January 2008 Archives

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction lot is now at $220. The auction is for a Brunton Solarport 4.4 watt photovoltaic panel (a $140 retail value), a Deluxe Outdoor Survival Tool Kit (a $70 retail value)--both kindly donated by Ready Made Resources--as well as seven other items: A copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value), an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots" (a $23 retail value), an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), a SurvivalBlog Key Logistics Tote Bag (a $17.50 retail value), and an autographed set of Michael Z. Williamson's "Target: Terror" modern military fiction sniper trilogy, from Avon books: "The Scope of Justice", "Targets of Opportunity", and "Confirmed Kill". This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Great blog! I also bought the latest edition of your novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". My older edition is in storage somewhere, (see below) and I really like the updated material, it almost seems like a new book.

I don't know if you have ever discussed survivalism from the perspective of families that need to move often. For those of us in the military who move every few years with weight limits the supply situation becomes more complicated. For most of us, idea of a fixed homestead is a dream for post retirement.

The biggest problem I have had to deal with is moving our guns and hazardous materials (fuels, ammo, etc.). It has also caused me to focus on trying to compartmentalize and organize. Another big issue is when moving overseas deciding what to take (especially books), what to let the government store, and what to leave with family or in a self storage locker at another location.

I am sure I am not the only reader that faces this predicament. - Dave

JWR Replies: You definitely are not the only reader in that situation! SurvivalBlog has a lot of overseas-deployed readers, both military and civilian contractors. (For example, just look at our hit map for Africa and Southwest Asia. Most of those are servicemembers, English speaking ex-pats, and a few consular employees.)

I often get e-mails from readers like yourself that are torn as to what preparedness items they should keep on hand overseas, and which to leave at home in storage. Two of them have mentioned that they are praying for promotions in rank, not for the extra pay but because their moving weight allowance for each Permanent Change of Station (PCS) will increase!

I recommend that at a minimum you keep your 72 hour kit with you wherever you are stationed, and an abbreviated version thereof even when you take a Temporary Duty (TDY) assignment. Regarding books, I recommend that you leave most of your hard copies at (or near) your eventual retreat. There are hundreds of books available online. For links to find those, see: K.L. in Alaska's article "Sources for Free Survival and Preparedness Information on the Internet". And as a military service member you of course have access to the entirety of the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) database, which has hundreds of military field manuals and technical manuals.

I also recommend that anyone in your situation purchase a set of the "1000 Books Homesteading Library" CD-ROMs, often available for $35 to $50 on eBay from sellers with the eBay usernames "prciousisthelord". and "covenanter1599". This compendium of book PDFs on 27 CD-ROMs includes a treasure trove of public domain books--mostly 19th Century classics (with expired copyrights) plus some modern texts that have been opened up to public domain such as "Where There is No Dentist", "Where There is No Doctor" and even "The Owner Built Homestead" and "The Owner Built Home" (both by Ken Kern). BTW, a smaller collection of many of these same titles are available for free download at The Librums's PDF Collection.

The next time that you buy a laptop, you might consider getting one with an extra-large hard disk drive. (500 GB or larger.) You can then keep many of the PDFs of many of the most important references on your laptop at all times.

One temptation for preparedness-minded individuals on active duty is attending on-site DRMO and other military surplus dispersal auctions. If you decide to bid on any items, be sure that you have enough moving weight allowance for you next PCS to cover the extra weight. Also be sure that you have the requisite storage space available. (I have one acquaintance that kept an "auction bargain" Army surplus Ahkio snow sled through the course of three PCS moves, two of which were warm climates!) It may be heartbreaking, but you may have to skip bidding on those nice 8 KW gensets that might sell for less than $100 each.

One sad story that I hear repeated over and over again, particularly from folks that have been living overseas, is that they have suffered break-in burglaries of their retreats in their absence. Assuming that you can't find someone to "house sit" at your retreat year-round, there are essentially only two viable ways to mitigate this: 1.) Rent a relatively secure commercial storage space nearby, or 2.) Construct very-well hidden caches that cannot be detected--even by someone with a lot of time on their hands. (The worst case is that your retreat house becomes a "crash pad" for drug addicts for a period of weeks or even months.) See the SurvivalBlog Archives for some suggestions on building wall caches, door caches (such as my design), and hidden rooms. (In the " Categories" list, click on the "Storage Spaces" category.

It seems there has been little on the subject of garbage and what to do with it after TEOTWAWKI. I would suggest that anyone who has put any sort of effort into preparing for the end should come up with a plan for their trash, and soon. Whether you plan to bug in, bug out to a prepared location or already live in your location away from the Golden Horde and their anticipated escape routes, a plan should be in place before it is needed. The best example of how many communities will look (and in a very short time) can be found by going to one of the video hosting web sites (YouTube, Live Leak, Google) and do a search for "Naples Garbage". My favourite is when the Italian Army shows up to clear it away from schools so they can reopen....and minor riots occur. The popular U.S. media seems to be ignoring this story (although, one of the videos is carried on ABC).
So, what to do with it then?
Burning it has been popular in every bad place I've been to (Somalia, Bosnia, Croatia). There, a burning trash heap was the indicator of many towns and villages, the plume visible before you arrived. This burning trash heap would probably not be the best solution to the survivalist who is trying to stay low in terms of visibility.
I used to live in the country, far away from anything that was important. My neighbour (and many others) had a burn barrel for most garbage that we both used, and a there were compost heaps for everything else. We would feed small amounts into the barrel, reinforced with some wood, cardboard or paper and let it burn. We tried to avoid burning plastics and styrofoam, since we could recycle, but there was no trash pickup. Eventually, the township started free garbage pickup and the barrels fell from popular use.
My suggestion as to what to so with it? Burn it, in a metal container like a 45 gallon drum with one end cut off, at night, either well off the road or in "dead ground" (a piece of terrain that is not easily viewed from the surrounding area) away from the main retreat. This keeps the fire contained in the barrel. The light from the fire will be controlled in what it illuminates, as in, the low ground you are in, not an open field (remember, it is a small fire). It builds in an emergency zone in case the fire gets out of the barrel and an area for any hot cinders to not land on the main retreat (use caution in grassy areas, always use fire common sense like water buckets, fire brooms and shovels). This also keeps the smoke plume from acting like a beacon for others.
Now, does everything burn, or should you burn everything? No. Plastics release toxic fumes when they burn. Metal, obviously, does not burn and can sometimes be re-used in some way shape or form. Have fun, stay safe. - R.J., Up North

JWR Replies: In my novel "Patriots", I describe the "conserver lifestyle." When living frugally and self-sufficiently in a post-collapse situation, you may generate hardly and trash aside for perhaps some plastic packaging and broken crockery.

A dedicated "conserver" does not generate much "garbage" in the modern sense. Consider the following ultra-frugal conserver practices:

Kitchen scraps: Use every available scrap for animal feed or for compost. (With the usual safety provisos for not using things like uncooked potato peels as animal feed.)

Paper and cardboard--saved for re-use as stationary or for fire kindling, insulation

Bottles, jars, plastic jugs, and plastic bags are washed and saved for re-use. (The ubiquitous one gallon plastic milk jug, for example, has a huge number of potential uses. One of these is making mini-greenhouse "hot caps" for your garden.)

Candle stubs and soap scraps. Save to periodically combine and re-use.

Steel and aluminum cans should all be carefully washed and sorted, for re-use as containers or a material for various metal projects. (Everything from patches for leaky roofs to alarm bells for your defensive wire.)

After being for soup bones, most bones can be ground to make bone meal, or burned to make lime.

Scrap metal of all descriptions should be sorted and stored.

Wood ashes and fat scraps should be saved for soap making.

Twine, string and thread of all kinds can be saved for re-use.

Clothes worn beyond the point or usefulness should be saved for bandage material, quilts, rags, and insulation. It is likely that we would revert to 19th century lifestyle mode of cloth handkerchiefs, cloth ladies supplies, and cloth diapers. (BTW, Lehman's sells scrub boards and James Washers.)

Electronics beyond economical repair should be cannibalized for their metal hardware and individual components.

Of course, most of these extreme measures should be reserved for post-TEOTWAWKI. The value of your time must be considered! Taking these measures now would probably alienate your spouse. Your family and neighbors would also soon notice your growing heap of stored "recyclables" which they would surely label garbage. It might not be to long until the fire marshal was called to condemn your stockpile as a fire hazard. Unless, of course you could convince them that all you were doing was "reducing your carbon footprint".

Dear Jim,
In his recent article "Prepare or Die", J. Britely wrote: "For home defense ammo, I use bird shot. This will not penetrate and stop a criminal as fast as buck shot but is also less likely to go through a wall and hurt an innocent person." This is one of those myths that won't die. Any ammo that will kill will go through a wall. There is no magic ammo that stops people and doesn't penetrate walls.
Birdshot will not reliably stop a person. It's "bird" shot. If you don't know what your backstop is, don't shoot. There is no magic. - Michael Z. Williamson

Dear Jim,
Great Site, Jim! I wanted to warn some folks that may have ordered or intend to order the Kelly Kettle (mentioned in the article "Prepare or Die", by J. Britely .) After receiving my kettle I rinsed it out with water and soap. I then tested the kettle to make sure it worked, and most importantly, learned how to use it before the situation required its use. I started with paper burning, then put small sticks from the yard in the chimney and that baby really boiled water fast. However, after using it twice and rinsing it out, I ran my finger along the inside of the water container. My finger was coated with a good coating of aluminum dust and some type of slightly greasy sticky substance. I rinsed it out again and again, boiled it again and again, and still my finger comes out with a good coating of aluminum dust. This cannot be good for human consumption. I sent the manufacturer e-mails but never heard back. It was so much dust--imagine spraying aluminum spray paint and passing your finger through the flow of paint real fast--yes - really, that much. If you fill it with water you can actually see fine aluminum particles float in the water at the top. Just a warning. - Jesse

Thanks for SurvivalBlog. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but this old dog learned the following new tricks from the SurvivalBlog articles and letters.

1. I got fired up after reading the "commo comments" and finally got my Ham radio license.

2. I bought a number of galvanized trash cans and that's where I now store shelled corn, etc. (Hint! Don't buy the made-in-China-from-tinfoil cans. [Instead,] get the good ones which are made right here at home.)

3. As a coffee drinker, I now stockpile green coffee beans, which I vacuum pack and store in those galvanized trash cans.)

I could go on, but just those three items more than justify my dime-a-day contribution.

I still live a stone's throw from the Yellowstone caldera, but I've also learned that we can't eliminate all risks. Some we just have to live with. Stay warm, - Dutch in Wyoming

Matt in Texas sent us a link to a great piece about the sheer size and complications of the global derivatives bubble.

   o o o

From Cordi (by way of Mark From Michigan) came a link to some plans for a homemade solar oven.

   o o o

Michael G. suggested this article over at John Galt's Blog: Whip Up Inflation Now.

   o o o

Eric sent us this: Fed Cuts Rates Boldly; Wall Street Wary. Eric's comment: "The Fed cuts interest rates by another 1/2 point: and the Dow closes down! The Dow can't even rally to 13,000. Gold at an all time high today. Billions more due in writeoffs by banks already. Commodities in the stratosphere. Dollar in the dumpster. I think the jig may be up. Hang on tight."

"The [Colt Model] 1911 pistol remains the service pistol of choice in the eyes of those who understand the problem. Back when we audited the FBI academy in 1947, I was told that I ought not to use my pistol in their training program because it was not fair. Maybe the first thing one should demand of his sidearm is that it be unfair." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper, Guns & Ammo magazine, January 2002

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Today we present a very lengthy and profusely linked article for Round 14 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. It summarizes a lot of what has been posted in SurvivalBlog in the past two years very succinctly, and includes references to a variety of other useful sites. This is a good article to send to family and friends that are less well-prepared. (You can e-mail them this permalink.) Disclaimer: The author has his own survivalist web site (www.PrepareOrDie.com), where he earns affiliate commissions on sales of the books linked to Amazon.com.

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 tomorrow (January 31st), so e-mail us your entry for Contest Round 15. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Throughout my life I have been caught unprepared several times and while nothing seriously bad happened, it easily could have.  I have been lost hiking.  My car has broken down in very bad neighborhoods - twice.  I have been close enough to riots that I feared they would spread to my neighborhood, been in earthquakes, been too close to wildfires, been stuck in a blizzard, and have been without power and water for several days after a hurricane.   I managed to get myself out of each situation, I thanked God, and tried to learn from my mistakes.  I could have avoided these situations or made them much less unsafe and worrisome if I had been more aware and prepared.  I have also tried to learn from the mistakes of others so as to not learn everything the hard way.  One group I assisted was a two hour drive into the mountains, out of gas, wearing tee shirts, and had empty water bottles (at least they kept them) (I have made each of those mistakes but not all at the same time). 

I aspire to be more prepared the next time.  My preparedness includes many different aspects.  In my opinion, the most important thing I have done is to learn as much as possible about what to expect and how to deal with those situations.  The other important thing that gives me some piece of mind is that I carry and stock away water, food, ammo, books, and other tools and equipment that should help me survive a bad situation.  Be prepared!

The other inspiration for my preparations is my family.  Seeing my family suffer from lack of water or food would be very hard for me, especially if some easy and cheap preparations could have made a big difference.  Recently, a few friends and family have asked me about my preparations and how they might prepare.  I didn't have a good short answer because I have spent years learning and stocking away.  I thought of myself as more of a student than a teacher in this area, but now I think I do know enough to give some basic advice and refer them to good sources for more.  Hopefully, they (and you) can learn from my mistakes without having to waste time, energy and money on things that don't work.  Of course, I haven't been through every situation or disaster but I have made it through a few tough spots without losing my head.  My advice is based upon what I know to work and also what sounds like it would work with the minimum fuss.  I always prefer the cheap, easy, home-made solution, but sometimes it is worth the cost to get a quality item that is just too hard to improvise or where the manufactured solution is much better (such as a knife).  Keep it simple stupid (KISS) when you can.  With persistence you can get a lot done $20 at a time.

The purpose of this document is to give an overview of preparedness and the first steps to take.  I focus more on the why than the what so that you can tailor your preparedness to your own situation and budget.  I will also cite the best sources I have found for more information.  There is a lot of information out there in books, classes, web sites, and forums. Most of it is good but it is also really repetitious and overwhelming.  This document is only about 15 pages printed out (you are printing important information (not necessarily this) aren't you - since in an emergency you may not have power and need to take the information with you).  I try to keep my important preparedness documents in an expandable file folder with a tie inside a plastic crate.

What are you preparing for?

No one really knows what will be the next survival situation they will face or how it will play out (will it get worse before it gets better?).  It could be getting lost hiking, the car getting two flats in the middle of the desert, a hurricane, a home invasion, an earthquake, or a terrorist attack.  You must assess your own situation and determine what you need to prepare for.  Of course some preparations will be useful in many situations including everyday life, and these are the best type.

In order to get an idea of what to prepare for, look at the types of situations that you or people similar to you have been through.  Also, assess where you live or spend a lot of time such as work and vacation.  We need to learn from the past but without fighting the last war. 

I like hiking and being outdoors, so for me learning how not to get lost and how to stay alive in the outdoors are high priorities.  These skills may also come in handy if I need to walk to safety during a terrorist attack because all of the roads and public transportation are closed.  Living in your house without power or water isn't too different from camping except for the nice roof over your head and all of your stuff.  I have also taken a first aid class.  It is pretty limited in coverage but still useful in a variety of situations.

To assess the likely dangers to where I live and work I used several sources including FEMA (free guide), DHS, Disaster Center, Emergency Essentials, Two Tigers and CBS.  Also, find your local emergency response office.  But don't rely on the government too much for planning or for help.  As we relearned with the Katrina response, their information and advice is far from perfect.  And FEMA has always said it will take 72 hours to respond.  So the way I look at it, during Katrina, FEMA (and local governments) failed to live up to its own low expectations.  But even if FEMA had been able to provide more food and water, you would still be much better off taking care of yourself.  Do you really want to be told what possessions you can hold, when to eat, when to sleep, and live in close quarters with thousands of strangers?  Sounds like prison to me.

It's A Disaster is a good book that will get you started on a plan for most disasters.  Some of their plans are a little passive for me (don't take any risks and follow all FEMA directions) and their kits lack some important things like knives.  Still, it is a very good book and a great start.  Family and friends should be included in your planning and preparations as much as they want to be, but be careful about telling people who you do not trust or know well.  You do not want to become a target in a crisis.

I think one of the best sources for thinking about what you are preparing for and what does and doesn't work is news and first hand accounts.  These are some of the best ones I have found.  A few of them seem kind of glib and bravado but the advice seems sound.

True Stories of Survival

Hurricane Katrina: http://www.frfrogspad.com/disastr.htm

Argentina thread 1: http://www.clairewolfe.com/wolfesblog/arg.html

Argentina thread 2 (some swearing): http://www.survivalmonkey.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2715

Airplane crash: http://www.equipped.com/waldock698.htm

Ground Zero: http://www.equipped.org/groundzero.htm

Karen Hood's Survival Journal (a week in the wilderness) http://www.survival.com/karen1.htm

Sailing to Hawaii http://www.equipped.com/0698rescue.htm

Tsunami http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/c1187/

Alaska http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/8017/index2.html

A list of stories


The survival Rule of Threes:

  • It takes about three seconds to die without thinking
  • It takes about three minutes to die without air
  • It takes about three hours to die without shelter
  • It takes about three days to die without water
  • It takes about three weeks to die without food
  • It takes about three months to die without hope
  • Try to have at least three ways of preventing each of the above (a backup to your backup).

So the priorities are thinking, air, shelter, water, food, and hope.  These are rules of thumb and approximations.  Also, you will likely start feeling really bad before you die so you need to be proactive in addressing these needs.

Basically, don't panic and do something stupid.  This is easier said than done, but you can build your thinking skill and confidence by playing ‚Äúwhat if‚Äù games. After reading about the risks to your area and the survival stories above, think about what kinds of things could go wrong and how you would deal with them.  The more detail the better.  What would you do if a cat 5 hurricane was projected to hit your house?  Where would you go?  What would you take?  Would it all fit in your car?  Do you have enough gas to get there if the gas stations are closed?  What if you don't have time to leave? What room in your house is safest (can you reinforce it easily)?

If you are facing a serious situation but no immediate threat, take the time to consider your options before rushing into a course of action.  Take an inventory of what you have on hand and what is around you.  Think of how each item could help solve one or more of your priorities. 

Thinking about these things may be scary but it will be less scary when it actually happens if you have thought it through.  Focus on what you can do to improve things and not on what you cannot change. Thinking can also be more long term as in learning and planning.  I suggest you read some of the sources below and then come up with a plan for several types of situations that you are likely to face.  But don't delay, you can take some first steps outlined below, such as storing water, right now.  You can then read more, take classes and collect useful items.  Preparing is a process not a one time event.

Having breathable air is not something you usually have to worry about, but it is an immediate priority if you do.  First aide can help with choking and bleeding (which causes the body to not get needed oxygen). Hundreds of people die from carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide poisoning every year because of gas leaks and cooking or heating indoors.  Being at altitude can also make it harder to breath.  Finally, a terrorist attack could put dust, chemical, biological, or nuclear contamination in the air or force you into a shelter that needs ventilation.  Be aware of these dangers and have appropriate detectors if possible (smoke, carbon monoxide, etc.).  A wet cloth or hand wipe (carry on airplane) to breathe through can help for dust or smoke.


