provide "extra sets of eyes and ears" at your retreat during life as we know it. There are many companies that will give you support so you can install your own system. They will likely cash sale you the necessary wire and components. Then you can have them come out and connect it to a monitoring service that will call anyone you decide either before or after calling the authorities, it is customizable. If you would like it to call a trusted neighbor, your pager, or your own phone, it is possible.

If your retreat is already built, you can go with wireless sensors that have great range and extremely simple to install. A huge piece of mind can be offered by adding moisture sensors and temperature sensors to your system that will along with fire, contact you and the monitoring service can tell you that your heat source has failed, smoke is detected, water is detected, and so forth. All without having to compromise a key to your retreat and the password to your alarm.

You can add different user passwords so you can tell whom has been there and when. It is amazing what is available. Don't forget the weakest link which is the hard-line to the property. Vandal proof it, or better yet, discuss underground thru foundation service. This is available, you just have to ask and possibly bear the risk of having to pay the phone companies technicians to come in and troubleshoot future line problems rather than it be on their dime when the demark point is outside the structure. If you don't want the possibility of having the technician inside your structure, then harden the wire with stout metal pipe where it is above ground, possibly make a hardened sheet that protects the demark point from impact or bolt cutters. Details will have to be worked out with your utility company. At the very least this will add considerable work and noise to attempt to terminate your phone line.

If you have multiple structures on your property, don't forget to bury an underground high speed Cat 5 telephone line and it’s a good idea to throw in a low voltage and coax line in the trench for interconnectivity of your buildings. This will allow you to monitor the structures with only one system, (if large enough), and only pay one monitoring fee. If someone attempts to break in to your garage, you can have the sensor chirp in your home so you can investigate on your own rather than wait for the authorities should you deem it necessary and safe to do so.
As a last reassurance, add a set of security cameras. Many companies offer cameras that only tape when motion or heat is detected. Get with your local "techie" and ask him how to view your property real time and/or review your recording device over the Internet so you can look for odd or awkward behavior. At least you have the opportunity to apprehend the bad guys and possibly recover some of your stuff should you choose to do so. Or, at least you can know who or whom you can trust if you decide to "keep quiet" about your loss.
Peace of mind for about the cost of a nice rifle and magazines. I think that it is worth it. - The Wanderer


Your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is an amazing tome of information and I refer to it quite often. I'm thankful to have found it and I'm grateful that there are folks out there, like you and Jim, who are willing to devote serious amounts of time and effort sharing (well, okay, selling for a reasonable price) their knowledge. Hats off to you!

Its weird, I've shown the course to several people and several ridiculed me for having spent such a sum of money on 220 pages of information relating to some guy's shopping spree at a big box store. They simply failed to understand the importance of the information contained. Their reactions were what I'd expected but, surprisingly, three of the seven or eight folks I showed the course to found it to be as interesting and important as I did, and one of them is planning on buying the course this week. People are waking up.

I don't want to ramble on for too long, but suffice it to say that an incredibly tiny amount of people truly understand the predicament our country is in and the precarious nature of how food and goods are made available to them.

I've tried to explain the situation in simple, straightforward terms and backed my word by countless sources of reliable information, only to be met with either apathy or accusations of fear-mongering. I pray I never have to rely on my preparations, but even a Boy Scout knows better than to rely on hope alone. And I certainly didn't hear my family complaining as they gobbled up my fresh whole-wheat dinner rolls at Thanksgiving, made from grain that I had milled the night before.

A hundred bucks for this course? You could double that price and I'd have still made the purchase. I'm going to buy another copy on Friday, as a Christmas gift to a friend. I hope I can slip my order in before the deadline ends. Thanks. Keep fighting the good fight. - H.H.H.

We have seen the first significant snowfall in northern Idaho and northwestern Montana which from the scuttlebutt around town has sent sellers into a panic, in which they rightly should be. Although some folks around my locale understand the engineered crash of the Dollar, most are still of the opinion that pulling their property off the market and waiting until spring will yield them either a better price (good luck) or a faster sale at that time (maybe so, with a plethora of SurvivalBloggers arriving?). This makes for more detailed work for your agent as they now must search the recently expired, withdrawn and canceled listings in your locale of choice, as much as the active listings for sale to find your retreat.

The other issue is that most sellers, if the property remains on the market into winter, either fail to realize or just don't want to admit that the value of their property may be drastically reduced very soon and you'll need to be careful making too low of an offer as not to insult them. Many folks in the country are stubborn enough to walk away from a sale because of their pride, so be careful with low ball offers. It may be better to offer them more than you want to pay than to come back with an addendum lowering the price after the home inspection is done--and you have some ammo for your price drop. If they do not agree then you simply cancel the purchase, get your earnest money back and find another property.

Speaking of other properties the key is to have you back up property ready to write an offer on. And, you must be ready to walk away from your first choice if you don't get it for your pre-determined price. Do not get emotional about any property unless you are willing to pay the sellers asking price, period! If you can't walk away from a deal for $1 then your going to get run around with counter offers until your blue in the face.

You'll need to gather your facts about your primary and secondary retreat choices that you'll be making offers on. If retreat #1 has the ultimate gravity fed spring water (or a shallow well) and #2 is a very deep well but the most tactically sound property you have ever seen, recall what I said in my WSREMU of 10-26 where I wrote about the importance of prioritizing your retreat characteristics while shopping, the first being water in the acronym W.A.L.L.S. (Water, Access, Location, Light). You can always defend a property, it just may take more resources, but having gravity fed spring water like we do here at the Savage Retreat is like gold. So you'll need to raise the bar for your #1 choice since the benefits of fresh water 100% of the time even in a grid down situation outweighs the risk of paying a little (or allot) more than you wanted or felt the property was worth. One can always buy a TNW 1919A4 in order to defend a less than tactical retreat than to magically have a gravity fed spring appear on the property!
Another consideration may be that you have narrowed your search down to two properties, one that has a house that backs up to a hillside and is very wooded with no tillable land and just enough room and sun exposure for a small garden that may feed your family if you can everything you grow for the winter. The second is a nice older farmhouse on a nice plot of tillable acreage but it is very exposed to everyone around. Depending upon your idea of when the TSHTF you may consider that having the tillable land for growing barter items and for wider fields of fire and may be more beneficial. In such a case I would look into obtaining a wholesale license to save money, and purchase a mixture of Poplar for higher concealment (which certain varieties can grow up to 8 ft per year and top out at 80 ft) and Evergreens for lower concealment and plant them around the perimeter of the property. Tillable land is more valuable in the long term than tactical land since again, defensibility is merely a matter of resources. This makes getting to know your neighbors as important as the specific property in order to determine who will be a help and who may be a hinder (target) in times of peril, especially if you plan to quietly form a "security cooperative" during peace time that will turn into your outer warning ring when TSHTF.

Forming your "security cooperative" will take time. It will require genuine effort and a warm attitude as the 'new' folks are always under the microscope for am minimum of one year in the country. You won't be able to walk right out and make trusted friends, especially if your a city slicker like I was when I got to my locale. You should do a quick meet and greet during your inspection period and make sure that the banjo dueling neighbors aren't child molesters as well, or worse tax collectors. Once you have established your cooperative they can serve as a watchful eye on your retreat if it will not be a year round residence for a spell. During times of peril they can serve as your outer warning ring but most likely will not fall back to your retreat. Remember, friends are friends and business is business and your ultimate priority is securing the safety of your family and those in your actual "Group" that will be arriving when the balloon goes up, so unfortunately, it's merely 'business' and they in most cases will serve their purpose. This may sound cold, but it's reality. Dispense Christian charity and send them on their way. Your children will thank you one day after all returns to normal.

Earlier this year I had a client that asked me to complete a tactical overview on several properties they were considering purchasing. One of the biggest issues was similar to the one above, where the property had required the purchase of several hundred trees in order to close it off from the nosy neighbors prying eyes in order for a an LP/OP to be constructed hidden in plain sight so to speak. My advice was two fold. First, no matter what or where you'll be doing construction you'll be better off if you meet with each of your neighbors over a period of a few weeks before construction begins to nonchalantly mention that your having either a wine cellar constructed or the new one I like, a high tech duck or deer blind built. Why? Because as I have said before, either they will see what is going on and actually come onto your property to say "hi" (which you do not want at that time) or they will be part of the construction crew (gravel, concrete, wood supply driver et cetera) and if so they will pay you no mind. I'm sure you'd rather have them talk about you as the "wine connoisseur" than the "survival nut", right? I guess the only issue would be explaining the tunnel from the house to the "duck bind", but I'm sure an answer of "I have more money than brains and I like the convenience of being warm all the way there and back" would be sufficient enough to have them roll their eyes and walk away!

As a noteworthy point, always have a home inspection, even if you do not plan to use it to chop the price down you'll need to know what your going to fix and improve and the $300 or so you'll spend will be well worth it. If the deal is so good your going to pay cash and close it quick before the seller realizes what is happening, then fine, worry about the rest later but still have the inspection after closing. The best way to find a good inspector is to have your agent recommend one then get into the yellow pages and call around and look for anyone that used to be in any type of analytical or construction field before arriving at being an inspector. If you are worried about something then hire separate licensed contractors to do the inspections, a plumber, electrician et cetera. Always have the septic tank inspected and pumped before close of escrow, it is standard that it is done here but it may not be elsewhere, so be careful.

On a closing note, if you are planning to relocate someday to the northern Idaho or northwestern Montana area I have information on a secure storage facility for those that want to pre-position supplies here until they can buy or build their retreat, but feel more comfortable having to carry only their BOB's and a rifle to get here and not a unsecured rented trailer. There are several requirements in order to qualify. Also, I can help you with your retreat shopping as we have finally got Freedom Realty open for business and will be featured on the site soon along with many approved listings being republished. Thanks for your patience. Please contact me if you are interested in any of these opportunities, via e-mail for more information. God bless, T.S. in N. Idaho

Reader Michael C. mentioned that there is a nice selection of online bushcraft books at the Backyard Bushcraft web site.

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S&P Says Third-Quarter Housing Prices Dropped by Sharpest Rate in Index's 21-Year History

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Bob M. in Pittsburg sent us this article link: The "Free Money" Credit Card Brawl at KMart. Bob's comment: "I'm not sure which is more appalling; that people would riot, and behave thusly, or that they think that 'credit' is in fact, 'free' money!"

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From The Wall Street Journal: Study Warns of Decline In Value of Homes. The article begins: "The property value of U.S. homes will fall by $1.2 trillion, and 'at least' 1.4 million homeowners will lose their properties to foreclosure in 2008..."

"Of all the tyrannies on human kind the worst is that which persecutes the mind." - John Dryden, The Hind and the Panther, 1687

Thursday, November 29, 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. Round 13 ends tomorrow (November 30th). Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

In the age of disposability one is hard pressed to find items that can be re-used. But if one looks hard enough you would be amazed at one can find to recycle and re-use. First don’t take anything for granted just because it says disposable on the package doesn’t mean that you cannot re-use it or part of it. Let’s take a look at some simple items that can be recycled and or cannibalized to be used for other purposes.
When living on a fixed income it is paramount that you save as much money as possible. $600 a month is not a lot to work with when it comes to disposable income. So every penny counts. I learned most of my Recycling skills from my mother. She is a little off the rocker as it were but very practical when it comes to such things. A lot of what we have recycled over the years was from what other people have thrown out.
Here is a list of items recovered by this scrounging.
1) Old screen doors – The screens are worth their weight in gold. If they are made of wood (Older homes) the wood can be used for any number of projects. Fence mending or shed building come to mind.
2) Cast Iron Pots and Pans - I was actually shocked that anyone would throw these out so I went to the former owner and asked why they would throw those out. I was told that they were her grandmother’s old pans and that she passed away and she found no good reason to keep them. So my mom and I got a gold mine on that one.
3) Toys – Every November the alley suddenly filled with old toys. For those who can’t afford to buy all of those fancy expensive toys and games this makes for a great Christmas for those on a low income. We found perfectly good toys that had absolutely nothing wrong with them. Aside from the occasional nick and scratch they worked just fine even the electronic ones.
4) Old furniture – Pretty self explanatory. A little Tender Loving Care and most pieces work like new.
5) Solar Powered calculators – This one is more for the Techno-geeks but enough of these can yield enough mini-solar panels to make a small battery charger.
6) Old appliances – Most of the time, people don’t realize that it is a matter of a belt or something simple that causes the appliance to stop working. Again Age of Disposability. Why fix it when you can replace it with one just like it. If the appliance truly is "fried beyond repair" there are still many things that can be cannibalized. Motors belts, hardware, and copper wiring all come in handy.

Now on personal recycling there are a great many things on can keep and reuse and cannibalized for other applications.
1) Plastic Peanut Butter Jars – I read a while back that these make Great additions to B.O.B. {Bug out Bags} with all of the gear one needs just in case there has always been the issue of all those little things that are easily lost and scattered through out your B.O.B.
Everything from small tools to a first aid kit in a jar. Since that article I have seen a sudden surge of "Kits in a Jar" for sale for ten to twenty dollars a pop. Now this is great for those who can afford such things. The only problem is they are all stock and most of their contents are not of the best quality. I find that a custom kit made from items that fit your own needs are, better than generic kits. The other thing that works is you can fill it with high quality items of your own choosing.
Another good thing about these plastic jars is they have several uses. A little acrylic paint and some creativity and you can fake the look of peanut butter. Add several coin rolls. Based on an article I read this week I tested a theory and found that The Jiff peanut butter jar is the perfect size to fit rolls of Nickels. Another use is as planters. Take the lid off of the jar and drill 3 holes in the bottom. Glue the lid to the bottom and cut off the top lip of the jar. Fill with dirt and you have a recycled Jiff jar that can be used to start your garden in.
2) Disposable Lighters – This one has probably been told several times but it is still worth another word. After the disposable is empty one of the more crucial pieces is still viable. That being the flint. Be careful when removing the spark wheel. You will shoot the flint across the room never to be seen again. These flints are the perfect size for all standard Zippo lighters. I have personally tested this and have found that these flints generally last longer than the refills that you pay $.99 cents or more for. People think I’m nuts for saving all of those disposable lighters. I can’t tell you how many times I have found a disposable lighter lying on the ground and snatched them up. Recycling the flints is just one application. The other thing that can be done is to assemble a tinder kit. All you need is an Altoids container some dryer lint and a disposable lighter with the wind guard removed. Put the dryer lint into a small plastic bag (sandwich bags work well for this) fold the bag over several times to ensure that the lint will not get wet. Seal it with some duct tape and place in the tin with the disposable lighter. The Altoids Gum tins work best for this as they are half the size of a standard Altoids tin. Add this to your Jiff kit and your good to go.
3) Coffee cans – Everything from a cook stove to food storage.
4) Plastic weave Cat Food, Dog Food and Livestock Feed bags – Can be recycled to make sand bags. So keep those bags they are tough as nails.
5) Two Liter soda pop bottles - Water Storage
6) Pop Ice brand Popsicle wrappers – The log ones in the plastic tube wrap. These and a paper clip work well to make long Ice tubes that fit in the end of pop bottles.
7) Plastic dog food and cat food buckets – Free Stackable storage buckets that can be used without the cost of buying additional buckets. Perfect 5lb storage containers just add food grade storage bags and an oxygen absorber for long term storage.
8) Old Pill bottles – Store small screws, nuts, bolts, nails and any number of other small items.
9) Old Office chairs – The caster wheels can be salvaged for use in making a rolling storage shelf or work bench using the recycled wood from discarded doors.
10) America Online (AOL) Promotional CD-ROMs – Cut down make good signal mirrors that can fit in a pocket survival kit. [JWR Adds: Intact, they also make good mirrors to hang up in your fruit trees and over your vegetable garden to help ward off marauding birds. You can hang them up with monofilament fishing line.]
11) Old cotton T-shirts – Cut apart, these make good gun bore and chamber cleaning patches.
12) Anything Denim – Cloth mending patches. [JWR Adds: Cut-off denim pant legs also make very sturdy sacks if you sew up one end.]
13) Old VCR tapes - Tested this after seeing Castaway with Tom Hanks. In-a-pinch Lashings.

This is just a beginning list of recyclable and reusable items. The list can go on and on. Use your imagination and some ingenuity and there is a wealth of items that can be used and adapted for survival. Feel free to add to this anything that I have missed. This is an on-going process and experiment that those on a limited budget can apply.

I live outside of Boise, [Idaho] on 40 acres with a deep well and have most everything ready for a jump to my brother’s new ranch in Montana, if (when) the SHTF. While my place will be occupied by my friends that don’t have anywhere to go and /or want to stay in the area. I will leave for a better Bug Out Location where I and my family can better survive long term. I only live here because it is a good job and I can’t find anything even close to pay in the part of Montana that my brother lives in. He is a doctor and can afford the remote life style.

I would like your input,. My brother and I are getting ready to buy a pair of .308 semiauto rifles and for the most part I like the Armalite AR-10 with an ACOG scope. This would be our defensive long range (250 to 500+ yard ) rifle. Any recommendations as to something “better” than a factory model, do you know of someone else building something with .308, reliable magazine design. While rails and collapsible stocks are cool and I would like them, they are not necessary for the intended purpose. I have looked at [the] DPMS [AR-10] but I also here a lots of complaints from people who actually own the weapon. Thanks, E.

JWR Replies: Aside for Eugene Stoner's relatively dirty gas tube action (which can be mitigated with regular cleaning), the only drawback to most of the AR-10s on the market is the high cost of extra magazines. Most AR-10s use variations of M14 magazines which can cost up to $40 each. However, a few brands of AR-10s use standard FAL magazines which can often be found for under $8 each! So, with that in mind, I would recommend the Bushmaster AR-10 (now out of production) and the RRA (Rock River Arms) LAR-8 A SurvivalBlog reader was recently told by a Bushmaster customer service representative that Bushmaster sold its tooling and rights for their .308 rifle about a year ago to Rock River Arms.

The AR-10 is a fine rifle choice for your circumstances. They can be quite accurate, so they are ideal for open country--like the majority of Montana. Just be sure to get at least one of your AR-10s set up for long range shooting. Get a full length (20") barrel and fixed stock flat top ("A4") model that will readily take optics mounted low enough to provide a consistent cheek weld. The ACOG TA-01 or TA-11E would be good versatile day/night scopes. They are available from a number of Internet vendors including CGW. (I noticed that they currently have the TA-01 .308 BDC scope on sale.) But since you are planning on open country shooting, make sure that at least one of your long-barreled .308 rifles is set up a with an adjustable magnification Mil-Dot or ART scope in its primary configuration, with perhaps an ACOG as a spare if you can afford it.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I was looking to take advantage of your "1/3-off" offer on your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, but before I spend that kind of money, I was wondering if you could tell me how suitable you course is for non-US conditions, specifically, Australian conditions? How "Americanized" is it, and how difficult would it be to "translate" it into Australian?

I really enjoy your blog, and have found your tips and those of your contributors very helpful. Kind Regards, - Richard C.

JWR Replies: The course and accompanying audio CD are largely geared toward American and Canadian readers, but if you have comparable "warehouse" type stores with large container/case lots of packaged foods available, then it should be 95% useful to you. Oh BTW, one oversight: I don't list the shelf life of Vegemite.

The 33% off sale for the course ends tomorrow, so be sure to place your order soon. Best Regards from us here the snowy north to you in the sunny south

Paris suburb riots called 'a lot worse' than in 2005

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EU President Barroso: Weak dollar a 'problem' for world economy

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The precious metals market has been volatile, jumping up and down on every bit of international economic and financial news. I currently suggest "at-or-below" buy prices of $818 for gold, and $14.42 for silver. As always, buy on the dips! And, as previously mentioned, be sure to get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids squared away before investing any excess cash in precious metals. It now appears very likely that the Federal Reserve will make further interest rate cuts. This can only be bearish for the US Dollar and bullish for silver and gold. Get out of dollars and in to tangibles!

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Murray and Larry W. both spotted this one: Citigroup to Raise $7.5 Billion From Abu Dhabi State. They are giving the sheiks 11% interest when the prevailing rates are half of that? This sounds like a desperation move to me.

"Congress does two things very well: one is nothing and two is overreact." - Rep. Tom Price, R.-Georgia

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends in just two days. Be sure to place your order online or have it postmarked by November 30th

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

There is something to be said about having a defendable retreat far from society with multiple routes to reach it and the preparations that go along with it. But all of those preparations are for naught if you haven’t considered the best way to get from Point A to Point B.
With the ever rising fuel prices that we all are experiencing nowadays, it’s very likely that your Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) will also be your main means of transportation. Unless you are really squared away and have the finances to allow it, many of us simply can not afford a dedicated BOV in addition to our regular daily-use vehicle. That is compounded by the spouse’s need for a vehicle and Lord help you if you have teenage kids. If you feel like you fit into this category, I’m going to give you some advice on what vehicles to purchase and what to look for when you purchase them.

Vehicle Types
The first aspect of the vehicle purchase should be what type of power plant you want, i.e. whether you want a gas or diesel. There are advantage to both that have been talked about and debated for years. In my opinion, the best power plant for a BOV and regular use is a diesel engine. Longevity, fuel economy, parts availability, and the monstrous amount of torque available are only some of the reasons that diesel wins in my mind. There are two types of injection systems that have been offered by the "Big 3" [American light truck] manufacturers. Indirect injection systems spray the fuel into a prechamber where the combustion process begins. This prechamber is also the location of the glow-plugs for help starting the truck in cold climates. This is a very inefficient but durable design. Direct injection systems spray the fuel directly into the cylinder where combustion occurs. This is a much more reliable and efficient system. All diesels offered by the Big 3 today are direct injection.

Once you determine what type of motor you’re interested in, you must then determine whether you want a pickup truck, SUV, or car. Since we’re talking about a vehicle that will need to get us into a remote area across potentially hazardous terrain, a car is not a good choice for BOVs, and whatever you choose should be a four wheel drive. That leaves us with a SUV or pickup truck. Both have advantages and disadvantages and it’s up to the individual to determine which route they follow in this aspect. The good news is that the diesel SUVs and diesel trucks share most of the same drive trains and parts.
For those of us who have decided on a diesel powered vehicle, you’re now faced with choosing from three different manufacturers. GM, Ford, and Dodge. It is recommended that when purchasing a BOV, you want to buy one that has the fewest amount of electronics controlling the vehicle. Electronics are a huge pain in the nether region to diagnose and repair so the fewer potential problems the better.

Manufacturer Options
For the bow tie [company logo] fans, you’re looking for a pre-1993 pickup truck, Suburban, or full size Blazer. GM began using the 6.2L naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) mechanically injected 6.2L back in 1982 and in 1993 they began changing over to the 6.5L electronically controlled engine. The 6.2L and some 6.5L motors use an indirect mechanically injected system in a V8 design. GM, for a brief time, installed diesel engines in their half ton trucks, but they are rare and hard to find. More common is the _ ton and 1-ton trucks and Suburban’s with diesels. You will have to check the individual trucks to see if they are laden with electronic controls in the 1993 model year vehicles as this was the time when GM switched over form the mechanical to electronic injection systems. This was also the period when they were switching from the 6.2L engine to the 6.5L motor. Some had turbo chargers and some did not. A turbo will give you more power and better mileage so if you can find a turbo charged motor that’s the route to go. There are also aftermarket turbo systems out there that will work even better if you want to spend the extra money for them. These trucks came with a heavy duty 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission and various trim levels. The older mid-80’s trucks will likely have a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic, none of which have an overdrive gear to save on fuel consumption. A 4x4 3/4 ton 7.3L turbocharged truck will likely get around 15 mpg average and go 200k miles between overhauls. All of these trucks were available in regular cab, extended cab, or crew cab (4-door) versions. The GM trucks and Suburban’s also had one additional limiting factor, the front independent suspension, which improved ride quality and handling substantially, but the tradeoff is off-road capability and the ease with which you can install a lift kit on the vehicle.

For the blue-oval [company logo] fans out there, you are limited to F250 and 350 trucks. Beginning in 1985, Ford installed 6.9L non-turbocharged indirect mechanical injection V8 diesels originally developed by International-Harvester for some of their machinery. Starting in 1989 you could get a 7.3L indirect mechanical injection V8 diesel and in 1991 a turbocharger was optional. By 1994, the last year for the old I-H diesels, a turbo was standard. In 1994 Ford phased-out the old mechanical indirect injection motor for the new electronically controlled direct injected turbocharged 7.3L Powerstroke motor. The early diesels were equipped with a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission and by 1994 a 5-speed manual was standard and a 4-speed automatic was optional. These trucks are pretty bulletproof and maintenance friendly and get marginal fuel mileage. A 4x4 3/4 ton 7.3L turbocharged truck will likely get around 15 mpg average and go 200k miles between overhauls. All of these trucks were available in regular cab, super cab (extended cab,) or crew cab (4-door) versions. The major problem area for these trucks is the common failure of the glow plug controller and glow plugs, which makes starting these trucks extremely difficult especially on a cold morning.

The last choice is the Dodge Ram 1/2 ton and 1-ton trucks. Beginning in 1989 Dodge began installing a 12-valve 5.9L I6 diesel produced by Cummins with mechanical direct injection. In 1991, Dodge added a turbo charger and intercooler as standard equipment. The intercooler was an industry first and offered a significant increase in performance and economy. These “first generation” Cummins trucks used a Bosch rotary injection pump (called a VE pump) and came with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission in a regular cab or club-cab version. Also, the Cummins trucks do not use glow plus. Instead they utilize a heater grid placed in front of the air intake for the engine which heats up when temperatures fall below 40 degrees to aid in the combustion process. In 1994 Dodge completely redesigned their pickup truck lines and the Cummins got an upgrade as well, commonly called “second generation” Cummins trucks. The VE injection pump was replaced with a new inline P7100 injection pump capable of higher fuel pressures and greater fuel delivery, as well as an upgraded turbocharger. The drive trains were also beefed up with heavier duty 5-speed manual transmissions, transfer cases, and axles. Half way through the 1998 model year, the engine was redesigned with a 24-valve cylinder head and the mechanical injection systems were replaced by electronics to meet emission standards. Also in 1998 the interior of the cab was redesigned and a 4-door Quad Cab version was made available to make it easier to get into the back seats of the extended cab trucks. The 1994 to 1998 trucks are probably the most sought after trucks. A typical 1/2 ton 4x4 truck with 5-speed transmission and 3.55 axle ratio will get 20-22 mpg and these trucks regularly go 300k miles before major work needs to be done. There is one potential problem associated with these trucks. The timing gear cover on the front of the motor uses dowel pins to line up the cover when being installed. Unfortunately, in some cases this dowel pin can vibrate and back out of their spot falling down through the timing gear case causing lots of damage before ending up in the oil pan. There are common and inexpensive fixes available for this problem. One advantage to these trucks is the ease with which you can increase the power output of the engine. Replacement parts are readily available for these trucks as well and for those who like more power, performance parts are easy to come by to let you make well over the power levels reached by the newer electronically controlled trucks.

Once you’ve made your decisions between all of the above options and have found a potential match, there are a few common areas that you need to inspect before making an offer.
First, check the oil. Because of the amount of detergents in diesel engine oil, it’s common for it to be pitch black after only a few hours of operation. When you check the oil, look to see if there is any discoloration or a scent of burnt radiator fluid which will indicate a leak of coolant from the head gaskets. Check the radiator hoses to make sure they are firm, but still pliable. The engine coolant should be a greenish color and free of rust. Brake fluid should also be free of contaminants. Walk to the passenger side of the truck and have someone start the vehicle while you observe the tailpipe. Most older diesels will puff out some blue and/or black smoke on startup and that’s normal. You’re looking for a large cloud of smoke that takes several minutes to go away. This is an indication of a faulty glow plug controller, glow plugs (Ford & GM) or grid heater (Dodge), or internal problems. With the engine running check the transmission fluid level if it’s an automatic. It should be full, have a pinkish color and not smell burnt. Ask the owner if the engine has ever been “turned up.” Some owners add power without the required upgrades of intake and exhaust and there could be potential damage. Turn the vehicle off and craw under the truck. You’re looking for any large amounts of oil leaking out of the engine or transmission. Ask the owner when the last time the transmission fluid and rear axle fluid was changed and if they have the maintenance records fro the vehicle. Most of the time you can tell a vehicle that has been well maintained early off. If it’s been abused, buyer beware. That’s not to say don’t buy the vehicle, just don’t pay a lot for it as there will be lots of things that will need to be inspected and/or replaced. Also check the sheet metal in the fender wells and under the cab to make sure the floor is not rusting away.

Next, take the vehicle for a test drive. Make numerous stops and starts and turns in both directions. Listen for any noises that are out of the ordinary. Allow the engine to warm up and drive it hard to see if a problem presents itself. Find an empty dirt lot somewhere where you can test the 4x4 system. Ensure that the 4x4 system will engage and disengage properly. With the truck in 4-high drive around in a figure 8 to make sure there are no problems with the front drive train. Put the transfer case in 4-low and floor the truck to make sure that the transfer case will not pop out of gear, an indication that the transfer case is shot.


Once you purchase a vehicle, then you’re going to have to make it into a truck BOV. If you’re in an especially remote area with a lot of off-road driving required, the suspension will need to be modified for off-road use. No, you do not need a 14” lift kit and 44” paddle-wheel tires. 33” to 35” tires will get you anywhere you need to go. Wetter climates may require a more aggressive tread so use your judgment. A well built steel bumper for the front and rear is a must. This may be necessary for pushing things out of the way, such as a Prius or a fallen tree. Aftermarket fuel tanks that rest in the bed are a common addition. These tanks will allow you to carry anywhere from 50 to 150 gallons of additional fuel (which needs to be treated if it’s sitting up for a long time.) Other additions that would be useful is an onboard air compressor system, an onboard suspension systems if you’re planning on hauling a bug-out trailer with you, GPS receivers in the cab, high-powered driving lights, etc. Your local conditions will warrant a different combination of modifications than other areas. Local 4x4 shops in your area can probably give you the best advice on what you will need to do to your particular vehicle.

It is up to the individual to determine what works best for him. It’s also worth stating that in different areas of the country, one vehicle manufacturer may be more common and another one may be non-existent. If that’s the case, it may not be wise to have a Dodge truck where everyone drives Chevrolets. Conversely, if you need a truck for your personal use and you have a wife and three kids to move about, it may be a wise move to have a Chevrolet/GMC pickup truck and a Suburban with identical drive trains. The point is, decide what works best for you, plan accordingly, and work the plan. My next installment will cover what you should check and look for when inspecting a potential BOV.

This letter is in response to your posting today regarding potential nuclear targets. Overall, a very good question by DFer, and your wise and reasonable response is much appreciated. As one of the few people on the Internet who actually discuss potential US nuclear targets, based on historical government documentation, I'm glad to see you and a few others (Shane Connor, Joel Skousen, etc.) not letting this important point of history be forgotten. It's another visit to an old post of yours in June of 2006.

Lawrence's response in that post was "old 1960s era targeting maps will still give the survivalist a good idea of where not to be when TSHTF". That still applies. Discussion on your site and many others about other places not to be (mass gatherings such as sports events, malls, national monuments and the like) is also worthy of consideration, in our current trend of monthly terror threats, such as today's announcement of Osama Bin Laden's latest video threatening Europe. (And yes, .mil is very concerned on both sides of the pond).

I have had a few "unofficial" e-mails from government contacts in the last couple of years (since 2005...most [of them] working on government contracted publications for internal use) who have asked for some of my non-public collected data information on targeting, and the short online Q&A with them has led me to believe that the pot of hot water we frogs have been living in has had the heat turned up, meaning and updated lists of potential worry are prepared, and probably still being tuned and polished up, as the daily world threat thermometer rises and falls.

I seriously doubt the general public will see these lists, maps, locations, and target types for many years to come, since the external threat to US soil is still at such a ragged and ever concerned pace. It took only two years to get the National Attack Planning Base 1990 released from FEMA by the FOIA, thanks to a friend of mine who found my document wish list a few years ago. While just over 20 years old, it's still the measuring stick for any reports that follow.

FEMA 196 is still the only consumer document available directly from FEMA that ever gave fairly detailed info (to a generalized county level) of potential US targets, and since US threats have risen greatly since 9/11, it may well be the only document that FEMA, or succeeding agencies, ever produce on that subject. What we can learn from the currently available info, is why the original targets were targets, and what might make new locations future targets. It takes a bit of work on our part, but it's not any more difficult than basic

I've expanded the target list on SurvivalRing a bit with more discussion of what makes a target, and have added a comments section to the web page to answer specific questions that readers and visitors may have about the old targets, and potential new targets. SurvivalBlog readers might like to discuss our current target list, or have more info they'd like to bring to the table.

