December 2007 Archives

Monday, December 31, 2007

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $320. The auction is for a scarce original 1980s-vintage Heckler und Koch 19mm Emergency Flare Launcher (EFL) aka "Notsignalgerät" from my personal collection. It comes with three magazines and 28 scarce original German 19mm flares--10 red, 10 white, and 8 green. Together, this package is worth approximately $400. It is not classified as a "firearm" under Federal law. (Consult your state and local laws before bidding.) Sorry, no overseas bids will be accepted for this auction. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mr. Rawles,
I saw the post about Nick B. looking for help on the subject of sprouts. Maybe I can help. Earlier this year I was checking things out on a couple of preparedness sites. Some of the readers may know about these,but I'll pass the links along for those who may not have seen them. This one Survival And Self-Sufficiency Links has a lot of useful resources, and I found this one for sprouts: Sprouting: a brief overview. It has a few links above the section on beekeeping. There may be others that I have forgotten, or just may not have seen yet myself, but I hope they can be of some help to him and other folks that visit here. May the Lord bless you all and your preps. - Dim Tim


For sprouting I use a section of the new plastic bug screen material for screen doors. I fold the section up into a flat pouch and pour a measure of seed in then pin the opening closed. To make the pouch I staple around the three closed edges. Then, once closed up I dampen the seeds, roll the screen pouch into a loose cylinder and place it into a coffee can covered with the old plastic cover. I keep a little bit of water, plus what drips off in the bottom of the can to keep the internal atmosphere damp. I just make sure to dampen the seeds as necessary, usually checking once in the morning and evening unless the weather is really dry. - TCD

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I saw that you are looking for suggestions on filters for sprouting seed. The following method works for me with wheat:
Sprout your seeds in a Mason jar with a thin clean cotton rag fixed over the mouth by an elastic band. To drain, simply pour the water out slowly. Make sure you do not let the entire surface of the cloth become wet, or it will act as a seal. As long as some of the rag covering the mouth is dry, water should flow out without any problems. To refill with water, lift the jar so the cloth touches the tap while filling. All the best, - Roo


I am a daily reader of SurvivalBlog and wanted to send a tip to the man who is asking about how to drain the sprouts. I picked up three stainless steel screens, already pre-cut to fit the top of a wide mouth quart Mason jar from a local health food store/food co-op.
I soak the seeds for about 6-8 hours in water (from my Aqua Rain water filter that I purchased from Best Prices Storable Foods--they are great people to talk with!) then I drain and rinse the seeds thoroughly and turn the jar upside down at an angle in a tupperware type of dish to allow the excess water to drain. I have been pouring the discarded sprout water on my houseplants recently, the water doesn't get wasted and the nutrients can't hurt them I bet.
I prefer to use a mix of seeds, I use a bit of Alfalfa, clover, Radish, and mung, it makes a great mix to add to sandwiches and the radish seed spices it up mildly too.
I suggest purchasing or making at least two screens so once the first batch is done, which takes about 3 days, then I have the next batch coming along to replace it..
I am by no means a professional but have enjoyed sprouts all my adult life and just recently figured I should get back to making them as once the SHTF we will need to add fresh greens to our diets.
I encourage people to try different varieties of seeds and to mix it up for different flavor combinations and the nutrients that each different plant seed can provide.
Sprout seeds do need to "breathe" so don't store them in airtight containers.
Sprouts make people crinkle their noses lots of times, sounds like rabbit food and I strongly encourage them to try them more than once, I find them a wonderful addition to sandwiches and Quesadillas, and oftentimes I eat them straight out of the jar.

I have also read great reviews on a sprouter called the Sproutmaster, but have no personal experience with it, the quart Mason jars with the stainless steel screens work perfect for me.
Hope this helps!
Also, I haven't seen it mentioned or missed it, but I have been ordering all my wheat, corn, oats, flour, etc from the Natural food co-op, the savings are huge...we are very rural, live in the deep woods of the deep south and so have to drive three hours to get there, we order ahead of time and about 3 days later our order is ready.
Look for a food co-op or whole foods store and ask for their special orders dept, we get a 20% discount for ordering over 50 pounds!
I have to pack them myself, but have been able to purchase much more this way, I have paid about $14-$17 for 50 pounds of wheat berries, we have stored up about 600 pounds so far of Hard Red Winter wheat, Hard White winter wheat, Soft white winter wheat (for cakes and biscuits, tortillas) and Durum (semolina) for pastas, steel cut oats, pinto beans, rice and bulk spices..we make a bulk order once a month. with the price of fuel, we try to order as much as we can afford to make the trip count.
I have collected all my white food grade plastic buckets for free from our local Wal-Mart's bakery (an hour drive) and I add diatomaceous earth [DE] to all to keep the pests at bay...if using the DE make sure it is food grade, it also works to worm farm critters, the bonus being it worms the animals and also cuts way down on the fly population on the back end. We put it on our outdoor cat and no more fleas, he is one happy kitty.

I wear a dust mask to not breath in the dust, as I am mixing it with the grains. If you have eaten or used a pre-prepared biscuit mix, then you have eaten DE.
thanks for all your hard work on this site! - KW

Dear Jim,
You brought up an excellent point when you mentioned zeroing weapons.
Everyone should know how to battle sight zero their primary defensive weapon (assuming adjustable sights). The procedure is as follows:
Move the sights all the way left (rear) and down (front). Count the number of clicks or turns necessary to reach the opposite extreme. Move the sights back to the halfway position and remember this number (it can be written on a laminated card in the butt/grip or even on the side of the stock). This is mechanical zero. It should be fairly close to actual zero and is the emergency default for any weapon you can't sight in by fire or bore sighting.
Go to the range and shoot a tight, supported prone group at this setting. Adjust the sights as needed to get a good center mass group. Record how many clicks from mechanical zero this is, and memorize it.
Upon being issued or acquiring any similar weapon (AR, FAL, M1A, etc), immediately set to this setting. Even if you can't range zero, you should be close enough to be effective.
It's also a good idea to learn how to spot impacts, and how to have someone spot for you. This applies both to weapons that may be slightly sight-offset, and to long range shooting through wind or to ranged where trajectory shift occurs.

For sight offset, have the spotter place a small target (a tape disc or such. A thumbtack for really good shooters) on the larger silhouette. They should be able to "dial in" a shooter in a very few number of shots, by calling the distance.
For example, for a target 6" above and 4" left of center mass, the spotter would call, "Up six, left four." Let's say the shooter fires and hits an inch low and left of this position. The spotter would call that, "offset up one, right one," and the shooter should estimate the new position, based on the fact that the weapon was off-target by that amount.
Practicing like this develops trust and rapport between shooter and spotter, trust in the weapon to perform consistently (And if it doesn't, fix or replace it), and trust in one's shooting abilities.
For spotting and shooting distant threats, the shooter concentrates on putting fire on target. The spotter is responsible for target identification and team security. It is important to maintain this division as much as possible to ensure effectiveness. Typically, the more experienced member of the team will spot. Everyone should be able to shoot reliably.
A shot like this proceeds with the spotter identifying the location and range with easy to find landmarks, then the target. "Straight ahead 320 meters. Lone pine tree."
Upon sighting this location, the shooter should confirm. "Tree, Check."
The spotter will continue with offset instructions. "Five meters left. Mutant zombie biker in prone position with rifle."
The shooter confirms, "Target" or "position," depending on whether they have seen the target itself, or have only identified the location in which the target is, and will be shooting to direction only. It is desirable but not necessary that the shooter see the target, as long as the spotter can, and the shooter can follow directions.
The spotter will give direction to wait, shoot, or otherwise.
Let's assume on taking the shot, the impact is a meter short. The target moves and the spotter follows.
" Same target, new location, five meters right of tree."
The shooter again confirms, "Target" or "position."
The spotter corrects for the previous shot, assuming that the shooter aimed correctly. "Offset fire up one meter."
It is important the spotter trust that the shooter is in fact aiming properly, and any miss is due to a combination of environmental factors. It is important that the shooter be aware of any errors they may have made, allow for those, and trust the spotter to give accurate data for offset. Guessing at it will yield poor results. Both must assume the other is effective.
Feedback is also important. If the shooter, for example, is consistently a meter short, the spotter can order, "Offset all shots up one meter." Likewise, if the (local) shooter knows the tree is only 290 meters, he should relay that information so the (visiting) spotter can adjust his observations accordingly, to aid in locating less obvious landmarks (such as the "gray boulder, 275 meters" and the "depression in the field, 180 meters").
I've been able to hit the previously mentioned thumbtack after dropping and misaligning a scope 6" at 100 yards. I followed my spotter's instructions to hit said thumbtack, which I could not see. At the time, my point of aim was over the silhouette's left shoulder into empty space. It took one shot to determine point of aim, one to get within an inch, and the last to obliterate a .3" target. This was due less to my shooting ability, than to my ability to trust and follow my spotter with his much more powerful scope and better visual position. It didn't matter where the reticle was. It mattered where I hit.
This combination of skills saves ammunition and maximizes fire effectiveness in minimum time. - Michael Z. Williamson

Reader Ben. L. tells us that the US Transportation Security Agency (TSA, a.k.a."Thousands Standing Around") has banned most lithium batteries from passenger plane checked luggage. This includes certain laptop and pro camera batteries, and those ubiquitous “123” batteries used in Surefire flashlights. The new rule reads in part:
"Effective January 1, 2008, spare lithium batteries - extra batteries not installed on devices - will no longer be allowed in checked baggage. Spare lithium batteries may be packed in carry-on baggage and lithium batteries installed in a device may be packed in either checked or carry-on, as long as the battery is installed in the device."

   o o o

From The Financial Times: Euro gains on dollar in official reserves

   o o o

Thomas Tan's predictions for 2008

   o o o

I spotted this over at Mish Shedlock's blog: More Writedowns Force Citigroup To Sell Assets

"Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distresses of every one, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse; remembering always the estimation of the widow's mite, but, that it is not every one who asketh that deserveth charity; all, however, are worthy of the inquiry, or the deserving may suffer." - President George Washington, letter to Bushrod Washington, Jan. 15, 1783

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 14 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 14 ends on January 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I wish to share some valuable information on my personal experiences with the use of two cooking devices which I incorporate into daily homemaking practice when I am attempting to conserve on water and on fuel usage. Both of them are extremely time and energy efficient.

The two kitchen products which have earned their weight in silver in my home are my pressure cookers, and my newest kitchen toys, which come from an old Asian origin and cooking concept, the thermo cooker pot.

I have and use several sizes of pressure cookers. I chose the pot size for use for the job I’m performing based on the fill capacity of the product I am cooking in it. The pot capacity should never be over 2/3rds full. The food is liquid pressure cooked on the basis of requiring very little water or liquid and a minimal amount is lost and released as pressurized steam, thus it cooks evenly, thoroughly, and quickly. Time savings average about one half compared to the usual on the stove top methods. Fuel savings are dependant on the time required for the recipe. I use this method for large vegetable batches, and large cuts of meat, like roast cuts or several chickens and get a finished product that is tender to cut with a fork. My very large pressure pots are mostly used for canning purposes to put up jars of volume batches of seasonal produce, meats, and jellies. Using the pressure cookers overall cuts my actual cooking and canning time by one third, compared to using the open pot boil methods. When you are putting up hundreds of jars, this time efficiency becomes necessity. I have had a few mishaps however over the years. They were character building learning experiences of what not to cook in a pressure cooker. Beans, rice, and whole grain cereals need to be constantly monitored, as the small needle outlet from which the pressurized steam escapes becomes easily clogged, and when it does you have now created a bean bomb! If you’re like me and are multitasking in or out of the household, constant sitting to a pot is not time efficient or possible. I have discovered my next favorite device as a result of this need to cook my one pot meal favorite dishes and also to simultaneously free myself to leave to do other equally important jobs. This device allows me to leave the house and come home hours later to a safe, hot cooked meal.

The thermo cooker pot is actually two pots, one (the cooking pot) is inserted into a second thermo insulated pot and is sealed with a hermetic seal lid. The pots can be found in Asian market stores, online, and from high end kitchen and industrial supply houses and are sold by numerous makers. Some makers sell their pots to other distributors who stick their retail labels on them. More expensive in this case is not necessarily a better pot. Key points of its success for your needs are to consider the following issues when searching to procure one. The pot set needs to be constructed of excellent quality stainless steel in order to maintain heat conductivity and easily clean and withstand staining. The floor of the pot must be constructed of no less than two air-insulated layers. The inner pot's volume size needs to be one that will compromise and accommodate the majority of food dishes you normally prepare, if you desire to own just one size. Think in volumes of servings somewhere between how much soup, stew, arroz con pollo [rice and chicken], or how much hot grain cereal you make in one batch. Waste is non productive and expensive ultimately in time and money. Thermo cooker pots work on the principals of applying fast radiant energy cooking to your prepared dish by using the inner cooking pot on the stovetop. The recipe chosen must be able to be brought up to and kept to a boiling temperature for at least 5 minutes, the longer you can boil it the better. Secondly, this inner pot is covered and then immediately placed inside the slightly larger external thermo chamber pot, it is tightly sealed, and taken off the radiant source to finish the cooking process over the next hour on its own kinetic heat requiring no external fuel source. I leave mine in the warmest location in the house. The food contained inside the thermo chamber continues to cook by conductant heat for the next hour or so at a heat temperature gradient loss of kinetic energy which gradually decreases over 6 hours of time and maintains itself at a warming temperature up to 8 hours. The food will then remain warm to +/- 160 degrees up to 8 hours, this being dependant on normal external ambient room temperatures. I have tested my unit with a thermometer after 8 hours, and it made the grade in 65 degree ambient room temperature. This can be a boon to use in fuel and time conservation modes during TEOTWAWKI. It can also be used inversely chill perishable foods safely for consumption for 6 to 8 hours. Think summer mayonaise and egg based salads or cool fruit salads or transporting fresh farm pot cheeses without ice.

I have now mastered my pots usage to include making yogurt, soft goat cheeses and tofu successfully by not boiling the milk or soybean curd but by bringing it slowly up to incubation temp for the culture I am using, and then using the thermo pot to finish the process of maintaining the heat source. In the past I used an old wide mouth thermos bottle to do this method but it did not hold enough volume for my family’s consumption or barter needs. We also now wake up to fresh hot maple wheat berry cereal in the morning by preparing this before retiring for the night. I have used the thermo pot now on different stove and fuel sources, including wood burning and get pretty consistent result. I have used it even away from home to travel and on hunting trips using the butane camp stove. I have boiled the recipes required water, and dumped in our packaged dehydrated camp food, to either wake up to warm eggs and sausage or to come back from the hunt to eat a great hot meal.

I hope this info will help all the cookies create more efficiency in their survival preparations and also to help them find more enjoyment time to read JWR's great postings and books!
Have a blessed and bountiful New Year!

Here's some more 'great' news [from Peter Schiff, by way of] for the coming economic crash.

Thanks to 'fiat currency,' this [nascent] economic disaster won't be nearly as "mild" as the Great Depression, because consumer prices will rise, and, our worthless money will de value at the same time! At least in the 30's, the gold standard that backed the US dollar, made it hold value - even if there were fewer in circulation. Ditto silver & gold coins, that were still worth something (I found your blog late, and got started late, but I'm buying junk silver coins and the occasional gold one as fast as I can!!!) Don't guess we'll have to worry as much about toilet paper as we thought, after the economic SHTF - 'Helicopter Ben' [Bernanke] will print us wallets full of toilet paper! - Bob McC in Pittsburg

Stephen in Iraq flagged this: Home Sales Plunge, Feed Recession Fears

   o o o

Reader Nick B. says that he has started experimenting with sprouting, starting with alfalfa. He is looking for tips on how to drain them when they are still in seed stage. He has been trying coffee filters, but the filters seem to clog quickly. I've always used paper towels, but perhaps there is a SurvivalBlog reader with a better idea. Any tips?

   o o o

Thanks to SJC for this: Gold rises after Bhutto death, platinum hits record

   o o o

And RBS sent this: Worms infect more poor Americans than thought

"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide." - Dr. Jerry Pournelle

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $300. The auction is for a scarce original 1980s-vintage Heckler und Koch 19mm Emergency Flare Launcher (EFL) aka "Notsignalgerät" from my personal collection. It comes with three magazines and 28 scarce original German 19mm flares--10 red, 10 white, and 8 green. Together, this package is worth approximately $400. It is not classified as a "firearm" under Federal law. (Consult your state and local laws before bidding.) Sorry, no overseas bids will be accepted for this auction. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mr. Rawles,
Thanks for your recent advice. My question to you now combines questions of politics, debt, and firearms. The last time the executive and legislative branches were [both] held by the Democrats, we all got to enjoy the Assault Weapons Ban for 10 years. How removing a bayonet lug from firearms reduced gun violence, I'm not sure. The big problem with this, however, was obviously the magazine capacity limitations. The election of 2008 makes a similar act quite possible. By October 2008, a front-runner will probably have emerged. If that front-runner is not gun-friendly, where do we go from here? I will not have cash on hand to purchase firearms, but I do have consumer credit lines - kept completely free of debt - of around $8,000. I will probably be able to quickly convert this credit card debt (APR around 14%) to student loans (APR around 7%). Instinct tells me that credit cards should only be used in time of emergency, and going into additional debt when I don't need to do so is foolish. However, it may also make sense to jump through a closing window of opportunity and make sure I get what I need to have before I can no longer have it.

Once the decision to go into debt is made, the question is then one of priorities. Weapons most likely to be affected by legislation are "assault rifles" and handguns. The goal would be to acquire at least one handgun, one carbine, and one MBR, each with a large stash of magazines - at least a dozen, probably more like 20. The handgun(s) would likely be a high capacity 9mm or .40 S&W, (Glock, SIG, H&K - we'll see) to be supplemented later with 1911s, which are less likely to be affected by the ban. The carbine would likely be from the AR-15/M4 family, based on the popularity of these weapons and therefore the ease with which spare parts can be acquired. The MBR would likely be a PTR-91. I do not yet have personal experience with this weapon - and would certainly learn more before purchase - but I base this decision on the extremely low price of high-capacity magazines and parts right now and the generally positive reviews I have read. A rough estimate on all of this comes to, in my mind, around $3,000 to $4,000, not including training or substantial stores of ammunition - no small investment. I do not feel confident enough in my own abilities to select a quality used weapon, and would buy new - I see little point in risking my security on skills I do not feel confident in. Other weapons likely to be added later include a lightweight bolt-action rifle chambered in .308, a shotgun, and, of course, a .22 pistol and .22 plinking rifle - these are the least likely to be affected by any "ban", and are therefore at the lowest priority level.

Should I rush out and purchase before the ban - even if it means going into debt? Should I wait to avoid debt and accept whatever I can get afterwards? Should I just purchase magazines and hope that there is no legislation requiring weapons be modified to prevent the use of hi-cap mags? Your advice is always appreciated. My best,- S.

JWR Replies: In my opinion, just the chance of new legislation is not enough to justify going into debt--even if you can shuffle any new debt into low-interest student loans. One option might be borrowing the requisite cash from someone beneficent in your family (does either you or your wife have a sympathetic "gun nut" uncle?) Otherwise, I would wait until passage of a new gun law seems truly imminent, then go get cash (perhaps by cashing one of those dreaded credit card "convenience checks".) To avoid a paper trail, you should then buy all of the guns privately at a gun show in your own state. (From private parties that have tables, rather than from Federally licensed licensed dealers.) Other options include (on-line auctions) or (fixed price sales--usually more expensive). You need to concentrate exclusively on private party sellers from your own state--that way you won't run afoul of the Federal law that prohibits the transfer of a modern (post-1898) gun across state lines, except through a FFL dealer.

It wouldn't hurt to work up a detailed shopping list in advance. If your priority list is "legislatively driven", then of course snatch up just the guns themselves, spare magazines, and a bit of ammo . You can get the other accessories and larger quantities of ammo at a later date.(After a new gun and/or full capacity magazine ban is enacted.)

Firearms selection is, and rightfully should be, highly personalized, based on your budget, your likely shooting distances at your intended retreat, regional caliber favorites, and your personal preferences. Both from the standpoint of adequate self -defense and in anticipation of legislated restrictions, a .308 MBR should be your top priority. I consider the FAL, L1A1, M1A, AR-10, and the HK-91 clones (such as the excellent Vector V-51 or the passable JLD PTR-91) all functionally equivalent, and for the sake of argument, roughly comparable. (Yes, I know that glass-bedded match grade M1As can be insanely accurate. But they can also be insanely expensive--and so can their spare parts and extra magazines. I recommend that you pick from that short list and buy what ever "fits" you best--both your ergonomics and your budget. But regardless of what you choose, consider the full life-cycle cost of the weapons system, including scope mounts, spare parts and magazines. In today's market, this tilts the scales toward the HK-91 clones. (Since like-new alloy HK G3 magazines are available for as little as $3 each!)

Someone on an extremely spartan budget might consider a Century Arms International (CAI) or Federal Arms CETME clone, which are also blessed with cheap, plentiful magazines. (I have heard that HK G3 Alloy magazines will work, in a pinch.) However, if you buy a CETME, I strongly suggest that you put it through a 60+ round functional firing test, and examine it closely it for excessive magazine well tightness, using unaltered magazines. (Since some of the CETME clones that have been built since 9/2004 exhibit receiver dimensional tolerance problems and/or feeding problems.) Also, as with any other "parts kit"-assembled gun, closely examine the bore.

As for handguns, the Glock .40 S&W models are a fine choice. As I have posted previously, I would probably switch to Glocks if it weren't for the fact that I have 30 years of muscle memory invested in shooting the Colt Model 1911 platform. (Never try to teach an old dinosaur new tricks.) However, do yourself a favor and try borrowing or renting both a Glock .40 (such as a Model 22 or 23) and a Glock .45 ACP (such as a Glock 21-SF or the newly-announced 30-SF). Shoot them "side by side", under the instruction of an experienced Glockophile. If you can handle the recoil of the .45 then that should be your caliber choice., rather than the .40 caliber. If any of those Glock models feel just a bit too big/fat, there is an neat option for you: Both Robar and Arizona Response Systems do very nice machined grip reductions on Glocks. In his excellent book Boston's Gun Bible, our compadre and Glockophile extraordinaire Boston T. Party highly recommends frame reductions and mentions that a large frame (G20/G21) Glock with a grip reduction feels a lot like holding a Browning Hi-Power. I have done business with both Robar and Arizona Response Systems for more than a decade. Both firms are very competent and reputable. But as I recall, Robar tends to have higher gunsmithing rates and a deeper backlog of orders. So you should probably go with T. Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems. OBTW, if your budget allows it, have tritium sights installed at the same time as the grip reduction job.

Mr. Rawles,
A good out-of-the-box solution to diesel fuel transfer comes from Northern Tool & Equipment, item #360. I use mine for diesel, waste vegetable oil, and heating oil.
One nice feature is that it pumps at 10 gpm. That's moving a lot of fuel in a short period of time. I usually run mine off a 12 VDC jumper battery.
Water often sits at the bottom of storage tanks. You really don't want to pump that into your vehicle. A quick and cheap modification of the pump assembly solves the problem. I spliced in two feet of 1 inch clear hose near the nozzle. Cut the 3/4 inch pump hose near the nozzle, leaving a few inches to clamp onto. The 1 inch hose slips right over the 3/4 and is fastened by clamps. It's an easy way to monitor the condition of the fuel being transferred. As soon as the color changes, I shut off the nozzle, to keep water out of my tank.
This winter I was given over 150 gallons of heating oil for the price of hauling it away. It didn't take long for my pump to pay for itself. - Raymond

This is in regard to your comments, about automotive-type fuel-pumps used as emergency fuel-transfer pumps from underground tanks. In many to most cases, those pumps are useless for that type of task and will not work. Automotive electric fuel pumps are designed to push fuel, not draw fuel. That is why they are mounted either inside the fuel tank, or if external, as near the fuel tank as practical. Most cannot draw fuel from more than 5 feet below (with some variations). One typical example is a full size extended cab pickup truck or a Chevy Suburban. At 17 to 18 feet long, if an electric fuel pump was mounted up front near the engine, and you got the truck pointing up a very steep hill, the engine would die from lack of fuel. That because the front mounted electric pump could wind up being 8 feet above the fuel tank on a 50% incline. That is is why such a rig will have either an engine-mounted mechanical pump, or an electric mounted back towards the fuel source.
The mechanical fuel pumps are more able to draw fuel. Electric fuel-transfer pumps that are specifically designed to draw fuel, also have much more capability to draw fuel than a conventional electric automotive pump. No matter what you get, the laws of physics prevent any pump from drawing any practical amount of fuel from a depth exceeding thirty feet. Most underground tanks are 8 to 12 feet deep and with those, an electric transfer pump, or a hand-suction pump will work, and an automotive-type electric pump will sit there and do nothing but make noise. If you could drop the automotive pump down inside the tank, and let it push fuel up- it could be made to work - but that would be difficult to do in most situations.
There are also hand-driven mechanical pumps that can work at virtually any depth. That because the actual pump goes down in the fuel source, and linkage connects it to up above where the hand-pumping takes place.

[He added in a follow-up e-mail:]
I don't have any good, easy, and/or cheap suggestions. I have a portable 12 volt fuel internal-gear transfer pump - made for transferring fuel. It will do a lot more than most automotive fuel pumps, but costs over a $100 and is far from the perfect solution. It will work down to 12-15' but pumping capacity goes way down at those depths. I also suspect, that once a little worn, it won't do so, without priming.
In regard to the Ford electric pump you mentioned - yes - there are some that do better than others. Some are vane-pumps, some are diaphragm pumps, some are gear, some are piston-pulse, some are bellows - and they all work different. Even those that do manage to pump fuel from a 10' lift have their pumping volume go down to near zero, i.e. almost, but not quite useless.

I've spent a lot of time pumping liquids from various suction depths - when collecting maple sap for making syrup. The physics are the same, just pumping tree sap instead of fuel. The gas-driven diaphragm pumps work the best for depths down to 20 feet, but they are a royal pain to get primed. It's not so bad dumping water or sap all over the place to get one going - but would be a mess with gas or diesel. All those pumps will work with fuel for short periods of time - and all have warning stickers on them saying not too. Homelite has -or had - a little gas-driven pump called the Waterbug. It is a really nice, compact and light pump that works very well - and hooks to a conventional garden hose. It is marketed for water-pumping only, but there's nothing inside of it that can't stand up to diesel fuel. Gasoline, on the other hand, can be dangerous. Since the Water-bug uses small 1/2" or 3/4" hose, instead of 1" or 2" hose, it is much easier to prime than the bigger pumps. I haven't used any of mine for pumping fuel - since once I've done that - I don't think I'd ever want to use it for food-grade stuff like maple sap again. I would though, if I had to.

If I ever got into a situation where fuel was 20 feet down and I needed it - I guess I'd have to improvise. The situation will be limited to the size of the hole you have to enter - that may, or may not allow certain types of mechanical rigs. The little automotive electric fuel pumps that usually mount inside a tank will fit through a 1 1/2"" diameter hole - but - if you send one down into a tank, you've got to have fuel hose and wire attached to it.
I guess - my answer is still - I don't have one, good solution. - John from Central New York

JWR Replies: I've used an electric fuel pump (salvaged from an old Ford) to pump diesel 8 vertical feet--from a barrel sitting in a pickup bed up to a typical 200 gallon above-ground farm tank (on a +/- 7 foot stand)--using 1/2" inch (i.d.) hose, without much difficulty. (Although it did seem slower than when I was transferring fuel from one vehicle to another.) Granted, I've never tried pumping any higher. The absolute limit, based on atmospheric pressure, would of course be 33 feet but I really doubt that it would pump more than 10 or 12 feet.
I gave away the last pump rig that I had built as a gift last summer. So I'll have to build another and try testing it to check its vertical limit.
You are absolutely right that the best solution would be a mechanical pump where the pump itself--or at least the pump cylinder, connected by a sucker rod--sits down in the tank. The problem is fitting that assembly down a 3" diameter tank filler cap. Any ideas, folks?

MWR mentioned than investment counselor Jim Willie posted another interesting piece at the Financial Sense University web site: Exit 2007: Denials and Tontaria

   o o o

RBS found us this one: Credit Downturn Hits the Malls

   o o o

And here is another courtesy of RBS: Police in Metro Vancouver [British Columbia] Seeing New Gang Fashion - Armored Vehicles

   o o o

Reader Bob B. noted the new RWVA match and shooting clinic schedule for 2008 is now up on the RWVA web site. Click on "Appleseed" to the left in the task bar to learn more and to find the schedule.

"Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken." - Warren Buffett

Friday, December 28, 2007

After reading the Profiles you have posted. I have come to the conclusion I cannot hold a dime to these folks. Makes me wonder why should I bother. Hmmm, that thought lasts all of five seconds. A lot of the people for whom you profiled are in a much higher income bracket than the rest of us working folks. Personally, I have two jobs and work 12-14 hours a day. I was unlucky enough to be in a third rear end collision. In my life time this year, although instead of being rear ended by an illegal uninsured illegal alien like the last two times. This time I was rear ended by a 94 year old woman who also was uninsured. Makes it hard to work with post-concussion syndrome from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I have a hard time with short term memory. But do what I can, the best that I can.

I live in a small city in Massachusetts in a 500 square foot second floor apartment in a house.
I have four 15-gallon water containers + 15 cases of Poland Spring 3 liter bottles, About 20 cases of MREs or the equivalent thereof. I bought only the items I knew I liked, 20 cases of the two person pouches from Mountain House again a chosen menu but rather extensive. Also 50 #10 [one gallon] cans of both freeze-dried food and dehydrated foods--mostly soups in the dehydrated department. I have close to 15 weeks supply of groceries. I work in a supermarket for one of my jobs and I look around during my break for "ideas " to expand my dietary habits.

I have canned butter, cheese, bread, and meats. My other job allows me to get discounts on a product called a Vittle Vault. An 80 gallon air/water tight container which I use to bury my other food (all freeze dried pouches) but not before sealing it in plastic from a nifty device I found at Costco one day ( One day I was shopping at Costco and I stopped to look at something else and came back to my cart and there it was just sitting in my cart. Never did find who put it there. Anyway it has found a good home with me ever since.:) Everything is hidden away. Amazing what one can stuff safely under the bed. I have a couple of products that run on propane one-pound cylinders like the Mr. Heater Big Buddy and a Coleman lantern. The Christmas Tree Shoppe is world renowned for having lots of candles on sale all the time too. Although do not want to have any lights on when other do not. Not too draw any unnecessary attention to ones self.

I have a Black Berkey water filtration system, with a half dozen back up filters and several 5 gallon buckets for either the collection of snow or from the stream out back, or to use as an emergency dry toilet.

I am a faithful practitioner of homeopathic remedies,and have quite the collection of remedies and books and homeopathic today magazines. Which I read all the time, to keep it fresh in my memory. Also read a lot of medical/ wilderness first aid books. Took a class from the National Ski Patrol. Thought it would be another 1st aid class. Boy was I wrong. Three months later they awarded me with a WEMT certification, finished top 3 in my class of 20. I have an easier time learning " if I can play with it ". So now I have a collection of 500 EMT flash cards that I go through twice a week, Also Wilderness Way magazine read through my collection of 40 magazines every week as well. My library also included books on herbs, symptoms, pathology, anatomy, first aid, NBC, wilderness survival.

I'm obtaining a [State-issued] Firearms Identification (FID) card soon, God willing for a long gun or three. Handguns are not allowed in Massachusetts for subjects err I mean citizens. Also magazines over ten rounds are not permissible unless one has a handgun permit for that as well or its off to jail for a year, no questions asked. Trying my best to avoid the jail part.
Go to a gun range three times a month and rent a instructor and a gun of my choosing over 300 to choose from ( guns)and say teach me how to use this. Stocked up on medical supplies and trauma kits mostly from I have wiped out many a first aid kits just from cutting my finger. What am I preparing for I think the economy is going to blow out sooner than later. Like it would not surprise me if it happened in the next 30-to-60 days. How bad it will be and how long it will last?. No clue but history shows major wars start with major economic troubles.
Oh forgot to mention already went shopping at KI4U and got the complete package. A lot of other items I am sure I left out but you get the gist of it. The longer the economy survives the longer we have time to prepare, for whatever. I do not wish the dollar to die but if it does die then I hope it enjoys a long, very long lingering death. - Scott V.

JWR Replies: I commend you for your dedication, Scott. I have long held the opinion that true preparedness is more about skills than it is about money. I have a lot of wealthy consulting clients that have heaps of supplies and tools, but I have my doubts about their ability to actually survive when things get Schumeresque. When I ask them about firearms training, they often say that they have the money, but that they don't have the time to attend. What good is a large firearms battery if you aren't confident and competent with these tools? (Some owners admit that they haven't even zeroed all of their guns!) I hear similar lame excuses about first aid training. Many community classes are available free or for a nominal fee, but few take the time to attend them. And the same for physical fitness. Most exercises take little or no equipment, or can even be done with improvised "low cost/no cost") equipment.

2007 is over and the new year looks like it will bring some of the best survival real estate deals to be had in years. For those of you out there that are on the edge of actually making a retreat purchase anywhere in the world, your best bet will be in the next three months (in the snowy northern latitude climates that is) as the mad panic is now in full swing. Sellers are dropping prices and now willing to carry private notes on their properties with reasonable down payments. If you can wait it out until the fall of 2008 I'm sue you'll be able to save a few more bucks on your purchase, although then you are gambling on not having your retreat should some 'event' take place between now and election time 2008. Personally, I don't think such a gamble is worth the savings.

As more and more of the SurvivalBlog readership put off their retreat purchase due to worsening financials in their real estate and 401(k) holdings there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. I have mentioned it before but as time goes on the idea has more relevance. The fact is that most preparedness-minded folks do not have many, if even one friend/family that is like minded (due to the public's perception that we're "survivalist" nuts, I suppose) and therefore have nobody to a purchase a retreat property with. On the surface one may think that anyone you'd be dealing with on a retreat purchase should be a well-trusted friend, but the reality of the issue is this: If you could only afford 5 or 10 acres you'd be buying a property next to someone you have never met anyway, right? So, why not go in with some fellow SurvivalBlog readers and purchase a parcel together. What would be the difference? At least you would know they were preparedness-minded folks whom own their parcel free and clear. People seem to think that their neighbors need to be the same religion or like the same baseball team or whatever 'standard' they have made up. Do you remember the old saying that goes something like this: "everything changes when the first shot is fired"?

There are several parcels in Montana and Idaho which would be perfect for such a venture. One of these is already split into 7 parcels dividing a 100+ acre piece, here in Idaho. The others range in size from 80 to 160 acres with a price range of $369,000 to $640,000. All of them can be worked out to be split into a minimum of 10 parcels or more and sizes ranging from 5 to 20 acres. This would be a great opportunity for less than $30,000 to $50,000 each to secure a retreat property ready for building before the Dollar loses more of its' value. Please contact me via e-mail if you'd like more detailed information on how such a purchase would be completed and for details on the properties.

Speaking of having limited funds there are some opportunities to build a very nice retreat by utilizing a simple manufactured home on top of a heavily built and fortified bunker basement. I know, manufactured homes are not the best built but given the times most of us are in financially it's a great alternative to the log home bunker that now is out of reach for most of the SurvivalBlog readership. And if it comes down to actually having a retreat or just dreaming I'm sure it will be much appreciated. The overall goal would be to spend 60% of your cash on the 'basement' then the other 40% on a basic manufactured home to have installed on the top of the bunker.

Here is what you'll want to do. First, the bulk of your money will be spent on your high tech 'wine cellar' as the contractors will know it as. Pick your size and type but make sure that the basement is 15 feet deep from finished floor to ceiling. There will be four feet of the concrete that will stick up out of the ground with culvert style windows one each corner (for the defensive emplacements of course). The wall thickness from the ground to four feet above should be a minimum of 24 inches thick for obvious ballistic reasons. You'll need a separate tunnel, made out of 12' diameter culverts to save on concrete, leading to your secure vault and the NBC shelter (to house those most precious wine bottles), which will be an alternative bug out route to the OP/LP position constructed at the end. The idea here is to frame up after construction is complete and the contractors are gone, a simple but effective gun port/fighting position platform that runs the perimeter of the basement and yet can be sealed off should a breach occur, to allow for proper defense and/or escape.

With today's building prices and the sowing sales in the home building business my expectation is that you can pick up a decent newly manufactured rancher style log home look a like with 1,500 square feet for about $45,000 to $60,000 (shop around your intended retreat area). Remember that this gives you 1,500 square feet below ground (or more) as well for a total of 3000+. Here in north Idaho a finished basement bunker like detailed above with all the fixings should run about $65,000-to-$75,000. Using insulated foam block construction would be the best in this situation. Including a land purchase a ready to go retreat could be had for just over $200,000 or so. Not a bad price tag depending upon your situation, some may pay cash and others will need to finance it, either way, what a nice investment it'll be one day.

We have a spectacular new listing featured on This unique and beautiful property features almost 156 acres nestled among the tranquil Amish and Mennonite communities of South Central Kentucky.

Well, I'm off to start reading the expanded edition of JWR's novel "Patriots", having read the first edition four times. I'm looking forward to it. God Bless, - Todd Savage

Robert B. mentioned that Internet old-timer Clayton Cramer posted this to his blog: Wow! $1/Watt Solar Panels! (FWIW, I can a remember reading Clayton Cramer Usenet posts back around 1989. That was back before the days of web browsers, when we would log in to the text-only Usenet.)

   o o o

"Hawgtax" sent us this one from Derry Brownfield's site: New swine flu virus has genes from avian flu

   o o o

Cathy Buckle mentioned in a recent African Tears post: "Air Zimbabwe announced that one return air fare from Harare to London had increased to $804 million Zimbabwe Dollars. To put that price into context is the recently publicised information by the Teachers Union saying that government school teachers presently earn an average salary of just $17 million Zimbabwe Dollars a month." When last reported, it cost $3,450,000 Zimbabwe Dollars to buy one US Dollar, and and meat now costs about $5 million Zimbabwe Dollars per kilogram.

   o o o

Bill in Las Vegas sent us this one: NRA Lawsuit: New Orleans Gun Owners' Rights Violated During Katrina Firearm Seizures

"In peace and prosperity states and individuals have better sentiments, because they do not find themselves suddenly confronted with imperious necessities; but war takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough master than brings most men’s characters to a level with their fortunes." - Thucydides, circa 400 BC, during a revolt on Corfu

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The first post today comes from RS, a frequent SurvivalBlog content contributor and one of the co-editors of the Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest blog--where the following letter is cross-posted.

Since I had some spare time over winter break I re-read "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". It is an awesome book, I really like the "survival manual wrapped in a fiction novel" format. It left me with a few thoughts on physical retreat security. I am talking about locks, fences, gates, and so forth --not people. When the gate lock was cut [in the novel] you mentioned the characters welding a 3 inch pipe [section to the gate post] to protect the [new] lock. That is a great idea, except many who live in timber country are aware of a tool made of a 2 inch piece of square pipe with a hole in it to fit a 3 foot piece of [hardened] bar [such as a digging bar] that takes care of that quite easily. The only way I could think to counter that is to extend the pipe 6 or 8 inches past the bottom of the lock to foil those who had a "breaker" which would work for standard timber gates.

I had two thoughts for gate hardening, post-SHTF. My idea is to keep the same gate until the balloon goes up and to do some mods to it later. The first is the heavy Weyerhauser-type gate which is made of a lot of metal and has the aforementioned lock protection device. This could draw attention pre- and post-SHTF and be impossible to put up without some equipment and a lot of cement later. The second idea is a heavy 2 or 3 inch[-diameter] piece of cable which is about 50 or 60 feet long. This would run from an anchor (big rock/tree/cement block in the ground with an O ring in it) around the gate posts to another anchor on the other side of the gate.You could run through O-rings on the gate posts at bumper level. People who roll up with a pair of bolt cutters are going to have a disappointing day. Even if one end of the cable is just a loop and the other is a lock provided they are not immediately on the gate somebody would have to take a look at the setup, hop the gate and then cut another lock to unhook the heavy cable. Assuming you are prudent enough to have the gate covered by at least one riflemen at all times, then the unsavory characters are likely to decide that at least immediately the juice is not worth the squeeze. Remember: The longer you can keep them under fire, fighting your fight before they can attempt theirs, then the higher your odds of success.

If you have done some hardening on the gate the next logical step is improving the roadside portion of your property. There are few 4x4 vehicles which can quickly negotiate a "drainage ditch" which is 4 feet wide and 4 feet deep. This might be worth renting a backhoe for. (Again money versus time.) If any curious neighbors ask just say you are really worried about drainage and do not want to have the road flood. Those two modifications for somewhere between free if you scrounge the cable and dig the trench with a shovel or a couple hundred dollars if you buy a cable and rent a backhoe will make your place much safer from small groups of vehicle-based looters or [one-percenter] bikers.

I am going to leave the house out of this, since it is discussed very specifically and at great length in "Patriots" so I will not rehash it. Buy the book. It is some of the best money I have spent in a while! For the price of dinner for two at Applebee's or another mediocre restaurant (without drinks) you can get a great piece of entertainment which is very useful. It has refocused and shaped a lot of my planning and has given me useful background to many of the posts on SurvivalBlog. - RL

The recently-posted letter "A Twenty-Something EMT with Limited Preps Storage Space" is something that a lot of us apartment dwellers struggle with all the time. I read and re-read the article several times.

She never mentioned about space under the bed. I jacked my bed frame up, quietly mind you, with cinder blocks. Not only do I have a whole extra foot of height worth of space. I also have a bed where as I am not climbing out of but am sitting up and sliding off. Makes a big difference in the morning at least for me.. Between my headboard (also sitting on blocks) and my bed sits 4 weeks of freeze dried rations in various totes. Underneath my bed sits 20 weeks of MREs also in various totes. Just be ever mindful of the blocks by wearing full-toed slippers around the bedroom. You mindlessly kick your foot under the bed and might very well need a paramedic.

Also I just finished reading this book."Long Term Survival in the Coming Dark Age" by James Ballou. It covers how to successfully bury your stuff, what to bury, how to bury it, and what skills one could use in a post SHTF scenario. I found it to be an interesting read. Although I already know the basics of survival caching. Still a nice overview. A good Cliff Notes-type book. (Clear, precise and straight to the point )
Also have other thoughts of continuing education in the EMS field. Depending on where you live. There are many private ambulance companies that will pay for your on going education while you continue to work for them while going to school. Personally for me nothing reinforces my book learning like having repetitive hands on experience. May take longer to get to be an EMT-P . You defiantly have EMT-P experience by the time you achieve EMT-I status. And the money saved could be used for prepping because well we are running out of time. - Scott V.