Shelter is mainly about staying dry and the right temperature, but you also want to avoid sunburn, bugs, animals and other dangers.  Your house is your usual primary shelter but it could become damaged or you may have to evacuate.  You should have emergency repair items on hand such as tarps, lumber, shovels, nails, plastic sheeting, crowbars, and a saw.

Your clothes are your first and most important layer of shelter outdoors.  Clothes protect you from heat, cold and abrasions.  In general silk, wool, and synthetic materials are better than cotton especially to keep you warm in cold wet weather. I find cotton more comfortable especially in hot weather, so I compromise and wear a cotton shirt and shorts, but carry a better shirt, pants and socks in my bag, as well as additional layers and a change of underwear.  This makes my pack a little heavier, but I have been cold and wet in the wilds and that is miserable.  For me, a hat and sunglasses are indispensable.  I try to always carry at least a light water resistant jacket or poncho (with a garbage bag as a backup).  For me, boots are the only sensible walking shoes.  Find some that are rugged and comfortable.  Have extra laces and a backup pair.

You can carry a tent, a tarp or garbage bag for resting and sleeping.  A tarp can make a simple shelter or an elaborate one.  Rope, twine and tape are also useful.  You can carry some type of staff or tent poles or make them with an ax or saw.  Mosquito netting is necessary in some places.

You should have many ways to start a fire since most are cheap and compact.  At least have a lighter, matches, and flint.  You can also build a firebed to sleep in if you have inadequate shelter from the cold.

This is a crucial area that can be helped a lot with very cheap and easy actions before The Schumer Hits The Fan (TSHTF).  This is probably the thing you can do with the highest payoff for amount of effort.  The only problem with water is that it is heavy and can take up a lot of room.  If you have storage room and are staying home this isn't a problem but if you are on the move it can become a driving factor in your progress.  Long term solutions are also difficult if your primary water source (city water or well) goes out and you are not near a river or lake. 

Used plastic soda bottles and orange juice jugs with screw tops make very convenient water storage containers.  Just rinse them a few times with hot water. Old liquor bottles and wine box bladders work well too.  I also have several canteens and rugged 5 gallon containers with taps.  The five gallon containers weigh about 40 pounds each and are about as big as can be easily moved (larger drums can go in your basement or garage or under a rain spout).  A few collapsible containers might also be useful because they can be stored and carried empty.  Tap water can last for years without going bad if kept in a cool dark place.  But you should check water that has been stored for clarity and odors.  If in doubt, treat it with one of the methods below.  You can also freeze the plastic soda or orange juice containers (these do crack sometimes when freezing) and use them in a cooler to keep food cold if the power goes out before drinking it.  If you know a disaster is coming fill up any container you can including the coffee maker, crystal vase, bucket, bathtub, sink, and kiddy pool (some of these could be spilled or contaminated but hopefully some will make it).

Most sources recommend about a gallon per person per day.  People consume about 2 quarts in cool low activity environments but much more if hot or active.  You should have at least 2 weeks worth per person in your primary residence (but why not have months worth if you have the room).  If you are traveling by car, three days worth per person is minimum (more for bathing), and if you are walking take as much as you reasonably can carry but at least one days worth (several small bottles are better for diversification if one leaks and also to let you know to start looking for more water before you are on your last bottle).  I also store extra water for washing and bathing.  Here the container doesn't matter quite as much.  I use old liquid detergent jugs.  You should also have at least two methods of sterilizing water. 

The first step in sterilizing water is to get the water as clear as possible.  If it is cloudy, strain it with coffee filters, a clean cloth, or sand.  Or you can let it settle and pour off the more clear water. 

The primary and most reliable method of sterilizing water is boiling.  You actually do not need to boil the water just heat it past 145 degrees for long enough. But if you don't do it right you can get sick.  So to be safe, boil it for 5 minutes if you can.  If you are walking, a metal cup (enamel or stainless) or a converted tin can is easier to boil than a full pot.  You can carry a backpacking stove or a Kelly Kettle.  You can use solar power to sterilize water (in a soda bottle) if no cooking is possible.  Other stoves are suggested below under food. 

To sterilize water with bleach use 2 drops of plain unscented bleach per quart of water (or 8 drops per gallon or 1‚ÅÑ4 tsp per 2 gallons).  If you don't have a dropper you can wet a paper towel and then drip it (wear gloves).  Let the water sit for 20 minutes and then smell it.  If it smells like chorine then its good to go.  If it doesn't, repeat with the same amount of bleach.  If that doesn't work try to find other water.  (Really bad water or salt water requires a still.)  Bleach is cheap but does not last forever - rotate.  Dry Calcium Hypochlorite {sold as "pool shock" bleach) stores much better than liquid bleach but requires an additional step of mixing a solution. (It provides a very inexpensive long term solution to water treatment).

There are also Potable Aqua iodine tablets that are more compact for sterilizing water.  You can also use Tincture of Iodine.  Iodine and chlorine are poisons so be very careful (kill the bacteria not yourself. [Avoid ingesting chlorine or iodine crystals!])

Any of the chemical treatments can make the water taste funny.  You can use drink mixes to make it taste better.  I'm not sure if sports drinks are really better, but Gatorade seems more thirst quenching to me than water.  The powder form is more convenient and cheaper.  You can also make your own sports drink (1/4 tsp nu salt (potassium chloride), 1‚ÅÑ4 tsp salt, 3-6 tbsp sugar (to taste), juice of 1 lemon (or orange), and optional flavoring (Kool-Aid) per gallon of water) or switchel.        

Of course you can spend money for water if you want to.  You can buy prepackaged water or expensive filters. There are backpacking filters but I have found these to be temperamental.  A water bottle with a filter would be a good backup or a straw. You can also go the more expensive route with a good gravity fed filter like this: http://www.doultonfilters.com/gravity.html.  This is a great looking solar still but doesn't appear to be for sale right now. 

If you are a homebrewer (or like beer), you can add some dry malt extract, hops, and dry yeast to your stash.  Beer is boiled as part of the brewing process.  Then the alcohol and hops act as a natural preservative.  For the long term you can get some sproutable barley, grow some hops, and culture yeast.  If you or someone with you doesn't handle alcohol well, skip this. 

Providing food can be as easy or complicated as you want.  The easiest thing to do is simply buy more of any food you normally buy that stores well.  By store well, I mean does not spoil.  Foods like fresh milk, meat and bread do not store well.  Other foods like rice, dried beans and pasta all store well and are cheap.  They eventually lose some of their nutrition but this is gradual and will not make you sick from eating ‚Äúexpired‚Äù food if you forget to rotate.  I do not list exact rotation schedules because every source is different.  Some sources say grains only last one year but most sources say 10 plus years and other credible sources say hundreds or thousands of years.  It all depends upon how it is packed and where it is stored which is discussed below (vacuum packed, cool and dry are best) Canned meats, fruits and vegetables store okay and are more expensive.

How much food you want to have on hand depends on what type of situation you expect and how much you want to spend.  Buying a month' worth of rice, beans, salt, and pasta will not cost much (and is a good start).  You will be a lot happier if you add:

  • canned or dried meat (Costco and BJs have multipaks of Spam, ham, tuna and chicken for under $10)
  • canned or dried fruits and nuts
  • canned or dried vegetables
  • dried potatoes
  • canned or dried sauces (for pasta, chili, etc.)
  • soup mixes (bean soups are cheap) and bullion
  • dried onions
  • parmesan cheese
  • cooking oil
  • ramen noodles
  • peanut butter
  • mayo
  • vinegar
  • sugar and honey
  • powdered milk
  • bread crumbs, stuffing, oatmeal, cereal
  • flour, pancake mix, biscuit mix
  • baking soda
  • cocoa, instant coffee, tea, drink mixes, juice mixes (cranberry)
  • lemon juice
  • dry yeast
  • spices 

Some of these can be eaten without cooking or water if you have to.  Costco is great for the rice, canned goods, bullion, yeast (2 pound box), cooking oil and spices. Don't forget a can opener and other utensils.  Of course you can do the drying (wood or solar) and canning yourself for better quality and lower cost.  The oil, flour, baking soda and yeast (refrigerate the yeast if possible) do not store well and have to be rotated more frequently than the rice, beans and pasta.  You will be healthier if you add some multivitamins.  There are also luxury items like Powerbars, powdered eggs, powdered cheese, powdered butter, food tabs, and meals ready to eat (MREs).

To decide how much you need, you can simply scale up recipes and meals (print some simple recipes that use your stored food).  How much rice and beans would you eat at a meal or in a day if that was all you ate?  A lot probably (make a meal as a trial).  Now multiply that by the number of people and the number of days and you have a ball park of how much to store.  The problem is that you could end up feeding more people than your immediate family.  Who else would you not turn away? (Anyone you wouldn't want to live with normally is not someone you want to be stuck with in a crisis.  That said there is some family I wouldn't turn away even if they deserve it).  Start with the cheap stuff (rice, beans, pasta, salt) and then slowly keeping adding and rotating the other food until you have at least one months worth.  Do an inventory at least twice a year.

Store everything in airtight/waterproof containers inside a tough container in a cool, dry, dark place.  Some things come packed pretty well and can just go in a plastic bucket or crate (cans can be dipped in wax).  Other items should be vacuum packed in small bags or large mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and then put in the plastic bucket with a lid or crate (with a solid latching lid).  If you don't have shelves, you can make shelves out of the buckets or crates and 1‚Äùx12‚Äù lumber.  Put 2‚Äùx4‚Äù's under the bottom shelf to keep it off the floor.

For years worth of food instead of months worth of food we need to move to grain and grain grinders.  The Church of Latter Day Saints are the experts here.  They also have storehouses that will sell to the public if you are polite.  Of course you can buy online but the shipping will be as much or more than the food.  I went cheap and was able to get about six months worth of food for one person for $100.  I stuck to grains (400 lbs/year), beans (40 lbs/year), soup mix (20 lbs/year), and milk (16 lbs/year) (I already had sugar (60 pounds/year), salt (10 lbs/year), oil (5 gallons/year), baking soda and yeast).  I borrowed some of their equipment to pack some of the food, the rest I packed at home in the mylar bags and buckets described above.  The milk is a sticky powder and very messy (think of spilling flour and multiply by 100), repack it outside if possible.  I also bought a hand operated grain grinder to make flour from the wheat.  Then I can make bread (scale this recipe up to one loaf per day for a year as a cross check for a year's supply).  This would be a pretty miserable diet but I think it would keep me alive and healthy if I had enough vitamins.  Because of the sack size I have more of some things than others so towards the end I may be eating paste.  I hope to upgrade later.  For infants you need more milk, oil, sugar, and vitamins from which you can make an emergency formula (breast feeding is better, then you give the extra food to the mother). 

For even longer food solutions you need to farm.  Supplementing your food with a garden or sprouting would also make things last longer and provide some healthy variety.  Its best to have some non-hybrid seeds on hand or save seeds from your garden.  Serious (expensive) seed packages are here.  Have some fertilizer and pesticides on hand but in the long run organic is the way to go.

For cooking you can use a wood burning stove, barbeque, or camp stove in the short run (have some extra fuel on hand).  The Petromax lantern is pricey but well made and also has a stove attachment.  If you don't have one of these or run out of fuel you can build one: a coffee can stove, a bucket stove (avoid galvanized metal), a alcohol stove, a collapsible stove, a tin can stove (simple version), solar oven (portable version), or a clay stove (print directions for making at least one of these).  This is also a good commercial stove for those with cash to burn.  These are much more efficient than an open fire.  You need a good pot or dutch oven for boiling water and cooking.  For more portable food you can go with MREs, make your own or stock what ever you would normally backpack with.

Hope is different for everyone.  It can be safety, comfort, companionship, or normalcy.  For me it is mainly hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I can work hard and persevere if I know eventually things will get better.  This means long term planning.  So I want to have what I need in the short term but also have some hope for the long term (so I have gardening tools and seeds in addition to rice and spam).  You also want comfort items such as a book, Bible, game, coloring book, pictures, beer, tea, or warm shower.  Some of these can be dual purpose such as a book about hiking or gardening, survival playing cards, or a novel about survival and perseverance. 

There are lots of things you can get, but you can also just organize what you have already.   The number of lists seems endless and what you need depends upon the situation, your skills, and your budget.  Here is what is wrong with the DHS kit  I have already mentioned several items above and list some others here but being comprehensive would take a lot of space (read the links and references for more).  Here are some basics.

All types of camping equipment and tools come in handy but can be expensive (shipping can be expensive too so you may want to make your own, try your local yard sales, craigslist, sporting goods or hardware store first).  You may want a small tent to carry and a larger tent to put in the car.  Sleeping pads are as much for insulation as for comfort (learned the hard way‚Äîyou don't want to be in the cold without some insulation between you and the ground).  A hammock can be multipurpose.  You can try your local hardware store for lanterns or Lehman's (they also have candle making supplies).

I suggest four knives for anyone responsible enough to have one (in general you get what you pay for, but start cheap and upgrade later): a folding lock blade knife (buck and gerber are both good reasonably priced brands), a Swiss army knife (with saw blade) or leatherman type knife (pliers are handy), a solid full tang knife, and a machete or short sword for brush.  A kitchen knife can work until you get any of these.  A hatchet would also be useful.  Keep them sharp.

You need several maps (local, state (small scale and large scale), neighboring states, topographic and road) and a compass.  A GPS is optional but very handy.  There are usually welcome centers along interstates and in some cities that hand out free maps.  The USGS is a good source for reasonably priced maps but sometimes it is a bit hard to find what you are looking for.  They have a catalog for each state that really helps. They are also very friendly by phone but still prefer if you order online. 

You should have at least one non portable (plug in) phone that can be used with the power out.  Medicine, diapers and feminine products will be hard to get.  A generator is great but can be expensive and you must have enough fuel (I don't have one but want one).  Solar powered battery chargers are really slow but might be the only option.

Change your attitude, don't be wasteful, and you can reuse many items. A tin can becomes a cup or pot with a little work.  Use both sides of a piece of paper and then use it as insulation or tinder.  Waste not, want not.  This also minimizes trash as there may be no trash pickup.

Organize your equipment and supplies into different levels and packages

Stuff you almost always carry

You should make a small kit that fits in your pocket or around your neck.  This should include:

  • ways to make a fire (matches, mini bic, flint, etc.)
  • a button compass
  • a small knife or razor blade, broken hack saw blade, small file
  • Swiss Tech Micro-Tech 6-in-1 Tool
  • led light
  • small candle (light or fire making)
  • a saw
  • short piece of wire
  • parachute cord (as much as will fit)
  • iodine tablets
  • sturdy needle and thread
  • individual salt servings
  • food tabs, hard candy, bullion or individual parmesan cheese/sugar (if space permits)
  • freezer bags (water)
  • nails (assortment)
  • trash bag if it will fit (poncho or tarp)
  • dental floss (twine)
  • Advil, Imodium, Benadryl, vitamins, band aids, SPF chapstick any other essential medicine for you or your family (all labeled)
  • fish hooks, split shot, fish line, safety pins.
  • Survival cards can go in kit or wallet (you can make something similar). 

Personal Fanny Pack (or vest)

This should be small enough and attached to you so that you do not put it down even when you take a break.  Take it with you on any hike, drive or emergency.  A large fanny pack works well or Ranger Rick suggests putting everything in a vest and a bamboo walking stick.  You can duplicate some of the items in your mini kit but add substantially.

  • Survival cards or pocket survival guide (or print some out).
  • Knife of your choice (another one can go in your pocket or on your belt)
  • Sharpening stone (or ceramic insulator)
  • Fire materials (matches and tender (dryer lint, cotton balls in Vaseline, small candles, etc.) waterproofed)
  • Magnifying glass wrapped in bandana
  • Pliers if your knife doesn't have them
  • Compass
  • Maps
  • Metal cup (boiling water)
  • 2 small bottles of water
  • Freezer bags (organization, waterproofing and for more water)
  • Small camp soap (or traveler's shampoo)
  • Iodine tablets
  • At least 2 trash bags (clear for still and heavy black for shelter), or tarp and poncho, or space blanket, or light weight jacket with hood (a shell that compacts) or hat
  • Rope, twine and wire
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Candle
  • Wipes (these are multipurpose and are more compact than toilet paper, keep them in zip lock bags (add a little water if they get dry))
  • Gloves and socks
  • Small first aide kit (including prescriptions)
  • Sunscreen and bug repellant.
  • Whistle
  • Snacks (powerbars, trail mix, food tabs, tea, Gatorade mix, bullion, beef jerky, MRE)
  • A GPS, FRS radio, am/fm radio, cell phone, or CB can go in here if it fits
  • Mini binoculars (to spot landmarks, approaching fires, etc.)
  • Notepad and pencil or pen
  • A multipurpose tool is a good backup for the other items.

72 hour kit (or less)

To some, the 72 hour kit is everything they have in their house for disasters.  I think this should be what you take with you if you have to evacuate (even on foot).  If you can't carry 72 hours worth of food and water (that is a lot of water even if you only plan 2 quarts per day), scale it down and put the rest in a car bug out kit that can be used in your house or on the road.  You can also make a similar kit for work or other places you are likely to be in an emergency.  It should be in a medium sized backpack that you can easily carry (get a rain cover for the backpack (or make one)‚Äîthese really help in wet conditions).  Again, repeat items in your smaller kits as you see fit.  Here are some suggestions:

  • It's a Disaster! Book (or print out a similar one)
  • Personal mini-kit and fanny pack or vest (attached to you separately from the backpack)
  • Water (as much as you can fit without making the bag too heavy, you can carry some containers empty and fill them later)
  • Changes of clothes (several underwear and socks, long underwear)
  • Jacket, hat, and sunglasses
  • Sleeping bag or blanket (and compact pad), hammock
  • Soap and other toiletries (comb, nail clippers and razor)
  • Small stove and/or lantern (or directions and supplies for making one of the stoves above)
  • Small tent or tarp and netting, plastic sheeting, tent poles and stakes (multipurpose)
  • Stuff sacks, mesh bags, pillow cases for organization
  • Duct tape
  • Hatchet or machete, folding saw
  • Small shovel
  • Rope, twine and bungee cords
  • Backpacking pot/pan
  • Cooking and eating utensils (kitchen knife, can opener, spatula, spoon, forks, plates, cups)
  • Foil
  • Dish soap, sponge, dish pan or bucket (collapsible) (also a wash basin or bucket), towel
  • Food (Snacks and MREs as well as rice)
  • Vitamins
  • Detailed road maps
  • topo maps
  • Extra ammo
  • Pocket warmers
  • A GPS, FRS radio (everyone with a list of channels to use), am/fm radio, solar calculator, or CB (whatever you have that fits)
  • Copies of important documents, phone numbers, extra credit card, cash, ID
  • Comfort items (book, cards, bible, pictures, coloring books, games)

Car Kit

Keep this in the car if possible.  I used to keep a lot of this in my car but since some of it was stolen, I keep most of it in the house and load it up for longer trips.  I have something similar to the personal fanny pack that I keep hidden in the jack compartment.