Since I'm still attending college full time, I have a lot of my site projects on the back burner, but one near the top of the list is a mashup of my blogging software, with Google Maps, extended interactive areas, and a lot deeper discussion, research, and updating on targeting, safe areas, and all the details you mention in your response (weather patterns, population demographics, etc). I'm finishing up an atmospheric science class this semester that really opened my mind to global weather patterns more than ever, and the work that Shane Connor did with Transpacific Fallout is going to be seeing an update from me in the spring.

Keep up the great work, and thanks for all you do. You're one of the most rational minds I've found on the web when it comes to the simple work of helping others understand why we need to think about dealing with whatever the future brings. - Rich Fleetwood, Founder of

Frequent contributor Eric S. flagged this article: Forecast: U.S. dollar could plunge 90 percent

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I dropped by Kit's blog after a long absence (not Kit's fault--it was all my fault for being busy with deer and elk season), and saw that she and "Darling John " (a.k.a. "Commander Zero") have finally announced that they are going to tie the knot. I predict there will be a lot of heavily-armed guests in attendance.

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Northern Tool & Equipment (one of our Affiliate advertisers) is offering sitewide free gift cards with purchases over $100. This limited-time promotion is already active and goes through Monday, December 10th. You will need to enter keycode 105200 in order to receive your free gift card.

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"The Werewolf" (our correspondent in Brazil) mentioned the new book "Day by Day Armageddon"

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Three days left! The special 33% off sale on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing is ending soon. To get the special sale price, all orders must be placed online or postmarked by November 30th. Get a copy for yourself, or one or more to give as Christmas gifts for your relatives that have their heads in the sand.

If your retreat is isolated and you can not see any of your neighbors buildings, then how do you know when the power grid is back on (re-energized)? That might not be clear, so this is what happens: We have many power outages per year, which can last from hours to days, last year power was out for (9) nine days. So I disconnect from the grid, and start the generator. I have no way to know when the line is fixed. And with the price of fuel; I am wondering is there some do-dad, thing-a-ma-gig, like a light I could mount in a tree near the main line that would pick up electromagnetic energy when the line is hot. Or some trick one of your readers may know about. Thank you, - D.V.

JWR Replies: Here are a few possible solutions for you:

1.) Most of the common transfer switches for home generator sets ("gensets") do not disconnect the grid power. Instead, the switch is in a sub-panel box with breakers for several circuits that you want energized all the time. It acts as a "mains" disconnect for that sub-panel only. Unless you have a large genset capable of powering everything in your house, then that is typically just your refrigerator-freezer and a few lights. Therefore, any electrical devices or lights that are on the other circuits will be energized when the grid power is restored. You can simply leave a table lamp and a radio on one of these circuits, both switched in the "on" position. The light and radio will come on when the grid power is restored. This of course won't be possible if you have one of the very basic "Wylie E. Coyote" or "Disaster Cord" type system without a dedicated sub-panel. (I DO NOT recommend this type of arrangement!)

Important Safety Note: As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, it is absolutely essential that you do not inadvertently "back feed" the grid power line, or you might accidentally fry the hapless utility employee that is working on restoring your power!

2.) Many power meters have a status light, showing that the incoming grid power line is "hot." The easiest solution is to ask your local utility if they have any meter boxes available with status lights. They may be able to install one of these for you free of charge or at nominal cost.

3.) If your utility can't or won't install a meter panel with a status light, then any qualified journeyman-level electrician could rig a status light the meter box that should meet the approval of your local power utility. (Of course be sure to ask, first, since utilities have a long tradition of suspicion of any modifications to meter panels. They don't like giving power away!)

4.) If your utility doesn't allow an indicator light at the meter panel, then you can have one rigged at your indoor breaker panel to show the presence of "mains"external power. It can be something as simple as a small neon tube. No muss, no fuss. Again, any electrician can do this for you in just a few minutes if you let them know what you need in advance of when they come to your house.

For those if us that live in the boonies that have photovoltaics or other alternate power sources, there is also an inverse corollary to your question: detecting when the grid power goes off. (Many of us wouldn't notice, otherwise.) I found a web site with a fairly simple power failure alarm circuit diagram and assembly instructions. (This is a little more complicated than just showing the presence of grid power. To announce the loss of grid power requires a relay and a battery, as well as a lamp or some sort of alarm horn/buzzer/annunciator.)

I should mention that there is nothing like the joy of watching a power meter run backwards--knowing that for more than half of of each year that the power company will be paying you for power. Selling power back to power utility is possible throughout the United States. However, most pay you only the "avoided cost" rate--typically 2 or 3 cents per kilowatt hour--rather than at the same rate that you buy it from them. The latter is called "net metering" or "net billing." The utilities that presently pay at the net metering rate are in the minority, but I predict that it will be legislatively mandated within a few years.

There are essentially three types of photovoltaic (PV) power systems: 1.) Stand-alone, 2.) Grid-tied, and 3.) Grid-connected but stand-alone capable. Of the three, the only type that I do not recommend is grid-tied. These systems--typically without a battery bank--leave you vulnerable whenever the power grid goes down. If you want to sell power back to your utility, yet still be self-sufficient, then I recommend that you install "grid-connected but stand-alone capable" system. (The same would apply to wind power and micro-hydro systems.) For details on alternate energy system hardware, siting/exposure, and system sizing, contact Ready Made Resources. They graciously offer alternate energy system consulting free of charge.

I often see references [in SurvivalBlog] to Costco [stores]. I have never seen one of their stores. Are they in Canada? I did a search, that was the only place within 50 miles of here that they have a store. - Sid, near Niagara Falls

JWR Replies: There are now Costco stores throughout the United States and selected locations in Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and the UK. Here is a locator web page for Costco stores. Another "big box" membership store chain with a very similar product selection are the Sam's Club stores. Here is a locator map for Sam's Club stores. (They seem to have more locations in upstate New York than Costco.)

OBTW, I describe shopping at "Big Box' stores for storage foods, cleaning supplies, and other retreat logistics essentials in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course

I had to laugh when I read this in your recent SurvivalBlog article: "Well, let's just hope that Boise, Idaho is not a nuclear target. That way, presumably Micron Technology can re-seed the world with chips. (That is, if they will still have a fab facility in Boise. Most chip makers are in the process of outsourcing their fabs. Many of them are being offshored to China .)"

I’m a mid-level manager in the computer industry. In the past month we have interviewed two engineers currently employed by Micron Technology. They are looking for jobs because “the place is getting ready to send most of their production overseas." I asked how soon. “Two years at the latest, then they will no longer be profitable with 200mm wafers and will need to switch over to 300mm wafers. Which means a new production facility and the old one can’t be reused. Even the buildings are too short to work with the new wafer [production] design.” So a whole new plant needs to be built and they are already talking about how Micron needs to be "closer to the customer to compete." Most of their customers are in China and Asia. Best Regards,- B.

When banking is in crisis, no one wants to be parted from their cash

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RBS sent us this: Banks Gone Wild by Paul Krugman of The New York Times. And for even more financial gloom and doom, see: "A Generalized Meltdown of Financial Institutions" But wait, there's more, courtesy of reader SJC: Investors fear new turmoil

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Both Markus and Carl suggested a link to an article on the 100 things that disappeared in Sarajevo during the war. Carl's comment: "It is a great list for beginning preps and a gut check for everyone else." Coincidentally, RBS sent us these two links: A Cookbook for War and The Sarajevo Survival Guide.

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Safecastle is having a 45% off closeout sale (for Safecastle Royal buyer's club members) on all Maxpedition gear presently in stock.

"I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared." - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, November 26, 2007

The 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends in just four days. Be sure to place your order online, or have it postmarked no later than Friday, November 30th.

If someone were to construct a chart showing human dependence on technology, it would portray an essentially a flat line from Biblical Times to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. From there, there the line would curve upward slightly until the 1890s, when the line would tilt up to perhaps a 10 degree slope. The curve would further steepen in the 1950s (with the advent of computers). The line would then turn into an almost upright spike, starting in the 1990s.

In this new era, with each passing year, our dependence of electronic technologies grows greater and greater. Some technologies, such as microcircuit ("chip") design and fabrication require not only electricity, but dozens of foundational technologies to keep them operational. In effect, it now takes countless thousands of existing microcircuits to make other microcircuits. That leads me to wonder: If there were a full scale nuclear exchange with large EMP effective radius "footprints" in populated regions, how would the chip industry ever recover? Even if the chip fabrication facilities ("fabs") avoided physical destruction from nuclear blasts, how would they get all of their computer-controlled machinery back on line? Well, let's just hope that Boise, Idaho is not a nuclear target. That way, presumably Micron Technology can re-seed the world with chips. (That is, if they will still have a fab facility in Boise. Most chip makers are in the process of outsourcing their fabs. Many of them are being offshored to China.)

Beyond these "worst-case scenario" imaginings, let's consider something much more likely: extended power failures in North America, caused by severe weather, an oil embargo, or civil disruption. Given our current level of technological dependence, what would life be like in a "Grid Down" America? If the power grid goes down for a period of more than a week, all bets are off. Consider the following:

If “grid down” most towns and cities will be without municipal (utility) drinking water.
If “grid down” for more than a month there will likely be huge outflows of refugees from cities.
If “grid down” there will possibly be mass prison escapes.
If “grid down”, virtually all communications will go down. Telephone company central offices (COs) do have battery back-up. These are huge banks of 2-volt deep cycle floating batteries. But those batteries will only last about a week. Backup generators were not installed at most COs, because no situation that would take the power grid down for more than 72 hours was ever anticipated. (Bad planning, Ma Bell!) Thus, if and when the grid goes down then hard-wire phones, cell phones, and the Internet will all go down. When both the power grid and phone systems goes down, law and order will likely disintegrate. There will be no burglar alarms, no security lighting or cameras, and no reliable way to contact police or fire departments, and so forth.
If “grid down” for an extended period anyone with a chronic health problem may die. There will be no power for kidney dialysis machines or breathing machines for respiratory patients, no re-supply of oxygen bottles for people with chronic lung conditions, no re-supply of insulin for diabetics, et cetera.
If “grid down”, most heaters with fans won’t work, even if you can bypass the thermostat. And pellet stoves won’t work at all!
If “grid down”, then “seasonal affected disorder” will seem mild compared to the depressing effects of spending 13+ hours a day in the dark during winter months—especially at latitudes north of the 45th Parallel.
If “grid down”, there will be no 911 to call—no back-up—no “cavalry coming over the hill” in the nick of time. You, your family, and your contiguous neighbors will have to independently handle any lawlessness that comes your way.
If “grid down,” sanitation will be problematic in any large town or city. Virtually everyone will be forced to draw water from open sources, and meanwhile their neighbors will be inadvertently fouling those same sources. I heard one survivalist lecturer state that a grid down situation would “almost immediately reduce sanitation in the U.S. to Third World standards.” I think that he underestimated the impact of an extended power grid failure. At least in the Third World they are accustomed to living with poor water and sanitation. Here in the U.S., we don’t even have Third World facilities or folkways. With the grid down and city water disrupted, toilets won't flush and most urbanites and suburbanites will not dig outhouse or garbage pits! Furthermore, the long-standing Third World village norm of “Draw your drinking water upstream and wash your clothes downstream” will be ignored. A “grid down” condition could be a public health nightmare within a week in metropolitan regions.

Lastly, consider one implication that most people have never heard of: even residential piped (utility) natural gas service is dependent on the power grid. To push gas through the many miles of pipeline, gas companies depend on electrically-powered compressor stations to pressurize the distribution pipelines. It is important to distinguish between local (natural) compression versus long distance grid-powered compression. People living right near gas fields will benefit from the natural wellhead compression and thus will probably have continuing gas service in a long term grid-down situation, whereas those living farther away will not.

In the 1950s, a power failure was essentially an inconvenience for most businesses. They used manual adding machines, typewriters, and cash registers. They did their accounting in big bound paper books. But now, the majority of manufacturers, distributors, and retailers cannot function at all without grid power. I predict that they will send their employees home. If the grid stays down for more than 10 days, there will be either "unpaid holidays" declared, or good old-fashioned layoffs.

Commerce will grind almost to a halt, because cash registers won't work, and computerized "Just in Time" (JIT) inventory control systems will be offline. Some enterprising small businesses will keep their doors open, but they will be in the minority. Most of the major retailers will not be able to cope. Have you noticed that most of the big retail stores built since the 1980s are essentially windowless? Their corporate management succumbed to the promised "efficiency" and "economy" of the concrete slab tilt-up architecture that has become ubiquitous in the United States. Without power, these big windowless boxes won't even have enough light for anyone to see the shelves! Surely, most of them will have to lock their doors.

The bottom line? Be prepared. Avoid urban areas and the suburbs. That is where most of the trouble will be. To avoid the social upheaval, ideally, you should live year-round at a well-stocked retreat farm or ranch with plentiful water that is in a sparsely-populated region that is well-removed from major metropolitan areas. If the grid goes down for more than a week, expect riots and looting. If it is more than a month, you can expect total anarchy. Be prepared to live self-sufficiently. Get your food and fuel storage squared away. Fence a large garden plot and practice gardening and canning each summer.

Be prepared to defend your retreat. To be practical, this will necessitate doubling-up or tripling up with neighbor to provide round-the-clock security. (Much as I described in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse."

Keep some extra items on hand for barter and charity. If the grid goes down, you may be surprised how quickly your barter goods come into play.

Mr. Rawles:
I am interested in diversifying out of the dollar and was thinking of buying a belt-fed semi auto [as a "tangible" investment.] (I already have the rest of my gear, guns, and food storage well squared away.) Since 7.62 [mm NATO military surplus ammunition] is less expensive than [commercially loaded] .308 [Winchester], can you recommend a belt fed 7.62 semiautomatic? Any that you would avoid? Thanks! - S.

JWR Replies: I would recommend buying a semiauto-only Browning Model 1919A4, since they have legendary "bomb proof" robustness, great versatility in mounting, and broad chambering convertability. I recommend that you buy one that is already set up primarily for 7.62mm NATO, with a spare .30-06 barrel and perhaps also a spare barrel for 8x57 Mauser. (Although the supply of cheap surplus 8mm ammo has dried up, at least for the time being.) Cartridge conversion requires different feed mechanism parts, a different booster (nosepiece), and of course a different barrel. If you are planning to ser up your gun for multiple calibers, then buy all Israeli surplus links, since they are the most versatile. (The less expensive .30-06 links work only with that particular cartridge.)

The TNW, Cole Distributing, and Ohio RapidFire ("ORF") brand guns all work fine. There are several other M1919 makers, but I cannot vouch for any them. The M1919A4s presently on the market typically use ex-Israeli parts kits. The Cadillac of the breed (pardon the mixed metaphor) is the Valkyrie Arms 1919A4. That is the brand that I once owned, as the"accessory" for the turret on my Ferret scout car. (Well, actually it was more the other way around: The Ferret was the armored platform for transporting the M1919.) However, I've heard that they are no longer being produced by Valkyrie.

I consider semi-auto M1919A4s a very good investment, since the supply of available parts kits is definitely drying up. Once those are gone, the prices will doubtless escalate rapidly. (The same thing happened with the semi-auto Browning M2 HB .50 caliber belt-feds. They now fetch $10,000 to $14,000 each, and just a complete M2HB BMG parts kit (sans side plate) can cost $7,000. I also recently saw just a Stellite M2 .50 barrel offered for sale for $1,200!) Since the law of supply and demand is inescapable, I've concluded that a semi-auto .50 Browning would be a "sure bet" as an even better investment than a M1919.

For versatility, you might also get an "A6" (buttstock and bipod) conversion kit. Original US military tripods are getting scarce and very expensive, so if you aren't a purist, then get an German MG-42 tripod and M1919 pintle adapter.

To read umpteen details and user comments on Model 1919 Browning-family belt-fed guns, spare parts, headspacing adjustment, manuals, tripods, T&E mechanisms, canvas, and other accessories, see:

In answer to your question about what models to avoid: I would not recommend buying any of the semi-auto M60 variants, since they are too prone to breakage.

OBTW, if there is a SurvivalBlog reader that would like to invest a bigger semiauto-only belt fed, I have a friend that is selling a TNW-built M2 HB .50 Browning with several barrels, tripod, links, and ammo as a package for around $12,000. It would be a "private party" sale only if the buyer lives in Idaho. (If outside of Idaho, the transfer would have to be shipped to an FFL holder.) Contact me via e-mail if you are a serious cash buyer and I will forward your e-mail to the seller. Since this a sale intended to generate needed cash, no trades will be considered.

From those Enlightened Social Engineers that run San Francisco: Should fireplace fires be banned? Well, there goes your last hope of self-sufficiency. (Not that "Babylon By The Bay" would be very survivable WTSHTF, anyway.)

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Trading in derivatives slows to a trickle

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RBS spotted this one: Dallas-Fort Worth food pantries facing shortage

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A fascinating video clip from a 2002 TED conference: Stephen Petranek: 10 ways the world could end

"If we are wise, let us prepare for the worst." - President George Washington (1732-1799)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

In support of some research on retreat locations, I wanted to learn more about the locations in the CONUS of our strategic nuclear weapons. Guesswork at best, but the older FEMA maps are certainly obsolete, or wrong.

A link from late 2006 describes the probable locations and density of the current nuclear arsenal. It is thought that the sites in California, South Dakota, and Virginia have been eliminated, and that the ballistic missile submarine base in Bangor, Washington has been expanded significantly.

The next link describes the stockpile (and its reduction) and illustrates the probable nature of the projected (2007-2012) US nuclear arsenal. Given these estimates of the types and quantities, one can generate some forward-looking scenarios that may offer insight into CONUS "storage" locations.

This is interesting information, and it appears that any resultant fallout pattern from a coordinated attack on these facilities would be substantially different than the older FEMA maps might have one imagine (e.g. FEMA 196). While there is obviously no "safe" or "perfect" retreat location, one can learn, prepare and be ready to take action.

Jim, thanks again for your hard work, - DFer

JWR Replies: Every family should have a fallout shelter, even if they live on the southern Oregon coast. (Which is ostensibly the safest fallout-free zone in the continental United States.) Anyone living within 50 miles of a nuclear target should have a combination blast and fallout shelter.

By comparing the aforementioned strategic target maps with population density maps (for likely civilian targets), the global prevailing winds map (and regional prevailing wind descriptions), it becomes immediately apparent a that living upwind is best. Yes, there are seasonal variations, but because of the Coriolis effect (driving mid-latitude westerly winds) the odds are in your favor if you go west!

I couldn't help but respond to the blast of letters re: ".223 as Man Stopper", as most of my time in the employ of our Uncle Sam was engaged in the testing and evaluation of small arms, OPFOR and NATO. (As a matter of full disclosure, I did not offer any opinions or make decisions regarding their respective performances; rather, I merely conducted the tests and recorded the results. Therefore my opinions were/are not colored by the political intrigues of small arms procurement procedures). The trap we, as survivalists/retreaters fall into when looking at our weaponry is to look to the military. Survivalists are not infantrymen!!! Military doctrine is based on large numbers of well-armed, well supplied men engaging in unit activities to accomplish a specific mission within the parameters of acceptable losses. Survivalist do not operate in the same world. Who in your group is an "acceptable loss"? Your wife, husband, son, daughter, neighbor?

The best lens to focus your preparations through is that of the early settlers in the Old West. Constantly at risk from hostile natives and marauding bandits, they stocked their homesteads high with arms and ammo, and always carried at least two guns in every foray away from the home. The ones that made it also planned retreats, escapes, and hideouts, equally stocked, around frequently visited locations on their homesteads.

So, what is the best caliber? The 7.62mm NATO is an excellent (but heavy) man stopper, and the 7.63x39 is a decent (200 meter) cartridge, the ballistic twin of a .32 Special or moderate .30-30. The 5.56x45 is currently in use by all NATO countries, save Turkey and Greece (they're soldiering on with their [Heckler & Koch] G3 variants). Its limitations are well known but the body count continues to rack up, and has for the last forty years. Very accurate, easily controllable (especially in full auto) and light weight (read: easy to carry a lot of; see full auto mention). It's like the Aussies say about beer: "The best beer in the world is the one in your hand!" Pick your poison, but remember the Five Rules of Gunplay that my Grandpa taught me: 1) Shot placement; 2) shot placement; 3) shot placement; 4) always shoot enough gun; 5) never get shot for lack of shooting back! Something to consider, thinking like a farmer rather than a commando.
As always, keep the Faith, - Bonehead


Scientific evidence supports Martin's observations of the .223 Remington as a man stopper.
There is a substantial body of academic forensic analysis of the .223s terminal performance. This includes extensive autopsy work, as well as prolonged accumulation of wound and mortality data from battlefield and law enforcement encounters.
The United States Department of Defense studied terminal performance of the 5.56 NATO round during the initial deployment of that round to Southeast Asia. Setting aside the later problems that would tarnish the M16 reputation, and unfortunately taint the round by association, the terminal performance of the round itself was deemed to be excellent.
The most documented encounter involving the .223 is the infamous FBI Miami shootout. With the exception of several presidential assassinations and attempts, this is the most carefully, forensically analyzed gunfight in history. In that fight, five FBI agents were hit with a .223 round fired from a Ruger Mini-14: Head (1), neck (1), arm (1) and torso (2). All four of the men hit in the torso, head and neck were immediately removed from the fight. The man hit in the arm was unable to operate that limb.
You suggest that slow expansion soft points are needed for the .223 to be potent. [JWR Adds: I think that you misunderstood my statements. I stated that fast-expanding soft-nose .223 varmint bullets would not stop an armored opponent at long range.] The .223 FMJ was developed specifically to remove that need. At appropriate weight, velocity, and stabilization, the .223 was designed to overcome the disadvantages of internationally mandated military FMJ ammunition. It yaws upon entry into flesh, tumbling and travelling sideways to create a large wound channel, coming apart during the process.
Yes, .30 cal rifles have superior penetration performance against targets behind cover, and in the case of rounds like the .308 Win., will carry more energy at very long ranges. But they don't necessarily have better terminal performance than the .223 at the ranges at which most people are capable of
accurate fire.
Factor in the number of platforms available, the ubiquity of the ammo, the low recoil, the cost, the ability to store and carry more rounds: The .223 is a very good choice in a main defensive weapon.
Regards, - Rich S.


Jim & Co.,
I hadn't had much time to read the blog in the last few weeks (maybe months) but was greeted with another discussion of caliber selection, and thought I would throw my hat into the ring. Of all the ammo out there, some of the worst you can chose is SS109, unless you are trying to shoot long distances for area effect with an M249. That steel they put in the nose is only there so that the nose wouldn't be too heavy, not so it would "penetrate" better.
While I don't disagree with the opinions of some of our men and women in uniform about caliber selection (mostly because it's their a** on the line), combat is a numbers game, and everything comes with trade-offs. For your MBR you have to choose between weight, round count, penetration, range and knock-down power. When we fought the last two world wars 60 rounds was considered a combat load, and any of those rifles could punch through several concrete houses before they stop. The .308 is a little bit lighter,
and has a little bit less punch, but is deadly accurate past 1000 yards, but still suffers from the same inherent drawback; weight.
The .223 (5.56x45mm) has an advantage in this arena, it's fired from a lightweight gun (nominally 8 pounds) it has low recoil and high second follow up shot potential (in full auto mode) and the ammo weighs about 1/3 of the .308. Playing this strictly as a numbers game, you can now carry three times as much ammo for the same given weight. Would you rather: land one round of .223 causing a serious wound, or take the chance of missing and not hurting your assailant at all?
Another point that is often forgotten, people are really not all that big. Typically we are thin skinned, and are maybe 8-18" thick from front to back, side to side. Thus any kind of "penetrator" round will simply punch a clean hole right through, and not do very much damage (arguably the biggest issue with the .223 vs .308). As a follow up, it bears repeating, any wound over 2" deep has a very high likelihood of being fatal. With this in mind, even explosive varmint bullets will penetrate this deep, most likely tearing through soft body armor up to 500 yards.
The main kill method for bullets, clubs, and rocks is not penetration, it's energy transfer. It's how much blunt force trauma you can inflict on your enemy. To this end a bullet which penetrates will not transfer much of this energy, but a hollow point, or frangible bullet will.
In my opinion, those varmint bullets, or frangible bullets are the way to go for putting your enemy in the ground. Both of these will give higher rates of energy transfer, destroy more tissue, and based on the guaranteed fragmentation at long range are likely to cause very high bleed rates in whatever you decide to put them into.
Also, some of the other letters referenced military development pushing back towards larger caliber rifles such as 6.8 SPC and others. This is utter garbage, as the military is still buying more 5.56 rifles, as well as putting out further competitive bids for 5.56 caliber weapons. While it's nice to see the 6.8 out there, and I am always impressed with it's performance, will it be replacing the 5.56 any time soon? I really really doubt it. However, it looks like the Brits are dropping the .308 as being too small for sniper purposes, and are rolling out a few new variants in .338 Lapua.
Some links for people to digest:
Tavor21 rifle headed into service with Indian special forces
The USA's M4 Carbine Controversy


Dear Jim,
Once again I feel called to step in and provide some info on 5.56 ammo.
First, as I've said before, for long-term situations I'd prefer a bolt action rifle in a common game caliber of the area (8mm, .30-06, 7.62x54, .308). This gives ultimate reliability for best cost.
However, there are times when high output is necessary. At those times, you need a fast firing weapon in the standard caliber of the area. In just about the entire civilized world, that caliber is 5.56mm. There is no point in stocking a "wildcat" caliber, and little in stocking a non-standard round. I love the .45 ACP, but 9mm and .40 are far more common in official supply chains, which will have ammo long after .45 ACP is exhausted in stores. Actually, I prefer .45 Long Colt, but it's no longer US issue and a bit hard to find in strategic quantity.
As far as rifles, .308 is getting very pricey, very fast. It also means a heavier weapon, heavier ammo and more recoil. In a G.O.O.D. situation, all these are relevant.
In such a situation, I don't plan on stopping for long. I don't plan to hang around to find out if my rounds killed or merely wounded a goblin, and I don't expect most goblins, rioters, etc, will act like hardened combat vets and stick around for an extended fight.
My sources (beyond my own decades of experience) include a Navy combat medic who has treated more than 400 casualties in our current nastiness. In his words, he's never seen a serious torso or head hit with 5.56 that was not incapacitating or lethal. I can testify firsthand from running a training range that most troops do not shoot exceptionally well. Add in the fog of war and a natural fear reaction, and, with no disrespect intended, I'll bet any amount of money that most of the "multiple torso hits" that didn't take a bad guy down were probably multiple torso misses. We've all been positive that we hit a target that didn't react, and must be defective. Or else the weapon is. It's human nature to trust ourselves, if we are healthy. But it doesn't matter what you miss with. It won't work.
Did some hits fail to stop the bad guy? Certainly. Bob Dole took multiple German 8mm hits in WWII. Should we assume 8mm is an inadequate stopper and go back to .45-70?
For information and reassurance I offer the following links:
An extensive, official analysis of wounding mechanisms in small arms projectiles.
An Army LTC's take on matters.
A ballistics tutorial.
Also, one cannot equate ".308 or 7.62 Soviet." Apart from a similar diameter, the two rounds have nothing in common. This is the "bigger is better" school, which taken to its extreme would equate 9mm and .375H&H. Both are "Big." The question is, do they have enough power to penetrate, and do they terminate in a fashion that will cause sufficient wounding? At 400 yards, the 5.56 is comparable in power to a .45 ACP at the muzzle. Is that the definition of "inadequate"? Especially since the odds of any one of us engaging a hostile target at that range, and hitting, are very close to zero (and I speak as someone with military match trophies on the shelf behind me, using a standard H&R contract M16A1 at 400 yards).
5.56mm causes greater wounds than 7.62X39. This has been demonstrated and documented hundreds of thousands of times since Vietnam. It is also a more effective round in terms of rounds per pound for transport. See Dr. Fackler's documentation above, among others. For example:
5.56mm will go through at least 12" of pine...and keep going.
Neither 7.62 NATO nor 5.56 will penetrate a 6" sandbag.
5.56 will penetrate two Level IIIA vests with hard trauma plates.
SS109 spec 5.56 has better armor penetration than some 7.62 NATO loads. (This site has lots of useful info, but is starting to decay. I've sent a reminder to the hosts.)
As far as I'm aware, the myth of the US military "returning" to .30 caliber has been around for 40 years, ever since 5.56 was adopted. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is number of rounds per pound for logistical supply, this is never going to happen. If you run out of ammo, it doesn't matter what you could have shot the bad guy with. Even if it were inadequate, I'd rather have half a 210 round loadout of 5.56 than none [remaining] of a 100 round loadout of 7.62.
By the way, I've been performing a dirt test on one of my AR-15s. 2000 rounds over a year so far with no cleaning. The only failures have been due to $3 used sold-as-parts Israeli surplus Orlite magazines.

I should also mention the following data that I found at

"Combat operations the past few months have again highlighted terminal performance deficiencies with 5.56x45mm 62 gr. M855 FMJ. These problems have primarily been manifested as inadequate incapacitation of enemy forces despite their being hit multiple times by M855 bullets. These failures appear to be associated with the bullets exiting the body of the enemy soldier without yawing or fragmenting. This failure to yaw and fragment can be caused by reduced impact velocities as when fired from short barrel weapons or when the range increases. It can also occur when the bullets pass through only minimal tissue, such as a limb or the chest of a thin, malnourished individual, as the bullet may exit the body before it has a chance to yaw and fragment. In addition, bullets of the SS109/M855 type are manufactured by many countries in numerous production plants. Although all SS109/M855 types must be 62 gr. FMJ bullets constructed with a steel penetrator in the nose, the composition, thickness, and relative weights of the jackets, penetrators, and cores are quite variable, as are the types and position of the cannelures. Because of the significant differences in construction between bullets within the SS109/M855 category, terminal performance is quite variable—with differences noted in yaw, fragmentation, and penetration depths. Luke Haag’s papers in the AFTE Journal (33(1):11-28, Winter 2001) describe this problem."

So obviously one also must consider the construction of the projectile. With that in mind, and the wonderful mass of data available here, I'm still very happy with 5.56, with the right ammo selection (as with any caliber). - Michael Z. Williamson


Mr. Rawles,
The posts about the .223 on your web site reminded me of an article I recently read [At Michael Yon's web site] and thought you would be interested.

The takeaway line from the article: "Prosser shot the man at least four times with his M4 rifle. But the American M4 rifle [cartridge]s are weak - after Prosser landed three nearly point blank shots in the man’s abdomen, splattering a testicle with a fourth, the man just staggered back, regrouped and tried to shoot Prosser.”

Keep up the good work, - Jack


Okay! Hold on a minute, I did not say that I preferred the .223, I just said I found a new found respect for the .223. I have seen what it can do. I was only comparing chest size and penetration. In the right hands the .223 is a very formidable weapon. If all I can see is the boot or hand or leg or arm it will have serious hole in it and the varmint will be out of the game along with the two it takes to haul them out of the line of fire, and I may get them too with my .308.
The .223 68 grain is not extra heavy by any means when you consider the available bullet weight spectrum. The various arms conventions re hollow points will not apply as society breaks down. The dead never complain.

To Stephen in Iraq, CDR, Clyde, Jack, and all the readers of the blog. My favorite .308 cal shoots a solid 168 grain boat tail crimped molly bullet. These are not super hot hand loads. They are loaded to the same specs as standard mil spec .308s. They are just faster because of the moly. Faster gives me a longer battlefield zero.

For all you new readers I fully support Jim's position regarding the .308 as the primary battle weapon. I personally hold that our primary survival caliber is a .308 in a semi auto, backed up with other common calibers like .30-06, 7.62x39, and .223.

Here we use mil spec .223 and .308 ammo. However, Jim is very right in developing ballistically matched rounds for each weapon. We have done this. In my bolt gun I prefer to use 168 grain
bullets but will use mil spec as well. Now I am a older fart, can't run a long distance, but can walk all day with short breaks. Will defend my home and will seek out varmints using the shoot
and scoot principal. For me accuracy and long range is more important than firepower, however we have both.
So for all you .308 buffs, "I are one" too. My favorite hunting caliber is a .300 Weatherby magnum, and yes, I shoot 168 grain boat tail bullets in it as well. - Martin

JWR Replies: Thanks to all of those that commented. There is certainly no lack of controversy on this topic!

One important point of clarification: I specifically mentioned that current fast-expanding .223 soft nose "varmint" ammunition lacks penetration against armored opponents at long range. It works fairly well "up close and personal", or against someone that is not wearing body armor. But even then, it may take several shots to put Mr. Bad Guy out of the fight, during which time he very well might still be launching lead at you. So once again, if I have the choice, I will grab a .308. It has often and rightly been said that in gun fights there are no second place winners.