Mr. Rawles,
I'm a long-time reader, but I've never written before. I wanted to reply to the EMT in a slightly different way than you did. The contingency lockers are a good idea, but something I would look at in
her area is (besides her boyfriend) other people who have the the same kind of forward planning outlook, and to network with them. Michelle is an EMT in training to be a paramedic--exactly the set of skills many of would need WTSHTF. Yes, she does want to have a BOB ready to go, but if she were in my area I'd set aside food and goods
for her in exchange for her professional services. In fact, I'd start a fund for the equipment and medical supplies that she would be trained for but might not want to have to lug around everywhere. Perhaps the makings of a small clinic can be set up before the Big Day.
Sometimes we forget that what we have isn't as important as what we know.
Keep up the good work, Mr. Rawles!


SurvivalBlog Readers,
This is in response to the twenty-something EMT. I agree with Mr. Rawles on his ideas for your storage problem. Also , perhaps since your mother and her new husband are no help to you in your storage, maybe your boyfriend and his parents may help until you two marry and get your own place. It is worth a try. As far as funds, or the lack thereof., any is some, but none is none! My wife and I have been married a little over 10 years now. We have a son who will be 8 in May. Until recently we would have been one of the huddled masses. But we both saw the need to prepare for BAD times. We do not have a lot, but it is all ours. Our home was a wedding gift from her parents, for which we are both grateful. It is a small home, on a concrete slab, no basement, no garage, and only a garden shed of about 230 sq. ft. We both work jobs for poor man's wages, but we still find a bit of extra cash here and there to add to what we have on hand at the time. For instance: While her employer does nothing special for the employees at the holidays, mine does a catered dinner at Thanksgiving, and gives each employee a $20 gift card to the local chain grocery. And about 1 month later, another dinner for Christmas, and a $100 cash bonus. I take both the card and the cash, and use them for our preps, be it beans, bullets, or band-aids. I get something we need or can use.

During the year I do small odd jobs for family and friends, and any cash they give me for that or for gifts goes to buy preps. As for storage, space at our house is at a premium, but we do the best we can with what we have,and we look for useful things and space for storage wherever and whenever we can. For instance: {Locally]. we have a annual [curbside] junk [collection] week. Recently I found a 5 shelf bookcase someone threw away. The only thing wrong with it that I could find, was a one-inch chunk of wood missing from the base. I put it in this tiny extra bedroom we use as our catch-all / computer room, and I filled it with books and pretty "dust catchers". We soon after, ran out of space in our tiny pantry for any extra food. I boxed up the contents, and put it in the shed. Now, by my best guess, we now have another week or two of canned and dry stock food stores for the three of us, and a bit extra for any family or friends if need be. Remember, any is some, but none is none! Do what you can and keep your eyes and ears open. It will surprise you what you can do when you try. Recently, Mr. Rawles asked folks to send in some quotes for his Quote of the Day. My wife has one that she uses from time to time, and I shared it with him,s and I would like to share it with you. "All you can do, is all you can do, and that is all you can do." So do what you can when you can, but do something and you will be better off than a lot of folks when things do go bad. Good luck, and may God bless you in your preparations. - Dim Tim


Hi, Jim,
You had a letter from " A Twenty-Something EMT with Limited Preps Storage Space". I also have very limited storage space, so thought I'd share a couple of ideas.
First, about half of my clothes closet (which is five feet wide) is filled with stored food in plastic tubs, and camping gear.
Second, for a desk I have a 30" wide door blank on top of a file cabinet and another small cabinet. There is space behind the two support cabinets for my water bottles.
Third, I put my twin bed up on top of a nine-drawer dresser (the mattress is on a piece of plywood, which is fastened to the wall). Not only do I still have my original dresser plus the nine-drawer one, but I also have an eighteen-inch wide space under the bed, behind the dresser. Access is a little difficult, so I don't store things there that I need to get at frequently, but there is quite a bit of space.
And fourth, because my closet juts out into the room, the door is in an alcove. This is a newish manufactured home with 'cathedral' ceilings, so the ceiling in the alcove is high. I put a small loft up there to store some things I don't need very often (such as my suitcases, which could also have stuff stored inside of them).
This room is only about ten by twelve, and (going counter-clockwise from the door) holds an old blanket chest (full of preps); the bed on top of dresser; the 30" x 70" desk with a bookshelf on top of it; my grandmother's old treadle sewing machine; a tall bookcase; the closet; a small floor-cabinet with my medical supplies in it; my old four-drawer dresser; and some hooks on the wall by the door. There are also four, four-foot shelves on the wall above the bed (I don't put anything heavy up there, because we are in an area which can have earthquakes.)
It takes ingenuity, but it is possible to store a lot in a small room, and still be able to live in the room! (I share the room with my two large dogs at night, too!) - Freeholder

One of my predictions (from 2005) comes true, in an article forwarded to us by Eric S.: Americans 'walk' from loans. My favorite quote from the article: "Lewis' comments came as a new expression - "jingle mail" - referring to the growing trend where Americans mail the keys to their homes to the lenders before vacating, entered the US lexicon."

   o o o

It appears that silver and gold are resuming their bull market advances, with spot gold spiking above $820 per ounce and silver running up past $14.60 per ounce. Congrats to those of you that took my advice and bought during the recent dip. It will be interesting to see which direction the metals--and the US dollar--head after the holidays. The Chartist Gnome tells me that the next pauses for profit-taking for gold should probably be at around $850 and then $930 per ounce. He foresees eventual top--barring a US Dollar collapse, that is--of around $1,630 for gold. If the US Dollar does collapse, then of course expressing the price of gold in US Dollars will become as meaningless as, say, Zimbabwean Dollars. Inevitably, people will start thinking in other terms--either in another currency unit or perhaps just"ounces of silver per barrel of oil". OBTW, before those of you holding Euros get too smug, keep in mind that you too are holding a fiat currency, and its fate will in the long run be no better than that of the US Dollar.

   o o o

Reader Desert T. mentioned that UPS (an American parcel shipping company) will have a substantial rate increase on January 1st. He notes: "This will impact anyone who has been waiting to make a large (heavy) mail order purchase." It is therefore recommended that any dawdlers get their orders in quickly.

   o o o

Thanks to Randy F. for sending this Washington Times article link: Blame Abounds for Housing Bust

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - President Calvin Coolidge

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $200. The auction is for a scarce original 1980s-vintage Heckler und Koch 19mm Emergency Flare Launcher (EFL) aka "Notsignalgerät" from my personal collection. It comes with three magazines and 28 scarce original German 19mm flares--10 red, 10 white, and 8 green. Together, this package is worth approximately $400. It is not classified as a "firearm" under Federal law. (Consult your state and local laws before bidding.) Sorry, no overseas bids will be accepted for this auction. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mr Rawles,

I am a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber who has learned so much from your site since my brother, "Mike near Seattle" told me about it.

One skill that my husband and I are trying to become proficient at is canning. Both of us came from homes where our mothers canned, but being a kid in the "production line" doesn't mean you will remember how to can 30 years later as an adult.

I found a great web site called that has free online videos for beginners to watch so you can learn how to start canning all sorts of things by watching (which for me was immensely more valuable than by just reading). I watch the video a few times and then feel confident when I go to can something.

Thank you for the information you are providing everyone. - Robin in Colorado

Mr Rawles:
Would a hand-lever pump like this one or this one work for pulling up fuel from a gas station underground tank]? Thanks, - F.

JWR Replies: Both of those hand pumps are designed specifically for pumping from drums with standard barrel bung threads. They should work with underground tank is you add an extension hose with a nice tight seal at the union of the hose. However, this type of pump is less flexible than my preferred 12 VDC pump design, since they cannot be used for one step vehicle-to-vehicle fuel transfers. They are also only marginally faster, they are more labor intensive to use, and they are much more expensive. Just buy a spare electric fuel pump for your primary vehicle and construct your own 12 VDC pump. This will also provide you a spare fuel pump if the one for your vehicle ever goes kaput. If new off-the-shelf pumps are too expensive, then pull a used one at a wrecking yard. (Which, BTW, is also good mechanical experience.)

Dear Jim,
I am a daily reader of your blog. With all the discussion about gold and silver value I thought it might be prudent to bring up the value of other metals. I am a Master Plumber and I make a small fortune by recycling old copper pipe, brass fittings, valves, and faucets. Number 1 copper is up to $2.75 a pound. Four years ago it was $1.50. Yellow brass is $1.60 a pound. It was only 60 cents four years ago. An old water heater can get you $5.00. I know people that save aluminum cans and take them to the recycling yard once a year and can easily make $500.

I have two points for your readers. The first is don't throw away money. Save cans, you can clean up after parties and have a truck full of cans in no time. Old wire, old appliances, aluminum ladders, old copper pipe, anything stainless steel, all metal is valuable these days. My second point is this. Scrap copper is so valuable people are breaking into vacant houses just to steal copper pipe. This might make someone's otherwise inconspicuous retreat house a target. Just a thought.

Keep up the good work, and stay out of trouble. - Dave from Pennsylvania

Hi, Jim:
As a licensed Ham and (ever since the 1970s) a licensed CBer (those were the days when CB licenses mattered.) I had to go quickly back and check the Communications in Times of Crisis posting one more time, and sure enough I did find a couple of small errors/omissions which need mention. First, the 12 watts output mentioned by the author for CB radios only applies when operating in SSB mode. If in AM mode, you are still limited to 4 watts out. Yes, I know some folks run "foot warmers" (illegal [linear] amplifiers); but, remember that those babies splatter all over the bands causing all sorts of interference to adjacent services and (due to the harmonics generated) to who knows what other agencies/users. And, trust, me...if Uncle Sam gets enough complaints from other spectrum users, your neighbors etc., he will come calling; perhaps with a big fat citation/fine/confiscation order for your equipment in hand and the boys in blue in tow.

Also, I must disagree that single sideband mode is not--repeat, not--a secure mode where CB is concerned. Besides being able to be picked up by any other SSB-capable CB radio, SSB CB transmissions are available to anyone possessing a communications (read short-wave receiver in the 3 - 30 MHz bands. They can also be read on any VHF scanner that has SSB mode available. And of course, scrambling any transmissions on the CB band would be illegal.

One final note. While having the best antenna system possible is indeed important, don't forget that the maximum legal distance limit for any contact (AM or SSB) is 150 miles. While the CB bands may seem inactive or dead now, that's probably due more to the facts that 1.) the CB craze was replaced by the Internet craze in the 1990s; and 2.) the sunspot cycle being near minimum, currently. Once the cycle begins to rise and peak over the next few years, you will again hear many CB stations attempting to make illegal long-haul contacts state-to-state and even country-to-country, again (known as "shooting skip".) This is another method of incurring the ire of not only the FCC, but more importantly, your fellow CBers. As already mentioned, there enough bucket mouths and malcontents on the air. Therefore, in closing I would implore all CB users to exercise a little common courtesy and on-air cooperation. Perhaps we could then restore some real utility to the CB band in times of crisis. - Gandalf in Hawaii

Mr. Rawles,
I thought you might be interested in an early preview of "The Last Centurion" a novel about the world after an Avian Flu pandemic. The Author is John Ringo - who writes military and sci-fi - and often combines the two. The language is coarse, and it is written in a blog style, but it has some great observations about society, politicians, money supply and what happens in a real disaster.
You can find the early release chapters online.

It really gets good in chapter 5 and 6 talking about the responses to the outbreak and how some groups/cultures of people just think different - and therefore have different reactions as the government tries to respond. All the best, - Clarke

Delinquencies are soaring: Unpaid credit cards bedevil Americans. (A hat tip to Craig S. for sending us this.)

   o o o

An Ambrose Evans-Pritchard article was mentioned the at CometGold Forum (at Contrary Investors Cafe) and by nearly a dozen SurvivalBlog readers: Crisis may make 1929 look a 'walk in the park'. Here is a key quote: "Liquidity doesn't do anything in this situation," says Anna Schwartz, the doyenne of US monetarism and life-time student (with Milton Friedman) of the Great Depression. "It cannot deal with the underlying fear that lots of firms are going bankrupt. The banks and the hedge funds have not fully acknowledged who is in trouble. That is the critical issue."

   o o o

Led by milk, food prices keep climbing, climbing, climbing. And see this related news story: The Fed Can't Save Us from World Food Shortages

   o o o

Mentioned once before on SurvivalBlog, here is Australia's "Food Lifeboat " web page put together by the staff of the University of Sydney: The Food "Lifeboat": food and nutrition considerations in the event of a pandemic or other catastrophe

"Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." - President George Washington

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ. He is my savior, and I pray that he is yours, too.

Our first post is by Grandpappy, whom you may remember as one of our writing contest award winners.

Different types of disasters may require a different response if a family wishes to maximize their chances for long-term survival. Therefore each family should have several different disaster plans that they could successfully implement depending on the circumstances. These plans should include:
1. Staying at your home and being able to survive for a reasonable period of time without any outside assistance, and
2. Quickly and efficiently evacuating your home and traveling to a predetermined destination.

Staying at home is probably the best overall strategy for most families in a variety of different disaster type situations. However, there are a few scenarios where your continued long-term survival may necessitate the evacuation of your home. For example, consider each of the following situations:

Fire in a city, suburb, or in the country: The only option is to leave and to leave quickly. Even if the fire doesn’t reach your home, the smoke could make it impossible to breathe. If your home does survive then the smoke from the fire will probably saturate many of your possessions and they will have to be replaced.

Flooding From Heavy Rains or Hurricanes: During severe flash flooding many homes, trees, and cars are completely swept away. If you stay, you die. In other areas only the first floor of a home may be under water. You might be safe on the second floor, or in the attic, or on your roof. In most flooding situations the water does eventually recede and you can go downstairs. However, the building foundation is now weakened, the floors are warped, the walls are cracked and peeling, and the appliances are ruined. It these cases it frequently costs less to rebuild from scratch than to repair all the damaged areas. And living in the home during the repairs is not an option because the mold and mildew that is now growing in your floors and walls will produce air-borne spores that will make you sick and gradually kill you. If this situation your only option will be to leave. (Note: If you become unexpectedly stranded in your home during a flood and you can’t evacuate, then you should quickly transfer your most important possessions to the second floor or attic to reduce the possibility of their becoming water damaged.)

Drought: The lakes dry up. The city water supply is exhausted. The city must be evacuated. You may stay if you wish but why would you want to? What type of people do you think will become your new neighbors? How will you survive when your current supply of food and water is eventually gone and the drought continues? Without rain there will be no way to replenish your water supply and no way to grow more food. Without water how will the city survive if someone’s very small cooking fire accidentally gets out of control and quickly spreads throughout a very, very dry building? In a very short period of time the entire city will be in flames. And if the city has already been evacuated then you will not receive any warning until you see the flames or smell the smoke, assuming it doesn’t happen while you are asleep.

Epidemic: Is the disease spreading by water, air, human contact, or some combination of methods? What percent of the population is dying? Staying inside your home in this situation would probably be the best solution unless the flu is being spread through the air. If that is the case and you are living in a heavily populated area then how long will it take the virus to eventually make its way into your air supply? If you had a gas mask or face filters then you might be able to escape to a remote region of a national forest where the virus will have a smaller chance of reaching and infecting you.

Martial Law: Why was it implemented? What are the restrictions? And do you really want to live in a heavily-populated area that is being policed by the military and where you could be executed by anyone in the military for any reason at any time without any type of trial?

Political or Religious Persecution: What if all registered Republicans are suddenly declared to be enemies of the state? Or all Democrats? Or all Protestants or Catholics or Muslins? Some of you may be laughing right now and saying this is impossible and it could never happen in this country. I truly hope you are right. But what if you are wrong? What if you suddenly heard on the news that you are now a member of a group of people that has been identified as being enemies of the state? What would be your plan for survival? If you remain where you currently live it would only result in your immediate arrest, trial, and either imprisonment or execution. During World War II in Germany there were millions of Jews, Christians, and several other groups of individuals who learned this lesson the hard way. And Germany is not an isolated example. This has happened many, many times in many different places in modern history.
None of these things are pleasant to think about but the above threats are real. If any one of them should occur where you now live then you may need to evacuate your home or apartment very quickly in order to have any chance for long-term survival.

How to quickly evacuate your home or apartment is not something most people take the time to think about. However, over the past few years the increasing number of families that have had to quickly evacuate their homes is extraordinary. Entire families and communities have been uprooted and moved to another area and in many cases they will never be able to return to their homes or to the life they once knew. Hurricanes, flooding, and forest fires have resulted in the loss of billions of dollars worth of possessions and have claimed an unknown number of lives. Devastating winter weather has crippled many areas and left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity or heat in the middle of winter and forced people to seek refuge and basic survival in community shelters, schools and churches.

Flash floods and forest fires happen so quickly that people do not have the time to carefully consider what they should take with them. Later when they return and find their home and possessions reduced to cinders, or ruined from water damage, they wished they’d had more time to think about their choices before they were forced to evacuate.
Therefore, before a disaster strikes, prudent individuals will make a simple list of the most important things to salvage in the event of a disaster. Later, if a disaster should force them to evacuate their home then they can consult their list and quickly execute their plan and collect and save their most important possessions. They could salvage the things they would need to survive under difficult circumstances, and things that would make their transition to a different life style not only possible but also a little easier for their entire family.

If you survive a disaster then you can start over. If you have a plan, starting over will not be as difficult as someone who evacuates without a plan. Unfortunately some of the people who survive without a plan will eventually resort to robbing and/or killing. Predators do not discriminate and they will prey on one another as well as on the helpless. Human predators are usually a self-correcting problem during a disaster, if the disaster lasts long enough.

If you must evacuate your home you should have carefully considered ahead of time where you will go. Your destination should not be a last minute decision because your choice of a destination is as important as carefully selecting which items to take with you.

Bug-Out Destination Options
Let’s examine several different destination options. In each of the following situations you should attempt to pay your expenses using whatever credit cards you have available and save whatever cash you might have for a future emergency. If your family has more than one car then you should quickly load each vehicle to the maximum, without overloading them, and then drive out of the disaster area. Before you start you should have consulted a map and selected a minimum of two alternate routes that lead to your final destination. Then listen to your car radio as you are driving to see if there are traffic or other problems along any of your planned departure routes. The quicker that you can be underway the better your chances will be that you can get your family to safety.
Your safe destination could be any one of the following:

Family: If you have family members who live outside the impacted disaster area then they may be willing to provide you with shelter for a short period of time until the disaster has passed and you can return to your home. However most families live on a very tight budget and they will not be able to feed and clothe you for an extended period of time. It would be nice if you paid for some of the groceries while you are there, and also made a contribution to their utility bills. If it later becomes impossible for you to return to your original home then you will need to find new employment and a place to live as quickly as you can to relieve the pressure on family relationships. If your new job does not pay enough so you afford to rent a place of your own, then you should give at least half of each of your paychecks to the family you are staying with to help pay their bills. You should also remember that you are still a guest in their house, and that every member of your family needs to abide by their rules.

Friend's Home: The above comments about family also apply to very close friends. However the relationship is much weaker and friends should only be imposed upon for the absolute minimum amount of time. Even if you have discussed this situation with your friends in advance, it would still be a good idea to minimize the amount of time you stay with them.

Motel: A motel located outside the disaster area is a good option if you can afford it, and if the disaster is forecasted to be relatively short in duration. Once the disaster passes you may be able to return to your normal way of life. An Extended Stay Motel might be a better option because you can pay by the week or month and each room also has a few kitchen appliances, such as a refrigerator and a microwave. Before paying the rent always politely ask if you can see the actual room you will be renting.

Boarding House: Depending on the size of your family you may be able to rent a simple room in a boarding house on a weekly or monthly basis. You can read the “For Rent” section of the local newspaper to locate one these places and then you can call to see what their rules are. You should phone several places to find the best deal based on what your family requires.

Forest Campground or recreational vehicle (RV) Park: If the weather permits, then a campground or RV Park may be an option if you have an RV, or if you have a good tent and some camping gear. Many RV Parks have a separate campground area for tents. They also have a community shower area, one for men and one for women, and they have drinking water available near the campsite. A good tent is not an expensive investment and every family should have a tent to avoid being forced into a Government Shelter for survival. Even if you have no money you can still camp for free in most National Forests as long as you don’t stay at one of the official forest campgrounds. However, you will need to move your campsite at least once per week to a different area to comply with forest regulations. (Note: If you own an RV then it might be wise to find an RV storage site close to your planned evacuation destination. The monthly rental to store and park an RV is about the same everywhere but the advantage of parking it near your planned destination is that your RV would already there. If you have family members who live on acreage way out in the country then they may be willing to let you park your RV at their place for free.)

Government or Community Shelter: As a last resort, you may temporarily reside in a shelter. A church operated temporary disaster shelter is usually less restrictive than other types of shelters. However, before you go to the shelter it would probably be a good idea to rent a temporary storage facility and store all your equipment, supplies, and personal belongings in the storage unit. Many of these monthly storage rental units are large enough to drive a car into so you could park your extra car inside and still have room to store all your equipment and supplies. You are also allowed to put your own personal padlock on the door to your rental unit. (Note: Some storage units will not allow you to park a car inside the actual rental unit but they will rent you space inside the fenced area to park your car on a monthly basis. In this situation completely empty your car into the rental until before you park it.) If you have cash, or if you can get cash from an ATM, then you should pay the rent in cash to avoid leaving an electronic trail to the location where you are storing your remaining possessions. If possible pay the rent for a minimum of three months in advance and get a receipt. Your entire family could then get into the remaining vehicle and drive to the shelter location. Just remember that some shelters are easy to get into but almost impossible to get out of until the authorities are ready to release you. If you become a voluntary prisoner at one of these shelters you may discover that life in the shelter is unbearable and that you are not allowed to leave simply because you now realize you should have never entered the shelter. When you first enter the shelter, there is a strong likelihood that government shelter personnel will carefully search you and confiscate any weapons, knives, drugs including prescription medicines, tools, children toys, money, makeup, wallets, purses, keys, and any extra food you may be carrying with you. It is unlikely you will get all of these items back when it is time for you to leave. In some cases you will only be allowed to enter the shelter with the clothes you are wearing and a new identification card [or wrist band] issued to you at the shelter. This makes escape from the shelter less feasible because you will have surrendered all your possessions including your driver’s license, credit cards, money, and keys. This forces you to follow any rules the shelter may impose because you are now defenseless and you know you now have no other choice in the matter. Savage brute force will dominate inside these shelters and your family members will be subject to beatings, rape, and having their daily food rations forcibly confiscated by the strongest residents in the shelter. In a worst case, these evil individuals will continue to grow stronger as your family members continue to grow weaker and eventually die of disease or starvation. These are some of the reasons why a church or community volunteer shelter would be preferred to an official government shelter.

The preceding discussion has focused on: (1) the need to evacuate, and (2) several different possible destinations. It has not reviewed the most important things to take with you when you evacuate your home. Here is a link to a list of practical and useful items.

In the event of a disaster (I live in New York City) I intend to shelter in place until all the riotous mobs destroy each other or are starved out. I am preparing for up to six months. I have one liter of water stored for each day (180 liters) and about 50 pounds of rice to eat as well as various canned goods. I have not seen on your site anything about heat sources for urban dwellers who intend to shelter in place. I'm assuming that electricity would go first soon followed by [natural] gas and running water. Do you have any recommendations for cooking rice and other foods in this event.
I am considering oil lamps or candles, methane gel used for chafing dishes, or small propane tanks. Because of the small size of my apartment and potential hazards of storing fuel I'm unsure which would be best. Please advise. Thank You, - Michael F.

JWR Replies: I've heard your intended approach suggested by a others, including one of my consulting clients. Frankly, I do not think that it is realistic. From an actuarial standpoint, your chances of survival would probably be low--certainly much lower than "Getting Out of Dodge" to a lightly populated area at the onset of a crisis. Undoubtedly, in a total societal collapse (wherein "the riotous mobs destroy each other", as you predict) there will be some stay-put urbanites that survive by their wits, supplemented by plenty of providential fortune. But the vast majority would perish. I wouldn't want to play those odds. There are many drawbacks to your plan, any one of which could attract notice (to be followed soon after by a pack of goblins with a battering ram.) I'll discuss a few complexities that you may not have fully considered:

Water. Even with extreme conservation measures you will need at least one gallon of water per day. That one gallon of water will provide just enough water for one adult for drinking and cooking. None for washing. If you run out of water before the rioting ends then you will be forced to go out and forage for water, putting yourself at enormous risk. And even then, you will have to treat the water that you find with chlorine, iodine (such as Polar Pure--now very scarce), or with a top quality water filter such as a Katadyn Pocket water filter.

Food. For a six month stay, you will need far more than just 50 pounds of rice! Work out a daily menu and budget for an honest six month supply of food with a decent variety and sufficient caloric intake. Don't overlook vitamin supplements to make up for the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. Sprouting is also a great option to provide vitamins and minerals, as well as aiding digestion. Speaking of digestion, depending on how your body reacts to the change in diet (to your storage food), you may need need a natural laxative in your diet such as bran, or perhaps even a bulk laxative such as Metamucil.

Sanitation. Without water for flushing toilets, odds are that people in neighboring apartments will dump raw sewage out their windows, causing a public health nightmare on the ground floor. Since you will not want to alert others to your presence by opening your window, and no doubt the apartment building's septic system stack will be clogged in short order, you will need to make plans to store you waste in your apartment. I suggest five gallon buckets. A bucket-type camping toilet seat (a seat that attaches to a standard five or six gallon plastic pail) would be ideal. You should also get a large supply of powdered lime to cut down on the stench before each bucket is sealed. You must also consider the sheer number of storage containers required for six months of accumulated human waste. (Perhaps a dozen 5 gallon buckets with tight-fitting o-ring seal lids would be sufficient.) Since you won't have water available for washing, you should also lay in a supply of diaper wipes.

Space heating. In mid-winter you could freeze to death in your apartment without supplemental heat. As I will discuss later, a small heater or just a few candles can keep the air temperature above freezing.

Ventilation. If you are going to use any source of open flame, you will need lots of additional ventilation. Asphyxiation from lack of oxygen or slow carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning are the alternatives. Unfortunately, in the circumstances that you envision, the increased ventilation required to mitigate these hazards will be a security risk--as a conduit for the smell of food or fuel, as a source of light that can be seen from outside the apartment, and as an additional point of entry for robbers.

Security. The main point of entry for miscreants will probably be your apartment door. Depending on the age of your apartment, odds are that you have a traditional solid core wood door. In a situation where law and order has evaporated, the malo hombres will be able to take their time and break through doors with fire axes, crow bars and improvised battering rams. It is best to replace wooden apartment doors with steel ones. Unless you own a condo rather than lease an apartment, approval for a door retrofit is unlikely. However, your apartment manager might approve of this if you pay for all the work yourself and you have it painted to match the existing doors. Merely bracing a wood door will not suffice. Furthermore, if you have an exterior window with a fire escape or your apartment has a shared balcony, then those are also points of entry for the bad guys. How could you effectively barricade a large expanse of windows?

If you live in a ground floor apartment or an older apartment with exterior metal fire escapes, then I recommend that you move as soon as possible to a third, fourth, or fifth floor apartment that is in a modern apartment building of concrete construction, preferably without balconies, with steel entry doors, and with interior fire escape stairwells.

Self Defense. To fend off intruders, or for self defense when you eventually emerge from your apartment, you will need to be well-armed. Preferably you should also be teamed with at least two other armed and trained adults. Look into local legalities on large volume pepper spray dispensers. These are marketed primarily as bear repellent, with brand names like "Guard Alaska", "Bear Guard", and "17% Streetwise." If they are indeed legal in your jurisdiction, then buy several of the big one-pound dispensers, first making sure that they are at least a 12% OC formulation.

If you can get a firearms permit--a bit complicated in New York City , but not an insurmountable task--then I recommend that you get a Remington, Winchester, or Mossberg 12 gauge pump action shotgun with a SureFire flashlight forend. #4 Buckshot (not to be confused with the much smaller #4 bird shot) is the best load for defense in an urban environment where over-penetration (into neighboring apartments) is an issue. But if getting a firearms permit proves too daunting, there is a nice exemption in the New York City firearms laws for muzzleloaders and pre-1894 manufactured antique guns that are chambered for cartridges that are no longer commercially made. It is not difficult to find a Winchester Model 1876 or a Model 1886 rifle that is in a serial number range that distinguishes it as pre-1894 production. (See: for exact dates of manufacture on 12 different rifle models.) You will be limited to chamberings like .40-65 and .45-90. You can have a supply of ammunition custom loaded. A Winchester Model 1873 or and early Model 1892 chambered in .38-40 might also be an option, but I would recommend one of the more potent calibers available in the large frame (Model 1876 or 1886 ) rifles. Regardless, be sure to select rifles with excellent bores and nice mechanical condition.

For an antique handgun, I would recommend a S&W double action top break revolver chambered in .44 S&W Russian. None of the major manufacturers produce .44 S&W Russian ammunition. However, semi-custom extra mild loads (so-called "cowboy" loads, made specially for the Cowboy Action Shooting enthusiasts) in .44 S&W Russian are now available from Black Hills Ammunition. The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers) often has large caliber S&W double action top break revolvers available for sale. The top breaks are very fast to load, and you can even use modern speed loaders designed for .44 Special or .44 Magnum cartridges with the stumpy .44 S&W Russian loads.(It has the same cartridge "head" dimensions.)

Firearms training from a quality school (such as Front Sight) is crucial.

Fire Detection and Contingency Bug-Out. A battery-powered smoke detector is an absolute must. Even if you are careful with candles, lanterns, and cook stoves, your neighbors may not be. There is a considerable risk that your apartment building will catch fire, either intentionally of unintentionally. Therefore, you need to have a "Bug Out" backpack ready to grab at a moment's notice. Although they are no proper substitute for a fireman's compressed air breathing rig, a commercially-made egress smoke hood or a military surplus gas mask might allow you to escape your building in time. But even if you escape the smoke and flames, then where will that you leave you? Outdoors, at an unplanned hour (day or night), in a hostile big city that is blacked out, with no safe means of escape. (This might prove far too reminiscent of the the 1980s Kurt Russell movie "Escape from New York.") By the time this happens, the mobs may not want just the contents of your backpack. They may be sizing you up for a meal!

Fuel storage. Bulk fuel storage has three problematic issues: 1.) as a safety issue (fire hazard), 2.) as a security issue (odors that could attract robbers), and 3.) as a legal issue (fire code or tenant contract restrictions). I suspect that New York City's fire code would not allow you have more than a week's worth of propane on hand, and completely prohibit keeping more than just one small container of kerosene or Coleman fuel. From the standpoint of both safety and minimizing detectable odors, propane is probably the best option. (The odors of kerosene and chafing dish gel are both quite discernable.) But of course consult both your local fire code and your apartment lease agreement to determining the maximum allowable quantity to keep on hand.

Odds are that there will be no limit on the number of candles that you can store. If that is the case, then lay in large supply of unscented jar candles designed for long-burning (formulated high in stearic acid.) I suggest the tall, clear glass jar-enclosed "devotional" candles manufactured in large numbers for the Catholic market. You can even heat individual servings of food over these if you construct a stand with a wide base out of stout wire. Watch for these candles at discount and close-out stores. We have found that the large adhesive labels slip off easily if you soak the jars in water for an hour. Since their burning time is approximately 24 hours, and since you might need two of them burning simultaneously for sufficient light and to stay warm, that would necessitate laying in a supply of 360 candles! (This assumes that the worst case, with the outset of a crisis in October, and your having to hunker down for a full six months.)

Fire fighting. Buy at least two large multipurpose ("A-B-C") chemical fire extinguishers

Cooking odors. In addition to the smell of fuel, cooking food will produce odors. I recommend that you store only foods with minimal spices. In situation where you are surrounded by starving people, just frying foods with grease or heating up a can of spicy chili con carne could be a death warrant.

Noise discipline. Just the sound of moving around your apartment could reveal your presence. For some useful background, see if your local library has a copy of the best-selling memoir "The Pianist", by Wladyslaw Szpilman. (If not, buy a copy through Amazon or request a copy via inter-library loan. It has been published in 35 languages. The US edition's ISBN is 0312244150.) The book describes the harrowing experiences of a Jewish musician in hiding in Warsaw, Poland, during the Second World War. Following the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising and forced deportation, Szpilman spent many months locked in a Warsaw apartment, receiving just a few parcels of food from some gentile friends. In his situation, the power and water utilities were still operating most of the time, but he suffered from slow starvation and lived in absolute fear of making any noise. His survival absolutely defied the odds. There was also an excellent 2002 movie based on Szpilman's book, but the memoir provides greater detail than the film.

Light discipline. If you have any source of light in your apartment, it could reveal your presence. In an extended power blackout, it will become obvious to looters within a couple of weeks who has lanterns or large supplies of candles and/or flashlight batteries. (Everyone else will run out within less than two weeks.) And I predict that it will be the apartments that are still lit up that will be deemed the ones worth robbing. So if you are going to have a light source, you must systematically black out all of your windows. But sadly these efforts will be in direct conflict with your need for ventilation for your heating and/or cooking.

Heat. With the aforementioned restrictions on fuel storage, heating your apartment for more than just a few days will probably be impossible. Buy an expedition quality sleeping bag--preferably a two-bag system such as a Wiggy's brand FTRSS. Under the circumstances that you describe, don't attempt to heat your entire apartment. Instead, construct a small room-within-a-room (Perhaps under a large dining room table, or by setting up a camping tent inside your apartment, to hoard heat.) Even if the rest of the apartment drops to 25 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit, your body heat alone will keep your demi-room in the 40s. Burning just one candle will raise the temperature another 5 or 10 degrees. For the greatest efficiency at retaining heat, your demi-room should be draped with two layers of mylar space blankets.

Exercise. While you are "hunkered down", you will need to maintain muscle tone. Get some quiet exercise equipment, such as a pull-up bar and some large elastic straps. Perhaps, if your budget allows in the future, also purchase or construct your own a quiet stationary bicycle-powered generator. This would provide both exercise and battery charging.

Sanity. .Hunkering down solo in silence for six months would be a supreme challenge, both physically and mentally. Assuming that you can somehow tackle all of the aforementioned problems, you also need to plan to stay sane. Have lots of reading materials on hand.

In conclusion, when one considers the preceding long list of dependencies and complexities, it makes "staying put" in a worst case very unattractive. In less inimical circumstance, it is certainly feasible, but in a grid-down situation with utilities disrupted and wholesale looting and rioting in progress, the big city is no place to live. But, as always, this is just my perspective and your mileage may vary (YMMV).

Six readers sent us this article about dispossessed Southern Californians: Tent city in suburbs is cost of home crisis

   o o o

A Rawles family member sent us a link to a web site has all kinds of information on primitive technology

   o o o

From our friend Michael Panzner, over at the Financial Armageddon blog, comes a chart that tells a thousand words: A Mind-Boggling Data Series

   o o o

You've all seen what has happened to food prices in the past year.Keep in mind that most food storage vendors (including some of our advertisers) are not immune to cost increases, so they will be making price increases of up to 22% on their canned food products. So if you have be dawdling, then be sure to get your order in before the end of the year.

"If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: "God with us." We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!" - John F. MacArthur, Jr.

Monday, December 24, 2007

After giving it some thought [to post-TEOTWAWKI retreat security], I think we need to study many of the homestead/farmstead fortifications used during the [late 1970s] Rhodesian Bush War and to a certain extend in rural South Africa in the present day. Of course, one would need to adjust for legalities so one would not be breaking any laws. - Lame Wolf
[JWR Adds: Lame Wolf also sent us a great quote from a letter by "Rhodesian" that was first posted at the Small Wars Journal (SWJ) web site. BTW I recommend the SWJ site--in particular their Reference Library pages--as a research tool for anyone seeking insight on retreat security and living in turbulent times.]:

Rhodesian Farmers Defensive Arrangements

At every farm, defensive arrangements were made up to suit their particular situation and infrastructure. The following would be a general overview:

1) Most farmers fitted hand-grenade grills to the outside of all windows. Doors leading outside were likewise security grilled.

2) Many farmers built thick walls about a meter in front of bedroom windows to stop bullets, but particularly to deal with RPG-7s. Beds were never placed against the outside walls of a farmhouse.

3) It was usual to have a designated safe room within the farmhouse that could be defended until support arrived. Sometimes this was a central corridor that allowed the farmer to move into other rooms to attack those outside through the windows. In the loft or ceiling over the safe room, some farmers laid sand bags to deal with possible mortar attack.

4) Every farmhouse in a given area was linked by a radio system called “Agric Alert”. This allowed radio contact with other farmers who formed their own defence units, usually under the umbrella of PATU (Police Anti-Terrorist Unit), which would react to a call from one of their neighbours for assistance. Another means of alarm raising was the use of a signal rocket - The Agric-Alert system was not done away with after the war, such was the lack of trust in Mugabe`s promises. It performed admirably as well when dealing with criminal activity such as stock theft. The alert system arranged for all farmers to check in with each other at a given time in the morning and evening as a means of monitoring their status.

5) Around all farmhouse gardens were erected security fences with barbed wire (or razor wire) and which often had simple alarm systems built into them. Some I believe were electrified, if not before the end of the war, certainly afterwards. Within the fence boundary, every farmer usually had a couple of large dogs. The dogs were fed their largest meal in the morning instead of the evening, in order to help keep them awake at night. Other farmers had geese or ducks, which made excellent guard “dogs.” Gardens were kept deliberately trim so as to keep clear fields of view and fire etc. The farm houses also had outside flood lighting erected in such a way as to blind those outside the fence, but not to interfere with the vision of those within the farmhouse.

6) All farmers and their wives were armed with an assortment of weapons, and most farmers were trained military men. They had at least one assault rifle, usually an FAL 7.62, assorted shot guns, .303 hunting rifles and so forth. It was also not unusual for wives to carry Uzi`s around with them, or other equivalents such as the Rhodesian Cobra. All members of the family were trained on the various weaponry available to them, including the kids. In one famous incident a child successfully fought off the attacking terrorists after both of his parents were wounded. The main defensive weapons were at all times within immediate reach of the adult farmhouse occupants, and were placed next to the bed at night.

7) Some farmers used mine protected vehicles, as a favourite of terrorists was to landmine the driveway outside the fence. A great deal of time was spent looking at the dirt roads for freshly dug earth points and so forth when driving around the farm.

8) Some farm gardens and particular points external to the fence were wired with home-made claymore like devices strategically placed in areas where attackers were likely to take cover. In a few instances farmers deliberately erected “cover positions” for the terrorists to use outside the fence, which were then blown up upon attack. A particular favourite was a section of plastic piping filled with nails, nuts, bolts, screws and so forth. I witnessed tests with these and the tubes cleared large areas of their intended aiming point of all bush cover and leaves from trees etc for about 30 meters into the bush. By placing a number of figure 8`s in front of these tests, it was apparent from the strike patterns that not one of them would have walked again had they been terrorists.

9) Some farmers also hired soldiers on leave to guard their premises at night. Usually these were men looking for extra beer money. They were called Bright Lights [referring to the bright lights of Salisbury, the nation's capitol, since most of these were "city boys"], and often ended up in fire fights with the terrorists, where they came as a nasty surprise to the terrs when the latter were expecting a nice soft hit and run. Like all farmers in an area, Bright Lights would participate in the support of other farmers when the situation required.

10) Good relationships with farm labour, particularly the house staff, very often warned of problems before they occurred. All of us who grew up in the country have fond memories of those employees who took care of us as kids, and who often placed themselves at great risk for doing so.

Mr. Rawles,
First off I would like to thank you for your profound impact on my life in the last four months. All of my life I grew up with a father and grandfather who were/are minor survivalist men. They believe that the end times are coming and we should prepare for them. They keep about three days of food and water at their homes and plenty of guns and ammo. For the longest time I always thought it was ridiculous and never understood it. Now my thinking has changed to the fact that they are under prepared. When I was 11 my parents divorced and they both re-married. After high school my dad moved to Arizona and I do not see him much and live with my mother who thinks my dad was "crazy" for his survivalist lifestyle.

Five months ago I met my boyfriend. Our second date we went shooting and our third we went fishing. We are very outdoors-oriented people. One day he handed me your book "Patriots" and I shrugged it off for a little while. Eventually I picked it up and didn't put it down till I was done reading it. It changed my life. Soon after I became a SurvivalBlog reader and have a moderately stocked bug out bag. We have talked about a future together and dream of a life together and it includes getting a house and prepared for TEOTWAWKI because we both know it will happen eventually.
My issue is that I live with my mom and stepfather. I have a small room and small car. My parents don't allow me to store anything in their garage or tool shed and are in a "getting rid of stuff" mood. They think having a day or two worth of food in our RV outside will cut in for a SHTF situation. My mom freaked out that I wanted to bring my 12 gauge shotgun to her house when I got it, so it stays at my boyfriends along with my M44 [Mosin Nagant carbine] who also lives at home. Needless to say if I asked for a place to store food and water I would become "crazy like your father" which is what she said when she saw my Bug-Out Bag (BOB) in my closet. In addition to that I pay for my own car and bills, work 40 hours a week and am a student.

In January I will be attending paramedic school and that will take a lot of time and money. That being said I also already have a lot of medical supplies around my room and car since I am an EMT. I'm also a girl who has a lot of clothes and a closet jam packed with them and old school books. I also have shelves and a desk, again filled with books and personal items that I simply cannot part with. (childhood memories) I have very little space and very little money. I know there are many ways to start small with survival, but do you have any suggestions for storage that I can get to while being cost efficient and not asking a friend who would think I'm crazy? Any advice would truly be appreciated. I know most of the blog readers either have their own place or a place to store things but in my situation I can't think of anything.
Thank you again for changing my life and how I think of the world. Sincerely, - Michelle T.

JWR Replies: Don't be discouraged about the state of your preparations. Just store things as best as you can with the space that you have available until after you are married and have a place of your own. You might want to enquire about the price renting a small commercial storage space. If that is cost prohibitive, then you might wangle some extra garage or attic space with friends or relatives. Another possibility might be to get permission from your EMT organization to store two or three padlocked "contingency" footlockers of clothing and food--stenciled with your name and "Contingency Gear"--for you in a back room. You can explain that in some disaster situations you might have to stay "on station" 24 hours a day, with no chance to go home. Regardless of where you store things, just keep in mind that heat will greatly reduce the shelf life of most storage foods. See for example this chart at on MRE shelf life versus temperature.

OBTW, if you can handle the recoil of a 12 gauge and 7.62x54R from a light carbine like a M44 Mosin-Nagant, then you rate pretty high in my book. And you are an EMT, too? And outdoorsy? Please tell your boyfriend that--at least according to this editor--he has found himself a good choice for a bride.