  • 72 hour kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Jumper cables
  • Seat belt cutter and window breaker (keep within reach)
  • Water (bottles can go under the seats)
  • Matches
  • Gloves
  • Tarps
  • Garbage bags
  • Wipes
  • Maps
  • Driving compass
  • Rope and/or tow strap and bungee cords
  • First aide kit (any medications)
  • Siphon hose for water or gas (do not drink gas)
  • Window washer/scraper
  • Crowbar and other tools (hammer, saw, wrenches, duct tape, fuses, belts, and screws)
  • Ax, bucket and shovel (this is required in some forests)
  • Engine oil
  • Gas can (keep it empty and unused unless you have a place for it on the outside of your car or truck)

Stuff you take if you have to Bug Out

This is stuff that is too heavy to carry in your 72 hour kit but something you can throw in your car (in addition to what is already there) quickly if you need to evacuate.  You might be able to take it in a garden cart if you can't drive but travel by roads is still safe.  Here is an example to help you make your own kit (or here).  Pack it in crates or duffle bags.  Here are some suggestions (what fits in your car will vary):

  • More survival books or books on camping/country/simple living
  • 5 gallon water cans (full)
  • Food (cans and other heavy bulky items)
  • Cooler (grab some ice and any travel friendly fresh items that are still good like cheese, peanut butter, apples, lemons, and bread)
  • Large first aide kit
  • Dutch oven
  • Stove and fuel or barbeque, Kelly Kettle
  • Lantern (Petromax is good but expensive)
  • Unscented bleach
  • Tent and large tarps, rugs
  • Blanket and pillows (sleeping pad, hammock, or cot)
  • Paper plates, utensils and cups
  • Paper towels and wipes
  • Foil
  • Solar shower
  • Bucket toilet (you can store garbage bags, toilet paper, wipes, and soap inside the bucket)
  • Many garbage bags
  • Laundry soap
  • Clothes pins
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Ant traps and insecticides
  • Fishing gear
  • Radio and batteries
  • Several extra fuel cans (enough to get to your destination without refueling)
  • Propane heater with fuel
  • Generator
  • Small safe for guns and documents
  • Bikes (on rack and with pump and tire repair kit)
  • Frisbee or other games

First Aid and Medical Kits

Take a first aide class and more training if you can.  For supplies, the place to start is with a pre-made small portable first aide kit and a larger home or car first aide kit.  These are usually $10 to $20 on sale (but can be $100's if you want).   You can add items from your medicine cabinet and replace things like the cheap scissors that usually come with them. However, these usually are not good for much more than minor cuts and scrapes (going to a hospital/doctor may not be an option or may take a while‚Äîso do your best until you can get to one).  For more serious injuries you probably have to make your own kit.  The best book is Wilderness Medicine, by William W. Forgey.  His suggested kit in the back of the book is great (I learned the hard way I needed some of the items that he recommends and figure the other items are ones I may need in the future).  Amazon and Moore Medical have most of the items if you can't find them locally.  For the house or car first aide kit, I suggest a hard sided box like a tool box.  Dental care is also important.  A toothache is really distracting. A little dental kit like this could make you a lot more comfortable until you can see a dentist.

Other Kits

Make other kits as you see fit.  I have a kit that is mainly in case of terrorist attack (I live and work too close to a likely target).  I have Jane's Chem-Bio Handbook and what to do if a nuclear attack in imminent as well as Potassium Iodide (seven days), plastic sheeting, duct tape, Tyvek clothes coverings,  and a face mask (this is not as good as a gas mask but its what I have).  You can spread this to your other kits if you want.

Protecting yourself from criminals
is as natural as buying a fire extinguisher to put out fires (but more expensive).   Get fences, dead bolts, and lock your windows at night but if someone really wants to get in your home they will.  Police take an average of 11 minutes or more to respond to violent crimes 40 percent of the time (sometimes hours), under normal conditions. A lot can happen in 11 minutes and you are going to wait a lot longer in a crisis.  When someone is kicking in your door, it is too late to go buy a gun.  You are on your own.  Relying on the kindness of someone breaking into your home is not a good bet.

If you are a gun person, pick your own gun.  This advice if for those who don't own a gun or don't shoot.  I suggest a pistol, a rifle and a shotgun for every adult (check you local gun laws).  If I had to only have one gun it would be a shotgun because of their versatility.  A 20 gauge shotgun is more than enough for most purposes including home defense and has less recoil than a 12 gauge.  The Remington 870 is a great choice but many people also like Mossberg.  Take a class on using the shotgun for home defense.  For home defense ammo, I use bird shot.  This will not penetrate and stop a criminal as fast as buck shot but is also less likely to go through a wall and hurt an innocent person.  Make your own decision here based on who is in adjoining rooms and how close the neighbors are.  You can always load bird shot as the first few shells followed by buck shot (keep about 200 rounds on hand because it will be hard to buy in a crisis).  The only options I recommend are hearing protection, glasses, a cleaning kit, a sling (guns with slings don't get set down in bad places as much) and maybe a light or night sights.  I think the factory stocks are fine. 

Next on my list would be a .22.  The Ruger Single Six is a nice revolver that is convertible to either 22 LR or 22 magnum (This might be a better choice as the only gun for some people). Also get a holster for it.  Savage and CZ make bolt action rifles that are great bargains. A .22 is a little small for home defense (it is less likely to stop a criminal in his tracks) but a lot better than nothing.  It is also important to be comfortable with your gun and a .22 is fun to shoot so you are more likely to practice (.22 ammo is very cheap and you can get 1,000 rounds for about $20).  As soon as you are comfortable with the .22 and your budget allows, you should probably upgrade to a larger common caliber (.357 for a revolver, 9mm, .40 or .45 for an automatic pistol, 12 gauge for a shotgun, and .223, .308, 7.62x39, .30-30, or .30-06 for rifles).  Get a concealed weapon permit if your state allows them even if you don't plan on using it (carrying a gun).  Again, these take some time to get so you have to get one before you need it even if you think that will be never.  Also, the required classes are really great and focus mainly on when not to use a gun.  Almost any gun range will offer such a class (and many others that are worth it too).  In general, buying a used gun is fine (simple guns are very durable) but for the guns I recommend here, the premium for a new gun (gun store or some sporting good stores) will probably be less than $100 and probably worth it to avoid any mechanical issues to start with.

Learn the gun safety rules and locking up any guns not on your body is a good idea and a necessity if you have kids (or adults who act like kids) in your home.  For pistols you can get a cheap keyed safe for about $20 (also good for documents).  Then you have to hide the key where you can find it quickly but no one else can.  A combination safe is better but a lot more expensive (practice opening it in the dark).  For long guns you can get a locking cabinet for about $100 (some cases have a good lock and that is a good idea for taking with you in the car), put a lock on a closet, or get a real safe for about $1,000.  Trigger locks are generally a bad idea because you can accidentally pull the trigger when getting them on or off.

If you decide against a gun, at least get pepper spray, a baseball bat, or a flashlight.  A self-defense class would be good too (martial arts classes are good but take a long time to become practical). A bullet proof vest and helmet would be good but neither is inexpensive.  Finally, there is safety in numbers.  Staying with family and friends during a crisis is a good idea if resources and space allow.

First Steps

  1. Buy some unscented bleach and start storing water.
  2. Start accumulating food and other supplies.  Initially, just buy more of the food that you already buy that stores well.  Re-pack as necessary.  Get some food grade buckets or plastic crates and find a cool dark place.
  3. Start reading more about the risks that you face personally and ways to deal with them.  What is your plan to deal with each?
  4. Organize your stuff into personal mini kits, personal fanny packs (or vests), one or more 72 hour kits for each person for each location they spend time, a car kit, a bug out kit, and your house stash.
  5. Practice.  This doesn't have to be a military style exercise.  Try camping and living without power and running water (in your backyard to start with).  Load your car with what you think you would want to take if you had to evacuate.  How long did it take?  Did it all fit?  Try driving back roads to get out of town.  Go hiking with your 72 hour kit. 
  6. Periodically take an inventory and revise your plans.

Books and other sources (in order of relevance and grouped)

Online Resources

SurvivalBlog (the best daily variety of all types of information at a good price too)

Alpha Rubicon (The "Mythbusters" of the survival world. Membership required for most information, great information and more personalities than members)



Some of these are a bit far fetched and depressing (worst case) and mainly about TEOTWAWKI  (sing ‚ÄúIt's The End of The World as We Know It, and I feel fine" ) (they are fiction) but still give some good food for thought.

Author's web site: www.PrepareOrDie.com

B.L. sent us this one: Radon Gas Causes 100 Times More Deaths than Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

   o o o

Some thought-provoking analysis from Peter Schiff: Another One Bites The Dust

   o o o

Eric found this one: Swiss still braced for nuclear war. Eric noted that there are now calls by the Social Democrat party to drop the shelter-building requirement. (These are the same socialist do-gooders that did away with the war reserve ammunition that had previously been kept in Swiss homes, in sealed cans.)

   o o o

WW flagged this unusually revealling news tory link: Shell CEO's oil-centric view on energy, climate change

"The conclusions seem inescapable that in certain circles a tendency has arisen to fear people who fear government. Government, as the Father of Our Country put it so well, is 'a dangerous servant and a fearful master'. People who understand history, especially the history of government, do well to fear it. For a people to express openly their fear of those of us who are afraid of tyranny is alarming. Fear of the state is in no sense subversive. It is, to the contrary, the healthiest political philosophy for a free people." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper, Cooper's Commentaries, vol. 4, no. 16, December, 1996

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When I last checked, the spot price of silver was $16.75 per ounce, and gold was at $929.30. That's an all-time high. There will be plenty of volatility and some very scary pull-backs, but the trend for the precious metals is still definitely upward. Meanwhile, the USD Index was at 75.56 and falling. The key number to watch for there is 72. Below that, watch out!

BTW, I'm not like those television cheerleader/analysts that have suddenly jumped on the precious metals bandwagon. After a dismal two decade bear cycle, I fairly accurately called the bottom of the silver market seven years ago. (For the record: I cited $4.25/oz. as the potential low point, but it actually bottomed (intraday) a few months later at $4.03.) I was touting silver back when nearly all of the mainstream market mavens were trashing it. But it has been enjoying a bull market ever since.

Just don't ask me to call the top of this bull market. With the potential for massive government market manipulation of the relatively thin metals markets, that will be very hard to do. My advice is to sell your metals holdings gradually, and don't try to catch the absolute peak. Don't get greedy. Just slowly cash out as the metals prices continue to rise and immediately parlay the proceeds into other, less volatile tangibles. (See my previous commentary in SurvivalBlog for some suggestions.)

I'll go out on a limb here and state that it would be foolish not to have cashed out of half of your precious metals by the time that gold reaches $1,550 per ounce. Once the price of gold approaches the magic milestone of €1,000 Euros per ounce, expect some blatantly Neanderthal market manipulation to push the metals prices down: They'll announce government gold sales. They'll change the COMEX rules. They'll claim a scientific breakthrough in alchemy. They'll do whatever they deem necessary to cap the price of gold and silver.


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, so e-mail us your entry soon! Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Not all of us can quit our jobs and live year-round at a permanent retreat. Yet some of us may be able to afford a semi-permanent retreat (e.g. vacation home), at least partly stocked (a.k.a. main supplies), and located within reasonable 'travel time' to the city where we work.
As a catastrophic event would unfold, you would bug out ahead of the crowds. Otherwise you could begin by staying in your house, assess the situation, and never actually bug out. If the situation would deteriorate besides all hope, then bugging out would become a sound option.
As part of the concept of retreating you would need a vehicle to bug out. Assuming a retreat located less than half a gas tank away and fully stocked, then almost any 4x4 vehicle could do. Otherwise you need to think hard now, and select a bug out vehicle (BOV) as suggested next.

Primary Bug Out Vehicle.
A primary BOV is any form of transportation that will allow you to bug out and reach your destination/retreat while carrying your family, pets, and minimal 'bonus' supplies. Your bug out vehicle should be your daily driver so:
o You know how to handle it (size, breaking, passing, etc.).
o You keep it in tip top mechanical condition (reliable).
o You have the automotive repair manual for your vehicle's make/model/year.
o You carry basic spare parts (oil, filters, spark plugs, fuel pump, serpentine belt, etc.).
o You carry winter gear (tire chains, shovel, etc.)
o You carry some off road gear (hi-lift Jack, tow chain, etc.)
In case of major crisis, roadways could quickly become jammed. People may run out of gas and abandon their vehicles in the middle of the road. Although you will likely travel on secondary roads, you might have to go around road blockades. Snow, rain, wind, and soft shoulders could compound the problem. The inability to drive off-road when needed could prove a critical failure to reach your retreat.
As part of overcoming this type of risk, you need a vehicle with powerful off-road capabilities (high ground clearance, four wheel drive, locking differentials, high/low gears, etc.), and plenty of engine power.

Secondary Bug Out Vehicle.
Even if it is a truck, your primary bug out vehicle may not offer enough storage to move your family and all your 'bonus' supplies at once. Likely you will need a support vehicle. Some kind of travel trailer (for instance) will provide enough storage when retreating, without the need to tow it on a daily basis (thus saving gas).
Please understand that your retreat should be at least partly stocked, and that the trailer would only contain 'bonus' and 'extra' supplies. I suggest:
o Enclosed cargo travel trailer.
o Tandem axles, 15" tires or larger, electric brakes.
o High ground clearance, shortest possible cargo box (e.g. 14' long).
o Around 2,000 pounds curb weight.
Load at most 3,000 pounds of equipment and supplies for a total weight of 5,000 pounds. Weigh the trailer both empty and 'full' so you know its real weight. Going off-road to avoid obstacles will require a vehicle capable of towing double that total weight, thus around 10,000 pounds., NOT just 5,000 pounds.
If your primary vehicle is less powerful, you could prefer a single axle trailer and load it at full capacity (e.g. 300 pounds. to 800 pounds. curb weight, 1600 pounds. of load). The advantages are better price and the need for a smaller tow vehicle (required to tow up to 5000 pounds. instead of up to 10,000 pounds.). Disadvantages are:
o Less carrying capacity.
o Trailer closer to its gross weight limit as compared to heavier trailer.
o Single axle and small size wheels (not the best for off-road).
o Trailer box rather low on the ground (bad for off-road).
o Long distance between hitch and axle (again, bad for off-road).
The best solution might be to purchase a single axle trailer (cheaper), and spend extra money to have it customized by switching from single to double axles with larger wheels and tires, electric brakes, and much higher ground clearance.
In any case, always purchase a primary BOV with a maximum towing capacity equal to twice the expected towed weight . Otherwise, off-road use will be either compromised or next to impossible.

Tertiary Bug Out Vehicle.
No primary BOV can be both fuel efficient in daily use and powerful enough when evacuating (towing a trailer, maybe driving off-road). The workaround is to combine a powerful vehicle and a two-wheeled motor vehicle for daily 'summer' driving. This nimble two-wheeled vehicle serves four purposes:
o Daily city driver in fair weather (e.g. at 40 to 60 plus miles per gallon, you save gas).
o Backup set of wheels while your truck is undergoing repairs (it happens).
o When retreating, low profile scout and reconnaissance vehicle .
o Once at your retreat, economical mean of transportation.
The scouting part is critical! Keep the scout vehicle a few miles ahead of your main party and he could quickly warn you (e.g. via radio) of any 'obstacle'. Any 250cc (or up) motorcycle would do the job. Again, you need spare parts, repair manual, etc, for that third vehicle. Although electric hand warmers, windscreen, etc. would mitigate mild winter driving, for practical reasons do not use the scout vehicle (put it in the trailer) during extreme winter conditions.

Important Considerations.
Storing Backup Fuel.
In case of catastrophic event, gas stations will jack up their prices and/or will run out of gas. Consequently it is critical to store enough backup fuel to reach your retreat assuming the worst possible scenario (empty fuel tank, empty fuel stations, snow, at night, and some off-road driving). I suggest:
o Store backup fuel in 5-gallon cans.
o Store as much as possible (at least 80 to 100 gallons).
o Rotate at least once a year (fill up your gas tank with the old fuel).
o I use a funnel (cheap and easy) to fill up from the cans. It works great.
o As needed, use some kind of fuel stabilizer to refresh old fuel.
As the price of fuel goes up, storing makes sense. You do save money buying now and using later. When I started doing so, fuel cost $0.90 per gallon and a used 5-gallon metal jerry-can could be had for $5.00. The containers paid for themselves within a couple of years.

'Bonus' Supplies.
'Bonus' supplies are supplies not pre-positioned at your retreat because you use them daily, or because that would not be practical. A non-inclusive list could include: scout vehicle, backup fuel [JWR Adds: Buy a large underground fuel tank, if you can afford one, and conceal its filler neck and pump head!], animals (e.g. chickens, rabbits), bug out bags, all of your clothes, extra food, medical prescriptions and supplies, camping equipment and supplies, guns and ammo, all of your tools, kitchen utensils, official papers, books, games, computers, etc.)

Ditching The Trailer.
Your scout vehicle should allow you to avoid unwarranted 'obstacles', but in a worst case scenario you might have to ditch the trailer in order to go off-road and reach your location. If possible try to hide the trailer instead, with the option of salvaging it, and its content, at a later time.

To simplify (feel free to disagree) bug out capability is best provided by three vehicles: a towing vehicle (daily winter driver), a travel trailer, and a two-wheeled motor vehicle (daily summer driver/scout). Also you want to store 80 gallons (or more) of fuel for emergencies and for bug out purposes [,and much more at your retreat.]

Dear Mr. Rawles,
It's been on my mind off-and-on since I read your novel "Patriots", when the Grays sent in a property tax payment to avoid losing their retreat to tax delinquency. It's always annoyed me that a landowner has to pay the government to keep land he has bought and paid for. That said, what would keep a local government, starved for cash in just such a situation as "The Crunch", to raise the taxes on local properties until no-one could pay them? If a landowner pre-paid his taxes for, say, two years in advance, what would stop the powers that be from just saying that you didn't pay enough because we've just doubled the taxes, and then taking your well-stocked and cared-for home? I suppose there's nothing that could, and that most towns would not accept a two-year payment on property taxes anyway, but I wanted to put the idea out there. Thanks again for all you do! - R. in New Hampshire

JWR Replies: I had mentioned pre-paying taxes in the novel only because I had foreseen (and still foresee) a hyperinflationary situation where both the repudiation of the paper currency and collapse of government seemed imminent. If the currency would soon become worthless, it would be worth the effort, and it could certainly do no harm--assuming that the same amount of currency would only buy one of two meals worth of food. In the aftermath of a collapse, being able to show a receipt for pre-payment of taxes would at least demonstrate the good faith intention to pay the property tax.

In less severe circumstances where local governments can continue to operate in a hyperinflationary economy, it is impossible to rule out inflation indexing of property taxes. Depending on circumstances that cold result in delinquency judgments and property seizures. If this starts to happen too frequently, this might inspire local uprisings by a discontented citizenry. The recent absurdities in Zimbabwe illustrates one potential outcome. (In Zimbabwe, Mugabe's government just started issuing a $10 Million Dollar bill, which as of this month might buy you a hamburger and an Africola. But if you wait a couple of weeks the same purchase might require $20 Million Zimbabwean dollars.)

During a hyperinflation the crucial factor will be whether or not you have cash income--preferably inflation indexed--with which you can pay your taxes. If you lose your job or on a fixed income (such as a pension), there may very well come a day when you cannot afford to buy food, much less pay your taxes.

I found this "must read" piece by economist Jim Willie, posted over at Gold-Eagle: Gold & Math On A Napkin

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Eric mentioned a great article on the looming derivatives and hedge fund implosion in The Boston Globe: The black box economy. One tidbit from the article: "Despite the anxiety, nobody is stockpiling canned goods just yet." Oh, yeah? Speak for yourself. Meanwhile, we also read: Crisis Grips European Hedge Funds. This is just the beginning folks. I've warned you before about hedge funds suspending redemptions, and hedge fund collapses. If you have any money in hedge funds, get it out, post haste. I am very concerned that the multi-trillion dollar derivatives bubble is about to pop. If and when it does, it will wipe out nearly all of the hedge funds--even those that have been managed quite conservatively.

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RBS suggested this "Gumballs" YouTube clip from a lecture on immigration demographics.