Courtesy of CS in Wisconsin comes a couple of articles about former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan "Mr. Magoo" Greenspan: from Greenspan Says U.S. House Prices Keep Falling After `Shocker' and Greenspan Has No `Regrets' as Housing Slump Deepens. CS's comment: "If I set up the housing bubble don't blame me now, I'm writing down my memoirs!"

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RBS suggested this article over at by Bill Bonner: Subprime--The Ultimate Financial Accident

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The 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends in just five days. (November 30th.) Place your order soon!

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I wouldn't finding one of these under my Christmas tree! (Thanks to H.K. for sending us that link.)

"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." - Isaiah 40:8 (KJV)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends in just six days (on November 30th), so place your order soon!

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

If you’re like me, there are times when you have to leave almost all your preparedness stuff behind as you journey by air to strange, far-off places on behalf of your employer. No access to your well-stocked SUV. You are alone, and home is hundreds if not thousands of miles away. But disaster will not be consulting your personal travel itinerary before it strikes. How best should you prepare?

Let’s first discuss the objective, as it determines the approach. For most of us, we leave family, friends, and a (more-or-less) well-stocked homestead behind. This means Your primary objective is to make it home safely and quickly. By any means necessary: your return airline ticket, the rental vehicle, alternative transportation, or if all else fails, on foot. Under no circumstances do you want to be swept into the mainstream of refugees, wandering aimlessly to eventually be herded into government “aid facilities”. (If you’re outside of CONUS however, your objective may likely be via the U.S., Embassy). You are different. You have a specific mission. And you have made preparations to succeed. Here are some ideas I use that are carefully selected to be lightweight, compact, don’t require you to schlep along extra suitcases, but will give you more than a leg up on most locals in an emergency.

Luggage - The very best choice is a soft-framed backpack with waist belt, or carryable duffel. It lets you retain the most stuff on long hauls over mixed terrain. This may be impractical for some folks, so the next best thing is a prime-quality rolling carryon with a locking collapsible handle, combined with a laptop backpack. The rolling carryon keeps the weight off your back, but will be useless off pavement. That’s why you must bring your laptop in a backpack carrying case. That will become your primary backpack (you will most likely be leaving the laptop behind, but you keep all your data on a memory stick, right?). Get it with--or sew on--attachment points on the bottom and sides of the backpack. Bring strapping, bought at a hiking store, this lets you lash up bedding you “borrow” from the hotel room, or other provisions you acquire along the way, and add a waist strap for long-haul walking. Plan on checking the large piece of luggage – otherwise you won’t be able to bring along a number of key items like edged weapons. Granted, you’re less equipped during your flight, but life is full of compromises. Keep your medications, food, flashlight, communications gear, money and a couple of layers of clothing with you on the plane. If you can’t do without a briefcase, forgo the fancy leather banker version in favor of nylon w/ a shoulder carry strap. You must be ready to carry everything you need on your back in the event you have to walk it home, and the right briefcase can become an asset [instead of a hindrance.]

Money and valuables - Assume that your credit, debit, and ATM cards will become useless in an emergency. That leaves cash and tangibles. I bring at least $1,000 in assorted bills with me when I travel domestically, and several thousand when I travel internationally. This will enable you to buy the food, transportation, weapons, and lodging you need to make it back, if it can indeed be bought. As I am not rich, this presents a burden, but I believe it is very worthwhile to ensure success. Hoard your cash when on travel – use credit for every thing so you have the most available when you really need it. If you’re partial to wearing expensive watches or jewelry, consider them barterable (have an inexpensive, sturdy backup watch in that case) – be discrete so you do not attract mutants. Keep your cash/valuables out of sight, in multiple places, and don’t leave it in the hotel room. Under most scenarios short of total meltdown, people will continue to honor paper money long enough for you to make it home, so I don’t see a strong need for gold/silver coins. [JWR Adds: I always wear a discreet money belt when I travel. Keeping in mind cross-border currency movement restrictions, you can easily carry the equivalent of $8,000 US Dollars if you carry it in the form of EU500 Euro notes or $500 Canadian Dollar notes. (Sadly, the largest US bill in circulation is the $100 note, which is five times more bulky.) Both the Canadian and Euro "500" denomination notes are hard to find, but worth the search, and even worth paying a premium, just for the sake of compactness.]

Clothing - Even if the forecast is warm and sunny for your entire planned trip, bring rain and cold weather gear. Forget umbrellas, they are flimsy and occupy a hand. Use the layering approach – a fold-up waterproof hooded shell in a dark color, collapsible down vest and/or a couple of fleece or thin wool sweaters, and an Under-Armour-style inner layer (remember you are fitting all this into a standard piece of luggage). Bring sturdy hiking shoes; wear them on the plane, and keep your dress shoes handy in your checked luggage. Bring at least two pair of hiking socks and liners (one to wear, the other undergoing wash/dry), even if it’s just an overnight trip, comfortable pants, a warm hat with ventilation and a good brim, sunglasses, and thin gloves. By wearing the heavier/bulkier items as you travel, you minimize the space demands on the luggage. Include a bandana or two – they have a thousand uses.

Food - You want compactness, indefinite storage, and high energy density, so you can stay on the go for several days. My favorite is Go Lean energy bars. Generally, look for high fiber brands, as they ward off hunger longer. Unsalted peanuts and M&Ms are also good choices. I bring 6-12 bars, secreted in nooks and crannies. Get a set of lexan resin eating utensils from a hiking store, and a P-38 can opener (put that in checked luggage). If things go longer, use your cash or resort to hobo cooking (canned food heated over fire).
Water - make your canteen from the 24-oz water bottle you bought for your flight, by bringing along a water bottle carry strap like those found at amusement parks. Don’t forget a small bottle of purification tablets – you can use your bandana as a 1st-tier sieve/filter.

Self-defense - Limited options due to the TSA restrictions for airline flights. Mailing firearms to yourself at your hotel [for an extended stay] is theoretically possible, but really very impractical in most business trips. In any event do bring your folding knife with combination straight and serrated blade (two is better than one) in you checked baggage, an impact weapon like a nylon kubotan or a carabiner employed as a keychain, and a flashlight (w/ multiple extra batteries) that is blindingly bright and sturdy enough to be used as an impact weapon . Make sure the carabiner is a real one from a hiking store, and is big enough to get all your fingers into so you can use it as “aluminum knuckles”. For carry-on, bring several thick rubber bands, so you can tightly wrap one of those in-flight magazines into a makeshift club. In an emergency after you arrive, if you cannot acquire a firearm or larger edged weapon, then use your folding knife to fashion a sturdy walking staff / club / spear from a mop handle or similar. Hiking stores carry very compact sharpening stones that can clip to your coat’s zipper – if you are in transit for a couple of weeks, you will need to keep an edge on your knives. Note that in some locales such as England and New York City, carrying a knife, or any “weapon” is illegal. Be informed, and use your own judgment. [JWR Adds: A roll of quarters (or British One Pound Coins or One Euro coins) can serve the dual purpose of being an impact weapon (a "Sunday Bar") and being available to make emergency pay phone calls. I can't imagine any jurisdiction that would charge you with carrying a "concealed" roll of coins. (Although once I witnessed the TSA goons asking a fellow passenger to take the dimes out of a paper roll and confiscate the coin roll paper. Oh, I felt so much safer after they did that!)]

Communications - Bring power adapters for your cellular phone, both AC and, critically DC vehicle power, and windup (FreePlay). Bring a roll of coins for a payphone (just in case you can still find one – they are still common in Europe). If you have the option of choosing your cell phone model, consider a tri-band GSM-mode smartphone with Internet connectivity, a USB port and USB to Ethernet adapter (don’t forget the cables) – this preserves the most vital functions of a PC in an emergency: news feeds and e-mail, without its bulk. Some smartphones, like the Nokia N95, include GPS and maps, too. GSM is the world standard, so it will work in both US and Europe. Keep phone numbers and addresses of extended family and friends, in case you need to make a pit stop on your way. An earbud-style AM/FM radio, so you can keep up with radio news and weather reports.

Shelter / Light - Keep it simple and lightweight for starters, and pick up stuff as you go. Strike anywhere matches in a waterproof container and a magnesium striker-type fire-starter in checked baggage; buy a disposable lighter or two on arrival and discard on return, a space blanket, and one or two 3-mil thick contractor garbage bags for rain poncho, ground cloth, and/or tarp, and 50 feet of parachute cord. Have an LED microlight on your keychain, in red illumination, with an extra button battery or two. This conserves your tactical flashlight’s life. [If things looks bad,] borrow the bedding from your hotel room and strap it to your backpack or stow in your rental car’s trunk – you can pay them back later.

Transportation - When traveling in a group, always be the one to rent the car, so you have options and maintain control. When you can, try to make it a compact 4x4, like a Ford Escape (companies always want you to get the absolute cheapest, so this is easier said than done). Keep the gas tank filled. Onboard GPS navigation options are becoming commonplace, but at $10+ per day, expensive – it may be worth it to you. (See “navigation” below).

Medications and First Aid - Don’t assume you’ll be home in a day or so. Bring enough prescription meds for at least two weeks. I also bring a very small first aid kit – it fits into a pants pocket and holds band-aids, a disinfectant cream, sun block in stick form, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea pills, and tweezers. Separately, I include a couple of sanitary napkins and tape as a compress, and a small bottle of insect repellant. Having balance is key here – you will not need a full kit. If you break a leg or are shot, you will need more help than you can self-administer. To stay clean, I take a refill pack of baby wipes, a trial size bottle of hand sanitizer, and a small bar of soap. I also bring a blister kit for my feet – most people don’t hike 30 miles a day with a pack, and blisters can be totally immobilizing, with an attendant risk of infection. Taking good measures with your feet, starting with the right footwear will help you get home in one piece.

Navigation - Be able to figure how to get back home, from several routes. Get a good street map of the city you are visiting, and multi-state AAA highway maps between there and home – don’t bring a book, or piles of topo maps – too big and heavy. I have a small compass that clips to the zipper of my shell. A GPS unit may be a good idea – they are compact and full of map data – but they run on batteries, and will be inoperative if the disaster involves an EMP, or the government turns off GPS in response to a terror attack. Compact binoculars are very important for reconnaissance. If abroad, know how to get to the embassy, and to major rail junctions, seaports, and border crossings.

Utility - Bring a multi-tool (again, in checked baggage) – I prefer the Leatherman Wave with bit assortment, but YMMV. As I said, a flashlight will be essential, with extra batteries.
All this can and does fit in one piece of rollaway luggage along with my regular business accoutrements for one or more weeks of travel – mine is a Victorinox model with an expandable main compartment.

In a disaster, it may take several weeks to make it home from your trip – the preceding advice will get you off to a good start. Good luck and I hope that nobody ever needs any of this!

Ianto Evans has a book called "Rocket Mass Heaters". He is a Welsh inventor, who was hired by the government of Guatemala to develop a less polluting wood stove for cooking. It also had to be more efficient. Basic physics tells you that exhaust heat is wasted energy. The smoke out of his stoves are cool enough to put your hand in front of, and they don't emit visible smoke. They use much less wood as well and can be made for under $100. has interesting articles on the importance of kerosene heaters, as a way to avoid unwanted attention, for short term unrest, before wood burners are used.
Keep up the good work. - Dan C.

Florida Guy found us this one: The great depression of 2008 – the mother of all depressions

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Frequent contributor RBS flagged this article from Time magazine: After the Oil Crisis, a Food Crisis?

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The US Dollar dropped below the crucial 1.10 Swiss Franc level. There is an old saying, "Its a just a stumble and short trip from the limousine to the gutter."

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John the Bowhunter recommended some commentary from Michigan's Attorney General Mike Cox, writing in The Wall Street Journal: Second-Amendment Showdown

"A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) US Supreme Court Justice

Friday, November 23, 2007

JRH Enterprises (one of our most loyal advertisers) is having a Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) sale, today only. The on-sale items include PRI fuel preservative, children's and adult gas masks, night vision gear, medical items, and long term storage foods. Be sure to visit their site and check out their great line of reasonably-priced preparedness and outdoors gear.

I currently live in a studio apartment, and my storage space is limited. I have already done my darndest to get creative on storage. For example my "coffee table" is actually eight cases of bottled water, topped with a slab of plywood, and then draped with a decorative print throw. And my bed is a "stylishly" extra tall four-poster, just for the sake of the storage space underneath. But I still lack the space needed for seeeeerious food storage. Because of some deep family commitments, I don't plan to bug out, but instead "hunker down" in place. (I live in a suburb of Memphis [,Tennessee.]) Here is my question to you: Assuming that I would mind filling up half of my apartment with food now, but that I wouldn't mind doing so right when a disaster seems imminent, can I get everything that I need in one big supermarket trip with my Ford (F250 model) [pickup] truck? (It has a big A.R.E. camper shell.) I'm talking 10 to 12 grocery carts full, all in one trip to the store, with [the help of] two of my relatives. If we make several trips into the store, with enough planning (I mean like actually mapping out the store and setting up a shopping "battle plan") I think that we could buy everything in less than three or four hours. What do you think? I realize that this sorta approach is less than optimal, but is it at least viable? Thanks, - Pat J.

JWR Replies: Stocking up on canned and bulk foods can be done as you describe. Of course, waiting until the eleventh hour is not recommended, but if your circumstances necessitate it, then consider it a calculated risk. (Just don't hesitate, once you see the first warning signs. You my have only one day to do your shopping before the hordes descend and strip the stores clean!) However, instead of making these purchases at a supermarket, I recommend buying at a membership "warehouse" store (such as Costco or Sam's Club.) Buy a store membership card and scope out the store in detail, well in advance. Some items like jerky, batteries, and bottled water will sell out first, so make those your first stops. With proper planning, you could buy everything in under two hours.

The case lots that "Big Box" stores sell, combined with the large large flat cargo carts that they provide makes large volume procurement much more efficient than shopping at a typical grocery store with individual cans and small boxes, piled into a standard shopping cart. (One of the Costco cargo carts--piled up with case lots--can carry the equivalent of about eight grocery carts full.) You can buy a lot of food in a very short period of time, and get better prices to boot, buying at a place like Costco. By the way, just this sort of procurement is described in detail in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The core portion of the course is literally a guided tour of a Costco store, describing what is available. It also compares food shelf lives, distinguishing between the various types of packaging. And, by coincidence, the course (with accompanying audio CD) is currently on sale at 33% off.

Regarding the recent Odd 'n Sods link to the article about "The Prophet of Climate Change": This planet on which we live has been "globally warmed" before, during that episode of time sometimes referred-to as the "Medieval Warm Period". This warming (which is acknowledged to have been even warmer than our present-day) occurred without benefit of (the) Industrial Revolution, or even of a large human population. It (the Warming) waxed into being beginning around 750-850 A.D., waned, and then moved into the next bit of planetary-cycle, often thought of as (the) "Little Ice Age".

This globe on which we all reside has seen these warm/cold cycles wax & wane for long before humans became the (supposedly; insects are said to be more widespread) dominant species. As I indicated above, the cycles have come and gone with little or no previous influence from humanity. Hysteria (and, making an "time 'honored'" institution of trading "carbon credits" worldwide) aside, from where do these supposedly "experts" think that we humans have put our planet into "irreversible" warming, and that "6 billion people will perish by the end of the century"?

The quicksand, as it were, of hysteria is that nobody thusly involved wishes to be on the back-end of the proverbial horse. "Jumping on the bandwagon" is a very old and time honored way of "proving" to ones' peers that they (the jumper['s]) have "gotten with the program". I should know; in my time I've shouted-down common sense, jumped on bandwagons, and altogether told intelligent & common-sense to "take a hike". In my case, however, I've come to my senses and decided to "Investigate, (but) not pile-on the wagon of hysteria" (noted above, a sad-to-say, but increasingly-popular, social-phenomena). Truly yours, - Ben L.

Isolation, Neighbors, Security and the Golden Rule
This week we'll look into some characteristics of retreat shopping that normally won't become an issue until you have actually spent time "in theater" and have narrowed your search to several possible retreat properties to purchase. After taking the time to look at the properties available through and/or working with an experienced local agent in your selected retreat region, you should eventually work your list up to perhaps a half dozen prospective retreat properties that are on the market. . Then it is time to whittle that list down, by selecting the "best of the best".

First, let's assume that you are purchasing a retreat that will someday become a full time residence, but maybe not for a few year, yet you'll need to get it stocked and prepped so you have a place to go should the SHTF. Some things to consider would be the lifestyle that a certain property will afford you both pre- and post-TEOTWAWKI and the security of your supplies while your retreat is unoccupied.

The quality of your immediate neighbors will be very important, especially for someone that may have a young family in tow. Providing the family with a home in an area that will afford certain socialization opportunities for all the family members. That should be high on the check off list in the final stages of a retreat purchase, as friendly self sufficient neighbors will become invaluable during a crisis. So, how would one learn about the neighbors? Knock on their door of course. Your real estate agent might become a little unnerved but who cares, it's your life, right? (If your agent offers to run rear security while you talk to the new neighbors, you got a good one, let's get 'em on the Blog!). If you have narrowed your search down to one or two properties I would simply go neighbor snooping. Introduce yourself and be forthcoming (to an extent of course, don't tell them you read SurvivalBlog, yet) and let them know you are contemplating purchasing the property nearby and wanted to get an idea of who is in the neighborhood. And remember, these neighbors will most likely have anywhere from 5 to 100 acres maybe more so make it an all day journey.

Ask them if they do any canning, hunting, fishing, if they home school, raise livestock, or grow organically, et cetera. (These are all good buzz words to check for self sufficiency.) Get a little dialog going then ask them a few questions about the locale and once they get going just smile and listen. You'd be real surprised at what you'll here in a small town. Really. Also, be sure to ask them where they moved from and why, this will give you an eye into who they are and what their motivations may be towards newcomers. Your neighbors need not be SurvivalBloggers, they simply have to be trustworthy (easy to find in smaller towns) and demonstrate some sort of self-reliance skills (noted above). It does help if they actually like you enough to want to watch your property while your not there also.
Being isolated in a cabin 20 miles from the nearest paved road may sound like fun, and it may be better in a total social collapse but remember, you have to live your life in between now and then. Being able to walk a few hundred yards to ask a neighbor for help with a tough chore or to drop off a freshly baked pie will add a lot to your family's life, whether you are religious or not. If you have kids you'll need to be comfortable with little Johnny walking a 1/4 mile to his friends house and vise-versa knowing each neighbor along the way does a mental check off as they see your child run by their home and will call you if they don't see him come back home by nightfall. A sense of community is important, don't leave it out of your checklist.

Well, what about commute time (convenience) versus isolation and security? My take on the matter is that I would rather commute longer than I would like for the next who knows how many working years I have left, than to live too close to a cesspool of society that I know will come looking for a handout should something ever happen, thus possibly threatening the safety of my loved ones. If you have to drive an extra 30 minutes to your 9 to 5 job to guarantee that the urban sprawl will not surround your retreat in 10 or 15 years, then suck it up and do it. You'll thank yourself one dark day in the future! Remember, any property you see that you think is "out there" from a city dwellers perspective, will have a gas station (or storage unit for that matter) next door to it in 20 years, as the baby-boomers move out of the cities and some of the rest of the horde get smart and punch out as well. Location, location and most importantly, location! Saving a dollar may cost you a pound of lead someday!

Next on the list would be the security of your very valuable supplies, be it firearms/ammo, food and clothing stores and/or general survival supplies that you have worked hard to get over the years. This is one item that a lot of retreat shoppers don't concentrate on very much. They assume that somehow a magic survivalist angel will hover over their cached gear and keep it safe. Not a chance. Better to presume that everyone within 5 miles will know the old "Jones Ranch" was sold and that the new owner is some out-of-towner that just vacations there. One more reason to have good and trustworthy neighbors who have a visual on your property and are like-minded.

Now, should someone break in (an assume they will, because, they will) you'll need to construct a storage room with a false wall and hidden entrance so all that they get is the old Readers Digest on the toilet. Personally, my thoughts are that no retreat should be without a basement, either full or a walk-out will do. Either way, you'll want to pick a back corner and have it walled off with concrete and a safe door as well as a solar-powered climate controlled system. I'm sure there are countless articles on the Blog about how to do this so I won't waste time in detail, but just make sure that the wall and door are completely covered from prying eyes and hands. It also would be prudent to have a trusted friend that lives in the area come check the place out every week or so just to make sure all is well and you don't have a disaster like a broken pipe waiting to fill your house for months until you arrive for that holiday trip to the retreat. That person could also help with logistics. Why ship supplies to yourself then drive them to your retreat, when they can be shipped direct and placed in your retreat by that person (a neighbor you get to know over time?) Who knows.

So to recap, make sure your retreat will provide a good social base and trusted neighbors (location!) as well as having a basement or out building for a secure storage room(s) to be built, concealed, and maintained. If these two items are checked off during your final purchasing phase then you'll be much happier should you actually have to live full-time at your retreat, either by choice or happenstance.
Oh, and the Golden Rule? Naw, it's the one who has the most lead that rules! God Bless, - Todd S. in northern Idaho

Just a reminder for those of you that assembled the $20 First Aid Kits last year. (See JN-EMT's prize-winning article.) It is now time to replace your medications and re-stock. Also, consider making up some first aid kits for your friends/family and giving them away as Christmas gifts. You never know when you might get it back when you need help.

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It was announced that the US supreme court court will hear an appeal of the Heller case, wherein Washington, D.C. residents sued to overturn DC’s gun ban. God willing, the court's ruling will expand the U.S. v. Lopez decision and thereby negate some of the plethora of Federal gun laws that were enacted in the last century. My prediction for the upcoming Heller appeal decision and subsequent Federal court decisions: The court will indeed recognize the second Amendment as an individual right. Many of the extant Federal statutes will stand as-is, but the Lopez doctrine will be expanded, allowing intrastate gun ownership to flourish. Conceivably, full autos and suppressors could be de-regulated (exempted from Federal controls and taxes) for ownership that does not involve interstate transfers.

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I just got the following note from the long term storage vendor Mountain Brook Foods: "We're moving so we want to get you moving. Take advantage of our 50-to-70% reduction on the limited inventory that is being reduced. We will move it from our place to your, Nov. 23rd thru 30th. For your readers in California if they are close to our Tracy, California warehouse they can come and pick it up [to save on shipping] on selected items."

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Several readers sent us the link to a book excerpt from veteran economist and "soft" survivalist Howard J. Ruff: The Watershed Years

“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.” - Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a national holiday celebrated in the US (and a few weeks earlier each year in Canada), to give thanks to God for his providence. We indeed have much to be thankful for!

I was reading your postings on light security and blackout curtains for a home that would be secure in the nighttime. I thought about it on my way home after work, and realize that you're right. I've
driven around my area during power outages and know who is home, due to their having generators running and lights shining, or even just those using candles or lanterns of various types. As I was pondering those things, I pulled into my driveway and looked at my home and a question popped up immediately. Here in the Northeast, (Maine) we're in the heating season.
If anything were to happen, it would be a dead giveaway to know who is home or who isn't by looking at the chimneys and observing smoke coming out. Especially when you're just starting the woodstove.
It has a tendency to create a lot of smoke until the stack temperature begins to heat up and cause an updraft. Do you know of any way to decrease smoke from a chimney, or any way to camouflage the
Thanks for your blog and all that you do. Rob in Maine (Proud owner of an autographed "Patriots" book!)

JWR Replies: Aside from burning only well-dried wood and using your stove's damper judiciously, I don't know of any means of minimizing smoke from a chimney. (It is rapid changes in damper position that seem to generate the most smoke.) If you are in the habit of cranking up your stove with an open damper for roaring hot once a week to burn out any accumulated creosote from the upper reaches of your stove, then do so only after dark. Ditto for cleaning out ashes and re-kindling the stove.

Mr. Rawles,
Just a quick note which may be of interest to your recent correspondent who inquired about long-term storable vegetarian meal options... please pass this along and/or publish it, or not, as you see fit.
There are indeed vegetarian MREs in the standard army-surplus offerings, but there have also been been some specialized vegetarian long-term shelf-stable rations developed under the names of (among others) "Meal, Alternative Regionally Customized" (MARC) and "Humanitarian Daily Rations" (HDR). The MARCs were designed to feed prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and the HDRs were designed for emergency feeding in natural disasters; neither contain animal products or byproducts, in an effort to make them, by design, as acceptable as possible to end-users with belief-based food taboos.
See, e.g., these web pages MARC and HDR.

Some judicious Googling will turn up some purchase opportunities for surplus MARCs, such as this supplier. (Where MARCs are [euphemistically] described as "Vegetarian Indian Food MRE Entrees."
I've sampled a couple of these, and while they will not make you forget your favorite Indian restaurant (to put it mildly) they're pretty damned good for what they are.
Standard disclaimers apply: I have no affiliation with any vendor of MREs, including anyone who's linked above... I am just trying to pass along some possibly useful information to vegetarian/vegan readers of the blog.

I enjoy SurvivalBlog very much, by the way. I grew up in the country but have been living in New York City for many years now, and as a man whose only currently viable plan is "hunker down and shelter in place for anything that's short-term survivable" (working on it!) I'm learning a lot, and I appreciate the calm, sane, rational approach you take to the subject matter.All best, - Barry C.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
First thank you for "Patriots", your excellent blog, and your leadership.
Second, I have to laugh at the current blog discussion regarding preparing and vegetarians, with most input coming from non-vegetarians.
I'm 44 years old, have been vegetarian for over 15 years, and hold a first class FAA medical. Furthermore, my cholesterol has been routinely in the 130-150 range for years. To clarify, I'm probably the least "picky" eater I know. Basically don't feed me anything with chicken, pork or beef in it and I'm happy. (Anything requiring a .gov warning to burn to a cinder before it's fit(?) for human consumption.)
To the point: Protein is not an issue and never has been. (B vitamins and in particular B12 can be, though.) Supplementation with a good multivitamin is a good idea with any kind of diet.) Complete protein for a vegetarian is as easy as rice with beans, or corn with beans. Done. American Indians subsisted and prospered with "The Three Sisters": corn, beans, and squash. Sounds good to me, and with proper seed selection is even a sustainable menu as well.
As for a stockpile, I'll take rice and beans over cows or chickens any day! And as you already pointed out, I've been eating the stuff for years. When TEOTWAWKI happens, basically from a diet, gastric, and menu perspective, I really wouldn't notice much of a change. That's probably a significant advantage.
Ideas like buying prepackaged vegetarian "meals," though well intentioned are kinda silly, considering the 50 pound bags of staples/seeds that are already available, inexpensive, and easily storable for years.
Thanks again and God Bless, - Ed in Oregon

JWR Replies: I agree that at a fixed-site retreat, pre-packed meals (such as MREs and MARCs) don't make much sense. But when operating in the field, they save time, obviate the need to carry a stove and cooking utensils, and reduce the noise, odor, and light "signature" of a campsite. In my experience, 80% or more of the food supplies that a family needs to store can be found in bulk at very competitive prices at your local "big box" membership store, such as Costco or Sam's Club. This sort of procurement is described in detail in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I've been able to pick up a lot of gear at garage and yard sales. Most importantly, I've found many practical books at yard sales and junk stores that sell books for $1 or even just 25 cents each. I was able to pick up a home medical adviser from the 1920s for 25 cents. I have also bought numerous books on small scale farming, canning, food storage, and living off the grid from the 1920s for a dollar each. Much of the information would be relevant to a post-TEOTWAWKI, as it was written for farmers or rural residents that didn't have access to electricity and largely lived off the land.

I have a few books about working on houses from the post-WWII years since it is before plastics, which has inherent benefits in a survival situation since they will be hard to find at Home Depot. They also have information on how to make repairs that today the answer would be buy a new one, or use a hard to find/expensive par. (Impossible in a survival situation.)

These are the books that I have found most helpful:
The Home Handyman's Guide edited by Hubbard Cobb copyright 1949
Readers Digest Back to Basics Copyright 1981 (most important by far with general info on everything)
2004 Emergency Response Guidebook (there is a new version every year, its given free to public safety organizations)
The Weather Wise Gardner by Calvin Simmons Copyright 1983 ISBN 0-87857-428-X
The New American Garden Book Copyright 1954 edited by Dorothy Sara
The People's Common Sense Medical Adviser by RV Pierce copyright 1895 [JWR Adds: Keep in mind that some of the home medical remedies described in books of this vintage (such as "take a spoonful of kerosene...") are not safe or recommended! OBTW, a similar encyclopedia titled "The Household Cyclopedia", circa 1881, is now available online for free download. Thanks to reader "TinCan" for sending SurvivalBlog that link.]
Various USDA agricultural yearbooks from pre-1935, these are also great because a fair deal of them is geared towards the farms that existed as family farms and were quite self sufficient.

Also, on another note, for people that live in suburbia it is important to block visibility from neighbors or the street when storing cached gear. For example, I was driving through my neighborhood today and there was a small horse trailer (in neighborhood where livestock is prohibited by the homeowners association) inside a garage. That sort of thing draws attention and others will start rumors "Why does he have a horse trailer inside his garage? What are they trying to hide?" When TSHTF neighbors will start talking more and maybe something may come up. I hope these books and the advice helps someone. Regards, -Sam

Reader John M. mentioned: "With Christmas coming up, this is a great time to ask friends and co-workers to save their empty popcorn and cookie tins. Placing small electronic items in the smaller cookie tins and then nesting those tins inside the larger popcorn tins is an inexpensive way to provide a measure of EMP shielding. And the price is right!"

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The special 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends on November 30th. Be sure to place your order soon. The course only rarely goes on sale.

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For those of you that just can't wait for the release of the "I Am Legend" movie on December 14th, an early draft of the screenplay (before Will Smith got involved, and when the locale was still San Francisco) written by Mark Protosevich is available online. A hat tip to PNG for sending us the link.

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MM suggested this article by Chris Laird: Monster Western Credit Crisis - Prelude to a Depression

"I haven't used either my home fire insurance or my earthquake insurance. I am particularly pleased I haven't used the life insurance yet..." - Jerry, 650k6

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am very pleased to report that the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course from Arbogast Publishing is now on sale, at 33% off the normal retail price! This publisher's special pricing will only last for just over a week, so don't hesitate! To get the special sale price, all orders must be placed online or postmarked by November 30th. Get a copy for yourself, or one or more to give as Christmas gifts for your relatives that have their heads in the sand.

What if the banks were closed for a Bank Holiday by the President, for let's say one week. Question: Could one still use their credit card? Or is the system intertwined? Keep up the great work you do and service you provide the world. - David V

JWR Replies: In the event of a national banking crisis and bank "holiday", I predict that all bank doors will be closed and that every form of electronic money will be inoperative (ATMs, debit cards, credit cards, et cetera.) You might be able to write checks at some local businesses, but don't depend on being able to do so. There is even a smaller chance that some "Mom & Pop" stores will manually run a credit card slip for later processing, but that would be horribly naive of them. Nearly all merchants now use "Point of Purchase" (POP) electronic processing via a phone line to confirm credit card purchases, but the POP systems will surely be "down.")

If you can afford to, I recommend that you keep at least $1,000 in greenbacks on hand at all times.

Hard times usually result in an overwhelming number of people who:
1. Do not have a job of any kind, and
2. Have no steady income from any source, and
3. Are usually either homeless or are living with close relatives.

During hard times these individuals need almost everything, including food, shelter, clothing, and basic medical care. During really hard times the large and growing number of homeless individuals greatly exceeds the carrying capacity of the local community in terms of voluntary charitable donations. There are just not enough homeless shelters and free food/soup kitchens that provide one meal per day to accommodate everyone. To survive during hard times these homeless individuals must choose between becoming thieves or beggars or both.
Therefore, during hard times the crime rate increases significantly. Since God was expelled from our school systems and our work places many decades ago, there are now a large number of people who have little or no respect for any type of authority, or for the rights of anyone other than themselves. These individuals do not evaluate their actions on any moral or ethical principles other than whether or not their action results in an improvement in their own personal welfare.

As our current hard times tragedy continues to unfold, any family that still has a home that contains a wage earner will quickly learn that if they are going to continue to survive they must not make themselves an obvious or easy target for thieves or a target for a continuous stream of beggars.

Each individual family will need to make their own decision on whether or not they can afford to be charitable. Some families are already in such serious financial difficulty that they are barely able to meet their own basic survival needs and charity is simply not an option. Other families may be a little better off and they may be able to afford a little charity every now and then. The difficulty is that homeless families do not need help every now and then; they need it continuously.