MQC sent us this: Standard & Poor's Downgrades ACA Capital to Junk Status. MQC notes: "S&P cut ACA's rating to 'CCC,' or eight levels below investment grade, from 'A,' the sixth-highest investment-grade rating. It also said it may cut Financial Guaranty Insurance Co's 'AAA' rating." Here is a sobering snippet: "The entire US economy is $14 trillion or so in contrast to $42.6 trillion in credit default swaps. The entire derivatives trade is now a record $681 trillion."

   o o o

Ready Made Resources just added a new photovoltaic (PV) power product to their line. For those of us that can't afford a full-blown PV system, they now sell the Brunton Solarport --a 4.4 watt compact folding PV panel designed to charge electronics like cell phones, digital cameras, GPS receivers, and PDAs via a USB port, as well as charging batteries for radios and flashlights, with and included charging tray. It come with a 20" extendable power cable with a modular adapter plug. Up to three units can be linked together for more current output. See the Ready Made Resources web site for complete specifications and pricing.

   o o o

Chrysler CEO: We're 'operationally' bankrupt. "To raise money, Chrysler is looking to sell over $1 billion in land, old factories, and other holdings, even if it has to let those properties go for under book value, the Journal said."

   o o o

David in Tennessee found a fascinating Financial Times interview of Bill Gross of Pimco (one of the world's largest fixed income managers) on interest rates, recession, and government intervention. You can read the transcript, or watch the video. Here is one of the most crucial parts of the interview:
Mr. Gross: "...most modern financial derivatives have been highly leveraged, and it’s that leverage that has rather stealthily snuck in to the economy. And when the leverage goes too far, when the spreads get too tight, when the prices get too high, the de-leveraging is very painful. Especially in the property market, which is, perhaps, the most highly levered asset class of all.
And so, yes, the financial derivatives to the extent that even a subprime is a derivative, or an option-adjusted ARM is a derivative, and then of course, the conduits that include them, all of them levered at five, 10, 15, 20 times - and all with the assumption that things can’t go wrong, and that the only task is to scrape off the carry and the return off the top - you know, that concept is, basically a dying concept and will lead to an implosion at the edges, at least, of this new financial marketplace.
FT: So we’re going to see the whole concept of some hedge funds no longer operating?
Mr. Gross: A hedge fund basically, makes its money - hopefully, through brilliance, but in reality, through leverage and the ability to borrow short and to lend longer and riskier. That’s what a hedge – hedge fund is basic –
FT: Do you think this has been a giant con? The investors haven’t been smart enough to see through that?
Mr. Gross: Well, a hedge fund, to my way of thinking, is an unregulated bank. I mean, a bank isn’t a con, but a bank is a regulated entity. A hedge fund is not, and so from that standpoint it’s been a con on the government, in terms of their unwillingness to regulate the industry. And it’s been a con as well to those investors that have felt that hedge funds could provide double-digit returns forever - or even for a short period of time. That can be done, and was done, but ultimately, you can’t manufacture asset returns simply through the employment of leverage."

"God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ." - Wilda English

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our first post today is from our correspondent in Israel. David was American-born and had a career as a firefighter before emigrating to Israel. He is now a Torah student.

When you were working at Defense Electronics I'll bet you came across a few old articles and references to the pre-communication satellite days and how the military especially the navy handled this in a nuclear war scenario.

While EMP can be handled by hardening and charge dumping circuits there is still the whole problem with a totally disrupted natural ionospheric layers. Under those conditions, it is predicted that long range HF radio just wont work on most bands most of the time.

What started out as a way to listen to Soviet radio and radar transmissions was utilized by the US Navy for a short time as a assured way to get intercontinental communications as long as the moon is in the sky. Although it is usually expensive to get started with Earth-Moon-Earth (EME or commonly called "Moon Bounce") communications, I have found a nice site that covers using a lower powered 2 meter (144 MHz) setup that most of us could afford.

Here is a site about a hobbyist who watches for EME-bounced TV stations in Australia with simple gear

Wikipedia has a nice intro on the topic.

While communications ranks far lower than food supply, location, a simple defensive battery, and sustainability it is nice to know that you could contact prepared family, or even just listen for
signals from elsewhere on the planet even if a solar, nuclear, or other event were to cut off HF and normal amateur radio or commercial satellite communications. Kol Tov - David in Israel

Hi Jim,
According to Coleman's web site, Coleman fuel can be stored for 5 to 7 years. I wondered if a chainsaw with the correct oil additive run on Coleman fuel. So I did a web search, and this is what I found, over at the Timebomb 2000 (Y2K) Discussion Forums, posted back in 1998] - E.L.:

Coleman Fuel the Final Word!
Boy What did I start? I have seen more rumors and half truths about Coleman fuel since I posted that it did work on engines!! Coleman fuel is a very highly refined version of gasoline! It has no additives in it. It comes in sealed metal cans and it stores at least five years if you keep it cool and leave it alone til you use it! It will work in all gasoline engines! You mix oil in 2 cycle [engine]s so that is not a problem. In 4 cycle add 1/2 to 1 oz of ATF or Marvel Mystery Oil per gallon of fuel to provide top cylinder lube. If you want to go one step further get some lead substitute for the old regular burning engines. Okay?

Now I am going to provide you with a very basic primer on how oil and fuel relate to the cracking (refining) tower. crude oil in:[the] lowest [fractioning] levels give you motor oils then fuel oils. Here is how it is,, [from] top to bottom:
LPG (Much more done to refine but you get the idea), white gasoline, Racing gas, Avgas, Gasoline, K1 kerosene, kerosene fuel oil, #1 fuel oil, #2 fuel oil, #3 fuel oil, # 4 motor oils. Okay, now there are many other products made at various levels and many other additives are introduced to provide the end products we use but this gives you an Idea as to how the various fuels relate.
Now if you want to store some Coleman fuel for emergency use, then go ahead, do it! If it burns gas it will burn Coleman! But if you want to use it try it now! Don't wait to see if it will work, don't post over and over and over.Try it out for yourself!!! But don't plan on it being your primary fuel. You can't possibly store enough [in one gallon cans] to run generators on it. Most of you have no clue as to how much fuel a gasoline generator really uses. Running a typical gas generator would run you at least 5 gallons per day, every day, assuming you only ran it 5-6 hours per day! Do the math! Store 20 gallons [of Coleman fuel] for your chainsaw. Another 10 for the log splitter. But that's about it. if you need to use some for another reason for a short term use go ahead! But if your looking for long term continuous use get a diesel car, truck, generator, or whatever. - Rich H.

My wife and I saw I Am Legend last night at the local theatre. The movie house was packed. Almost every seat was filled. Of the most interest was the end. As the movie faded to black and credits rolled, there were more than several spontaneous bursts of applause throughout the audience and a few cheers. Wow! The last movie that I remember ever getting applause was the last "Star Wars" installment. Something really hit deep with many in the audience…

My wife was weird’ed out by the zombies though, as they were quite scary. So viewer beware.

As for the movie, I enjoyed it, albeit the zombies are a far stretch to the imagination, the premise is not! (a viral cancer cure with unintended consequences) The self-sufficient [aspects of] survivalism were pretty close to reality (Honda generators, large stores of supplies), although preparedness was not advocated. He just rounded up (looted) whatever he needed during the day[light hours.] The desperation of loneliness was also driven home well. And although he had a very nice AR-15 rifle (my survivalist choice, although I do own a SA-58 FAL [clone]), his hunting skills sucked: Like chasing deer through the city with a high-performance Mustang, etc. Good action, dumb logic!

Anyway, I thought you would be interested in hearing about the audience response from a liberal college town (University of Virginia at Charlottesville.). Regards, - Rmplstlskn

JWR Replies: Keep that .308 FAL. In my opinion, and as previously discussed at length in SurvivalBlog in most situations it is a much better choice than a .223 AR-15 or an M4gery.

SF in Hawaii sent this: World food stocks dwindling rapidly, UN warns. Here I must mention that I have hope that American agriculture can come to the rescue. Since they are still free-market driven, American farmers can react rapidly to changing markets. They see the price of corn soaring, so they plant more corn. I wouldn't be surprised to see hundreds of thousands of fallowed acres taken out of the CRP and put back to productive use within the next couple of years. In real terms, the price of crops actually fell from 1975 to 2005. Since then, they have started to bounce back. It is clear that prices will continue to rise as long as supplies are thin. One of the beauties of the free market is that its reacts and naturally seeks equilibrium. OBTW, the huge global demand for food also underscores my contention that productive farm land is a good investment, even in the midst of a cyclical real estate collapse. The price declines will primarily be seen in suburban real estate in the coastal regions, and in commercial real estate. Farm land prices will probably be much more resilient.

   o o o

For those of you with concealed carry permits, or those that live in the blissful state called Vermont (where no CCW permit is required, even inside city limits), I noticed that Survivor's Club For Men now carries the "Hidden Agenda" pistol cases, that look just like Day Planners. They have them in various sizes to fit pistols as large as full size Colt M1911 Government Models and Glock M21s, and with or without calendar inserts. (Hopefully the Memsahib will take this as a hint for a Christmas gift.)

   o o o

Thanks to SJC for sending this: Small Asteroids Pose Big New Threat. A new study concludes that the asteroid that is believed to have caused the massive 1908 Tunguska forest blow-down may have only been 20 meters in diameter.

   o o o

K.L. in Alaska recommended this analysis of the ACA Capital debacle by broker Jim Willie: US Dollar and Monoline Bond Insurers. K.L.'s comment: "This article gives some insight on what will happen next as the banking system spirals toward a crash. The mega-bankers are trying to be upbeat in public, but they must be really scared in private. It's beginning to look more and more like a house of cards that could collapse at any time. As it says in the article, 'The giants are toppling'."

"The budget should be balanced; the Treasury should be refilled; the public debt should be reduced; the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled. Assistance to foreign land should be curtailed lest we become bankrupt. The mob should be forced to work and not depend upon government for subsistence." - Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 - 43 BC

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $200. The auction is for a scarce original 1980s-vintage Heckler und Koch 19mm Emergency Flare Launcher (EFL) aka "Notsignalgerät" from my personal collection. It comes with three magazines and 28 scarce original German 19mm flares--10 red, 10 white, and 8 green. Together, this package is worth approximately $400. It is not classified as a "firearm" under Federal law. (Consult your state and local laws before bidding.) Sorry, no overseas bids will be accepted for this auction. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Dear Jim:
There have been a lot of posts recently about bug-out vehicles and such on SurvivalBlog. Of course, every car or truck requires fuel, and in a sudden grid-down situation there will be a bunch of fuel in underground tanks at most every gas station, unable to be pumped out due to the lack of electricity. I have observed oil company trucks filling these tanks, and it appears they simply pry up some covers and drop the fuel into the tanks.
How deep are these tanks, and can the fuel be pumped out by some kind of lightweight hand-cranked pump of some kind, directly into a vehicle tank? How long a drop tube would one need to access the gas?

These questions, of course, bring up the moral aspects of pumping out the gas. In a short-term grid down situation, like is presently occurring in Oklahoma, taking gas without the station being open would clearly be theft. But at the beginning of a long term TEOTWAWKI situation, one might wish to get the gas, and leave payment in cash or junk silver, for example. What are your thoughts on this? Sincerely, - Mark in Albuquerque

JWR Replies: Typical retail gas station fuel tanks are less than 14 feet deep, including the height of the filler necks, so a 15+ foot draw hose is more than long enough. Back in February, I posted details on a safe and cost-effective solution to pumping gasoline from underground tanks without grid power. My design variant (of a time-proven design that has been popular with some dirt bike enthusiasts for more than a decade) uses a 12 VDC fuel pump and incorporates an in-line fuel filter.

Odds are that you will be able to find the station owner to make payment, at least while there is still fuel in their tanks. In fact, any wise station owner will probably hire armed guards, regardless of whether or not power is available. In a societal collapse, with no re-supply in sight, they'd know that any significant quantity of gasoline would have tremendous worth. But of course after the tanks were drained, in a worst case scenario the station would probably be abandoned.

If you build two or more such pumps in advance, then you could probably use the extras in barter--most likely to trade to a gas station owners for some of their fuel.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS or comminly called "The Mormons"]. I am also the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for my ward. As you know the leaders of the church constantly speak of preparedness. In April 2007 a talk was offered by Keith B McMullin in the Saturday evening session of conference titled "Lay Up in Store". This talk proclaimed again all the benefits of preparation.

While not every Latter-day Saint is fully prepared, a percentage somewhere in the mid-teens have done at least a 72-Hour Kit (Bug-out Bag). The Church's preparation web site was simplified as most were overwhelmed when trying to prioritize to prepare. The focus is now on a Three Month Supply of normal items

In support of this, the Church now offers [at cost] a Family Home Storage Starter Kit. Like everything we as the dominant two legged creatures on this orb learn..Food Storage and Preparedness is "line upon line and precept upon precept."

The following is quoted from the Provident Living web site:

"The family home storage starter kit may be used to teach family home storage principles and help individuals get started with longer-term food storage. The kit includes materials that teach the importance of a three-month food supply, water storage, and savings and 6 cans of longer-term food supply items.
The kit contains:
* All is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage pamphlet
* All is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances pamphlet
* All is Safely Gathered In: Basic Recipes pamphlet
* Financial reserve and drinking water teaching aids
* Two #10 cans of hard red winter wheat
* Two #10 cans of white rice
* One #10 can of pinto beans
* One #10 can of rolled oats
Available for shipping to United States addresses only.
Available from Church home storage centers in the Spring of 2008 with a savings in shipping and handling."

[end quote]
This kit is available for anyone--not exclusively for church members. Cheers, - Tim C.

With credit to SHTF Daily (one our favorite sites) comes this tale of housing market woe: Bargain houses largely unsold Courthouse-step auctions offer 1,336 properties in foreclosure -- 17 are sold

   o o o

Great Britain bans samurai swords. I suppose that the British citizenry will soon be down to just butter knives, cricket bats, ASBOs, and harsh language for self defense.

   o o o

SurvivalBlog reader Mary R. forwarded us this odd notice from the US Treasury: Annual Purchase Limit For Savings Bonds Set at $5,000. Could the Treasury have been warned that the Fed plans to further lower interest rates, potentially making even low-yield savings bonds more attractive? We live in strange times, dear readers.

   o o o

I heard from Bruce at Best Prices Storable Foods that from now until Dec. 31, 2007, they are offering 20% off all the Mountain House freeze-dried foods they have in stock. Please check their web site for availability. On the phone, mention the End-of-Year special. With their shopping cart, use Coupon Code: MH20off (meaning "Mountain twenty percent off".) Note that this sale price lasts only until December 31, there is no free shipping offered for these sale items, and the sale is limited to just what they have on hand.

"Every nation that has ended in tyranny has come to that end by way of good order. It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, but neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more. A nation that asks nothing of government but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its well-being, ready for the man who will put it in chains." - Alexis DeTocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, December 21, 2007

I read your piece on the credit crunch, and believe it or not, it gets worse. Morgan Stanley not only took a $9.4 billion dollar hit, they shored up their books by getting a $5 billion dollar infusion of capital from the Chinese! They received a 9.9% share of the company in return. The same Chinese fund has also propped up the Blackstone Group, a private equities firm. - Tim R.

Mr. Rawles:
I don't understand what all this credit and financial news means to us poor folks who don't have any investments to lose. I have a tiny home, with a reasonable mortgage. Why is this news so bad for us peons down here at the bottom? What exactly are you saying is going to happen? - KB

JWR Replies: What I'm saying is, that even as innocent bystanders, we might be going to witness a severe economic crisis, and experience the fallout. Credit is the lubricant that keeps the American economy going. If credit dries up, the global economy will with slow down. The current (and extraordinary) rate of consumer spending is based on credit. When that credit is no longer available products will not sell. Corporations large and small will lay off workers. As unemployment rises consumer spending will decrease causing further layoffs, company bankruptcies, mortgage defaults, and personal bankruptcies. Cities and counties will have to raise taxes, since even the municipal bond market will be impacted. There could very well be a depression as a bad or worse than that of the 1930s--which was the last time there was a major credit crisis. The bottom line is that you and your neighbors could face massive unemployment. Crime rates will rise. The times could very well resemble my novel, in the near future.

The personal application to all of this is: Do you have a job that is recession or depression proof? And if you do lose your job, will you still be able to pay your mortgage and property tax? Buckle up.

I read a post about this a while back and it sort of stuck in my head. It did make a lot of sense. What exactly does it mean to plan like a frontiersmen mean versus plan like an infantrymen? The biggest areas that stuck out were resupply, weapons, numbers, static defense, and caches. Infantrymen can almost universally depend on getting resupplied within 12-to-48 hours if they run low on ammo or anything else. Survivalists or frontiersmen do not have this luxury. Which means two things, first stock up on as much ammo as you can afford and use it sparingly. Modern infantry tactics are heavy on suppression. Generally speaking suppress and flank sums up our current strategy and it is a very effective one. However you will need to be much more sparing when it comes to ammo. The support element will need to fire at a slow rate, possibly one person firing per second down the line (aimed shots of course) being managed by the support element leader.

For weapons soldiers have very little if any say in what they carry, you have much more but also a budget. If things are tight think in terms of dual use weapons. Any frontiersmen or soldier who has the option will carry a handgun as a backup to their rifle. Have these guns with you all the time after TSHTF! "A .22 snubby on your body is much more useful then a .45 in the car" comes to mind. If a chore means that you can't have a long gun on you then it becomes a two person chore with a friend with a long gun [to provide security.] This is a good "rest" position to give short breaks from physical labor, alternating to avoid excessive fatigue.

This brings us logically to the next area which is numbers. There is a reason that men often partnered up on the frontier and it was not so the tough main character could have a funny sidekick! There is strength in numbers. Families doubling up and traveling in groups was necessary then and could possibly also be in the future. Comparing soldiers to frontiersmen, the number of people on your side is likely to be much smaller then in a military element. A squad is 8-to-12 depending [on TO&E] and they do not operate alone for long periods. A platoon is 40 plus and it is generally the smallest element to operate independently for prolonged periods. A group of survivalists which can field a full squad without getting help from friends and neighbors is probably on the large side.

The biggest single difference between the planning frontiersmen made (and you need to make) and that of infantrymen is a static defense. The military no longer fights this way because it eliminates your movement and lets the enemy bring overwhelming force to bear on you. Also they have the luxury (in a broad sense) of a more flexible supply train which will continue to supply them if they drop back a few kilometers. You do not have this since your supply train is in the pantry, barn and garden of your homestead. Falling back from the house leaves you with [only] what you can carry in a rucksack. You can and should use maneuver to your advantage against the enemy, but the ability to do so without losing the battle (you wanting to keep your stuff and them wanting to take it) is minimal. This brings me to the next area which is caches.

Keeping a significant amount of your supplies off-site in a hidden [cache] location is important. This way if your homestead/retreat gets overwhelmed by a large organized group then you will not be living out your rucksacks. - RS

St. Maries, Idaho and Snow Country Logistics
Today we take a quick look at St. Maries, Idaho, located an hour or so south east from Coeur d’Alene and an hour and a half from Spokane, Washington. The first noticeable thing about the town's geography is that it is on the south east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene which provides a natural barrier from possible refugee paths from Seattle and Spokane. But it is also still in reasonable commute distance to the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane area for work until a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI event. The icing on the cake is that you can purchase a modest home on 20-to-40 acres for half the cost of a similar retreat in far northern Idaho where I’m located (Boundary County). To digress a moment the northern Idaho real estate market is now suffering from two distinct issues. The first being the problem of destitute and or greedy land owners splitting up their land, of which they have every right to do of course, and then selling them off to feed their worsening economic conditions as the timber market in this area worsens and land owners are forced to find alternative ways to put food on the table. The second is a natural product of the first; after the land is chopped up you have sellers that still think the smaller parcels are worth what the larger one was and buyers have almost no choice of homes on large acreage, no matter your wiling purchase price, they are just disappearing up in this area very fast. Thus now the focus on the St. Maries region.

St. Maries [,spoken "Saint Mary's",] is a bustling little town of about 2,500 people situated in Benewah County. St. Maries sits in the middle of the St. Joe river valley at the confluence of the St. Joe and St. Maries rivers, with the St. Joe river being the highest elevation navigable river in the world and some of the best blue ribbon trout fishing around.
Benewah County, unlike Latah County (Potlatch, Deary, Moscow) has land development rules that are very appealing to anyone wishing to purchase a larger parcel then split it up to walk away with their portion free and clear. Although the regular real estate market is not doing well at all one may be surprised how easily a covenant community of preparedness folks would sell in the hard times to come.

I’m currently working to review and approve several modestly priced retreats for in the St. Maries region priced from the low $300,000’s to one at about $420,000 on 20-to-40 acres, respectively. One of these is totally off the grid with a timber/cedar framed home with a green house in a park-like and very defendable setting. Here in northern Idaho a similar property would run a minimum of $150,000 more. The only technical drawback to some properties in Benewah County is their location on sovereign Indian land. ["Inside the reservation boundary"] While I used to be very adamant about not purchasing inside the reservation, I have reversed my opinion. If you read the deed documents you’ll see a clause that states that it is subject to all treaties made by the reservation with the US Government. Meaning, I suppose, if the tribal council decided to give their land back to the US Government for a tidy sum of cash then you would be out of luck. Understanding what the US Government did to the Native inhabitants of this country years ago I’ll pretty much bet my life they would never do such a thing, although you never know.

Most properties in the St. Maries area offer excellent sun exposure, relatively long growing season, water accessibility (good water tables for wells, springs, and creeks), beautiful heavily-treed terrain with State and National Forest all around. There are not very many properties for sale in the region because of a stable population and the large expanses of public lands. In recent years the town has been discovered for some very nice waterfront parcels along both rivers and hence those prices have risen but the more remote parcels have stayed within the reach of the average preparedness family looking for a fully self sustainable retreat.

If you would like more information on possible retreats in the St. Maries area then please e-mail me.

Snow Country Logistics

Earlier this week I spent a day visiting and evaluating properties for a real estate client in the area and with the recent snow, some of the properties in the higher elevations were completely inaccessible although it rained on the valley floor. The roads had been plowed to the driveway but several of the driveways were very long (2/10's to 3/10’s of a mile) and under 3.5 feet of snow. During a major event even the county roads would most likely not be plowed either. So, in these particular circumstances there would a similar snow pack on the road for over five miles! Would the neighbors have plowed the road? If it was a major "lock-down" event like something out of the television series Jericho, I think not. They would want the roads shut off and to keep out looters and refugees. How are you going to handle your logistics of making the last few miles of your long journey, especially when you arrive a week or so after the event and all your neighbors are on ultra security lock down? Do you speak to your neighbors about arriving late and making sure they know your BOV so you aren’t ambushed and risk your OPSEC at your retreat? How do you plan to make it five miles without a front end loader to clear the snow? A snow plow will not move that much accumulated snow, period. You can do all the pre-planning in the world and have all your routes set up and actually ‘make it’ almost to your retreat locale, yet fail at the last moment due to an issue that most have not even considered. Sure, snow shoes would be fine with your B.O.B. on your back and a rifle in your hand but what a nice target you’ll make. Be sure to travel at night, I suppose. This is one more reason to have your retreat fully stocked so you won’t be trying to get your trailer full of lootable goodies through a bunch of snow! If anyone has any constructive comments about this issue please e-mail them to JWR.

On a closing note: Sellers here in the northern Idaho have begun the realize the extent of the nationwide real estate market crash and have been making some long-awaited price reductions. Many are also now willing to carry private notes on their properties. Merry Christmas, - T.S.

Several readers sent us this one: Morgan Stanley Issues Full US Recession Alert. I could see why it looks like a recession to them.... Stephen in Iraq sent us this: $9.4 Billion Write-Down at Morgan Stanley--the firm reported the first quarterly loss in its 72-year history. Meanwhile, we read: Bear Stearns Posts 4Q Loss--the first loss in its 84-year history. Wow, they both made it through the Great Depression without posting losses. But now they are in the red. Billions of dollars in the red. We are experiencing times that are unprecedented within living memory.

   o o o

Thanks to both Eric S. and RBS for flagging this article: Fatwa against the US dollar?

   o o o

RBS also sent us this: New Solution to Copper Theft

   o o o

Take the time to check out Ranger's Man's SHTF Blog. He has had some very useful posts in recent weeks.

"We have thus given up much of the ground that our fathers had won; for under the banner of justice and in the name of the law we permit things to be done that could only be imposed on them by violence." - Alexis DeTocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The bald eagles have returned here to the valley. We see a lot of them here each winter. In addition to fish, they enjoy finding road-killed deer. They aren't picky eaters. In fact, some of our best "up close" eagle viewing is of the ones that are right next to the county road, typically sharing a road kill with a cluster of ravens. The ravens respectfully wait their turn.

The news on the financial front has gone from bad to worse. Eric S. sent us this: ECB lends $500 Billion to lower rates, and Stephen in Iraq found this article: Fed Loans Banks [Another] $20 Billion. And if that weren't enough, K.L. in Alaska sent us this: ACA Capital Holdings Inc. was just de-listed by the New York Stock Exchange. K.L."s comment was blunt: "[ACA Capital Holdings] is essentially bankrupt. It is one of the insurers of the financial instruments such as municipal bonds, hedge funds and CDOs that have been infected by toxic mortgages. These funds are becoming impossible to insure because their losses are greater than any insurance company can handle. Other insurance companies that bear watching are (stock symbols) ABK, MBI, AGO, RAMR, and MTG. The whole system is starting to come apart at the seams." I concur.

Here is the significance credit crunch in a nutshell: The sub-prime debacle only served to point out a systemic weakness in the modern banking system: Because of endless CDO/SIV debt "re-packaging" and hedge fund aggregation of countless assorted debt instruments it is impossible to properly assess the risk of most loan offerings. A lot of loans are quite safe and a few are garbage. But given the extensive debt market re-packaging it is hard to tell one from another. (Perhaps the comedians John Bird and John Fortune had it right about "dodgy debts".) The central banks are frantically trying to pump up liquidity--literally throwing money at the problem. There have also been calls to reduce the banks' reserve requirements, because assets have been marked down so heavily that banks are now struggling to meet their paltry reserve obligations. But here is the rub: lowering reserve ratios might make depositors nervous and perhaps lead to more banks runs. (As was recently seen with the runs on Northern Rock bank, in England.)

Despite the desperation moves by the central banks, there is a fairly significant possibility that the entire global credit market will collapse in the next few months and plunge the world into a deep, long recession if not a full scale depression.

OBTW, I'm not the only saying this. Shortly after I drafted the foregoing, Matt in Texas forwarded this article link, which echoes my conclusions: The coming collapse of the modern banking system. It is time to batten down the hatches, folks.

Just a note to follow up on what a previous poster said about The Diva Cup and The Keeper: I have tried both and I prefer The Diva Cup by far, it seems to be a little more compact and therefore easier to use than The Keeper.

I tried the SouthCoast Shopping link that was given a couple of times (and they have had the price of $17.50 for a long time now) but I usually seem to have some sort of problem on the site when I try to check out. Just be cautious.

If you use you will be able to find some nice price comparisons and I ended up getting my Diva Cup for under $20.

Some tips: There are two sizes so ladies, be sure you figure out which size you will need.
Also, practice using it, it does take some getting used to and can be uncomfortable at first. Don’t wait until you are in an emergency situation to use it because your stress level will go through the roof! Thanks, - Amanda


Mr Rawles,
Here's a link for how to instructions for homemade "protection."

Regards, Lynne

Great article. You say you have a stock of spices you bought in the 1980s, and this saves you money. As someone who gets a lot of pleasure from good food, I would caution that most spices lose much of their flavor in a short time, certainly within a few years, especially for typical herbs and powdered spices stored in jars as bought in supermarkets.

Yours may be specially packed or stored, or selected long-life types. But for most people, as advised in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, buying in moderate bulk makes more sense. A mail-order house like (they are pleasant but leftists, and there are surely others out there) will have spices that are superior to supermarket prices at vastly lower prices, if bought not in jars but in zip-lock envelopes of about 4 ounces each. Fill a spice jar halfway for normal use, and keep the rest in the envelope in the freezer until a refill is needed. You’ll always have fresh spices, not the stale ones that everyone has gotten so used to (most people are amazed when they compare a sniff of their old jar of garlic powder to a freshly opened package that just arrived in the mail.) Best, - Jake Stafford

In reference to your recent article about coping with inflation, I did research of my own and found a table/chart of interest.

This last November had the highest rate of inflation, since the year 2000. It reinforces the need of investing in tangibles versus wasting money in savings and investments [that don't keep ahead of inflation.] Thank for your great source of info. - EG


Dear Jim:
For those people with a budget crunch (almost everyone), suggest that they look into Angel Food Ministries. There is no income qualification, the food is of excellent quality, and there is probably a church near most people that is a part of this ministry. About two months ago, my wife took the Angel Food menu and priced it our at our local supermarket. The brands were the same and the price at the supermarket came to just under double what Angel Food charges.
This isn't charity. Rather it's a wholesale program that allows a family to buy a considerable amount of their monthly groceries at a lower price. I recommend that folks at least go to their web site and check it out for themselves. Cordially, - Jonas


Hi Mr. Rawles,
Another way to save on long distance phone bills is to use one's cellular phone on nights/weekends where minutes are unlimited, although this is dependent on having service and the carrier. I have Verizon and make all of my long distance phone calls this way. Merry Christmas, - Sam

In your novel "Patriots" the UN and Europe’s storm troopers waited until [after] the collapse [to move in] but in reality they are not [waiting]. With foreign banks buying (or should I say trying to buy) US banks and larger euro banks trying to buy the sub prime loans from several sources and now they are trying to make us a new sweat shop because of our falling dollar.

They are gobbling up all of the defaulting residential and commercial property that they can, to a the average person that looks at it they are helping, but no there not they are buying up the US, including banks, right out from under us and the Federal Reserve and the greed of the big business people are selling us right down a bad path. I can tell you that the Fed is giving these banks tax credits when they take over the housing mess and they will come in and build their products and trade out the tax credits for export taxes and we will get pennies and they will get the dollars. [The European bankers] will own the property. Hmmm... As a believer in he golden rule, I can see that they will have the gold, and the land, so they will end up making the rules. - CDR

Working with 12 VDC solar power--a teenager describes how he did it himself, in this YouTube video. And here is an update, filmed a year later--after he added a bus bar and a pair of deep cycle golf cart batteries.

   o o o

I noticed that Gun Parts Guy now has his FAL/L1A1 extractor tools back in stock. These are very well made--here in the States--and I highly recommend them.

   o o o

Anyone that thinks that they'll be able to get by without backup power should read this: No Power for 10th Day for Some in Plains

   o o o

RH in Colorado and TCD both found the link to the original article referred to by Mike in Malaysia regarding Australians prepping for the Asian Avian Flu.

"There's no such thing as a foolproof system, because fools are too ingenious." - Wernher von Braun

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $170. The auction is for a scarce original 1980s-vintage Heckler und Koch 19mm Emergency Flare Launcher (EFL) aka "Notsignalgerät" from my personal collection. It comes with three magazines and 28 scarce original German 19mm flares--10 red, 10 white, and 8 green. Together, this package is worth approximately $400. It is not classified as a "firearm" under Federal law. (Consult your state and local laws before bidding.) Sorry, no overseas bids will be accepted for this auction. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Hi Jim,
In response to letter "Re: Communications in Times of Crisis", I am a communications specialist and an electronic engineer with nearly 30 years in communications. Here are a few corrections to a very good post - some minor, some not:

Typical UHF connectors will have approximately 0.5 dB loss, not 1.5dB (get rid of them if they do!). Many times it is preferable to buy your coax cable with installed connectors. There are a number of ham radio suppliers that will professionally install (and waterproof with sealant and heat shrink) good quality connectors to custom length cables. The RF Connection is a very good source and is well priced. Silver/Teflon connectors are much preferred over nickel plated ones. Many commercial base/repeater UHF antennas will use N connectors instead of UHF due to less loss and better water resistance. Custom cables can be made with a UHF connector on the radio end and N connector for the antenna end. (Be sure to use Coax Seal on all external connectors and wrap with good quality electrical tape.)

Next, he states "If someone holds a valid Ham license, and a GMRS license, they can use their UHF 440 rigs to operate within the GMRS and FRS services". This is absolutely not allowed. Converted ham radios are not allowed on any other radio service. (But, commercial/business radios can be used on ham bands.) Also, contrary to what most people believe, any radio used in GMRS must be certified under Part 95 of the FCC rules, not just any commercial/business radio. Some older commercial equipment is "grandfathered in" but there are a few newer commercial radios that are not. This is especially important for repeaters, since repeater sites are visited more often by FCC field agents than anywhere else.

In his statement "GMRS is strictly a service designed to provide families and family-owned businesses a mode of communication", a clarification is necessary. "Family-owned business" is irrelevant. All GMRS licensees must be individuals (not groups or corporations) to operate. A GMRS license does extend privileges to a large portion of your family and can be used for your family business if all employees are immediate family members. If non-family members are part of the business, they must obtain their own license to use GMRS. [Note: due to the high cost of frequency coordination fees for commercial frequencies, many small businesses will license their employees for $85 each rather than pay many hundreds for coordination.]

In conclusion, I'd like to add emphasis his and your recommendation that the antenna system (antenna and the coax) is a crucial part of any communication system. Spend the money on a good antenna system and you will have a good communications system. - Rob at Affordable Shortwaves

Mr. Rawles
I could not agree more that water and lots of it is the place to start for preparedness on any budget. I purchased DOT/UN/FDA certified closed-top 55 gallon drums which are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) from my local Pepsi Bottler for 15 dollars each. I try to buy the white ones that contained lemon lime flavoring syrup so my water doesn't taste like Dr. Pepper etc. They also sold me 15 and 5 gallon containers which I use to store rice, beans and other dry goods.

The best deal I have found for purchasing bulk rice and soy beans is at my local Asian Market. A 50 pound bag of rice sells for under $25. One can easily how much further your survival dollars can actually go when spent correctly. Every major city has an Asian market and that means that there is absolutely no excuse to put off starting a food supply. I tell that to everyone I know as my conscience would not be clear if I didn't. You may not be a big fan of rice but are you a fan of being alive?

Although she has always supported my need to prepare my wife use to think I was nuts I learned a long time ago not to talk politics, guns, etc. with her and in turn she would not ask why each week I throw five extra cans of stew in the cart that never get eaten. However; during hurricane Rita I got an e-mail from her thanking me for the fact that she knew she would never be one of those souls stranded on the side of the road without fuel trying to get away from Lake Charles, Houston, et cetera. I felt more like a man that day than the day I earned the title U.S. Marine. I am the dad and I must take this kind of thing seriously because if I don't then the sin is 100% on my shoulders.

Thanks and keep up the good work. - R.L., in Oklahoma

In the February 2008 issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine, Sylvester Stallone is interviewed in reference to his newest "Rambo" movie (scheduled for release on January 25th) which should shed some light on the ongoing persecution of the Karen [tribe] people by the Burmese government. He is quoted as follows:

I really want something heartfelt, that's about flesh and blood, and about how cruel man really is, if left alone.

I believe that we're not that far removed from being truly uncivilized. We say we're civilized, but it wouldn't take much, a breakdown in law enforcement, removal of the military, authority figures gone for a week. Then you'd see how we would band together in packs to survive.

We've sort of PC'd it out - oh, let's be more intellectual, let's debate issues, let's have forums - but if there was truly a situation where our system broke down completely, we'd revert."

Sly goes on to say later in the article, ":I may be accused of just pandering to violence. And I want to go on record and say that I only touch the surface of violence that the Burmese perpetrate against the Karen.

I don't show children being put head first into rice pounders and literally emulsified. Or a member of a family being forced to be cannibalized by other members of the family. Or a Karen having a child's head cut off and then the body being tied behind the father like a backpack and he has to wear it until it rots, twenty-four hours a day. That is sickness beyond sickness. Y'know, heads on spikes. Medieval."

Your book, "Patriots" included a scenario in which cannibals were encountered and dealt with appropriately and efficiently.

There are many of us who are honest, hard-working, God-fearing souls who would not sell our souls for thirty pieces of silver. However, we need to occasionally remind ourselves that evil walks among us and some who manage to suppress their dark tendencies may give in when our relative peace and imagined prosperity disappears. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared".

I enjoy your web site and appreciate the effort and sacrifice that goes into keeping it relevant. I first started reading your blog several months ago and will join the "10 Cent Challenge" group next week - just in time for Christmas!

May God continue to bless you, your family, and your blog readers - even the tight ones who won't take up the 10 Cent Challenge. - SE Texas 5-0

Mike in Seattle made a good point on tetanus vaccine. Another consideration is that most emergency departments give Diphtheria/Tetanus if you come in with broken skin and you are 'out of date' on your Tetanus.
If you go to your regular doctor, though, you should be able to get Diphtheria/Tetanus/Adult Pertussis (Whooping Cough). Most adults who were only vaccinated against Pertussis as children have little or no immunity.
Pertussis is not as likely to kill you as an adult (unless you have underlying respiratory disease!), but it can sure take you out of action for a few weeks, and the vaccine is worth getting. - Simple Country Doctor

Mr. Rawles,
I'm a woman, and you know what that means - if I'm not currently pregnant, I'm going to bleed once a month.

I know, you're a guy, maybe you haven't thought of this - but disposable menstrual products can be scary expensive. It can also be hard to discreetly dispose of them while moving fast, and they've got to be changed fairly often if you're a heavy bleeder.

It might be a good idea for women concerned about the future to invest in some form of reusable menstrual protection. I'm thinking specifically of a cup, such as DivaCup or the Keeper, They can be worn for some ten hours, they last seven to ten years at a stretch, they make no waste, they don't clog your toilet, and they pose little to no risk of toxic shock syndrome. The price can be steep, but trust me - after a year, that $35 investment has paid for itself. They can be sterilized by a quick boil. OBTW, if anybody is interested in getting a DivaCup, they should probably pick one up while they're being sold half-price.

There are other options, such as sea sponges (which last six months to a year) or cloth pads - and if anybody is going to go that route, I strongly suggest they just invest in some cloth pads now. Modern pads are often made of harder-to-find absorbent fabrics such as bamboo or hemp, instead of many more layers of torn apart rags, which can make them more effective than just ripping up old clothes. Purchasing the raw fabric and snaps is cheaper, of course.

Even if somebody only buys a reusable option to be used as a last resort, if they literally cannot find the products they are used to, it may turn out to be money well spent. - Connie

JWR Replies: Thanks for your e-mail. It meshes nicely with a previous letter on the same subject by Kitiara--who BTW writes/edits the very entertaining KiloIndiaTango blog (previously called "Forever Vain".) Also BTW, Kit recently posted her review of "I Am Legend."

Frequent contributor Michael Z. Williamson flagged an article about H5N1 Asian Avian Flu. It is still not easily transmissible, but remains a cause for concern.

   o o o

The Bricklayer in Detroit sent us a link to a "must read" piece of commentary on the perilous state of the global credit market.

   o o o

A reminder: the special sale on pairs of 35 gram pouches of CELOX being offered by Safecastle Royal is ending soon. Be sure to get your order in ASAP, since the manufacturer's pricing goes up in January 2008,

   o o o

More Nanny State Insanity: Knife at Lunch Gets 10-Year-Old Girl Arrested at School. Here in The Un-named Western State (TUWS), the same situation would have resulted only in a lively debate amongst the kids about the best brands for utility versus skinning, and folder versus fixed blade, and then perhaps liner lock versus others--with several being brought out of pockets and sheaths, for comparison. If you live in one of the liberal Nanny States, then my advice is simple: vote with your feet.

"What is more important is that I don't know how I have survived. I don't know a word which could express it better but this was more than a narrow escape... I had a will to live and God had mercy on me." - Doctor Stephen Kaddu Ssesanga, survivor of the December´s 2007 Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If you find what you read in SurvivalBlog useful, then please consider becoming a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. Just ask yourself: Is what I read in SurvivalBlog worth 10 cents a day? Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and greatly appreciated.

Statistics released by the Federal government claim that the current inflation rate is 4.3 percent. That is utter hogwash. Their statistics cunningly omit "volatile" food and energy prices. The statisticians admit that energy costs rose by more than 21% since last December. They also admit that Finished Goods rose 7.2%, and "Materials for Manufacturing" rose a whopping 42% , with a 8.7% jump in just the month of November. When commodities rise this quickly, it is apparent that something is seriously out of whack. Meanwhile, the buying power of the US Dollar is falling versus most other currencies. Not surprisingly, import prices were up 11.4% from 2006. Coincidentally, economic growth has slowed to a crawl--to just 1% growth. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently declared that we are in the early stages of a 1970s-style "stagflation" period. Since this new economic downturn was driven by a credit crisis rather than the traditional business cycle, it could very well be long and deep. Ironically, even though credit squeezes are considered deflationary for assets, this recession (or perhaps depression) will probably turn out to be inflationary at the consumer level. .

I don't know about you, but here at the ranch, our four largest expenses each month are fuel, groceries, livestock feed, and insurance. I'm sure that you have seen what has happened to food and feed prices in the past year. Driven by higher fuel and fertilizer costs as well as huge demand for corn--for ethanol production--some food costs have gone up by 25%. Wheat, for example, recently spiked to $10 per bushel--a record high. With all of the preceding in mind, we can realistically conclude that the "real world" consumer price inflation rate is somewhere between 12% and 15%.

As I've written many times before, inflation is a form of robbery, albeit in slow motion. Since there is effectively only one currency in our country, it is the only way to do business. It may prove difficult, but you need to discard your traditional mindset about the currency and realize that we are riding a down escalator. An inflationary environment stands traditional logic on its head, since "Saving" becomes losing., and "Investing" is almost like throwing coins into a pond if the rate of return of any investment is lower that the real world inflation rate. The only noteworthy exception, is investing in tangibles, which I've discussed at length in previous SurvivalBlog articles. Obviously you can't invest in anything perishable. But there are lots of things--like common caliber ammunition and full capacity magazines--that have storage lives that can span decades or even centuries.

With every passing day your savings are gradually eroded. With an effective inflation rate of 15% per annum, applying the Rule of 72 we can see that the purchasing power of every "saved" dollar is cut in half once every 5 years.(Well, 4.8, to be exact, but 12 month increments don't look pleasing when expressed in decimals.)

The following are some of my suggestions on how to protect yourself from the ravages of inflation:

1.) Buy in Bulk

Buy most of your staple foods and groceries at a discount or "warehouse" type stores such as Costco or Sam's Club. Don't overlook the "close-out" and "dented can" stores. (But avoid buying any bulged cans, or cans with dented rims.)

Stock up on non-perishable items whenever they are on sale: thing like light bulbs, paper products, bar soap, house cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, lubricants, and so forth. As long as you protect these supplies from theft, moisture and vermin, they are better than money in the bank. (Again, money in the bank is being eroded by inflation.) These are tangibles bought at today's prices, that you can use for many years to come. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we are still using up some spices, light bulbs, and aluminum foil that I bought at a military commissary in the early 1980s--at what now seem like absurdly low prices. My only regret is that I didn't buy more of them! This approach to stockpiling was described in the modern-day classic book "The Alpha Strategy" by John Pugsley. (Download this free book and read it!)

For more details on stocking up including some detailed tables on shelf lives, see my"Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course with accompanying audio CD.

If your local zoning and fire regulations allows it, buy your own gas and diesel fuel tanks. Also consider installing over-size propane or home heating oil tanks. Always ask about the availability of used tanks or 'trade-in" tanks. Who cares if they are in some odd color? Re-paint them flat forest green or earth brown. Wait and have your tanks re-filled each time there is a price dip. (Sadly, this is an increasingly rare occurrence, these days.)