"Individuality is the aim of political liberty. By leaving to the citizen as much freedom of action and of being as comports with order and the rights of others, the institutions render him truly a free man. He is left to pursue his means of happiness in his own manner." - James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) The American Democrat, 1838

Monday, January 28, 2008

If you ever post to any of the Internet forums that discuss survival or preparedness topics, then please mention SurvivalBlog.com when you do. Thanks!

Hello SurvivalBlog:
I am a Canadian 21 year-old living in rural Nova Scotia looking at purchasing my first gun. I will only have enough money for one in the near future (with ammo stockpiles).
I've just got my license (we need 'em in Canada, unfortunately), and have $1,000 to spend [on the gun and ammunition, combined]. My budget is extremely limited, but I think that a gun is the most important priority for survival situations. We have a self-sufficient garden, clean water, well, fuel, wood-stoves, and have potato-like Jerusalem Artichokes growing wild all around us.
I am looking at a Marlin .30-30. Good for hunting. Good for self defense. Good for bug out.
Do you have a better recommendation? Thanks, - Matthew in Nova Scotia

JWR Replies: Instead of the Marlin .30-30, I would recommend a replica .303 Lee-Enfield "Jungle Carbine" (replica of the Number 5, Mark I) or an Ishapore 2A1 carbine (The latter is a 1960s Indian arsenal final evolution of the Enfield, in 7.62mm NATO)..Your choice of caliber should be based on whichever is more popular in your corner of Canada.

Lee-Enfield bolt actions are much faster to reload than a tubular-magazine lever action, either via stripper clips or loaded spare magazines. Both .303 and 7.62mm NATO are ballistically superior to .30-30, and surplus ammo for these calibers bought in bulk is much less expensive than commercial .30-30 soft nose ammunition.

One qualifying note on "Jungle Carbines": From what I have read, less than 20% of the #5 Enfields on the market are genuine originals that were made during WWII with the lightened receivers. Those are real collectibles that fetch $600+. Most of the so-called "Enfield Jungle Carbines" are actually just commercially-rebuilt earlier model Enfields, on standard receivers. (Typically a No. 1 Mk III with a bobbed barrel, shortened wood, and a replica #5 flash hider and #5 buttpad installed. ) The notorious Sam Cummings (of Interarms) and other importers reworked tens of thousands of these in the 1960s and 1970s.) They now run $250 to $375 at US gun shows, which is not considerably more than a standard Enfield. I would suspect they could be found at similar prices in Canada.

From a practical shooting standpoint, the replica #5s are actually preferable to the scarce original #5s, which had a problem with "wandering zero". You could zero in one of these, only to have the zero change while shooting it. According to SurvivalBlog reader B.A.G., this problem was traced to the lightening cuts that were made in the #5 receiver. Short of replacing the lightened receiver, there is no way to fix it. The replicas do not have lightened receivers, so this is not an issue. Again, they will never have the same collector value as an original, but they are more accurate shooters.

I have owned two of these replica #5s, and they both had decent accuracy (2" groups at 100 yards), with no symptoms of wandering zero. Their recoil is hefty, but quite bearable with a slip-over recoil pad.

OBTW, most of the Ishapore 2A1 carbines that you see are equipped the same US-made fake #5 flash hider. There were umpteen thousand of those flash hiders made.

If you have your heart set on a lever action, then consider finding a used Browning BLR (a box magazine-fed lever gun) chambered in .308 (or perhaps .30-06 if bears and moose are plentiful in your area) and at least a half dozen spare magazines. If possible, get the takedown variant, since these can be stowed in a backpack or suitcase. The BLR is much faster to reload than traditional tubular magazine lever action rifles.

My pessimistic mentor in preparedness frequently says: “I hate being so d*mn right all the time!”
I can’t help but wonder if you share the sentiment. I’m beginning to do so!
The more I read the current news about market volatility, Peak Oil, and CCD the more I am reminded of the pieces I wrote and you published on SurvivalBlog months ago! The full texts are still available in your archives and the advice is still valid!
For new readers and to refresh the memory of others here are a few quotes pulled out of the late in 2006 and early 2007 pieces.

From November 3, 2006: How Long Until You Starve?

“ The lowly honey bee is the most prolific and productive pollinator of crops. It is actually threatened with extinction by a new wave of parasites and bee diseases. In the same way that “avian flu” endangers the global bird population (and to a lesser extent humans) bee diseases have the potential to destroy that essential link in the production of food for human consumption.“
“ Even changes in the market price of fuel affect the profitability of farming. If a farmer earns $1,000 per ton of food produced, but it will cost hundreds more in fuel costs next season, why would he plant the next crop?”
“ Some very intelligent people warn of an economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression or worse. Hyper inflation is a reality in third world nations. It has happened in civilized and developed Europe several times in the last century as well. What if your paycheck loses 90% of its buying power in a month’s time? What if the markets lose faith in the imaginary value of currency? Such things have happened repeatedly in the past. If the store shelves are full but a can of soup costs $100, how long can you eat? How long until rioting empties the stores and stops distribution?”
What can you do?
#1 Store a food and water reserve to see you through the initial crisis.
A year’s supply for your family is not an unreasonable amount. FIVE years of the shelf stable basics for your family would not be too much.
#2 Open pollinated “heirloom” seeds and the ability to raise your own crops (at least “gardening”) are part of the answer. Buy your seeds now, practice planting, harvesting, storing the food, AND saving your own seeds to plant for the next season.
#3 Don’t overlook unconventional sources of food. With a little research you should be able to recognize wild forage plants and prepare them for your table.
#4 If keeping domestic livestock or poultry is an option that you would like to explore, I highly recommend Countryside and Small Stock Journal.
#5 If keeping small stock isn’t practical you may resort to foraging for wild game or fishing.

From April 2, 2007 Top Ten Suggestions for Stocking Up:
“… the time to stock up is before a shortage occurs…we are living at the tail end of a historic period of plenty.”
“” Whether you feel that the price hikes we are seeing are due to Peak Oil, developing nations gobbling up natural resources, or active war zones sucking in all available oil and ammunition, you can not deny that prices (especially for fuel and metals) have increased significantly over the past few years. … it will become far worse.
“ When you factor in the very real risks of an economic crisis (derivatives, real estate, etc), the loss of honeybees from the pollination cycle, … you can see the threat of significant price increases for goods with a post-SHTF value.”
So my top ten recommended specific purchases are below.
1. Food Grains – rice, oatmeal, beans, wheat, corn – most of us consume far more than we produce. Food grains are cheap especially if bought in bulk and when properly stored can last for years. Regardless of the crisis, food will be needed. It just makes sense to keep several months of food on hand especially in light of the potential shortages that could result from the die off of pollinators….
2. Matches -
3. If you can still find reasonably priced ammunition … buy it.
4. Effective defense weapons – (note on 1-25-08- that the elections are less than a year away!)
5. High Capacity magazines – (note on 1-25-08 that the elections are closer every day!)
6. Over the Counter Medicines –
7. Hygiene products –
8. Oils of every kind –
9. Salt –
10. Honey – the bees are dying.

- Mr. Yankee

Mr. Rawles,
I'm confused about the two-letter date codes that are stamped on many [Heckler und Koch] HK [firearms] magazines. How does the date code system work? I'm not asking you this because I'm a collector that's into arcana or minutiae. It is because I live in [New York,] a state that restricts civilian ownership of mags that were made after September of 1994.

By the way, I've also got some 40 round [aluminum] alloy HK93 magazines with no markings whatsoever on the mag body, but they do have followers with "78" mold marks. What is the story on those magazines? Are they HK factory made? (The guy that sold them to me said that they were HK-made for some secret contract before 1980. Was he BSing me?) Thanks, - Perry Noid

JWR Replies: First, for the sake of SurvivalBlog's overseas readers, let me present a bit of clarification on magazine legalities: The Federal "high capacity" (11+ round) magazine ban was in effect on the US and possessions only from September of 1994 to September of 2004, when it thankfully became null and void because of a 10 year "sunset" clause. But New York has its own state law, which effectively extended the Federal ban for New York residents. Hence, they are not allowed to possess any 11+ round magzine made after 9/1994. A similar situation exists in California, where any civilian caught with a 11+ round magazine that they did not own on Dec. 31, 1999 could be charged with a felony. (My California pioneer ancestors are undoubtedly rolling in their graves.)

According to the knowledgeable folks at the HKPRO Board, the following is true for HK magazines, but not for receivers, frames, or pistol slides:

IR =1993
AC=2002 (assumption)
AD=2003 (assumption)
AE=2004 (assumption)
AF=2005 (assumption)
AG=2006 (assumption)
AH=2007 (assumption)
AI=2008 (assumption)

The date coding of HK pistol slides has always been much more straightforward: A=0 B=1 C=2 D=3 E=4 F=5 G=6 H=7 I=8 K=9. (So a slide marked "KD" was made in 1993.)

Apparently, starting in 2002, HK switched to harmonizing the slide, frame, and magazine date coding systems, but as yet this has not been confirmed by officials at HK or HK-USA.

Those 40 round alloy HK93 magazines with no date stamps that you asked about were made for the Anastasio Somoza Debayle government of Nicaragua (pre-Sandinista.) These were for a "semi-sterile" contract. No company markings were used because the Somoza government was in disfavor internationally at the time. The Somoza government fell to the Sandinista revolutionaries in 1979--before a large number of those HK93 magazines could be delivered, so they were eventually diverted to the civilian market.

Hi Jim,
I am looking to gauge interest from your readers for the Dakota Alert MURS Base and Handheld radios. If there is enough interest in a
special group purchase, I can offer the M538-BS MURS base station for $69 (plus shipping) and the M538-HT MURS hand held for $74 (plus shipping). Interested readers can e-mail me if they would like to be part of this group buy. (see the MURS Radio web site.) Thanks! - Rob at Affordable Shortwaves

Wired News is reporting that an Illinois startup is claiming they can make ethanol from most any organic material for around $1 per gallon. Coskata, backed by General Motors and several other investors, uses a process that is bacteria based instead of some of the other available methods. The bacteria processes organic material that is fed into the reactor and secretes ethanol as a waste product. A hat tip to Eric for sending us this link.

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Pete found us this one: Gold production halted amid South African energy crisis

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Ten-finger Fingerprint Scan To Enter U.S.A.

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Cody Lundin has a new 512-page survival manual out, titled "When All H*ll Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Know When Disaster Strikes". He's an interesting character and the book is very useful. Safecastle is giving away the book (normally $19.95 ) to new paid members in their crisis preparedness Buyers Club. ("Safecastle Royal".) Those who are already members can either purchase the book at 20% off or get it free with a qualifying $150 purchase in the Safecastle online store.

"Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas." - Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Here is a link to a somewhat less pessimistic article on CCD, the current state of affairs with bees, and a likely possible cause. I agree that the consequences of a loss of Apis mellifera would be a severe blow, but I think the reality is not (yet?) quite so dire as a recently linked article predicted.
Best Regards, - MP


Your comments miss the fact that solitary bees, such as the Orchard Mason bee, are roughly 10 times more effective [per capita] as pollinators than honeybees, and are plentiful in most locales. Bumblebees ain't bad at it, either. I've relied on these species for years, in an environment where there are very few wild honeybees.
Of course, this doesn't change the fact that commercial agriculture would be largely wiped out without honeybees, but at least it should save you and me from having to dress up in bee costumes and go flitting from flower to flower. - Charley S.


I have just recently found your site and I am starting to read you regularly. I find that I agree with 99.99% of what you have to say so far. I have seen our own small bee hive wiped out in the last few years, and we decided to buy and work with Mason Bees. There is no honey production but they (the mason bees) are pollinating little machines. It might be something for your readers to look into - fyreman

You wrote: "Food storage. Increase the depth of your family's food storage program. Heretofore, I had recommended a two year supply. I am now recommending a four year supply."

Now that you are recommending four years of storage, would you please be more specific in what you recommend? Are you referring to a freeze dried, wheats, beans and rice, dehydrated, etc. type storage approach? I'm assuming a long term approach is the only way to go when trying to store for four years. Thanks, - Russ in Georgia

JWR Replies: For long term storage foods, I generally recommend storing bulk wheat, rice, and beans in 5 or 6 gallon food grade buckets with oxygen absorbing packets.

Given the likelihood of honey shortages for the foreseeable future, I also recommend getting a 10 year supply of honey. Because powdered milk tends to go rancid, I recommend that you buy commercially-packed nonfat dry milk in #10 (one gallon) nitrogen-packed steel cans. (Available from Ready Made Resources) Oils and fats are best stored in the form of canned butter (available from Best Prices Storable Foods) and frozen olive oil. (The plastic bottles work fine, but don't try to freeze glass bottles of oil!)

For details on both short term and long term food storage, I recommend Alan T. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ, as well as my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

In addition to long term storage food, you might also want some conveniently packaged "Get Out of Dodge" type foods, such as retort-packaged MREs. For information on MRE storage, see the MRE Information Page.

The LDS Bishop Storehouse/Cannery list of foods available shows a storage life of 30 years for most properly packaged foods. The Cannery Food Commodities sheet includes this statement: "For longer-term storage, avoid teaching people to 'store what you eat and eat what you store'."
Think about it: in money terms, you don't want to dip into the principle. The same is true for emergency food storage.

Here's some sample prices as of December 22, 2007:
Hard red wheat $4.75 for a 25# bag (you'll transfer the wheat to a food-grade bucket; for how-to, check SurvivalBlog archives)
Hard white wheat $6.25 for a 25# bag (ditto) (by the way, four 25# bags will fit into three 5 gallon buckets)
Black beans $4.72 for a #10 can (already treated and sealed)
Regular oats $2.00 for a #10 can (ditto)
If you buy 6 #10 cans (can be mixed), they'll provide a box, plus two plastic lids for the cans.
There are more than 16 items on the list besides the above (including powdered milk, rice, sugar, apple slices, carrots, macaroni,onions, potato flakes, spaghetti, cocoa). Not all on the list have a shelf life of 30 years, but all are available treated in sealed cans.
Of course you should purchase small quantities from your local grocery store and try out cooked wheat berries, rolled oats, white beans, etc on your family to see if they will tolerate the stuff. Maybe even add it to your regular meals here and there so a sudden transition won't add to the stress caused by a disaster (as taught in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" course).

Folks who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can buy these dry-pack food from the LDS Cannery, which is associated with the Bishop Storehouse. Be sure you ask for the Cannery because only Mormons are served from the Storehouse part of the Storehouse/Cannery complex.
Folks who aren't members of the LDS Church can also volunteer to work in the Cannery and buy part of the wet-pack products they help can.

One great feature of volunteering (usually in 2 or 4 hour-shifts) and then buying is that you will know the food you can (chili, for example) is absolutely fresh. And you will also know the food is prepared and canned hygienically. Those who train and guide the volunteers make sure you are comfortable with the tasks you'll be doing. It's actually not only very educational, but also a lot of fun. Check to see what age limit there is on the teens you may want to bring with you.

When you call, ask what is being canned and when (the food to be canned depends on availability--think fruit in the fall, for example). Then find out what day/time slots are open that will fit your schedule. You can choose to volunteer one time only, or you can volunteer now and then, or you can set yourself up with an ongoing schedule if you wish. But you do need to pre-schedule. The staff will be very helpful.
It may be possible to can your own foods if you have enough to make it worthwhile. In that case, of course, you will pay for the cans and lids.
If you want to dry-pack your own food at home, current prices are $0.58 for a #10 can and $0.13 for a lid. A case to hold 6 #10 cans is $0.57.
Oxygen absorber packets are $.09 each.

You can find if a storehouse is near you by checking your phonebook White pages under The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--look for the Bishop's Storehouse listing; it will usually be right at or near the top of the LDS listings. If you don't find a listing, call any of the listed Bishops; they all know where the nearest one is located. Even if a storehouse/cannery is some distance away, it may be worth the trip if you are buying in quantity.

Prior to Y2K, the LDS Canneries were mobbed with non-LDS, so limits were imposed. In the event of another like situation, limits would no doubt be imposed again. So, now would be a good time to get acquainted with what's available and do a shopping run.
Don't worry about being invited to hear about the LDS Church. Nobody will even try to hand you a pamphlet.

The form you will complete for your purchase will ask for your "ward" and "stake"; just write-in "non-member".
I hope this will be helpful. - Bob B.

US Home Prices Fell in 2007 for First Time in Decades

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Eric sent us this piece that squares nicely with my comments yesterday: Central Bankers Confront A New Inflation Calculus

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Richard G. sent a link to this recent front page Wall Street Journal article: In a World Short Of Oil, Provisions Must Be Made. Richard's comment: "While the major media is starting to admit to peak oil, I was somewhat surprised that the WSJ would run this piece about stockpiling food, starting relocalization networks, storing gasoline and propane, buying and storing physical gold, growing gardens, using bikes and horses for transportation, and even relocating . They also have a three minute video interviewing Mr. Wissner on the WSJ.com web site."

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou pass through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” - Isaiah 43:1-2

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The five day arctic cold spell that dominated most of the intermountain west has come to an end. Our kids enjoyed the sunny skies and sledding, even though the daytime highs were around 15 degrees (Fahrenheit), and the nighttime lows were around -10 F. Our horse Money Pit looked woeful, with rings of frost around the eyes and a frosty chin each morning. The clear weather also provided some beautiful pinkish Alpenglühen on the peaks of The Unnamed Range of Mountains each evening, and some awe-inspiring golden glow at sunrise each morning--once with the full moon setting in the west right over a auric snowy peak.

The clear weather allowed us to make our semi-annual sojourn to COSTCO, where we did our best imitation of shoppers from the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Seeing our big industrial flat cart heaped up with sacks of rice and cases of canned goods, a fellow shopper asked: "Do you have a restaurant?" I replied, "No, we have teenagers.".

Now we are back to overcast, snow showers, and highs in the 30s, which is more typical for this time of year.

The once Almighty US Dollar got its comeuppance this week at the annual Davos, Switzerland conclave. After too many years of maxing out her credit card at Macy's, the weak sister of the currency world was strongly chided by her siblings. The Federal Reserve's unprecedented one-day 75 basis point cut in interest rates was seen as exactly what it was: a desperation measure. Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) said that there is little chance of a European interest rate cut, to match the Fed's rate cut Soon after, Steve Forbes went so far as to call the US Dollar policy 'Zimbabwe Economics'. Not surprisingly, the US Dollar Index is still bouncing along the gutter of the high street at around 75.90 (it now takes more than $1.46 to buy a Euro), and the spot price of gold spiked to over $921 per ounce in London and New York trading before settling to around $910.

What does the castigation of the US Dollar at Davos mean to the average American? In the short term, very little. But in the long term, look for a much weaker dollar in foreign exchange. This means that imported goods are going to get a lot more expensive. If you have been forestalling buying any big ticket imported items, buy them soon. That $250 British Berkefeld water that you've wanted may cost $400 or more, next year. (That is, if you really need something for preparedness, and you can pay cash.) Obviously recession is right around the corner. That means lower stock prices, big layoffs, a cascade of economic troubles overseas, declining house prices, more mortgage foreclosures, big bailout programs, and so on.

In my estimation, sometime in the next two years the economic and currencies pendulums will reach a collective turning point. Foreigners will simply stop buying US Treasuries--at least at the currently-offered rates of return In order to finance the Federal debt, the Treasury department will have to offer higher rates of return. Then they will be inextricably stuck. Higher interest rates will tank the economy. But then it may get worse: Like the Banana Republic treasury that it has truly become, the US Treasury will get into the spiral of offering higher and higher rates of return to lure overseas investors. Interest rates will start to accelerate, as they did in the late 1970s. Smelling blood in the water (pardon the mixed metaphor) the foreign investors will play the cycle for all that it is worth, pushing Treasury rates up past 20% annual interest.