If a person or family makes the decision to dispense charity directly from their home or apartment, then they may experience the following problems:
1. Having anyone and everyone knocking on your door at any time of the day or night.
2. Receiving verbal abuse, or something worse, when you honestly have no charity to give away at the current time.
3. Experiencing the occasional angry face-to-face confrontation with an individual or family that is not grateful for what you do offer to give to them, and they accuse you of being able to give more and they demand that you do so or suffer the consequences.

For these reasons, among others, a prudent family will need to determine how they can be charitable without putting the safety of their own family at risk.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this charity question. After determining what they can actually afford to give away, each family can make donations of money, food, clothing, and/or medicine to a local food bank, homeless shelter, orphanage, or local church with the stipulation that the gift be used to help the needy families in the local area.

The donation may be made to one of these organizations that is located close to the donating family, or to one that is a reasonable distance away if anonymity is considered a prudent course of action. The advantage of donating to a nearby establishment is that the donating family can direct any beggars to its location. The family would not have to mention whether or not they personally donated anything of value to the charitable organization; they could simply say they heard that food was available there.

During hard times the beggar (hobo) information network works extremely well and everyone knows which homes always say “no” and which ones sometimes say “yes” and which ones always “give directions to the nearest charitable organization.” A family can put a simple note and a directions map on their front door (or gate) to help reduce the number of beggars who actually knock on their door. The note could be written in English and Spanish. Without opening the door, the family could ask who is knocking and what their business is, and then give directions through the closed door. Remember that an innocent looking beggar could also be a very skilled thief and/or killer. Always keep your doors closed and bolted during hard times and ask and answer questions through the door. Do not open your door even to those who pretend to have or who actually do have hearing deficiencies. The note on your front door should be adequate to answer any question the hard of hearing may have.

During serious hard times the local churches and their leaders will be confronted with an increasing and overwhelming number of requests for help. Many churches will respond by setting up committees to oversee the collection, storing, and distribution of food, clothing, and other supplies to needy families. Some churches already perform this function in their communities on an ongoing basis. The advantage of making your charitable donations to a church or other charitable organization is that they can more equally distribute the available charity to everyone who is in need. And when the charity is all gone, those who received it will know that more will not be available until some future time, whether it is a free hot meal the following day, or a few more free groceries one week or one month from now.
A nearby local church or other charitable organization is a superior method for equitably distributing charity to everyone who is need. The reasons are as follows:
1. They will receive charitable donations from anyone regardless of whether or not the individual is a member of the organization or church.
2. They are usually located within a reasonable distance of the families who are donating the charity.
3. They are usually within walking distance or bicycle distance of the needy families.
4. They distribute charity to local residents and individuals passing through the community and therefore they help to relieve local suffering and reduce the local crime rate.
5. They minimize the chance of one family receiving more charitable assistance than another family.
6. The local charitable organization usually knows if any work is available locally and they will pass that information on to the welfare recipients. This helps those in charge of dispensing charity to identify the families who have members who could work but chose not to. Families who accept work assignments and faithfully discharge those work duties will also usually be told where they can rent a meager but simple room to live in.
7. The recipients of the charity quickly learn where the charity is being given and it helps to minimize their investment of time and energy in receiving assistance.
8. It provides everyone in the local area with an immediate and helpful answer to anyone who is in need of assistance. No one ever has to say, “No, I can’t help you.” Instead everyone can provide directions to the nearest charitable organization.
9. Beggars will quickly learn that it is fruitless to beg door-to-door in a local area because anyone who has anything to give has already donated it to the local charitable organization.
10. When the total amount of available charity in an area is not adequate to sustain all the families in that area that need charity assistance, then some of those families will realize it is time to move on to another area where the overall conditions might be more favorable.

In closing may I suggest you read the book written by Pitirim A. Sorokin called “Man and Society in Calamity.” It contains historical information about how starving individuals have actually behaved during previous hard times. A condensed summary of his book can be read at my web site: Man and Society in Calamity - Summary.
Respectfully, - Grandpappy

JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that there are many stories dating back to the Great Depression about the methods that hobos used to "mark" the property of families and businesses that were willing to give charity to strangers. The recent upsurge in "warchalking" of free wireless access locations is reminiscent of this practice.

I do recommend being charitable, but like Grandpappy, for your own safety, I recommend that you be charitable at arm's length. Working through a church as an intermediary is a time-proven method.

Dave M. sent us this: A perfect storm for gold as mines left empty.

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Here is some more hot air from the Treasury Department: Paulson Signals He Expects U.S. Dollar to Rebound. "And if you believe that..."

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I heard that Ready Made Resources has added very compact Deluxe Outdoor Survival Tool Kit to their product line. It includes a couple or my favorite pieces of field gear: a Blast Match and a SaberCut Saw. (The latter is a sort of "hand chain saw". These cut tree limbs very fast!) OBTW, they also mentioned that they are now down to less than 500 infrared chemical light sticks. Civilian production is now restricted, so get them while you can!

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David Crawford, (the author of the survivalist e-novel "Lights Out") is now drafting a new novel called "Lost and Found". The first 20 chapters are posted over at the Forums.

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - President Theodore Roosevelt, San Francisco, California, May 13, 1903

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In response to Martin's recent letter ["New-Found Respect for .223 as a Potential Man Stopper]: While the .223 (5.56mm NATO) round may work on the unsuspecting deer or thin-skinned varmint that is standing still, the situation changes when you are dealing with larger animals or highly aggressive and motivated individuals. In times like these, a .30 caliber round, i.e. the .308 (7.62x51 NATO) or Soviet 7.62x39mm is a more dependable man stopper. Why do you think there was a move to the larger 6.8mm round to replace or at least supplant the 5.56mm? Poor performance on the battlefield.

Most soldiers I talk to here [in Iraq] would much rather have a .30 caliber rifle, if given the choice. For hunting, I prefer any .33 caliber or larger for hunting game. I want my game anchored in place when I hit them, and that is more likely to happen with the larger caliber bullets.

The .223 is not a useless cartridge, and I think everybody should have one because it is so common, and there are some who [because of their stature] can better handle the rifles built around this cartridge. But as a choice for a main battle rifle or main hunting rifle, make mine a .30 caliber! Regards, - Stephen in Iraq

I will have to disagree with [Martin's assertion that .233 is a potential man stopper] due to the fact that I have been in battle with the .223 against, the 7.62x39 and the 308 caliber. Except for a head shot, the .223 is not a man stopper with one round. It has always been taught to use multiple rounds to make sure. The US military teaches two rounds to the chest and one to the head when using this round. The 7.62x39 and the .308 is a much heavier caliber with more energy and stopping power. These two calibers are the most used calibers in the world of standard battle use, and if your looking for a CQB caliber I would go with 9mm or .45 ACP, or 12 gauge. In my opinion (and you need to trust me on this) the 223 is a nice small game caliber or short ranger sniper caliber but not a good caliber for a primary weapon. This is why the US military is moving toward the .308 in their new battle rifles. - CDR

Martin's success hunting Bambi with a scoped long-barreled (24-inch bull barrel) .223 bolt-action, shooting extra-heavy bullets that are handloaded for extreme velocity is hardly analogous to self-defense shooting with a semi-auto. He is "comparing apples and oranges." Most of the AR-15 family guns being built these days are M4 clones with 16" barrels.or even 14.5" barrels (and a welded-on flash hider to make it legally 16+ inch length.) And, hey, let's be realistic, the odds are that they are going to be loaded with standard 55 grain or 62 grain ball ammo. That is the real world. You cannot load a semi-auto with screaming velocity 68 grain bullets. Let's face it: In the real world .223 just doesn't cut the mustard as an effective combat round. The.308 Winchester rules. - Clyde G.

In response to the recent article about the .223 as a man stopper, I commend their fine shooting skills and found the article very interesting since I have also taken a deer with a .223.
I have reservation as to how some readers of this site may misunderstand the information provided. Most of the .223 caliber rifles we deal with on are of the AR type. Yes I agree that when the .223 is hand loaded with high performance bullets and fired from a long barreled bolt action rifle is has a substantially increased amount of energy over factory loads. When in the hands of a good marksman it could be used to take down deer and would be much more lethal against humans. But, the performance achieved by this writer should not be used to over estimate the capabilities of this cartridge. The data used in the article does not apply to a short barrel AR-type rifle using the FMJ military style ammo that it was designed for. In fact I doubt that this cartridge would perform reliably in most AR’s. Most any cartridge can be loaded to perform over their commercially designed level. A custom loaded .308 fired from a bolt action, 26-inch barrel rifle will perform at the level of a 300 Winchester Magnum, but I certainly would not fire that round it in my M1A. Just trying to keep things in perspective. Jack R

Hi Jim,
Great web site as always! SurvivalBlog a daily must-read and I recommend it all the time--usually to find out my friends that I'm recommending it to are already reading it!

I was just wondering about the best .223 rounds, after reading the letter "New-Found Respect for .223 as a Potential Man Stopper." Perhaps you could go into some detail with your own thoughts on this subject? The old 55 grain milsurp was a great round out of a slow-twist long barreled M16 or AR-15, but perhaps it's less effective out of the faster twist rifling shorter barreled "M4geries" popular today.

Also, as civilians in a post SHTF scenario, we won't be restricted by [Hague] Convention regulations concerning hollow points and other special bullets. What are your thoughts on the best bullets to maximize the killing / stopping / wounding characteristics of our .223 rifles?

I recognize that eventually we may be scrounging every round of any type of milsurp we can get our hands on, but for the crucial first months of when the SHTF, it will pay to have mags loaded with the very most effective bullets/cartridges available today. There will be no long term survival if we don't get past the opening stages of SHTF, which might be a chaotic bloodbath, especially during a bugout or a period of mass refugee movement. Thanks, - Matt Bracken

JWR Replies: I hold with the consensus that .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO is preferable for nearly all defensive rifle shooting scenarios. But I can see the wisdom of having a few .223 (5.56mm NATO) rifles and carbines for specific circumstances, namely:
A.) As a transitional training rifle for youths.(Moving up from .22 rimfire to .308 Winchester is quite a leap for a 12 year old Just ask our #2 Son!)
B.) To equip disabled, elderly, and/or very small-statured (although it is notable that my petite wife does just fine with .308 semi-auto with a shortened barrel and stock.)
C.) As a long range patrol (LRP) or "long trek" on-foot G.O.O.D. defensive weapon. and,
D.) Just for the sake of having a rifle in your battery that can fire the ubiquitous military and police rifle cartridge in North America. (You never know when you might acquire a case of 5.56mm NATO!)

For those of you that do decide to add a .223 rifle to your battery, there is one crucial thing to keep in mind: Most of the .223 soft nose bullets available for handloading and nearly all of the commercially-loaded soft nose .223 Remington ammunition use semi-jacketed spire point bullets that are designed for instantaneous expansion on contact. This is because they were designed specifically for varmint hunting. This makes them sub-optimal for defensive use against two-legged predators at range. (Although if you live in town and are worried about accidentally penetrating several walls, then rapid expansion and disintegration is a good thing! The Hornady TAP bullet is a good design for this.) Fortunately, since .223 is gaining popularity for deer hunting in the eastern US, this should soon change. I anticipate that .223 "large game" (slow expansion) soft nose bullets and factory loaded ammunition will be available from most of the major ammunition makers within a couple of years.

Until slow expansion soft point ammunition is available, I recommend buying nearly all SS-109 (62 grain full metal jacket) ammunition. And even after slow expansion hollow points are available, keep in mind that they won't have the penetration required to take down an opponent wearing body armor at long range. The ideal solution would be to have ballistically-matched 62 grain soft nose cartridges loaded alternating (every-other round in each magazine) with 62 grain SS-109 cartridges. But that will only be accurate and effective if the two cartridges have nearly identical trajectories. (Working up a ballistically-matching soft nose load is a fun challenge for those of you that handload.)

A huge list of outdoor survival web site links was recently posted over at the Gulching/Self-Sufficiency forum at The Mental Militia Forums.

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I'm now ten chapters in, reading my copy of Michael Z. Williamson's latest science fiction novel "Better to Beg Forgiveness". It is set a couple of centuries in the future and follows the adventures of a band of mercenaries sent to guard a national president on a war-torn backwater colony planet. I got a slow start reading the book, given the time constraints of elk and deer hunting season, but now I'm hooked. Thusfar, this book has been a great read, with plenty of the elements that Williamson fans love: action, great technical detail, believable characters, accurate tactics, vivid imagery of distant worlds, and some compellingly deep drama. Note that it is definitely not a book for children! I will post a full review once I've finished it. The novel is now available from

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"Low" Inflation? Egg, Beans, Chicken, Milk: Prices for Key Foods Rising Sharply

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Rod sent us a link to Remington's web site, where they are hyping their new AR-15 "R-15" clone. It has been reported that these rifles actually built by Bushmaster, one of Remington's sister companies--also owned by Cerberus Capital Management, the same conglomerate that also own Chrysler Corporation.) Apparently these models are tailored to attract hunters. Aside from a fancy paint job, it appears to be just another variation on a theme, with the same old AR crud-injecting direct impingement gas tube action. The pictured models lack bayonet lugs or threaded muzzles (which would allow them to be fitted with tactical flash hiders or muzzle brakes), apparently to be politically correct. Jim Zumbo would be proud. I guess nobody told the Remington managers that the 1994 Federal Ban expired.

What I'm waiting to review are some truly innovative new designs, such as the Robinson Armament XCR, the MagPul Masada, and the Kel-Tec RFB .308 Bullpup. The latter uses standard FAL magazines and employs a very unusual forward axial cartridge ejection system, just above the barrel. It ejects a fired cartridge case on the same forward stroke of the bolt that chambers each subsequent round, and they "dribble" out the front!

"Nothing is sure except death and taxes and people's attempt to cheat both." - Dr. Gary North

Monday, November 19, 2007

Welcome to the many new SurvivalBlog readers in India. Swaagut! (I noticed quite an increase on the most recent update to the ClustrMap for Asia.) Our readership worldwide continues to grow rapidly. With almost 2.25 million hits logged, we are now getting more than 49,000 unique visits per week and burning up 90 gigabytes of bandwidth per month! (Which is a lot for a blog without many graphics.) Thanks for spreading the word, folks!

I just finished reading "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", and it was great. It was very enjoyable and also worthwhile which is a rare combination in fictional literature these days.

While considering my own situation I had some thoughts which might benefit other people or at least be food for thought. I am a college student and with that comes little expendable income and living in a relatively small space in a relatively large town. in short just about the worst situation possible from a preparedness standpoint. Like many readers I am not in a place where buying 40 acres in an inland mountain area with a spring is going to be feasible for years. Up until recently I thought that because I cannot be totally prepared (if that is even possible) there was no point in doing anything at all. After a lot of consideration I realized that any improvement in the area of preparedness is significant and worthwhile. I have started buying extra canned food, ammo and fuel for my portable stove--a little bit at a time.

Having a week's worth of food, 5 gallons of water [per person per day for a week] and a few boxes of ammo for each gun is an exponentially better place to be then empty cupboards and little or no ammo. I fall into the Dan Fong style of preparedness, so guns and ammo are relatively my strongest area. Back to the point I realized that any long process starts in small steps starting with the most common occurrence and moving to less likely ones. Thinking only about the most extreme (and relatively unlikely) multi generation TEOTWAWKI-type situation makes the task at hand seem so daunting it seems there is no point in even trying.

I think the place to start is by getting your finances in order
(which in this context means spending less then you make, and have something of a safety net). It is far more likely that you will have your hours cut back at work, get laid off altogether, or have one of those $500-to-$1,000 spontaneous expenses (car repair, injury, vet bills, appliance failure, etc) then that modern society will stumble or collapse. Far too many people are one or two paychecks away from the poor house and the aforementioned occurrences hit them the hardest. Having a couple months living expenses set aside is the difference between a mild inconvenience and an emergency. Even from a disaster standpoint money matters. Just look at New Orleans during [Hurricane] Katrina; people with some resources had the option to leave! [And conversely, those didn't have the means stayed put and suffered for it.]

After getting your finances in order, next focus on getting about a weeks worth of supplies, a decent first aid kit and some more ammo. With reasonable planning even lower income readers can do this. The way I did it was to tighten the proverbial belt and free up about 20 dollars a week which now goes for preparedness items. Think that is not possible? Track everything you spend money on for a couple of weeks then sit down and look at what you bought. By making drip coffee at home instead of getting caffèlattes at Starbucks, cooking instead of going out, having your Saturday night couple of drinks at home instead of a bar, et cetera, almost everyone can free up some money.

Next comes one month worth of beans, bullets and Band-Aids. (This is the stage that I am currently working on). After that 90 days, 120, 180, et cetera.

Realistically, a person could probably not ride out TEOTWAWKI living in an apartment but that doesn't mean that it is not worth being as prepared as possible before circumstances allow for a more rural home. (Or if you do not choose that sort of lifestyle at all.) Take care of each other, - Ryan

I know there are a lot of dedicated vegetarians, including my own grandson, who would have great difficulty maintaining their ideal diet in extreme times. There is good chart available, listing plant food protein combinations
I feel that many would have to become more realistic as the hard labor required to stay alive would preclude being picky about your vittles! You would need the extra calories/fat in meat at least to a modest extent to keep up strength and vitality. We eat vegetarian 2-to-3 times weekly just to learn about it and because we just plain love veggies but we still eat quality beef/chicken/turkey/venison raised by locals the that way we would: Grass, no GMOs, and pastured poultry. Have raised all our own in the past and have facilities/land to easily do this again but we try to support our neighbors efforts to provide safe food. - Dee


Mr,. Rawles
I 'm not a vegetarian but I highly recommend Tasty Bites for vegetarian meals. I have been buying them in stores for many years. I have also purchased from them online when a group of us from work purchased a bulk order and saved a lot of money. I keep them in my Bug Out Bag (BOB) as well as at work for days when I don't want to go out for lunch or for emergencies. I especially enjoy the meals with the basmati rice, such as the Beans, Masala and Basmati Rice. I don't find them to be very spicy but some may and they are very filling and satisfying!

This page gives you information on which foods are vegetarian, vegan, kosher, or gluten-free. There is information about packaging on this page.

In short, "...Tasty Bite food is all-natural. It remains fresh for 18 months without preservatives or refrigeration. It's all in the technology we use. The food is cooked and filled into a uniquely designed multi-layer retort pouch. The pouch is then sealed and the food inside is sterilized, using very high heat and pressure. The sealing and the construction of the pouch ensure that no bacteria or other degrading factors can impact the food. This process also ensures greater retention of the food's original aroma, texture, nutrients and flavor.
The retort pouch has a sturdy four-layer wall. Each layer provides a barrier from damage and keeps the food safe:
The outermost layer is polyester (PET).
The second layer is nylon.
The third layer is aluminum.
The innermost layer that comes in contact with the food is a food-grade polypropylene..."

I hope you find this helpful! - CA in Oregon


Hi Mr. Rawles,
For those looking for vegetarian food with long-term storage capability, they might try I have not purchased from them and have no affiliation. They do appear to have a largely vegetarian-friendly products. Even most of their "meats" are actually Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). I have considered purchasing from them, but have not done so yet. I hope to come across an independent assessment of their product before spending several thousand dollars and betting my families health and wellness on it. If anyone has used their product or had dealings with them, I'd be interested in hearing the feedback. Best Regards, - Benjamin

JWR Replies: I am quite leery of buying any food storage package containing substantial amounts of TVP (or other soybean products), but many of their other products seem quite wholesome.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
Do you know if the Hollywood writers strike will effect the filming of the CBS television series Jericho? If the [spilt season] filming has been completed, I guess that maybe the strike could be the best thing for Jericho since it would be an all-new show in a lineup of [other shows that are] repeats. Regards, - Sam

JWR Replies: I haven't heard per se, but it is probably safe to assume that most of the Jericho scripts are written by Writer's Guild of America (WGA) members. I heard from Rourke--the moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group--that the seven episodes for 2008 are completed, so the writers strike should have no effect, at least for this season.

I agree that their mid-season starting date for the new episodes could give it a competitive edge.

Coincidentally, another show that is slated to start at mid-season is "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". So perhaps both of these quasi-survivalist shows will benefit from the disruption in the regular television season.

According to published reports, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" will premiere at 8 p.m. on January 14, 2008. It will be run on Monday nights.

"Jericho" will return to CBS in January, on a yet to be-announced premiere date. It is as yet uncertain if it will retain its 9 p.m. Friday slot in the new split season.

It bears mentioning that the previous writer's strike had a significant effect on the television industry. It was because of that strike that "reality" shows got their real start. (Since they are are only loosely scripted.) If the current strike goes on for more than just a few months I can foresee further changes in the industry. One such change might be the advent of direct viewer participation discussion and "adventure" television shows, via cell phone text messaging and the Internet. These would be analogous to on-line chat rooms and on-line role-playing games. Both would give viewers that are not yet web savvy a glimpse of what is going on in cyberspace.

I found a good source for coffee grounds for using in [gardening] compost. Starbucks packages their used coffee grounds and it's free for the taking. The packaged grounds are usually located in a bin in any Starbucks store. If you can't find it just ask for it and they are happy to supply you. Here's the link that touches on their coffee grounds program.

I hope that others can find this of use in their applications. - Desert T

JWR Adds: Speaking of coffee, it is interesting to note the value of Starbucks stock have become a barometer for overall market and consumer sentiment. When times are good, Starbucks soars. But recently their profits have sagged. Obviously people are cutting back on discretionary spending, perhaps presaging a deep recession ahead.

Mike in Seattle sent this piece from WorldNetDaily: In event of emergency ... call out the military? Could this mean the end of the generations-old protections provided by the Posse Comitatus statutes?

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Anyone looking for like-minded survivalist friends (to join a group or form a new group), or perhaps a potential spouse should be sure to check out the Liberty Mates on-line matchmaking service. Liberty Mates was started as a meeting place for Libertarians, homes schoolers and Constitutionalists, but naturally it has a large crossover survivalist readership. So that you'll be able to find their site in the future, I have added their URL to the SurvivalBlog Links Page. Who knows? You may find the woman of your dreams there. Odds are that she'll be wearing a Ron Paul '08 T-shirt, packing a Glock, and have plans to move to Wyoming.

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Reader Rob G. flagged this one: Brazil reports massive oil discovery -- Ultra-deep offshore find challenges 'peak' theorists pushing ethanol

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JRH Enterprises (one of our most loyal advertisers) is planning a Black Friday (the day after the US and Canada Thanksgiving holiday) sale, this coming Friday, November 23rd.

“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” - George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The high bid is now at $250 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for six items: 1.) a Katadyn Pocket water filter, (with a $200 retail value) 2.) a Watersafe field water test kit ( a $27 retail value), both donated by Ready Made Resources, 3.) A copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value) 4.) an autographed copy of my novel"Patriots" (a $23 retail value), 5.) an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), and 6.) a SurvivalBlog Logo Contractor/Operator cap (a $13.50 retail value.) The auction ends December 15th. Please send us your bid via e-mail.

A big red flag went up on Saturday, when a "must read" article was published on the web site of The Business (a British international business news magazine): Saudi minister warns of dollar collapse. I loved the bit about the inadvertently open microphone. There is something about "off the record" comments about a potential US Dollar collapse that is strangely reminiscent. (I just can't quite place it...)

Meanwhile, our friend Stephen in Iraq pointed out this article signaling trouble ahead: US inflation reaches 14-month high. The economic pendulum is definitely starting to swing more violently. I predict that things will turn ugly, possibly quite soon. Once the dominoes start to tumble, countless billions will be wiped out overnight. The derivatives markets are now on the multi-trillion dollar scale, and perched on a precipice. Tomorrow's headlines will be full of: failed hedge funds suspending all redemptions, stock market collapses, currency collapses, emergency controls on expatriation cash flows, mass inflation, huge taxpayer-funded bailouts, corporate layoffs, $150 per-barrel crude oil, bank withdrawal restrictions, full scale bank runs, and soaring credit card and mortgage default rates. I can't give you specific time frames for any of these, but I can tell you that we are much closer to living out Chapter 1 of my novel "Patriots" than I've ever seen before. Be prepared!

I spotted this news story linked at The Drudge Report: The dollar's decline: from symbol of hegemony to shunned currency. Think this through to its logical conclusion, dear readers. Get your investments out of anything dollar-denominated, as soon as possible. Don't let the current relative strength of the Euro and Pound fool you. All of the world's un-backed paper currencies are on the same downward spiral. It just so happens that the US Dollar is now leading the pack in the race to the bottom. In this economically turbulent decade of the Aughts, the safe place to put the majority of your assets is in tangibles. (First and foremost is a viable retreat in lightly-populated farming or ranching land with plentiful water.) Speaking of tangibles, I noticed that spot silver has dipped back down into the $14.40/ounce range. This might be your last chance to buy some before it zooms up past $20 per ounce.

Those off the record comments by Prince Al-Faisal may have some repercussions. When I last checked, the USD Index was at 75.792. It will be interesting to see where it moves when the markets open on Monday morning. Watch the FOREX closely in coming weeks. I think that we can expect to see some deep drama.

Mr. Rawles,
For those of us whose BOV is their primary POV, even using flat one-color paint would draw unnecessary attention. Even if your vehicle needs a "normal" (not flat) paint job, my recommendation would be that you keep your choices of colors dull, and earthy.
Charcoals, browns and dark tans are good colors to use, generally popular and available, yet are much harder for they eye to detect than other colors. In daylight and low-light conditions, these colors blend
with every background. Even at night, a moving, flat black vehicle will stand out more than a moving dark gray/dark tan vehicle.
Matt on the Tennessee/Kentucky border


Hey Jim,
Wanted to comment on the visibility of a persons BOV in the everyday world as well as while in the bug out mode!
Camouflage has nothing to do with fancy patterns of earth tones panted on your vehicle and everything to do with blending in and being able to pass unnoticed. It is the art of traveling without standing out
or being singled out as something unusual or interesting!

My 25 year-old maroon Mercedes 300D with an almost constant light coat of road grime on it can go anywhere without notice!! The diesel engine is very dependable and gets pretty good fuel mileage and the trunk is large enough to keep a decent kit, spares and tools ready and at hand. It is the kind of BOV that you could walk by in the parking lot of any sized town or city and never look at twice! It is also a lot farther down the list of [most often] stolen vehicles which is also something that should be considered when looking for transportation.

Yes, I have and think that it is smart to have 4x4 options available for bugging out. But I used the same kinds of thoughts when choosing that vehicle, too! Mine looks like (and actually is) an old work truck [with a Reading/Utility "tool" or "service" body]! Once again it blends in due to its low visual attention drawing looks not any fancy paint work. Tools like a More Power Puller and a H-Lift Jack can be safely hidden away and allow you to go most places you want to go with out the attention grabbing camouflage paint, jacked up 4X4 [suspension] with winch bumper and mud tires that towers over the parking of lesser vehicles! - SD in WV

In reference to the article on camouflage for your BOV. Your point is well taken as to not drawing attention to your vehicle by use of abnormal paint schemes before and during travel to your secure site. A very simple way to camouflage a vehicle after arrival at your site is to simply cover it with mud. Once it bakes on for a few days it seems to become impervious to rain. This is quick, simple, and requires little preparation depending on your location. I’m sure you have seen 4x4s coming in from a weekend playing in the back country and it is sometimes hard to determine what make they are let alone what color. I’ve spent a couple of weeks at a time camping and hunting in back wood areas and due to the accumulation of mud on my 4x4 it began to blend in quit well with the surrounding landscape. Once I had a hard time locating it from a distance when it was parked in the edge of a meadow next to pine timber. From across the meadow, about 300 yards, it was near invisible and I knew where to look. If the paint is already a good background color such as brown, tan, gray, this will help with the process. Also eliminate as much chrome as reasonably possible. Parking in a shaded area such as under trees also helps. - Jack R.

Thanks to SJC for sending this: Virulent form of cold virus spreads in U.S.. The general trend is for mutation into less virulent forms, but sometimes a "sport" shows up.

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Hawaiian K. sent us this: The Prophet of Climate Change: James Lovelock--One of the most eminent scientists of our time says that global warming is irreversible — and that more than 6 billion people will perish by the end of the century

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Michael Panzner, writing in his Financial Armageddon blog, posted an article about how troubled Fannie Mae has changed how it calculates the value of bad loans,: A Bearish Treasure Hunt. (Thanks to D.V., for the link.)

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Thanks to Eric S. for sending us this: GE money fund redeeming 96 cents on the dollar

"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand." - Joel 2:1 (KJV)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The high bid is now at $210 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for six items: 1.) a Katadyn Pocket water filter, (with a $200 retail value) 2.) a Watersafe field water test kit ( a $27 retail value), both donated by Ready Made Resources, 3.) A copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value) 4.) an autographed copy of my novel"Patriots" (a $23 retail value), 5.) an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), and 6.) a SurvivalBlog Logo Contractor/Operator cap (a $13.50 retail value.) Please send us your bid via e-mail.

Many thanks to the five new subscribers that signed up for 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions this week. (This was unusual, since we usually get just or two new subscriptions per week.) These subscriptions really help pay the bills here. Less than 2% of SurvivalBlog readers subscribe. To those of you that do, my sincere thanks. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary and without the PBS/NPR-style guilt trips and arm twisting, nor with endless pledge drive chatter. OBTW, we don't even send out subscription renewal notices, so please mark your calendars. Thanks!

I read the letter posted about showing caution when dispensing charity. I like the "give 'til it hurts" philosophy from "Patriots" a lot. I have had some training on handling displaced refugees/evacuees/displaced persons which I hope could benefit some readers. I would strongly suggest dividing charity into two distinct areas; charity to neighbors (fixed location) and charity to refugees (mobile). The main purpose of giving aid to refugees is to enable them to keep moving along. Give them water and (if you can spare it) food that they can prepare later when they stop for the night and anything they are desperate for if you can spare it, give them advice about routes and potential destinations. Do not cook for them or allow them to cook and under no conditions let them camp or sleep over, unless you want to adopt them. There is no better way to make a group stick around better then feeding them and letting them sleep! Give them what you can and keep headed down the road! To give credit where credit is due I though dealing with this situation was handled well in "Patriots".

When dispensing charity to neighbors in a long term TEOTWAWKI situation I would suggest sticking to teach a man to fish type items like fish hooks/nets, game snares, seeds, etc. Unless you are able and willing to feed the neighbor for a prolonged period of time (i.e. through winter until they can plant and harvest crops with the heirloom seeds you give them) I would not start. Telling a neighbor that you can't continue feeding his family seems like the beginning of a real nasty problem to me.

Thanks for the great work keeping this blog going. Seeing what interesting new stuff gets posted is a highlight of my day and unlike most entertainment is could someday help me out.

When you stop an think about the thickness of the human chest as compared to a large well-muscled deer they are about the same.
This is what my family and our friend have done with the same .223 rifle this year:

- Buck 150 yards one shot one kill. Dropped on the spot, dead.
- Doe 125 yards one shot one kill. Walked five feet and dropped dead.
- Doe 220 yards one shot one kill. Dropped on the spot, dead.
- Doe 275 yards one shot one kill. Dropped on the spot, dead.
- Buck 400 yards one shot one kill. Walked and dropped dead fifty feet from impact.

The rifle: 24 inch heavy barrel 1 in 9 twist, bolt action with a scope, hand loads Nosler .224 68 grain solid base moly hollow point boat tail screaming out of a moly barrel. Point of impact, just behind the shoulder.
All shots were taken from a standing rest or prone.
The meat damage not a bad as a .30 caliber, but the shock of a hollow point moving at a very high speed does a real number on them. This bullet one seems to explode internally. They just stand
there a minute, then fall over dead. All the bleeding is internal.
Now I am a big .308 fan but my respect for the .223 just went up 500%. Now we have one more doe tag to fill and we are looking for a 500 yard shot.
So when the SHTF do not forget the little .223., especially one that is dialed into a sub-1/2 minute of angle (MOA) accuracy.

Speaking of dialing in a rifle, everyone should get to know every rifle they plan to depend on, and every scope they plan to use. Commonality in scopes is just as important and commonality in rifles.
Kind regards, - Martin

I am interested in acquiring a good stock of spare parts for my firearms but am not sure where to start. For my AR-15 I got a spare parts kit which covers all the likely culprits for failure (I know it well enough to be sure of that). Eventually I will get an extra bolt carrier group for it. However I do not know enough about the parts that tend to fail for other firearms in my collection. The other firearms I am concerned with are: Springfield Mil Spec .45 [Colt M1911 clone] , Mossberg 500 12 gauge, Ruger 10/.22, Winchester [Model 18]94 30-30. Any advice be it specific or general would be greatly appreciated as having a 10 dollar part break and render a precious weapon useless would really ruin my day. - Ryan

JWR Replies: The most robust gun on your list by far is the Winchester Model 1894. They hardly ever break. I have seen a few that were badly abused in the field. A surprising number of these lever guns end up with broken stocks, when horse take a roll. (Which often bends the tang.) Rear sights occasionally get broken and, less frequently, magazine tubes get dented.