When getting competitive bids from tank suppliers, be sure to ask them to lock in the price per gallon for the initial fill for each new tank. To win your business, the tank salesman might be willing to commit to a price that is a few pennies per gallon below current market. (This adds up on a 2,000 gallon tank!)

2.) Learn to Barter

Barter, by its very nature, shields you from inflation. Instead of using depreciating paper tokens as a means of exchange, you are directly exchanging a tangible for another tangible, or a service for a tangible, or a service for a service. As I've written previously in SurvivalBlog on several occasions, I do advocate stocking up on extra items for barter. However, it is with the proviso that you do not embark on buying goods dedicated for barter until after you have your family's essential beans, bullets and band-aids squared away, following a well-balanced logistics plan.

Here in The Un-named Western State (TUWS), there is a lot of bartering that goes on, quite informally. I see it all the time: Cartridge Reloading for Snow Plowing, Eggs for Honey, Firewood for Horse Training, and Zucchini for just a smile and a thank-you.

To be useful in barter, choose items that have most or all of the following seven attributes 1.) Have appeal/usefulness to the majority of the citizenry. 2.) Be immediately recognizable. 3.) Have longevity. 4.) Be easily divisible. 5.) Be relatively compact and transportable at reasonable cost. 6.) Have consistent quality. 7.) Have limited availability. Let's discuss each of those briefly, in turn.

1.) Have appeal/usefulness to the majority of the citizenry. Nearly every family uses soap, but just a few need #7 Singer sewing machine needles.

2.) Be immediately recognizable. Name brands need no introduction. All others are suspect.

3.) Have longevity. Keep shelf lives in mind. If you cannot barter it all away before it goes bad, then you are buying too much. Even coal has a shelf life.

4.) Be easily divisible. Boxes of matches, boxes of cartridges, coils of rope, balls of twine, and cans of kerosene are perfect examples. OBTW, if you plan on dividing a commodity in barter transactions, then be sure to have the containers needed for parceling it out.

5.) Be relatively compact and transportable at reasonable cost. Toilet paper has great appeal, but just $500 worth would completely fill the JASBORR.

6.) Have consistent quality. (For example, precious metals coins of known purity, or ammunition from a major manufacturer such as Winchester, Remington, or Federal.)

7.) Have limited availability. I mentioned zucchini earlier, for good reason. In North America, jars of freeze dried instant coffee would be ideal, but in Central America, they would probably be laughed at.

For some extensive lists of potential barter items suggested by readers, see the SurvivalBlog Archives for October 2005 and November 2005 (scroll down to November 1st and 2nd)

For a good rationale on selecting barter goods, see this SurvivalBlog article by OSOM.


3.) Learn Several Valuable (Barterable) Skills

Every family should have at least one home-based business that they can fall back on, on the event of an economic recession or depression. Concentrate on skills rather than goods for barter. The beauty of having skills to barter, is that most of them don't require much raw material. So, unlike barter goods, you will never "run out". By extension, it is best to have a skill that requires very little raw material. A profession or skill that also requires a specialized tool set is fine. However, if the skill also requires delivering a factory-made device to complete each transaction, then you might consider doing something else. (For example, installing burglar alarms might be profitable as long as you have a source of resupply, and as long as the power and telephone networks are functioning. But in a grid-down TEOTWAWKI how long could you continue running such a business?)

Avoid developing a skill that appeals only to wealthy customers for discretionary spending. Those are the purchases that will be delayed or skipped altogether in an economic depression, Hence, shotgun checkering and engraving are poor choices, but septic tank pumping is a good one.

Concentrate on a business that can be operated without the need for grid power. It is notable that most of the businesses in this category existed in the 19th Century. Who knows? Maybe buggy whip makers will make a comeback in the Second Great Depression

Ideally, you should have two or even three supplementary income businesses that you can fall back on to pay your mortgage and to buy necessities, if you lose your job. Depending on the severity of the coming recession or depression, some home-based business may thrive, while others won't. It is hard to predict which businesses will do well (although we have some clues based on the experience of the 1930s,) so there is safety in redundancy.

4.) Learn How to Pinch a Penny

Here are some suggestions (in no particular order), some of which I've borrowed from "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery. (The Memsahib and I both highly recommend this book.)

Distinguish your needs from your wants.

Research and do some comparison pricing before any purchase of more than $10. Do extensive comparison pricing before any purchase of more than $100.

Never buy on impulse. Plan your purchases well in advance, do your homework, and be patient.

Refer to back issues of Consumer Reports magazine (at your local library) before making a purchase of a major appliance

Develop the habit of dropping by thrift stores, second hand stores, used book stores, and pawn shops.

Find out on which days particular items are discounted at thrift stores. (Often by a system of colored price tags.)

For big ticket items, do lots of comparison pricing via the Internet. If you decide to buy locally, then bring the price print-outs with you, to use as "ammunition" when you dicker.

Buy off season. Buy winter clothes in summer, and vice versa. Buy livestock in October and November, when owners are facing expensive hay purchases if they "winter-over" their stock

Use a clothes line instead of an electric clothes dryer.

Utilize the MSN Autos Web Page data for the best local gas and diesel prices. This is particularly important when you re-fill your cans and drums.

Heat with wood. Cut, haul, split and stack the wood yourself

Buy your guns and ammo at gun shows, not at gun shops. Learn how to dicker for the best prices.

Buy at farm auctions, but beware of impulse purchases and run-away bidding. Make a list of your maximum bids during the preview and and then stick to it religiously. Never bid emotionally, and never jump on on the bidding for an article unless you planned to bid on it before the auction began.

Build/make/sew things for yourself rather than buying them factory-made

If you use any national brands, then clip coupons. Keep your coupons well organized (many folks like to use an accordion folder and they keep it handy in their car), and don't lose track of coupon expiration dates.

Buy most items used, rather than new. Never buy a new "big ticket" item like a car or truck "factory new". Be sure to refer to before making any vehicle purchase, to make sure you aren't getting a "lemon:" model or model-year. If you are buying a used vehicle worth $5,000 or more, then it is worthwhile to pay $8 for a vehicle history report.

Negotiate prices with merchants. It is amazing who is willing to negotiate. (But I've had no luck in talking down bridge tolls. I'll keep trying.)

Spend some of your Saturday mornings at garage sales and yard sales. Dress down when you go, and don't be afraid to negotiate for better prices.

Check Craig's List and your local "penny" or "nickel" classified ad papers frequently for free and bargain items

Avoid fashion trends. Dress and drive modestly.

Find out when there is a curb-side "free hauling" day offered by your local waste disposal contractor. If allowable by local law, cruise through the neighborhoods the night before the scheduled collection with your pickup or trailer. This is the way we found the majority of our small livestock cages.

When buying things from private parties or small businesses, offer other items or your skills in barter.

Watch for free tours at educational places like factories and museums.

If your community has a well-established local currency, then utilize it to the utmost.

Plant a large vegetable garden. Get plant starts for berries and other perennials from neighbors

Cancel your newspaper subscriptions and carefully limit your magazine subscriptions. These days, there is so much news and information available on the Internet free of charge (you are looking at some of it right now) that hardcopy newspapers are for the most part expensive dinosaurs. Two notable exceptions: 1.) If you are a consistent and well-organized coupon clipper. If that is the case, then you might want to get a "Sunday paper only" subscription.), and 2.) Subscribing to a small town weekly newspapers in your retreat locale. Reading one of these papers regularly is important for developing local intelligence and for "fitting in" by being knowledgeable about local geography, personalities, events, politics, and lore.

Change your own oil and make most of your own car repairs.

Buy a food dehydrator. It will pay for itself many times over.

Learn how to do your own canning. Once you have, you'll have no excuse to ever buy another store-bought jar of jam, jelly, or applesauce.

Buy dairy goats or a cow. Sell or barter the excess milk, or feed the excess to your chickens and/or hogs

Cut out needless expenses. (Like those $4 lattes at Starbucks and $20 trips to the movie theater.)

If you have a mortgage at a rate that is more than 1.5 percent higher than the prevailing rate, then consider refinancing. Just beware of any hidden costs and of course avoid Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs.)

Swap CDs and DVDs with friends and relatives or check them out from your local library rather than buying new ones.

Develop a budget, and stick to it.

If you have a credit card then pay it off in full every month. No exceptions. Don't fall into the easy credit trap. Remember, the card is only in your wallet for convenience, emergency expenses (such as car repairs when travelling), and as a means to gain frequent flier miles or points for programs like gasoline purchase rebates. If you recognize that you don't have sufficient self control, then leave your credit card(s) at home--or cut them up.

Make detailed lists of all of your expenses, and scrutinize them weekly. Look for ways to reduce expenses.

Shop around for the lowest car/health/home/life insurance rates. A few hours of research on the Internet could easily save you $500+ per year.

Unless you know for certain that you want a book as a permanent reference, then use the public library or try to find it online. Don't overlook the inter-library loan system.

Get the free Skype software, and encourage the friends that you call often to do likewise. This will greatly reduce your long distance phone bill.

Take advantage of free or low-cot straining available from organizations like the American Red Cross and FEMA. (Just don't be ware of any socialist/statist nonsense that they try to feed you along with the training.)

Learn how to repair small appliances and engines.

Don't buy store-bought meat. Hunt for or raise your own.

Handload your own ammunition.

Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Paying interest is throwing money away. Forestall making purchases to avoid indebtedness. Instant gratification creates decades of debt.

Proviso #1: Do not attempt to save money by foregoing carrying insurance, or by forestalling any expenses that have an impact on health, hygiene, or safety. For example, if your windshield gets cracked beyond repair, then replace it. If your chimney needs cleaning, don't delay cleaning it. (But of course buy your own brush and rods and learn how to do the job yourself.) If you have a toothache, don't delay in seeing your dentist. (But ask about possibly paying in barter when you do!)

Proviso# 2: Don't be Penny wise and Pound foolish. If you are a highly-paid professional, then take into account the value of your time. For example if you are an anesthesiologist, you should probably find a few more billable cases rather than taking up handloading.

Proviso# 3: Don't skimp on education. That is an expense that will make you money in the long run.

In closing, remember (and recite frequently) this old adage: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without."

Mr. Rawles,
I found an interesting and alarming article from on grain supplies.

Especially note these parts:
"In fact, export sales of U.S. wheat are beginning to look like panic buying. Overseas buyers are purchasing ahead anticipating the U.S. will run out of wheat, which is exactly what may happen for hard red winter and white wheat. Wheat exports simply can not be sustained at current levels. Either price will have to increase more to ration the remaining supply or, as was rumored in grain markets this week, the U.S. government will step in to embargo further wheat exports."


"In the report, U.S. ending stocks of wheat, corn, and soybeans were all lowered, mostly because of stronger than expected exports. U.S. wheat ending stocks will be the lowest in 32 years, although global ending stocks were raised slightly. Corn ending stocks were lowered by 100 million bushels, however, U.S. ending stocks are still at a comfortable and market neutral level. Soybean ending stocks were alarming. The USDA lowered them to 185 million bushels, down 68% from last year at this time and only 6% of annual usage. That means at the end of this soybean marketing year; next August, the U.S. will have about 3 weeks and 2 days of soybean inventory left in the bottoms of bins scattered around the country." - CA in Oregon

JWR Replies: Let this serve as a warning: It is high time to stock up if you have not done so already. A family of four should have at least 600 pounds of hard red wither wheat on hand. Shortages push prices only one direction. Consider your wheat better than money in the bank. Wheat at $10 per bushel may seem high now, but just wait a year or two. You will be very glad that you bought when you did. OBTW, please try to give the SurvivalBlog advertisers your business, first. Thanks

SF in Hawaii suggested a deer hauler (such as item # QW-223606 sold by Cabela's) as a cross-country bug-out option. It would certainly allow someone to carry three or four times as much weight as they could in a backpack.

   o o o

Stephen in Iraq e-mailed us a link to a Bloomberg article: Wheat Price Surges Above $10 for First Time on Supply Concerns . Stephen's comment "Notice this paragraph: 'Higher food prices are forcing some Italians to eat at soup kitchens and threatening unrest in China, where a stampede at a supermarket sale of cooking oil killed three people in November.' It wouldn't take much for the same thing to happen here. Folks better stock up on wheat products soon!"

   o o o

From The Oil Drum: Home Heating in the USA: A Comparison of Forests with Fossil Fuels

   o o o

Rourke (the moderator of both the Jericho Discussion Group and The Sarah Connor Chronicles Yahoo Discussion Group found this for us: NPR's uncharacteristically well-balanced review of "I Am Legend". (But note how the radio journalist slipped in the word "hyper-survivalist.")

"Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursel's as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
And foolish notion." - Robert Burns

Monday, December 17, 2007

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $170. The auction is for a scarce original 1980s-vintage Heckler und Koch 19mm Emergency Flare Launcher (EFL) aka "Notsignalgerät" from my personal collection. It comes with three magazines and 28 scarce original German 19mm flares--10 red, 10 white, and 8 green. Together, this package is worth approximately $400. It is not classified as a "firearm" under Federal law. (Consult your state and local laws before bidding.) Sorry, no overseas bids will be accepted for this auction. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mr Rawles,
Having read your reply to S.'s letter "Preparedness on a Very Tight Budget" I must say you made my day! It made me realize that I am much better off than I thought and on the right track.
I am one of those weird (smart?) people who was raised in the city, but for some reason, never belonged. From earliest childhood, I was always "preparing" long before I really knew what for. In other words, I was not your typical "raised in captivity" child. I learned to sew at nine, and spent a lot of time making sleeping bags and fancy wall tents for my Barbies, then set up elaborate campsite in the backyard, complete with chopped firewood, and water storage systems. (I did say I was weird, remember?)

I also used to spend weeks playing dolls with my sister and friends, but not like most girls. We had a favorite scenario in which we ran a huge orphanage which sprung into being because of some horrible disaster. The disaster didn't matter. What mattered was being able to care for all our babies with no power or outside help. (I nearly set the basement on fire once during these episodes)
Later when my family moved to a suburban/rural area, I was finally able to indulge more aspects of my survivalist side. I got into horses. And I mean I lived and breathed horses. Not just the typical horse crazy girl, I had to practice loading my severely injured (or dead) friends onto my horse, practiced packing all sorts of gear on my horse, etc.

I began target shooting as a youngster with my father (who also took me on long hikes from the age of six on) but during my teen years I learned how to reload, thanks to a wonderful like-minded guy. We were kindred spirits, and spent hours reloading during the week so we could shoot for hours on the weekends. He taught me how to field strip a .45 Model 1911 in under 45 seconds blindfolded, among other things. ( Can't you just see the headlines if some high school kids were seen doing this today?)

I began gardening, canning and dehydrating at 16. My mother thought I'd lost my mind when I came home all excited about the fact that the owner of the stable where I kept my horse said I could plant a garden in the old chicken pen. I was sure busy that summer.

Fast forward 6-7 years: I am now married and having babies. After living in dinky houses in town, I convince my husband to buy a house on acreage. We find a wonderful little 800 square foot house on five acres about 20 miles from where we work (which was in a very small town about 20 miles from a large metro area) And the cycle started in my childhood continued.

I raise horses, goats for milk and make cheese, cows for meat, chickens for eggs and meat. I try my hand at rabbits, successfully building a huge herd of breeders, and selling fryers commercially for a couple years before a family disaster forced me to sell. My garden is bigger, and I can enough to see us through every year till the next garden. Pigs are raised on leftovers. We heat only with firewood. Life is busy, but good.

Later, when the kids are bigger, I get into a sport that seemed custom-made for me. Endurance riding. We had moved from our five acre place to a larger spread which bordered on State land, and I began spending hours riding alone for miles every day of the week. (I quit working outside the home when my kids were 2 and 4 years old. I didn't see the point of paying someone else to raise my kids.)
Even some of my endurance friends say I take it to the extreme. I always pack everything imaginable with me: Pistol (and rifle during hunting season) first aid kit, feed for my horse, food for me, shovel, saw, you name it, it's on my horse or myself. Everything except a cell phone. Nearly everywhere I ride a cell phone doesn't work, so why bother? I feel they just give a false sense of security and prevent proper survival thinking.

Fast forward 20 years: I divorce and start over. My kids are grown and I am thoroughly pleased with how they turn out. My daughter learned early on how to do oil changes and tune-ups on the old Ford pickup trucks I always drive. My son took his skills further. He can rebuild any old rig from the ground up. They both know a lot about farm animals and gardening, and both are avid campers. Both shoot, though my daughter can't hold a candle to her brother. He is by far the best shooter I have ever seen. I once watched him shoot a starling through the neck from 75 yards, offhand in the wind with a .22 [rimfire rifle]. The bird was sitting at the top of a 75 foot fir tree, and my son told me beforehand where he was going to hit it. Recently my kids have both come to the conclusion that their survival would be well served by learning even more of Mom's skills. Both (and their other halves) are joining me in the spring to become more proficient in gardening, canning, and we will be raising cattle and pigs together.

I am very lucky to have bought a wonderful 13 acre place with a delightful but tiny 130 year old homesteaders cabin. We have two year 'round springs. We heat with firewood cut here and on many of our wonderful neighbor's places. We have a small orchard, a huge garden (about 3,000 square feet, with room for more) and tons of pasture. I say we because I was very lucky (and smart) to have married again. And I married that wonderful man from my high school years who taught me to shoot and reload! My kids adore him, and though they live in town, they are out here all the time. My husband and I have a very good skill set between us I don't think there is anything we can't do, from blacksmithing to soap-making and all manner of other skills esoteric and arcane.

In the past several years the kids in particular have all realized that our survival skills are not just some game that is fun to play. We have gotten very serious about our future and how to deal with the up-coming disasters whether large or small. I read your novel "Patriots" several months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I discovered your blog about a month ago, and I am hooked. I love all the advice, and I am even more thrilled that there is some information here that I had either not though of, or not gotten deeply into.

We have all been tossing around the idea of moving elsewhere, though it just isn't possible at the moment. And I am not sure we really need to. This place is nearly perfect. It is 25 miles from a major metro area, (But right off a two lane highway, though the major highway out of the metro area is on the other side of a huge river) safe and consistent water supply, etc. The only problem which needs to be addressed is defense. It's not a horrible place to defend, but it does need work.

So for now, we are continuing what we have always done and making the place more defensible. We are all honing skills, and keeping an eye on the world. And we are also looking into moving to a better place in 3-to-5 years.

The last paragraph of your reply was what prompted me to write. Thank you for making my day. It really made me feel good to see that I am already doing what you do. And those hours of sweat versus dollars are great for keeping you in good shape! Best Regards, - J.F.

I enjoyed reading article you recently linked entitled "Is Survival Only for the Rich?" The company's idea to provide "we'll save you if you pay us enough" services is nothing new. Private security firms
swooped down to protect the estates of their ultra-rich clients in New Orleans after [Hurricane] Katrina hit. Here is but one article covering that subject.

This being said, I don't think one should be critical of the very wealthy for making such arrangements. Who wouldn't want the ability to have Blackwater protect your home as the Golden Horde approached?
Unfortunately, this is not an option for 99.9% of the population. Further, if a [Hurricane] Katrina style disaster hit on a much larger scale, private security firms and such would not be able to fill every wealthy person's request for assistance. They'd be in the same boat as everyone else. Whether you're lower, middle, upper, or upper upper class, when SHTF, you'll be relying on your ingenuity, resourcefulness and equipment. Those that prepare in advance, regardless of income class, will have the clear upper hand. - Ranger Man

I found the link to the article "Is Survival Only for the Rich?" quite interesting. It reminds me of the late 1970s, another period of interest in "survivalism." Towards the end of that period several commercial schemes sprang up to build survival outposts for sale to the public. By necessity, these projects appealed to the better-off members of our culture. The plan for a huge underground community in the southern Utah desert comes to mind. But I think those projects signaled a top in the survival market. Not long after, the general social mood improved (refer to the socioeconomic aspects of the Elliott Wave model) and most "survivalists" went on to [become] stock brokers and day traders.

When I believe in something fervently, as I do in preparedness, I am always asking myself "what am I overlooking?" This article has me thinking "time to start looking for signs of a top." I knew the top was "in" in 1982 when a mainstream magazine ran a detailed article entitled "Is the Sky Falling?" talking about all the professionals who had escaped to the Rogue River [Oregon] area.

It's not that I don't believe in problems in the future, I just tend not to trust myself when my belief level elevates. - BAC

I was looking at the link you put up for 'Is Survival Only for The Rich?' and there was a link to Sovereign Deed company. This is a company that if you pay a fee of $50,000 plus $15,000 a year, will come and get you if the excrement hits the rotating turbine blades.
Here are some relevant web sites and newspaper articles:

Rougely Stated.
Petoskey News May 26, 2007
Petoskey News July 6, 2007
Michigan Messenger
Wikipedia Entry on Sovereign Deed

I hope you all have a good Christmas and New Year.

Dear James Rawles,
I wanted to add some useful additional information on the use and storage of green coffee beans, home roasting and on the use of chicory. Canned vacuum packed ground coffee is horrible tasting after one year. Great for soil amendments at best.
I have bought and stored green coffee beans for more than 10 years as a part of our survival and barter larder. The oldest left in rotation to date in dry storage is seven years. I purchase in bulk yearly when the season is harvested from my favorite coffee bean varietals. I started off buying bean samplers of geographical varieties obtained from a local roaster (search the web for green coffee beans) and now purchase most of my beans from Sweet Maria’s to try out the different taste qualities of various beans from different new country offerings. I also study my history of keep ability in long term storage by using these different storage methods: vacuum packing the bulk beans, freezing them, and also by bulk packing them in food grade plastic storage containers using the nitrogen packed dry ice system. Of these, I recommend bulk buying(much more economical), vacuum bag packing in 1/2-pound quantity, (this is the amount I roast per batch), and then additionally nitrogen pack in smaller food grade plastic buckets stored in a cool dry environment, in no more than 70 degrees. The seven year old beans are still dull pea green in color, the moisture content is stable and the oil content is not rancid or off flavor. The caffeine is intact within the bean.
This is what I have personally found in my trials. Coffee beans’ caffeine potency seem to be co-dependent on the percentage of natural oil in the bean varietals which is dependant on the indigenous soil and temperate climate of the specific environmental region or geographical area that they originate. I have found through my purchases that cooler Mountainous regions are renowned for supporting superb beans with higher bean oil content and caffeine content. Warmer, dryer regions have strong flavor, less bean density but, actually store better and longer in variant storage temp conditions. Try different beans and draw your own taste and caffeine conclusions for your individual needs. Coffee for me is a necessity for survival situation alertness especially in prolonged periods of security post lookout. Its use as a homeopathic for Migraines is warranted.

The roasting process is crucial if you have a discriminate palate as it releases the oil with its length of roasting and colors the beans and gives you the taste you’re after. Roasting also immediately affects coffee bean shelf storing longevity… the longer and darker the roast, the more oil is rendered out of the bean, thus, the bolder also is the flavor of your cup. Dark Roast and Espressos are not for the faint of heart, I mean this literally, and NOT recommended for persons who are prone to palpitations. Coffee should not be consumed if you have a heart condition. It can be used for treatment of classic Migraine headache at its onset. It acts by causing vasoconstriction of the cerebral vessels. One strong cup will help stop the subsequent migraine cycle of symptoms.
I have tried many home roasting methods; use of a cast iron pan on the stove top stirring with a wooden spoon, using a hand cranked popcorn popper with an inner stirrer, using a chestnut roaster on the wood burning fireplace. Know this one common fact; roasting indoors is a smelly proposition and the beans smell and smoke a lot, enough so to turn on your smoke detectors! I recommend doing this outdoors if possible. Use your barbeque grill on high (not energy efficient unless you’re also cooking on it), or invest in a hot air drum roaster and roast on your porch or open-door garage, your distant neighbors will appreciate the aroma wafting through the air It is a far-carrying distinctive smell. Don’t advertise unless you’re prepared to share. Roasted beans should be consumed within a week for maximum freshness. I store my roasted beans in a vacuum packed mason jar kept on the counter top away from heat and light sources.
Grind only enough beans for the pot you are brewing. I have a Zyliss metal hand burr grinder that I use off grid which is easily cleaned with a natural bristle brush which absorbs the excess oil from the grinder and keeps it fresh. I also have a couple of older cast iron coffee grinders which were handed down to me from my European ancestors. These can be found occasionally in thrift stores or online auctions for cheap. Average 10 bucks. Burr grinders are touted as the best for bean grinding as they help keep the grind consistent and oil intact.

Use of chicory in coffee is intended at its best as an extender, in TEOTWAWKI conditions as a replacement. Chicory is an easily grown garden or border plant. It likes all kinds of weather conditions. It throws beautiful petite blue flowers that the bees and butterflies love in pollination. It’s prolific and can be used for medicinal purposes as well. It can be used for human food and animal fodder. The roots are used as the coffee extender or substitute. I pull the plant when mature saving the flowers seeds, hang the roots to dry or dehydrate them, then roast them, and grind them. I store the chicory in vacuum packed 1/4 pound bags. My personal favorite is a four cup French drip enamel pot, (the filter is an old white sock).
The blend is: 4 Tablespoons coffee grinds to 1 Tablespoon ground chicory for a nice smooth and kind to the palate cup. On long hauls on the road, I use a 12 volt [DC] auto plug-in coffee maker. When camping, I use an egg in my percolator (with an egg for my filter) and eat the poached egg!
All my grinds go into the composer for soil enrichment. The greens are fed to my dairy goats.
May this Christmas season nourish all our hearts and souls. A most respectful reader, - KBF

Thanks for David. L., who sent us a captivating PDF link: Prudent Bear's PMs See Structured Finance Woes Leading To Recession

   o o o

Mike in Malaysia sent us this: Australians told to stockpile 10 weeks of food in preparation for Avian Flu,

   o o o

Reader D.J. noted that the Future Weapons cable television show had a segment on EMP that he found interesting. Here are the YouTube links: Part 1, and Part 2

   o o o

The Credit Crunch has become a Credit Collapse: MQC sent us this Daily Telegraph article: Call to relax Basel banking rules. MQC's comment: "Banks can not, or will not lend. It matters not which, it is highly deflationary."

"If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Congratulations to R.C. in Florida, the high bidder in the benefit auction that ended yesterday, for six items including a Katadyn Pocket water filter

Today we are starting a new auction. This one is for a scarce original 1980s-vintage Heckler und Koch 19mm Emergency Flare Launcher (EFL) aka "Notsignalgerät" from my personal collection. It comes with three magazines and 28 scarce original German 19mm flares--10 red, 10 white, and 8 green. Together, this package is worth approximately $400. Note: Despite its fairly high muzzle velocity and the fact that it is magazine fed, this flare launcher in not classified as a "firearm" under Federal law. (Consult your state and local laws before bidding.) Sorry, no overseas bids will be accepted for this auction. This auction ends on January 15th. The opening bid is just $80. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Momentum seems to be growing for Ron Paul's presidential campaign. Although he is considered a "Dark Horse" candidate, he has captivated quite a cross-section of voters including "hard money" advocates, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, gun rights advocates, pro-lifers, quasi-isolationists (both left and right wing), and home schoolers. After a recent record-breaking $4.38 million fundraising day, the latest plan is to raise $10 million in one day, on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. (Today is the day, Sunday, December 16th.)

One more suggestion (maybe it has been made already and I missed it) is that everybody should get up to date on their tetanus shots right now. If things get difficult, it would not be hard to imagine getting cut/puncture wounds in all sorts of ways, from all sorts of things in all sorts of circumstances. And these shots are good for 10 years, so you’re covered for a while. - Mike in Seattle


Pfizer announced that they will no longer make Exubera, the inhaled insulin powder due to massive marketing failures. Its a good product but cost didn't justify its marketing cost, and slow acceptance in the market. It does have a better shelf life than regular injectable insulin, i.e. no refrigerator needed. Those diabetics may want to grab up the existing supply to have at least a month of two available in a short term crunch to get by. What is out there is still available in the pipeline, but no further will be made, for now. I'm sure another company will reintroduce the idea some time in the future.
Here is a very interesting article that was produced by the military in 2002, titled "Antibiotics in tactical combat casualty care, 2002". It discusses use of antibiotics in prophylaxis in trauma care. In 2002 they selected travofloxacin, unfortunately it was pulled from the market, but moxifloacin would make a good alternative. Brand name is Avelox. Bayer, the manufacturer, has free coupons for a 10 day supply available at your doctor's office until the end of the year. - Mike MD in Missouri


Hi Jim -
I'm a new reader and excited I might be able to contribute to the discussion on your board. I work for a large health organization and in regards to dialysis and the need for renal failure patients to get dialysis, there is a new option.
One of the semi-new things going on is the evolution of "Dialysis at Home". This is in-home dialysis treatment with smaller, table-top machines about the size of a large microwave. Some are totally portable i.e. can be rolled around in a special suitcase. It's not exactly "new". We've been training people to do it for over 30 years in our largest metropolitan Los Angeles hospital but it's not really widespread among other organizations (I think). Many organizations are not able to spare the medical staff or don't have the in-house expertise or don't have the capital to develop this function or don't have the buy-in of the medical staff or they just plain don't know about it. It's semi-cutting edge but I don't think that should be a deterrent for someone wanting to drive toward this - it's very straight forward to perform. Perhaps an investigation and switch in health insurance towards one that provides this benefit / equipment / training might be warranted for some SurvivalBlog readers with renal issues? I wouldn't be surprised if this is more widespread. Bottom-line this is more cost-effective for a organization than using a contracted Frenius dialysis center or an in-network hospital and provides better patient outcomes. Dialysis performed more frequently for shorter intervals (i.e. 5x/week) more emulates the true function of the kidney than traditional prolonged 3x/week treatment. It's win-win for everyone.

Here's one company whose machines we are currently using to train our patients with. Anyway, in a nutshell, the person with renal failure (and their care-givers/helpers) get trained on this device and once physicians are sure patients can perform procedures safely, -i.e. self-insertion of the needle, operation of the machine, etc., they are sent home with their new machine. Getting ramped up is a lengthy process however; our training program is a four week program where patients are seen by nephrologists, nurses and pharmacists every step of the way so it's not like you can just buy this machine, mothball it and 'learn-it' after the SHTF. Also, some minor re-work of the home's plumbing is required to hookup most devices but nothing major; the most exciting thing is that the newest machines coming out can supposedly run on plain tap water but I don't have experience with them.
I think anyone can see the survival utility in dialysis that is man-portable, uses tap-water, provides a better "quality of life", and is user controlled.
Best Regards - Special K in Los Angeles


Dear Jim:
With reference to the letter from Simple Country Doctor, a good source of medical knowledge is The Hesperian Foundation, where several "must have" TEOTWAWKI books ("Where There Is No Doctor", "Where There Is No Dentist", "A Book For Midwives") plus several other titles can be either be purchased or downloaded for free.
There is also a web site, mostly for medical professionals, that specializes in remote, austere, wilderness and third world medicine.

A good place for training is Chuck Fenwick's Medical Corps.

My personal opinion (born out over the course of raising six children) is that 80% of family medicine can be practiced by paramedics and LVNs, 90% can be practiced by RNs and PAs, and the last 10% is where folks need an MD. This opinion will undoubtedly not sit well with "Simple Country Doctor", but in a true TEOTWAWKI situation, folks are going to have to deal with what they've got.
I've always wondered about "First Aid Kits" that include instruction booklets. I have this macabre mental picture of someone bleeding out on the floor while the first aid provider frantically thumbs through the instruction book. I guess my point here is that it's not enough to download the books. You have to read and re-read, and reread them, especially if you don't have a professional medical background.
I hope this information is of some help to you. J.P., EMT-A

JWR Replies: I concur on your recommendation for taking training from Medical Corps. I have heard from a half dozen SurvivalBlog readers that have attended, and they all reported that the training was top notch, and that it brought them to a considerably higher plateau of training--even those that were already fully qualified as EMTs!

A few hours after I wrote the most recent Weekly Survival Real Estate Market Update (Fri 12-14-07) I was awakened at 2 a.m. Friday morning with a page out to respond as a member of our local volunteer fire department to a fully involved structure fire with multiple occupants trapped. Like I stated in my update it takes us 15 to 30 minutes to arrive on scene as we respond from our homes to the station then on to the scene. As far as I can estimate there were emergency personnel on scene in about 14 minutes and we arrived at about 19 minutes from the initial page out, as the roads were icy and slippery. Obviously without going into details the outcome was devastating for the family, for us, and for the community as a whole. We have gone without a structure fire fatality for about 11 years according to local sources.

Remember, it's not the actual flames that will kill you, it's the poisonous smoke and fumes from the fire that will incapacitate you in seconds, stopping your escape and or rescue effort of your loved ones. I moved from a higher end subdivision in California where the city building code called for a water suppression system in every room with hard wired smoke alarms. Although I disagree with government mandates about building codes (none in our north Idaho county outside of city limits!) I did appreciate the system we had in that particular home. In closing, whether you'll be building a retreat, buying a stock one or still living at your home in the perilous 'burbs, spending the cash to install some kind of fire suppression system may seem nuts but the chance that you'll be very thankful. Smoke detectors are worthless without a system to suppress the fire so that you can escape!

The bottom line is that having a fire suppression system in place, no matter the cost, would have saved one very precious child last night. Most of us concentrate on tactical gear, growing veggies and ammo purchases rather than taking the time to run the odds. Realistically speaking if you figure the odds of needing such a system versus needing your firearm in an actual defensive situation, I'd take my bets on the fire. - Todd Savage


I am on the local Volunteer Fire Department here in the communist state of New Jersey. Instead of posting things that will compromise your OPSEC outside of your home. Find out when your local fire department has drills and go down and talk to the Chief or one of his officers. Invite them over for a walk through. They will most likely do this just because they are good people (we also appreciate a case or two of beer). Show them where your water supply is (if you have one on your property). They most likely know where the water supply is on the roads (Hydrants, Stand-pipes, Drafting sites). Show them where to shut off your gas and electric, because if your house is burning they need to shut it off. If you have ammunition stored please explain to them that it is in a certain part of the house so if it's on fire nobody gets injured from rounds cooking off. What I have outlined seems a lot better in my mind than ruining OPSEC by posting things like that outside of your home. - TD


Mr. Rawles,
Having been through a few fires, I have the following suggestions: A sign or placard near the driveway with instructions to the firefighters has some merit. If you have a NO TRESPASSING sign, it should read something like this: "Absolutely NO Trespassing except for Emergency Personnel, Delivery Personnel, and Invited Guests. Others by appointment only. Call 555-5555." This implies that the house is occupied, which is a good thing, and it acknowledges the possible need for Firefighters or Paramedics. The phone number is important so they can call you if your house is burning. Your instructions to firefighters should include the location of every fuel tank, propane tank, or any other volatile substance. This is very important to them for their own safety as well as their strategy in fighting the fire. If you have a large cache of ammunition, it could be a problem in a fire. I've never known anyone to get "shot" by loose ammo in a fire, but I've seen some real meltdowns. The intense heat just makes a bad situation even worse. I would suggest that however you store your ammo, make sure it's totally fireproof. - K.L. in Alaska

JWR Replies: The risk posed by stored ammunition during a house fire is often exaggerated by the sensationalistic mass media. It does indeed "cook off", sounding like firecrackers. But when ammunition that is not contained by a firearm chamber, the bullets don't go anywhere. It is the cartridge cases that move, not the heavier lead bullets. Typically the brass will fly no more that 10 feet, and at fairly low velocity.

U.S. Housing Crash Deepens in 2008 After Record Drop

   o o o

The new quasi-survivalist movie "I Am Legend"s opened with a bang: a whopping $29.6 million one day box office take in 3,606 theaters. Hey, maybe another producer in Hollywood will take note that movies with survival themes sell lots of tickets, and they will buy my "Pulling Through" script.

   o o o

SF In Hawaii sent us this suggestion: Siano Solar-Powered Bug Zapper Lanterns. SF's comment: "This is how I plan on feeding my chickens..."

   o o o

Cathy Buckle included the following in one of her recent letters from inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe: "The same week that our President [Mugabe] flew to Lisbon, a couple of South African visitors invited me to tea at a local restaurant. I queued at my local bank but was again limited to how much of my own money I could withdraw and was allowed to take just five million dollars. Immediately I spent three million dollars buying one light bulb and one jar of peanut butter and so with just two million dollars left, I hoped I wasn't paying for tea. At the restaurant three cups of tea, one waffle and one toasted sandwich were ordered. The bill came to 7.2 million dollars."

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.” - Ecclesiastes 9-10

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The SurvivalBlog benefit auction, ends at midnight, tonight. The high bid is at $285. This auction 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.) Please send us your bid via e-mail., before midnight, Eastern Time. (9 p.m., Pacific Time.)

In the novel "Patriots", one of the characters scrounges a packet of Sanka from an MRE and complains that the coffee has run out. In the Civil War, Southerners used chicory as a substitute, which (to say the least) is an acquired taste. These unfortunate uses of ersatz coffees can be avoided, if the prudent survivalist plans ahead and learns the relevant skills now.

Coffee is harvested from the fruit of the coffee tree, and the fruit discarded. Its inner green seed is the bean itself, which is then roasted, ground, and sold in your local market. This is the fundamental commodity that a survivalist would stock. Therefore, we need to know how to get the beans, how to store them, and what to do with them once we have them.
There are several green bean suppliers on the Internet. The author frequents a [vendor web] site called Sweet Maria's, which not only supplies the beans but also roasting equipment and advice. Most of their equipment is expensive and electric-powered, but they have good prices and good advice. Other sites include Bald Mountain Coffee, Marlton Coffee, and Our Coffee Barn. Local organic food stores may also stock green beans. Shop around, save your cash. I have managed to see cost savings approaching 50% over roasted coffee beans. Given how easy the roasting can be, you might wonder just what you're getting for your money when you go to Fourbucks.

While cheaper than roasted beans bought at the store, coffee is a commodity, and subject to inflation. After all, its value stays constant, as green beans can be kept almost indefinitely, but its cost rises as the dollar depreciates. Buying now will cost more today but pay off later. Buying small quantities over time will likely be the most economical option for most. Buying later will be difficult and painful.
I buy green coffee in 10 pound sacks. Given how much my wife and I drink on a daily basis, this works out to approximately a year's supply at 1 cup a day. Heavier drinkers should plan on more, but physiological effects should be taken into account when making your purchase.

If you do not plan to purchase mass quantities all at once, buy twice as much as you need. That way you can save half the beans and brew the rest, slowly stockpiling for The Crunch. You will end up paying more in shipping (unless you find a local supplier), but it may be prudent, especially if you wish to avoid debt.

Regardless of the amount you plan to buy, have at least one month's supply of decaf beans on hand. Towards the end, when the bean supply runs low, decaf beans can be added so as to decrease the negative effects of caffeine withdrawal. A good way to notice if your caffeine intake is too high is to skip coffee for a day. If you suffer a headache, pour less the next morning. You'll be thankful you did when the beans run out.

The method that is easiest for roasting coffee is to use a hot-air popcorn popper. The beans are added and the power applied, causing the beans to fly in the popper and fall back to the chamber. It requires the least amount of effort and produces the fastest results, but requires the popper to be cleaned thoroughly afterwards (so that residual oils do not catch fire the next time).
A more practical solution for a survival retreat would be to use a cast-iron container and an oven. The oven is heated to a high temperature and the beans left in the container to roast. The author has not tried this method, but recommends practicing it as often as possible, if you can't spare the electricity for a hot-air popper.
As the coffee roasts, the outer hull of the bean will separate. These are quite light, and if you use a hot air popper they will go flying. They make an excellent addition to a compost pile. If you use an oven, they will stay in the cast iron container, but may be more difficult to separate without a screen of some sort.
After the hulls separate a short period will pass before the beans start to crack. This is normal, and indicates the gases in the bean are expanding and escaping. Watch the bean color closely, as the uniformity of the roast is indicated by the uniformity of the color across the beans. When the beans are the desired color, remove from heat and leave to cool. They will continue to emit gas. For this reason, roasting is ideally done outside or where there is a vent handy.

The beans must be ground before they can be filtered, and most stores sell relatively cheap blade grinders or the more expensive burr grinders. These are not the best solutions for long term preparation, but are a nice luxury if you have the power to spare.
An alternative is a hand cranked grinder. Many camping outfitters stock backpack grinders that can grind enough beans for one or two people for a day. However, these are not sufficient long term solutions either, as they are typically made of plastic and spare parts aren't available from the supplier.
A general purpose food grinder would be sufficient for coffee beans, as long as spare parts are available. It should be cleaned between uses so that the bean oils do not clog the grinding surfaces.
In a pinch, beans could be ground between two stones. If this is done, however, be careful to use a quality filter, unless you like your coffee with extra grit.

A fresh water supply is necessary for coffee, and should be clean, clear, and safe to drink. Water issues are discussed in detail elsewhere on SurvivalBlog, and study of such is left as an assignment to the reader.
A reusable filter is not only more economical in the long run than paper filters, but also more durable and environmentally friendly (if you care). Keep 2 on hand, so that if one breaks or is damaged a replacement is available.
A percolator or french press are likely the best choices for brewing without grid power. A percolator operates by plumbing. As the water is heated, it rises through a pipe to a tray above the water, where the coffee grounds are kept. It filters through the grounds and returns to the water supply. A french press is a jar with a filter attached to a plunger. The grounds are added, hot water is poured in, and the mix is capped and left to steep. When done, the plunger is pressed and the filter pushes the grounds to the bottom, where they stay. Regardless of brewing method, a metal apparatus is better than glass. Dropping the metal brewer may only dent it, but glass will shatter.

Green coffee can be kept much longer than roasted coffee, without detriment to the taste of the drink. The beans start losing flavor when they are roasted, but the flavor stays as long as the beans are green.
If storing inside, beans should be kept separate from other foods and in their own container. Avoid humidity, as this can breed mold. A multi-purpose food grade plastic container works well for the purpose.
If stored outside, or in a cache somewhere, precautions should be taken to protect the beans from decay. In most cases, storing it like you would a grain supply is best - avoid moisture, seal to protect form vermin intrusion, and avoid sunlight and heat. One method that could have dual purpose would be to put the beans in a Mason jar and fill with carbon dioxide, using a dry ice method. That way you would have beans and canning supplies on hand.

Other Uses
A post-TEOTWAWKI world would have a great many people eager for a caffeine fix, and coffee beans would be a great trade commodity. You could also teach people how to roast them, for a price. Aside from that, coffee beans should be kept out of sight. Most people don't prepare for disasters, and fewer still stock up on coffee. If word gets out that you [still] drink coffee, it might draw unwanted attention. Use caution. [JWR Adds: Sources of caffeine such as coffee also have some tactical utility in increasing wakefulness on occasion for folks that are put on perimeter security during late night and early morning hours. I've never been a coffee drinker, but I can see the wisdom of storing some--both for barter and as a mild stimulant.]

Emergency preparedness is about making sure a drastic change in society negatively affects you as little as possible. Coffee can help ease such a transition, if simple preparations are made in advance. As with all things, you should prepare for the day when you can't get it anymore, and avoid addiction to it at the same time.