What does the Federal Reserve's recent big interest rate cut tell us? It is now apparent that Ben Bernanke and his deck chair rearranging committee are subservient to Wall Street. Rather than accepting the natural outcome of a normal market cycle , they are furiously trying to pump liquidity in hopes of propping up stock prices. They cannot afford to let mutual funds and pension funds collapse. (Nor does the Republican party want to lose their soon-to-be-retiring Baby Boomer political base, in the process.) In the process the Fed is destroying the value of the dollar and making the inevitable economic dislocation of the forestalled recession even worse.

SurvivalBlog readers are hereby advised to batten down the hatches. Be ready to lose your job. (See my previous advice about starting a home-based business that you can fall back on, if need be.) Be ready to relocate on short notice. Be ready for a recession that will go on for so long and get so bad that it will be called The Second Great Depression. Be ready for substantially higher crime rates. Be ready for mass inflation. (As I've stated before, given his predisposition, Ben Bernanke will try to inflate his way out of this mess. He will monetize the debt.) Be ready for drastic measures by the government, including "soak the rich" tax schemes--that will actually target the middle class. Be ready to help out your idiot brother (the one with the matching pair of Jet Skis and the 72" plasma television), who will appear on your doorstep, pleading that he can't pay his mortgage or his credit card bills. Be ready to feed your family out of your own garden and food storage. Be ready for your employer to get suddenly bought out by a European conglomerate. Be ready for $6 per gallon gasoline and milk prices. Be ready for any stock-heavy 401(k) and pension funds to be "wiped out" overnight. Be ready, folks!

Some tips when looking for like-minded suitable people for a survivalist group:

At work look for people who carry a pocket knife--a real pocket knife not a tiny little Swiss Army knife-- in these politically correct times it's one of the first thing that sticks out in an office environment
When sharing a ride to lunch you may notice some people always have some hiking/camping gear always in their cars. Having a spare pair of shoes such as hiking boots at work.
Observe if anyone goes for a walk at lunch or any other indication that they are staying fit/prepared.
Pay attention to what people say if someone mentions politics, someone may be very obviously trying very hard to hold back when someone spews utter nonsense.
See if anyone ever mentions hiking, camping, or hunting during conversation.
Most of us spend a significant amount of time in the office. By finding a coworker you will have an added advantage if you need to bug out from work. Even 2 people traveling together to a common destination and following a well rehearsed procedure will increase your chances of survival and getting out of immediate danger area in the
first few hours.
Try joining a college or local marksmanship/gun club.
Join a hiking/camping club or group.
There will be quite an overlap between these groups and those are individuals that may be a good starting point.
People in either of the groups are already showing some interest in some of the skills, have at least some of the necessary gear and training required.
Pay attention to Boy Scouts stickers on cars, NRA stickers, political affiliation stickers.
Someone who was previously in the Boy Scouts or emergency preparedness organization such as Civil Air Patrol or local Department of Emergency Management often has the proper values, training and willingness to continue training .

Your local neighbors should not be overlooked. You are living in close proximity and can often tell when someone brings back lots of #10 cans from COSTCO or is dragging big green boxes of bulk ammo from Cabela's or trying to quickly toss in several rifle cases in the trunk without alarming neighbors.
You are also in a pretty good position to observe how often or if your neighbors go camping, if they seem to have a spare rugged SUV always loaded up for the next camping trip etc.
Seeing what kind of signs pop up on the neighbor's lawn during the voting season can also be very telling.

Always use your brain and really pay attention, you may be surprised by what you'll notice about people you haven't given a second thought of before.
Good groups aren't recruited in my experience, they just from from several people/several couples who end up going hiking, camping, shooting together and have similar political and moral beliefs. Talk of survival retreats sort of comes up on its own without being forced. - Steven


Mr. Rawles:
After our last Ron Paul Meetup, I was circulating and greeting folks. Out of "the corner of my ear" I heard the words, "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse." I spun around and there were two women talking about your novel and our present economic condition.
As a shameless plug for my candidate, the Ron Paul Meetups in readers' areas might be a way to network with some like-minded folks.
Godspeed, - Brian in Wisconsin

You noted that several SurvivalBlog readers had mentioned the "Life After People" documentary series, in advance of its first airing. I just saw it. What a waste of time. This show provided nothing of any use to anyone. It seems as if it was an excuse to give the computer graphics specialists something to do while the screen writers are on strike. I believe this show was primarily a vehicle to promote the idea that humans are destroying the planet. It kept stating how better off the planet, animal life, the oceans and their wildlife were now that man was gone. Most of the 'experts' seemed gleeful at the prospect. A strong argument for mother earth and for population reduction, though on an extreme scale. Another big 'What if' movie. They kept showing how things like buildings, bridges, cars, film, CDs et cetera deteriorate when man is not their to keep things up. Useless information considering their would be no reason to worry if we're all dead! - Jason in North Idaho

I got the chance to watch the first three episodes of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". I found the show was worth watching. There are no great earth-shattering revelations about preparedness, but it sure beats the mindless drivel usually found on network television. For those of us without televisions, full episodes are available at the Fox network web site.

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In a recent e-mail, Naish Piazza of Front Sight sent a link to key web site to bookmark: Family WatchDog.The site provides Google maps showing where registered sex offenders live in proximity to your home.

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A reader forwarded this sobering page that details one man's experience with his negligent discharge from a .45 ACP pistol. Ouch! Keep the four laws of firearms safety in mind whenever you handle guns.

“It has never been clear to me why increased magazine capacity in a defensive pistol is particularly choice. The bigger the magazine the bigger the gun, and the bigger the gun the harder it is to get hold of for people with small hands. And what, pray, does one need all those rounds for? How many lethal antagonists do you think you are going to be able to handle? Once when Bruce Nelson was asked by a suspect if the thirteen-round magazine in the P35 [Browning Hi-Power] was not a big advantage, Bruce's answer was, "Well, yes, if you plan to miss a lot." The highest score I know of at this time achieved by one man against a group of armed adversaries was recorded in (of all places) the Ivory Coast! There, some years ago, a graduate student of mine laid out five goblins, with four dead and one totaled for the hospital. Of course there is the episode of Alvin York and his eight, but there is some dispute about that tale. (If you read it over very carefully you will see what I mean.) Be that as it may, I see no real need for a double column magazine. It is all the rage, of course, and like dual air bags, it is a popular current sales gimmick.” - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper

Friday, January 25, 2008

In reading the recent economic commentary on your blog site I have to wonder - if one is convinced that we're to see a significant increase in inflation, then why get out of debt? Take a mortgage for instance: with decent credit it is now possible to refinance (or purchase) and get a fixed rate mortgage under 5% and rates will likely go lower before we're done. With tax breaks and even normal inflation this is essentially free money. In an inflationary environment (which I don't argue we're in) it would make sense to keep this debt and instead use your cash to purchase things that will increase or at least hold their value. You'll later be able to pay that mortgage down with cheaper dollars or not at all if TEOTWAWKI actually occurs. Obviously nobody should be carrying credit card debt and getting out of variable rate mortgages would be a good idea but debt in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Obviously I don't know what direction the markets will go, nobody does (or at least they aren't telling). But I do feel quite safe sitting on cash and nibbling on stocks as they come down in price. One always must consider the horrible possibility that the world as we know it will not end.) Regards, - Steve G.

JWR Replies: I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone go into debt, stay in debt, or go deeper in debt if they can avoid it. The nascent economic recession will bring with it some huge layoffs--all the way from multinational corporations down to your local "Mom and Pop" stores. In an age of layoffs, debt will not be your friend. Even if you have debts that are being serviced with increasingly cheaper dollars you will still need an income to pay your debts! If you lose your job, you could then lose your car, and then your house. Keep in mind that although mass inflation at the consumer level seems very likely, it is not a certainty. Albeit much less likely, we could see price and wage deflation--something like the situation in the 1930s. In such deflationary times, all forms of debt would be absolutely dreaded.

Mr. Rawles:
My wife and I enjoy your web site immensely. I do have one question for you. I know we are targeting how much food/water supply we need for long-term survive but how much ammo do you think the average family should strive to purchase/store? Thanks, - David K./p>

JWR Replies:
It is important to maintain balance in your preparations. Food storage, first aid supplies, and heirloom seed storage should be priorities. But after those have been taken acre of, it makes sense to stock up on ammunition. As long as you store your ammo in sealed military surplus cans, there is no risk in over-estimating your needs, since ammunition has a 50+ year storage life if protected from oil vapors and humidity. Consider any extra ammo the ideal barter item. The late Col. Jeff Cooper rightly called it "ballistic wampum."

For your barter inventory, I recommend that you stick to the most common calibers: For rifles: .22 Long Rifle, .223, .308, .30-06 (and in the British Commonwealth, .303 British.) For handguns: 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. For shotguns, 12 gauge and 20 gauge. As I've previously mentioned, you might also buy a small quantity of the "regional favorite" deer cartridge for your area, as well as your local police or sheriff's department standard calibers. (Ask at you local gun shop.)

I consider the following figures minimums:
2,000 per battle rifle
500 per hunting rifle
800 per primary handgun
2,000 per .22 rimfire
500 per riotgun

If you can afford it, three times those figures would meet the "comfort level" of most survivalists. In an age of inflation, consider that supply better than money in the bank.

Ammo prices have recently been galloping, so do some comparison pricing before you buy. Bring photocopies and "print screen" print-outs with you when you shop, as bargaining tools. Typically, the larger gun shows each have several large ammunition vendors.

Some Internet ammunition vendors that I recommend are: AIM Surplus, Cheaper Than Dirt, Dan's Ammo, J&G Sales, Midway, AmmoMan.com, Natchez Shooter Supply, and The Sportsman's Guide. Both to save money and to maximize your privacy--since umpteen heavy crates being unloaded from the back of a UPS truck is pretty obvious--I recommend that you be willing to drive a distance take delivery in person from a regional vendor. Ammo is best bought by the 3/4 ton pickup load! Also, keep in mind that by buying in large quantities all at once from a big vendor, you will typically get ammo for each caliber all from the same lots, which will result in more consistent accuracy.

Winter Home Inspections
Although winter time retreat shopping can afford many positives like reduced prices and motivated sellers, there can also be a few downsides as well. While purchasing your retreat during the winter, especially when there is a considerable amount of snow on the ground, extra care must be taken during your inspection period. Many surprises may await you when the spring thaw arrives. Among them may be hidden trash and slash piles that will have to burned or removed, road grading and repair work, downed frost free spigots, fencing repairs, vegetation removal and major grounds keeping issues that are hidden under the snow. That nice rock flowerbed may be a heap when the snow melts due to falling ice/snow off the roof. Also, varmints and pest infiltration can be a major issue especially in unoccupied dwellings. On a side note a recent home inspection report here stated “The woodpeckers appear to have mounted an attack on the front porch eve”. Funny? Absolutely! But not to the new owner. Beware of unoccupied dwellings for sale, especially in the winter. Snow hides many maintenance items that may need to be addressed and could be quite costly. Asking the seller to plow the driveway may be one thing but asking them to remove the snow load all the way around the house and each out building so the inspector can complete a thorough inspection may be an issue, especially with upwards of three solid frozen feet of snow on the ground here in the mid-range elevations of northern Idaho. This cost may range upwards of over a thousand dollars and sellers who have had their property overpriced and on the market for a while will not be motivated to incur such costs unless you release some earnest money to pay for it, and the fee reimbursed should you actually purchase the property. Why? Who knows, it makes no sense to me, but some sellers are very stubborn, to their own detriment.

Here is a list of items to make sure are working and not damaged during a winter time purchase: Well and well pump(s), all water lines (have they burst?), septic lines and tank, any generators and off grid solar components (have the batteries been neglected or are they due for replacement or upgrade?), wood decking (has the snow cracked or otherwise damaged the decks/railings/steps), wood stoves and piping/flues (creosote build-up or other deferred maintenance like loose flashing at the roof seal?), roofing (has the snow load loosened or ripped off any shingles?)--a good reason to have metal roof (for fire protection as well), any appearance of water intrusion into the basement or crawl space in winter is really going to be an issue in the spring. It is recommended that the buyer be present at the home inspection and normally a good inspector will let the buyer follow them around the home for most of the inspection. Most inspectors will be happy to let you tag along, as you’re paying them and they will explain certain details of demerit or merit, as you go.

If the retreat you’re buying has been on the market for a while, then your agent should have visited the property during the summer/fall months and therefore should be aware of any issues regarding road, vegetation, downed timber, and landscaping issues that wouldn't be obvious under snow cover. This is one more reason to seek out a qualified retreat real estate agent in your desired locale.

Survival Supplies Storage
Once you have closed escrow, the work begins at your new retreat. As I have stated before several times, before TEOTWAWKI the threat of fire will be either first or second on the list of major threats, next to theft. Speaking with a client this morning I was very specific that they should store their supplies ‘assuming’ that the retreat was going to burn down. Yes, having just spent a bunch of money on a retreat one may feel a bit annoyed, but storing expensive supplies under the house or hidden in walled over closets and crawl spaces is at best mediocre and dangerous at worst. If there is not a full concrete built basement under the house where a bunker can be walled off to survive a fire and water damage then an alternatively located underground bunker must be built, period. It would be better to put a bit less cash down on the property and save $15,000 for building a self contained storage bunker than to lose it all during fire season, or worse yet from a small propane heater malfunction-- the heater that must be left on during the winter in order to keep your water pipes from freezing while the place is not attended. Not living at your retreat full time has its issues, none of which cannot be overcome with a little forethought.

A simple excavated 12'x12' (finished size) underground concrete room--typically insulated concrete form (ICF) block--with proper drainage on the sides/underneath and a small CONEX container placed on top would probably be enough for anyone’s basic storage of supplies. (Clothes, storage food, medical supplies, tents, sleeping supplies, guns, and ammo). These supplies would be needed to survive if you were to find the main retreat structure just a smoking hole, upon arrival. Note that the CONEX should have a secured internal vertical entrance door leading to the shelter. [JWR Adds: in addition to a stout lock and equally stout hasp, the trapdoor should be concealed beneath something that doesn't look worth stealing, such as burlap sacks full of rags, prominently marked "Extra shop rags".] The rest of the less essential and less valuable supplies can be hidden in the retreat itself, but always have a reserve in place. Owning a retreat is a blessing, and very few have the opportunity. Just be diligent about your supplies, since storage consideration are as important as the retreat itself.

If you have any questions about retreat real estate in northern or north central Idaho, then please contact Todd Savage via e-mail at: toddsavage@meadowcrk.com

Loyal content contributor RBS sent us this "must bookmark" link: The Librums's PDF Collection. It is veritable gold mine of mostly out-of-print books on practical skills.They are primarily late 19th Century, but there are also a few modern titles like the "US Army Special Forces Medical Handbook", "Where There is No Dentist", and "Where There is No Doctor." They have lots of free gardening books, formularies, recipe books, and so forth. The usual provisos on 19th Century book reprints apply: Most notably, safety standards in those days were not quite the same as today's, so be careful around harmful or explosive vapors, unshielded blades, and so forth.

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Eric flagged this one: Steve Forbes Says U.S. Dollar Policy Amounts to `Zimbabwe Economics'

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Charley S. mentioned that the Fedco Seed Co-op, based in Maine (but with growers all over the country) is by far the best value in heirloom seeds. Charley says: "You get, on average, twice as much seed for your money (and I've compared them, variety by variety, with all the best-known companies. They also have the most extensive, information-packed, and well-written catalog."

"If you baby your body, you will have a baby's body!" - Ross Enamait

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The recent overseas stock sell-off inspired the White House and congress to start talking about manna from heaven, in the form of tax rebate checks. The same day, the Federal Reserve announced what can only be seen as a desperation measure--a one-day .75% interest rate cut on two key rates--has done little to reassure the traders on Wall Street. The market is starting to make some wild daily swings, mostly downward. This piece from The New York Times sums up the big picture nicely: Worries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage. Meanwhile, we read: Plenty to chew on for great minds of Davos. All the signs point to a big, deep, recession. Even Herculean amounts of liquidity pumping and "helicopter dropping" won't stop this one.

The core of the financial problem is that bankers won't make loans when they cannot properly evaluate risk. As I've noted before, the credit collapse was triggered by the subprime mortgage debacle, and the contagion spread to all sectors of the banking world. There are so many loans that are wrapped up in so many "repackaged" aggregations and "investment vehicles" that nobody really knows who owns what debts, and exactly by what underlying assets they are backed. The CDO and SIV pundits use the term "marked to market." But I have coined the term marked to mystery. That is a better description of what is going on. The global credit market is now like a giant mushroom farm--where everyone is kept in the dark and fed horse manure. There are mountains of mystery debts held by countless corporations, governments, and institutions. In this unprecedented credit environment, ultra-low interest rates will not revive the sagging economy. The bankers are still petrified, and who can blame them? We recently learned that even the credit ratings agencies were in on the sub-prime swindle. So the bankers can longer trust the word of the "expert analysts" at Moody's and S&P.

No doubt the President’s Working Committee on Markets (commonly called the Plunge Protection Team) will be working late and ordering pizza delivery. It think that Ben Bernanke & Company will need bigger helicopters, and more of them. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Be prepared for a deep recession with layoffs, tax-funded bailout shenanigans, "incentive" programs, stagflation, huge write-offs of derivatives losses, failed municipal bond funds, the whole works. The big question is: will over the counter derivatives trading carry on as before, without too much disruption? If the answer is no--if there is a derivatives meltdown, then all bets are off. We are talking about possibly hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives in play at any given time. A full scale derivatives meltdown would probably trigger a global depression that could last decades, and topple national governments. I'm dead serious about this.

For those of you that took my advice and bought silver and gold, congratulations. You will at least have your capital protected, and might even profit handsomely. Lower interest rates mean a weaker dollar, and that means higher precious metals prices. Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) has said that there is little chance of a European interest rate cut, to follow the Fed's suit. So keep watching the US Dollar Index in the months to come. Any further interest rate cuts by the Fed will probably result in a huge devaluation of the dollar.

In the past three days, more than a dozen SurvivalBlog readers e-mailed this article link from The Telegraph: Honeybees may be wiped out in 10 years. I can not overstate that this is very alarming news. If the honeybee hive losses are universal in the "breadbasket" regions in the middle latitudes around the world, it would be cataclysmic for agriculture. The loss of honeybees for pollination because of CCD and/or successive waves of disease could very well cause a global famine that might result in a 20%+ die-off of global population and veritable TEOTWAWKI.

Even if there is just an outside chance of a honeybee die-off, it is prudent to redouble your preparedness efforts:

Food storage. Increase the depth of your family's food storage program. Heretofore, I had recommended a two year supply. I am now recommending a four year supply.

Seed gathering and storage. Gardening without the help of bees will make seed saving all the more important. Keeping a four year supply of non-hybrid (open pollinated or "heirloom") seeds is now appropriate. Without bees, the chances of a "zero yield" year of seed gathering for any particular variety goes up considerably. Having extra seed will be crucial for charity and barter--to supply your friends and neighbors.

Greenhouses. Increase your area "under glass." If you live in snow country, then buy a greenhouse that can take a snow load, like a Turtle Tuff geodesic dome greenhouse. Two other advantages of these greenhouses are that 1.) they can be disassembled in a few hours and put in storage seasonally, and 2.) they can also easily be taken with you if you need to relocate your retreat.