The basic high breakage parts for nearly all semi-auto guns to consider "musts" for spares are: firing pin, extractor, and ejector.

Some firearms designs have parts that are notoriously prone to breakage. (For example, the forend bars on Ithaca Model 37 shotguns and the rear sights on Ruger 10/.22s. Be sure to do some research at the various Internet forums for gunsmithing discussions on each gun make/model that you own. One of the most comprehensive gun forum sites is

Surprisingly, from what I've heard in conversations with several gunsmiths, they replace more lost parts than they do broken parts. Any small part that is removed during cleaning and that is under spring tension is likely to go flying off into the weeds. (Or just across your garage workshop, never to be seen again. "Been there, done that.")

I don't feel personally qualified to make recommendations on spares for Mossberg 500 series shotguns, but since I've owned all of the others, here are my comments on them:

For AR-15s, I recommend:

Firing pin and 2 firing pin retaining pins

2 Extractors, 3 extractor pins, 2 extractor springs, and 3 extractor spring nylon inserts

Buffer retainer pin and spring

Ejector with spring, and pin

Ejection port cover assembly complete, plus 3 spare C-clips. (The C-clips are almost microscopic.)


1 pair of handguards

20+ magazines

For Ruger 10/.22 rifles, I recommend:

Firing pin

2 Extractors

2 Trigger group retaining pins

Ejector (The little plate that flops around in the top of the trigger group when it is removed)

2 rear sight assemblies, complete

5+ magazines. (I particularly like the Tactical Innovations milled aluminum magazines. They are fully adjustable, feed flawlessly, and are practically bombproof.)

For M1911s and Clones, I recommend:

Firing pin, spring, and retaining plate

Slide release

2 Extractors

Barrel bushing

Mainspring and plug

Ejector and 4 pins

Triple leaf spring

12+ magazines. (I prefer original Colt, Metalform, and Shooting Star brands. Most of the aftermarket magazines are not worth buying. See my M1911 Magazine FAQ for details.)


For Winchester Model 1894 rifles, I recommend:

Firing pin

Magazine tube

Rear sight assembly, complete

Thanks to our friend L.C. who alerted us to this news story: Manteca homes up for auction. Manteca (which fittingly means "lard" in Spanish) is a small town at the far eastern fringe of commuting distance to the San Francisco Bay Area--a full two hour drive from San Francisco when there is no traffic. Similar auctions have taken place recently in Los Banos and Tracy, California. Most of the homeowners in these neighborhoods have eaten their slice of Humble Pie quietly, but others have protested. L.C.'s comment: "One recent auction raised howls of protest from some of the owners that had bought houses in this same development at the peak of the market for close to $600,000 each. The most vocal protestor was a homeowner who said that he had spent $90,000 putting in a swimming pool and landscaping his yard. At one of the auctions, a fully-furnished and landscaped model home that would have sold for somewhere in the vicinity of $600,000 this time last year sold for around $320,000." JWR's Comment: And the scary thought is that we are not even close to the bottom in the developing bi-coastal bear market for residential real estate. If you live in any of the overbought and overbuilt coastal markets, watch for similar headlines in your local newspaper, soon.

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Something struck a chord! More than two dozen SurvivalBlog readers all sent us links to news articles about two recent government raids and precious metals confiscation at NORFED. Here are a couple of the articles Liberty Dollar office raided, and this one. Here is a statement from Liberty Dollar's President. In the raids (one was at Sunshine Minting), the Federales reportedly confiscated over $20 million worth of silver, gold and platinum. Most notably, they seized almost 4,000 pounds of 1 ounce copper medallions specially made to promote the Ron Paul 2008 presidential election campaign. Of course politics had nothing to do with it...

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RBS suggested this piece from the Dr. Housing Bubble Blog: Heart of Foreclosure Darkness--Every County in Southern California is now Negative Year over Year.

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Reader CDR recommended an Internet auction site where he said that has had great success in finding pre-1965 "junk" US silver coins at below the current spot price of silver:

"Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none." - William Shakespeare, "All's Well That Ends Well", Act 1 Scene 1

Friday, November 16, 2007

Congratulations to CDR, the high bidder in the benefit auction that ended yesterday, for four items including 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.

Today we are starting a new SurvivalBlog benefit mixed auction lot. This one is for six items: 1.) a Katadyn Pocket water filter, (with a $200 retail value) 2.) a Watersafe field water test kit ( a $27 retail value), both donated by Ready Made Resources, 3.) A copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value) 4.) an autographed copy of my novel"Patriots" (a $23 retail value), 5.) an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), and 6.) a SurvivalBlog Logo Contractor /Operator cap (a $13.50 retail value.) The opening bid is just $50. Please send us your bid via e-mail.

Shalom Jim:

I've been researching freeze-dried and dehydrated food as a long-term strategy. I would like to put up at least a years worth for a family of four. Yes, I know that you pretty much grow your own food, but I've got a couple of questions if you don't mind.
1.) Are you storing up any freeze dried, or dehydrated, or not?

2.) If so, are you storing both or more of one or the other? Shabbat shalom, - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: Because of their lower cost, here at the ranch we store nearly all bulk grains/legumes/honey and various nitrogen-canned dehydrated foods. We have just a few freeze dried items, such as a freeze dried fruit as well as some peas that we got from Freeze Dry Guy. At a fixed-location retreat with copious storage space and plentiful water from a shallow well, dehydrated foods make more sense. If we were planning to G.O.O.D., then logically we would want more freeze dried items--to take advantage of their reduced weight and volume. Living at our retreat year-round has its advantages!

Long term storage foods (both dehydrated and freeze dried) are available from a number of our advertisers including: Freeze Dry Guy, JRH Enterprises, Ready Made Resources, Safecastle, Best Prices Storable Foods, EM Gear, and Nitro-Pak.

Today we are featuring Northwest Arkansas. One of our readers Jaina B. highly recommended our newest SurvivalBlog Realtor, Jeff Allen. Congratulations Jeff! Some of his listings may soon be featured on The following is a review of the area written by Mr. Allen:

Welcome to Northwest Arkansas! The market in Northwest Arkansas is surviving the downturn very well. Land prices in rural areas are holding very steady on the very few sales that are taking place. The housing market has been overbuilt and we have 8-10 months of inventory to work through before things can look more “optimistic.”

I have been selling mostly land and commercial real estate in Northwest Arkansas for 18 years and I’ve seen land prices go up nearly four-fold in that period of time. There’s always opportunity for a distressed sale to show up, but they are few and far between, even with the recent downturn. Most of the speculative buying has been in the housing sector, as opposed to the bare land side of the market.
One of the biggest draws to Northwest Arkansas is our nearly 32,000-acre Beaver Lake with 449 miles of shoreline that sits on the East side of Benton County and is the first Corps of Engineers lake in the White River Basin. Northwest Arkansas is very unique in that we sit on the Ozark Plateau, and the White River does run northeast up to Missouri from this area. Our elevation is from 1,150-1,300 feet above sea level.

Much of our rough, timbered land is located around Beaver lake and has already been subdivided into 1-5 acre parcels but has not been further developed. It is getting tougher to find land that does not have restrictive covenants, but there is still some available in the outlying areas.

Anyone that owns a home on the lake, even if it is not in a very secluded area, has access to water, fish, and wood for the fireplace, should a national crisis occur. Lake property is least expensive on the North end of the lake with very little development and dirt roads to most areas. This would be one of the ideal places to invest and to build a survival retreat. Shopping from those areas is about 30 miles and often the drive is through hilly and winding roads, perfect for defensible operations and keeping the wandering refugee(s) at bay.
There are currently over 50 properties between 3 and 15 acres listed for sale on the East side of Benton County, where land prices are the most affordable. We also have a tract that is 536 contiguous acres.

See this search engine for the local MLS.

Conversion of farm land to development land has slowed down in recent months and therefore leaves beautiful farms like this one on the market, waiting for just the right owner:. It certainly is a wonderful example of a nature lover’s delight! Already set up for livestock, too, which is something to consider in one’s quest for self-sufficiency. Acreages can be purchased in about any increment; it depends on where you want to be and how much you want to pay.
In conclusion, our climate here is moderate; the winters are mild, the scenery is beautiful, hunting and fishing are among the area’s most enjoyed sports. Industrial and retail growth continues and Northwest Arkansas is fast becoming one of the nation’s number one desired areas to live in due to low cost of living and low unemployment.

I work on a confidential basis, if desired. You can search my personal web site to find acreages and complete homes with land that are retreat worthy at by clicking on the “Property Search” link or use the “Helpful Links” button to find out more about our area. If you need a more refined search, please give us a call (479.246.1657), or e-mail your request specifications to and we can e-mail you search results. [Our parent agency] Lindsey and Associates is ranked # 1 in real estate sales for the State of Arkansas, giving our clients top rated service with their transactions.

TDS Adds: I did a search and found 750 acres outside of the town of Westville for $1,000 per acre. It has a small man made lake, cabin and is in 50% timber and 50% in pasture. It seems that the MLS system will not link back so to view it you’ll need to click the search engine above and input 750 acres or MLS number Ref #: 511622. That amount of acreage would make a nice retreat for several families and at that price it would be hard to pass up. Although like anywhere (especially here in northern Idaho) there are some overly expensive properties, overall it looks like the home and land deals are splendid down there and the terrain and climate lend themselves to making very productive retreats. Happy retreat shopping!

Mint Fears Losses From Penny Meltdown: Cindy Skrzycki

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Gresham's Law in action: Proposal to ban U.S. coins in Toronto shot down

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Next Monday (November 19th) has been declared National Ammo Buycott Day, 2007.

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Speaking of ammo, Todd Savage (who kindly volunteers to be the retreat evaluator for notes: "I went by the new Cabela’s store in Post Falls, Idaho today while waiting to meet a SurvivalBlog real estate client for a week of retreat property shopping and I noticed that they were selling 1,000 round cases of Wolf [brand Russian] 5.56mm/.223 ammo for $218 per case, which is less than (The latter had been asking $249 per case, shipped, but they are sold out.) If you have a Cabela’s store near you, then you may want to stop in and pick up a few cases." JWR Adds: A new Cabela's just opened in Reno, Nevada, as well.

"If the 1st amendment were as gutted as the 2nd, we'd only be allowed vowels by now" - "Renaissance Warrior" at the FALFiles

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Today is the last day of bidding in the current 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. As of this posting, the high bid is still at $400. The auction ends at midnight, eastern time, tonight. Just e-mail us your bid.

I am a long time reader, and wanted to thank you for all of your efforts, hard work and dedication to SurvivalBlog and it's readers, members and groups!
Without you, your books, and your web sites, I would still be in the dark, running around without a care in the world! At least now I am prepared, ready, clear headed, dedicated, and ahead of the game!
Many thanks again! All of us preparing to bug out, are stocking, loading, maintaining, discussing, prepping and planning.

The subject I wanted to touch bases on, is your Bug Out Vehicle (BOV).
So you have it properly maintained, fueled up, spare parts, emergency equipment, spare fuel cans, and tools. Are you done? Is it fully ready?
The following are some factors you might want to consider for making your vehicle relatively invisible.
Your vehicles paint is most likely in great condition, as is, all of the other shiny parts on it, and therefore, needs to have it's luster dulled before you go driving to your destination or your retreat locale, whether it be day or night, all of the shiny parts need to be masked, to defeat detection of your vehicle over distances. (Stealth is the only way to go, and the only way to get there!)
Some areas that will need attention will be your Paint, chrome, and running lights.
I have stocked up 15 cans of primer paints in Flat Tan, Flat Olive Drab (O.D.) Green and Flat Black. Each can of paint from Wal-Mart costs only 98 cents.
I also purchased some plastic branches with leaves from the local craft store. With theses items, a team of two can quickly camouflage your vehicle's exterior within 5-to-10 minutes. (Don't worry about over spray, no one will care what your vehicle looks like WTSHTF or when TEOTWAWKI happens!

Camouflage Painting Procedure:
I start with the flat Tan paint as a base, and then cover several areas of the vehicle at a time with the plastic branches and spray it with light coats of O.D. Green and Flat Black, consistently turning the leave branches, thus giving your vehicle a well blended camouflage look. (You can, of course, utilize any color you choose to compliment your surrounding areas, these colors are just being used as an example.)
I have also Purchased four cans of some Temporary Vehicle Bra Removable Paint, which can be purchased online or at some auto parts or RV center locations as well. this paint is of a temporary nature, and can be washed off with some soap and warm water. It is [normally] utilized to spray on the front of a vehicle to protect the paint while being towed. (It is black in color)
This temporary paint is a perfect way to black out your shiny vehicles tire rims. tail / brake lights, running lights, reflectors, chrome parts, bumpers, and [parts of the window] glass as well.
Glass is a good reflector and can also be camouflaged [when parked] with any see through patio or window screen that can be picked up at any home improvement store in the window treatment areas. (They come in a variety of colors.) This can be temporarily applied to your vehicles windows, with some 3M adhesive spray. just cut out to the appropriate size of your window and spray the adhesive directly on the outside of your vehicles windows, and firmly press
In most older and some newer vehicles, this will also keep all of your glass in one piece if it were to be shot at, or broken in some other method. (A clear safety and warmth factors, as well.)

As for all of the vehicles running lights, I mentioned spraying them with the Temporary Vehicle Bra paint, but you still must disable them as well. Either pulling out the bulbs, which can be time consuming , or simply pulling the fuses out of the vehicle including the vehicles interior light. Now would be a good idea to get to know the locations of your vehicles fuse box, and read the car manual, to know exactly which ones that should be pulled out! You would not want to go to all the trouble of of making your vehicle "invisible" but then have someone open a door at night and give your position away with a glaring interior light. - Rob in Arizona

JWR Replies: I recommend camouflage-painting vehicles only after you have made it to your retreat, WTSHTF. Under other circumstances in the present-day, a camouflaged-painted vehicle will attract unwanted interest--either from malefactors or from law enforcement. A flat paint job in one earth-tone color will not attract suspicion in the present day. But in most parts of the country a camouflage paint job just screams "Prepared Guy!" Be sure to weigh the costs and benefits.

As I mentioned in my novel "Patriots", when parked, vehicles can be made far less visible with military camouflage nets (supported by spreaders to break up any expected vehicular outline), and burlap sacks to cover high-albedo windows and headlights.

Mr. Rawles,
Given the recent discussion about canning, it seems like sealed tin cans would make an effective Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) barrier. Why not can some inexpensive FRS radios, small transistor radios, and other electronic items in a standard soup-size can? Can some lithium batteries, and you'll be all set. By the way, it would probably be a good idea to make sure that the lid and can have good electrical contact. Some cans might be lacquered/coated, so it might be wise to check the lid/can continuity with an Ohm meter.
Regards, - JN-EMT

JWR Replies: That is a great idea. Congrats! You've just earned yourself a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) award. I'll have my order fulfillment partner mail you a free copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation."

The question of storage food for vegetarians came up and I don't have a good answer! I have looked at several of the vendors you recommend and there does not seem to be any packages aimed at that market! I have heard about veggie MREs but have not seen them for sale. Safecastle has some nice long term storage packages put together but none seem to be aimed at this crowd. Thanks for your thoughts on this! - SD

JWR Replies: I'm not aware of any storage food vendors that make vegetarian sampler, per se. As I recall, Mountain House makes several vegetarian entrees. Mountain House foods are sold by many of the SurvivalBlog advertisers including Safecastle, Ready Made Resources, and EM Gear. There are also lots of individual veggie food items available from Freeze Dry Guy (our favorite is their freeze dried peas), and from Best Prices Storable Foods. And, of course, all of the staple bulk food items (wheat, rice, beans, and honey) are suitable for vegetarians.

Long term storage foods available from a number of our advertisers including:
Freeze Dry Guy

JRH Enterprises
Ready Made Resources
Best Prices Storable Foods
EM Gear

As I 've mentioned both in my novel "Patriots" and here in the blog, vegetarians will have an an advantage followingTEOTWAWKI, since both their appetites and digestive systems are already accustomed to a diet without meat--which will become the norm for the vast majority of the citizenry. Most of my fellow omnivores currently buy their meat fresh or frozen. Except for hunting and ranching country, there will be a shortage of a grid-down world. (Refrigeration will be a rarity, and transport/commerce in fresh foodstuffs will be problematic.)

H5N1 in the British Isles? Yes, it's official: Outbreak of lethal bird flu confirmed in Britain.

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Just in time for holiday travel: Pump price to jump 20 cents in next 2-3 weeks

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Thanks to RBS for sending us this article from Forbes: Empty Houses Home to Crime As Loans Fail. Here is a quote: "In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, Calif., full of subdivisions with half-million dollar homes, homeowners are fighting inner-city problems like gangs, drugs, theft and graffiti. During the boom, the suburb just south of Sacramento sprouted 10,000 homes in four years, attracting investors from the San Francisco area. Now many houses stand empty, weeds overtaking lawns, signs lining the street: 'Bank Repo,' 'For Rent,' 'No trespassing - bank owned property.' A typical home's value has dropped from about $570,000 to the low $400,000s."

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The folks at AlertsUSA (one of our new advertisers) mentioned a special offer for SurvivalBlog readers: They have set up a special promo code which, if entered at the time of purchase, will add three additional months of service free with the purchase of a one year subscription. In other words, 15 months for the price of 12. The promo code to use is: survival07

“The government turns every contingency into an excuse for enhancing power in itself.” - John Adams

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

With the many hours required to write the blog, to write books, and to do consulting, I have decided to shut down my mail order business. It was fun, but it was a huge time sink. I will also no longer be taking orders for autographed copies of my novel. Fred's M14 Stocks still has more than 900 autographed copies available.

Numerous web sites and books provide information about average food shelf life. However, this shelf life greatly depends for instance upon temperature (food generally stores proportionately longer at cooler temperatures), thus a properly stored food item could be good to consume well past its 'expected' expiration date.
Sometimes discoloration (for instance) is not a show stopper. Do you or your readers know of some simple 'freshness test' to ensure that a given food product is good or not (or is that a stupid question)?
I can start with what I gathered from the Internet:

- Baking powder
Freshness test: Mix 1 teaspoon with 1/3 cup of hot water. It it foams vigorously, then it still has rising power.

- Baking Soda
Freshness test: Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of vinegar. It it fizzles, then it will still help leaven a food made with flour when it is cooked.

- Oil (olive)
Freshness test: An unpleasant smell or taste indicates the oil is rancid or oxidized.

- Shortening
Freshness test: Stored too long it will go rancid and develop a bad taste and odor.

- Spices (grounded)
Freshness test: Smell a ground spice to check if aroma is potent.

- Vinegar.
Vinegar sold commercially is pasteurized. Therefore an unopened container should last indefinitely when stored in a cool and dark place. Once opened however, vinegar should last about 3 months if tightly
Freshness test: Any sediment that develops can be strained out.
Vinegar should be clear and look clean, not cloudy. If mold develops later, throw the vinegar away.

Again, thanks for a great blog.
Regards, - Crazy Frenchman, (10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

Mr. Editor:

I read SurvivalBlog about once a week and thought you might enjoy this.

Someone commented on using their home canning machine for items other than food. I can a lot of different things up to the size of a spaghetti can. Above that takes a number #10 canner and I haven’t found one reasonably priced. If I have to I go down to a store and buy some new/never used paint cans and go that route.

Spare parts for firearms are heavily greased (sometimes placed in vacuum packed plastic, depending on size and function of items). Radio parts, electrical parts, portable survival kits, gold/silver coins, sewing kits, seeds, vitamins, medical supplies, small tools, copies of important documents/pictures/owners manuals, etc.

Call it overkill but some items will have 6+ barriers to insure that if I don’t dig it up for 20 years, it should still be intact. (Grease, plastic, (some times desiccant or O2 absorbers depending on the item), the can itself, a can coating (I have experimented with polyurethane, rubber car undercoating, shrink wrap, and wax (like you would wax a leg hold animal trap).

This is then placed in either a 5 gallon bucket or ammo can. Ammo cans are sprayed with rust neutralizer, sprayed with car undercoating and then the rubber gasket is sealed (often times with more desiccant or O2 absorbers inside). Ammo cans are then sometimes placed in a 5 gallon bucket. 5 gallon buckets are merely sealed with mastic or some kind of caulking. Most of the time I place the ammo can or 5 gallon bucket in a suitable industrial garbage bag and bury.

I label all the items on the outside of the can with either the original labels or something I printed out. If I use a permanent marker, and later wax or polyurethane the can, the labeling can sometimes run or dissolve.

On several larger items I have performed some of the barrier practices and placed them inside a 30 gallon plastic barrel and sealed it. One contains nothing but animal traps, another tools, and yet another full-sized cream separator with parts. Why go to all this trouble? Unfortunately, our getaway stands between the good old farming families and a few families that have made meth and marijuana their main sources of income. Things of value left around tend to walk off.

After all that, I “hope” that my caches or pantry will be around when I need it most. Let me know if you or your readers think I have left any other barrier method out of my system?

A.T. in Illinois (land of humidity and precipitation)

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. One important note: Seeds should never be vacuum-packed. They are living organisms, and they will die in a vacuum. Air canning or bag sealing is fine but don't vacuum can or pack them!

Do you have any thoughts about survival dogs, no, not for dinner.
My dog alerts me if anything approaches the cabin, which is generally bears, and sometimes a charging Saber toothed, bushy-tailed, ground squirrel, a wayward mink or martin.
To the point, what about the value of hunting dogs, or breeds that will charge into the dark of night to scurry away unwelcome visitors.
My homeowners insurance is high enough, so I can rule out some of the more aggressive breeds. Thanks, - D.V.

JWR Replies: I have observed that there are as many opinions about "ideal" dog breeds as there are dog breeds. Selecting a breed depends a lot on a family's particular circumstances. My personal preference is for medium-size "combination" breeds that can serve as watch dogs as well as be trainable for herding and hunting. A couple of good combination breeds are the Airedale Terrier (the largest terrier) and the Standard Poodle.(not to be confused with the dainty Toy Poodle.) I'm sure that some SurvivalBlog readers would care to chime in with their breed suggestions.

I'm not an attorney, so I can't make any suggestions on reducing civil liability for dog bites other than : A.) Fence the yard around your home (or retreat/home) quite securely, B.) Post your property with warning signs in both English and Spanish, and C.) Do not select a breed with a bad reputation for aggressiveness.

Could the recently reported outbreak of Asian Avian Flu in England be the dreaded H5N1 strain? Bird flu confirmed on farm in east England. (A tip of the hat to J.P. for sending this link.)

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Rod sent us this: US Supreme Court may hear Second Amendment Case. Hopefully they will settle the "individual right" versus "collective right" controversy once and for all, and roll back some unconstitutional Federal laws.

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The high bid is still at $400 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.

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Thanks to Alphie for sending this one: Preparing for Life after [Peak] Oil

"In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Economist Jim Sinclair noted in a recent e-newsletter: "November 15th is approaching quickly. It is this date where supposed real valuations, according to accounting standards, have to be made on value-less class 3 assets." I think Jim Sinclair is right. Thursday (November 15th) may go down in history as a financial reckoning day. Given the presently very shaky US markets, these revelations could very well precipitate a stock market drop--if not a stock market crash--led by the financial sector stocks. I pray that the readers of SurvivalBlog have all taken my advice and have minimized their exposure to stocks and other US Dollar-denominated investments. We are approaching some very turbulent times!

Our first article today is from "SurvivalistSam", the SurvivalBlog's correspondent in New Zealand. He is a 15 year-old homeschooler that lives on New Zealand's South Island.

The whole South Island has been told to prepare for a massive earthquake in the near future.
This is due to the Alpine Fault Line which is where the Australasian and Pacific plates meet on the West Coast of the South Island.
The boundary between these two plates is locked and the pressure building up needs to be released.
A release of such pressure would result in an earthquake about the size of a number 8 on the Mercalli Intensity scale.
Such a earthquake would last for minutes, not seconds.

Canterbury University Associate Professor Tim Davies was quoted at a recent meeting as saying that, "The longer it goes before the next earthquake, the bigger the bang will be when the spring goes."

The shaking from the predicted earthquake would be felt all throughout New Zealand and may even be felt as far away as Sydney.
Mr. Davies also emphasized that people should have food and supplies on hand to last for up to three weeks after a quake.
Shaking damage and land instability from a quake like this would disrupt surface transport for months, tourists will be trapped, and distribution of vital supplies ( e.g. food, fuel) will be limited. Hydro stations will shut down immediately and may be slow to restart, power reticulation will be damaged. Only satellite phones will remain in use.
Landslides into lakes and fiords may cause tsunami, as may the collapse of river deltas in lakes or the sea. Queenstown, Milford and Wanaka are likely sites of tsunami damage
Tour bus operators are also urged to stock up on food and supplies for their customers who could likely be trapped for days in isolated locations.

Some years ago, we enjoyed a power outage when we were living near Tacoma, Washington. It occurred on Thanksgiving day, so everybody's turkeys were slowly cooling in their ovens. Our next door neighbor, knowing we were into preparedness, called over (land line phones were okay) asking to borrow our Coleman stove so they could heat up water for coffee. I sent one of my girls over with the stove. After about 15 minutes, the neighbors called again asking for help in lighting the stove. It was an old stove and I was embarrassed that it might have given up the ghost. When I got there, however, I found them in their family room (housewife, pre-teen daughter and Mom and Dad) all huddled around the stove. Several burnt matches were in and around the stove box. To my surprise, the gas tank was still in[side] the stove body. I realized that had they managed to turn the red knob on, they could well have started a dangerous fire.
Mind you, the housewife was a school teacher and her Dad a physician, so they were not uneducated people.
My point: handing these folks, educated as they were, a surplus bucket of wheat or beans would be worse than useless--you lose the food, but they don't get fed. Even if you gave them flour, honey, salt, oil, water and yeast, they still would not know what to do with it.

In a disaster scenario, they probably wouldn't even have a can opener to deal with any canned goods you might hand them.
You'd better either: (1) prepare for woebegone beggars who will need/expect your continuing generosity/expertise, or; (2) plan to order needy folks to get on their way.
Worst case scenario: they circle the block and show up back on your doorstep, hungry children in the forefront. Now it's one thing to threaten, perhaps even to have to kill a thief, but what will you do with the obviously desperate (no food/water for 24 hours) neighbors?
Thinking about all this made me realize that perhaps one charitable solution is a 6-pack or two of energy bars, plus a few liters of water as you send them on their way.
But doggone it, then they're likely to pass the word to others who are needy and you are back to numbers (1) or (2) above.
Sure looks like urbanites and suburbanites who want to and/or have made some survival preparations need to also prepare a place away from home so they can G.O.O.D. and not have to face these unhappy choices.
On a different note: Some years ago, I read an article in a Farm magazine reporting that most large-acreage farmers didn't have their own gardens. The article was praising the virtue of having a garden and quoted a few farmer's wives waxing poetic about their little plots. I couldn't believe it--farmers being encouraged to do a little self-help farming!
So, you may escape to your retreat only to find neighbors stopping by for a handout even there. Better start preaching self-reliance a little more vigorously, maybe an article in the local rag, free handouts on the local store bulletin board regarding 72-hour kit contents, etc. Maybe throw in a little scare about the economy and inflation. Good luck with that. - Bob B.

Mr. Rawles:
Your suspicion was correct. Boiling hickory chips will not provide quantities of salt sufficient to be detected by human taste senses. It is not feasible to use this method as a means of acquiring salt for consumption.
Hickory chips are used in the curing process for pork and other meats only when they are heated to the extent that they start to emit smoke. Normally the chips are wetted to prevent them from rapidly burning. The benefits of the process are as follows:
1) The primary benefit of the smoking process is that it coats the meat (most commonly pork) with a smoke residue that discourages flies. Flies are notorious for laying eggs on hams. These eggs develop through larval stages. The most widely known larval stage is, in the southern U.S., called the skipper. Skippers will readily ruin a country cured ham. Infestations of skippers are hindered by the process of smoking the pork in smokehouses.
2) The secondary benefit of the smoking process is that it imparts a delightful aroma and flavor to the meat that is enjoyed by many people.

Salt licks were, at one time, so critical for acquiring salt (and naturally attracting game) that they still appear on maps. Some towns even carry a name associated with salt, such as Salt Lick, Kentucky.

There is a plethora of gear on the market, whether it is nominated as 'survival' or 'hunting', etc. Through the years I have basically used military surplus gear as opposed to what the civilian market offers. This includes back packs, sleeping bags, clothing, etc. I have found that much of it is superior to what is offered on the civilian market as those products lack the necessary function, form and fit for day to day and week to week use. My Gortex field jacket is light years beyond the hyper-expensive Cabela's type jacket my brother owns. With his, you stay dry but it is cumbersome, bulky and not designed to wear while conducting the myriad things one might otherwise find themselves doing on a daily outdoors basis.

However, there are some things that I use that are exclusively found on the civilian side such as footwear is an example. I've never owned military surplus boots because I just didn't want to risk the investment when I had a winning thing already.

Here's my question: 'Over the broad spectrum, would you recommend military surplus gear over the civilian gear market?' and 'Over the narrow spectrum, where would you diverge from the military surplus and use exclusively the civilian market?' I have the military bags but you recommend the Wiggy's product, likely because of its weight, et cetera. Anyway, maybe your comments would be instructive and helpful for the readers. - Matt B.

JWR Replies: I generally prefer full military specification ("mil-spec") gear or most applications like backpacks, clothing, and web gear. However, much like your preference for civilian boots, I consider sleeping bags a "special case". I have found that Wiggy's brand sleeping bags are superior to both military surplus and other civilian brands in a number of ways. Their greatest advantage is loft retention. Unlike most other bags, they do not lose their loft when stored compressed, even for long periods of time. Because of their method of construction, they have no "cold spots". Since they are synthetic, they dry quickly. (Wiggy's uses a proprietary synthetic insulation called Lamilite.) They are also more lightweight than military surplus bags with the same temperature ratings.

As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, I prefer the Wiggy's brand FTRSS. (A two bag system, where you can use either the inner bag or the overbag separately, or zip them together for the coldest weather.) We have five sets of FTRSS bags here at the Rawles Ranch, and they have served us very well for many years. I have probably spent more time sleeping in a Wiggy's bag than even Jerry Wigutow. (The president of Wiggy's.) Because I had a very bad back injury in a black ice vehicle rollover accident in 1994, I ended up sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag with just a thin pad. (Sleeping on any bed put my back into spasm.) In fact, it has only been in the last year, after I built a special bed--that is topped with a piece of plywood and a thin memory foam mattress--that I was able to stop sleeping on the floor. So for more than 10 years I slept every night in a Wiggy's sleeping bag. That was the equivalent of three lifetimes of normal field use for a sleeping bag belonging to an avid outdoorsman. (If I had anticipated that I would have been using the bag every night for so many years, I would have kept track.) Through all that use, the Wiggy's bag held up amazingly well: No clumping, no loss of loft, and no broken zippers. It was simply amazing. I lost count of how many dozens of times the bag was machine washed. Both halves of the FTRSS that were used in the "10 year test" are still quite serviceable. That is a testament to their excellent design, materials and workmanship. Lastly, unlike virtually all of their competitor that have outsourced to China, Wiggy's bags are still made here in the United States. That is commendable. If this sounds like a gushing endorsement, you are right. I would never own a different brand. And given the amazing longevity of Wiggy's bags, I don't think that I'll ever have to.

Frequent contributor DV sent us this piece of news, which hardly came as a surprise: Currency Controls Return as Central Banks Fight Dollar Freefall

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Eric. S. suggested this article from MIT 's Technology Review: Oil from Wood--Startup Kior has developed a process for creating "biocrude" directly from biomass.

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Courtesy of the folks at Swiss America (one of our loyal advertisers); comes the link to an article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Gold eyes all-time high on currency crisis.

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Thanks to Richard at KT Ordnance for sending this article by Dan Dorfman at The New York Sun: Talk of Worst Recession Since the 1930s. It includes this snippet: "Balestra Capital Partners, Jim Melcher, says he's "worried about a recession. Not a normal one, but a very bad one. The worst since the 1930s. I expect we'll see clear signs of it in six months with a dramatic slowdown in the gross domestic product."