Mr. Rawles;
My husband has gotten me into reading SurvivalBlog and I have been trying to keep current and read some of the posts. I have some points I would like to add.
I had a subscription to a publication called The Animal Finders Guide and it has listings for exotic and heirloom animals. Along with this it has some very good articles on the care and management of animals I think most of your readers would benefit from, especially if they are leaning towards yaks, camels or even less known breeds of standard livestock.
On the breeds for horses for retreats I would like to point out that if you raise a Mustang foal in any type of climate it will adapt. They are hardy, easy keepers and have a lot less genetic problems that could kill a breeding program. Also not mentioned was the Icelandic Horse which will eat salmon and can carry larger riders. Granted they are not the fastest or the tallest, but for temperament and willingness you can't beat them. Certain Morgan bloodlines and Quarterhorse are fine but can carry for problems. Some people choose for looks and not [based upon] research or functionality. With any breeds you need to find out about temperament and genetics. Then your group needs to learn the basics:

Merck Veterinary Care
Shoeing and Hoof Trimming
Gelding (Altering)

Most common ailments and are you going to breed your stock? Can you house and handle a stud? Can you take the horses from day one to saddle safely? Do you need pack animals? How much grazing can your retreat handle? How can you pen to rotate your grazing and hay fields? Can you repair your tack?
In a worst case scenario the most sought after horses and livestock will be working stock. Draft horses and mules, good saddle horses, ox and even Boer goats for brush removal (they may not eat everything but they will work long after you can't get a brush hog )

I ran into someone the other day who thought breeding livestock is as easy as breeding her dogs. She bought a stud colt, a pony at that and she has never had any experience with horses before. I think after I told her about the issues with some studs she does regret it, but most have no clue how dangerous livestock and exotic animals can be. Horses and camels bite hard and can do permanent damage. A stud can hurt anyone and can be dangerous to handle for women at certain times, studs fight, break through fences after mares and some just are plain mean no matter how you raise them. Bulls are also fun and can gore you and crush you even if they have been dehorned.

How do you handle disease with no vaccines? Can you keep wildlife away from your animals? Can anyone in your group butcher?
Sorry to go on but most books I have read do not even touch on most of this. How about a series on animal choices and care? Maybe some breed info on large guardian dog (LGD) breeds and how best to find these animals. When is the best time to buy and where to find good breeders? Thank you. - Tracy D.

Hello SurvivalBlog Readers,
In reflecting on the past year I can honestly say that I have enjoyed reading the SurvivalBlog every day. While I do not always agree with everything said, this blog will make one seriously think about all
their survival preparations. It is my opinion that if the readers of this blog prepare to the best of our individual ability we will be among those who, after the SHTF event, and those events that follow the initial event, we will be among those who will return our nation to its Constitutional greatness in the society of nations.
I have enjoyed this blog immensely. My wife of 42 years is reading daily posts over my shoulder. My sons read it, though not as frequently as their dad. But they are coming around. There is something here for everyone regardless of how you see events shaping up. The blog is well assembled. I have managed an Internet business since 1993 and I can tell you from first hand experience there is a fantastic amount of time, energy and thought put into maintaining this service.
It is the Christmas season. A time for remembering and a time for giving. I challenge all SurvivalBlog readers to say "Thank You Jim", by remembering Jim and his family this Christmas. I challenge all blog readers to match my small Christmas gift of $25.00. Do it now before you forget it. BTW, I have never met Jim and his family but we have corresponded, from time to time, for more than ten years. I know him by the Spirit. - Martin in Montana

A new medical study suggests a link between the use of cholesterol-lowering "statin" drugs, like Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) and higher risk of brain hemorrhage in patients who have had a recent stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA--commonly called a "mini-stroke" or "warning stroke.") But the researchers opine that the benefits of the statin drugs outweigh their risks. Bah! In my opinion, the statin drugs are grossly over-prescribed, most often to allow people to continue to eat greaseburgers. Granted, there are some people that are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol, but the solution to high cholesterol for the vast majority of the citizenry is a healthy diet. Here at the Rawles Ranch we mainly eat venison, elk, and smaller quantities of rabbit and chicken. We only eat store-bought meat when we travel. I should mention that when I applied for a life insurance policy a few years ago, my insurance carrier insisted on a physical exam, which included blood tests. My low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad cholesterol") and VLDL (very-low-density lipoproteins or “very bad cholesterol") numbers were so low that they thought that it was an error. The insurer wanted me to re-test! It wasn't until I explained my diet that they relented.

   o o o

Mark G. mentioned this article: Is Survival Only for The Rich? It is hard to believe that SurvivalBlog readers are characterized as "yuppies" in at least one other blog, when you see folks like this--to provide some genuine contrast.

   o o o

Mark S. suggested this piece by James Turk: Liquidity Won't Help Insolvency

   o o o

In answer to those who ask me: "At what age should I start homeschooling my children?", see this video clip of Lily, a 23-month-old geography savant.

“Cowardice asks, Is it safe? Expediency asks, Is it politic? Vanity asks, Is it popular? But conscience asks, Is it right?” - William Morley Punshon

Friday, December 14, 2007

The SurvivalBlog benefit auction ends tomorrow, Saturday December 15th. The high bid is now at $275. This auction 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.) Please send us your bid via e-mail.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer! Nor am I a communications specialist. Nor am I an electrical engineer. All of the values cited in the following letter are estimates, and anyone is invited to refute or embellish, or add corrected information to these meanderings. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but, I do have some background in amateur radio and have been involved in communications since I built my first "comm" system at the age of 14 for myself and my buddies, and throughout the years, including time spent in the US Army Signal Corps and as a holder of an a U.S. Amateur ("Ham") license. Any information included in this dissertation is my own opinion, and I will not be held responsible for anyone taking any part of it out of context or using my interpretations as advice for any illegal purpose. And, as always, your mileage may vary. I also won't get into propagation characteristics of each band, except in a personal experience sort of way. That would be a book unto itself.
I have noticed a lot of disinformation regarding so called "survival communications". Let's talk about the interpretation and my opinion of some the legalities and the pitfalls of the most bandied-about schemes.

I am starting with my hard wired comm scheme between my parents house, and my buddy's houses back in the early 1960s; conjured together with parts reclaimed from the dumpster at the Western Electric factory where they built those really neat rotary dial phones:.
1] Price, free, except for sending my little sister and brothers dumpster diving. I had to pay them in nickel candy bars.
2] Secure, no doubt, hard wired. Well, unless you count line taps.
3] Risks? One of the neighbors kept cutting the wire in the storm drain.
So, hard wired is the most secure, unless the aforementioned line taps are applied. A good current detection device will clue you in to voltage drops due to line taps. This schema is also the most susceptible to interruption [from cut cables.]

Yep, legally, you are allowed to send and receive voice communication within the Multiple Use Radio Service (MURS), at a grand total of 2 watts out from the radio. Depending on the gain from your antenna system, your line losses from cable and connectors, and your distance to your intended recipient, this may be a option for your network. On the other hand, I am sure some of you have gotten the bright idea of buying some of the VHF Ham gear out there, and made the conversion so easily done to these rigs, and now have anywhere from 65 to 100 watts of power available for use on these MURS frequencies! The most unfortunate aspect of this is: look where the MURS frequencies reside: smack dab in the middle of the Public Service band. I would hate to think what would occur if someone started broadcasting with that amount of power, a few kilocycles away from a fire department or police channel. You are in for a lot of grief if you are caught. So, to be legal within the MURS band, you really need to have a most efficient antenna system with just 2 watts kicking into it. Let's think a nice gain beam [antenna]. Use Belden 9913 low loss cable, [which has only] about 1.5 to 2 db loss per 100 feet, nice UHF connectors, the newer ones with maybe 1.5 db loss each. And as each 3db gain yields, in theory, a doubling of output power. And you can pretty much have an effective radiated power [ERP] of between 10-to-20 watts or more from a 2 watt radio, depending, of course on the gain of your antenna. Not bad. And depending on distance and your intended use, this may provide your network with suitable communication for your intended purpose.

QRP, or low power broadcasting, is nothing to be laughed at. We used to establish contacts across the US with 20 watt radios during good propagation periods with VHF equipment and some killer homemade beam antennas on top of the tallest peak in the state. I guess the best one I built was, in theory, around 15-16 db gain. And I used simple parts available most anywhere wire, cable and hardware is sold. I think one of my better ones I built for 2 Meters/440 dual banding was hacked out of an old television antenna.

1] Price? You can do it on the cheap. But I really suggest investing in a good SWR [Standing Wave Ratio] meter as one of your first purchases. And be sure to get radios that allow the use of external antennas! Once you start tuning your system, you will be surprised at the difference a finely tuned antenna system will provide.
2] Secure? Pretty much. Not a lot of folks using MURS, at least in my neck of the woods. I have a scanner going when I am home, and I have never heard anyone using these frequencies. Again, YMMV.
3] Risks? Only risk you take is not following the legal output limits and risking the ire of the local public services, and indirectly, the FCC. If you do it legal, no worries. With the exception of falling off the roof or hanging your antenna on power lines, or falling off the tower. You get the picture. But if you hack a "big radio" and have a lot of losses in your antenna system, which leads to a lot of garbage being spewed from your system, which really ticks off the fire and police services in your area, as well as eventually damaging your rig. And when the FCC gets involved, your low profile is shot to pieces! The FCC doesn't play. You can read the reports on the web [Typically,] you get a warning the first time; the second time, you get fined--usually around $10 ,000. The reason I proffer this advice is that I have seen a few remarks on the web about this very same subject. Don't take the chance of screwing up your life just for communications. There are plenty of legal avenues which allow you to accomplish your goals.
This is a wonderful country, is it not? Do you think other countries give it's populace the right to communicate so freely? Not many.

Ham Radio:
1] Price: Varies
2] Secure? You call it. Lots of ears tuned in 24x7
3] Risks? Be aware that all parties must hold a valid Ham license to operate a rig, or be in the same room with a licensed Ham at their side. Don't even think about buying a couple of ham rigs to chat without getting licensed. Forget that the FCC and.the local amateurs will hunt you down. The "fox hunt" that will ensue will be an "event", complete with barbecue, door prizes, and direction finding gear! Those old boys have worked long and hard to keep [their portion of] the spectrum. They are not about to let a couple of fools screw it up for them.

But, if you and your crew want to get the Technician/General amateur license, it is very easy with the "no-code" requirement now. Or even learn the code [talk about secure!] It is a remarkable hobby filled with good folks and a veritable storehouse of information is amassed among all those good folks. Allowed output power is awesome, plenty of inexpensive gear to utilize. This may be an option for you. But, as mentioned, the Hams police their own freqs and rightly so. They have been fighting off interlopers for years. Do it legally. Ii is very rewarding. [JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that the advent of the Internet has meant a decline in amateur radio usage. Web surfing and blogging are time sinks that occupy many of the hours that hams previously used on the air. A lot of middle age hams are letting their licenses lapse. This means two things: 1.) Plenty of open frequencies in the erstwhile "crowded" bands, and 2.) Lots of high quality used ham gear available at ham fests and swap meets for pennies on the dollar. I strongly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to get their "No Code" Technician licenses.]

1] Price: expensive! This applies to all Business Band equipment. And the following is my interpretation of the FCC regs. I am not a lawyer. I have just pored over the convoluted FCC regulations so many times, that this is what I have determined: If you want to correct me, please be my guest! The legalese is tremendous within the regulations. The print is so darned fine, I had to use a magnifier most of the time to read it [grin] So, here we go. This is how I understand it:
If you are not a HAM, [and many hold the $85, five year GMRS license as well as their Ham license] by law, you cannot convert a Ham 440 rig to operate in the GMRS band. A Ham is a hobbyist and the Amateur Radio Service was started as a hobbyist and experimental environment. If someone holds a valid Ham license, and a GMRS license, they can use their UHF440 rigs to operate within the GMRS and FRS services, within the proper output power limits. And vice-versa. In the olden days, Ham conversions of commercial gear to operate in the Ham bands were common. Again, Amateur radio is a hobbyist service, and the rules and regs take this into account. GMRS is strictly a service designed to provide families and family-owned businesses a mode of communication. And as such, is an entirely different animal. There are any number of grandfathered businesses still using these frequencies..they can't interfere with you and you can't interfere with them. Everyone is accountable. You must apply for, pay and receive your station license from the FCC for the General Mobile Radio Service, and use FCC Type Accepted Business Band radios for your communication needs . Be aware,that the FCC can inspect your station at your licensed address, at any time of their choosing. Seriously, I don't think they will ever do so, unless they receive complaints. But, it is a caveat of the licensing structure.
Okey dokey, let's get to the good part: 50 watts! You are allowed to use up to 50 watts out at the radio end of things. You pay your $85, and you have some decent power to play with. Add a nice 10-12 db gain antenna, some low loss cable, and connectors. You get the picture. There is a tremendous [difference in the] amount of effective radiated power [ERP]. If you really want to get geeked out, and adapt/buy/build a nice high gain beam [antenna]. You can see where I am going with this. Several caveats as well with antenna structure, since we are on the subject: height, no more that 60 feet above ground level or 20 feet above the structure that the antenna is mounted on.

Here is another caveat: All GMRS repeaters are the private property of their owners! The owners of said repeaters can allow and deny access as they wish. As a licensed GMRS operator, you can operate simplex on the GMRS frequencies with full power, you can operate at 5 watts out on the interstitial and FRS freqs, but you must have permission or an agreement to utilize someone else's GMRS repeater. This doesn't mean you can't put up your own repeater on an unused GMRS assigned frequency pair.

Bubble Pack/Blister pack FRS/GMRS Handi-talkies (HTs) are commonplace. They have limited battery life. Did I mention that most are illegal [if operated on the GMRS band without a license]? The FCC seems to ignore these toys mainly because of their low output and limited ability to cause problems with existing services. They probably also feel it is poor form to arrest a 10 year old just because he is operating a walkie-talkie without a license It is also illegal to modify the unit to add an external antenna to it, and yes if push comes to shove, you can build your own re-transmitter out of a pair of them to retransmit your signal. The legality of that is also suspect, depending on the channel you are utilizing the repeater on. Be aware that the [advertised] "17-to-25" mile units may provide reliable comms in an urban environment of only around three miles! That has been my experience with some of the top of the line models. They are useful , when coupled with a GMRS licensed business band high power rig, to provide simplex communication between family members. As mentioned, GMRS is a service that is designed for the family. You can communicate with other family members or other GMRS license holders, legally. No , you can't hand out blister pack radios to several of your hunting buddies , while you sit back at the cabin giving out your call sign , with 50 watts of juice pouring out the back of your rig! But, You can have any number of families, each with a valid GMRS license, communicating all they want to, with any number of radios, with at least one person in each family a valid GMRS licensee. Think of the possibilities.
2] Secure? Relatively. You can look on the 'Net and see how many licensed GMRS holders there are in your area. Figure that someone may be listening at any one time. Figure that you may hear a lot of kids playing army with them. But, for the most part, at least in my area, not a lot of activity , except for the aforementioned young warriors "taking the hill". Again, if you are legal, you have nothing to worry about. That is one of the positive aspects of the license fee: It keeps most of the folks that are not serious about the proper utilization of the band, off the band. At least, off the band running a lot of power...
3] Risk: Besides the obvious of any person listening to your conversation, and you being well within the letter of the law. None.
Repeater owners. Power [source]! Many repeater owners do have backup power on their repeaters. But, again, you should not rely on other folks for your needs! Build your system so that simplex is your most oft used means of making contact. And power redundancy.
Stay away from the scramblers you see advertised...They are illegal to use on GMRS and those who are caught using them seem to be the kind of folks that drive a large powerboat in the middle of the night from offshore and deliver huge bundles of goods to large trucks parked at the edge of the bays and estuaries on the Florida coast.

Citizens Band:
1] Price? To do it right, you really need some of the higher end SSB radios, period. Or, if you are really lucky, you can find some of those superb Johnson SSB 23 channel tube sets sitting at a yard sale table brand new in the box! You wish.
At 12 watts Legal output, with the ability to buy or homebrew some really high gain antennas, SSB CBs may be a viable option. For example, if you have the acreage, a Rhombic designed for the 11 Meter band is one killer antenna! Agreed, it is large , but the gain from one of these monsters is around 22-26 db, in theory. I built one for the 10 meter band. There were very few pile-ups [Pile-ups = large number of amateur stations trying to contact a rare station] that I couldn't bust with my 100 watt rig and the rhombic. I gave out a call one morning, from the wilds of Alabama. A fellow from California answered back, asking how much power I was running, since the band wasn't "open" yet! ("Open" meaning propagation that is conducive to reliable communications.) He was running a kilowatt, and, of course , he was making a joke, but, it does point out what can be done with a couple hundred feet of wire and a little bit of power--and a homebrew tuner built with parts from a PRC-25, Vietnam era vintage surplus radio. If you decide to homebrew, think about the Rhombic [antenna] or similar. Lots of miles per gallon with this antenna. Commercial antennas are as pricey as business band, from what I have seen. And yes, you can utilize Ham antennas for peak output in the 11 Meter band. Again, a good SWR meter is a necessity.
2] Secure? In my personal opinion, SSB is extremely secure, at least in my area. I monitor the 11 Meter band along with the rest, when 10 meters is open, I will also cruise thru the 11 Meter band and have yet to even hear anyone on SSB. Except, remember, I was not going to get into propagation characteristics. Well, okay, band openings mean you may be able to chat around the world when conditions are right. Whether that is helpful or a hindrance, you make the decision.

AM (Standard Full Band Propagation CB Channels 1-40):
The negative aspect? Every Bozo on the block who ever had delusions of grandeur seems to have spent $40 on a radio. I have yet to find an open channel on AM, well, almost never, I pretty much gave up on it unless it is Channel 19......always seems there is someone either railing against something, sprouting racist nonsense, or simply some drunk singing Hank Williams on a channel or playing local DJ !
Positive aspect? I do carry one in my truck for travel, and for that, Channel 19 is invaluable when commuting. Lot of good folks driving trucks, and a few idiots as well. Ignore the foul mouth idiots, and by all means, install an el cheapo AM CB in [each of] your vehicle[s]. The first time that the truckers notify you of a [traffic] jam and save you an hour sitting in traffic, and not sitting at home, it makes that little bit of coin you spent on the rig well worth it! $40 for the radio, another $20-to-$30 on a mag[netic] mount antenna. These are 4 watt radios, and the commercial mag mounts antennas are pretty much 3 db, they compensate for the line loss and what little reflected power there is since they are tuned for center band. Channel 19!

Risks: As far as licensing, none. As far as interference to other persons, possibly plenty! The 11 Meter band has been known as a major noise maker for relatively cheap, less than adequately shielded electrical devices. And with the influx of even cheaper import electronics, I doubt the shielding has gotten any better. They are supposed to adhere to FCC design specs. Only thing you can do is provide the best possible antenna system, with the lowest losses, and see what transpires with the video and audio devices in your home and adjacent homes. In the "olden days" you could buy/build filters to install on you and your neighbors sets to alleviate most if not all interference. But, unless you have really good relationships with your neighbors, I believe you may be rebuffed when you try to play with their home theater! Then again, interference may not be a problem. I do know if you decide to be a smart guy, and drive an amplifier with your rig, and you do cause interference, and it is reported, and you ignore the warnings from the FCC, they will prosecute.

Equipment: In my opinion, start cheap with the transceivers unless you are sure that the system you have chosen will be viable. If you are guessing, then buy used, with 90 day warranties, from a local dealer if possible. Ask their opinion, get their help if needed. Most are glad to assist, since they like to sell equipment!

Buy the best antenna components possible: Belden 9913, Top Quality UHF connectors or Type N connectors as I use on 400 MHZ and above. Yes, they are expensive. Don't get cheap on your transmission system. You don't put cheap tires on a vehicle that your wife and kids depend on to take them places. The car may be old, but you are a fool to ride on old rubber. Same with your comm system: the radios may be used , ugly and perfectly functional, and 1/2 the cost of new, but invest in the very best transmission line components that you can. Please get yourself a nice SWR meter! Also, be aware that this gear has resale kids. Just look on eBay. Distance between "stations" and terrain will be the determining factor in 90 percent of your communication schema. And , in most cases, the only way you will be able to find out is to experiment. So, you invest in a system to test the find it just doesn't suit you or your group's can usually get the majority of your funds back, and continue on to the next investigative venture! So you lost a few bucks. You gained knowledge and experience, and hopefully another skill to add to your resume. I actually get a great sense of accomplishment putting all the pieces together and making a system such as the ones described function as they should. Sure beats sitting in front of a computer blasting bad guys with lasers. The 'Net is a storehouse of information...if you want to homebrew some of this stuff, there are plenty of resources at your local library, Ham clubs in your area, the 'Net, as mentioned, and you may have friends or relatives already "in the know" who would be glad to assist.
This is by no means a comprehensive analysis! Just a few thoughts on the subject. Stay on the right side of the FCC, don't fall off the roof, keep your antennas away from power lines, and above all, have fun!
- Bob in Georgia

JWR Adds: I second Bob's motion on his suggestion "don't get cheap on your transmission system". Buy (or build) good quality antennas, and buy top-of-the-line connectors and the best coaxial cable you can afford. Also, don't forget that any coax that is exposed to the elements should be changed once every 8 to 10 years. (Or even more frequently in extremely humid climates, or in locales with big temperature swings.) So, if possible, lay in a supply of extra coax. (Look for reels of it at ham swap meets.)

Disclaimer: Anyone that is planning to use any radio transceiver system should research applicable laws and get the appropriate licenses before ever buying equipment or keying a handset!

This week, after a personal experience with a house fire in a rental property I own, I want to cover how to secure your retreat from fire when your not living on site. Although the fire department was on scene and had the fire out within 10 minutes of the 911 call (the property was inside city limits) you can expect a 15 to 30 minute response time to your unoccupied retreat (in good weather), and that is if you have an automatic notification system or if a passerby sees the smoke and flames, and pray the fire is not during 'open burn season' in your area, otherwise just consider it a "burn down"! Fire suppression is probably the most important item next to the secure storage of your supplies and one of the most overlooked as well. You'll need to budget some extra cash to install a moderately priced automatic system to guard your valuable supplies.

I'm not too familiar with high end waterless automatic fire suppression systems, as we simply do not have these in place in our jurisdiction, with the exception of several commercial buildings and they are the very simple pressurized type water based systems. [JWR Adds: These typically using a gas. Older systems often used Halon (an alkane with linked halogens), but that was considered unfriendly to the environment ("ozone depleting") so many of the new systems use HFC-like gasses]. For a retreat though, I would highly recommend that you do not use a water based suppression system (in the house), it will simply create as much if not more damage than the fire will and you will lose your supplies with the exception of your guns, assuming that they are stored in a highly rated safe. The keys to a successful fire suppression action inside your retreat will be two-fold: One, the fire will need to be detected early, the waterless system will need to be able to discharge enough retardant to put the flames out and Two: The local fire department will need to be paged out to respond while the system is activated.

With a plethora of different waterless suppression agents and systems on the market the best advice I can give out is to make sure that the system is activated by a thermal and chemical detection system and that it is completely off the grid so a power loss will not disable it. If you Scroogle 'waterless home fire suppression system', you can read all day. The second issue would be to purchase a waterless system that uses a compound that can either be easily recharged or you can purchase the extra retardant/gas/particulate et cetera, and the equipment to recharge the system without having to have a 'tech' come out and do it, since post TSHTF it may of course prove futile. The retardant should also be non-toxic to humans as you'll want to keep it on a manual override switch once the retreat is activated for any last ditch suppression during a major siege on the property. Of course, standard fire extinguishers should be as prevalent as loaded firearms in your retreat once your there and living full-time, like the American Express card "never be home without it!".

Most of the clients I've met this year through are technically savvy enough to build a monitoring system that would notify them via page or email that there was an issue at their retreat and should be incorporated along with the multitude of motion sensors and cameras in and around the property for long distance oversight when your half a country away. Another item of interest would be to make sure and package all of your supplies inside waterproof bags or containers. Imagine you either have a water based sprinkler system and/or the firefighters arrive and dump three thousand gallons of water inside your retreat while fighting the fire! Although half the home was lost the basement survived and yet was two feet deep in nasty contaminated water! If none of the supplies were burnt would they be salvageable if you merely stuck them inside wall lockers and plastic tubs without first vacuum sealing them in bags? Probably not, they would all be destroyed. Do you seal your ammo before putting it inside the .50 cal ammo can(s)? You should. It's not necessary to seal the bag so tight that it rips when you drop it in the can, just enough to keep water out if the cans seal is compromised. What about all those wool blankets, BDUs, toilet paper , medical supplies, et cetera? Yes, that's right, the toilet paper, keep it dry at all costs, it'll be worth more than bullion should TEOTWAWKI happen! Every survival item deserves extra protective packaging, even the books stored for that rainy day on OP/LP duty! You'll thank yourself later!

One last item would be to have a placard made with Fire Department instructions near the house, NOT on the house of course. A simple reflective 2'x3' sign near the driveway/walkway explaining to the responding volunteer firefighters what type of system you have in place, how to turn it off (especially if you go with a water system!) and any other information, like the location of any hydrants or standpipes on/near the property (yes, they are out here) and your immediate contact info. Although completely against all rules of OPSEC you could post a copy of the floor plan as well (not showing all the secret bunkers of course), this would be well appreciated and will help if they need to make entry.

As covered last year in SurvivalBlog you'll still need a good gravity-fed water suppression system with decent head pressure without a pump to cover your home from the outside and to protect from wild land fires as well. That article is a good read when considering how to handle your retreat firefighting procedures.

To recap, think 1. Waterless suppression 2. Remotely and/ automatically activated 3. Cost effective and available recharging 4. Supplies secure from water damage. 5. Fire Department instructions near the house

If any readers out there have additional technical comments or experience that would be helpful for a subsequent comment, please e-mail them, especially anyone who is a full-time firefighter or that works for a company that manufactures or sells these waterless suppression systems. - T.S.

From Richard Daughty--aka The Mogambo Guru--posted by The Asia Times: Weak dollar induces a dream world

   o o o

Several months ago, when discussing the residential real estate market bubble, I wrote about "waiting for the other shoe to drop." Here is an article (suggested by reader D.V.), that echoes my sentiments: Will the Commercial Real Estate Market Fall? Of course it will

   o o o

Rob at Affordable Shortwaves sent us this reminder: If any SurvivalBlog readers are looking for delivery of a Kaito KA1102 AM/FM/Shortwave radio by Christmas, then they should place their orders by Saturday, December 15th at the latest. I currently have radios in stock and can ship them out immediately upon receiving payment."

   o o o

Reader Richard C. sent us this: Central banks band together for bailout. Richard's comment: "Apparently such public collusion is unprecedented."

"I don´t mind being called tough, because in this racket it´s the tough guys who lead the survivors" - General Curtis LeMay

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tomorrow is the much anticipated US release date for the quasi-survivalist movie "I Am Legend", based on the novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. I am curious to see how loyal the movie is to the novel. After having read an early draft of the screenplay (by Mark Protosevich) and having seen the extended version of the promotional trailer, I suspect that it will be a blend of the novel and elements from "The Omega Man" (the 1971 film adaptation starring Charlton Heston.)

Mr. Rawles,
I have recently begun reading your blog and I am intrigued by the ideas behind survivalism. As a Mormon who grew up in an area with frequent inclement weather, I have maintained an interest over the years and made, at least, some preparations. I presently have a well-equipped Bug-Out-Bag (FYI - Mormons generally refer to these as "72-hour kits") for both my wife and I, an easily portable lock box containing all vital documents and an external hard drive with all digital documents, plenty of bottled water on hand, and sufficient food in our home for one month. We never let the tank get below half-full, and our car has a full emergency kit (food, tools, extinguisher, ice melt, etc.) just in case. One of our "Christmas presents" to us this year will be plastic sheeting to cover all windows/doors in the event of a crisis - most likely an earthquake or blizzard in this region, but one never knows. We presently own our own home - a townhouse - which has vast amounts of storage space in the attic, crawl space, and closets. I have a large tool kit from home improvement work. I do not, at this time, own a firearm.

Financially speaking, we're strapped at the moment. We are both graduate school students with no income and, I'm sad to say, it will be that way for some time. That said, I would like to appropriate $100 of our budget over the next few months (from student loans, sadly) to preparing for the worst.

Clearly, $100 is insufficient for everything I will need. It will obviously not cover an acceptable firearm (not to mention ammunition, classes, etc.), nor is it enough for anything "fancy". But, still, it is something.

How can I best prepare for the worst with this $100? Please keep in mind that we do have a Sam's Club membership, so bulk buying is most certainly a possibility. We prefer to buy new or from an Army/Navy store as, in addition to being strapped for cash, we do not have much time to shop for used items. Thank you for your time, - S.

JWR Replies: Water should be first and foremost in every family's disaster planning. I would recommend that you start by expanding your stock of stored water, as space permits. Well-washed used plastic soda pop bottles will suffice. Add 1/4 teaspoon of freshly-purchased plain liquid sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) bleach to each two liter bottle. (Be certain that hypochlorite its the only ingredient in the bleach that you buy--do not buy bleach with added scents or other ingredients.) Next, construct your own pre-filter and filter. (Later, when you have more cash, you should buy a more portable Katadyn water filter.)

With any remaining cash, stock up at Sam's Club on foods that store well. Rice and beans are both relatively inexpensive when bought in bulk quantities. Even with those "Under $100" preparations you will be far better prepared than most of your neighbors who have no stored water, no way to treat water from open sources without grid power, and no more than three or four days worth of food on hand. Don't be discouraged by your current lack of funds. Just work at preparedness slowly and systematically. Every bit of "fat" that your can trim from your budget--things like dinners out, processed/pre-packaged foods, entertainment, candy, snack foods, and various fripperies constitute potential savings that can be applied to your preparedness budget.

Never lose sight of the fact that there is a direct correlation between sweat (or man hours), versus money. If you take the time to do some research and then use even more more time and effort to fabricate your own gear, then you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Although SurvivalBlog is fairly heavy on gear recommendations (since we are, after all, talking about preparedness for in the worst case a multigenerational societal collapse), I personally have a very modest budget. In fact, if I were so inclined, I could probably qualify for food stamps. (Note: I'm not looking for sympathy. Rather, I'm just trying to illustrate that substantial preparedness can be accomplished on a tight budget.)

Here at the Rawles Ranch, we live out in the hinterboonies (25+ miles from the nearest town) on a veritable shoestring budget. We buy very few items "new, off the shelf". We buy most of our clothes in thrift stores. The Memsahib combs Craig's List and the local classified ads for inexpensive livestock, tack, gardening tools, and so forth. When it came time to erect our garden fence, I made all of the posts from cedar trees that I felled here on the property, rather than buying fancy uniform-looking chemically-treated posts from the lumber yard. Ditto for our deer stand. Again, sweat versus dollars. Instead of heating our home with propane or electricity (like some of our wealthy neighbors do), we heat almost exclusively with firewood. I cut all of our wood myself, either here at the ranch, or in the adjoining National Forest. The only expenses for our firewood are gasoline, gas mixing and bar oil, and an inexpensive wood cutting permit from the USFS. Again, sweat versus dollars. Instead of buying hay, we swing a scythe for much of it. That is definitely sweat versus dollars! (OBTW, we are currently looking for a horse-drawn hay mower that our horse "Money Pit" can pull.) We either raise or hunt for nearly all of our meat, and we are ramping up to provide the majority of our produce in our garden. Yes, this all takes time. So does butchering, canning and dehydrating after harvest. But consider this: Not only are we pinching pennies, but we are also learning useful skills and building a small scale self-sufficiency infrastructure that will be invaluable WTSHTF.

In response to “Preparedness for Less Than a Worst Case, From an Eastern Urbanite's Perspective” your response D.C. for improving his family’s preps is reasonable but I think that your advice can be expanded. So I offer the following to my fellow New Yorkers and to other urbanites.

D.C. is right that 99% of the inconveniences we encounter will be of short duration. Preparing for these will put us far ahead of the unprepared. Preparing for a week long event will benefit you no matter how long the event lasts--be that an hour or a month!

In the same way that preparing for a short duration inconvenience will help ease you through the initial stages of any long term event, preparing for TEOTWAWKI automatically prepares you for the lesser events. If you are ready for a two week power outrage, 24 hours without heat is no big deal. If your wife is ready to defend your daughter against rioting looters, then a drunk outside while she can still dial building security and 911 is a threat she can manage.

That said there are a number of “events” that might require evacuation short of TEOTWAWKI.

Getting Out:
Plan a fire evacuation route and rendezvous point. Establish emergency contact procedures so that should your family become separated, you each know where to go and who to contact to link up again. This will serve you well for any event which requires exiting the building.
Speaking of high rise living. City dwellers should pre plan the best route to evacuate their building when the power is out. It might only take an hour to load the SUV with supplies when the elevator works but think about what gets left behind when you are forced to take the stairs in the dark. This is an excellent argument for pre-positioning some supplies in your vehicle and at a remote location like a friend’s house. Perhaps even along the route out of town.
Preplan your evacuation route off the island. What’s the fastest way to get across the nearest bridge? What’s the fastest way if the power is out and traffic signals aren’t working? What’s the fastest route if your life depended on it? Hint: you might consider cutting through parking lots, lawns, and one way streets in both directions if a mushroom cloud is rising.

The week of MREs [that D.C. mentioned] is a great start. Should a short term inconvenience such as Katrina hit “the city” you may need to provide for you family for two weeks or more. Consider stocking up on canned goods and shelf stable grocery items that you normally eat in addition to your MREs. A sudden change to a strictly MRE diet will not be appreciated by a child or your digestive system. So a few days worth of extra jars of peanut butter and boxes of crackers might go a long way. As a side note - do you have a way to prepare your food in your apartment such as a balcony barbecue?

Something you are probably familiar with from your defensive training is the idea of testing your gear. The same holds true for all your gear for the whole family. You could start by setting up the tent inside the apartment. Kids love to break out the tent and sleeping bags when friends sleep over. A tent in the living room is something novel for them that they can enjoy even if it isn’t safe for them to sleep outside in the back yard. Chances are good that it will generate a request for “real camping.” That could open the door to a family camping vacation (when the camp ground showers and toilets are working).
All of these “tests” will open your eyes to opportunities to improve your supplies.

Two final thoughts –
I recommend that everyone stock up on a year’s supply of over the counter medicines. Even if you can’t get antibiotics, flu remedies may come in real handy if there ever is a pandemic type issue. If a contagious disease is on the crowded streets, the last place you want to be is a pharmacy in downtown. The same holds true of the regular flu season too.

And finally, 9/11/2001 could easily have been a nuclear event instead of a [hijacked] airliner event.
Those of us in the east are downwind of most [nuclear] targets in the US . The free online book "Nuclear War Survival Skills" is a must. Print it and read it. Know how and when to take shelter from fallout. You need not have a shelter in a basement. The interior of a high rise building offers excellent protection from low level radiation. But you should plan your actions in advance.
You’re off to a great start! Keep up the good work and keep us posted. - Mr. Yankee

Jim and SurvivalBlog Readers,
If you are already reasonably accomplished with your defensive firearms and you have the time and money, then it can be most educational to take a firearm course (e.g. Front Sight) and shoot the entire course with your weak hand. Two or Four days of solid enforced practice with the off hand will do wonders for your ability to wrap your brain around the other side of your body. Plus, when it comes time to do the 'weak hand' drills, you really surprise the instructors ;-) - SCD

Reader RBS mentioned the Plants For A Future Database

   o o o

Derivative Trades Jump 27% to Record $681 Trillion. I've warned you about the derivatives bubble. Someday in the near future it is likely to implode and cause an unprecedented economic catastrophe.

   o o o

Still more sub-prime fallout: Bank of America Closing Beleaguered Institutional Cash Fund That Has Withered From $34 Billion to $12 Billion

   o o o

Tim and RBS both sent us this: Virus Starts Like a Cold But Can Turn Into a Killer

[Two men are fencing in a duel to the death]
Inigo Montoya: You are wonderful!
Man in Black: Thank you; I've worked hard to become so.
Inigo Montoya: I admit it, you are better than I am.
Man in Black: Then why are you smiling?
Inigo Montoya: Because I know something you don't know.
Man in Black: And what is that?
Inigo Montoya: I... am not left-handed!
[Moves his sword to his right hand and gains an advantage]
Man in Black: You are amazing!
Inigo Montoya: I ought to be, after 20 years.
Man in Black: Oh, there's something I ought to tell you.
Inigo Montoya: Tell me.
Man in Black: I'm not left-handed either!
[Moves his sword to his right hand and regains his advantage]
- The Princess Bride (1987)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'd appreciate getting a few more Quotes of the Day. (After more than two years of daily SurvivalBlog posts, my personal quote collection is running dry, although I suppose that I'll never run out of useful Bible verses.) If any of you have some favorite quotes, please send them to me via e-mail. Thanks!

Mr. Rawles:
Every once in a while, at topic comes up that I feel somewhat qualified to comment on. I'll offer some miscellaneous comments on Dave T's letter and your thoughts on medicine WTSHTF, as posted on SurvivalBlog. This is not meant to be exhaustive, and of course may not apply to your particular situation. Since I can't see you, its hard for me to diagnose you or give you specific advice. Disclaimers all 'round.

Chronic renal failure: It may be worth learning to do peritoneal dialysis if you may have to help someone deal with this condition in a grid-down situation. It is not as effective as hemodialysis, but it is much simpler. The risk of infection would be significant, especially in less than optimal hygienic conditions. It might, however, be a useful technique, especially as a 'bridge' for use until hemodialysis can
(hopefully) be arranged. Dialysate is introduced into the abdominal cavity and later removed (or exchanged continuously). Another thing to consider is renal transplant, if that's reasonable for the patient, but that has its own perils.

Diabetes: The key here, as many will realize, is the type of diabetes. Diabetes Mellitus ("DM") Type 2 is the most common. WTSHTF, it may be self-treating, as it can often be eliminated by weight loss. DM Type 1 is treated with insulin. Living on the edge of starvation is a brutal but somewhat effective treatment, if insulin can't be had. Islet cell transplants (often in the context of a kidney transplant) can lead to years of no insulin requirement (they make insulin), but you have to be on (often expensive, toxic, and obscure) immunosuppressants. Might be better to stock up on insulin. Be careful with Lantus (long acting glargine insulin). Potency decreases by about half , six weeks after the bottle is opened. Are you dedicated enough to learn how to *make* insulin, and confident enough to use insulin you made yourself? I did biochemistry for a while, and I'm not confident I could do so. Diabetes insipidus is fairly rare, and not what most people think of when 'diabetes' is mentioned.

Lung disease: By far, most lung disease is self inflicted. Don't smoke. Some, obviously, is not. Move lower, where there is 'more air in the air', is sound advice. If you have asthma, learn what your triggers are, and avoid them (this goes for many 'episodic' chronic illnesses). Stimulants such as caffeine can often help at least a little with an acute asthma attack. CFC-propellent inhalers are nearly gone, and the newer versions (such as Proventil-HFC) are often in short supply; plan ahead.
If someone requires oxygen, again, moving to a lower elevation may make sense. Small oxygen concentrators are a common home health item; they require electrical power but do not require a supply of oxygen from the medical supply company. Most welding oxygen is generated on exactly the same equipment as medical oxygen, but is not certified for medical use. Diving gas?

Coronary artery disease: Do you need bypass surgery? Can you arrange to get a 'cadillac' surgery with both a right and left internal mammary artery graft instead of just a left, and a bunch of venous grafts?

Other miscellaneous chronic medical conditions: these run the gamut. If your doctor put you on Toprol-XL and Diovan because your blood pressure was running 150/90 all the time, and you are sedentary and overweight, you can probably bring the blood pressure down by losing weight and exercising. It may not come down to normal, and you may still have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, but your life expectancy won't be reduced by much compared to the reduction that would accompany socioeconomic collapse. If you need to choose between blood pressure medicine and insulin for your type-1 diabetic son (who can otherwise pull his weight and then some), I'd probably go for a little extra insulin.
You might also try to change from these top-shelf meds to generic metoprolol (which has to be taken more often, but costs a lot less) and lisinopril (which might or might not make you cough, and costs a lot less). If your doctor has you on five different drugs for blood pressure and you still run 150/90, even though you're 10 pounds under actuarial ideal weight, well, you may need those medications to keep from dying from a stroke in the short term.

Alternative medicine: I have to expose my bias here. I have been practicing medicine for 10 years, and my wife worked for a 'nutriceutical' company while I was in graduate and medical school, keeping tabs on clinical studies on alternative treatments. 'Alternative' is often code for 'expensive placebo'. This is a many billion dollar a year business. Most alternative treatments, if they worked, would have been studied and would be accepted for use as medical treatments. There are no (governmental, whether good or bad) controls on what actually goes into these 'treatments'; if, for instance, a particular flower was effective, the companies could put in the stems and the leaves, and leave the flower out. Also, 'natural' does not mean 'safe and effective'. Curare is natural (and the basis for all the paralytics that are used in surgery and anesthesia). Foxglove is natural (and deadly, and the basis for the anti-arrhythmic medicines digoxin and digitoxin). Uranium (including U-235) is natural. There are water wells in north-central New Mexico that would almost qualify as uranium mines (but rarely does anyone test for it). The usual response to this is 'well, it works for me'. The fallacy here is, of course, mistaking correlation for causality. You would have gotten better anyway (or with another placebo).

Veterinary medicines: Most come from the same factories as the human equivalent. I am told by my veterinary friends that meds intended for horses may be higher purity than those intended for dogs and cats. One of our geldings, Jack, had a pretty bad, dirty laceration on his hip. Our vet sold us equine trimethoprim/sulfamethoxizole (bactrim or septra are brand names in the human medical world) -- the pills were marked exactly the same as the ones I prescribe. We put 15 of them into a syringe with some water and injected the paste into Jack's mouth, twice a day. That's a 7.5 day course for an adult human in one dose for a horse.

Expiration dates: I have heard of (not personally read) military studies that suggested most (dry) medicines would lose less than half their potency after 10 years storage in the cool and dry. I can't confirm this myself, but it has the ring of truth to it.

Dentistry: This is a black art to me, as it is to many medical doctors. There is a product called Cavit-G that dentists have recommended to me as temporary 'patch' material... I don't know how long you can stretch out its use. Oil of cloves (does that count as alternative?) is a fairly effective oral topical anesthetic for short-term use.

Eye surgery: my PRK is settling even further. I started at -5.5 and -6.0 diopters; I am now at 0 and -0.5 diopters, which works well for me. I do get some "haloing" around lights at night, and I think my contrast discrimination is slightly reduced. Now I wear glasses primarily to protect my eyes, rather than correct them. Everything is a trade off, but if my glasses get crushed, I will not be nearly as crippled as I would have prior to surgery.

Appendicitis: It is not uncommon for folks planning travel ["over-winter"] in Antarctica to undergo elective laparoscopic appendectomy. If you develop appendicitis in the back country in Colorado, you apologize to your traveling companions (for inconveniencing them). If you develop appendicitis in Antarctica, your friends may well be apologizing to you (because you're going to die). Post-SHTF, things start to look like Antarctica. Are you going to have your aching gallbladder removed? Ask your surgeon to take out your appendix at the same time. If not, maybe ask a different surgeon.