Hand pollinating. Practice the art of hand pollinating. Every fruit and vegetable we eat cannot be produced by a plant without a flower being pollinated. Plantsmen have been hand pollinating for more than 100 years to breed new varieties. This involves mimicking bees by carrying pollen from one flower to another--typically with a feather, Q-Tip or a small paintbrush. This is very labor intensive. It might be prudent to start thinking along the lines of which plants produce the most food per pollination. For example pollinating apple blossoms would yield more calories per pollination than a cherry blossom. And beefsteak tomatoes would yield more per pollination than a cherry tomatoes. In a world without bees, think of terms of dwarf or semi-dwarf variety fruit trees, to make hand pollinating easier. (It is not realistic to expect to be able to hand pollinate 25 feet up a ladder.)

In closing, think through the full implications of a honeybee die off. Fruit might only be readily available in Third World countries, where there is a large pool of cheap labor for hand pollination. First World countries with a lack of agricultural day laborers might suffer. Will hundreds of thousands of Mexican farm workers be allowed into California, Florida, and Texas for hand pollination work each spring? What will be the secondary and tertiary effects of a honeybee die-off? Plan accordingly.

Eric S. sent this piece from Canada: All signs point to U.S. consumers hunkering down in recession bunkers

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Reader Dale L. mentioned that Cheaper Than Dirt now sells battery-powered surplus German field telephones (minus commo wire) for $48 per pair. Cheaper Than Dirt is not one of our advertisers, but I recommend them. Anyone looking for original USGI surplus TA-1 field telephones that don't require batteries should contact Ready Made Resources. A good source for military surplus WD-1 commo wire is Fair Radio Sales. (Also not one of our advertisers, but recommended.)

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Bruce C. sent us this: Plague a growing but overlooked threat

"When the federal government spends more each year than it collects in tax revenues, it has three choices: It can raise taxes, print money, or borrow money. While these actions may benefit politicians, all three options are bad for average Americans. " - Congressman Ron Paul

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction lot is now at $220. The auction is for a Brunton Solarport 4.4 watt photovoltaic panel (a $140 retail value), a Deluxe Outdoor Survival Tool Kit (a $70 retail value)--both kindly donated by Ready Made Resources--as well as seven other items: A copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value), an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots" (a $23 retail value), an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), a SurvivalBlog Key Logistics Tote Bag (a $17.50 retail value), and an autographed set of Michael Z. Williamson's "Target: Terror" modern military fiction sniper trilogy, from Avon books: "The Scope of Justice", "Targets of Opportunity", and "Confirmed Kill". This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Mr. Rawles,
One subject that seems vastly under-represented in the bulk of survivalist literature is that of organizing and recruiting.
It's fairly obvious that in a real WTSHTF scenario, a lone wolf, or small family would be in a precarious position regardless of how well armed and well prepared they may be. A group of three or four would be hard pressed to maintain any real degree of security while going about the [gardening and other self-sufficiency] work required for basic survival.

In my experience, it's hard enough finding someone that's even "like minded", let alone skilled or intelligent. There's also a tremendous element of trust involved in attempting to organize. Approaching someone to join your survival group is a fairly risky proposition, because you've basically advertised the fact that you're preparing for a worst case scenario to that person, and whomever they decide to tell. There's a further degree of trust necessary for making mutual purchases, storing equipment at a centralized location. etc. etc. I'm sure you can think of the hundred different concerns that come into play when it comes to increasing your membership.

In your excellent novel "Patriots", the organization element of the story sort of "fell into place" with a cadre of intelligent, like-minded individuals, possessing complementary skills assembling [partly] by chance meetings. It was also convenient that none of the group members had small children, elderly dependents or chronic health conditions. Another complication which wasn't addressed was that of group members with other "attachments". None of the characters in the book came to the retreat with an uninvited guest, like a sibling who had experienced a miraculous change of heart upon realizing that their "survivalist nut" brother was right all along.

This is the single most frustrating element of my preparedness efforts. I know that it's going to take more than a tiny group of people to survive a prolonged catastrophe, but all of the potential complications involved in finding new members makes it very difficult to do any recruiting. I can acquire skills and assemble materials to the best of my abilities, but in the end, there won't be any real substitute for a few more rifle-wielding warm bodies.

Any insights, strategies or suggestions you might have for filling the void would be much appreciated. Sincerely, - LW

JWR Replies: The situation I described in my novel actually mirrored my personal circumstances at the time that I wrote the first draft, in early 1990. I had just been married three years, and my wife and I had not yet had any children. Although I consolidated things a bit to avoid having "a cast of thousands", the majority of the characters in the novel were based on real-life friends, and "The Group" paralleled a group that I had associated with since college.

When recruiting for any retreat group, proceed with prayer.

To supplement your own extended family, try to find folks with the same religious background and representing a good mix of skills. My novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" describes some of the specific skills that would be ideal for a group retreat--like a doctor, a mechanic, a machinist/welder, a farmer, a combat veteran, and so on. If you are already living at your intended retreat, it is probably best to recruit locally. If not, then you should probably recruit regionally looking for preparedness-minded people that have the same long-term relocation destination, or at least the willingness to be flexible about where they relocate.

As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I recommend three web sites (two paid, and one free) for making connections--whether you are looking to join or form a retreat group, or even for someone looking looking for a "prepper" spouse. They are:

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

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

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

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

I read the responses to my article and wanted to write a reply that addresses Pathfinder's comments, which in a nutshell said my examples with [registered] suppressors [for firearms] and night vision were dangerous and would give the wrong idea about being a "survivalist".

Pathfinder, I appreciate your worry that some people may have an over active imagination and end up doing some bad things given the ideas for possible tactics to use in an absolute worst case scenario, or that these tactics may scare off people who are just learning about survivalist information and browsing the site. However, as you said yourself, "we do not know how severe, how long, how dangerous, or how chaotic the theoretical "hard times" can or even will be! I feel the need to prepare, but I pray that I never need to use it."

You are totally correct. that "We do not know how severe, how long, how dangerous, or how chaotic" things will be. For all we know, a terrorist nuke could go off in Los Angeles tomorrow morning, crash the world economy, have complete breakdown of law and order, martial law, and implementation of numerous executive orders (that are already on the books) that would turn the United States into something worse than Nazi Germany within a month. So since I don't know the future and what it may bring, what harm could it be to allow my imagination to consider the absolute worst possible scenarios and what I would need to do to survive them? Night vision and suppressors have excellent non-combative uses. It is nice to star gaze with night vision, and having suppressors lets me shoot without hearing protection on.

But if things ever really go south, I can use those things and all the clever tricks I can think of, to defeat my enemies and be a shining example of what one free American can do without the aid of a Nanny government. The greatest strength is in you, the individual citizen. With our freedoms we can arm ourselves, train ourselves, and protect ourselves and our neighbors during times of crisis. That is what America is supposed to be about, safeguarding the inherent rights and freedoms of the individual human being to allow for the greatest growth and strength of each individual. I choose to exercise my right to bear arms, of all kinds, and am proficient in their use. And should danger of any kind ever arise to threaten myself, family, friends, community, or country, then that danger will be met by what is the single best answer to all dangers--a prepared American citizen. - Robert R

Have you seen the "Tick Tick Boom" music video promo for the new season of "Jericho"? I thought that the snippet of the speech from a representative of the "Allied States of America" was reminiscent of the "Mr. Clarke" character from the "Provisional Government of the United States" in my novel "Patriots". I am really looking forward to the new season, which will premiere on February 12th. (We don't own a television here at the ranch, but CBS network shows can be watched online.)

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Reader RBS sent us this: Cashiers vulnerable to flu from banknotes.

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By way of The Prudent News, a FEMA web page on Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Incidents

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Our friend Eric sent this: George Soros predicts worst recession in 50 years

"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 1823

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jim -
I've been reading SurvivalBlog for a little over a year now and I enjoy the commentary immensely.

As a long-time investor and at the risk of a "pile-on" situation, I've got to echo the sentiments of yourself and your pundits recommending exiting the markets now and the foreseeable future. I have sold my entire portfolio in the last week or so into a down market, which I normally would never do, due to a number of significant factors - first and foremost being the fragility of the derivatives market, second being the cryptic, embedded and out-of-control debt market crisis. We all know that markets are cyclical and if you're a chart watcher you might see the first of several "shoulders" on the bottom of the sell-off in the next week or two. We shouldn't be fooled. In fact, we will probably see a fairly good rally in the market in the next few weeks, with or without Fed action. But, I'd caution anyone that downward pressure from inflation/debt and given that any anticipated Fed action up to a percentage point or so is probably already programmed into markets, we could well see a lonnnggg bear market, at least up until the November elections or after. The bottom line is that we are like a snake eating our own tail - if new money rushes in to a rally it is eventually consumed by artificial manipulation (inflation), loss of confidence in the dollar (unprecedented in the previous two major "corrections"), and the fall-out/bail-out from predatory lending practices that we'll all pay for (and that we haven't seen the end of). It is a wildly gesticulating, downward spiral echoed somewhat in the 1920s overheated/overbought markets, except for the fact that our currency isn't buoyed by a gold standard any more. Fiat currencies inevitably crash and fail, as proven time and again by history.

My actions (in order of priority) have been to eliminate all debt about a year ago (we sold off a tremendous amount of personal assets to accomplish this, but we endured the pain and got it done), recently sold completely out of the market (except for precious metals funds and a gold IRA--which we may get out of completely in the near future if institutional/government gold has indications of getting sold), and sold our primary residence when the market plateaued last summer. Now we'll sit on the sidelines and watch, continuing to prepare for tough times in the future. That said, as in any bear market there are buying opportunities. We will buy into a distressed real estate market by the end of the year or early next, and pay cash for the transaction. It's not so much that we are timing a buy into real estate, but that dollar buying power will continue to erode as inflation increases - both issues combine to create a significant opportunity to buy in the next year or so.

I also think it is the time to invest in "black" rifles, any handguns, and hi-cap magazines for all. The writing is on the wall on all these commodities - strange to call them that, but that's the world we're in - unless a miracle happens we'll have both an Executive and Legislative Branch controlled by Western European-style Socialists come next January. All the other "tangibles" are probably a good bet, my only problem is that they don't provide current income at a steady rate. We all have to become good at eBay, Craigslist and in-person selling, if we are not already.

My last two cents: I would recommend that anyone invested in precious metals watch the markets very carefully - there seems to be top-out sentiment at around $1,000 USD per ounce, or so. Big government or institution sales into the market could result in a very steep decline indeed. Keep up your good works. - Jeff K. in Singapore.

Dear Jim,
I have for some time been meaning to write about vehicular and other counter-mobility obstacles. The dramatic video that you posted yesterday has prompted me.

Ever since reading "Patriots", when the looters simply cut the lock on the front gate with a “universal key” (bolt cutters), it has been on my mind. Coming as I do from a combat engineer background, I couldn’t believe how they could have overlooked such as basic aspect of perimeter hardening. They could have very well lost that fight because some clown had the sense to bring a pair of bolt cutters along.

In terms of retreat security, counter-mobility, from both an anti-personnel and anti-vehicular aspect, must be a high priority. In your profiles of retreat people you know, I noticed that only one--the Vietnam veteran--had laid in a heavy stockpile of barbed wire. He obviously has some experience with this.

It must be stated from the onset that barriers of any kind are intended only to delay and channel aggressors, rarely will they stop them outright. Given preparation, planning, time and determination, any barrier can be breached. In a survival situation, however, this adds up to, “How bad do you want in here?” This is where the delay and channel aspects can turn into a painful experience and aggressors are forced to choose between paying dearly for entrance or picking a softer target. And that's what we're looking for.

From there, in terms of counter mobility, there are thus two categories…anti-vehicular and anti-personnel. As one may expect, one set is designed for cars and such and the other for humans on foot. We deal here with the vehicles.

In the anti-vehicular category there are two sub-categories; above and below ground. The below ground category consists of obstacles such as ditches, pit falls and craters (or mines if you take it all the way).
These are deliberately created, or in some cases simply improved, terrain features that prevent vehicles from moving across with ease. For example, a deep ditch with steep walls prevents easy transverse because the vehicle falls in nose first and gets stuck, unable to rear up and clear the opposite side. These sorts of obstacles have to be bridged in order to be crossed. It is unlikely in a TEOTWAWKI scenario that the looters will be bringing along bridging sections, so if time and resources permit, such features can be used to deny easy access from road frontage. If you have access to a loader of some kind, they’re not to difficult to dig (given the right ground) and when the grass grows over them they don’t appear as militant as a chain link fence. Existing ditches can be modified to achieve the sheer wall on the side facing your main line of resistance (MLR).

Such obstacles can also be installed on roads at choke points. Here is where the obstacle isn’t a ditch line running for 3⁄4 of a mile along your road, but a single point on a road or your driveway where the trees get in tight, for example. In the West in particular, cattle guards are outstanding. In normal times the grate stays down, when it’s time to close the road, the grate comes up. Unless they’ve brought a monster truck along, getting across one of these dug out to four feet deep is going to be an axel breaking, hood crunching proposition. (I remember well a midnight encounter with an irrigation ditch in NM that had quite the same effect)

There are several drawbacks to these features, however. First, if they are permanent and outsiders can’t get across, neither can you…unless you have your own bridging apparatus planned and on hand or permanent crossing points, such as your driveway culvert. (The classic draw bridge/cattle guard is such an example)
Second, without accompanying anti-personnel obstacles and being well covered, they make good cover for anyone dismounted, being that they are essentially a trench. But, if far enough away from your main line of resistance, with a good bit of open ground (and maybe some anti-personnel stuff between the ditch and you) they can at least prevent a mounted attack coming in at speed right to your doorstep.

Then there are the above ground types of anti-vehicular obstacle. The concrete barrier is by the far the most common type in use here in the US . As we saw on the video, they posses impressive stopping power. (They are, however, permanent and provide cover)

Another kind is the “Bollard” type. These are simply solid posts of various materials ranging from wood to cast iron (or old cannon barrels in some places) that are dug into the ground or set down into receptacles in the ground and locked. We see these in use to deny sidewalk parking or restrict access to service roads that are in frequent use. Sometimes they are reinforced with heavy rope or chain running between them, especially if they run for any distance. Unlike a concrete barrier, they can easily be passed off as a “decorative” feature. If they happen to be made from something along the lines of railroad ties with 1in cable running between them, they become something a bit more. Even railroad rails or I beams, cut to length and placed so that a vehicle cannot squeeze through them will generally stop anything this side of a tracked armored vehicle. The real beauty of bollards is that they can be emplaced as needed, usually across choke points, and pulled up and stashed when not needed if engineered for it.

A more permanent type was seen in Britain where invasion preparations featured concrete cubes or cylinders set like the classic WWII dragon’s teeth. There were also the classic I-beam “hedgehogs” where beams were welded together in a crossing pattern and then secured in some manner to the ground.

Then there are good old fashioned gates. As we saw in "Patriots", a gate is only as strong as whatever is locking it closed. As they are also dependent on hinges generally, if the post goes, so does the gate. Only the most robust structures of this type will stop vehicles generally.

There is one other kind, however, that was employed all over southern Britain in preparation for the expected German landings. These were gates of a sort, but instead of having the opening and closing feature, they were simply two very heavy colonnades of stone and concrete on each side of the road with slots left in them for inserting railroad rails or I-beams when the time came.

A good cross section of these pre-invasion obstacles set out in southern Britain can be seen at this web site. Typically British, they were usually unobtrusive, which may also be a boon for retreats wishing to avoid the “Nut case survivalist” label too soon into the game.

In any case, anti-vehicular counter mobility obstacles should be part of any survivalist retreat plan. Be they professional looking “Driveway” bollards or simply trees knocked down across the road [an "abatis"] when the time comes, they prevent looters from roaring up to your doorstep and bailing out guns ablaze. Even a strategically planted line of fast maturing trees will have the desired effect.

Surfing around online a bit will give all sorts of good ideas, as will a copy of the [U.S. Arm]y Engineer Field Data manual, FM 5-34.

In any case, the inventive will come up with any number of ways to block roads when sticking to the two main categories; above and below ground obstacles. But always remember, obstacles are not intended to stop an advancing aggressor in their tracks. They are intended to slow them down or channel them into kill zones of your choosing. Essentially, with anti-vehicular emplacements, the best idea is to turn a mounted, 40 m.p.h. advance in a steel chassis into a dismounted, 8 m.p.h. advance behind a cotton shirt.(Or, at the very least a 10m.p.h. advance as they slow down to try and get past all this crazy junk in the road, at which point their 8 cylinder engine starts becoming a 9, 10, 11, 12 cylinder because of the 30-06 AP that’s ventilating the engine block.)

At that point, your adversary may just decide that attacking you is a bit too pricey and move on.

P.S.: if any of you haven’t read "Patriots" yet, do so. Then read it again…and take technical notes. I recommend tabbing a notebook into relevant categories such as food, firepower, communications, fortification, etc. Jim's novel is a field manual in it’s own right. - Mosby

Three bits of heavy duty economic Gloom und Doom: Jonas sent this: Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down nearly 500 points, Eric sent this: A 1,000 Point Drop On The Dow? , and Stephen in Iraq sent this: Shares Tumble in Asia and Europe. Our friend Randy commented in a recent e-mail:: "Things are not looking too rosy for Tuesday's market opening bell in New York."

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Thanks to E.S. for this: India battles to contain 'very serious' bird flu outbreak

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Jeff C. mentioned that www.RARESEEDS.com sells only heirloom (non-hybrid) varieties.

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Florida Guy mentioned that hot on the heels of the successful big-budget post-plague movie "I Am Legend" comes a post-plague movie titled "Doomsday" that at least from the trailer looks like a cross between "Escape From New York" and "The Road Warrior". It is scheduled for release in March. Here is a description: "In "Doomsday," a lethal virus spreads throughout a major country and kills hundreds of thousands. To contain the newly identified Reaper [virus], the authorities brutally quarantine the country as it succumbs to fear and chaos. The literal walling-off works for three decades - until Reaper violently resurfaces in a major city. An elite group of specialists, including Eden Sinclair (Mitra), is urgently dispatched into the still-quarantined country to retrieve a cure by any means necessary. Shut off from the rest of the world, the unit must battle through a landscape that has become a waking nightmare."

"Repression is expensive and resistance is cheap, so if we run out of resources, the world might get a little better." - Ran Prieur

Monday, January 21, 2008

If you find what you read at SurvivalBlog informative and entertaining, then please become a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary but are an important part of how I earn a living. (And what keeps me from quitting the blog and going back to tech writing in the corporate world.).

Last week, after Citigroup reported a net loss of nearly $10 billion for the quarter, the New York Stock Exchange had its biggest percentage drop for a January in 17 years. Between Monday and Friday, the DJIA dropped more than 670 points. The S&P and NASDAQ posted similar losses. This doesn't look good. There is an old saying on Wall Street: "As goes January, so goes the rest of the year." (And this has been borne out statistically.) My friend The Chartist Gnome is recommending that his clients get out of nearly all of their stocks--with just a few exceptions like gold and silver mining shares. I agree with him that in the coming recession the US stock market is likely to decline considerably, and possibly suffer a full-scale crash. FWIW, the Gnome says that expects to see a split sector bond rally in 2008. (With Federal bonds doing well, but municipal bonds plummeting.) Regardless, be ready for lots of instability in the financial and equities markets in 2008. As I often say, shelter hour assets in tangibles.