"Always listen to the experts - They will tell you what can't be done, and why.- Then do it." - Robert Heinlein

Monday, November 12, 2007

I've added a new static web page to the blog site. It answers the age-old question that arises when shopping for military surplus ammunition: Is it corrosively primed? Noncorrosive Priming Information for U.S. Military Small Arms Ammunition. You might want to print a hard copy and take it with you attend gun shows.

I've often mused about how fun it would be to have a time machine and travel back to the early 1960s, and go on a pre-inflation shopping spree. In that era, most used cars were less than $800, and a new-in-the box Colt .45 Automatic sold for $60. In particular, it would be great to go back and get a huge pile of rolls of then-circulating US silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars at face value. (With silver presently around $15.50 per ounce, the US 90% silver (1964 and earlier) coinage is selling wholesale at 11 times face value--that is $11,000 for a $1,000 face value bag.)

The disappearance of 90% silver coins from circulation in the US in the mid-1960s beautifully illustrated Gresham's Law: "Bad Money Drives Out Good." People quickly realized that the debased copper sandwich coins were bogus, so anyone with half a brain saved every pre-'65 (90% silver) coin that they could find. (This resulted in a coin shortage from 1965 to 1967, while the mint frantically played catch up, producing millions of cupronickel "clad" coins. This production was so hurried that they even skipped putting mint marks on coins from 1965 to 1967.)

Alas, there are no time machines. But what if I were to tell you that there is a similar,albeit smaller-scale opportunity? Consider the lowly US five cent piece--the "nickel."

Unlike US dimes and quarters, which stopped being made of 90% silver after 1964, the composition of a nickel has essentially been unchanged since the end of World War II. It is still a 5 gram coin that is an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel. (An aside: Some 1942 to 1945 five cent coins were made with 35% silver, because nickel was badly-needed for wartime industrial use. Those "War Nickels" have long since been culled from circulation, by collectors.) According to, the 1946-2007 Nickel (with a 5 cent face value) presently a has base metal value of $0.0677413. That is 135.48% of its face value. Hence, even at today's commodities prices, you will start out with a 35% gain by amassing a stockpile of nickels.)

The Root of the Problem

It is inevitable that any country that issues a continually-inflated fiat paper currency will run into the problem of their coinage eventually having its base metal value exceed its face value. When this happens, it is one of those embarrassing "emperor's new clothes" moments. Unless a government takes the drastic step of lopping off a zero or two from their currency, this coinage problem is inevitable. In essence, we were robbed by our own government when silver coins were replaced with copper sandwich coins in 1965. I predict that essentially the same thing will soon to happen with nickels.

Helicopter Ben Bernanke will inflate his way out of the current liquidity crisis. through artificial lowering of interest rates, massive injections of liquidity, and monetization of the Federal debt. That can only spell one thing: inflation, and plenty of it. Mass inflation will mean much higher commodities prices (at least from the perspective of the US currency.)

I predict that for at least the next six months the US Mint will continues to produce nickels with the current metals composition. This is an open window of opportunity, during which time SurvivalBlog readers can salt away countless bags of nickels.

Within just a few years, the base metal value of a nickel is likely to exceed two times ("2X") its face value. (10 cents each.) The nickel will then begin to disappear from circulation. (Gresham's law is unavoidable.) Unlike the mid-1960s experience, the missing nickels will not cause a crisis, since pennies will suffice, and most vending machines now use dimes as their smallest purchase increment. Meanwhile, most bridge tolls and toll roads have inflated so that tolls are in 25 cent increments. The demise of the nickel will hardly cause a ripple in the news.

Unless they decide to drop the issuance of nickels entirely, the US Mint will within the next three years be forced to introduce a "new" nickel with a debased composition. It will possibly be zinc (flashed with silver) or possibly even aluminum.

Why Not Pennies?

You may ask, why not accumulate 95% copper (pre-1983 mint date) pennies? They already have a base metal value of 2.2 cents each. Unfortunately, pennies have two problems: confusion and bulk. They are confusing, because 95% copper pennies are now circulating side-by-side with 97.5% zinc pennies. They are also about four times as bulky (per dollar of face value) as nickels.

With nickels you won't have to spend time sorting out pre-1983 varieties. At present, sorting pennies simply isn't worth your time. Although I suppose that if someone were to invent an automated density-measuring penny sorting machine, he could make a fortune. As background: The pre-1983 pennies presently have a base metal value of about $0.0226 each.) Starting in 1983, the mint switched to 97.5% zinc pennies that are just flashed with copper. Those presently have a base metal value of about $0.0071 each. Pennies are absurdly bulky and heavy to store. Nickels are also quite bulky, but are at least manageable for a small investor's storage. (Storing pennies would take a tremendous amount of space and constitute a huge weight per dollar invested.)

The biggest advantage of nickels over pennies is that there is no date/composition confusion. At least for now, a nickel is a nickel. Even the newly-minted "large portrait" nickels have the same 75/25 cupronickel composition. But that is likely to change within just a couple of years. The US Mint cannot go on minting nickels at a loss much longer. My advice: start filling ammo cans with $2 (40 coin) rolls of nickels. (The .30 caliber size can is the perfect width for rolls of nickels. Any larger containers would be difficult to move easily. Cardboard boxes are fragile, and lack a carry handle. But ammo cans are very sturdy, have an integral handle, and they are relatively cheap and plentiful. They are available at military surplus stores and gun shows.) Right now, you are effectively getting 6.7 cent nickels for 5 cents each. (Or think of it as $135 for each $100 invested in 50 rolls of nickels.) That might not seem like much of a gain. Someday, however, when nickels are worth 4X to 8X their face value, your children will thank you for it. Consider it an investment in your children's future.

In December of 2006, the US congress passed a law making it illegal to bulk export or melt down pennies and nickels. But once the old composition pennies and nickels have been driven out of circulation, that is likely to change. In fact, a bill now before congress would remove pre-1983 pennies from the melting ban. In any case, once the base metal value exceeds face value by about 3X, an investor's market will develop, regardless of whether or not melting is re-legalized. Count on it.

What if Uncle Sam Decides to Drop a Zero?

As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, inflation of the US dollar has been chronic, cumulative, and insidious. So much so that turns of phrase from old movies like "penny candy" and "its your nickel" (to describe the cost of a call on a pay phone) now seem quaint and outdated. When inflation goes on long enough, the number of digits required to express a price grows too large. (As has been seen with the Italian lira, the Zimbabwean dollar, and countless other currencies. One whitewash solution to chronic inflation that several other nations have chosen is dropping one, two, or even three zeros from their currency, in an overnight revaluation, with a mandatory paper currency exchange. The history of the past century has shown that when doing so, most governments re-issue only new paper currency, but leave the old coinage in circulation, at the same face value. (Because the sheer logistics of a coinage swap would be daunting.) Typically, this leaves the holders of coinage as the unexpected beneficiaries of a 10X, 100X.or even 1,000 gain of the value of their coins. Governments just assume that most citizens just have a couple of pocketfuls of coins at any given time. So if this were to happen while you are sitting on a pile of nickels, you will make a handsome profit. You could merely spend your saved nickels in the new currency regime.

How To Build Your Pile of Nickels

How can you amass a big pile-o-nickels? Obviously just saving the few that you normally receive as pocket change is insufficient. Here are some possibilities:

1.) If you live in a state with nickel slot machine gambling (such as Nevada or New Jersey), or near an Indian tribal casino with nickel slots, go to a casino frequently and buy $50 in nickels at a time. Do your best to look like a gambler when doing so, by carrying a plastic change bucket with a few nickels in the bottom.

2.) Obtain nickels in rolls from your friendly local bank teller. Most "retail" banks are already accustomed to handing over rolls of coins to private depositors because of collector demand for statehood commemorative quarters and the new presidential dollar coins. Ask for $20 or $30 of nickels in rolls each time that you visit to do your normal banking deposits or withdrawals. It is best to ask for new "wrapped" (fresh Federal Reserve Bank issue) rolls. This way, you might have the chance of getting rolls with valuable minting errors--such as "double die" strikes. These are usually noticed and publicized a few months after the fact, and can be quite valuable. You will also be assured that you are getting full 40 coin rolls. (Getting shorted with 38 or 39 coin rolls is possible with hand-rolled coins.) If the tellers ask why you want so many, you can honestly tell them: "I'm working on a collection for my children." (You need not tell them how large a collection it is!)

3.) If you live in or near an urban area and you operate a business, you can effectively "buy" rolled coinage from your commercial bank. (They generally will not do any business with anyone unless they have an account.) It might be worth your while to on paper start a side business with "Vending Service" in its name, and have business cards and stationary printed up in that name. Have that "DBA" business entity name added to your commercial bank account. At a high-volume commercial bank you could conceivably buy hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of nickels on the pretense of stocking change for a vending business. Depending on your relationship with the bank, they may waive any fees if you ask for a few rolls of coins. Be advised, however, that if you ask for any significant quantity at one time, they will probably charge you a premium. (Down in the small print of your account contract, there is probably wording something like this: "Coin Issued - Per Roll: .03 Currency Issued - Per $ 100: .08" Before you cry "foul", be aware that the Federal Reserve actually charges your bank a small premium when they obtain wrapped rolls of coins. (Most folks have held to the convenient fiction that a paper dollar was the same as a dollar in change. Obviously, it isn't.) In effect, your commercial banker will just be passing along this cost to you. Unless they charge you a heavy fee, don't worry about it. Ten years from now, when a $2 roll of nickel is worth $16, you'll be laughing about how you obtained $4,000 face value in nickels at just a small fraction over their face value.

4.) If you know someone that has a machine vending business, offer to buy all of their excess nickels once every month or two, by offering a small premium.

5.) If you operate a "mom and pop" retail business with a walk-in clientele, put up a small sign next to your cash register that reads: "WANTED: Rolls of nickels for my collection. I pay $2.25 per 40 coin ($2) roll, regardless of year!" Once the nickel shortage develops (as it inevitably will), you should raise you premium gradually, to keep a steady stream of coin rolls coming in.

After this is posted, I'm sure that I'm going to get plenty of ridicule and perhaps even some hate mail, accusing me of "hoarding." So be it. Let me preemptively state that I realize that money tied up in coins will not benefit from the interest that a bank deposit would earn. But foregoing interest is not a major concern. Why? Because I think that it is a fairly safe bet that commodity price inflation will outstrip the prevailing interest rates for at least the next five years. In five years, the circulating nickel as we now know it, will be history, and it will be treated with nearly the same reverence that we now give to pre-'65 silver coinage.

We saw what happened when clad copper dimes, quarters and half dollars were introduced in 1965. We should learn from history. Something comparable will very likely soon to happen with nickels. You, as a reader, are now armed with that knowledge. You can and should benefit from it, before Uncle Sugar performs his next sleight of hand trick and starts passing off silver-plated zinc tokens as "nickels". - James Wesley, Rawles -- Editor of

Permission to forward, repost, or reprint this article is granted, but only in its entirely with attribution and links intact.

Have you seen this "Freedom Fill" apparatus? It is for trucks that have extra fuel tanks in their bed and it feeds fuel directly to their main tanks. No need to stop for a refueling at an unsafe location. What do you think? - David K.

JWR Replies: Other that its general high level of complexity with multiple points of failure--most notably that it uses EMP-vulnerable microprocessor--it looks captivating. Call me a dinosaur, but I prefer the traditional auxiliary fuel tank plumbing methods. OBTW, just think how long the O.J. Simpson "slow speed pursuit" could have gone on if the White Bronco had been equipped with one of these?

I was saddened to see that the BOGO acronym has changed: It started out meaning "Buy one, give one"--a form of charitable giving--with the Bogo Light campaign. (Wherein someone buys a solar-powered flashlight and the manufacturer also provides one as charity to an African villager. This commendable program is still going on.) But I've noticed that BOGO has crept into the Internet marketing lexicon in a perverted form. The Madison Avenue advertisers have turned it into "Buy one, get one (free)"--nothing more than a 50% off sale.

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I just heard that Ready Made Resources is now down to less than 800 infrared chemical light sticks remaining in inventory. With the recent State Department ruling, there will be no more of these produced for the US civilian market. Stock up now, while there still some available at a reasonable price. When used with surface trip flare actuators, these are ideal for perimeter security. Since these are infrared wavelength emitters, they can only be seen through starlight scopes and night vision goggles--the bad guys won't know what hit them! OBTW, one technical tip, which was suggested by The Gun Plumber over at The FALFiles: "After the light stick is expended, cut the end off, dump the liquid and glass ampule [and discard safely], then tape the plastic tube to your MiniMag flashlight to make a IR wand--the plastic tube is the IR filter!"

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Thanks to RBS for sending this Bloomberg article: Bankruptcy Law Backfires as Foreclosures Offset Gains

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The high bid is still at $400 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.

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. … The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. ... We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. ... I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it." - Charles Swindoll

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Today is set aside in the United States to honor our military veterans. For those of you are are veterans, thank you. And for those of you that have family members, friends, neighbors, church brethren, and co-workers that are veterans, I encourage you to make the effort to express your thanks and to welcome them home.

Please give tangible support to those that are currently serving on overseas tours, and keep them in your prayers. I highly recommend the Any Soldier letter writing and gift-giving program.

Mr. Rawles:
These sage comments on FN FAL gas adjustment from my friend and colleague, John Krupa, Director of Training for DSA [an American maker of FN FAL clone rifles. The following is re-posted with the permission of DSA]:

"Not knowing that one can control gas-flow on this weapon has led to countless customer-service calls to DSA, complaining that the rifle 'doesn't work.' The following is laid out in great detail in the Owners's Manual, of course, but we are happy to explain to each owner how the gas-regulator works and then walk them through correct gas-regulator adjustment. Invariably, when we're finished, like a miracle, the rifle suddenly runs fine!

(1) The gas vent is directly behind the base of the front sight. We start the process with the gas-regulator set to the full-open position, which is # 7 on the gas-regulator dial. The vent-hole will be visibly open all the way. Next, we start to close off the gas-regulator vent by turning the dial clockwise two clicks, which will place it at # 6. You will now see that the vent hole is partially occluded. From here, we can start our live-fire, function testing.

(2) Charge a magazine with a single round of ammunition. Insert the magazine into the rifle and chamber the round. Holding the rifle in a normal, standing position (bench-resting is not recommended) aim into the impact area and fire one round. When the bolt fails to lock back, [we can conclude that] not enough gas is driving the piston into the bolt group for a complete cycle of operation. So, close the gas regulator another, single click, which will put it at 5 1/2, and then repeat the one-shot drill. Continue to close off the gas-regulator, a click at a time, until consistent (three in a row) bolt-lock is achieved

(3) When the bolt thus consistently locks to the rear after firing a single round, insert a magazine charged with five rounds, load the rifle, and fire all five in rapid succession. Once again, the bolt needs to unfailingly lock to the rear as the last round is fired.

(4) Once your rifle passes the 'five-round test,' close the gas-regulator two more clicks! The gas regulator is now 'set.' Just about all rifles we issue for student use have a final set at 4 to 4 . That is pretty standard.

(5) When the rifle gets hot, dry, and dirty, and starts short-cycling, you
can use the gas-regulator dial to quickly make incremental increases in gas
pressure, instantly restoring the rifle to normal functioning.

I don't recommend closing the gas-regulator completely, as you suggested in your last Quip, unless absolutely necessary. What concerns me is not excessive wear-and-tear on the rifle. The DSA/FAL is a robust, military rifle that is designed for heavy use in hostile environments. It will take whatever you can give it! Nor is my concern with accuracy. Practical accuracy is unaffected by gas-regulator adjustments. Nor is my concern with recoil attenuation. Soft recoil is nice, but we can all handle recoil. The real problem is with case-extraction that is so violent it may result in cases being literally pulled apart as the bolt moves to the rear. The front half of the case may thus be left in the chamber, resulting in a stoppage that cannot be corrected
in the short term.

With regard to ammunition:
Ammunition quality is all over the map! Ammunition from dubious sources, reloads for example, typically exhibit inconsistent head-space and inconsistent pressure. DSA, of course, recommends against the use of such poor-quality ammunition, except in exigent circumstances."

Comment: John Krupa is the resident expert, and I will surely defer to his judgment on this issue, and my advice to FAL owners is that they adhere to his,
foregoing instructions. The thorny issue is, of course, "exigent circumstances!" When I have my FAL, some magazines, and a supply of ammunition about which I know little,
and I've been invited to participate in a fight that is starting immediately, best bet is to begin with a rifle whose gas-regulator is closed off. I'll put up with recoil, and I'll take my chances with case-separation, just as long as I can be assured my rifle will complete each cycle of operation. Conversely, when I know what ammunition I'm going to feed it, and I have time to go through the foregoing gas-regulator adjustment routine, and a range where I can do the mandatory live-fire, I will surely tune my weapon to maximum advantage. No contestation there.

Of all dubious ammunition, the most suspect is reloads. Cases that have been reloaded multiple times are stretched, weakened, and thin in spots. They are the ones most prone to case-separation, described above, and inspection may not be helpful. From the outside, one can seldom tell if a case wall is dangerously thin. "Once-fired-reloads" is a commonly-used platitude, but how can anyone really know how many times a particular case has been reloaded? Reloads are thus not recommended for use in any autoloading rifle. - John

Mr. Rawles,
I have just finished "Hard Times" by Studs Terkel, an oral history of the Great Depression, and recommend it to SurvivalBlog readers. It is a fascinating chronicle, a series of narratives from people who lived through it from all walks of life, and it really communicates a sense of what desperate times can be like. Most Americans have forgotten this and little is taught in schools. For example, there are several narratives that dealt with a farmers uprising in Northwestern Iowa. Apparently a local judge was too quick to bang the foreclosure gavel and a mob had his head in a noose before being talked down. The book also gives some rather harrowing accounts of what a financial collapse is really like and how it affects folks.

I am also in the process of reading "My Side of the Mountain" [by Jean Craighead George] to my seven year old son. I'd forgotten how wonderful this book is, chronicling the efforts of a 12 year old boy to live off the land in upstate New York. It provides a lot of information about edible plants and ways to get by in the wild, and has really captured my son's imagination. One interesting thing I had not recalled: the protagonist is able to derive salt by boiling hickory chips. Are you familiar with this method? I might give it a try, living in a region with few natural sources. Thanks, and keep up the good work. - Charlottesvillain
JWR Replies: That lore on hickory chips may or may not be well-founded. At first glance, I would think that the natural concentration of salt in hickory wood or bark would be so low that it would take a huge volume of hickory to boil down just a small quantity of salt--hence highly labor intensive. I have read that hickory is used in preserving some hams. Perhaps what the book's author referred to was lore about a method that had been used to recover salt, after salt-curing hams. That seems quite plausible. If any readers can either amplify or refute the foregoing, please let me know via e-mail, and I will gladly post it. (I highly value the vast breadth and depth of knowledge that is collectively held by SurvivalBlog's readers!)

A hat tip to L.W., who sent us this: Banks' Balance Sheets Will Hit The Fan In January.

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Helicopter Ben Speaks: Fed Chairman Says Economy Likely to Slow

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Reader MGB suggested the Measuring Worth web site. They have some very informative inflation and purchasing power calculators.

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Eric S. suggested this Newsmax article: Credit Card Debt a $915 Billion Disaster-in-Waiting for Banks

"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die." - G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I just got word that a brand new free "In State Firearms Sales Board" is now up and running. It just went live a few hours ago. No charge, nada, zip. Photos are allowed. Again, at no charge. The concept of this site is to arrange private party firearms sales between residents of the same state. (This avoids running afoul of the Federal regulation that restrict interstate sales except through an FFL.) Since the sales will all be intrastate, they will be safely outside of Federal jurisdiction. Of course consult your state and local laws before posting or responding to a post. This new board exists because of the generous donation of web hosting and bandwidth by the fine folks at Best Prices Storable Foods (aka The Internet Grocer). They have been a loyal SurvivalBlog advertiser for more than a year. I'm sure that they would appreciate your patronage.

I've used my Hi -Lift jack for years. I concur with the writers' comments. One extremely important part of using one of these safely was omitted. The rule while a vehicle is up off the ground is that you always place jack stands under the vehicle or you are placing your life in jeopardy. This goes for a Hi-Lift jack and any other jack. A short 'it happened to me': While making repairs on a very hot humid day, the asphalt didn't hold the jack base (it sunk a little due to the heat), fortunately I completed said task quickly and came out from under the vehicle. Then, right before me the jack slowly started tipping over and the jack stands stopped the vehicle before the whole thing went over. Invest in some jack stands!- flhspete.

JWR Adds: Thanks for mentioning that. Steel jack stands are available locally at nearly any auto parts store.You can also purchase a pair by mail order for less than $25 from 4WD Parts (Part # ZX077430NI.) Your mention of soft asphalt reminded me that special Hi-Lift jack bases--designed to distribute a jack's weight more broadly on soft ground--are available from (Part # 672)

OBTW, here are a few more safety tips. Resist the urge to buy four jack stands. They are only safe to use in pairs. You need to leave at least two of a vehicle's wheels resting on the ground and lift only one end of the vehicle at a time. If the ground is slightly uneven, then lay at least 18" wide scraps of 3/4" (or thicker) plywood under each jack stand. Never jack up a car on a slope! And, needless to say, never work alone when jacking up a vehicle.

Hi Jim,
I read from time to time "C&R eligible." Can you please post a quick note on the SurvivalBlog that explains what that is referring to, as it relates to firearms. Blessings, - Mark B.

JWR Replies: I often write about the full exemption in the Federal law for pre-1899 guns, but I haven't given much attention in the blog to Curio and Relic (C&R) guns. A Type 03 Federal Firearms License (FFL) is issued by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) . It allows individual C&R collectors to purchase across state lines some specifically listed firearms and ammunition for their personal collections. These post-1898 firearms and ammo are classified as a Curio or Relic only under certain circumstances. The following is a snippet from the ATF web site:

To be recognized as curios or relics, firearms must fall within one of the following categories:
(a) Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas thereof;
(b) Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest; and
(c) Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event. Proof of qualification of a particular firearm under this category may be established by evidence of present value and evidence that like firearms are not available except as collector's items, or that the value of like firearms available in ordinary commercial channels is substantially less.

The ATF's list of eligible C&R guns and ammunition has been assembled piecemeal since 1968, and parts of it therefore show no rhyme or reason. For example, some Winchester Model 1894 "Trapper" short-barreled rifles with specific serial numbers have made their way onto the list, while hundreds of others have not. The BATFE's list of eligible C&R guns is sporadically updated and posted at the BATFE web site.

The Type 03 Curio and Relics License doesn't permit the license holder to deal in firearms as a business. It is strictly a collector's license. (With a C&R license, you can buy and sell guns, but only with the intent of improving your collection--not as a way to make a living.) Guns that are not specifically C&R eligible would still have to be obtained through someone with a Type 01 dealer's license. At present, the Class 03 license fee is $30 for three years. If you are interested in getting a C&R license be sure to first check our your state and local laws that might also affect your firearms purchases. Next, read though the extensive information at

I generally discourage all but the most ardent gun collectors from getting a C&R license. If you are persistent, you can generally find the guns you want inside your own state from a private party seller. (For example, see my Note at the top of today's posts.) If you definitely plan to buy several 50+ year-old military surplus rifles per year, then it might be worthwhile to get a license. Otherwise, the cost/benefit ratio must be considered. One factor to consider: All Federal Firearms licenses require record keeping, and those records are subject to annual inspection by ATF agents. An error in record keeping is a Federal crime. Also consider that having a Federal firearms license--even just a Type 03 C&R--will raise your profile with law enforcement at all levels. In the event that our nation's gun laws change, FFL holders will probably be under intense scrutiny. And finally, as a FFL holder, your records .are subject to audit (no more than once per year), and you conceivably might be asked to present any guns listed in your records for inspection. (Who knows how the regulation might change in the future. But for now, ATF agents cannot search the home of a Class 03 license holder without warrant.)

In essence, a license is the granting of a privilege to conduct an act that would otherwise be illegal. Holding a license makes you subject to a new jurisdiction and holds you to a high record-keeping standard. Think that through. There are serious implications to obtaining any license. Don't leap into getting one without first weighing the costs and benefits.

I just finished “Tree Crops” by J. Russell Smith which just became one of my favorite books. In it he briefly mentioned edible nuts from pine trees. I did a scroogle search and found a great place in Canada that sells these types of pines. My favorite so far is the Korean Pine. Everybody grows pines for blocking winter wind and for privacy so why not pick a breed that gives you food? They grow in areas as cold as Zone 1 so this would be great for a lot of the northern retreats. One last thought is that Pine Nuts would be a great hidden emergency reserve of food because no mutant zombie biker would ever think of the nuts in pine cones as food. - Adam in Ohio

Just chiming in on the commentary from today: I have been reading The SAS Survival Handbook by John "Lofty" Wiseman There is a lot of information about edible plants and procedures to use to test plants you are unsure of. The book is full of other valuable survival info too as you would expect.

Another old source for good survival skills is our very own armed forces publications: field manuals (FMs) and training manuals (TMs). One was called Survival, Evasion and Escape (FM 21-76) but it has changed names now [as a multiservice "Survival, Evasion and Recovery" manual.] Plus, the good 'ol [U.S. Army] Ranger Handbook is an amazing source of information!
Sincerely, - Tanker

From Business Times Online, by way of SHTF Daily's posts: President Sarkozy warns of ‘economic war’ as dollar falls to new low

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Reader BDB suggested this article at FMNN: China Drain US Dollars- Telegraph, Bloomberg Confirms

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Bill W. sent us this link to a Wired News article: The End of Oil is Upon Us. We Must Move On - Quickly.

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Ben L. found this one: Never bring a taser to a gun fight

"Self-reliance is the antidote to institutional stupidity." - John Taylor Gatto

Friday, November 9, 2007

The high bid is still at $400 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.

Please warn your readers of the potential dangers of using a Hi-Lift jack (a.k.a. farm jack [or Sheepherder's jack]). I am a member of a local Jeep club and while we require each Jeep have one on outings, we don't allow anyone to use theirs unless they've been trained in their use. People have been killed by these crude (but necessary) machines and many, many, many have been injured. A fellow in our club had his jaw broken and cheekbone fractured years ago when lowering his Jeep after doing a trailside repair. When raising a load do everything to prevent your head or body from being directly above the handle. Make sure you move the handle through the entire range of travel and watch the "dogs" or pins to ensure they are engaging the beam holes and walking up the way they should. When you reach the desired height, leave the handle in the fully up position. Use a bungee cord to secure it in this position. Lowering a load is probably the most dangerous process of using the jack. Again, keep your head and body out of range of the handle. Once the handle "clicks" into position at the bottom of the stroke the entire load will literally be in your hands. Anticipate an immediate load pushing the handle upward! This is where most injuries occur. Work the handle through the entire range of movement and keep watching those pins to make sure they are engaging properly. Keep in mind too that these jacks aren't terribly stable, do everything you can to help brace and/or support the load before you ever consider getting under a vehicle while using one of these. I suggest some experimentation with these jacks at home, on a level driveway, etc. before ever attempting to use one in the field. Furthermore, I recommend you buy nothing but the actual Hi-Lift brand jack manufactured by Bloomfield Manufacturing Co. You can download a safety brochure in .PDF format from their site. Don't risk your life using some cheap Chinese jack sold at a discount tool shop (good luck getting replacement parts for these anyway). Bloomfield makes rebuild kits and replacement parts for all their products - always keep a Hi-Lift rebuild kit in your rig. In addition to lifting your vehicle, these jacks can be used in combination with tow straps/tree straps and used as winches. They can also be used as big clamps, presses and spreaders. Regards, - Tanker

JWR Adds: Thanks for sending those tips. In addition to vehicular use, we have found our aging but still quite serviceable pair of 47" Hi-Lift jacks to be indispensable around the Rawles Ranch. Most frequently we use them for pulling old fence posts. Bolting on a two-foot length of heavy chain just below the lifting surface (using a large Grade 8 nut and bolt) adds tremendously to a jack's versatility for tasks like fence post pulling. I agree that it is important to keep a factory (white box) rebuild kit handy. But the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep the jack's pair of pins well lubricated. Typically, people abuse their jacks--leaving them out in the rain. The pins rust, and then then the pins get stubborn. If a pin gets stuck in the out position while you are lifting a load, it can be a very bad thing!

Dear Jim,
I live in the Los Angeles area. I have been searching for the best place to purchase several hundred pounds of grains and legumes. I have read your course and all the SurvivalBlog article (I think). I have searched for a local place where I can pick up the product in person. The local Costco has all the White Rice and Pinto beans I need. However, I am at a loss to find a place to purchase Hard Red Wheat, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Lentils, etc. I have found several businesses on line, including the SurvivalBlog advertisers, but surely we are not so "advanced" that I will be forced to pay shipping fees which near triple the cost. Any stores or warehouse type businesses that might sell bags of grains and legumes that I can repack for long-term storage?

Thanks for you time, sir. Blessings, - MB

JWR Replies:

Honeyville Grain currently offers a flat UPS shipping fee of $4.49, regardless of the size of your order, anywhere in the continental United States. They have four warehouses, including one that is in Rancho Cucamonga, California. In a phone conversation yesterday, I was told by a manager at Honeyville that if you pick up your order in person, you can get a discount price. (The prices quoted at their Internet web page must have some shipping costs built in.) The other advantages, of course, are that if you can pay cash, you can avoid much of a paper trail, and you won't raise any eyebrows with your local UPS driver.

For rice and beans, don't overlook ethnic food stores. There are lots of them in Southern California. (Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, and so forth.) Not only do they have very competitive prices (recent immigrants are often on a tight budget and they look closely at prices!), but they also often have rapid turn-over of inventory. This means that there is less likelihood of getting bags of rice or legumes that are a year or two old. This is particularly important with beans. Even if stored under ideal conditions, beans harden with age. After around six years, this hardening gets to the point that they are inedible even after days of soaking. In my experience, if you are trying to cook eight+ year old storage beans, the only viable alternatives are to either grind the beans, or cook them in a pressure cooker. Otherwise it is like trying to eat pebbles.

This week in our weekly review of Survival Real Estate, I'd like to mention that we are in need of your help. We need you, the SurvivalBlog supporter that lives in any retreat locale in the world, to refer us to your local agent that understands what survival real estate shoppers are looking for. We have North Idaho and Northwest Montana covered but we need to locate and contact trusted agents elsewhere in the US and world-wide, so they may be featured in the weekly reviews in SurvivalBlog, and on our spin-off site:

If you have a friend or have used an agent that really knows your locale then drop us a line. They do not have to be SurvivalBlog readers, just have an excellent working knowledge of the area, be amiable to working with folks like us and most of all they must hold high ethical and business values. We are not looking for names out of phone books--we can do that. We need actual referrals to either friends in the business or agents that you have worked with who won't say "huh?" when we speak to them about the site and locale.

In order to reward our loyal readership, each person who e-mails us the contact details of an agent referral that passes our stringent checklist and is featured on SurvivalBlog will be entered into a drawing to win an autographed "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, and an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". We will have two separate drawings, one for CONUS and one for overseas locales.

Please e-mail your referrals to our North Idaho correspondent Todd Savage at:

A quick side note: For those of you ready to purchase your retreat in a northern locale, it's about ready to snow in most higher latitude North American locales so you can expect sellers to panic and either drop their price and/or look at special financing options, many of which have already been detailed here recently. Good luck and happy shopping! - T.S.

Economist and investment adviser Thomas Tan recently posted an interesting piece in his blog: Gold as an Alternative Investment.

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Bill P. sent us an interesting article over at TCS Daily about the mainstreaming of preparedness: We're All Soldiers of Fortune Now. Bill's comment: "I guess after Katrina and the fires in southern California, at least businesses see the value of being prepared even if it's only too make a buck from a bug-out bag. I prefer my own rather than a mass-produced bag of dubious value. However, it's a step in the right direction. The more others are prepared the less I'll have to deal with when the SHTF."

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Keith in Texas mentioned that anyone interested in the BareFoot Motors link (recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog) might also be interested in he said the information on solar charging for their vehicles was of particular interest.

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Posted on the CometGold forums at today: Analyst: Banks face big write-downs. The article begins: "U.S. banks and brokers face as much as $100 billion of write-downs because of Level 3 accounting rules, in addition to the losses caused by the subprime credit slump, according to Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC. The Financial Accounting Standards Board's Rule 157 will make it harder for companies to avoid putting market prices on securities considered hardest to value, known as Level 3 assets, Royal Bank's chief credit strategist, Bob Janjuah, wrote in a note Wednesday. The new rule is effective Nov. 15. "This credit crisis, when all is out, will see $250 billion to $500 billion of losses," Janjuah wrote. Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm, has 251 percent of its equity in Level 3 assets, making it the most vulnerable to write-downs, followed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. at 185 percent, according to Janjuah." One posted comment: It looks like we now have to go overseas to get facts about our own banking industry. It could make a lot of things very interesting.