Antibiotics: Most readers will be attracted to the idea of having at least a small stockpile of antibiotics. These can indeed be lifesavers, however they are over prescribed in the extreme. Common reasons for giving antibiotics are 'bronchitis' (almost always viral, and thus unaffected by antibacterials), 'pneumonia' without any abnormal physical findings or even an abnormal chest x-ray (usually this is the same thing, a viral upper respiratory infection), 'strep throat' which may be viral pharyngitis masquerading as a bacterial infection. Some bacterial infections don't really need to be treated with antibiotics: a lot of folks come to the ER with a 'spider bite', without ever having noticed any spider. These are often abscesses caused by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus [MRSA], which can be cured by incision and drainage, but will be unaffected by most of the commonly prescribed antibiotics. Even urinary infections will often clear (in females) with large volumes of fluid and acidification of the urine (i.e, cranberry juice). Expert advice both on when to use an antibiotic and which one to use can be helpful! It ain't rocket surgery, but it ain't always intuitively obvious either. (I am fond of saying that, as a doctor, I don't give orders, I just sell advice).

Another thing a lot of folks don't consider is actually talking to your doctor about your concerns. The knee-jerk liberal AMA does not represent the attitudes of all physicians. The American Academy of Pediatrics' position that guns and children should not coexist on the same planet does not represent the opinion of all physicians. You can open the discussion with your doctor with questions like 'what if there was a hurricane Katrina here' (insert the natural disaster most likely to occur in your geographic area); what would I do about my medications/conditions? If your doc looks at you and blinks, then suggests a good [psycho]therapist, maybe you should find a new doctor. If he starts telling you about cheaper alternatives so you can afford a year's supply without the insurance company's help, or talks to you about sizing your solar panels and backup diesel genset to run your medical equipment, you may have found someone worth knowing outside the doctor-patient relationship.
Apologies for the length of this letter, but perhaps there are some useful tidbits in there. - Simple Country Doctor


Dear James,
In response to the medical supplies listed on your blog, I would also add that it would be a good idea to stock up on the following:
1. Over the Counter Meds: imodium (for diarrhea), laxatives (for constipation), gatorade/pedialyte for dehydration, Tylenol, ibuprofen (and children's tylenol/ibuprofen), cough and cold medicines,
benadryl, vaseline.

2. Prescription Meds: pain medication such as T3's, percocet, or hydrocodone, anti-virals such as Tamiflu or Relenza (note that there has been some recent controversy about these drugs recently with reports of psychiatric conditions and suicide amongst Japanese children on Tamiflu), Sambucol (a herbal remedy for the flu), nitroglycerin (for angina/heart disease), blood pressure meds, and very importantly, antibiotics. For skin and soft tissue infections (impetigo, diabetic ulcers, human or animal bites, etc) amoxicillin-clavulanate, 500 mg po ["by mouth"] tid ["three times a day"] for 10 days, for post nail puncture of the foot,
ciprofloxacin 750 mg po bid for 2 weeks, for most upper respiratory tract infections I would use amoxicillin 500 mg po tid for 10 days. Erythromycin is also a good antibiotic to have on hand for community acquired pneumonia (500 mg po qid ["four times a day"] for 10 days). For gastroenteritis and traveller's diarrhea I would use ciprofloxacin 500 mg po bid ["twice a day"] for 5 days. Urinary tract infections can also be treated with ciprofloxacin. Make sure to speak with your physician about any of these as this does not represent medical advice.

3. Palliative Care medication: in the event of a long term grid down situation there will be many people dying and in distress, not only from trauma but also from end stage cancer, heart disease, etc. Three of the worst symptoms to be faced with when dying are pain, nausea, and shortness of breath. Having morphine on hand can be very valuable as this can help with pain and shortness of breath. Other good narcotics include dilaudid and fentanyl. For nausea it is a good idea to have phenargen or compazine as well as zofran or kytril. These medications can be very expensive, so again, plan accordingly and prioritize. Find yourself a good family doctor that is willing to work with you.

4.Anaphylactic reactions: whether from bee stings or other sources, you must be prepared to deal with an anaphylactic reaction. Having an Epi-pen on hand can save someone's life. Also, have lots of benadryl and if possible some prednisone. (Benadryl is over the counter).

5. Burns - You will want to store up on sterile NaCl as well as silvadene and lots of gauze. If you need to sedate someone to perform any kind of debridement, versed and ativan are useful as well as morphine for pain.
Hope this helps. - KLK

With regard to your suggestion that the Big Island of Hawaii might be a good place for people needing kidney dialysis, let me add a little local knowledge. The Big Island has a good percentage of alternative energy sources (wind farms, geothermal, hydropower and small scale solar) which would allow our local power company (HELCO) to direct power to a home or facility pre-designated as being for "emergency use", so in that respect, you're right.

However, the diesel powered generators that still make up the bulk of power provided have very little on-island storage (fuel trucks make the run from the port of Hilo to Kona virtually every day) and there are no projected plans to increase storage capacity in any significant way. Earthquake damages to bridges or tsunami damage to the port could literally limit or shut most of the power off for an extended length of time. As serious as that problem is, a much greater negative is the status of medical facilities on the Big Island. The hospitals are quite small and so inadequate for major medical emergencies that patients with serious injuries or conditions are routinely flown to Oahu (300 miles away) via air ambulance. It is often said (by local doctors) that the hospitals on-island are limited to an equivalent of "third-world" care, which is something that has to be seriously stressed with regards to chronic care.

This is not to say that it would be the wrong choice for everyone. In the case of CPAP machines (for sleep apnea), it could be a very good possibility, but when it comes to machines that require extensive supply replacements and constant thorough cleaning (such as dialysis machines), one might be better off looking elsewhere. The availability of emergency electricity is only one factor of the equation and when the necessity of ongoing sophisticated medical treatment (which is normally required for chronic care) is added in, the Big Island loses some of its luster as a survival retreat possibility. - Hawaiian K.


I found it interesting that your comments about Hawaiian Electric essentially concede, without explicitly saying so, that in some situations, the chronically ill are doomed to die without medical care provided by the Establishment. This is, of course, true (unless you have unfathomable financial resources at your disposal to proactively re-create a private, parallel medical infrastructure).

Without insulin, diabetics will eventually die; without dialysis, so will kidney patients; without oxygen, so will those who need assisted breathing. These are just facts. Let me suggest that for those who are in the unfortunate situation of having to care for a loved one with a chronic condition, contingency planning needs to be broken into short- and long-term time horizons.

In the short term, all of your points are well taken re: stockpiling supplies. The plan here is to hold out on your own for as long as you can, and hope that things eventually go back to normal (e.g., Hurricane Katrina). I would add that many insurers will fill a 90-day supply of medicines, provided that you’re willing to use a mail-in service, and generic substitutes are available. If finances are tight, look into this route—it will give you an additional 60 days of stockpile for the same co-pay.

One thing you sort of skipped over was medical knowledge. All the supplies in the world won’t do you a lick of good if you don’t know how to use them. So take the time when things are good to amass a reasonable medical library. Like I mentioned in a previous letter, I own a copy of "Medicine for the Outdoors" for acute care issues, and obviously as a new parent, I own pediatric references too. But it would probably be a good idea to add books like the PDR to have information about drug interactions; a slightly out-of-date edition might be available on ebay. I’m sure real doctors out there could make recommendations.

In terms of longer-term planning, it’s going to come back to relying on the Establishment for drugs, life-saving chronic therapies, etc. My view is that if things go to hell, they may or may not go to hell all at once and everywhere. Cities will get worse before the countryside; collapse may be local before it is national. So use this time, when the internet still works, to do research. For example, how much could it hurt for a dialysis patient to have a list of every public and private dialysis center within 200 miles? The hope would be that if your locale turned ugly, an operating medical establishment could be found somewhere nearby.

The rest of your post dealt with preventative care: elective surgeries, dental care, physical fitness. I’m in wild agreement with everything you said (but now we’re far afield from the original question about chronic care, notice). I’d add that I’m a post-Lasik patient myself, and recommend it highly. I can understand budgetary constraints, but these days Lasik is no longer nearly as expensive as it used to be. Depending on the amount of correction you need, the surgery can be obtained for the cost two handguns, or one good rifle, and is probably worth more to you in a SHTF situation than another firearm in the arsenal, or an extra 1,000 rounds of .308 Winchester.

Keep up the great thinking and writing. - DCs


JWR Replies: I'd be reluctant to consider Oahu, since its population density is so high that it could not be self-sufficient in the event of an economic collapse and the likelihood of rioting and looting seems much, much higher than on the Big Island. There are at least three dialysis centers extant on the Big Island (One on the Kona coast, one in Hilo--both operated by Liberty Medical--as well as another in Hilo at the Hilo Medical Center. OBTW, I've also read that a large, new dialysis center was just recently opened on Maui.

David B. suggested a "must read" article by Charles Hugh Smith: The Unintended Consequences of the Housing Bubble Bursting

   o o o

Student-Loan Problems Add to Debt Worry

   o o o s

SF suggested this TED talk: Thomas Barnett: The Pentagon's new map for war and peace

   o o o

There is some insightful commentary from Alex Wallenwein posted over at Credit 'Crunch' - or Credit Collapse?

"Of every One-Hundred men, Ten shouldn't even be there,
Eighty are nothing but targets,
Nine are real fighters...
We are lucky to have them...They make the battle,
Ah, but the One, One of them is a Warrior...
and He will bring the others back."
- Heraclitus (circa 500 BC)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The high bid is still 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 on Saturday, December 15th. Please send us your bid via e-mail.

In Viet-Nam we used CONEXes as underground electronic shelters. A hole was excavated that allowed space between the side of the hole and the container. The hole was deep enough to allow the top of the container to be below ground. If needed the walls of the hole were sandbagged to prevent collapse. The container and hole were roofed over with support structure and then sandbags where laid over the top. If we were in an area that was subject to indirect fire, two ramps were dug down to the level of the floor with a dogleg in the middle. We would put a layer of heavy rock or I-beams to act as a detonation point to prevent penetration of heavy shell (anything from 81mm up). - Long Goody


I have thought about converting a CONEX for use as a retreat before. I have actually seen several storm shelters in southern Mississippi made out of CONEX containers buried in the side of a hill. As long as there is not too much structural load on the roof of the container there shouldn't be a problem. If they're looking for a hardened structure, readers should use reinforced concrete. The relatively thin steel of the container will not support a sufficient load without significant bracing. Also, burying steel below ground is inviting rust unless it's treated heavily with a corrosion inhibitor.

My background is construction and specifically concrete, reinforcing, and masonry construction. I have done several projects using insulating concrete form (ICF) systems that use a foam type block that is put together. Rebar is then inserted into the void between each side and filled with concrete. The roof is similar constructed. I did some cost analysis and the cost of construction for this is about the same and in some cases cheaper than conventional stick built construction depending on your area. Another less expensive (and less thermally efficient) option is to construct wooden forms for the walls and pour them with concrete (and reinforcing.) Lastly, there is masonry construction. If a reader wanted to go this route, they could either erect the block walls and reinforce each cell or put a rebar in every 2 or 3 cells with the remaining cells filled with gravel. This would save money on concrete and still give a structural, thermal, and ballistic benefit to the walls.

As an aside, all troops and contractors out here in Iraq, with a few exceptions, are all living in what we call CHUs or Containerized Housing Units (spoken "Chews"). These are constructed similarly to a CONEX in that it's made to fit on and be carried by a semi tractor-trailer. The difference is that it has a window and conventional door in one end and some are set up with a bathroom with shower, toilet, hot water heater, and sink in the other end. It also has floors and electrical system set up to run on 240 VAC. Unfortunately the CHUs here are built by companies in Europe (Cormac and Tyson are the two manufacturers that come to mind right now), but at one time I did find someone in the States that built a similar type container.
Regards, - Brian in Iraq


Dear Sir,
Three observations on shipping containers. According to the tags on the doors, the timber component (the floor to most people) almost invariably is treated with serious pesticide. There are multiple purposes to the pesticide treatments - a) to prevent transplantation of harmful insects around the world, b) to protect the structure of the floor, and c) to protect the contents from infestation
and damage. The treatments are serious both in quantity, being roughly in the range of 1 to 10 pounds of pesticide in the wood, and serious in quality. Even 5 lbs is enough to kill a staggering number of insects. As often as not, these pesticides have been banned in the US (and frequently Europe too). Some cause cancer (e.g.., DDT) while others cause testicular atrophy (e.g., Phoxim). Some take hours of diligent searching to track down on the internet either because of trade names or cryptic abbreviations. Pesticides are at least somewhat volatile and almost certainly will permeate the contents
over time, especially if the can gets hot. Note that the contents can include occupants; caution with food storage in containers also advised, unless strong measures are
taken (e.g., remove and replace the floor with untreated wood). Please note that lacquers, varnishes, paints and plastic sheets are highly permeable to organic vapors.

The point about structural use is well taken. In normal use (weight on the corners), a typical acceptable load for stacking on top of a 40-foot can is 423,000 pounds at 1.8 g (the acceleration caused by [a container ship] pitching in waves). On stable land, this translates into a 761,000 pound recommended weight limit. Roughly speaking, this means they can be stacked 80 - 100 deep if they are
empty, and about 8 to 10 [containers] deep when they are full. The sides are not nearly as strong as the ends, so caution is advised if the stacking arrangement is nonstandard.
Pillars can be placed strategically inside if needed, but they should be reviewed by a skilled structural engineer.

With all that said, it is difficult to beat the value of these mobile structures. In our area, a 40-foot high cube can be obtained for about $2,500 in reasonable condition and $3,000 for good condition. We are seeing strong attempts at increased local government regulation, in part because they have become so popular. In one case, the authorities seek to regulate them as buildings, even though they are
customarily used in commerce for storage and transport of goods. Sincerely, - John Galt

I enjoyed reading your Recommended Retreat Areas page. As a member of the LDS church [commonly called the Mormon church] who has lived for a long time in Utah I think your assessment of our attitude towards preparedness is too optimistic. (Sadly). I would agree that Utah is probably better prepared than any other area that I know of, but that's not saying much. Only 3% to 5% of LDS families in Utah have a year's supply of food. The majority of families practice no preparedness at all. The church used to strongly suggest at least a two year supply, then that was reduced to a one year supply. Now the suggestion is to get three months of things that you regularly eat, and add another nine months of long term storage when you can. No ward has it's own cannery. We do have a local "dry pack" cannery that serves a population of about 100,000 people. At that it's not heavily used. :-(.

LDS people generally try to do what's right, and active members of the church make pretty good neighbors. We do believe in Christ, and some members have deep testimonies of Him, that He is our savior and redeemer. Others, maybe even the majority, are more centered in the many good (but not saving) programs of the church, following church leaders good example, etc. Overall though, pretty good people, fairly clean cities, lots of open spaces. Thanks for your excellent site! - Henry J.

There has been another outbreak of Ebola in Uganda, that already has killed 25 people. It is funny (in a morbid way), but the "good news" that the specialists gave about this new Ebola strain:
" ...Because of its scanty history, scientists have concluded that the strain is somewhat containable because it kills its victims faster than it can spread to new hosts..."

Sometimes, people around tell to us, survivalists: you are always "over-reacting" to threats that maybe never happen. Well, look at the reason why some medical workers die:
" ...The mysterious strain has so far infected 104 people -- including the 25 dead -- some of them medical workers who treated patients without latex gloves and respirator gowns..."
It is unbelievable: in 2007, medical workers dealing with Ebola without latex gloves and respirators. - "The Werewolf" in Brazil

Plains states ice storm leaves 410,000 without power

   o o o

A reminder that's special free shipping offer just for SurvivalBlog readers, ends tomorrow (Wednesday, December 12th)

   o o o

Currie flagged this one for us: Mortgage Meltdown--Interest rate 'freeze' - the real story is fraud. Bankers pay lip service to families while scurrying to avert suits, prison

   o o o

SF in Hawaii mentioned a video clip on how to use a cordless drill motor as a battery charger.

"Law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." - Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Three days a ago we recognized Pearl Harbor Day. Tomorrow (December 11th) may be remembered as another "day that will live in infamy"--the day that the Fed torpedoed the US Dollar. You see, the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors is meeting again, and as I mentioned in the blog last week, it seems very likely that the Fed will cut interest rates again. If it is a 50 basis point (or larger) cut, then it could kick off another huge round of global Dollar-dumping, and we might see the USD Index plunge into the 60 range. Coincidentally, there will be another Fed conclave in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Wednesday. How convenient. They can formulate their desperation moves in reaction to the dollar meltdown that they started.

Let's face it: It may not be this this year, or even this decade, but in the long run, like all other un-backed currencies, the US Dollar is doomed. Get out of dollar-nominated investments and diversify into tangibles. Of more immediate concern: If there are any goods on your retreat logistics lists that are made in Europe, then I recommend that you move them up in priority. Odds are that many European-manufactured items such as Kahles, Schmidt & Bender, or Swarovski scopes will be unaffordable for US buyers in less than a year.

Hello Jim,
I am a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber and have looked at your site daily -- great job!

I have a medical background and would advise readers to consider what gear they will need if a friend, relative or team member becomes ill, hurt, disabled etc. The basic first aid supplies will not provide the level of comfort et cetera needed. We are talking basic nursing care, not "first aid". Take care, stay safe and God Bless! - Dave T.

JWR Replies:
Thanks for bringing that subject up again. Aside for fairly some brief mentions (such as photovoltaically-powered CPAP machines for sleep apnea patients, and refrigeration of insulin) we haven't given this the emphasis that it deserves.

Acute Care
Preparing to care for injuries or acute illnesses, is well within the reach of most middle class families. You should of course build up a large supply of bandages, antibiotics, and so forth. Also plan ahead for such mundane items as drinking straws, hot water bottles, bed pans, and diaper wipes. I also recommend looking for an older-style used, adjustable hand-crank hospital bed. Just watch Craig's List regularly, and chances are that you will eventually find one at a bargain price.

Chronic Care
It may be difficult for us to confront issue of care for the chronically ill, because it can seem so overwhelming. But for the vast majority of us that do not subscribe to the "park granny on an ice floe" (senilicide and invalidicide) mentality, these issues demand our attention, our concerted planning, and considerable financial commitment. Since there are such a wide range of chronic illnesses and disabilities, it is impossible to address them all, but I will mention a few:

Lets start with the most difficult to mitigate: Chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis. In a "grid-down" situation, dialysis patients will be out of luck once the hospital backup generators run out of fuel. To see a loved one slowly have their blood turn toxic and die would be absolutely heartbreaking. My suggested solution may seem odd, but think this through: Move to the Big Island of Hawaii, or to a natural gas producing region, or to near a refinery in an oil-producing state.

In Hawaii, each island has its own independent power generation infrastructure. For many years, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) utility has used diesel fired generators (using crude oil that is shipped in and then fractioned at refineries), but they may soon switch over to natural gas, using imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). There are any number of different circumstances, including an EMP attack, wherein the continental US power grids will go down, but the lights will stay on in Hawaii. My only unanswered question is: how much a of crude oil supply is kept on hand? And if and when HECO switches over to LNG, will the number of months of reserve fuel increase or decrease?

As for natural gas-producing regions (such as parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and several other states), such a move would first require considerable research. You would have to find a community adjacent to natural gas fields with a kidney dialysis center that that has a natural gas-fired backup generator and that is in an area with sufficient wellhead pressure to pressurize local lines. (You can expect to be making a lot of phone calls, finding such a rarity!) As I've mentioned previously in SurvivalBlog, in the late 1990s, my mentor Dr. Gary North bought a property in Arkansas that had its own natural gas well, and two-natural gas-fired generators. To borrow the modern parlance, talk about a "sweet" set -up!

Another option might be to find a dialysis center with a diesel-powered backup generator that is within 25 miles of a refinery that is also in oil country. (Providing a local source of crude oil for resupply.) As biodiesel plants start to come on line in the next few years, this should widen your range of choices. But keep in mind that you will want to find a biodiesel plant that is independent of grid power. The key word to watch for in your web searches is co-generation. A plant that has co-generation capability is likely one that could operate without the need of the power grid.

Next down the list is diabetes. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, relatively small and inexpensive (under $3,000) packaged photovoltaic power systems with inverters (such as those sold by Ready Made Resources) can be used to operate a compact refrigerator (such as the Engel compact refrigerator/freezers sold by Safecastle). A system of this size could also be used to run a CPAP machine or other AC-powered medical equipment with similar amperage demands.

Another category of chronic illness to consider is the care of post-surgical "-ostomy" patients--folk s that have had a colostomy, iliostomy, urostomy, and so forth. These often require keeping on hand a large supply of medical appliances, bags, catheters, and so forth. Thankfully, most of these items have fairly long shelf lives and are not too expensive to stock up on--at least compared to some of those "$5 per pill" blood thinner medications.

Yet another category of chronic disease to consider is bronchial and lung ailments. There are some ailments that can be relieved (at least to an extent) by relocating. Getting to a more suitable elevation, moving to avoiding pollen or fungi, and so forth can make a considerable difference. If this is your situation, then I suggest that you go ahead and make the move soon if you have the opportunity. Chronic asthma is quite common, and of course an acute asthma attack can be life threatening. Ironically, buying a wood stove--one of the key preparedness measures that I recommend to my clients--is not good for someone that has an asthmatic in their family. If that is your case, then consider moving to the southwest, where passive solar heating is an option, or moving to an area where you can use geothermal heating. I mention a few such locales, such as Klamath Falls, Oregon, in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation".

For the many folks that now depend on medical oxygen cylinders, it is wise to at least stock up on extra cylinders. One alternative suitable for long term scenarios is to buy a medical oxygen concentrator. High volume units are fairly expensive, but owning your own would be an incredible resource for charity or barter as well as for your own family's use. Large (high volume) units can sometime be found through used medical equipment dealers such as East Tennessee Sterilizer Service. Smaller, factory new oxygen concentrators are available in the US from Liberty Medical, and in England from Pure O2, Ltd.

A much more common situation is caring for someone that requires regular medication that does not require refrigeration. The high cost of some medicines make storing a two year supply difficult. And the policies of most insurance companies--often refusing to pay for more than a month's worth of medication in advance--only exacerbates the problem. In these cases, I suggest 1.) Re-prioritizing your budget to provide the funds needed to stock up, and 2.) If possible, looking at alternative treatments, including herbs that you can grow in your own garden or greenhouse.

If you decide yo go the route of stocking up your meds to build a multi-year stockpile--all the way to their expiration dates--this will require not only lots of cash but also very conscientious "first in, first out" rotation of your supplies. I have seen a deep, open-backed cabinet used for this method. After you have bought your "all the way to the expiry date supply", you simply continue to order your monthly supply and put each newly-arrived pill bottle in the back of the cabinet and use the bottle that is closest to the front.

Alternative treatment, such as using herbs or acupuncture, is a touchy subject. Again, it is something that will take considerable research and qualified consultation, and in effect making yourself your own guinea pig. If you decide to use this approach, I recommend that you make any transition gradually, with plenty of qualified supervision. If it takes a lot of extra visits to to your doctor for tests, then so be it. Just do your best to make the transition, before everything hits the fan. Living in Schumeresque times will undoubtedly be extremely stressful, and the additional stress of changing medications might very well be "one stress too many."

I have seen some folks in preparedness circles on the Internet recommend stockpiling low-cost veterinary medications, but I could only advise using such medications in absolute extremis. (When your only other option is certain death.)

As for using meds beyond their "official" expiration dates, this requires some careful study. Some medications have listed expiries that are overly conservative. (I suspect that any of these expiration terms are driven by the advice of corporate staff malpractice attorneys rather than by the advice of the formulating chemists.) A few drugs, however, are downright dangerous to use past their expiration dates. Consult your local pharmacists with questions about any particular drug. (I lack a "R.Ph." or "PharmD." after my name, so please don't ask me. I am not qualified to give such advice!) Parenthetically, in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", I mentioned a WHO-approved titration test that is useful for some antibiotics. This method was developed for use in Third World countries where out-of date medications seem to end up with amazing regularity.

Speaking of the Third World, there are some valuable lessons that can be learned from studying the way that chronically-ill are treated in poor countries. (I'm not taking about neglect. Rather, I'm talking about creative ways to care for people when there isn't the money or there aren't "the proper facilities.") Do some Internet research on the chronic illness that is of concern to you with search phrases that include "In Cuba", "In Africa", "in Thailand", and so forth.

Elective Surgery and Dental Work
If you have an existing problem that could be cured with elective surgery or dental work, then I strongly recommend that you go ahead and do so, if you have the means. If your condition worsens after medical or dental facilities become unavailable, it could turn a simple inconvenience into something life threatening. I've heard of several wealthy preppers that have had their nearsightedness cured by Lasik or PRK, just for the sake of being better prepared for a foreseen new era that will not have the benefit of ophthalmologists and a handy shopping mall "eyeglasses in about an hour" shop. Living free of eyeglasses or contact lenses also makes wearing night vision goggles and NBC protective masks much easier, and makes defensive shooting--particularly at long range--more accurate. Lasik is an expense that I cannot personally justify on my tight budget, but if you can afford it, then do so. (BTW, I even had one consulting client go so far as to have his healthy appendix removed, just to avoid the prospect of appendicitis. That qualifies as "going to extremes"! I would not recommend this, since new research suggests that the appendix does serve to maintain good digestive bacteria populations.)

Fitness and Body Weight
One thing that every well-prepared individual should do is to stay in shape. Good muscle tone prevents back injuries and other muscle strains, and leaves you ready for the rigors of an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle. (There surely will plenty of 19th Century muscle work involved, post-TEOTWAWKI!) Keeping a healthy diet and maintaining an appropriate body weight (or getting back down to a proper weight!) is also very important. Again, it will leave you ready for physical challenges and it falls into the prepper's "one less stress to worry about" mindset. And, notably, watching your weight will also make you less likely to become diabetic. The only thing more tragic than having a chronic illness is unintentionally making yourself chronically ill!

One important side note: Many injuries and illnesses cause difficulty chewing and digesting solid foods, because of the patient's weakness, dental problems, or jaw/palate/throat trauma. It is important to have a hand-cranked food grinder available so that you can accommodate the needs of these patients. Old-fashioned grinders (the type that clamp on the edge of a kitchen table) can often be found used, for just a few dollars at yard sales. If you want to buy a new one, they are available from both Ready Made Resources and

In Closing
The bottom line is that caring for someone with a chronic illness in a protracted emergency or in the midst of a societal collapse is something that will take plenty of research, planning, and unfortunately, expense. As previously noted, it might even require relocating.

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers with (or with loved ones with) chronic health conditions or disabilities would care to chime in. I'd also appreciate hearing from those in a health care professions.

Economist Peter Schiff comments on the US "teaser" interest rate freeze: The Mother Of All Bad Ideas. FWIW, I agree with Schiff, and I've previously warned of the perils of government meddling with the free market.

   o o o

By way of the recently revamped SHTF Daily web site: Moody's Report Predicts House Prices Seen falling 30 Percent

   o o o

The special sale at Ready Made Resources for their Deluxe pocket-sized survival tool kit will end soon--once their on-hand supplies have sold out. I highly recommend this kit. Someday it may save your life, or the life a of a loved one. I recommend buying a few for Christmas gifts. OBTW, individual components from the kit are also available separately. From personal experience I can endorse the quality and usefulness of both the Blast Match Fire Starter and the Saber Cut Saw. Quantities are limited, so be sure to get your order in soon.

   o o o

R.G. suggested this article from The Economist: The end of cheap food

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: Some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” - Sam Ewig

Sunday, December 9, 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.

I am a big fan of SurvivalBlog, and read it almost every day. I am sending a two year 10 Cent Challenge subscription to you in rolls of nickels.
I am doing some research in preparation to doing a buildout with [CONEX] containers next to the site of my future home. I found an interesting guide by Bob Vila.

I am including a few more links I found interesting that other readers may find useful.
News Stories about building out of containers:

There are also some excellent books on the subject available from There are a number of prefab kits on the market designed to turn a shipping container into the dwelling. Unfortunately the consensus is that it would take a lot of reinforcement to the structure to be able to bury it. I will be purchasing a spare container for a test and see what is sufficient. If it's successful I will post pictures on and inform your readers. - Steveninpa

JWR Replies: As previously mentioned, for liability reasons and for your own safety, be sure to consult a structural engineer before attempting anything with a CONEX that would cause an usual stress or load.

A recent shoulder injury has alerted me to the fact that my weak side drills were totally inadequate. Just tucking the strong side hand in and using the weak side does not equal the reality of having a useless and painful limb effecting balance, movement and concentration. This is a very humbling experience. I will try to use some sort of "handicap" rig to duplicate the effect at the range. Safety is the first rule.
Long gun drills will be a real challenge. Sincerely in your debt for the great blog, - Spud

JWR Replies: Al of the major training organizations (such as Front Sight, Gunsite, and Thunder Ranch) have weak-side shooting in their curricula, but I've noticed that because of time constraints it typically doesn't get the emphasis that it deserves, especially in two-day courses. (Weak-side drills are covered much better in the four-day courses.)

In my personal experience, I've found that weak side gets subconsciously ignored in self-directed practice because: A.) It doesn't qualify as what most folks consider "fun" training, B.) The awkwardness of drawing and holstering, and C.) the subtle fear of looking inadequate/clumsy/inaccurate in front of family and friends. All that I can say is: Get over it, folks! Weak-side, by its very nature is going to look awkward, especially vis-a-vis drawing and holstering. To minimize embarrassment, have everyone in your shooting party practice shooting weak side at the same time. To make these drills more enjoyable, you can bake a batch of brownies to award to the "most improved weak-side shooter of the day." You can also mix up the training. Shoot and practice reloading pistols belonging to other shooters. If you have one or two left-handers in your party or family, occasionally have them switch holsters with other shooters. Try wearing someone else's rig. Try draping your own or someone else's rig over your left or right shoulder. (As you might hastily do with a battlefield pick-up.) These provide variety, and such variety can be a good thing. Also don't overlook the possibility of eye injuries in defensive shooting situations as well as hand/arm/shoulder injuries. You can put patches over alternating eyes, to provide four different drill variations: 1.) Strong side, strong eye, 2.) Strong side, weak eye, 3.) Weak side, strong eye, and 4.) Weak side, weak eye.

OBTW, do you want a real challenge? If you are right-handed, try shooting a right-hand bolt action from your left shoulder. While you are at it, also try shooting a left-hand bolt action from your left shoulder. You will feel like you stepped into an alternate universe--the universe where you can't shoot worth beans. (It will also give you some compassion for what lefties endure, all through life.)

Not everyone has the advantage of living in the boonies and having a place to shoot right at home. Many public shooting ranges won't allow any "from the holster" shooting drills, and some of those that do won't allow weak hand or other unconventional shooting positions or drills. If that is the case where you normally shoot then either talk with the range management to convince them to change their policies (or set aside special times/days for holster drills), or, failing that, find a different place to shoot. This is yet another reason why you should live at your retreat year-round.

Note: Needless to say, unusual shooting techniques require extra attention to safety. Do considerable dry practice before trying any unusual shooting positions/drills at a live fire range (You will probably find that the first time that you try weak side gun handling, your muzzle will end up in unanticipated directions.) Mind your muzzle and never, ever diverge from following the Four Safety Rules. Perfect practice make perfect.

The letters reacting to my friend's mobile, radio-controlled Glock platform make some very good points. The triggering systems of these particular machines were built on very simple eccentric cams (powered by cannibalized motor-driven wheel components) that were intentionally de-powered after a single revolution. In this configuration, shots were limited to about a one second interval, requiring another push of the button for another shot. It could've been made into a "rapid fire" mechanism but the builder didn't see any advantage to such a modification.
The trigger used a redundant system of three simultaneous frequencies in order to compensate for the potential of radio signal mishaps, and if I recall correctly, a couple of them were unusual ones (this was above my pay grade but child's play for my acquaintance.) He figured that the chances of all three required frequencies hitting the antennae of his creation at the same time, accidentally, was nigh on to nil. However, I should also add that his proposed usage of these machines was limited to the most dire of circumstances.

I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that this kind of construction should be left to the most technically capable among us (building this kind of thing from scratch as my friend did is well beyond my present abilities). I will also note that finding a safe place to work on something like this is quite difficult as any responsible gun range would ban these contraptions as fast as they would a drunk hand-gunner. The point I was making is that variations of these things are starting to be purpose-built for the military and that it is inevitable that the same technology is going to eventually filter down to the civilian market, from OEMs to home-brew copycats.

In the eight or so years since these "toys" were tested, technology has jumped by leaps and bounds. New examples could incorporate GPS and software limiters that specify where shots can't be fired (to protect yourself and your neighbors) along with a number of non-lethal alternatives including green laser "dazzlers" which can be used to temporarily blind or disorient an attacker. They could also be built without any ballistic hardware, making them simple mobile platforms for wireless cameras to operate as surveillance in dangerous conditions. In case it hasn't been said enough already, don't build anything lethal along these lines unless you're a professional with an ingrained obsession about safety! - Hawaiian K.

JWR Replies: Use extreme caution and do plenty of research before contemplating using any laser with the intent to "dazzle" an opponent. Some laser wavelengths are not considered "eye safe"--they can cause irreversible retinal burns. OBTW, I discussed both eye safe and non-eye safe lasers in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" and in a series of articles that I wrote when I was a full time associate editor for Defense Electronics magazine, back in the late 1980s. These articles primarily described the U.S. Army's now defunct Dazer (hand held) and Stingray (tactical vehicle/aircraft-mounted) laser weapon programs. Both had been intended to counter enemy EO sensors, but were unfortunately indiscriminate in damaging the Mark I human eyeball. (They used high power Alexandrite lasers, which were not eye safe.) As I recall, the Dazer program was cancelled around 1992, and the larger Stingray system development was de-funded in 1996, right around the time of ratification of the UN Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. (Main reference: Rawles, James W. "Directed Energy Weapons: Battlefield Beams." Defense Electronics, August 1989. v. 21, no. 8, p. 47-54.)

`Decoupling' Debunked as U.S. Collapse Infects World

   o o o

I heard that Green Mountain Gear is reducing their inventory of new-in-the-wrapper original West German Bundeswehr contract HK91/G3 magazines. All of these are Rheinmettal made! The 10 pack sale special is just $74.99 plus postage. Shipped via US Mail. (The total will be adjusted for postage when charged/shipped.)

   o o o

SF in Hawaii suggested this Self-Priming Manual Siphon Pump. The price seemed a bit high, so I did a price comparison with the tried-and-true Black & Decker Jackrabbit hand pump. (Which can also be used to prime a siphoning transfer.) It was a bit of shock to see that the same pump that I paid $20 for back in the 1980s, now sells for $60. Inflation certainly is insidious! In effect, currency inflation is subtle robbery in slow motion. OBTW, readers that want a high-volume DC-powered pump should refer to this "home brew" piece from the SurvivalBlog archives.

   o o o

I noticed that Mickey Creekmore, over at The Survivalist Blog (formerly called the National Survival Blog, and before that it was called the Survival Strategies Blog) has had several useful recent posts on herbal remedies.

"One meets one's destiny often in the road one takes to avoid it." - French Proverb

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 14 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 14 ends on January 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

A significant part of being prepared and being able to weather a crisis is having information. Remember, those in charge now will make it their first priority after TSHTF to return to the status quo. Banks and mortgage companies will do everything possible to continue banking and lending. Landlords will do whatever it takes to make sure they continue to collect rent from their tenants, and any police or military personnel you come into contact with will be very unhappy if you cannot prove who you are or otherwise deflect suspicion.
You can call having critical information available during and after a crisis "life continuity." There are three aspects to it: collection, protection, and dispersion.

The first step is collection. Just as with other aspects of your survival plan, you'll want to make a list of the information you want to collect and have available during and after a crisis. Such a list should include:
- medical information and records for all family members
- names, addresses, and contact numbers of relatives, doctors and insurance companies
- copies of wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, and other legal documents
- copies of insurance policies
- copies of birth certificates, wedding licenses, children's school records, and college transcripts
- copies of property ownership documents, such as mortgage agreements and property deeds
- copies of driver licenses and passports
- e-books or scanned pages from knowledge materials you've collected
- as many family photos as you feel you need, but at a minimum make sure there is a clear "head shot" of everyone in your family that can be used by authorities if needed to conduct a search
- video taped walk-throughs of your house and property showing major purchases and valuables and the condition of any buildings
While some of the items above might seem like overkill, it is important to remember that you can never have enough supporting documentation if you ever need to prove your case or prove your identity. Imagine bugging out of your home and going to your retreat for three months, only to return to your home after the all clear to find it occupied by squatters. Will you be able to prove the house is yours? If your insurance company denies your claim, will you have the materials ready to counter their argument in your appeal?
Once you've collected the documents and photos, the next step is protection. At a minimum, you'll want to have a fireproof box or safe to hold your documents. Even better, get a box or safe that is waterproof as well. For example, Sentry makes a small waterproof and fireproof lockbox for well under $100. You might even be able to pick one up for much less at a garage sale or flea market. Put your safe in an obscure location in your home, and use any supplied mounting hardware to mount the safe to the floor or wall to prevent thieves from simply lifting it up and walking away with it. Avoid any safe or lockbox that requires power to operate, such as batteries or a wall plug. This includes the fancy safes with biometric access mechanisms. You don't need Fort Knox; you just need to be reasonably protected. If you can't afford a lockbox or safe, at least put your document stash into a large Ziploc bag and put it somewhere safe. You could put it into a locking file cabinet or even put it into a five-gallon pail and bury it.

Dispersion is another key element to protecting your information stash. Make copies of everything and mail a set to your lawyer and a couple sets to trusted family members. Mailing a set to family outside of your region is an especially good idea. For example, if you live in the Midwest, you would want to send a copy to someone on the east coast or perhaps out west. Use a service with a tracking number that requires a signature so that you can be sure the documents arrive at their location. Even better is to scan everything into an electronic format. PDF is best, as it can be read on just about any computer. Take the electronic copies and write them to a CD or DVD, also known as "burning to disk" since the CD/DVD drive's laser actually burns information into the disk. CD and DVD writers are very cheap nowadays, on the order of $20-$30 for a brand new unit and a few dollars for the disk media. Keep a couple copies along with your paper (hard) copies, and send out a DVD to your family members instead of a large pack of documents.

Some people also keep electronic copies of their important documents on USB keys. USB keys are also known as "thumb drives" because of their size. Any computer with a USB port can access a USB key as if it was a hard drive. Keep in mind, though, that a USB key is electronic and will be susceptible to anything that would damage electronics such as a magnetic field. While it might not seem like a good idea to keep important info on something that could end up damaged, the point is to analyze the trade-off between convenience and accessibility without hurting reliability. If you have hard copies of everything, then using something as convenient as a USB key might be an advantage. For example, you could hook the USB key to your belt and walk into a disaster relief shelter to use the computer there instead of walking around with a big pack of important papers.

If you choose to make electronic copies of your information, you will want to encrypt everything and make sure to use innocent-sounding labels. Imagine sending a DVD labeled "Our Family's Important Information" to someone on the other side of the country. If that DVD were to fall into the wrong hands, those people would have everything they needed to steal your identity. Instead, label the CD or DVD something like "Our Family Vacation 2006" where "2006" is the year that the DVD was made. That way you will know which is the most recent.

Encrypting your information sounds difficult, but it is actually pretty easy. The only downside is that you will need a computer to decrypt the information once it is encrypted. There are numerous free and open encryption programs available at no charge. My favorite is called TrueCrypt. How it works is beyond the scope of this article, but it is safe to say that if you encrypt your information with TrueCrypt, it would take all the computers in the world several hundreds of years to crack it. TrueCrypt runs on Windows computers only, but similar applications are available for Mac OS X and Linux.
If you are technically savvy and really want to take your USB key to the next level, you can install a complete operating system onto the USB key itself. An example would be PenDrive Linux or Damn Small Linux. Damn Small Linux is only 50 MB in size! With the OS right on your USB key, you could keep all your information encrypted and never have to worry about what type of computer you would need to decrypt and view your information.

Many people focus on the tangible aspects of being prepared. Beans, bandages and bullets are important, but so are intangibles like information. With a small amount of effort and little to no expenses, you can make sure all the information your family might need to survive, regroup, and move on is protected and in an easily-accessible and safe location.

I have been reading your blog for a few days now and I am shocked to find that you have never mentioned solar cooking. Seems that everyone that would be reading your site would be interested in something like this. It requires no fuel, produces no smoke, requires very little attending-to while cooking (frees you to do other things rather than cook for a few hours) they are small and easily stored. pretty much everything that one would want in a cooking device. they even work when its not really sunny out. I would think that refueling a retreat in a disaster scenario would be impossible or extremely expensive relying on propane or any combustible fuel for extended retreats seems like a bad decision.
there is more info than you can read in the next few days there..
here are a few commercial products, although its really simple and very inexpensive to build your own.
This site has some great water pasteurizers, pasteurization indicators (that are reusable) that use no fuel at all.
Obviously it is good to have a backup cooking plan (fuel) but this eliminates significant expense, storage, weight, and danger from storing and just having large amounts of fuel on hand (theft and fire dangers)

Also I have never seen any mention of Lifestraws. they are small inexpensive lightweight water filters that filter about 180 gallons of water. You can hang them around your neck.The new version (Lifestraw 2) does not have an iodine aftertaste.

I cant seem to find anywhere that sells the new version yet, but it looks to be very good. - Thomas

JWR Replies: Thanks for your mention of solar ovens. We presently have wintery weather here, but I'm sure that our readers in Australia could set up their solar ovens about now. You are correct that we haven't given them much more than passing mention. They are quite useful, especially for those living below 40 Degree Latitude, but even then, there are seasonal and terrain limitations. (They are not very useful if you live in a canyon.) Here at the ranch we have a compact (collapsing) solar oven., but for serious solar cookery at home or a permanent retreat, my brother recommends the Global Solar Oven. (He built one that was very similar, from a kit (sadly, no longer available), and it works amazingly well.) I also recommend the book "Cooking With The Sun."

For use in the field, I much prefer higher-volume filters, such as the Katadyn Pocket Filter (which has a service life of up to13,000 gallons). In my experience, LifeStraws should be considered "novelties" rather than useful tools. They are not practical for filtering any volume greater than emergency drinking water, they clog easily (mine did after less than about 70 gallons), and the service life cost "per gallon" is actually more than twice as much as buying a high volume compact filter.

[Regarding Hawaiian K's letter]: Just want to offer a caution to anyone who might experiment with a firearm mounted on a radio controlled vehicle of any type: While modern Radio Controlled (RC) stuff is generally very reliable, there are many scenarios in which a partial failure of batteries, transmitter, receiver, servo, radio interference, unintentional collision with an object, or simple human error could cause the mounted firearm to discharge unintentionally. If any of your readers intends to experiment with such a setup, I hope it will be under very tightly controlled circumstances. Regards, - Rich S.