I often have consulting clients and SurvivalBlog readers mention that they have a good chunk of their savings "locked up" in 401(k) retirement savings plans. Most say that they cannot touch those funds without huge penalties. My advice to them is two-fold: 1.) If possible, convert your 401(k) into a gold IRA. 2.) If that is not possible, then at least direct your IRA portfolio into conservative investments. Currently, something like a Federal Bond Fund would probably be best.

Readers that hold stocks often ask me what "safe" stocks to buy and hold. My answer invariably is that there are NO safe stocks to hold in the long term.. Since we are entering an era where the viability of the dollar itself is threatened, then all investments denominated in US Dollars are at risk. Hyperinflation would wipe out any "gains" in your stock portfolio. Just ask anyone living in Zimbabwe what their "gains" have been in the past four years. When a currency is in freefall, nobody wins except a deeply-indebted government.

Gold IRAs are available through Swiss America Trading Company. I have had a gold coin IRA since 1998. Once established, these accounts are measured in an "ounce" value with a "Beginning Cost Basis" noted for when your dollars were first converted into U.S. Gold Eagles. In my case, the "GEB" (Gold Eagle Bullion) coins they put in storage for me cost $298 per ounce. The coins are physically stored by Goldstar Trust, a bonded vault company in Texas. The annual storage and administration fee recently got bumped up to $90 per year, but in my opinion that is a small price to pay for knowing that when I eventually cash out my IRA it will be in tangible form, rather than an investment vehicle denominated in dollars. I have no way of knowing how much the US Dollar will depreciate in the next 15 years, but it is pretty safe to say that gold will still have the same--or nearly the same--buying power that it does today. I strongly recommend that if you have an IRA or 401(k) account that you conduct a fund "rollover" into a Gold IRA.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Would you buy stock in Allstate Insurance or Farmer's Insurance if you knew a tsunami was going to hit the entire East Coast? If you had foreknowledge of such a catastrophe, you certainly wouldn't put your money into insurance companies, because no insurance company could cover an event that huge. I believe that something analogous is what is now happening in the financial markets. Savvy investors are getting out of financial insurance companies that may be asked to cover huge losses projected to occur this year. These Wall Street companies insure pension funds, CDOs, hedge funds, and other financial instruments, including those that contain the toxic subprime mortgages and other questionable mortgages.

Insurance is the last line of defense against collapse of these giant funds. I wanted to take a look at what has been happening to this particular kind of insurance company lately. Here's what I found:

ACA Capital Holdings Inc. (ACAH) has lost almost all its value and could be out of business within hours.

Ambac Financial Group Inc. (ABK) has dropped about 80% in value in the past month, and just today has lost its AAA credit rating.

MBIA, Inc. (MBI) dropped about 77% in value in the past month. It's also in danger of a downgraded credit rating

Assured Guaranty Ltd. (AGO) has dropped about 37% in value in the past month.

RAM Holdings Ltd. (RAMR) has dropped about 80% in value in the past month.

MGIC Investment Corporation (MTG) has dropped about 56% in value in the past month.

Radian Group Inc. (RDN) has dropped about 56% in value in the past month.

Moneygram International, Inc. (MGI) has dropped about 74% in value in the past month.

Please note that these losses are just in the past month. Most of these companies had already lost heavily earlier in 2007. These are all the publicly traded insurance companies that I know of in this specialized market. In other words, the whole sector is quickly deteriorating. This is not being reported by the press in any coherent fashion.
These specialized insurance companies also insure municipal bonds for cities, schools, hospitals etc. If the insurance companies go broke, many funds such as retirement funds will crumble.

Minyanville just came out today with a good article on insuring financial derivatives.

The point of all this is that investors are getting out of this type of insurance because they know that the funds that have been insured are garbage and no insurance company has enough money to pay for a huge catastrophic event, any more than a home insurance company could cover a tsunami affecting the whole east coast. The insurance company would just go broke. That's what appears to be happening. This is an earthshaking event. The lack of support by investors would seem to indicate that the funds are in far worse shape than anyone is willing to admit publicly.
These insurance companies are the last desperate hope of a failing trillion dollar market. If they can't prop it up, nobody can. - K.L. in Alaska

I recently purchased a Mossberg Model 590A [12 gauge] riot shotgun. They are a lot cheaper than the Remington tactical or other brands and I feel more reliable--also the opinion of many in the military
Here are the specification differences from a standard Mossberg Model 500:
- A steel receiver as opposed to aluminum alloy
- Extra thick walled heavy barrel
- Metal trigger guard versus polymer
- Metal safety [button] versus polymer
- Ghost ring sights
- All matte finish
- Has 8+1 versus 7+1 capacity

The shotgun performed as expected--flawless, digest all ammo, good handling/target acquisition,and lots of aftermarket stock options available. The only down side is Mossberg will not port these barrels--must be sent off for that upgrade to someone else,. the price is right, around $440 out the door versus. a lot more for Remington.

I like the tang-mounted safety on these, as its easier to use with out moving your hand around and good for lefties as well. The length of pull is 14.5 inches. Other stocks can be found thru Midway that are 12"-to-13" for use with body armor [or heavy winter clothing].
In all, the 590A is a great shotgun that doesn't malfunction. Simple but tough. - Jason

General Motors CEO says that oil has peaked. As I've said before, vehicles with a diversity of fuel sources is a good thing. If possible, retreats should have a variety of diesel, gasoline, E85, electric, and LP-powered vehicles, just to be ready for any eventuality. (A hat tip to Jason H. for sending the article link on the GM CEO's quote.) OBTW, I'm currently building up savings for a Bad Boy Buggy electric ATV to supplement our aging gas-powered utility ATV.

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Statistics from Memphis, Tennessee, show that concealed carry works: With more people carrying guns, self-defense killings on increase. (A hat tip to Bill N. for sending the link.)

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Thanks to B.R. for sending us this from Information Week: CIA Admits Cyberattacks Blacked Out Cities. As I have warned in some of my articles as far back as 1990 ("High Technology Terrorism", Defense Electronics, January 1990, p. 74.), SCADA and successor software are huge "back doors" to nefarious acts. SCADA is used not only for power distribution but also in varying degrees for controlling dam floodgates, oil and gas pipelines (and their associated pumping/compressor stations), water distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, some industrial process controls (such as refineries), and some communication systems. This is a huge vulnerability.

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Dave in New York sent us this: Banning or Registering Privately Owned Fallout Meters in New York. This measure is just "to prevent panic", dontcha know.

"A ready person never needs to get ready." - Oswald Chambers

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction lot is now at $200. The auction is for a Brunton Solarport 4.4 watt photovoltaic panel (a $140 retail value), a Deluxe Outdoor Survival Tool Kit (a $70 retail value)--both kindly donated by Ready Made Resources--as well as seven other items: A copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value), an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots" (a $23 retail value), an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), a SurvivalBlog Key Logistics Tote Bag (a $17.50 retail value), and an autographed set of Michael Z. Williamson's "Target: Terror" modern military fiction sniper trilogy, from Avon books: "The Scope of Justice", "Targets of Opportunity", and "Confirmed Kill". This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

This video is rather impressive. The video description reads: "How many times have you wondered how strong those cement barriers are that you see in front of military base entrances?
From time to time someone asks what the concrete barriers are in front of controlled and secure buildings. When they are told that the barriers will stop traffic, even trucks, from approaching the secure building, they usually get a look of disbelief. In the test, the following parameters were used:

Truck weight = 65,000 pounds.
Speed at impact = 50 m.p.h.
Kinetic Energy = 5.5 Million foot-pounds.
Stopping distance = 24 inches."

I thought that you might find this interesting. Keep of the GOOD work. Best Regards, - R.E.in Oklahoma

JWR Replies. That is indeed an impressive video. Something as simple as a three foot tall berm with a near-vertical face , or a two foot tall concrete "planter" with a vertical face can be almost as effective as the barrier shown in the video.

We live in a highly mechanized society, so in addition to intruders on foot, think in terms of how you would stop intruders that are in wheeled vehicles. Ideally, they should be stopped at a distance where they could then be engaged by rifle fire. And never forget the old military adage that any obstacle that is not in view of armed sentries is only a delay--not a real obstacle.

Stopping tracked vehicles is much more difficult, but thankfully the risk of being attacked by someone in a tracked vehicle is relatively low, and an armored tracked vehicle is even lower. Few of us have the means to construct obstacles to stop those! Depending on terrain, however, most of us can afford to erect barriers to wheeled vehicles. (Flat "plains" country is problematic.)

Dear JWR,
I would like to share some links and great references from a survival lecture and slide presentation given by one of the most important (yet non-acclaimed nearly enough) contributors to our US Strategic Warfare Development by John R. Boyd, Col. USA, deceased 1997. See this PDF of a slide presentation

I had to chuckle when I read a follow up tactical criticism submitted in an article to SurvivalBlog and to the attempted re-writing and improving potential maneuverings for chapter scenario enhancements in excerpts from your revised "Patriots" novel. I so much enjoy this novel and consider it a great reference on survival tactics. I think many people are seeking printed tactical doctrine but instead are searching in printed dogma. This is the true beauty of Boyd’s, OODA and Conceptual Spiral Processes in strategic maneuvering applied in tactics--they are not static and limited only to the user’s ability to apply the processes. Your individual outcome is personalized by your individual input. I hope this information will assist us all to reach out to study and think and respond outside of the doctrine box. Even now his concepts are being adapted for use in the realms of world business applications.
Here is my analogy of OODA and Conceptual Spiral in its sublime offensive performance in survival strategic applications. As is said in [the movie] The Matrix: "There is no spoon." - KBF


Hey Jim,
Let me fist say, as an outdoorsman and someone who has always felt the need to be prepared. I love your site. Tons of great info, great ideas and lots of different topics. That being said I would like to encourage you and your readers to keep things in perspective. I think we all agree that hard times are inevitable for this country and the world. We all “feel” it. But we do not know how severe, how long, how dangerous, or how chaotic the theoretical “hard times” can or even will be! I feel the need to prepare, but I pray that I never need to use it.
That being said, [Robert's article] would have been great food for thought if it had been left at “consider going on the offensive and here are some of Sun Tzu’s thoughts”. 1 – 3 great points! But next we have some guy walking around with a suppressed pistol whacking people and shooting pre-placed sheds full of chemicals that explode.

From what I understand, you’ve written a great novel (I haven’t read yet "Patriots") but this kind of stuff gives us a bad name. I have referred several people to this site and I pray they did not read that post. I would encourage people to be very careful when developing hypothetical situations in their heads. They have no proof that it will happen, or how bad it will be.

We need to promote preparation, protection, self-sufficiency, educate your family, squirrel away some food! Preparation means being prepared for a whole host of situations, not writing the sequel to "The Postman" movie. Thank you for my favorite site on the Internet! - Pathfinder

JWR Replies: I agree that there is a risk of letting one's imagination run wild, or unbridled "what if" conjecture. But I also agree with Robert that flexibility and the ability to venture and out and then employ time-proven "offense is the best defense" axiom. That flexibility would be desirable in "worst case" situations where law enforcement is non-existent and your retreat might come under a lengthy siege--a situation where you are completely on your own. Granted, the chance of an extended breakdown of law and order is small, but it is impossible to rule it out.


I also have read "The Art of War" and have been in battle more then once. I agree on some of what was said but there are some things that I have used as many have in times of battle 1) you should never go into a battle without four weapons A) your main battle weapon (your brain ) B) your main battle rife C) your backup weapon [typically, a handgun] D) your back-up rifle. I will further explain: no matter what else you carry into battle is your brain--outwitting your enemy is the first thing you must do. B) your main battle rifle whatever floats your boat and become good with it until its just a another limb on your body. C) You should also become as good with your first backup weapon as your primary. (B). D) depending on what my mission was I would carry [in my vehicle] a sniper's rifle or if it was not part of the mission requirements it would be whatever the enemy was mostly carrying and 9 out of 10 times it was the AK-47. The reason we were trained to do that was because when running low on ammo you could always get it from enemy KIAs.

Now that you have mentioned Jim's novel, in the part of the rescue traveling by night would have been smart but also a forward scout like on a trail bike or something of that nature also would have helped and is what I would have done for several reasons. One of them not putting all my eggs in one basket (as in man power ), next is the threat of ambush, and last a forward scout would have also be handy in the ambush for flanking those problems.

Now I have blogged before about "tree tuxe"s (Ghillie suits) before. Instead of wearing multi-colored BDU or digital [pattern ACUs] both in warm weather and cold weather a ghillie would work much better. In most cases is a better camo then anything else. Even if your enemy has night vision gear, you are hard to find [when in a ghillie suit]. Next, since any people cannot get [Federally registered, $200 transfer tax] suppressors [since they are banned under separate state laws] it is a little more close up but Robert did not say anything about a knife, tomahawk , axe, or even a compound bow which all with some practice are all very good silent killers. - CDR

JWR Replies: I agree with most of what CDR wrote, except that arrows are not usually silent killers. They kill by bleeding out an opponent. If you hit a man with an arrow--even in the heart--he'll scream bloody murder until he bleeds out. (Typically one to four minutes.) The chances of getting a perfect spine shot--and instantaneous incapacitation--are very small.

As background, I should mention that I have an acquaintance that was a medic on a CIA covert operations team in the late 1970s. On one mission, against his advice, the team leader tried using a 200 pound draw weight crossbow for taking out a sentry. The sentry screamed and yelled so loudly that he woke everyone up for a long distance. So much for "covert". A tomahawk, a short axe (such as a miner's axe), or a even a short-handled two-pound sledge hammer to the back of the neck or base of the skull is far superior for sentry removal.

I also agree that ghillie suits are a good option, in most circumstances. Two exceptions: Very brushy terrain where they can easily get snagged, and very hot weather, when wearing a Ghillie suit could quickly turn you into a heat casualty.

The US Federal Reserve appears poised to significantly increase its purchases of Treasury securities. These purchases are called an open market operations or "repos", and are highly inflationary, if done to excess. Since the Accord of 1951, the Federal Reserve banking cartel has been in full control of open market operations. The credit market is presently going through an unprecedented collapse, so be ready for more Fed "liquidity pumping" and hence more inflation!

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From Reuters: 'Second Thoughts about Fluoride,' Reports Scientific American. Yet another good reason to move to the hinterboonies.

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Desert T., Rightcoast, and KBF all recommended the upcoming History Channel documentary series titled "Life After People". The show premieres on Monday. (January 21, 2008.)

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Reader Eric S. sent this: Wealthy may be next in line in U.S. home crisis

"There exists a law, not written down anywhere, but inborn in our hearts, a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading, a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays down that,if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right." - Marcus Tulius Cicero (106-53 B.C.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

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, so e-mail us your entry soon! Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

As preface, I would like to say that I abhor violence and believe killing should only be done when absolutely necessary, but if things in America ever deteriorate to the point of national collapse, with murderous gangs of looters, or other violent oppressive groups wandering the land, it might be worth going on the offensive instead of sitting tight and hoping for the best. Even in the most well-defended retreat, a dedicated group of aggressors has all the time in the world to devise an attack strategy that could defeat you. They could rain .50 caliber rounds on you from a mile away, or take pot shots at you any time you peek out a window or attempt to go outside, until you run out of food or ammunition, or they could set your retreat on fire.

Sometimes it is necessary to go on the offensive to erase the enemy capability to do you harm. One or two well-equipped, well-trained individuals can defeat a much larger force. Unconventional tactics must be adopted, with a guerrilla "hit and run" strategy in mind. Sun Tzu wrote the widely known "The Art of War" [which is available as a free e-book.] It is still taught in military institutions around the world. The concepts laid out all those years ago are still the same that work today.

For the sake of brevity, this is my extremely condensed version of The Art of War. (I suggest that you get a copy and study it.) These are the principles that guide my ideas in resisting an government gone crazy, foreign invasion, or terrible social disorder where all Schumer has broken loose.

1. When you avoid battle, you are invulnerable. When you partake in battle, you become vulnerable. (this ties directly with Concept 2:

2. Only choose the battles that you know you will be victorious in. Having the wisdom to avoid battles you cannot win, and knowing how to strike when you cannot lose, makes you invincible.

3. It is greater to take the enemy's weapons, equipment, food, resources, than it is to destroy them.

Concepts explained

1. It is pretty easy to understand this concept. If you never attend the gun battle, you can never get killed in the gun battle. If you decide to show up, you risk being shot. This brings us to the next concept, which is extremely simple if you keep concept #1 in mind, but extremely complicated because…

2…there are in infinite amount of possible variables that could contribute to your tactical situation. The enemy may or may not have snipers over looking his "weak" points to pick off possible troublemakers.
The enemy may or may not have any number of tools at his disposal, from land mines, to guard dogs, thermal night vision, surveillance drones, or any assortment of lethal and unseen assets intending to capture or kill you.

This is where knowing your enemy comes into play. You have to make a study out of the enemy. When do certain activities happen? (Guard shift changes, meal time, sleep time, patrols, et cetera.)
What is left unguarded and when? What is the chain of command? Where are the communications located? What events will cause a mobilization of forces? All these questions and many more must be asked and answered. It only benefits you to know as much as possible about your adversary.

All that information helps you to decide if you can potentially make a strike against your enemy without taking losses, or by taking acceptable losses. Acceptable losses in a group of five family members may mean that only a plan that is likely to produce no losses is acceptable. But if you are taking part in a full scale guerilla war against an occupational military force, then some losses may be acceptable if certain objectives have to be met for victory on a strategic level.

Concept 2 is to only fight when you know you will win. This is done by gathering as much information as possible and putting yourself in your enemy's shoes so you can choose when, where, and how you want to fight.

3. If possible, recover any assets from your enemy that may be of potential use. Magazines, weapons, armor, night vision, batteries, anything. This also means gathering items of possible intelligence value like; unit patches, force deployment maps, supply information, duty rosters, and chain of command information. You could even steal uniforms for possible impersonation of enemy forces in later operations. Your victory is all the sweeter if your engagement not only produces dead bad guys, but extra weapons and supplies to continue the fight and lessen the strain on your own supplies.

Make the best use of your money to allow you the most capabilities in combat.

Arm and equip yourself in a manner that allows you flexibility in tactics so you can choose to fight and win in instances that someone might normally be unable to fight at all. For example.

Example: John decides he is going to buy an M1A, a FAL, two AR15s, two Mini-14s, one Glock, one SIG pistol, one HK pistol, and a couple of revolvers. He buys 10 sets of woodland BDUs and 3 pairs of GI combat boots. He spends an additional $2,000 on all the different spare magazines that he will need for all his different guns. He spent roughly $12,000 for everything and is essentially limited to carrying one rifle and a sidearm, and being camouflaged in a woodland environment no colder than 45 degrees. The other weapons will stay at home and he can't go out on operations during the winter months because he would freeze.

Example: Bill buys an AR-15, mounts an EOTech sight with night vision capability and an AAC suppressor, along with 500 rounds of subsonic .223 ammunition. He buys a set of decent Generation III night vision goggles. He buys a few sets of BDUs for the summer months and heavier clothing for the winter months, including cold weather boots. He also buys a .45 pistol with suppressor and pretty much all .45 ammo in the 230 grain weight is subsonic already. Last but not least, he buys a tactical vest to carry all his magazines and side arm in for easy access.

Bill spends about the same amount of money as John, yet is a much more well-rounded warrior. He can operate in just about any climate, save for extreme weather. He could sneak around at night with night vision goggles and utilize his suppressed weapons to take out any threats with barely making a sound [that could be heard more than a short distance away]. (Subsonic ammunition is essential.)

Bill could sneak into an enemy camp and quietly send potentially dozens of people off into the after life with his suppressed pistol, and walk away without anyone ever knowing he was there. John on the other hand could do no such thing. John would stumble through the darkness, possibly bump into someone, and discharge his weapon, waking up everyone within a mile.