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us...they can't get away this time." - Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC, in Korea

Thursday, November 8, 2007

If you value what you read here, then please support SurvivalBlog with a voluntary 10 Cent Challenge subscription. If you are on a tight budget then please skip subscribing, but remember that mentioning SurvivalBlog in e-mails to friends and relatives costs virtually nothing. Thanks for spreading the word!

The major news outlets have finally started shouting about the collapsing value of the dollar and the bull market in precious metals. (Looking at the charts, $820 per ounce seems to be the new floor for spot gold.) Just as I predicted, it was a move by China that precipitated the latest drop in the dollar. Thanks, BTW, to the five readers that all sent that link. I should mention that several SurvivalBlog readers mentioned that article. Reader Mike the Blacksmith noted: "The remarks by Cheng on world currency status is the most important point in this article." The currency markets are coming apart at the seams. Reader Chris S. pointed to the one year chart for the US Dollar versus the Canadian Dollar.His comments: "Notice the steep drop? It hasn't even looked close to this since the 1970s during the worst of the oil crunch. Other countries are beginning to stop trading in dollars altogether. When someone says "your money is no good here" now, it's not a compliment and a prelude to a freebie. It means they don't want our money. Considering our main export to the rest of the world right now is our paper money, this doesn't bode well. I would say that we could work our way out of this by building things the rest of the world wants to buy, but our so-called leadership in this country (both political and business) has also exported the jobs and sold off our infrastructure. We're getting increasingly stuck with empty factories and mortgage debt in a real estate market that no one wants to finance. BTW, the US Dollar is also now beginning to lose value against the Mexican Peso..." Also in the news, there are rumors of a formal dollar devaluation.

And if that weren't bad enough, we read some disturbing news on the credit market front: Markets fear banks have $1 trillion in toxic debt (thanks to both D.V. and Matt B. for sending that link.) But wait, it gets worse: Bond insurers set off fresh wave of credit panic.

Getting back to the FOREX markets, it is noteworthy that the USD Index has broken down below the 76 level. When I last checked, it was at 75.405, and falling. From deep in his lair (rumored to beneath Zurich's Paradeplatz), my friend The Chartist Gnome tells me that it is a long way down to the next interim support level. (For those of you that deride technical analysis, just ignore the following.) This SurvivalBlog snippet from a few weeks back bears repeating:" [I had mentioned 'Some analysts suggest 75 or perhaps even 72 as the next support level for the US Dollar Index'. The Chartist Gnome 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."

I often tell my consulting clients that it is impossible to predict short term market moves, but I'm often asked for advice on long term trends. My favorite bit of sage advice to quote about the UD Dollar comes from economist Ed Daughty, who writes under the pen name The Mogambo Guru: He explains: "You paint a dollar sign on a rock, which you can also use to defend yourself, and (according to the instructions), 'Hold the rock in an outstretched hand, making sure the rock is well away from your body, then say aloud 'Oh, Magnificent Mogambo U.S. Dollar Index Predictor, what will the dollar's value be over the long run?' then let go of the rock.' It's uncanny how accurate it is!"

I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again: Protect yourself from the imminent demise of the US dollar. Get out of your dollar-denominated investments. If you have an IRA, talk to Swiss America and roll over your IRA into a warehoused US Gold Eagle IRA. Sells your stocks and bonds.Even the best of them is no protection when the currency unit itself is destroyed. Sell your silly jet ski and big screen plasma HD television. Instead, buy productive farm land in a lightly populated region--land that that can first and foremost serve as a survival retreat. (See our spin-off web site for specially-selected retreat properties.) Get your family's food storage and survival gear squared away. Buy some practical tangible barter goods, like common caliber ammunition and full capacity magazines. After that, if you have any funds left over, invest it in physical silver (such as $1,000 face value 90% silver pre-1965 mint date coin bags) and store it in your home vault.

Mr. Rawles,
My Survival Group was having a discussion the other night, and we got to talking about "What if / Worst case" stuff. One of the situations involved the old "Lost in the wilderness with nothing but your knife and your lighter". (you do carry a pocket knife and a lighter with you, right?) That got us to thinking...what would you eat? Most of us tended to think of ways to snare small game, but then we got to talking about wild plants. Before long, it became clear that not only is foraging for wild plant potentially more efficient than snaring wild game, its also much easier. There are almost always edible plants all around you, no matter where you are. Usually within arms reach! Case in point: The Pine Tree.

Pine needles can be easily brewed into tea which contains many nutrients and vitamins. Pine cones can be roasted over a fire (you did start a fire already, right?) to open the cone and access the seeds inside. In a longer term situation…those same seeds can also be ground into a type of course flour. One can also east the inner bark of Pine trees if nothing else is available. And that’s just the common Pine tree, which grows almost everywhere! Speaking of Tree bark: remember that Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) was originally derived from teas made from the inner bark of the Willow tree.
Anyway, you get the point. A little study on the matter can go a long way toward making you self sufficient as far as food is concerned, by enabling you to supplement your dry-stores (you do have food stores, right?) with fresh greens providing vitamins and nutrients year round. Just remember what Crocodile Dundee said “You can live on it, but it tastes like…”Well, you know what.

Here area couple of web sites I’ve come across that deal with this topic:
Linda Runyon's "Of the Field" Web Page

There are, of course lots of other web sites out there, as well as good old fashioned EMP-proof books as well.

Good luck, and KYPD, - Krys in Idaho

I am a relatively new but loyal reader and can use some advice. I am looking to purchase a .308 battle rifle (eventually five or six of them) and wonder if you have any resources for fairly priced new FN FAL (type) firearms and magazines? Thanks, - Ryan

JWR Replies: If you don't mind a paper trail, some of the best bargains are some of the "builds" done by individual members at The FALFiles Forums. Depending on circumstances (such as car repairs, loss of jobs, and divorces) they are sometimes sold below cost. For example, here is a very nice L1A1 presently being a gent that needs to raise cash for house construction.

It is possible to get lucky and find a FAL or L1A1 listed at the FALFiles Marketplace Board that is being sold in your own state, being sold by a private party. Of course any transfers across state lines would have to be processed through an FFL holder. State laws on firearms also vary widely. Research them before you make a purchase. If avoiding a paper trail is a high priority, then I recommend that you make all of your gun purchases at gun shows from private parties, or through (on-line auctions) or (fixed price sales--usually more expensive). Both of these web sites have search features that allow you to search "by State", allowing you to find only sellers from your own state. Again, 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.

You also asked about magazines. Your best source for both metric FAL and inch pattern (L1A1) magazines would be Gun Parts Guy (he currently sells slightly used Imbel FAL magazines for under $8 each and I heard that he also obtained a batch of brand new in the wrapper Australian L1A1 magazines.

One thing to note about generator noise reduction. It's not just a matter of running quiet by normal standards. It's a matter of running quiet when nothing else is making any noise. With the grid down, a lot of normal background noise will be gone. That was one reason for my choice of solar electric power over a generator. - Raymond

JWR Replies: Remember that light discipline will be just as important as noise discipline, post-TEOTWAWKI. It is important to have the materials on hand to black-out your windows. Regardless of your power source, if you have power when nobody else does for blocks--or miles, then your house would be a "come loot me" beacon at night. Buy a stack of 1/2-inch plywood and two dozen 2"x4"x8' studs now. Carefully measure and cut inserts for each of your windows, and label each of them for quick reference. The edges can be wrapped with rags or old blankets. They can be tacked in place (so that they don't fall inward) with finishing nails or power screws driven in above, parallel to the sheet of plywood. At the same time, build a framework of 2x4s so that you can make a relatively light proof "airlock"--something a little bigger than a phone booth. It can be covered in opaque blankets. That way you can open your front door without fear of a blast of light escaping. T o be prepared for any overlooked light leaks, buy a few cans of expanding insulating foam (such as Dow "Great Stuff", available at any hardware or building supply store such as Lowe's or Home Depot) and some dark spray paint. Once you have your blackout shutters up, do a check for light leaks. As a final test, look for light leaks while wearing night vision goggles. (You will be amazed at what you missed!) It takes considerable effort to make a house that light-proof. But perhaps that is overkill, considering the capabilities of most would-be looters.

There is one thing that I think that would be very helpful to also stock up for WTSHTF, that would be supplements there are several out there and other products just for general health like protein powers / Met rex formulas and so on. I have some experience with these things from the Army – to helping my father fight cancer. Most of these added to a meal would help your body with many things like extra calories, to repairing muscle, blood pressure, vision, heart, to just good general heath. I really do not know of a shelf life and whether or not they would store easily. What would be your thoughts?

From Body Building For You
From The Magnesium Website
From Better Nutrition

From Wikipedia
From OSU
From Dr. Ray Sahelian's web site

From Wikipedia
From the Vitality Research Institute
Arginine Versus Aspirin

The reasons that I picked these three is because I just finished a test on a product that I have been using. A few years ago I had to entirely give up coffee on doctor's orders. If your anything like I was on that news he should of taken me out behind the building and just shot me, no more coffee that was my life juice. He then told me that he also had to give up coffee and that he had found something else it was a Sobe product called No Fear and that his body had thanked him for it many times over. So I tried it, at first I thought okay what’s the big deal about this stuff then in about a week I felt better and a lot of other things happened--I had focus and drive, no heartburn, and my body started to feel much better. So one day I found this product on sale so I bought a lot of it because in the mini marts and such stores they are about $2.50 a can but I found it for 99 cents a can so I purchased 22 cases--all they had. Well, that was about three years ago, just to see. I put about three cases in my storage food area. I just [recently] used myself as a guinea pig and drank two cans from the stores and it was just fine. So today I called Sobe and asked they if they had a shelf life on this product they said no that had never been asked before. (Note: Do not drink more than three a day or you will not sleep.)

Next, when my father came down with throat cancer and had his voice box removed he was eating from a feeding tube (And will be for the rest of his life). He could not get his weight back on that he need to survive. With what the hospital gave him, so I called one of my old Army buddies and he came up with a mix of protein powder, Met-Rx, and baby food blended together. It worked very well for a long time and it wasn’t fat that he put on. Rather, it was healthy muscle weight even through radiation therapy he did not lose weight. So I have several hundred pounds of these products in my food stores. The products that I stocked up on were Mega Mass-3000 (protein powder), Met-Rx, and other supplements. - Chad

RBS flagged this from The Age in Australia: Crash is coming, warns top investor

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Thanks to Eric S. for sending this article on a "polemical documentary": New 'disaster' movie warns world of oil apocalypse

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An article that provides some details on the Robert Karhe US Gold Eagle coin payroll tax case, which resulted in a mix of acquittals and a hung juries--no convictions.

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The excellent Comet Gold web site (often cited in SurvivalBlog) recently merged with The Contrary Investor's Cafe. Please update your links/bookmarks.

"No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency." - Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wow! I guess that by now you've heard that the spot price of silver jumped nearly a dollar an ounce yesterday and in early morning (Asian) trading to $15.70+ per ounce. Meanwhile, gold topped $830 an ounce. I told you that the precious metals bull would continue his charge. This is hardly the top! The full implications of the housing market collapse and the credit market melt-down have yet to be felt. To use a quaint aphorism: "You ain't seen nuthin' yet!"

Speaking of surging numbers, from our hit map I can see that Europe has developed a severe case of SurvivalBlog "measles." Welcome to all of our new readers in continental Europe and the British Isles! I'm also gratified to see that the US and Canada are well-blanketed with SurvivalBlog readers. Please keep spreading the word!

Here in the northern hemisphere, winter is rapidly approaching. So it is timely that I write about vehicular mobility in winter weather.

Every well-prepared family should have one or more four wheel drive vehicles with snow tires or chains. For those of you that have "11th Hour" Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) plan, I trust that you have pre-positioned the vast majority of your food and gear at your intended retreat. Towing a trailer on icy winter roads is a dicey proposition even in the best of times. In my estimation, piloting an overloaded vehicle with an overloaded trailer WTSHTF is tantamount to suicide. If you've planned things properly and pre-positioned your gear, then there is no need for a trailer. Just one quick trip with fuel cans, bug-out bags, backpacks, web gear and weapons cases should suffice. Enough said.

So what do you need in your vehicle to make sure that it gets you from Point A to Point B? I assume that at all times you carry a tool kit, flashlights, road flares, engine starting fluid, first aid/trauma kit, chemical light sticks, a CB radio, and your usual "Bug Out Bag" basics including food and water. So lets talk specifically about mobility essentials:

Traction sand. You probably already have a couple of bales of USGI sand bags. Just fill a bag (or two) with coarse sand and tie them shut with a pair of plastic cable ties to prevent leakage.

Single-Bit Axe, at least 3 pound. (Such as Northern Tool & Equipment Item# 119922)

Shovel. A proper USGI folding entrenching tool (not a cheap Asian knock-off) might suffice, but I prefer a more substantial 40-inch D-handle round nose shovel, such as the Kodiak, available from Hector's hardware.)

Hi-Lift Jack (aka "Sheepherder's jack") (Such as Northern Tool & Equipment Item# 14421)

Choker/tow chain (such as Item # 26083.) These should also be available from 4WD Parts and most local auto parts stores.

Ratchet hoist aka "Come-along". (Or better yet, carry two.) I like the Dayton and Tuf-Tug brands brands. (Such as Northern Tool & Equipment Item# 152911)

Several short lengths of chain, steel sleeve-locking carabiners, and large Grade 8 bolts with nuts that can be used to connect/secure chains. (Sometimes you need to improvise.)

Tire chains (Yes, even if you have studded snow tires.) And if you must depend on a trailer for winter G.O.O.D., then get chains for the trailer, too.

And to risk some controversy: Bolt cutters--at least 24" length. I prefer 36". (Such as Northern Tool & Equipment Item# 558397). Sadly, very few of these are now made in the States like my trusty old Woodings-Verona brand. Note: Please don't do anything illegal. Also be advised that in some of the liberal Nanny States, carrying bolt cutters in your rig could be considered "criminal intent." But here in The Un-named Western State, they just call it a "A real good idea."

Other Cold Weather Essentials (this list assumes that you will be transiting snow country--modify it accordingly if you live in the South):

Warm Clothing, pile caps, and gloves

Extra pairs of dry socks

Ice creepers (such as "YAKTRAX", available from

Snow shoes and spare binding parts (Such as the Huron-made snowshoes available from

Sleeping bag(s). I prefer the Wiggy's brand FTRSS. We have five sets of them here at the ranch, and they have served us very well for nearly 15 years.

Fire starting kit with plenty of tinder.

I guess this has been out for a year but it’s new to me that the Arbor Day Foundation has come out with a new Hardiness Zone map. I live in northern Ohio so I moved from a 5 to a 6 zone. Global warming? This makes a big difference in the fruit trees I can plant. Some areas have moved up two zones! In the past I was considering putting in a few acres of Paulownia trees for future timber but the nursery recommended only Zones 6 and above for timber production. This is a big deal for me. I’d love to get some advice from your readers whether I should start following the new Zone map or stick to zone 5 trees. An acre of Paulownia trees are about $ 2,000 for just the seedlings. I’d hate to be out that money and the labor involved if they don’t grow well. - Adam in Ohio

JWR Replies: I'm the ultraconservative type, and I'm suspicious of alleged climate change (versus short term changes that are caused by the 11 year solar cycle.) You never know when a hard winter will wipe out a planting. Am I too conservative? I'd appreciate comments from readers on this issue.

I saw in the blog someone mentioning the stock pouches soldiers have on their rifles overseas. Sadly these pouches are there because our servicemembers are not trusted with a loaded weapon while on the FOB. We are required to maintain possession of the weapon and a minimum amount of ammunition (usually one magazine) but we are not allowed to have the weapon loaded. Unfortunately we don't teach our servicemembers to be safe with weapons--we simply don't allow them the possibility to have an accident. - Jake

Dear Jim:
I use the SpecOps [brand] Ready Fire Mode pouches, and second your recommendation.
The biggest advantage I see is that you will often not have all your web gear (with spare mags) on your body in a self defense or survival situation. Standing guard duty in a crisis, of course you will, but often you are doing other work or resting, and not wearing full "battle rattle" 24/7. So having an extra mag on the gun - in one grab and go package - could be a lifesaver.
Secondly, the extra weight of a mag at the end of the buttstock counterbalances the front-end heaviness of many .308s. So, even though you are adding weight to the gun, the weapon handles better and feels better. Most noticeably, it is easier to balance in one hand while changing mags. Plus the extra weight helps with recoil.
Finally they have very thoughtfully provided a D-ring to attach a sling to the top of the buttstock.
Better photos and more technical details at the Spec-Ops company web site ...but Midway USA offers it at a better price than the factory [for direct sales]. Regards, - OSOM

SF in Hawaii suggested this BBC article: State of the planet, in graphics.
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My brother mentioned the WikiHow article "How to Cook Food on Your Car's Engine". Back in the early 1980s, before MREs were widely issued, in the US Army we often warmed C-Ration cans on top of our vehicle engine blocks.

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From perennial contributor RBS: Credit Bubble Bulletin: Structured finance under duress

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Stephen in Iraq sent us this: Atlanta water use is called shortsighted

"I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears." - Psalm 34:4

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The high bid is now at $400 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.

Hi Jim-
I wanted to comment on the generator noise reduction article by Jerry. An easy and relatively inexpensive solution that gives dramatic noise reduction for portable generators: Rubbermaid-type plastic storage sheds. These sheds typically have about a 5' wide x 2.5' deep footprint, a composite floor, and are an ideal size for a typical, 2,000 to 7,500 watt generators.

To modify the plastic shed for running the generator inside, four important, simple modifications are needed: 1) Cutting a small intake port on one side, and covering it with any type of breathable, mesh screen, to keep critters out. 2) Cutting a 3" or 4" round exhaust port on the opposite side from the intake. 3) Mounting a marine/bilge type 12 VDC exhaust blower motor to the exhaust port and wiring it to the 12 VDC circuit of the generator. 4) Placing an aluminum-faced fiberglass HVAC insulation panel where the generator's exhaust will most closely hit the plastic interior wall of the
shed. The exhaust is hot enough to melt the plastic without the insulation.

My setup has two 4" Rule brand marine bilge blowers wired in parallel, plugged into the 12 volt panel outlet of my Generac portable generator. When the generator is started, the blowers start. I have taken temperature measurements inside the enclosure with the generator running, and it only varies a few degrees from the ambient air temperature. The blowers exhaust a tremendous volume of air; heat doesn't build up inside the enclosure because the air turns over so quickly.

The sound reduction is tremendous. The generator becomes a distant background noise at about 50'. Much more than that, and it becomes nearly

Cutting a hole in the composite floor for some type of security fixture to lock the generator to is also an easy project.
Hope this is useful. Regards, - Rich S.

Water is essential for human life and unfortunately some sources provide water unsafe for human consumption. There are several methods for treating water including osmosis, distillation, ultra violet, boiling, filtering, and chemicals such as chlorine or iodine. Most of these treatments are aimed at biological contamination and each of them has disadvantages in a WTSHTF scenario. My solution is to first pre-filter the water using coffee filters or a clean rag, then use a quality microfilter such as the Katadyn Pocket filter, and then boil or chemical treat the water as the situation allows. In this article we will briefly examine biological contaminates and why I came to my solution. Contaminates may also include chemicals but is beyond the scope of this article.
Biological contaminates consist of microorganisms also called microbes. There are four different groups. Arranged from largest to smallest they are, fungi, protista, bacteria, and viruses. The smallest bacteria which causes human disease is Mycoplasma pneumoniae which is approximately 0.2 microns in size. When selecting a microfilter, I want one that filters down to at least 0.2 microns (a micron is one micrometer or 0.000001 meter or 1 x 10-6 meter). While effective against bacteria and larger microorganisms, even a good microfilters (0.2 microns) can not be counted on to filter out viruses unless there is another mechanism to trap or destroy the virus. All the viruses I am familiar with are smaller in diameter than 0.3 microns, examples include Smallpox 0.250 microns, Rabies 0.150 microns, Influenza (Flu) 0.100 microns, and Polio 0.028 microns. Viruses are composed of DNA or RNA surrounded by a protein coat called a capsid. This construction allows them to be easily destroyed by boiling or chemicals such as iodine or bleach. While iodine or bleach is effective against viruses, it is ineffective against the protista Cryptosporidium. Since the first recorded human case of Cryptosporidiosis in 1976, it has grown to become one of the most common waterborne diseases. Rates from 6%, to as high as 54% have been found in day care centers in the United States. In 1993, an outbreak in Milwaukee, Wisconsin infected approximately 400,000 residents. 4,400 people had to be hospitalized and the cost of the outbreak was estimated at over $54 million. If this is a problem now, imagine what it would be in WTSHTF scenario. See the CDC web site for additional information. What about boiling water to kill microbes? Unfortunately, some bacteria produce spores (also called endospores) which can survive extreme conditions. They can survive being boiled in water (100 degrees Celsius) for two hours, survive in 70% ethyl alcohol for 20 years, or survive one million REMs ([just] 600 REMs is fatal to most people). One of the most infamous bacteria that forms spores is Bacillus anthracis which causes Anthrax. By using a microfilter, I am eliminating fungi, protista, bacteria including spores and leaving only viruses that can easily be destroyed with chemicals or by boiling.

I came across another product called “First Need Portable Water Purifier” that is supposed to remove viruses without any chemicals. I have no experience with this product but will be checking it out. See their web site for more information. - Bill N.

Mr. Rawles,
I think that some attention should be paid to implementing psychological deterrents as a measure of improving retreat security after The Crunch. As food and water sources are depleted in the cities and the surviving population begins to mobilize you will more than likely see refugees passing through your retreat locale. These people may be armed and will be tough as they have survived to this point, but
mentally they will be tired. When they approach your compound they will view fences, antipersonnel barriers and armed conflict as obstacles that can be defeated. The point is to try and keep them from getting to this point. If you can create an obstacle that is impossible to beat they won't even consider it.

What I am suggesting is [simulated] NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) threat through the use of markers. Almost every adult is familiar with these symbols and their related colors and will probably do whatever they can to stay away from them if they know that there is a threat. So I would suggest that in areas where you feel that people may be traveling and wander into your territory that you use one of the placebo markers. You could even fashion some fake graves near the area or spread animal bones. [Most] people will not know the difference. Upon seeing these people may immediately rethink their route and destination and avoid your retreat.

To add to this, if the scenario is bad enough such that there is military conflict you could even use fake anti-vehicle/personnel mine markers. You could even combine the two--such as placing a burned vehicle with a scorched area around it to mimic an attack with depleted uranium, and then place nuclear hazard signs around it. I know that it is may seem cruel to play with people's minds, but if they were to accidentally wander onto your retreat and pose a threat then their lives would be at stake. Regards, - Echofourcharlie

Hi Jim:
Last year I bought some wheat from Walton Feed: about $8 for a 50 lb. bag. Called then yesterday: $15.50 for the same 50 lb. bag: But inflation is running at only 4% right? Luckily I found an organic grower of wheat an hour away who will sell for $800/ton and avoid the $500+ shipping fee. Not many wheat growers in Massachusetts. It pays to shop locally. - John

D.V. suggested this article by Charles Hughes Smith that explains the hedge fund nightmare: The Great Unraveling Begins

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John at e-mailed us to mention that there is a newer version of Alan T. Hagan's collection of Food Storage FAQs, available for free download. I just updated my links to the FAQs--both in the blog thread, and in the SurvivalBlog Links page.

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Frequent contributor Hawaiian K. sent us a link to the Barefoot Motors web site. They make an electric ATV with regenerative braking. Check out their video clip. Do you recognize Jamie from Myth Busters?

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Mark in Montana told us about a web site for food grade steel cans and a can sealer in Canada. Its called Wells Can Company Ltd. They have a manual can sealer for $245.00 (U.S.) for sealing 301 and 307 cans and $26.00 more for sealing 401 28 oz. cans. Mark noted that they have many kinds of food grade cans and other canning items available.

"There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order." - Ed Howdershelt

Monday, November 5, 2007

Please help spread the word about SurvivalBlog! Links to SurvivalBlog in your personal web page and/or in your e-mail footer would be greatly appreciated.

Mr. Rawles:
In television news footage and magazine articles about U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, I often see soldiers with nylon pouches attached to their rifle [butt]stocks. They seem to hold extra magazines. That seems pretty handy, so you always have a spare magazine, even if you get separated from your "Deuce" [web] gear. Do you recommend doing this? If so, what sort of pouch do you suggest for my M1A and AR-15? I also have several bolt actions, but only one of mine takes [detachable] magazines, and only four rounders are available for it. What should I use for those rifles ? Thanks, - G.H.

JWR Replies: I do recommend using buttstock pouches, so long as they do not interfere with proper sighting and cheek weld. In my experience they work fine on fixed stock rifles, but are a bit cumbersome on folding or collapsing stock guns. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we use Spec-Ops brand "Ready Fire Mode" magazine pouches for our L1A1s, which each hold one 20 round .308 magazine. The same pouch should fit FAL, M1A, and AR-10 magazines, but I think HK91 magazines are too bulky--because of their reinforced top sections--to fit these pouches. The same company also makes a variant of this stock puch for AR-15/M16 and other .223 magazines. SpecOps brand pouches are available from a number of Internet vendors including Midway USA.

The Memsahib has a Valmet Hunter .308 that is equipped with a widely available Michaels of Oregon (Uncle Mike's) stock pouch. It is used to carry a spare five round magazine, hunting license, and tags. All of our shotguns are equipped with similar Michaels of Oregon (Uncle Mike'") stock pouches that hold five shells. We use the type that are covered with a velcro-secured flap. (This both prevents lost shells and cuts down on shell head reflections. (I do not recommend the more common type shotshell holder that lacks a flap cover. Those are an invitation to lose shells when in the field.)

For all of our centerfire bolt actions that have non-detachable magazines, we use olive drab Holland's of Oregon brand zippered-nylon buttstock pouches with neoprene cheekpieces. These also work well for holding small (4 or 5 cartirdge) magazines. I noticed that they are not currently cataloged at the Holland's web site, but I believe that they should still be available. (Call to inquire.) This is a first rate item.

Shalom Jim:
I was visiting Geri Guidetti's Ark Institute web site and she has posted on there that for just one adult male the following is the minimum food storage requirements for one year:
1.) 350 lbs. of wheat (actually for a family of four it is close to 1,200 pounds of wheat alone)
2.) 155 lbs. of various grains
3.) 55 lbs. of beans, etc.
My question for you is do you agree with these numbers? And are you storing quantities like this or do you use a different system?

I am getting ready to make some large purchases so I'd appreciate your knowledge, please.

Shalom B'shem Yahshua Ha Moshiach (Peace in the Name of Yahshua the Messiah) - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: Those figure vary widely, depending on which book you read or web site you visit. I think that some figures are perhaps a bit high, but they are made with the conservative assumption that almost everything would be made from scratch. For example, that you would have only whole wheat and no stored supplies of flour, pasta, or breakfast cereals. Thus, you'd often be using wheat berries (soaked swollen whole wheat) in lieu of breakfast cereal.

The most widely accepted figures come from the LDS church food storage web site. There, they have an interactive calculator. Punching in "4" (for a family with four members that are 7 or older), it yields these figures:

Wheat: 600 pounds (of a total of 1,200 pounds of grains, which includes 200 pounds of rice.)

Beans, dry 120 pounds (out of a total of 240 pounds of legumes.)

This calculator also gives quantities for sugars, milk, fats and oils, salt, and so forth. It is quite a useful tool, and I commend its anonymous author/designer. (No doubt part of someone's LDS missionary project.) BTW, this calculator also serves as a valuable reality check for anyone that just used their our own quantity assumptions when buying bulk foods.

Quite importantly, if you think that you'll have any assorted parents, siblings cousins, aunts, uncles, church brethren, and shooting buddies (and their offspring) arriving on your doorstep on TEOTWAWKI +1, then consider those additional numbers when making your storage food quantity calculations. Odds are that it will give you some very large numbers, indeed!

The shelf life of most bulk foods is quite long (8 to 30 years) if they are properly packaged. (See Alan T. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ. It is excellent.) In their soft grocery store packaging, some foods have a pitifully short shelf life. I included a lengthy table with some very useful data on food shelf life in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The table differentiates between packaging methods for many foods.

When planning, if you must err, then err on the side of larger quantities. The extra supply will either extend your own supplies or provide a surplus for charity of barter.If you have the space and you have the money, then buy more. Someday you'll be glad that you did.

A sewing machine is a critical item in my household that has saved me thousands of dollars in gear I would otherwise have had to buy. Sewing actually provided me higher performance customized gear that simply wasn’t available unless I made it myself.

In normal times it makes more sense economically to buy most clothing since it is readily available inexpensively or second hand. Sewing time is better spent on [making] higher-priced items like outdoor gear. During difficult times even clothing might not be available. It could be necessary to rely on home sewing to provide almost everything that is needed. I have made duffle bags, back packs, fanny packs, stuff sacks, gun cases, rain gear, sleeping bags, down coats, hats, rifle slings, ammo pouches, vehicle tow straps, under wear, and baby clothes. During good times or bad a sewing machine can provide a richer lifestyle

Surprisingly, unless you’ve experienced it, it is frequently faster to make exactly what you want or modify existing gear rather than to spend time and money to search it out and purchase it. I have usually experienced this after the stores are closed and I am packing up to leave on a trip first thing in the morning. There is really no limit to what you can produce. You will end up with more gear and better gear. Your hard earned money can go toward things you can’t easily provide for yourself.

What kind of sewing machine should you get?
There are a lot of solid durable sewing machines that would meet a survivalist’s needs but I recommend looking for black Singer straight stitch machines. They are a tremendous value compared to the expensive modern industrial machine you would need to do comparable heavy duty sewing. The Singers are sturdy, reliable machines and conveniently they are very common and readily available often for free if they are just gathering dust in a friend or relatives closet. Ask around you might be surprised. If you have to buy one they can be found at yard sales for $10 to $20. Except for the free ones I have paid as little as $3 and these days if I can get one for $10 or less I buy it. I really don’t need anymore but they are useful as trade goods or spares.

Get a treadle stand. You want a treadle stand for your sewing machine for two reasons. A dedicated stand or cabinet with the sewing machine set flush into the top is much easier to use. A treadle stand will allow you to operate without grid power. If you can find a Singer treadle stand with the machine still in it, great. If some budding Martha Stewart has pulled the machine out to make a flower stand buy it anyway if the price is right. All the standard size Singer machines can be mounted in the treadle stand. My treadle started out with the original Model 66 machine. It was later switched out for a Singer Model 15 with a reverse and finally the Model 15 was switched out for a top of the line Model 201.

Which machines should you get? Yes plural. You need at least one spare. Although the only thing I have broken in 40 years of often abusive sewing has been needles. Considering the price of used machines there is no point in stocking repair parts. Just get a spare machine or two. You can get by with one but I recommend two because you can. They’re cheap. You need one machine with the chromed rim spoked handwheel. This machine can be driven with the belt from the treadle. You need another machine with an electric motor for normal use during grid up times. Actually you can install an electric motor on any of these machines Even my 1919 Model 66 with the chromed spoked wheel has the motor boss cast into it for installing an electric motor. I don’t recommend installing a motor because a motor and foot control would cost more than buying a complete electric machine at a yard sale. The other reason I don’t like the bolt on motor is they take a rubber drive belt that is less reliable than the next option I will discuss.

The most likely electric machine--remember we are talking black Singers here--you will encounter is the Model 15. It uses a bobbin case that installs on the left end of the machine. The edge of the bobbin is toward you and it rotates on a horizontal pin pointing to the left. The Model 15 that I prefer is the Model 15-91. It has an integral motor on the back of the machine near the handwheel. The machine is driven through a worm drive. I prefer this style because there is no belt tension to adjust and no belt to wear out or fail. It is a forever machine.

The most likely treadle machine to encounter is the Model 66. The bobbin drops in from the top and rotates on a vertical axis. There is no removable bobbin case.
Skip the machines with a bullet shaped bobbin shuttle. Bobbins are harder to find and the machines and the designs are obsolete.

Both the Model 15 and 66 have an oscillating type action. The hook that catches the needle thread only rotates far enough to catch the thread and make the stitch and then reverses direction. More expensive machines have a full rotary motion. The hook continuously rotates. This is a more expensive machine to manufacture but results in a smoother running machine.
The holy grail of full size black Singer sewing machines is the Singer Model 201. This machine has a full rotary action an integral motor like the Model 15-91 and a drop in bobbin like the Model 66. The 201 also has a gold “paper clip” type design on it. If you find one of these grab it.