The BATFE would consider the contraption described a machine gun if it is capable of firing multiple rounds at the press of one button on the laptop. If you are not law enforcement or military or a Class 3 dealer manufacturing a sample you can not legally manufacture/register one and you are opening yourself to a 12 year mandatory sentence for every single count (the BATFE will probably charge you with one count for every RC car, servo and firearm you have since they are components of the illegal device).

If you have a design that uses only a single shot fire arm you can submit it to the BATFE for approval as a gadget gun or "Any Other Weapon" (AOW) [catch-all Federal firearms category]--think briefcase guns, wallet guns, cane guns, et cetera. Once approved you follow the normal Class 3 toy transfer procedures.

There are many companies who have done a lot of research and development on this for SWAT teams, hostage negotiation robots, bomb defusing robots etc. Many are armed with water cannons, shotguns and in some cases pistols.

It may be legal to mount a 37mm tear gas launcher loaded with CS or CN rounds and greet the unwelcome visitors without filing out any paperwork. Check your local and state laws. Always check regulations, with the BATFE and a knowledgeable gunsmith before attempting to construct anything. [JWR Adds: Advice from the BATFE Firearms Branch or field offices is not legally binding. If they give you any guidance, be sure to ask for it in writing.]
How prepared would you and your family be for TEOTWAWKI sitting in a jail cell with $80,000+ in legal bills, and reduced income (while you are in jail)? - Steveninpa



Hawaiian K's short article on Tactical Hacks of his friend brought to mind some of the ingenious adaptations of common items our troops in Iraq have come up with to help keep the troopers safe. A friend of our family was in Iraq awhile back emailed a video to his dad. As we watched the video it was amazing to see and hear the members of his squad work through a situation that just screamed IED. There was a donkey cart and a nearby donkey just standing on a dirt road. The soldiers had correctly recognized the threat potential and wasn't going to approach the cart and donkey but still had to figure a way to neutralize the threat. One of the members pulled out of a Humvee a remote controlled toy race car his parents sent for amusement when off duty. In true American Ingenuity fashion he removed the race car body, taped a brick of C4 complete with detonator and a very l-o-n-g fuse and proceeded to maneuver the toy car over the rocky and rutted dirt road and parked it under the cart. When the charge went off they got the secondary explosion they expected. Before approaching the debris they waited a long while for another charge to go off. The insurgents would have heard the first explosion and would wait to set off another IED when they considered time enough had passed for rescuers to arrive to help those caught in the initial blast. With no additional explosions a bomb disposal team carefully went down to what was left of the donkey cart. There they found two artillery shells buried on the side of the road. They couldn't be detonated because the exploding toy car was at ground level and had severed the wiring leading to the artillery shells.

Oh, by the way, the donkey was okay because when the toy car came toward the cart the donkey shied away from the approaching modified toy because the donkey hadn't been harnessed; it just appeared to be so. One of the solders said in a chuckle, "That donkey is mad, he just lost his lunch." Ah, the ingenuity of the American soldier. The cost of off the shelf electronics is dropping as the quality goes up. Already remote controlled helicopters and planes with low light or zero lux light cameras are available or can be cobbled together quite effectively. The technology genie is out of the bottle and as much as some politicians would like to limit certain technologies access to the general public; the genie can not be stuffed back into the bottle of government control and exclusivity. Live well, The Rabid One

Just wanted to give you a heads up that this idea is probably not something you want showing up on google searches with your name attached to it. This is a terrible idea for all but the most skilled of individuals to attempt. I use RC equipment for remotely operating tests for work, and damn near everything can cause noise in their frequency range. As well, many of the systems can be very buggy and suddenly a servo you didn't intend to move is just going off on its own. The necessary safety interlocks required to safely fire a gun remotely is significant. Mounting a camera and a gun to an RC truck is quite simple though, which will likely lead to terrible accidents that I would hate to see coming back to haunt one of my favorite sites. Please don't post this letter to your blog, though you are welcome to summarize as you see fit (though I would just remove the article if it was me).
Keep up the great work! - Jeff S.

A reminder that's special free shipping offer for SurvivalBlog readers, ends on Wednesday, December 12th

   o o o

Eric S. flagged this useful piece: Honey Beats Meds at Soothing Kids' Cough

   o o o

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 on December 15th. Please send us your bid via e-mail.

   o o o

The recent huge storm in Washington state flooded a long stretch of Interstate-5. At one point the department of transportation set up a detour of several hundred miles--all the way east to Yakima--to get around the 20 mile closure.

“I have strong feelings about gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be controlling it.” - Clint Eastwood

Friday, December 7, 2007

Today we remember Pearl Harbor Day. On December 7, 1941 there were 2,896 Navy and Marine Corps casualties, and 68 civilian casualties in the Japanese attacks on Oahu, Hawaii.


A late acquaintance of mine was something of a hacker/genius. Prior to Y2K, he developed several cute but deadly machines based on radio-controlled toy cars that he'd picked up at garage sales. These were fitted with tiny wireless cameras and ingenious harnesses for the Glock [Model] 19. He showed me how they functioned in a field test which displayed a couple of them firing at targets at his command. It was a strange feeling to watch his laptop screen, line up a target with a joystick and then fire it quite precisely at the push of a button! The battery-powered motors of these devices were by no means silent, but it was easy to imagine that they would've been unexpected in a defensive situation and surprise is always strategically valuable.
It won't be too long before survivalists will be able to combine off the shelf components with situational creativity in order to hack new mechanisms for the defense of their homesteads. Bad guys seeking to plunder remote residences may expect and plan for gunfire coming from that residence, but it's highly unlikely that they'd ever expect an armed mini-helicopter equipped with night vision or or heat-activated targeting chasing them down: - Hawaiian K.


[You had mentioned in yesterday's post: " of my unfulfilled quests in life has been to find a small hardware store that is going out of business and getting to ask the owner: "How much for all of your fasteners?" (Hopefully, at or below their scrap metal value.) That would be quite a coup."] FYI, never be shy! Several years ago the local Scotty's [hardware chain store] was going out of business; after many weeks of slowly reducing the prices.On the final weekend I approached the "soon to be unemployed" manager and offered to buy all the remaining large screws and bolts for $300 cash including the bins. After listening to him whine about my low offer for five minutes he accepted. The only catch was that an employee had to ring everything up at the retail price first and then [write]a separate invoice for the "sale" price. I will make this a short ending. When everything was finished it took two trips in my 3/4 ton pickup truck to carry it all home and the retail price was over $12,000. Good deal for us. - Duane


The note on nails made me think of a few things. I have bought nails by the 50 pound box in the past but the best bargains have been at rural auctions and estate auctions. Some retired men will buy things they might need then when they die another will buy the same item at auction. The thing might be sold 5 or 6 times over a 30 year period. The best deal I ever saw was about 10 years ago. It was air gun nails, a skid with 500 to 600 pounds sold for 8 or 10 dollars! An older guy bought it. Lots of hand tools sell cheap.

As for screws, a [hand-powered] drill called a brace will drive them very well and the drill bits (called auger bits) sell cheap because most people have no use for them. I've found several adjustable bits, also. One adjusts to 2 1/2". There are adapters with a drill chuck so you can use regular drill bits, too. Another drill is brace with a plate on the top to lay your chest on so you can use upper body weight to put pressure on the drill bit.

My father built his house with all hand tools in 1953. No electricity was available on that dirt track until the house was finished. I was born in 1951 and saw a lot of screws installed and holes drilled with that Craftsman brace. I hope this helps some folks. - Frank from Indiana

Advantages to Mid-Winter Real Estate Buying

One strategy in buying a survival retreat that I often mention to my consulting clients is making a scouting and/or buying trip in mid-winter. This has several advantages:.

1.) You see the effects of microclimates, first hand. Visiting a property in the summer and imagining what it looks like with snow on the ground is not realistic. You need to see for yourself, in mid-winter. (January is best, in the northern hemisphere.) If you ask the seller or the listing agent how much snow to expect, the answer will almost universally be "not much" or "it hardly even sticks", even for properties on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The reverse side of a sunny ridge (northern facing, in the northern hemisphere) can be snowy in some regions for an extra three months of each year. Investigate the microclimates before you buy! In some instances just 500 feet of elevation difference, or a southern exposure can make a huge difference in your winter access, and the length of your summer gardening season

2.) You see the quality of maintenance of local roads. Some cities and counties have good snow plowing and sand, while others are horrible. Some roads--typically the school bus routes--get lots of attention, while others are neglected. You won't know for certain until you see it first hand.

3.) You see the winter access of local roads. Even with good maintenance, some shaded canyon roads with just moderate grades turn into veritable toboggan runs in the winter. Again, you won't know which ones until you see for yourself.

4.) You will likely be the only buyer in town. In the rural portions of most of the mountainous western states, the home buying season effectively ends at Thanksgiving and doesn't start up again until early Spring. This gives a tremendous psychological advantage in bargaining for a property. After the first snow flies, sellers start to mumble to themselves and get a desperate look in their eyes. If the seller is "motivated", they will take serious any offers received in the winter. The same offer that would have been laughed off in June will be seriously considered in January. Mid-winter is your chance to have a fairly "low ball' offer accepted. Back when the real estate market was hot, this was a rarity. But these days it is becoming much more common.

5.) Mid-winter is your chance to have the seller agree to concessions. I can cite a couple of instances that I have heard from my consulting clients in recent years: A buyer from California made a February offer for a house on acreage, near Utah's Wasatch Front. The property was listed with the house and shop on well water, on 40 acres, with an adjoining 20 acres with a 7 g.p.m. spring available separately, for an additional $175,000. (Land with springs are a rarity in most of Utah.) The property had been on the market for17 months, and the listed price had already been dropped once. The buyer put in an offer that was $20,000 less than the asking price of the house, for both properties. After just one counter-offer (that brought the price back up by $8,000), the deal was finalized.

Another client, from southern Nevada, made a January offer on a $1 million+ house with barn on considerable acreage near Lamoille (at the foot of the Ruby Mountains), in Northern Nevada. The buyer knew that the owner was retired and planned to move back to California to live near his adult children and grandchildren. He also knew that the house had been on the market for nine months. The buyer made an offer at the full asking price, but asked the seller to include: several major appliances including a chest freezer, two quad ATVs, two snowmobiles with trailer, a fairly new Ford tractor with several implements, three good saddle horses, eight cattle, a four-horse trailer, a hay trailer, a snow blower, a Troy-Bilt roto-tiller, two Husqvarna chainsaws, a barn full of hay, and several cords of firewood. The seller took three weeks to respond to the offer. He reluctantly agreed to all of the concessions, with the exception of just one of the horses.

If you see a property listed on that interests you, don't hesitate to go look at it in mid-winter. You may be glad that you did. - J.W.R.

"Boosters" mentioned that there is a Genesis Communications Network (GCN) shortwave/satellite/Internet radio program/podcast called "The Armchair Survivalist:" that airs on Saturdays from 5 to 6 pm Central time. It is also available as an "on demand" podcast. Boosters noted: "Listening to the archival loop today, the host [Kurt Wilson of Survival Enterprises] whom I am sure you know made mention of SurvivalBlog to a "Justin" who called into the program. SurvivalBlog readers might want to give it a listen. It is a nice addition to J.R. Moore's Sunday RBN program. John also promotes you heavily with regard your books and web sites."

   o o o

Perennial content contributor RBS suggested this useful primer about precious metals coin premiums at The Market Oracle: Why One Ounce of Gold (or Silver or Platinum) Can Cost More, or Less, Than Another…

   o o o

Home Foreclosures Hit All-Time High in Third Quarter

"Yesterday, December Seventh, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December Seventh, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire." - Speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 8, 1941

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The high bid is now at $225 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 on December 15th. Please send us your bid via e-mail.

I was watching a show last night about the Lewis and Clark expedition and something really opened my eyes, Did you know that when the group left a fort or shelter they built they would burn it down when they left do salvage the nails they used. Apparently nails were worth their weight in gold since they were hand made one at a time. This got me to thinking that in the event of TEOTWAWKI or even a couple year collapse that people will still have to build things and repair their homes. So I wondered how many people thought of stockpiling nails or screws in bulk? In my mind nails would be the best option since it does not take more then a rock at worst to nail into wood and most everyone has a hammer. Screws would be a good choice if you had a power source to either run a drill or recharge a battery as most screws for building require a lot of torque to fasten. Home Depot and most improvement store sell these in bulk 40-50 pound plastic containers. In such an event you can be sure that not all lumber is going to be the perfect 2x4 size so I would error on the side of larger nails say 3 to 3 1/2 inch and maybe even get some larger ones [spikes] for fastening larger items. For general repair a good 2 to 2 1/2 inch nail would be fine. Not only would this be a great thing to have but it would also be a great barter item, like I said before everyone needs to build shelter or repair something and in the event of a collapse I doubt they will be able to run down to the local store and buy these things. Also the larger container you buy the cheaper it is per pound. We as contractors buy 100 pound crates and then break them down into smaller buckets to put in the work trailer. If you do decide to go with screws I recommend the torx bit style (star bit) as they do not strip out the bits or the heads like standard phillips, and stock up on replacement bits too. - Brian S.

JWR Replies: I strongly agree that it is important to stock up on nails, timber spikes (I've found that 8" and 12" are the most useful lengths), power screws (various lengths), and other large fasteners such as lag bolts. As my mentor Dr. Gary North wrote more than 30 years ago when writing about stocking up for hard times: "Nails: buy a barrel of them. Barrels: buy a barrel of them..."

OBTW, one of my unfulfilled quests in life has been to find a small hardware store that is going out of business and getting to ask the owner: "How much for all of your fasteners?" (Hopefully, at or below their scrap metal value.) That would be quite a coup.

Dear James
With all of the talk about derivatives blow-ups, I decided to do some research on my bank, as I am concerned about the cash that I have in my personal account, as well as the cash that I use for my business.
I first found this Treasury Department PDF and down around page 22, it lists the top 25 banks in the U.S., their assets and
their derivatives exposure. I found that my bank is on the top 25 and has a fairly high exposure to derivatives, but nothing like the top 5. At that point, I decided that
I wanted to move my money to a safer bank.
I checked around and found a local community bank here in town, that has one branch. I went there and met with the vice president to discuss a new account. When she could not answer all of my questions about derivatives exposure, she brought the CFO in to meet me. He gave me a copy of page 5A of their UBPR (Uniform Bank Performance Report), which shows their off balance sheet items and derivatives analysis. They have absolutely no derivatives.
Later,I found that you can check this for any bank at the FDIC web site, by just entering the bank's name and city:
I thought that some of your readers might find this of interest. My only concern at this point, is that if one or two of the major banks goes under, it could precipitate a run on all banks, which could also affect my new bank. Well, that's what gold and silver are for, right? Best Regards - Kurt P.

Mr. Editor:

I cannot seem to find the people connection place on your site. Do you still have it? Thank you for the wealth of info you provide. - Carol P.

JWR Replies: I recommend three web sites (two paid , and one free) for making connections--whether you are looking to join/form a retreat group, or looking for a spouse. They are:

Conservative Match (paid matchmaking service--based on shared conservative political/social views)

Liberty Mates (paid matchmaking service--based on shared libertarian views)

The Survivalist Groups ["Meet-up"] web page--(a free service courtesy of the folks at you use this service, then please give some business!)

Needless to say, use discretion when using these services. As a prepared individual, you have more to lose that most folks. For your safety and security, it is better to go through a long series of correspondence and to do some background/reference checking before revealing your locale/details, or meeting face to face.

I found the following in a letter posted on your blog: "Barring TEOTWAWKI, it seems to me that we are infinitely more likely to face moderately scary scenarios, like Hurricane Katrina and necessary urban evacuation, some urban 1970s-style civil disturbance but nothing like Mogadishu, high-intensity individual criminal acts, a low-order terrorist event nearby and the accompanying panic, or some other situation shy of the worst case scenario."

Do people realize that New Orleans wasn't far from becoming Mogadishu-like after Hurricane Katrina? Certainly if the water hadn't flooded the streets it very well could have been much worse. The flood waters actually helping the situation by restricting movement to a degree. And let's not forget we heard the approved media version of it. Who knows how many people really were killed, wounded or raped.

Certainly we want to hope and pray for the best, but it's totally unrealistic given recent examples in the United States to think that the low-lifes in society will not take advantage of any and possibly every situation. There's some good writings out regarding some of what happened in breakdowns and economic problems in other countries- i.e, Argentina, Rhodesia, etc. Here's some things to consider regarding that:

I would argue that people in third world countries are accustomed to: currency devaluation, military controls, rioting in the streets, high crime rates, food shortages, breakdown of infrastructure [such as extended power failures], et cetera.

So for the average Third World resident these things are not TEOTWAWKI. Now consider the suburbanite in the US of A:, "John Smith": John is definitely not used to seeing the value of his money vanish before his own eyes. John Smith is not used to getting mugged every day on his way home. John Smith is not used to seeing the military on his street. John Smith is not used to rioting in his city. John Smith is not used to two or three days of brown-outs or black-outs.

John Smith gets angry and extremely frustrated when someone cuts him off in traffic. John's wife Sally is irate when she loses satellite reception during Oprah and she misses the required reading section. John and Sally's kids are even worse.

And that's suburban folks, what most of us would call "middle class." We won't even bother to talk about some of the other's actions, just find the archives of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Superdome and you'll figure that out. [JWR Adds: Lest anyone consider this a quasi-racist statement from R.H., bear in mind that some of the looters caught on film in New Orleans were white and hispanic. The tendency toward looting and other acts of lawlessness during disasters is tied to economics and whether or not children have a law-abiding, morally-grounded upbringing, not race.]

As survivalists, we need to be careful in our thinking. If we are not mentally prepared for the "worst case" and always assume that the guvmint will bail us out before our "three day kit" nonsense runs out, we are going to be in for a world of hurt. It took about three days for it to get really ugly in New Orleans and one could argue that had a lot to do with weather factors or it potentially would have happened sooner.

A lot of folks have "itching ears" and want to hear that they will be okay in the suburbs, that two weeks of food is enough, that they will only have to 'brandish' a firearm and won't have to actually use it, et cetera. I'd like to personally thank you and the many others on the net that don't water down the message so as to pander to "itching ears." Thank you for your commitment to reality - R.H.

Bush to outline 5-year mortgage rate freeze plan. (Don't miss the reader's comments below the article.) My comments: Here comes the mega-meddling. Cui bono? And who will bear the cost? I suspect that it will be us, the taxpayers. If so, we will be bailing out someone else's "I bought a house that I couldn't afford at the top of the market, and now I can't sell it" uncontrolled instant gratification and greed. How charming.

   o o o

In one of his recent audio podcasts, host Michael Bane (well-known for his "Shooting Gallery" television show on The Outdoor Channel) mentioned my novel "Patriots" in his list of favorite End of the World genre novels. Be sure check out Michael's TV show and audio podcasts. He succeeds at being both informative and very entertaining. OBTW, don't miss the links at Bane's site to Jim Supica's series of video tutorials on early double action cartridge revolvers. (A nice way to get familiar with some of the guns mentioned in my Pre-1899 FAQ.)

   o o o

Mike in Malaysia sent us this article link: Florida Just the First to Face National Run on the Bank

   o o o

I found this economic analysis from an Australian perspective, posted at 2008…"Deeper, Darker, Scarier"

“Many a false step is made standing still.” - Pattie Labelle

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We are pleased to welcome two new advertisers:

Comprehensive Risk Solutions (CRS)--the Internet's best identity theft protection service. Protect your assets by protecting your identity, They provide Credit Reports, Criminal Records, Non-Credit Loans, Public Records, and even reports of sex offenders in your neighborhood. CSIdentity will provide 24/7 monitoring of the reports and the Internet using CyberAgent technology to detect any online use of your identity, and alert you of changes. They also provide $25,000 identity theft insurance and full-service restoration assistance. Virtually everyone in America aside for a few Amish folks have online records that can be compromised. If you have a Social Security Number and a bank account and/or credit cards, you are vulnerable. I highly recommend subscribing to this service.

Affordable Shortwaves. Hundreds of SurvivalBlog readers bought handheld MURS band radios from Rob at $49 MURS Radios. He stopped advertising only because he could no longer find a supply of the used Kenwood MURS transceivers. Well, now Rob is back in operation, offering brand new, factory fresh, Kaito KA1102 PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM/SW receivers with full factory warranty. Each comes with three AA NiMH rechargeable batteries, wall charger, manual, stereo earbuds, suede carrying case, and an external wire antenna, for $69 each. Buy two and the price drops to just $65 each. Shipping is $9.50 via US Priority Mail for up to two radios. Rob mentioned "These radios are quite compact--small enough to store in an ammo can for EMP protection." This deal is presently being offered exclusively to SurvivalBlog readers. Details, reviews, and photo at:

I'm a life-long Western Washington resident - except for five years in Kansas & two in Berlin while in the U.S. Army. I'm the great-grandchild of Washington pioneers. I love this state - the ocean, mountains and fertile valleys - but what it has become -- not so much.
This past weekend, (November 30 - December 1, 2007), the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state was hit by an arctic front from the Gulf of Alaska, dropping 3-6" of snow in our area. The weather folks told us not to worry, that it wouldn't last long, because we had a "Pineapple Express" blowing in from Hawaii. (If this were the other Left Coast, they'd call it a tropical depression -- but up here in the Great North Wet, we don't rate such notoriety, so they just call it a "Pineapple Express.") The West coast of Washington (and parts of the North coast) experienced sustained hurricane force winds, with gusts as high as 130 mph in places. An aircraft landing at Boeing Field in Seattle recorded gusts of 140 knots at 4,000 feet on his approach.

I took one look at weather conditions this morning, and decided that it was a good day to hunker down and take care of me and mine. I called into work about two hours later. (Days when they expect bad weather, I get up extra early.). They said "Yeah, yeah, all the roads between here and there are closed . . . Have a great day!" They were right. The embankment above U.S. 101 slid out and across both the southbound and the northbound lanes. To make the picture complete, S.R. 8 was closed by slides, as well, so going the back roads to get to 8 to go around the slide on 101 was out of the question. My supervisor was more optimistic than me, and spent about ninety minutes in traffic snarls before getting turned around to go home.
So, anyway, for those of you who might be thinking that there are parts of the West side of Washington state that might make a good retreat, here's the shakeout:
- U.S. 101 & S.R. 8 both closed by mudslides in multiple locations leaving only one route on or off the Olympic Peninsula: S.R. 3 via S.R. 16 from Tacoma, crossing the Tacoma Narrows bridge. (It wound up being choked down to one lane late in the day, due to flooding and mudslides.) All alternate secondary and county roads blocked by mudslides, flooding, fallen trees or washed-out bridges.
- At the end of the day, every river in Western Washington is above flood stage. The Skokomish River (always the first to flood, and the last back in its banks) is in a record flood from this event. (Mix heavy lowland snow with over 9" of rain and unseasonably warm temperatures, and you get big water!) This means that you have flooding in every county in Western Washington.
- My county (Mason County ) lost its main feed from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), putting the majority of the county in the dark for about eight hours. We had to wait for a BPA engineer to replace the blown breaker. I'm sure it's much too complex for our county PUD engineers! (Funny! I live next door to one, and across the street from another, and both seem pretty competent to me.)
- Three small towns in Lewis County evacuated due to flooding.
- 20 miles of I-5 closed South of Chehalis (Lewis County) due to flooding.
- Hood Canal floating bridge closed due to high winds
- All North-South rail corridors blocked by slides or flooding
- Tahuya & Skokomish river valleys isolated due to mudslides and flooding
- Fire district had three separate relief centers set up. The problem was, none of the people who needed them could get to them, and rescue crews couldn't get to the stranded people to rescue them. Entry into the isolated areas required a lot of chainsaw and bulldozer work.
- One beach community was evacuated by Coast Guard helicopter due to isolation by mudslides
- One death in Mason county, two in Grays Harbor. (Mudslide, falling tree, medical equipment made non-functional by power outage.)
- As of this writing, there are still about 1,000 people who are stranded and un-reachable by emergency services -- including a woman in labor. (And this is just in my mostly rural county!)
- Very few grocery stores in Western Washington have backup generators, which means that if the power is off for more than a few hours, all refrigerated foods, dairy, and fresh meat must be disposed of -- and, of course, is unavailable to feed hungry people.

Personal Actions:
- Had a breakfast of French toast so we got some warm food into us -- just in case.
- Went out and stowed anything liable to blow away, including our Christmas tree and barbecue.
- Touched base with family and close friends
- Talked to my wife's sister and brother-in-law on their return from their jobs in the Great Cesspool. (Known to the more urbane as Seattle.) They had to brave the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Always an adventure in high winds! [JWR Adds: This bridge's predecessors was the one that was made famous by the movie of its wild wind oscillation and collapse], drive to Bremerton, then back-track down S.R. 3 to get to their house and rental house that were both flooding. They reported that there were frequent encounters with water flowing over the road surface on S.R. 3.
- Talked one nephew out if taking the same route that my sister and brother-in-law came in, tried to talk another out of taking the back roads back to his house. He made it okay, but power is out and the creek is threatening. (God bless the man who designed 4-wheel drive!)
- Loaned an extra 100' extension cord to brother-in-law sister so she could get power from their genset to their house.
- The BPA breaker blew about 10 o'clock, so we munched cold rations and read by sunlight until it was time to dig out flashlights and candles.
- Listened to local news on our hand-crank radio.
- Kept in touch with my brother-in-law's siblings via hard-wire phone (No cellular service at all, which is not all that unusual here in "cell hell," and - of course - cordless phones don't work when there's no power.)
- Gave ten gallons of water to my brother-in-law's sister when she came back into town. (They're on a well and chose to power the freezers and refrigerator instead of the well. they should consider getting a second [or larger] genset.)
- Lifted our Pepsis toward our next door neighbor's house after the lights came back on an hour earlier than the last prediction.
- Checked the fridge and freezers to find everything as cold as if the power never hiccupped at all.
- Made dinner.
- Sat down at the PC to check for road closures for the morning and to compose this AAR.
This is yet another "100 year event." Funny, those "100 year events" seem to be coming up every couple years nowadays. Global warming? Over-development? (Much formerly absorbent ground is now capped by spec houses, strip malls, big box stores and the asphalt that accompanies them.) Natural weather cycles? I don't know. Could be a combination of all three.

Okay, that's the feed-back on one event. Here are my other observations on Western Washington as a potential retreat locale:

Land: Due to the real estate bubble, this stuff is pretty precious. Good luck finding good land below $10,000 per acre. Expect to pay more. Finding land of any size is getting pretty difficult as well, as anything that's twice the size of the minimum growth density (5-to-20 acres) gets sub-divided for spec houses or snapped up by conservation Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs). (Look for that to change somewhat now that the bubble has sprung a leak.) Expect unrealistic expectations from the sellers. The past 30 years have been spent in pursuit of the mythical California buyer (or green NGO) who can afford to drop multiple millions on the "right" place. Reality may set in on that front too -- eventually. If you can find good land at a decent price, buy it! It won't last long. Be careful about water -- especially out here on the Olympic Peninsula. Either buy it with developed water (a working well), or make the sale contingent on both being able to develop a good water supply and being able to get a septic permit. (Yes! You can do this. Anything in writing is legal in a land transfer in Washington state -- which means you need to read and understand all that fine print. Beware of [restrictive] covenants!)

Several things you need to bear in mind when looking for land:
- 44% of Washington's land is in Federal hands.
- This includes the vast majority of the Olympic Peninsula - there's a narrow band around the coast that's in private hands - except for the dozen tribal reservations and the National Park.

- Big timber means something out here. Most of the large non-NGO private tracts belong to one of the big three timber companies: Simpson, Weyerhauser or Louisiana Pacific.

- NGO. Learn what it means. There are a lot of them out here. One stated goal is to acquire all the private land on the Olympic Peninsula and SW Washington and "rehabilitate it." (That means get rid of the unwashed.) Which brings us to . . .

Regulatory Environment:Welcome to the Nanny state! Forget about throwing up a cordwood castle with "a little house out back." Those days are long gone this side of the hump (and from what I've seen on my too infrequent trips over the hump, fading fast on the dry side [of Washington], too). Forget about being able to put in a gravity flow septic system. This is the land of the engineered system! Almost always above ground, usually including one or more [electrically-powered] pumping systems. If you buy developed land that includes an existing gravity-flow septic system, the baby that puppy! You do not want it to fail! Because, if it does, you will be putting in a very expensive engineered system to replace it.

System capacity is calculated by the number of bedrooms in your residence, so having a wink wink "den" is not unusual around here. Get creative! You can have sewing rooms, libraries, media rooms (Children are the ultimate media, after all -- they are you writ on eternity . . . or at least the next generation.), or whatever non-sleeping purpose room you can think of -- just do not exceed the number of bedrooms that your system is designed to carry. If you decided to "second-purpose" some of those non-bedrooms, it would be wise to find out about - and make friends with - the local septic pumping guy who can keep his mouth shut! (Hint: If he's one of the County Planner's brothers-in-law, he probably ain't the guy you're looking for!)

Think that's the worst? Not hardly! Ever heard of "Critical Habitat Zones" or "Aquifer Recharge Areas?" This is new-speak for "We're taking your land, and you get to pay for it!" It's a toss-up for which is worse, because basically what it means is that the land-owner gets to pay for returning the land to some mythical "pre-aboriginal state," Whatever in God's creation that is supposed to be -- and however some pencil-neck with a PhD is going to verify it! Because - unless I miss my mark - the only ones who are going to know what this land looked like before the aboriginal peoples got here would be the bears and God! I don't think too many PhDs hereabouts confer with either. Oh, yeah . . . Once you're finished paying for restoring your land to it's long-previous pristine condition, you - nor none of your kith nor kin - may ever set foot on it again. Did I mention you do get to keep the inestimable privilege of paying taxes on said land that you were compelled to improve in a way that you might - or might not - agree with -- and may never use again? It boggles this country boy's mind, let me tell you!
I could go on and on . . . But at the risk of stretching your incredulity even further -- Let's jump to Politics!

Political Environment:
All policy is set by the Seattle set. If you think otherwise, you're delusional and should seek proper assistance. Yes, we have some real conservatives hereabouts, but not enough to matter. It doesn't help that most of the "loyal opposition" are more interested in sticking it to each other (in one sense or the other) than fighting the foes across the aisle. This state is the gold-bound proof to the theory that at least 85% of evangelical Christians refuse to register to vote or go to the polls. There are a lot of very nice Christian folk hereabouts - but either they don't vote, or there's a complete disconnect between their faith and their politics. So now that we've settled that little question, let's look at the characteristics of a typical denizen of the Great Cesspool:
o Frequently seen at the statue of V.I. Lenin in Ballard
o Is a deep ecologist
o Supports radical feminism
o Believes that animals, trees and flowers are more valuable than children
o Is staunchly "pro-choice"
o Hung out/ sat-in upon / got lucky at "Red Square" whilst attending "The U"
o Has dabbled in Wicca, Earth Mother Worship, an Eastern religion, or is "spiritually sensitive"
o Probably a union Democrat, or the spawn thereof
o Drives - or covets - a high-end Japanese or European luxury/sport sedan, SUV, or hybrid vehicle
o Thinks most Christians need re-education, or at least intense sensitivity training
o Believes that the owning property is for the privileged -- not the un-washed. (Guess which camp he/she/it falls in?)
o Rabidly anti-gun
o Radically Politically Correct (PC)
o Is certain that patriotism is a curable condition
o Voted for Kucinich and will vote for Obama
o Is convinced that Starbucks is a cultural center
o Thinks the U.N. is humanity's only hope

Public Education:

Perennially over-funded and under-performing. Case-in-point: The top-rated public school district in the state has a 44% drop-out rate for boys. Girls do much better: 36%. Most districts turn out the barely-literate as their average students. What can one expect from a system that comes up with concepts like "compulsory volunteerism" Oh yeah, your kids can get extra credit for participating in an anti-war rally or an Act-Up event. My advice to anyone moving here that has children - or expects to have children - avoid the Washington public school system like the plague! Fortunately, we still have a pretty much hands-off homeschool environment here and some very good parochial schools. Raise 'em up right, teach them critical thinking skills, and there just might be some hope for this socialist's paradise!

Bookmark your favorite conservative radio shows' web sites! Because you are not going to hear them on the airwaves around here. To give you an idea which way the wet side media leans: A cat getting shot with a BB gun will be reported with more gravity and sympathy than the beating death of a child or the gang rape of a young woman. 'Nuff said?

- We got tons of it! As long as it's oh-so properly PC.

- Can we say "methamphetamine?" Keep an eye on your back 40. It may sprout a meth lab. (So might the neighbor's rental property.)
- High rates of burglary and car theft
- Robberies and home invasions up
- I.D. theft on the rise

- The Economic Bubble os due to burst. We've always had a boom and bust economy here, and it's been riding high for too long.

- Earthquake
o We're overdue for "The Big One." This is especially true for the Cascadia Subduction Zone and the Seattle fault complex.
· Either of these could spawn dramatic Tsunamis. Avoid locating in low-lying costal areas or areas prone to slippage. You really want to learn about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and plan accordingly. An event on this system will be a regional event -- from Alaska to mid-California. Outlying areas will be on their own - probably for at least a month - due to bridge collapses and land slides. Also, aid will go first to where it does the most good for the highest number. I'm thinking that means the Puget Sound Metroplex, Portland, the Oregon I-5 corridor and San Francisco.
· We're talking a magnitude 9+ event with a duration of 10-15 minutes at the slip point, which translates to a 6-8 magnitude event of the same duration in the heavy population centers, possibly followed by a Tsunami measured in the hundreds of feet.
· Historically, there's been an event on this system every 300 years or so. The last one was in the mid-1700s. You do the math.

o Volcanoes
- All the major Cascade and Olympic mountain range peaks are volcanoes. Most are active.

- The Golden Horde
o The Puget Sound Metroplex currently holds 3.5 million people. It is expected to grow to ~ 5.2 million by 2025
- Most have supplies for no more than three days - if any at all
- Most are used to an upper-middle class existence with all the urban/suburban amenities.
- Most are familiar with the Cascade and Olympic regions.
- Despite the anti-gun environment they foster and support, many will be armed.
- Many have off-road capable vehicles (The up-side is that 95% of those have never actually taken their vehicles off-road.)
- Many have boats
- Many have quads or dirt bikes
- Many have RVs
- You won't need to worry about them during a Cascadia event or a Nuclear strike, because they won't be able to get to you in the former case -- and most will be vaporized in the latter.
· All other scenarios: Plan for and expect The Golden Horde.
- One more happy thought: Here on the Olympic Peninsula we see just as many Oregon plates on the weekend as we do from Washington, so expect some of the Portland Horde if you settle on the Peninsula or in southwestern Washington.
- And yet another: Many rural Washington counties contain prisons . . . What's going to happen when the lights go out and/or the guards don't get paid?

- Terrorism
o Due to the high population and strategic location of the Puget Sound Metroplex it is a high-value/high-visibility target.
- Nuclear First-strike Target List
o Primary
- Ft. Lewis & McChord AFB (Tacoma/S Pierce County)
- Bremerton Naval Ship Yard
- Bangor Submarine Warfare Center and Base
- Whidbey NAS
- Everrett Naval Station (Everett/Marysville)
- Fairchild AFB (Spokane)
- Hanford Nuclear Energy Complex

o Secondary
- Seattle
· Boeing
· Other heavy manufacturing & high tech
· Port
· Ship yards
· Transportation & communication center
- Tacoma
· Port
· Shipyards
· Other heavy manufacturing & high tech
· Transportation & communication center
- Everett
· Boeing
· Other heavy manufacturing & high tech
· Port
- Bellingham
· Port
- Portland, Oregon
· Port
· Transportation & communication center
- East Side Corridor
· High-tech & biotechnology
· Communications center
· Transportation corridor
- Cherry Point (Bellingham, Whatcom County)
· Petroleum Refinery complex
- Padilla Bay (Anacortes, Skagit County)
· Petroleum Refinery complex

o Tertiary
- Kelso/Longview
· Port
· Rail hub
- Aberdeen/Hoquiam
· Port
- Olympia
· Seat of Government
· Minor port
- Anacortes
· Minor port
- Moses Lake
· Long runway (Fighter & Bomber capable)
- SEA-TAC (Both the City & Airport)
· Long runway (Fighter & Bomber capable)
- Tri-cities (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick)
· Brain drain Battelle, etc. (Hanford staff/researchers)
If the nukes ever fly, the Western half of this state is going to look like we had missile silos all over the place. Why? Transportation, military, high-tech & communications.

- Pandemic
o Both SEA-TAC {seattle -Tacoma airport] and to a lesser extent, PDX (Portland International) are international hubs -- and of course, Vancouver BC's airport is their Canadian counterpart. Flights originate for the Pacific Rim countries, Europe, Mexico and Central and South America.
o Washington sits in the mainstream of the Pacific Flyway for migratory fowl.
o Washington is a major poultry producer


So, are you wondering why I haven't run screaming for the hills of Idaho yet? Like I said in my intro: I love this state. It has its problems -- probably more than its fair share, for that matter. But, it is beautiful. One acre of good Western Washington bottom land will support a cow and her calf well -- two will support a horse at a high level of feed. It will also grow just about anything, and you are blessed with a long growing season. Rain can be a bit problematic at harvest times -- but my ancestors managed to muddle through somehow. There are a lot of nice folk, too . . . Just wish they'd let me tell 'em how to vote -- and then actually do it!
Of course, I could just be living in the state of De Nile. - Countrytek

Hi Jim,
I'm very impressed with the response to the ad I placed on your blog site [for Centerfire Antenna].
The SurvivalBlog customers have been some of the most polite folks we've ever dealt with. Looking through my web traffic statistics, most of those that have been referred through your blog have bookmarked our site.

I'm giving SurvivalBlog readers a $5 per antenna discount during the month of December. They can use the PayPal buttons and $5 will be refunded to their PayPal account when their order is processed. Or they can choose to have the refund donated to SurvivalBlog. They need to send an e-mail or note with their payment stating that they saw the sale on SurvivalBlog. If mailing payment [via USPS], they can just deduct $5 per antenna.

Also, I just read the letter from DC in Manhattan. It's great to see a Manhattanite waking up and getting prepared! I'm praying that he eventually gets his young family out of Manhattan. A quick Google check shows a population of over 1.5 million on that island. Not good odds when/if New York is put through a state of emergency longer than a few days. Thanks again, - Ben Kanoff, Centerfire Antenna

"The Other Jim R." sent us this: Report: World food prices to rise

   o o o

Morgan Stanley's warning: Credit crunch alert over UK economy. (A hat tip to RBS for sending us that link.)

   o o o

From The Financial Times: Car makers warn of tough times in US

   o o o

Paulson says mortgage plan to be ready this week. My comment: Freezing adjustable rate mortgages to their "teaser" rate levels will only make the housing crash last longer. Delaying the natural market readjustment will only make matters worse.

"Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me."- Ezekiel 33:1-7 (KJV)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Special thanks to "Jon Boy" from Atlanta, who said that he is sending us a four-year 10 Cent Challenge subscription payment ($36.50 x 4) in the form of $2 rolls of nickels. (73 rolls!) He certainly got his money's worth by sending them in a $8.95 US Postal Service Flat Rate Box. (If the rolls had been sent at the normal "postage calculated by weight" Priority Mail rate, it probably would have cost more than $40 in postage!) For anyone thinking about doing likewise, be sure to do as Jon Boy did, and use plenty of padding and a second cardboard box inside the Flat Rate box, for reinforcement.) Once again, my sincere thanks!

Mr. Rawles,
Kwikset lock company makes a "bump-pick" resistant lock [called the SmartKey]. The new locks appear to have a bar that attaches to each of the pins that interact with the key, so if one pin moves then they all have to move. Therefore all the pins have to be in the correct place at the exact same time and there is no "slop" that allows the pins to be "bumped" into place. If you get a chance next time you are around a Home Depot store they with have a display model for these new locks as they can be re-keyed by the end user without taking the lock mechanism apart.

As a contractor I have found that Kwikset brand locks not of the highest quality, but I bet that Schlage will be making a similar lock soon. This might be something to look into. - Brian S.


I have just finished firing 500 rounds through an Advantage Arms .22 conversion for my Glock 17 and Glock 22 While not as accurate as my .22 Ruger pistol, it allows me to practice my shooting skills using the same holster and magazine carriers at fraction of what 9mm and .40 cost. More importantly, by using a conversion rather than a different pistol such as the Ruger, I am developing the same muscle memory, skills, and techniques I will use when shooting my service pistol. I chose the Advantage Arms over the Ciener conversion because the slide locks open when the magazine is empty, allowing me to practice my reloading skills. The conversion is well made except for the fragile factory Glock adjustable sights and only comes with one 10 round magazine. They also make conversions for the 1911 style pistols. - Bill N.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I am a newly-minted reader and fan of SurvivalBlog. I stumbled upon [SurvivalBlog] by doing a web search on what turned out to be one of your "Quote of the Days" from [the late] Jeff Cooper. All that I can say is that I am mega-overwhelmed at what you and the readers have put on-line. I started out by going back through your current threads, and that seemed like a lot. But then I started clicking on the monthly archive links [in the right hand column] and then I started doing searched on particular topics. Wow! I am blown away. There is so much there. It is like a comprehensive encyclopedia on preparations for survival. Along with my research at other web sites about the present-day political and economic slide, now everything is starting to click. It all makes sense. We are living in a very fragile world and it would be insane not to prepare. I am starting to build my "list of lists." (Water is at the very top of my list. I'll be soon ordering a Big Berkey filter--no doubt it'll be from one of your advertisers.)

I have visited a lot of preparedness and survival sites. They all seem to either be amateurish or have big axes to grind. But yours is a breath of fresh air: No whacko rants, no diatribes, no flame wars, no "I think it could work this way" conjecture (that clown Dakin at the Bison Blog drives me crazy with his un-tested "this might work" ideas), no foul-mouth childishness, no political bickering, no racism, no anti-Semitism, none of that!

I also just read your "Pulling Through" movie script. They have got to make that into a movie! I just wish I knew where the Rawles Ranch was. I'd like to be your next door neighbor! I'm sure lots of other people would too, so I guess its a good thing that you keep your "Bat Cave" [location] a secret.

I heard about your site just before I started a week of vacation for Thanksgiving. Good timing! Otherwise I would have had to call in sick! I spent 10+ hours a day digging through the archives and taking notes. I have so much to do to get ready!

So again, thank you for putting this huge resource on the net for free! I'm heading out to the post office tomorrow to get a money order for a two year 10 Cent Challenge [subscription]. That's the least that I can do. (I'm doubtful that anyone that reads SurvivalBlog more than once a week could live with their guilty conscience for not doing the same.) I'm also going to order a copy of your prepper's course and your books.