Get a Singer treadle stand, a Singer treadle sewing machine, and a Singer electric sewing machine with integral motor, either the 15-91 or the 201.

You also need thread, bobbins and needles. For general purpose heavy duty sewing get cones (6000 yards) of nylon or polyester upholstery thread at an upholstery store in black, white, and tan. Get Schmetz or similar quality size 100/16 denim needles in boxes of 100 for about $0.25/needle on the web. In the store they are over $1 apiece. Don’t buy cheap needles. They are not worth fooling with. The Models 66 and 201 take the same narrow bobbin. The Model 15 takes a wider bobbin. 25 bobbins of each style would probably be enough.

For $100 you can get equipment that will return the purchase price many fold and take care of your repair and manufacturing needs into the indefinite future. Get geared up and start learning a new skill.

Alphie mentioned that hosts an online edition of the US Army's FM 23-10 Sniper Training

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I just heard that a new, expanded version of the promotional trailer for the "I Am Legend" feature film is now available. It looks scary and a bit OTT. But hopefully one result of this movie's release will be that it'll get some people thinking about the implications of a pandemic and hopefully get a few of them to stock up and get some training.

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RBS flagged this one: Foreclosure filings soar in Third Quarter. One man's loss is another man's gain. 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 real estate agent in your selected retreat area, and/or through You may find yourself a bargain in the months to come.

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Stephen C. mentioned that is selling brand new (factory sealed), current generation FERO Z-24 Hensoldt 4x24 scopes, with real H&K claw mounts, tools, lens caps and case for $389. Readers that own HK91 or HK93 rifles (or clones thereof) should grab a couple of of these scopes while they are still affordable. (I first mentioned them over a year ago when they were around $275.) With the continuing slide in the dollar versus the Euro, they are bound to continue to go up in price. Remember what I said about investing in tangibles? This is a prime example.

"Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid." - John Wayne

Sunday, November 4, 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.

This article describes practical methods to eliminate four of the issues surrounding generators and their use.
Relatively common objections to home generators include; (1) They are often very noisy. This noise does/would bother both us and our neighbors.

(2) This high level of noise can serve as a “vermin attractor”. The vermin may need to be discouraged via your “biped eradicator”.

(3&4) Moving a generator inside a building will create both fire and exhaust hazards. I have read that after Hurricane Katrina there were several attempts to perform what we used to call “five finger discount” of someone’s generator. The following details some of the things that I have done at different locations to reduce or eliminate both the operational and security concerns.

Generator noise comes from 2 different aspects; (1). Mechanical noise from moving parts. (2). Combustion noise from the engine power. I have attacked each problem with
a separate approach. The exhaust is hazardous for two reasons. (1) It is hot. The hot surface can cause a fire if allowed to touch combustible items. (2) The exhaust contains both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Both gases can be lethal if they not forced to leave the area where people or animals are found.

Solution # 1 - Mechanical Noise
I installed the generator into an insulated wood building. I used a shed / building size of 8 foot by 12 foot. This size [ < 100 square foot area ] is below the typical threshold where “approval” of the local planning and zoning [departments] is required. The walls and insulation serve as a noise barrier to contain the mechanical noise. There is a very real increase in mechanical noise when you enter this building. This noise cannot be heard above the ambient noise level when outside this building.

Solution #2 - Combustion Noise
The recessed immediate area around the exhaust port on most generator mufflers is typically about 1.75 inch diameter. Two inch automotive exhaust pipe is typically necked down [ reduced in diameter ] to approximately this size. This means a 2 inch exhaust pipe can be a reasonably snug fit if inserted into this space. This fit is not gas tight. I tightly wrapped the 2 inch pipe with high temperature Fiberglass insulation. This high temperature material is commonly used to wrap steam pipes. The wrapped pipe is inserted into a 3 inch type B double wall vent pipe. Type B vent pipe is what is used for exhaust of home furnaces and hot water heaters. The 3 inch vent pipe is mechanically centered into a 4 inch vent pipe. The 4 inch vent pipe is inserted into two "thimbles", one inside and one outside the building. The portion of the 4 inch pipe section, which is outside the building, has a perforated vent cover at the end of the vent pipe. A person walking by doesn’t see anything that indicates other than some natural/propane gas
fueled appliance is inside the building. The vent cover is removed and replaced by an automotive “turbo” [ low restriction ] muffler when “silent” running is desired. The muffler input 2 inch pipe is slipped onto the end of the 2 inch exhaust pipe.
The muffler end that is farthest from the building is supported on an H shaped construction of pipe. This muffler reduces the combustion noise to a very low level.

My wife has stated if you focus on listening that you can hear the generator running when inside the house if the vent pipe cover is used. The noise is reduced such that you have to get within approximately 20 feet before engine noise becomes noticeable when the muffler is installed. I have shown my noise reduction method to several neighbors. All very favorably commented that “Gee, you don’t even know it [the generator] is running until you got close to the building”.

Solution # 3 - Hot Exhaust

The half inch spacing gap between the 3 and 4 inch vent pipes allows some airflow to cool the piping. The use of the two thimbles, with appropriate wall cutbacks, holds the
vent / exhaust pipe assembly firmly in a fixed position. I measured the temperature of the exterior of the 4 inch pipe to be approximately 100 degrees F. above the ambient temperature. This multi layer approach reduces the risk of fire caused by overheating the wall to near zero, in my opinion.

Solution #4 - Hazardous CO Exhaust
Readers will recall a previous comment that the generator / pipe “attachment” is not gas tight. I has small amount of leakage of carbon monoxide (CO). This “looseness” means that some small amount
of exhaust can enter the building. My solution is as follows. I slightly pressurize the building by providing forced air via an 8 inch fan, [creating a "positive overpressure."] This fan is located inside a wall vent from the outside. This forced air has two benefits. It constantly supplies fresh cool combustion air to the generator. It also flushes any exhaust, or fumes from fuel storage/spills, via an exhaust vent to become diluted outside the building. The vents are located on opposite sides of the building to periodically cause an exchange of the total volume of the air inside the building.

JWR Adds: Anyone that has a portable (i.e. skid or cart mounted) generator that is not bolted down or locked in a generator shed with a sturdy door should consider securing it with a chain and padlock. You should preferably use a hardened bolt cutter-resistant resistant bike and motorcycle security chain and a large, stout, padlock that is warded to offer little room for bolt cutters to be used. Short lengths of specially hardened chain are available from (item # OG-BC). Longer chains should be available from There is an even larger selection of hardened motorcycle security chains is available in England--where in recent years nicking motorcycles seems to have become a national past-time.

Important consideration on Colville. It is near a very large Indian Reservation (Colville Tribe) and while there is a considerable amount of private property within it's boundary, you have no hunting rights there.
The First People are friendly, but distrustful of outsiders and in a SHTF scenario, would likely view you and yours as fair game. Unless you are a tribal member, buy outside the reservation.
I was near to closing a deal on a very nice property [inside the reservation] when another agent took me aside. - EAG

Hello Jim,
I have been reading your daily letters, comments and blogs for the last couple of months and have really enjoyed them. I saw your Real Estate update on Colville, WA and had to send a note.
I used to live in Colville about 13 years ago. It is gorgeous up there. We lived 10 miles outside of town at a 'trailer dump' off of 'deer alley' (Williams Lake Rd.) If you like travelling in snow, you'll be fine. Our commute to Spokane was only on the weekends and up to 2 hrs. in the middle of winter. As newlyweds at that time, the logging industry was the only viable work solution. (Pre-WalMart) My son was in 1st/2nd grade and both my daughters were born in Colville at the hospital. I would rate the schools and hospital/clinic very high. The last time I was through there several years ago, it has really grown. As far as any protection problems? The forests surrounding Colville can be fairly dense in areas which would make seclusion and access your best protection. Also, great for hunting and fishing.
Kettle Falls is an 'old-timers' town, very quaint. The only drawback I could see is the number of Canadians that cross the borders near there. Pre-WalMart, they used to go to Spokane to shop. After Wal-Mart and other large stores opened up, three times as many, or more stop in Colville. They are required to stay overnight when they make large purchases, so they camp out in their RV's for the weekend. I am half-Canadian myself, so I am not knocking them.
After a couple of years we moved to Spokane, later to Utah, then back to Oregon. We miss all the snow.
Thank you for all that you do to help us get prepared. - Gypsymom

Dear Sir,
I love your blog and read it every day. I have a background in chemistry. I believe that the fat content, per unit weight, of rolled oats is essentially the same as cut oats. What is different is the density. I agree with the point that the cut oats store more densely.
More importantly, the access of oxygen to the oil/fat is faster in the (thinner) rolled grains relative to cut, and faster in cut oats relative to whole oats. I would bet that the rolled oats will go rancid faster in a warm climate.

Other than that, I think that your analysis is spot on. It would be interesting to store whole oats and have a small bench top cutter or roller, not unlike the flour mills that we all have. I am under the impression that whole grains will store for a long time, even in the presence of air. At least I hope so, because I have diligently accumulated grain for the past three years. I packed them in poly buckets, and purged them with CO2. The plastic is too permeable to retain the CO2 exclude oxygen for more than a few months at a time. I have recently acquired some oxygen barrier bags and oxygen absorber packs to protect the contents better.

I bought some grain in 5 gallon tin cans, not well sealed, in the early 1980s. I stored them in the warm, humid conditions on the east coast for 20+ years. After 10 years, I tried grinding some of the red wheat and my Mom made bread with the whole wheat flour. The taste was slightly off, but not so that it was inedible. After 20+ years, I tried boiling some to make a pilaf (boiled red wheat pilaf is one of my favorites). Again, the flavor was off, but not much different than after 10 years. I think that whole oats would store as well as the red wheat. My folks wouldn't permit us
to throw out the wheat and are slowly eating it. The one can of other grain (I think that it was rye) that I bought with the lot was infested with weevils.

Rancidity of oils is a free radical oxidation process. Generally speaking, free radicals are toxic. I think that it is safe to say that rancid oils are too, at least to some extent. Our bodies are adapted to manage small level of free radicals, since they are present all of the time. In fact, one of the main benefits of exercise, and to the extent that it is beneficial, alcohol
consumption, is that they both create toxic free radicals in the body. The body response to oxidative stress is to express enzymes that counter the damage so effectively that the net
result is beneficial (at least in moderation). The effect of calorie-restricted diets is similar.

I once ate some rancid wheat germ, being too young and foolish to realize that it was spoiled. It gave me the worst headache, by far, that I have ever had. Caution with rancid fats is strongly
advised. Sincerely, - John Galt

Courtesy of KTO: Food crisis looms as climate change, fuel shortages bite

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Reader Tim P. found this article interesting from a sociology standpoint: The California Fires: Where were the Looters? Tim's comment: Of course with a long term situation the results would end up differently, but this is an interesting contrast in any case.

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Tim P. also found us this one: The Coming U.S. Drought (Is Here)

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China Hikes Fuel Prices Amid Shortages (A hat tip to RBS for sending that link.)

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere." - Voltaire (François Marie Arouet)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good News! My re-order for copies of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" arrived sooner than I anticipated. I've autographed several hundred copies and they are presently being transshipped to our order fulfillment partner up in Montana. Those of you that have been waiting for delivery on "Six Pack" orders from our recent sale can expect delivery no later than November 12th. (They are being sent by Priority Mail.) Thanks for your patience.

Do you detect a change in the weather, this Fall? You probably noticed that on Friday (November 2nd) the spot price of gold spiked to close at $806 per ounce, and silver at $14.53. (Both were 28 year highs. Yup, I told you so.) You also probably saw this article: Fed pumps [another] $41 Billion into US financial system. It is now obvious that Helicopter Ben and his Federal Reserve Board of Governors are in full scale panic mode. I should also mention that the very next day after the announcement of this huge injection of liquidity, the New York stock market went down more than 360 points. Apparently Mr. Market cannot be fooled. There is a chill breeze and a strong hint of recession in the air. Meanwhile, we read: Chrysler to cut up to 12,000 jobs. It seems that someone knows that there is a substantial economic downturn coming. One more news snippet: Citigroup to hold an emergency Saturday board meeting--CEO may resign.

All that I can say to SurvivalBlog readers is something that I've said many times before: Be ready. (Read: beans, bullets, Band-Aids and minimize your exposure to dollar-denominated investments.) Note to Ben Bernanke: Have fun re-arranging the deck chairs. Oh, by the way, that chill in the air might be because your predecessor (the nearsighted Mr. Magoo) charted a far northern course up toward the pack ice.

Mr. Rawles;
Regarding the steel cut versus rolled oats discussion, I too love the taste of steel cut oats. The easy, low energy way to prepare them is on the McCann's steel Cut Irish Oatmeal (box, not the can). It is:
Boil 4 cups of water.
Add 1 cup oatmeal.
Stir, cover and leave overnight.
The next morning cook over low 9-12 minutes.
This is very easy. Using a microwave to re-heat the oatmeal in the morning is even faster.
Just my $0.02 worth. Love your site, - Steve in California


Hello Mr. Rawles,
I was surprised and disappointed that, with no information or discussion, steel cut oats was so quickly dismissed as a food source compared to rolled oats. I'm sure if this had been which type of Mauser to purchase, there would have been some lengthy discussion, opinions and research revealing more in depth info upon which to base a decision.

My main reason for using steel-cut oats is the flavor/taste factor. And it's not about having a sophisticated palate; this was the stuff that my poor Scots ancestors ate, I'm sure. Pound-for-pound, steel cut oats is better nutritionally than rolled oats and here is why:

1) Blood sugar level: Steel cut oats will have a lower glycemic content than rolled-oats or quick-oats. This means your body will be able to process it with more ease.

2) Prep time: On a gas range it only takes about three minute of watching as the water/oats boils and then 15 or 20 minutes with the lid covered and on simmer, ignoring it. Reduce prep time by letting it soak overnight, or use a crock pot first thing when you get up in the morning, or use a pressure cooker. The argument that it "takes too much energy to prepare" simply does not hold water: Everyone knows how long it takes to prepare dried beans, even after soaking overnight!!

3) Nutritional value:

1/4 cup dry (un-prepared) Steel Cut Oats
-140 calories
-2.5 g. fat
-27 g. carbohydrates
-4 g. fiber
-0 g. sugar
-6 g. protein

As compared to Quaker Old Fashioned Oats:

1/4 cup dry (un-prepared)
-75 calories
-1.5g. fat
-13.5 g. carbohydrates
-2 g. fiber
-1/2 g. sugar
-2.5 g. protein

So you can see that it will take nearly twice as much rolled oats to get a similar nutritive benefit of 1/2 the amount of dry steel-cut oats. Thus it will take more storage space for the same amount of caloric value. Additionally, to consider this solely from a price point of view does not pan out either.

As for storage time, the shelf life of a steel cut oats is much longer than any processed version, as rolled oats is more prone to meal-worms or becoming rancid. If a person really wanted to get serious, just buy the whole-grain oats and use your grain mill to prep it. The ultimate test is to prepare the same amounts of rolled and steel-cut for breakfast, two days in a row. You'll find yourself anxiously awaiting that mid-morning coffee break, after having eaten the rolled oats! - Mark in Chicago

JWR Replies: I think that most of what you have stated is correct, although the glycemic numbers go out the window once you apply a big glob of honey (as I do) or a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar (as most folks do). Where I take exception, however, is with your comments on storage life and rancidity. Meal worms are an issue only with grocery store packaging. When stored in plastic buckets with either oxygen absorbing packets or when using the dry ice method, both products are equally resistant to attack by insects or insect larva. Rancidity is primarily caused by fat content. Steel cut oats are higher in fat than rolled oats. The higher fat content of steel cut oats makes them more prone to going rancid than rolled oats. But, admittedly, at the same time the nutritional value of rolled oats drops a little faster in storage than steel cut oats. The end result is that the practical storage life for either product is about the same for both in cool climates. But in hot climates, where rancidity is more of an threat, rolled oats are preferable.

Where does all of this reasoning about processing alternatives leave us? It leaves us missing two essential points. Let's back up a bit:

1.) The real key to self sufficiency is having both storage foods and the ability to grow your own grains and vegetables. If you are worried about nutritional value, then nothing beats freshly grown! We should consider storing non-hybrid seed of equal or perhaps greater importance than food storage. Growing a garden and raising livestock are the main things that will provide our sustenance in a very long term grid-down scenario.


2.) If you have plenty of fuel for cooking on hand (to allow for longer cooking time of minimally processed oats) then it is probably best to store whole oats. (But again, with whole oats rancidity might be a problem in hot climates.) Any processing that breaks the outer hull reduces the potential storage life and starts to reduce the nutritive value of grains, including oats. Storing whole wheat of course necessitates having a home mill, so you can cut your own oats in small batches as needed. So in addition to a nice stone burr mill for grinding wheat flour (which you probably already own), you will also need a traditional kitchen coarse grinder (such as a Quaker City Grinder). Several types of grain mills and grinders are available from and Ready Made Resources. Traditional coarse grinders can often be found at garage sales for under $10. I once bought one for just $2. With prices like that, you should probably buy several. Leave one of them set up for grinding meat, and another with the proper plates installed for cutting oats.

Mr Rawles,
First off, let me start by saying, I loved "Patriots" Kudos to you.

The thing I'm writing to you about is an idea I came up with after reading one or the suggestions for single survivalists using # 10 cans of foodstuffs in their preps. The reduction of waste is a serious subject. I think it would be a good idea for all of the folks that use these food stores, to invest a bit of their survival funds on a vacuum sealer system, and kitchen scale. The cans could then be opened, divided into individual portions, [labelled] and then resealed. The sealer system could also be used to pack other survival items for long term storage. I have not tried it yet, but I think this would also be a good idea for the folks out there that have firearms and ammo caches that they want to protect. Just a thought. It may or may not work, but if it does, it would save a lot of good people from a lot of "bad things". I would not like to be one of the huddled masses in the world today. This is why I prepare for my family, and myself, while (being what they are) times are good. - Dim Tim

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. Here at the Ranch we use a Tilia Foodsaver Compact. Even a simple (and quite inexpensive--under $20) Pump-n-Seal sealer will suffice. OBTW, I do not recommend vacuum sealing ammunition, since there is the small chance that it might cause bullets to become unseated from their cartridge cases. Heat sealed packages are fine for ammo. Just don't vacuum seal them.

Hi Jim

One of your advertisers has new treadle sewing machines for sale. has brand new machines for around $430. [Item # 73990.]

- David K.

Thanks to D.V. for sending this: Charles Merrill Fears Market Crash . The article begins: "Fearing a stock market crash worse than 1929, Charles Merrill ( of Palm Springs, cousin to the founder of the Merrill/Lynch dynasty, is quickly converting to gold coins..."

  o o o

Derrick G. and Brian H., and Jeremy C. all suggested this article: Town learns to live with water three hours a day. Brian posed this question: question: Would people stay this civil if the same were to take place in Atlanta or another major metropolitan area?

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For the dreaded worst-case multi-generational whammy: Seeds of Our Future

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Bad news from the UK: Negative equity warning for first-time buyers as repossessions set 'to jump 75%'

"Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." - Thomas Jefferson . Letter to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The high bid is still at $200 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.

I currently store many foods which I routinely eat, none of which has the long shelf life of many of the ‘survival staples’. I’m ready and willing to buy several thousand dollars’ worth of hard wheat and other canned supplies, but I have one problem: I don’t know if I will actually eat them!

Is there anyone out there that has a sampler pack, that allows one to try various offerings to make sure that we and our families will eat those staples?

Thanks for all your hard work in helping us prepare! Warm Regards, - Rich S.

JWR Replies: You've raised an important point. One of my mottos is: "Eat what you store and store what you eat." I don't suggest going on a Spartan diet, just for the sake of living entirely on foods that store well. But regularly using a good portion of your storage foods has multiple benefits, such as:

1.) Efficient rotation.

2.) Minimal waste due to food passing their expiry dates.

3.) A digestive system that is accustomed to storage foods. (This represents one less stress to go through, WTSHTF.)

4,.) Cooking expertise with storage foods. Cooking skills do not develop overnight. Two recommended books are Cooking with Home Storage and Making the Best of Basics

5.) Economy. If you eat foods that you buy in bulk, you will be eating cheap, in some cases amazingly cheap. For example, consider that rice in small bags sometimes sells for $4 a pound, but if bought in 50 pound sacks and repackaged it costs just a fraction of that.

One of the few drawbacks to storage foods I've heard of is for people that live alone. They may find that the container sizes for storage foods--often one gallon (#10 size) cans--last so long that some might spoil before all of the contents of a can are used. (The smaller (#2-1/2 size) cans are also available, but the per-unit cost of foods is higher.) To minimize spoilage, be sure to get a supply of plastic can lids and get in the habit of putting them on immediately after removing portions from a can. This is particularly important in damp climates.

Long term storage foods available from a number of our advertisers including:
Freeze Dry Guy

JRH Enterprises
Ready Made Resources
Best Prices Storable Foods
EM Gear

Many vendors do make sample packs. One of the best is offered by Mountain House. (Available from Safecastle, Ready Made Resources, and EM Gear.)

OBTW, when assembling your food storage larder, don't neglect to stock up on vitamin and mineral supplements. One good mail order vendor is eVitamins.

Mr. Rawles.
I have thought about this at some length and being an avid seamstress it would be distressing to not have fabric to sew new or repair old clothing. I have bolts of muslin,denim,canvas stored in Rubbermaid tubs. Plus a huge stash of quilting fabrics. Also sewing thread,needles for hand and machine sewing, extra bobbins for my old treadle machine if I need to dig it out,zippers and a big button box. If new clothes aren't available keeping the old ones patched will be very important. Some good places to get sewing supplies are or For bolts of fabrics try These are all reliable companies I recommend. Often I find such items at garage sales for pennies on the dollar.

On the same theme it would be wise to store sturdy work clothes, extra boots, shoes, socks, underwear, and work gloves. it is hard to work with inadequate clothing. I'm always on the look out for good bargains and I'm never averse to hand-me-downs. I have a collection of basic sewing patterns for shirts/pants/jumpers/pajamas for adults and kids. A lot of the patterns today are multi-sizes in the same package which is helpful. Learning to knit/crochet will enable you to have plenty of warm hats, mittens, sweaters, and socks. It is a relaxing hobby. All my kids can knit. Yes, even the boys! Just as they can cook, garden, can, sew by hand or machine. Yes,patch their own pants! - Dee

I live near a large Amish Colony and I was visiting their local General Store. Back in the Fabric Department was a treadle cabinet with a modern sewing machine mounted on it. They had removed the motor and had a stout belt attached to the drive wheel on the right side going down to the treadle drive cam. I thought that this was the marriage of the best of both of our worlds. I inquired as to how well it worked and the lady store owner said she made all of her family's clothes on it. So I guess that means it works well. - Carl in Wisconsin

You wrote: "The Memsahib and I do have some experience with treadle sewing machines. In addition to a spare drive belt and plenty of needles, the most critical spare part for a treadle sewing machine is its shuttle (a.k.a. bobbin holder). They do eventually wear out. Thankfully, these are fairly easy to find for the Singer brand, but replacement shuttles for New Home and some of the other less popular brand of sewing machines can be quite hard to find. One great resource that we found for treadle sewing machine information and parts is Treadle On."

I went to Treadle On and an extensive search on eBay and other sites and could not find anyone selling shuttles for treadle sewing machines. In particular I have a 1923 Singer Treadle Sewing Machine [Model] 66. Where would you suggest I go to find it?
Thank you. I love your site and read it every day. I have recommended it to about six other people. - Nancy

JWR Replies: There are currently two Singer shuttles up for auction at eBay. Just be sure to use loosely-worded search phrases like "Singer treadle part" or even just "Singer part" since some people use incorrect terminology or have typographical errors in their item descriptions. People call shuttles all sorts of things. I've found them in the past with auction titles like "Treadle Sewing Bullet", "Singer Bobben [sic] Holding Part" and "Singer Thread Holder" Good luck bidding!

Today we will be reviewing Colville, Washington as a possible retreat location. The city of Colville (population 5,000) is located about an hour and a half drive north of Spokane Washington (Pop. 200,000) and lies within Stevens County (Pop. 45,000). From many personal visits to the city and surrounding towns during my retreat search I can say that the Colville and surrounding area came a close second to our current locale of Northern Idaho. In 1811, the valley was explored by a man working for a fur trading company working the Columbia River. During the first year of operation nearly 11,000 pounds of furs were exported overseas from the Colville area. In 1825, Fort Colville was built at Kettle Falls, a few miles west of Colville. The fort was the center of the fur trade in the Northwest. Now the fort is under water, covered by Lake Roosevelt, a part of the Coulee Dam National Recreation Area. The town of Colville was founded in 1882 when Fort Colville was abandoned.

The reality of most SurvivalBlog readers situations is that they are looking to relocate to a retreat locale that allows them to make a reasonable commute to a larger city since meaningful employment is a strong requirement, as most of us are not ready for retirement. The Colville locale offers many opportunities to purchase land and homes that are very reasonbly priced compared to others nearby in Idaho and Montana, due to the fact that the private ownership of land has not been abated by the State and Federal governments (yet) in the northeast part of Washington. Northern Idaho and Northwest Montana suffer from higher prices due to the lack of private land for sale as over 80% of the land in northern Idaho and 89% of the land in Northwest Montana is either National Forest or State Forest land. This makes for a considerably better retreat locale of course, but the price is adjusted accordingly, and justifiably so. If you can afford these areas by all means choose them over the State of Washington.

If you're willing to deal with higher taxes and the possibility of more draconian gun laws (from Seattle), you may own a suppressor in Washington but not a machine gun or short barreled rifle (SBR) as you can in Idaho and Montana, then the price adjustment from those locales may certainly be worthwhile, especially if you are looking for a larger parcel at a reasonable price. Typically, you'll find that a parcel of land in Washington will be 1/2 to even 1/3 of the cost of a comparable parcel just to the east, in Idaho. JWR Adds: There is indeed a ban on machineguns, machinegun parts sets, and SBRs in Washington State, but most owners get around that law by getting a Class 3 dealer's license, and then buying Federally registered "dealer's samples."]

For example, there is a gorgeous 120 acre parcel south of Colville with a creek, spring and pond for $319,900 asking price and the drive from Spokane would be about 1.25 hours northwest of the city (Please contact Todd Savage for a referral to this listing). A similar parcel in north Idaho would sell for about $750,00 to $900,000 and in NW Montana it would easily run over $1.2 to $2 million. So, as you can see there are merits to dealing with tax and gun issues if a larger parcel is needed on a budget. If you were faced with a total collapse for an extended period my opinion is that laws will not matter at all so you'll be able to have any firearm you want, although purchasing them in advance may be an issue of course should Washington State go like California. But right now there is no assault weapons ban and the only silly law I can think of is that you may own a suppressor but not legally use it. Don't ask.

Colville has a nice micro-climate for growing almost anything you'd expect in the inland northwest climates. The city is has a picturesque location and landscape and we fell in love with it almost immediately. The people are friendly as you'd expect in any small town and there was a Home Depot and ChinaMart (WalMart) in the works there as well, so the town is experiencing some growth but nothing that should preclude someone from considering the locale on their list. Most properties have good water sources and access is acceptable to most retreat shoppers. As with any property access has a lot to do with price, so if you can find a property that meets your needs but needs road work then it may be an opportunity to get a diamond in the ruff. Spending $25,000 to bring a stretch of road up to par will be invaluable one day and will increase the value of your property more than you think. You city folk will understand this more than most!

Here is a great article from Sunset magazine that will give you a good look into the small town and another bit of information on the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, a wonderful recreational destination that will be literally in your backyard, be cause everyone needs a break from the retreat!

Overall, the Colville area is an excellent choice when the cost factor is placed in first place. When your in the pacific Northwest on a retreat shopping spree be sure to stop in and see the locale! You can watch for upcoming listings in the Colville region on (A SurvivalBlog spin-off site.)

Latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index Shows No Turnaround in Sight

   o o o

Vic at Safecastle mentioned that because this year's hurricane season turned out to be more mile than expected, one their vendors found themselves overstocked on MREs. Safecastle was therefore able to arrange some advantageous pricing. They are now having a special short-term sale on MREs.

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RBS sent this: Vultures eyeing mortgage corpse

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D.V. suggested a piece by The Mogambo Guru (Richard Daughty): Drowning in Inflation is Never Popular. (Warning: this one has some literary license that is not for kids!) Beware of the debt demons.

"Courage is the first of all the virtues because if you haven't courage, you may not have the opportunity to use any of the others." - Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Today we are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, EM Gear. Check out their great line of outdoor, tactical, and preparedness products.

Having just restored my 1925 Singer treadle-powered sewing machine to operation, I want to get some fabrics so that I can start making clothes for my family. Would someone with the appropriate experience please advise for a semitropical climate what weight fabrics, what types of fabrics and how many yards would be considered a good 'cache' of fabric so as to make a family of four clothing independent?
Thanks, - SF in Hawaii

You question about fabrics goes beyond my expertise. Perhaps some of our readers would care to comment.

The Memsahib and I do have some experience with treadle sewing machines. In addition to a spare drive belt and plenty of needles, the most critical spare part for a treadle sewing machine is its shuttle (a.k.a. bobbin holder). They do eventually wear out. Thankfully, these are fairly easy to find for the Singer brand, but replacement shuttles for New Home and some of the other less popular brand of sewing machines can be quite hard to find. One great resource that we found for treadle sewing machine information and parts is Treadle On.

Mr. Rawles;
Here is another thing that readers should be aware of: steel-cut oats require substantially more cooking than the more processed varieties. I buy #10 cans of steel-cut from Honeyville Grain, mostly because I like the taste of this product. Compared to "just add boiling water" instant oats, steel cut is much slower to cook, requiring about 20 minutes of boiling to become sufficiently soft.
As a preparedness food, it requires too much fuel and preparation time to be a first-line food of choice.

On the other hand, a pressure cooker could probably make short work of preparing any of these "semi-processed" commodities, so your mileage may vary. - JN

Hi Jim,
I live near Ottawa, [Canada] and have no idea where to buy wheat, whole corn, etc. The only place I can think of would be the feed and seed store, but don't know about whether these are human consumption quality. I went to a huge local farm and asked them, and they said "I'm not sure where to buy it..." Thanks, - Chris R.

JWR Replies:

I have heard positive reports about FC Surplus, a storage food vendor in Ontario, Canada. At last report, they carried Mountain House freeze dried foods, the Canadian "Freddy Chef" MREs, and a good selection of military surplus and preparedness items, mostly Canadian and from the UK. If they don't stock bulk grains in five gallon food grade buckets, then they can probably direct you to another Canadian vendor that does. Here is their contact information:

FC Surplus
1712 Dundas Street E.
London, Ontario N5W 3E1, Canada
(519) 451-0246 (Inquiries) Toll Free (877) 393-0056 (Orders only)
(519) 451-9341 (FAX) E-mail:

I've recently received two anxious e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers about the Mental Militia Forums (formerly called "The Claire Files Forums"). It seems that the old URL: -- was allowed to lapse and folks were getting a "not found" error message. But the new URL is working fine. I hope that the board's new owners see the wisdom of maintaining the old URL with an automatic URL redirect.

   o o o

Eric S. sent us a link to a speech by Federal Reserve Board Governor Frederic S. Mishkin: Financial Instability and the Federal Reserve as a Liquidity Provider. My favorite snippet: "Moral hazard occurs when the lender is subjected to the hazard in which the borrower has an incentive to engage in activities that are undesirable from the lender's point of view, that is, activities that make it less likely that the loan will be repaid." This leads me to ask: If it it is "moral hazard" to knowingly lend to the less than creditworthy, then what do you call it when you use billions of taxpayer's dollars to bail out bankers that made those bad lending decisions?

   o o o

By way for reader RBS: Extinction by comet?

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Three readers forwarded us this article link: America's big, fat housing inventory

"There is nothing wise nor noble for a person to act merely in their own self-interest. Such action is in fact rudimentary in nature and referred to as a survival instinct. Even microbes move toward food and favorable conditions of light and heat. They do this most likely without wisdom, or knowledge and understanding of conditions of the past. Noble acts in nature are largely seen in acts of parenting, which some see as purely instinctual as well, and thus not noble. Mankind is of course the one species which has the knowledge and understanding of the threats which it faces and thus the opportunity to wisely prepare for them, yet the vast majority of mankind does not. Thus to be instinctual, noble, and wise, a person would have to be a charitable survivalist. " - Rourke

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