God Bless You! - Aaron, "Somewhere East of the Rockies"

I found this piece from Peter Schiff over at Gold-Eagle: The End Of Consumer Credit As We Know It
   o o o

It appears very likely that the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors will cut interest rates again at their upcoming meeting (Tuesday, December 11th). If it is a 50 basis point cut (or more), it could kick off another huge round of Dollar-dumping worldwide, and we might see the USD Index drop down into the 60s. Speaking of the Dollar's continuing fall, RBS sent us this from The Economist: Losing faith in the greenback

   o o o

RBS also sent us a link to a recall from Gerber--not the baby food company, the knife company. The recall is for their Made-in-China "Exchange a Blade (EAB) models.

   o o o

Kudos to Mike F. for finding us some data from Brigham Young University that revises the shelf life estimates for many storage food for as long as 30 years: New Findings for Longer-Term Food Storage. Keep in mind that "life sustaining" is not synonymous with full nutritive value. So be sure supplement your food storage program with some double-encapsulated multivitamins and a plenty of sprouting seeds. (Fresh sprouts are an ideal source of essential vitamins.)

"Is the credit crisis contained? Yes. The credit crisis is contained…to Planet Earth.” - Market Analyst Jim Grant, in a presentation at the 2007 New Orleans Investment Conference (as quoted at The Daily Reckoning)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Today is the last day to take advantage of the 33% off sale price for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course with accompanying audio CD. The course is only occasionally sale priced, so don't miss out. Place your order online before midnight, or if sending a check or PMO be sure to get your order postmarked with today's date.

Hello Jim,
I am very new reader of your blog and am just now starting to go through the archives. Based on what I’ve read so far, I commend you on putting together a useful, fact-intensive blog on “survivalism” (whatever that means), that isn’t geared towards loony, off-the-reservation, tinfoil hat-type readers, who believe that 9/11 was a plot masterminded by Halliburton.

That said, one problem I suspect I will have with your blog is that you consistently seem to be preparing for an extreme, and more-or-less permanent, breakdown of society—or TEOTWAWKI, if you will. In one of your blog posts, you noted that the problem with preparing for TEOTWAWKI, is that “between now and then, you have your life to live.” This statement is particularly true for those of us who don’t live out West, don’t live in rural environments (let alone, gasp, urban east coast cities), have young children, drive a minivan, and enjoy otherwise the soft, latte-sipping lifestyles of Yuppiedom in the second Golden Age of American wealth.

My family and I fall into that category to a great deal. Don’t get me wrong: I e-ticketed most of my courses at Gunsite, so I’m no head-in-the sand sheeple. And I’m a pretty capable empty hand fighter. But I also grew up in the suburbs and didn’t exactly spend my youth learning to trap, fish, hunt, or plant seeds. I am married to a lovely wife who has no interest in learning to run a carbine, and we have a young daughter who prevents us from grabbing bug-out rucks and heading off to the bush for two weeks. In any event, if we ever managed to actually get from our 30th floor apartment in Manhattan to the bush, I’m not sure we’d know what to do.

The point I’m making is that there are a lot of people like us—people who live in cities, who don’t feel in the least bit at home in the outdoors, who aren’t going to learn about land nav or plotting azimuths, who aren’t going to buy a bug-out retreat in the country that is going to lie empty 52 weeks a year, and who are basically screwed if TEOTWAWKI actually and truly arrives.

Barring TEOTWAWKI, it seems to me that we are infinitely more likely to face moderately scary scenarios, like Hurricane Katrina and necessary urban evacuation, some urban 1970s style civil disturbance but nothing like Mogadishu, high-intensity individual criminal acts, a low-order terrorist event nearby and the accompanying panic, or some other situation shy of the worst case scenario.

We urbanites can prepare for those events, while not being entirely distracted from our workaday “ordinary” lives, or dedicating ourselves to trying to get off-the-grid. I certainly have made some attempts to prepare. For example, I have no doubt that we’re in the 99th percentile of Manhattan preparedness by virtue of the fact that we own:

- a well maintained and fueled Honda CRV with GPS, local region street maps, XM radio (for news), an empty 5 gallon gas can, and various vehicle repair tools
- a (legally permitted) pistol and shotgun, and enough ammunition for a firefight and reload under civilian ROEs
- $4,000 in cash
- a week of MREs and water, full rations
- a PVS-14 [night vision] monocular
- soft body armor
- basic camping equipment
- various tools like a good knife, a pry bar, Surefire lights, chemlights, paracord, etc.
- a fully stocked medical kit, 30 days of scrip drugs, and a copy of “Medicine for the Outdoors”
- personal hygiene gear
- a roll of 1mm poly sheeting and a ton of 100 mph tape
- full face respirators and disposable N100 masks
- GMRS radios, shortwave radio, a hand crank radio
- a ton of batteries
- a USB key and a 500 GB backup drive with all our important information
- 1 box of critical paper documents
- clothing suitable for the seasons
- baby stuff

Most of this gear is boxed, labeled, and stored in a single closet that we’ve dedicated to SHTF equipment. The other stuff (car, guns, cash, key documents, etc.) could be policed up in 10 minutes, and is written down on a checklist. If we had to, I reckon we could shelter in place for a week, or we could bug out in an hour (assuming, of course, Manhattan was not totally gridlocked).

I’d be very interested in your thoughts about what urbanites should be doing to prepare for bad times, given the restrictions of space, limited knowledge of/interest in outdoorsman skills, “Yuppie” lifestyle constraints, etc. Thanks. - D.C.

JWR Replies: For someone that lives on Manhattan Island, you are definitely quite well-prepared!

Some preparedness upgrades that I'd recommend for you:

1.) Pre-positioning some supplies stored with friends or relatives, or perhaps in a commercial storage space, at least 150 miles out of the city, on your intended "Get Out of Dodge" route. (For that dreaded "worst case.")

2.) Adding a rifle to your firearms battery. With New York City's semi-auto and magazine restrictions, you might consider a .308 Bolt action with either a small detachable magazine, or perhaps a non-detachable magazine. A Steyr Scout would be a good choice. Some semi-auto rifles that might be approved include top-loading M1 Garands and FN49s. (No doubt easier if you are a member of a CMP-associated shooting club.) If you can't get permit approval for any modern rifles, then there is a handy exemption for long guns "manufactured prior to 1894 and replicas which are not designed to fire fixed ammunition, or for which fixed ammunition is not commercially available." You might consider a pre-1894 production Winchester Model 1876 or 1886 in an obsolete caliber such as .40-60 or .45-90. (See my FAQ on pre-1899 cartridge guns for details. Be sure to select rifles with excellent bores and nice mechanical condition.

3.) A small photovoltaic panel for recharging your flashlights, radios, and night vision gear batteries.(Along with a 300+ Amp Hour 12 VDC "Jump Pack" (such as's item # ZX265545) and 12 VDC "DC to DC" battery charging trays and the various requisite cords.)

4.) A supply of antibiotics.

5.) Consult your local fire code, and store the maximum legally-allowable quantity of extra gasoline, assuming you have a safe place to store it. (I realize that most Manhattanites have their cars stored commercially with no additional storage space, and it can be a 20 minute car-juggling exercise just to get your hands on your car, depending on how "deep" you are parked.) If extra gas will be stored in your vehicle, then be sure to get one or more Explosafe brand fuel cans, and strap them down securely so that they will maintain their integrity in the even of a vehicle collision. You might consider upgrading to a mid-size 4WD SUV (such as an E85-compatible Ford Explorer) and have it fitted with an auxiliary roof rack where you can carry extra gas cans. (Again, I realize that most Manhattan parking garages have height limitations, but do your best.)

I'm a frequent flyer and I enjoyed the article by LP on what to consider bringing on business travel ["Preparedness While on Business Travel --What to Pack"]. Here are some additional ideas:

Water - I carry an empty bicycle type water bottle through security and fill it at a drinking fountain before my flight. This keeps you hydrated during your flight and from having to use the water glasses in your hotel room. (FYI - they don't really clean those glasses.)

Food - I carry 4-6 Cliff ["sports energy" type candy] bars in my laptop bag and my checked luggage. These are dual purpose and can be used anytime there is a need for calories. (like when your stuck on the bloody tarmac for 3 hours) Store, eat and rotate these just like you would your storage food at home. They come in lots of great flavors and can be found at most grocery and drug stores. Look for them [when they are on sale] under $1 and stock up.

Clothing - This is a tough one that I have I hard time abiding by, but I'll expand on what LP said in his article. On the plane, wear clothing appropriate for your "mission" and the climate you are traveling to, near, or across. It may be 75 degrees F at home, but if your flying to Toronto in the Winter, you should consider wearing some warm weather gear on the flight. If you rely on packed clothing, remember that if your plane is forced down, or if you have a runway mishap, you will be forced to leave the plane without any of your luggage. This happened to me personally a few years back when my plane skidded off the runway in a snow storm. We were evacuated via the slides and loaded on buses and taken to an airport that was essentially closed where we were told that we couldn't get our luggage until after the "crash" investigation was completed. Fortunately, I did get my luggage promptly the next morning, but it doesn't take TSHTF thinking to imagine what might go wrong in a scenario where you are trusting the airline to deliver your luggage. So, even if your only mission is to make it to your sales call that next day.... be prepared.

Transportation - If you are forced to travel home without a vehicle, consider finding a bike before you try to walk home. Urban locations are packed full of pawnshops and Wally Marts that sell very inexpensive bikes. I'm a cyclist, so I have an advantage here, but I would think that even the most inexperienced cyclist would make better time, and be more comfortable, on a bike, then hiking cross country. Even if you have a rental car, you might want to get a bike too, and put it in the trunk. You might not make it home on that last tank of gas and I wouldn't want to be waiting for days in a gas line.

Tech - Download the free Google Maps application for your phone. It provides great maps, traffic, and sat images. I also just read that it can be used to fix your location.
Keep a backup of your emergency phone numbers, personal and financial records with you, encrypted on a USB drive. If something happens at home and your family needs info, you may need to access it from your location. - RR

Hello Jim,
I have been reading SurvivalBlog for a year or more, and have thought about buying the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course. When I saw it go on sale for 33% off, I thought more seriously about it, but still procrastinated. This morning I saw that the sale had been extended until December 3, that really got me thinking, but I still hesitated. I sat down to lunch a little while ago and was interrupted by a Jehovah’s Witness that handed me a pamphlet telling me to prepare for the End Of The World As We Know It. That did it. I just sent in my order for the course. I can take a hint! Thanks, - M.A.B., Burlington, Texas

The folks at Ready Made Resources mentioned that they are now down to their last 90 bottles of Polar Pure. Because this product uses iodine crystals (which have been deemed a methamphetamine "precursor chemical" by the DEA), once the small remaining supplies have sold out, there will be no more Polar Pure produced in the US. This is your last chance to stock up, folks! Note that because of the short supply, Polar Pure is no longer listed in the Ready Made Resources online catalog. There is a limit of five bottles per customer. To order, call: 1(800) 627-3809. You must mention that you are a SurvivalBlog reader when you call--this is an exclusive offer.

   o o o

Don't miss the article that Tim P. sent us: New subtype of Ebola suspected in Uganda. If a new Ebola mutation were be easily transmissible (not just through blood contact), it could conceivably start a pandemic that would eclipse the Black Death.

   o o o

Hundreds of SurvivalBlog readers bought handheld MURS band radios from Rob at $49 MURS Radios, back when he was one of our advertisers. He stopped advertising only because he could no longer find a supply of the used Kenwood MURS transceivers. Well, now Rob is back in operation, offering brand new, factory fresh, Kaito KA1102 PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM/SW receivers with full factory warranty. Each comes with three AA NiMH rechargeable batteries, wall charger, manual, stereo earbuds, suede carrying case, and an external wire antenna, for $69 each. Buy two and the price drops to just $65 each. Shipping is $9.50 via US Priority Mail for up to two radios. Rob mentioned "I am ordering these radios in batches so if my stock runs out, I will have another batch within a few days. By doing this I can keep my overhead low and the price stays low. These radios are quite compact--small enough to store in an ammo can for EMP protection." This deal is only being offered to SurvivalBlog readers. Details, reviews, and photo at:

   o o o

Matt in Texas sent us a link to some commentary by Peak Oil guru James Howard Kunstler: The Last Days of the United States Dollar

"In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other." - Voltaire (1764)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The extended 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends tomorrow. Be sure to place your order online or have it postmarked by midnight Monday, December 3rd.

Hello Jim, et al,
Reading Choosing a BOV by "Brian B in Iraq", there are a few inaccuracies that I should mention. Some of the statements are definitely subjective, but I'll leave those alone and just deal with the factual stuff:
Regarding this statement: "These “first generation” Cummins trucks used a Bosch rotary injection pump (called a VE pump)...." This is incorrect. The First Generation trucks used, and use, the P7100 Injection Pump. The "Bosch pump" is the VP44, used in the Second Generation trucks. There's a huge difference between the systems, and I'm not going to go into that, since it's a complete article by itself. Suffice to say that the author seems to have reversed the information.

Regarding this statement: "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." Again, incorrect. The dowel pin (usually called the "KDP" or "Killer Dowel Pin") aligns the gear housing, not the timing gear cover. It does have a tendency on some engines to back out, fall into the gearset, and jam between the gear and gear housing, cracking the housing and giving [the engine] a lovely oil leak. [Preventing this is] a very simple fix to deal with, and is most commonly a problem that occurs on the 12 Valve engines, but the 24 Valve engines are most definitely not immune to it.
Regarding this statement: " The engine coolant should be a greenish color..." The author is ignoring, or not aware, of current antifreeze formulations that are required by newer engines (heck, even my 2001 ISB Cummins uses them) such as Dexcool, which is an orange color. Some people mistake it for rust, but orange is the normal color. Note too, that there are untinted antifreeze formulations out there.

Other items in the article are minor, but these are the ones that jumped out at me.
As to my personal knowledge, it comes from owning a 1985 Suburban with an 2001 Cummins ISB and extensive modifications, older Dodge 12 Valves, a M35A2 2-1/2 ton with the LDT in it, various Kubota diesel engines, the early GM diesel, Cat, DDs, et cetera. All of these vehicles, plus plenty more, have had all the work done by yours truly. Gearheads never quit! Thanks for the site! - Czechsix


Mr. Rawles:

I'm not a chronic nit-picker, but there are many errors in the post written by Brian B in Iraq - titled "Choosing a BOV."
This can be misleading to someone seeking information on the subject. He certainly includes a lot of good information, but some of the errors need some repair.
I've been a diesel mechanic and owner for 40 years and own over 30 diesel trucks and SUVs. I worked on, and drove many when new. Here are some citations from Brian's post - and my replies.
Brian wrote: "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."
My reply: No, IDI is not very inefficient. Often, it comes to a 5-15% difference, but sometimes there is none. Some direct-injected diesels are less efficient than some indirect-injected diesels. Many of the newest diesels out now, for model year 2008 offer the worst fuel mileage ever - and they are using state-of-the-art combustion chambers and fuel-injection-systems. The new direct-injected Dodges and Chevys have tested at 13 MPG overall mileage, and the new direct-injected Ford at 10 MPG. Going back to the early 1980s - many indirect-injected Chevy diesels averaged 16 MPG and Fords 13 MPG.

Brian wrote: "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."
My reply: No, that's not the case if looking for older vehicles - which seems the be the main point of the original post. Isuzu turbo-diesel Troopers, International Harvester turbo-diesel Scouts are certainly still to be found. I own several. Also, smaller rigs e.g. Isuzu PUP 4WD trucks with 2.2 diesels, Chevy LUV 4WD with 2.2.diesels. Chevy S10 diesel trucks, Ford Ranger with Mazda 2.2 diesels, Toyota diesel trucks, etc. Also a lot of little Chevy 4WD Trackers that have been converted to 1.6 Volkswagen diesels - a real easy swap - but not factory made like the rest. Also very popular are 1/2 ton trucks with Cummins or Isuzu 3.9 liter diesels installed. Many companies now offering the conversion-service. This results in a 1/2 ton 4WD truck that can get close to 30 MPG highway, and over 20 MPG around town. In Europe, the same swap is very popular with Land Rovers, Range Rovers, and Toyota Land Cruisers.

Brian wrote: "GM, for a brief time, installed diesel engines in their half ton trucks, but they are rare and hard to find."
I find them all over, and 1/2 ton GM diesel trucks were never rare. All the Oldsmobile 5.7 diesels in the 70s Chevys and GMCs were 1/2 ton but the engines were terrible. [That changed.] Starting in 1982 with the Detroit Diesel-designed 6.2, GMC and Chevy sold thousands of 1/2 ton K5 diesel Blazers, 1/2 ton C10 and K10 diesel pickups, 1/2 G10 diesel vans, and 1/2 C10, K10, and V10 1/2 ton diesel Suburbans. The US Army bought 24,000 1/2 ton diesel Blazers in 1984 [and designated them CUCVs], and more later on. GM sold over 10,000 civilian diesel 1/2-ton Blazers in 1982 along with 1/2-ton pickups, Suburbans, etc., and continued to sell them until 1991 when sales dropped off to 92 for Blazers. In 1988, Chevy came out with a new generation 1/2 ton truck with the 6.2 diesel using a new body style, serpentine belt system, and independent front axle. The heavier trucks were not changed at that time, nor were the Blazers or Suburbans. During the 1990s, GMC and Chevy sold 1/2-ton trucks, Blazers, etc. with the 6.5 diesels.

Brian wrote: "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."
My reply: No, not true with all. A turbo raises effective compression ratio - and - enables an engine to burn more fuel and make more power. With most turbo diesels driven on the road, the result is less fuel mileage and more power. Years back, turbochargers were more commonly referred to as "altitude compensators" and were used to restore power at high altitudes - not make more power a lower altitudes. A diesel with no turbo loses 1% of its power and fuel efficiency for every 328 feet it's driven above sea-level.

Brian wrote: 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.
My reply: Again, not true with all. All GMC and Chevy 1/2 ton diesels if equipped with automatics had a .7 overdrive via the 700R4 transmission with lock-up torque converter. For standard shift, all the 1/2 ton diesels were available with the New Process 833 four-speed manual with overdrive. I own four of them. Later , around 1988, GM offered NV3500 five-speed manuals with overdrive in the 1/2 ton trucks.

Brian wrote: "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."
My reply: No, not true with many. All the GMs had solid front axles until 1988. Then, only the 1/2 trucks went to independent. The 3/4 and 1 ton trucks, as well as all the Blazers and Suburbans kept the solid front axles until the 1990s.Brian wrote about Ford diesels: "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 200,000 miles between overhauls"
My reply: Yes, they were rugged trucks except the fairly new Ford four-speed automatic overdrive - the E40D. It was prone to problems - very expensive ones and still is unless it receives many updates and improvements.
Brian wrote: "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"|
My reply: No, the turbo was not added in 1991. All the Dodge trucks with Cummins diesels were turbocharged since the first year - around 1989. Dodge did sell 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton trucks for one year in 1978 with a Japanese Mitsubishi 6 cylinder diesels - but that is something completely different. That engine was 243 cubic inches, i.e. 3.9 liters.

Brian wrote about the Dodge diesels: "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 300,000 miles before major work needs to be done."
My reply: Dodge never -ever - made or sold a 1/2 truck with a Cummins 5.9 diesel. Also, Brian mentioned earlier the reasons to stay away from independent front axles. The 1989 to 1993 Dodges have solid front axles, and the later 3/4 ton models he refers to here have independent front axles. The older trucks get just as good fuel mileage as the newer ones and often bring more money if found in good shape.
Brian also wrote: "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."
My reply: With the money I see many people spend these days on dinners, vacations, etc., I find it hard to believe that someone serious about this matter - cannot afford $500- $2000 for an extra vehicle as a project - and/or an emergency-use vehicle. If you have no mechanical skills - then you are subject to either paying a lot of money to someone who may - or may not be worth it. Or, pay more for a vehicle in better shape. That being said, I find many diesel 4WDs, in good running condition in the $1,000 price-range or less. School districts often sell Chevy 4WD diesel Suburbans in good running condition for $250-$500. I just bought a 1991 for $225. - John in Central New York.


I have been going through the BOV dilemma myself with the size of my family I can not just have one vehicle. So what I have done is rebuilt my 1 ton Chevy crew cab 4X4 in which I have sunk a great deal of money in it but it is nearly bulletproof (all but the windows anyway). The place that rebuilt my Chevy crew cab is they have great shop rates ($35 per hour) and they do a great job. My large BOV is now a 6X6 that can also be run in more fuel-efficient 2x4 mode. It has a military surplus multi-fuel engine engine that can burn just about anything: gas, diesel, biodiesel, WVO, JP-4, kerosene, perhaps even turpentine. It has 2-1⁄2 ton axles and brakes, and many other extras. It has a hitch for a 5th wheel (flat bed) trailer which I have stocked for Bugout at all times. My wife has an Isuzu Rodeo that I know that many of you said was a bad choice, but for the money and with the testing that I have put it through, this is [still] the secondary BOV that I have chosen for my wife. It is very kid friendly, four wheel drive, and we got the flex fuel version which means that it will burn E85 Ethanol fuel. This also has a small trailer that has my home made power plant on it. Our third trailer [assuming I have the chance to pre-position or make two trips to my retreat] is my camping trailer. It [is ia "Toy Hauler" style trailer that] can accommodate two ATVs, tool boxes, fuel and water barrels and so on.

Now, as for routes not only should you have roads picked out but also possible some off-road routes by mapping the possible detours. This is made easier by making some friends with the farmers [at key points on your route. For example, I live in the Portland-Vancouver area and my retreat is in Idaho. I have flour main road routes but I also have several back off-road detours and farming and ranching friends that wouldn't mind if I use their gates.

Just about everything that Brian B. in Iraq said was correct except tires I would use the 37” tire because you can get those in Kevlar and there are many run-flat systems that can be used for that size. If you go with smaller or larger there are not that many options. - CDR

Note from JWR: The string is starting to degenerate into one of those endlessly-mired "Ford Versus Chevy" or "Revolver Versus Automatic" debates, so this will likely be the last batch of letters that I post on this topic.

Hey Jim:
The .223 versus.308 [debate] is interesting. I think that several factors should be examined when selecting a cartridge and weapon. Military and police snipers shoot .308 or bigger. Why? Killing power. all the hype about .223 boils down to this. It is a varmint round meant to shoot things under 50 pounds. Jeff Cooper described the controversy very succinctly. a SWAT team in Alexandria Louisiana found out about stopping power the hard way. Which brings up the next point. The SWAT team could not penetrate a federal housing project steel door with their .223 weapons. All of the comments on .223 out performing .308 are wrong. That SWAT team now carries your weapon of choice, the [.308] FAL. Also, if .223 was all that great, why is the military fielding more .308 weapons than before? And why did the Special Forces community invent the 6.8 mm SPC if they loved the .223 so much? The .223 was designed to be used for varmints on four legs and two wings not two-legged ones. People forget that a rifle is not a death ray. You need all the stopping power you can effectively handle. You also need the versatility of a cartridge that penetrates cover, which the .223 does not as the rounds are designed to expand violently. There was a [Discovery Channel] television show that compared the effectiveness of.223 to that of 7.62x 39mm. On paper and in a clean sterile environment, that M16 and .223 look superior. But after examination of the rounds in combat the 7.62 x 39 was superior. I agree that the .223 is good for what it was meant to be used for, a varmint gun. Also, I will keep a .223 Galil in my battery just because it uses our military forces' cartridge and may be around if ammo is in short supply. But, it is very far from my mind as a primary or secondary combat rifle cartridge. - Bret



AVL wrote in praise of the .223, " bears repeating, any wound over 2" deep has a very high likelihood of being fatal." I'm sorry, but I couldn't let this one go by. That statement is utterly false Following the infamous Miami/Dade shootout with Platt and Madix, the FBI has done extensive testing and found the minimum penetration requirement for a given round to be effective. It is 12"
(30.48cm) in 10% ballistic gelatin, not 2" as AVL suggests. The 12" minimum is agreed to by the International Wound Ballistics Association (IWBA) as well. This is exactly way you don't use [an instantaneously-expanding] varmint round against humans:

He went on to state: "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." Wrong again! Energy transfer actually has little to do with incapacitation. I suggest reading the following online sources:
Firearms Tactical
BT Ammo Labs
Tactical Forums
Regards, - Krunch


In case some of your readers missed the reference in Michael Z. Williamson's letter, the info available in the Ammo Oracle reference is well worth the time reading. All AR15 owners/shooters and potential owners/shooters should read and digest this info, it gives invaluable info regarding the capabilities and limitations of the 5.56/.223 round. It is a long read but well worth the time. Good stuff!
Regards, Keith in Texas


Nice ammo dialogue. I am reminded of the old domestic giant engined muscle car versus slick handling foreign sports car arguments of the 1970s. As Bonehead reminded us, survivalists are not infantrymen. I would guess that the lighter/smaller third of our population will find the .223 much more user friendly and therefore effective in a sustained engagement. I also don't see how many folk can properly practice with .308 at current ammo prices. I would rather be accurate than be Macho. - Bruce F.


Re: [AVL's comment] "... even explosive varmint bullets will penetrate this deep, likely tearing through soft body armor up to 500 yards." That is laughable. I have no doubt that lightweight varmint bullets would be devastating against an unarmored person at close distance…but at 500 yards, with a 5.56x45? You might as well be shooting buckshot, IMO, at least then you might hit an unarmored place. Controllability in full auto? That is a non issue - we [aren't he military so we] don’t work that way. Too much [expense] to buy one, too much to feed one, and too wasteful in the long run.

Lots of cover here in the northwest and I'll take a 308 for it's versatility and power. If things were to ever get close, in a situation where many people would grab an M4, I'll take my 7.62x39 AK - it has enough bullet IMO and I don’t have to worry about a short barreled 5.56 "underperforming". I think it is very informative that the military is looking at calibers from 6.5mm to .30 as possible replacement for the 5.56, no calibers smaller…hmm.

I hope we do see a compromise in the future, I think one exists. Given the constraints of the M16 platform the 6.8 SPC is spectacular and with a new platform the 7x46 in a moderate loading might be ideal.

As far as medics treating 5.56 wounds goes - why are our medics treating 5.56 wounds? Because those we shot with 5.56 and were not hurt really badly--left to fight another day would be my guess. No doubt the little 5.56 can get the job done - with the right load but larger calibers offer more flexibility and a larger margin for error.
Keep up the good work! - A. Friendly


As I’ve read the interesting and informative debates here, on .223 vs .308 vs 7.62x39, I can’t help but think we’re falling into what Jeff Cooper would call PII: Preoccupation with Inconsequential Increments. Terminal ballistics is only one consideration, among many, and when the differences in that one metric are marginal, you look at other factors for your decision.
For example, do you buy a $70,000 car if it is only 10% better than a $30,000 car? Not unless you’re independently wealthy. Why? Because the $40,000 price difference is an opportunity cost; it represents $40,000 of other goods and services you now can’t buy. It is in this context that I view firearms: they fulfill a survival role, and as such, should be cost effective. Money spent on gold-plating firearms is money not spent on other preps.
To many of us, this debate is moot: we’ve already made our choices of platforms and calibers. We bought our .308 milsurp back when it was $150/case. But what if I were starting out all over again, with no legacy arsenal? How would I select? I would define the mission that my firearms would fulfill, and find the best-for-the-money solution, without undue overlap.
What would I need? I need: handgun; defensive carbine; and, depending on my area, a longer range solution. I need them all to “get the job done” without soaking up too much money. I also need to look at the reality of defensive gunfights: most people are not going to be able to take careful aim and make one surgical shot after another. You need something easy to shoot, with reasonable capacity, rugged and light. You also need to afford enough ammo for training and practice, as well as to stockpile.
For this reason, I exclude MBRs in .308: at $600 per case, .308 is no longer a serious option for those starting out. The .308 is analogous to the $70,000 car: yeah, it might be a little better than the others, but the cost effectiveness isn’t there. I follow a similar rationale for handguns: .45ACP and .40 [S&W] might be slightly better stoppers than 9mm (though there really isn’t any evidence of this), but not enough to justify the large price difference in ammo. The bottom line reality is that all the basic intermediate powered rifle and “service caliber” handgun rounds will get the job done within the limits of most people’s ability to hit anything under pressure. Hence, here is my advice for those starting out:

Handgun = Glock 19 or Glock 17. At least 10 spare magazines. Holster and mag carrier. 5,000 rounds FMJ 9mm for practice. 500 rounds premium hollow point for self defense. Minimum of two weekend training classes. Total cost about $2500.

Carbine = AK47. At least 10 spare magazines. Shoulder-style mag/dump pouch. 5,000 rounds 7.62x39 Wolf ammo for training and also actual use. Minimum one weekend training class. Total cost about $2200.

Affordable plinking/practice = any rifle in .22 Long Rifle: bolt, lever, or semi-automatic. 10,000 rounds .22LR. Advantage Arms .22LR conversion kit for the Glock. Total cost about $700.

Long distance = scoped bolt action in .308 or .30-06 (a used Savage provides excellent value, for example). 500 rounds match level ammo. Remember: we’re looking for usable minute-of-torso shots at reasonable distance, not match trophies. Total cost about $1,000.

If you have any extra money, buy an extra Glock and an extra AK47.

This covers all essential firearms needs. I consider a shotgun a niche weapon, whose role the carbine adequately covers. Shotgun is nice to have, not must-have.
I invite readers to calculate similar solutions for .308 MBR-based arsenals, and decide if the ballistics value-add justifies ammo that costs three times as much as 7.62x39. - DG in Philadelphia

"Florida Guy" sent us an article that clearly warns that the recession bellwether is starting to bah loudly:  Sears profit plunges 99 percent

   o o o

More bad news for the dollar as the UAE gets ready to dump it. (A hat tip to L.W. for send us that.)

   o o o

Eric S. suggested this article from Der Spiegel: Is Atomic Radiation as Dangerous as We Thought?

   o o o

Thanks to Hawaiian K. for sending this article from Harper's: Six Questions for Chris Whalen on our speculation-based economy and the 2008 elections. This guy is a mainstream banking and political analyst, and he is predicting: "The next president, whoever it is, may be dealing with a 1930s-style financial crisis from the first day in office."

"Behold, the eye of the Lord [is] upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine." - Psalm 33:18-19 (KJV)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Congrats to LP, the winner of the latest round of the SurvivalBlog nonfiction writing contest. His article "Preparedness While on Business Travel --What to Pack" wins the grand prize: four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000!)

Second prize goes to Paul B. for his article "Building a Scout Rifle on a Budget". His prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing.

Honorable Mention awards go to “Jerry the Generator Guy” for his article "Home/Retreat Power Generator Noise Reduction" and to Nathaniel for his article "Homeschooling During the Crunch". They will both receive complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse."

Note to the prize winners: Please send me an e-mail to let me know the snail mail addresses where you'd like your prizes sent.

Round 14 of the writing contest begins today, and ends on January 31st. The following is the first article that will be considered in the judging for Round 14:

I am writing to you at length today about Western Washington and its retreat potential and Assessment of disaster scenarios. Last year I made a career move that required us to move to Western Washington from Eastern Washington. We moved into what is considered the South Sound area of Western Washington (WWA) this area includes the State capital of Olympia and its bedroom communities of Tumwater and Lacey. Lacey and South East Olympia border the “Argonne Forest” of Fort Lewis. On a side note the 3rd Stryker Brigade is starting to rotate back home—Great job to you all and were glad to have you home on American soil!

Let me take a moment to describe some important geographic details about WWA. Imagine a vertical strip of land 60 miles wide and bordered along the north/south axis by ocean and mountains. The entire WWA is riddled with rivers running East to West from the Cascade Mountains into Puget Sound or directly into the Pacific Ocean. Starting in King County the population center expands outward to the North and South with heavy concentrations in Pierce(South) and Snohomish (North) and East into the cities of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and Issaquah. Interstate 90 runs directly through these cities and stops directly next to Qwest Stadium (Seahawks). Running North/South directly through WWA is Interstate 5 ("I-5") which at times is 8 lanes wide to just two lanes in Lewis and Cowlitz Counties.
I have spent one year driving almost all of WWA for my job and I am convinced that WWA is not in anyway viable for retreat potential and at best would be a death trap during any Disaster. The main two reasons are 1) Population/Culture and 2) Nodes of Transportation/Infrastructure. I have found it best to describe and discuss these blended topics rather than individual subjects. I’m sure what I’m about to discuss may be quite redundant to most SurvivalBlog readers but what is new information is the application to the specific region called WWA or Puget Sound.

The first point of concern is and always should be size of population and without being too redundant you can imagine the jar of marbles exercise being applied to Seattle area and it’s obvious that no truly rural area truly exists in Western Washington. The golden horde numbers well over 2 million people just in the Puget Sound area. The greatest concern is that the majority of these people are left-wing big government liberals. The Seattle or “West-Side” culture as called by the Eastern Washington (Eastsiders) is very decadent or metropolitan lifestyle. The average Sounder relies heavily upon morning lattes, delivered sushi for lunch and fast food for dinner so the kids can get to soccer practice. It’s a decadent lifestyle but frail and unsustainable. This coastal community relies heavily upon government interference and actually tends to vote socialist in every election. In fact, I predict the socialist’s will kill gun shows in Washington in the 2008 legislative session since they control both houses and the governor’s mansion. They may also ban .50 caliber rifles if they push hard enough.

When you drive the I-5 corridor you get to notice lots of similarities in the average driver. The average Seattleite drives a Subaru and/or hybrid auto. Most cars have bumper stickers that reflect the overall socialist thread of the population. The most predominate are “Free Tibet”, “Al Gore for President” and the usual “Bush-hating, anti-war, I’m a coward let’s give up- why can’t we just group hug” bumper stickers. The most appalling I’ve seen is one pledging allegiance to the UN. It took a lot of effort not to run that guy off the road and hang him as a traitor.

If I had to summarize the culture of the average West-sider I would have to say they are socialist, nanny-stators who think it is they’re duty and obligation to use government to force people into living their lives the way the liberal sees fit. No property rights, no gun rights just what is best for the collective good. They won’t be happy until we are all walking or riding bikes and digging for grubs so “Mother Earth” won’t be plagued with the human parasite.

The second point of concern is node of transportation/infrastructure. Most people think of rain when they think of Seattle. Rain and runoff go hand in hand. As moist pacific air moves inland the Cascade mountain range forces the clouds up which squeezes the rain out of the clouds. This is the reason Seattle gets so much precipitation and Eastern Washington is dry and arid. All the rain runs down and drains back into Puget Sound or the Ocean via dozens of rivers. You can’t drive more than 20 minutes going North or South on I-5 without having to cross a bridge. There is water everywhere. This leads to concentrated traffic flow on all North South arterials and since the Mountains only allow a few East-West passages through mountain passes. All traffic flow in Western Washington is overly concentrated.

Also added into the equation is the state politics over the last two decades. Liberal democrats have obstructed common sense growth and infrastructure planning and building. The result is growth management bordering on the criminal when it came to adding on new infrastructure and roadwork projects. No new lanes have been added to the I-5 corridor in over 10 years. Some projects to add additional lanes are nearly complete but it is too little, too late. The population growth due to Microsoft, Boeing and a blockbuster economy similar to Silicon Valley has put the carrying capacity of current roads way below what is necessary. Not to mention the cost of living is 20% higher than Eastern Washington and real estate over inflated to double the cost of Eastern Washington.

The results are catastrophic even on most average of days. I have seen traffic at a dead stop at 2 PM on a Tuesday because someone got a flat tire and had pulled over to change the flat. Our Northbound traffic had slowed to a stop and Southbound traffic was slowed to a crawl just because people wanted to see what was going on—which was absolutely nothing. I don’t think a vehicle with a full tank of gas would make it 100 miles during an evacuation scenario or crises. I fill up when leaving the South Sound and it takes me almost two hours to go North to I-90 just to get started going East.

In closing, I could go on for days with examples of how bad it is. But the only conclusion is that Western Washington is a death trap when it comes to evacuating. I would like to hear from some readers about potential enclaves in the “rural” parts of the Olympic Peninsula or far southwestern sections about potential retreat locations. I will concede that the heavy timber growth and easy access to water and wildlife could lead to favorable retreat locations but only if road access is cut-off or the population is on foot and not in vehicles.

The year that I have spent here has convinced me to move back to the Intermountain West and commute to WWA for work only. Which means I am now forced to set up alternate evac routes and caches to get over the Cascades and to home/retreat in case of an emergency. Time to go re-check my Bug Out Bag.

Jim, thank you again for the opportunity to add to the discussion on your blog. I have been a long time reader; 10 Cent Challenge subscriber, and [content] contributor and I look forward to many more years of learning from you and your readers.

JWR Adds: Any SurvivalBlog readers that live in Western Washington and that have plans to "Get Out of Dodge " to a retreat in the eastern half of the state (or beyond, to northern Idaho or western Montana) should make several alternate route plans, and practice driving them. Crossing the Cascades in winter can be dicey, even in "normal" times. Roughly 26,000 vehicles a day travel the Snoqualmie Pass route. But during a crisis, the Snoqualmie Pass bottleneck may very well turn into a death trap. Without a lot of study, here are some tentative suggestions:

Plan A, for the sake of speed and simplicity should be I-90, assuming good weather and that you can get on the road ahead of the Golden Horde. Plan B might be to drive south and parallel the Columbia River Gorge, on the north shore. Plan C would be to take one of the smaller pass roads (such as White Pass and Stevens Pass), assuming good weather. Many of these are closed during winter months. Plan D might be to take surface roads, a car/passenger ferry, or a privately owned boat north, then make your way east by 4WD pickup or SUV through lightly-populated British Columbia and Alberta, and then drop back down into the States once you are safely far enough east. Because of Canada's restrictive gun laws, this would only be an option if you have nearly all of your guns, ammo, and gear pre-positioned at your retreat. You might be able to carry a flare gun, edged weapons, impact weapons (such as a baseball bat) and road flares (when lit, these make great "stay away" intimidators), but probably not much more. (OBTW, as I often tell my consulting clients, in the event of a search, "dual use" items must be found in appropriate context by law enforcement officials. For example, your flare gun and flare cartridges should be stored in the same dufflebag as your nautical charts and tide tables. And your baseball bat should be carried with a baseball mitt looped around one end, and stowed alongside a couple of softballs.) Traveling lightly-armed would be a calculated risk. But if it is winter the Snoqualmie Pass is jammed, and the other passes are closed for the season, then it might be worth the risk.

The recent post [on nuclear targets] that mentioned the prevailing winds reminded me that Weather Underground posts graphs of historical weather data, including wind direction. Because the chart is for the calendar year, the seasonality of the wind in a different region can be determined. For instance, compare the hot south summer winds in Dallas, with the summer ocean winds in Los Angeles, and the northwest fury in Missoula, Montana. Even Eugene, Oregon and Boise, Idaho, despite being close to the same latitude, have different wind trends.

OBTW, if you know the local airport code, you can just alter the URL after the 'k' prefix. Regards, - Brian

Technology has so advanced that we are now on the threshold of a new era in security. Off-the-shelf wireless burglar alarms are getting so sophisticated that you no longer need the services of a security company. If your retreat is in an area that has cell phone service, you can get a system that requires no hard line. Look for a GSM [Global System for Mobile Communications] Wireless Security System. GSM is the newer cell phone that uses a card. You don't have to sign up for service at your retreat location and pay a monthly charge. Simply buy a prepaid card and there is never a cost except those (hopefully) few times that the system calls you. Of course you can typically program these systems to call any or all of six different phone numbers. Some of them have other features, such as a connection to a loudspeaker whereby you can talk directly to any intruder. They accept numerous inputs from motion detectors, temperature sensors, etc. Some of them are capable of running on battery backup power. This means that you can set up a system at a retreat with no phone service, and no electricity, and still be fully protected. These systems are commonly available on eBay for $300 or less, and can be purchased from local security equipment dealers. - K.L. in Alaska

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. OBTW, I anticipate that even the remote Rawles Ranch will be inside of cellular coverage in less than 10 years.

What a coincidence. I'm quite certain, that the amazing e-mail that you received from HH happens to be from my very good friend and colleague. HH is a good man that care's for his family and friends. He cares so much, that he often risks the ridicule and accusations as he mentioned, to try and help inform and consequently protect his loved ones with the gift of information.

People are waking up, and I am one of those people. I was the guy that listened to the wisdom HH was resonating, much of that information came from the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

I remember talking with him one night in the parking lot as we were leaving work. We were having a good conversation about preparing for potential hardships that our country may soon be facing. I noticed a backpack in his vehicle's trunk, as well as some shoes and what looked like a change in clothing. It made me chuckle at first as I didn't understand what it was for, but I had noticed it there on several occasions before. I thought perhaps it was his "emergency" pack in the event of a melt down with his wife... hehehe.

He explained to me that it was part of preparedness plan. I was curious but, admittedly, I thought he might be just a little paranoid or crazy.

A transformation has happened as my eyes have opened to what's occurring around us. I became curious about the pack and the reason for it.

HH led me to and to the "Rawles Gets You Ready" course. I borrowed it over the Thanksgiving holiday. After perusing the materials, I certainly felt like I had another thing the be thankful for this year.

I purchased the course for myself last night and took advantage of the great offer. I really owe this enlightenment to my great friend HH, I'm truly grateful to have such a selfless friend with so much knowledge.

I pray that I will never need to utilize this information, but that won't stop me from absorbing it and getting prepared. Considering the increasingly complex world we live in, with all of the unrest over wars, economic failure, volatile weather patterns, and increasing pressure on our natural resources, one cannot afford to ignore the signs. I felt that at the very least, I needed to start preparing for the possible troubles we've brought upon ourselves.

Thanks for providing this great wisdom for those of us that want to be ready for the challenges of our current times. - Todd H.

Bruce A. found this article about Tamiflu for us: Panel Seeks New Warning on Flu Drug

   o o o

Frequent contributor Eric S. sent us this from The Australian: Chinese tiger has nothing in tank. The piece begins: "China is running out of fuel. Police are guarding petrol stations in several inland provinces to prevent fights, as shortages of petrol and diesel are causing huge queues of trucks, buses and cars."

   o o o

Pete D. sent us a link to a downright scary article on Credit Default Swaps from the Sudden Debt Blog: CDS: Phantom Menace

   o o o

The extended 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends Monday. Be sure to place your order online or have it postmarked by midnight Monday, December 3rd.

"In six days--less than a week--the world turned upside down. San Francisco became a war zone. Do you know what people do when you tell them they no longer have rights? That an individual is
powerless? They fight. It was ludicrous to think mankind would just roll on its back and comply. I saw my neighbors--people I've known for years--become bloodthirsty savages. Infected, uninfected, it didn't matter. We were all driven mad. The survival instinct went ballistic. Food, guns, medicine, blood--it all became priceless. Worth killing for. Those who had became the targets of the had nots.
A city of five million people. Within a month more than half were dead. Six weeks later, about ten thousand like me. AB Negatives. We were all determined to live. But we didn't gather together. There was no unity. It was every man for himself. Trust had been abolished. By the end of the year, it was me. Just me." - Mark Protosevich --from an early draft of the "I Am Legend" Screenplay

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

About this Archive

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

November 2007 is the previous archive.

January 2008 is the next archive.

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

Monthly Archives

Visitor Map



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