So try to spend your money in ways that add to your capabilities. Some redundancy is good, but some flexibility is very important as well.

Be creative in your tactics Be creative in your fighting. Use outside the box thinking. For instance:
In many previous wars, weapons have been booby trapped to explode when fired. Ammunition can be loaded to explosive pressures and left for the enemy to find. Poisons quietly poured into tomorrow's breakfast ration during the night could potentially incapacitate a large majority of the enemy force in one sitting. Creating diversions to draw attention away from your main objectives is often a good idea. Setting fires in multiple places simultaneously creates confusion and panic. You get the idea, just be creative. Use all things to your advantage!

Most people reading this blog have probably read JWR's novel, "Patriots": Surviving the Coming Collapse", so I will use a few examples of how things could have gone differently if the characters in the book had some other equipment on hand during some of their battles.

Somewhat early into the book, a number of vehicles try to attack the retreat but are stopped by small arms fire and are eventually killed after a gun battle with some well trained and entrenched defenders. Just to throw out an idea for additional defensive measures. Create pieces of cover for attackers to use when attempting to overtake your position. If you are over looking 200 yards of open grass, you place seemingly harmless things leading up to your position that can be used as cover. Maybe a small shed that one might think is used for storing tools.

When attacked, enemy forces will try to use this shed for cover and will take refuge behind it. Unknown to them, the shed is filled with 50 pounds of Tannerite[--a binary explosive target mixture that is legal for individual to own without any permit or license in most of the US--] and gasoline. When they get close enough to use it for cover, you shoot the shed, detonating the explosives and fuel, creating one h**l of a blast and fireball, and eliminating [or at least badly discouraging] the attackers that were hiding behind it.

Another situation the characters found themselves in was when they were driving to go rescue two of their own who hadn't been able to make it to the retreat. On the journey they encounter a road block and one of their members is shot and killed. That night the two remaining members of the rescue team ambush the road blockers and kill them during a pretty one sided shootout.

If the rescue team had a set of night vision goggles they could have traveled completely by darkness and possibly avoided detection. Also, upon spotting the road block, one member could have approached the road block on foot with a suppressed pistol and neutralized all the threats as they slept without drawing any attention to the area with loud gun shots and without risking any team members in a shootout.

I hope that this helps everyone think more outside the box when considering their preparedness plans. Be as aggressive as possible without being reckless. Remember the basic concepts and think, move, and fight like a predator.

Hi Jim.
I'm pretty sure you know this but I thought i would pass it along anyway. I just went through this trying to explain some of the history of 1933 to a friend.

Presidential Executive Order 6102 (From: President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the United States Congress, 5 April, 1933)

And yes, you are very correct that most of this is coming from coin dealers trying to sell overpriced stuff. Here is an explanation.

Here ia quote from Congressman Dr. Ron Paul on gold confiscation:
"If it gets bad enough, they’ll declare a national economic emergency. They’ll take over the banks, all business and industry. They may even try to confiscate our gold. I served on the Gold Commission for eight or nine months while I was in Congress along with fifteen other members. I brought up the subject of confiscation. The power to confiscate gold is still on the books as the law of the land. I urged the full Commission to recommend Congress repeal the power to confiscate gold in an economic emergency. We pushed it to a vote and I was the only one that voted to recommend to Congress that we never again contemplate taking the gold of the American people. The fifteen other members voted it down. The power is still there on the books, and they can do it any time they wish."

Also read: What You Need To Know Before You Buy Numismatics. And from Gary North's web site, read this: Gold Confiscation: How Big a Threat? by Franklin Sanders

Regards, - Dave M.

Reader "O.E." suggested Jim Willie's recent commentary: Threat of Sovereign Wealth Funds. O.E.'s comment: "This is an interesting article on these new contraptions. The fire sale of America has begun."

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Several readers sent us a link to a piece by economist Jim Sinclair: The Panic Starts. Jim Sinclair is really ringing the alarm bells. In times like these I think that he has good reason to be an alarmist.

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Nicole suggested this article by Greenpa as a counterpoint to those who are touting switchgrass as an ethanol source. OBTW, since "Greenpa" has been living the life for 30 years off-grid, some of the bits in his Little Blog In The Big Woods archives are quite instructive. Although our politics differ considerably, I recently added him to my blog roll.

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"Costa Rica Jones" mentioned this bit of ethanol technology news : New GM Partnership Aims for Cheaper Ethanol by 2011

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, January 18, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction lot is now at $120. The auction is for a Brunton Solarport 4.4 watt photovoltaic panel (a $140 retail value), a Deluxe Outdoor Survival Tool Kit (a $70 retail value) --both kindly donated by Ready Made Resources as well as seven other items: A copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value), an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots" (a $23 retail value), an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), and a SurvivalBlog Key Logistics Tote Bag (a $17.50 retail value), and an autographed set of Michael Z. Williamson's "Target: Terror" modern military fiction sniper trilogy, from Avon books: "The Scope of Justice", "Targets of Opportunity", and "Confirmed Kill". This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Hi Jim,
I'd very much like your opinion on this matter. I've been investing in gold and silver bullion for a couple years now. One source from which I made one of my purchases stated that he believed that gold and silver are going to be confiscated from citizens by our government when the economy implodes and that the confiscation will take place soon after an announcement is made without warning, that the face value of the gold will be reset to $42.00, which will be the sum that's reimbursed upon confiscation. He argued that investing in pre-1933 collectable silver and gold was not liable to be confiscated, due to some arcane law that protects coins with numismatic value. He also claimed that the central banks, the IMF, WTO and the Bank of Rothschild, when they conduct their internal audits, do so with their bullion priced at $42.00 per ounce.

Now, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck and I'm old enough to smell a dung pile from a long way off, so his whole argument stinks to high heaven and I'm sure you'll agree. To make matters worse, he claimed that he hadn't sold bullion to anyone in about three years, due to the dangers of confiscation and the subsequent warnings to his customers. He did a lousy job of back-peddling when I reminded him of his eagerness to sell me bullion less than a year ago, which he did (I have the signed receipt). Needless to say, I didn't buy anything from him today, nor will I ever. This certainly doesn't mean
that I think pre-64 silver isn't a very sound investment.

My question to you is what are your feelings on government-conducted gold/silver bullion confiscation? Is this truly a real threat? The dealer claimed that even Dr. Ron Paul has said that confiscation is a real issue (I know it has been done before, in 1933, I believe). My guess is that it will not be an issue, before I sell mine (preferably before the poop hits the prop), however I'd like to hear your side of this. My decisions are my own responsibility, but I do value your opinion. Many thanks for your time. Stay safe, - HHH

JWR Replies: Like you, I think that the talk about a second gold confiscation is mainly hot air. It is noteworthy that most of those touting this "looming threat" are coin dealers that primarily sell rare coins!

With that said, non-numismatic gold coins and gold bullion were indeed confiscated by the FDR administration during the Great Depression. Individuals cold hold no more that $100 face value in gold coins, except for collectible or numismatic coins. (In that instance, they paid everyone $20.67 per ounce in paper money for their gold, and then soon after raised the official gold price to $35 an ounce and realized a handsome profit. Running a national government is quite a racket!) In effect, private ownership of gold bullion was banned in the US from 1933 to 1974.

Nobody can completely rule out a similar confiscation decree during an economic crisis sometime in the future. The safest forms of gold in such circumstances would probably be (in order of safest to least safe): 1.) pre-1933 mint state numismatic mint state US gold coins (MS-60 grade or higher), 2.) low grade "about uncirculated" (AU) pre-1933 numismatic US gold coins (AU-58 or AU-59 grade), 3.) American Eagle gold bullion coins (issued by the US mint, 4.) jewelry grade gold nuggets, 5.) numismatic coins from other countries (such as high grade gold Sovereigns) 6.) gold bullion coins from other mints (such as Canadian Gold Maple Leafs, Chinese Pandas, Aussie Kookaburras, South African Krugerrands, and so forth), and finally, 7.) serialized gold bullion bars from private mints like Johnson-Matthey.

As background: In the numismatic world, coins are graded on the Sheldon Scale, with numeric rankings from 1 to 70. A "1" would be a melted, barely recognizable round lump that used to be a coin. A "70" would be an absolutely perfect fresh from the mint without even a single detectable scratch. Most coin collectors buy coins in the AU-58 through MS-60 to 67 range.

In the midst of all this speculation about a second gold call-in, one thing is almost certain: Silver is far, far less likely to be included in any future confiscation than gold. This is simply because there is too much of it. (It is roughly 17.5 times more common than gold, at least underground.) The logistics of a silver confiscation--that much weight an bulk--would be monumental. Storing the mountain of confiscated silver would also be a huge problem. I suspect that silver bullion bars might presumably be included in a confiscation, but probably not US silver coins. After all, in the eyes of the law, a pre-1965 silver dime is still nominally "circulating" and is worth 10 cents if traded for FRNs. A Village Idiot can still spend silver dimes and quarters at their face value. A few school children do, unknowingly. These both explain why these coins occasionally pop up in circulation.

I earnestly believe that the chance of another gold confiscation is very small. But if you are the ultra-cautious type, then you might want to diversify your portfolio into mostly pre-'65 U.S. "junk" silver coins. Then, depending on the size of your portfolio, perhaps buy a few MS-60 grade pre-1933 mint state US gold coins. (But be advised that by doing so you will be paying a big premium over their bullion value.) Unless you are an expert on coin grading, then be sure to buy only PCGS or NGC certified "slabbed" (plastic encapsulated) professionally graded gold coins. The difference of just one grade number between an MS-64 and MS-65 could double (or halve) the value of a coin. Do not just take the dealer's word on it. Buy only PCGS or NGC slabs!

Dear Jim:
Boston T. Party backs up your opinion on the value of Body Armor - to quote: “... An order of magnitude advantage” ("Boston on Surviving Y2K and Other Lovely Disasters").
you posted a good letter from Ryan that mentioned adjusting your buttstock length to account for Body Armor, web gear, etc. The main point to test all your gear - all at the same time - is a real nugget of wisdom. It's amazing the glitches that pop up that you can never foresee until you test.

One thing to note - 2" is probably a little too much compensation in buttstock length unless you have very thick clothing and web gear as well. Ultra-light Polyethylene Rifle Plates are just under an inch thick (~2.5 cm.) but the most protective Level IV Ceramic Rifle Plates are only 0.75" (~2 cm). So an inch of adjustment with web gear is probably a good estimate.
We offer both Ultra-light Polyethylene and Ceramic Rifle Plates with a "shooters cut" on the Front plate. So, with this taper at the top of the plate, you can get a buttstock plant directly onto your body (or soft armor). See this photo page. So you would have just 0.25" (~6mm) of soft Body Armor under the buttstock with "shooters cut" plates.
Yours Truly, - Nick - Manager, BulletProofME.com Body Armor

JWR Adds: My approach at compensating for the thickness of body armor and/or heavy winter clothing is as follows: Size your buttstock with assumption that it will be used in conjunction with body armor or heavy winter clothing. Then, in instances where you are shooting in casual circumstances without body armor (or in warm weather), simply add a slip-on recoil pad to make up for the difference in stock length. That pad can be removed in seconds, if circumstances change.

For any readers with HK91s or CETMEs (or clones thereof), I recommend that you buy a couple of inexpensive spare military surplus G3 stock sets s from Cheaper Than Dirt. They currently have G3 stock sets on sale for under $10, complete with a pair of handguards and a pistol grip! (See item # MGR-281 in their latest catalog.) With a price like that, you can afford to buy several stock sets and get creative. Do some WECSOG experiments with a hacksaw, two-part epoxy, and various recoil pads--while of course saving your original stock in its original configuration. OBTW, I am not a fan of the G3 "A3" collapsing stock, since it has a buttpad that is uncomfortably small and curved, and its stock rails do not provide a consistent cheek weld. An A3 stock might be useful in confined spaces (such as defending a vehicle), but otherwise, I do not recommend them.

For any readers with M1As, I recommend that you buy a few inexpensive spare stocks from Fred's M14 Stocks--they have thousands of M14 stocks in inventory--and shorten them as needed, adding recoil pads in the process. OBTW, I am particularly fond of the Pachmayr "Decelerator" recoil pad. One of your spare stocks should be cut extra short, to accommodate any small-statured shooters at your retreat. Just keep in mind that when you switch stocks on an M1A or M14 that it may have to be re-zeroed. Test your rifle's accuracy with each of your spare stocks well in advance of Schumeresque times.

For any readers with AR-15s or AR-10s, I recommend that you buy a complete spare collapsing (CAR-15/M4 Carbine style) buttstock assembly. You should preferably one that has three or four adjusting "position" notches. For fine-tuning the length of pull, someone skilled with a drill press can add additional adjustment notches.

We use L1A1s here at the ranch, three of which are equipped with extra short length-of-pull "Arctic" Maranyl stocks. These stocks were used extensively by the British Army in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, where they wore body armor for foot patrols in inimical places like Ulster and Belfast. Thankfully, L1A1 buttstocks have hard plastic pads that come in several lengths, although changing them is a bit time consuming, since the recoil spring nut must be removed. Arctic length Maranyl stocks can occasionally be found on eBay. Unfortunately, metric FALs--at least "as issued"--do not have as much stock length flexibility as L1A1s. However, as with an HK91, you can buy a couple spare stocks and do some WECSOG experimenting. The limitation, however, is the protruding recoil spring tube.

Regarding the recent blog article "Constructing an Improvised CB Radio Antenna", here is a site that has good construction info and a few graphical images of custom built CB antennas This site by Signal Engineering adds some antenna theory for those inclined to learn more about CB antennas.
If you are into experimenting with antennas, I recommend getting an antenna analyzer from MFJ. They are fairly inexpensive (as far as test equipment go) yet will yield very helpful tuning and optimization information. You can purchase one for use in nearly any radio service (ham, CB, VHF/UHF. etc).- Rob at Affordable Shortwaves

SurvivalBlog reader "Rightcoast" mentioned that the new anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction titled Wastelands, from Night Shade Books, is now available for ordering. (I first mentioned this book back before it was available for ordering.) The authors include M. Rickert, Cory Doctorow, and Richard Kadrey.

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We live in a very remote, lightly-populated area "somewhere west of the Rockies", so our daytime radio reception is pitiful. (Although at night, it is fantastic on the AM and shortwave bands.) Since we enjoy listening to Internet radio webcasts and podcasts such as sermons, I recently got a small FM transmitter that allows us to broadcast inside our house. This way we can listen to any audio from our computers (audio CDs, podcasts, RealPlayer files, MP3 files, audio from DVD movies, et cetera) on our radios throughout the house. These transmitters have about a 100 foot range, and are are sold by C. Crane Company. We have been doing business with C. Crane since the mid-1990s, and have found them to be very reputable.

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Freeze Dry Guy has announced a special for January and February on a One Year Supply of Mountain House freeze dried vegetables: These are freshly packed, includes one six-can case each of the following: Freeze Dried Corn, Freeze Dried Green Beans, and Freeze Dried Green Peas. This is a total of 384 1/2-cup servings in three cases (18 cans) of heavy duty enameled #10 (one-gallon) cans with a 30 year shelf life. (You may substitute a case of Instant White Rice if you prefer.) No cooking required, just add hot water, wait 5 minutes, serve and enjoy. Pricing: One 3-case unit, shipping included within the lower 48 states is $320 (save $36), or Three 3-case units for $940 (save $129)

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Reader N.L. suggest a how-to piece on underground propane tanks.

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From RBS: U.S. Hospitals Plagued by Ten Times More MRSA Superbug Infections than Previously Thought

"Like waves on the seashore, an incessant drip of a faucet, or the perpetual nag of the proverbial mother-in- law, your dollars as a store of value and labor are continually clipped and filed down by the Central Bankers’ silent tax." - David J. Taffi, of Taub Associates, commenting on inflation

Thursday, January 17, 2008

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, so e-mail us your entry soon! Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I have put a great deal of the info I have gleaned from SurvivalBlog to good use in my own preps. To reciprocate, the following is one of hopefully many bits of survival information that I plan to pass along to all the readers, in the hope that it will help someone else.

A short time back I read a few posts on some survival communications issues, and found them to be very helpful. They also got me to thinking about something that I did back around the start of the eighties, that I believe would be a great piece of survival gear for the folks using Citizen's Band. (CB or 11 meter ) and some 10 meter users.

One day, I came upon the thought that if the radio still worked, but the antenna became lost or damaged, what would I do then? How would I be able to talk to my group, let alone listen in to any other chatter. Having a bit of electronic knowledge ( two year tech. degree in industrial electronics ) I set about to make an expedient antenna system from inexpensive, and commonly found materials. The result was a simple antenna that would work in a pinch, and was easy to transport, and would be as good as, or better than a commercial one. Enter the simple dipole antenna.

A dipole is a pair of wires or conductors connected to the "ground" and the center conductor of the coaxial antenna cable, and stretched out either in a vertical or a horizontal position. Most "whip " style mobile antennas are around 102" in length ( this is the number that antenna designers use in their standing wave ratio (SWR) to frequency calculations, to match an antenna to a particular radio to achieve maximum efficiency ). Using this as a reference point, I bought a 25' roll of solid aluminum clothesline wire at the hardware store, a small package of solderless, crimp style connectors, a small package of 1 1/4" wood screws, and a roll of electrical tape. The only other things you will need are a couple lengths of 550 paracord, two lengths of 1 1/2" dia. ( about 4-5" long ) dowel rod, and a 2x4 block about 6 to 8" long. To start, take the 2x4 block and 2 wood screws, and screw the wood screws only a couple of turns into the wood, placing one at each end, about an inch or so back from the ends. Next, take the coaxial antenna cable, and carefully strip back the outer jacket about 6" and undo the braided wire, and twist it into one individual length. Next, strip back the insulating jacket over the center conductor about 1/4". Attach a crimp connector to each wire, preferably by soldering, or by securely crimping with a pair of electrician's crimping pliers. Next, take and wrap the exposed, twisted, braided wire with a bit of the electrical tape.

Next, take a pair of wire cutters, and cut two 102"-long pieces of the clothesline, and make an eye hook at one end of each, and unscrew the wood screws on the 2x4 and attach one wire "eye" to each ( do not screw the screws down all the way yet.) Next, take the dowel rods, and drill a hole through the side about 1 1/2" from the end, and then the other, repeating the same for the other dowel. The holes should be large enough to thread one of the clothesline ends through one, and a piece of the paracord through the other for each one. Now, connect one of the coaxial antenna wire connectors to the wood screws on the 2x4 block and tighten the screw down so that the connector will not pull loose. Do the same to the other. Next, take the loose clothesline wire end that is connected to the braided wire and pass it through one end of one of the dowel rods and wrap around the dowel and a couple of turns around itself so it will not pull back out of the dowel.

Before attaching the other element, place an accurate SWR meter in the antenna line to check the match. Thread a length of the 550 Paracord cord through each of the dowel insulators. Now thread the other clothesline (the one connected to the center conductor of the coaxial wire) through the dowel about 4-6" and make an L-shaped bend so it won't pull out of the dowel. Set the SWR meter to check your match according to the meter's instructions. If the match is too high, then take a pair of wire cutters, and trim the end back just 1/4" at a time until you get the lowest [reading] match you can possibly achieve.

Important note: Care must be taken when trimming the antenna, because you can't put the cut pieces back! Once you have the best match you can get, finish off the end of the wire the same as the first. Now stretch it up between two sturdy objects, and try it out. I have been able to get the same range as a commercial one with mine.

JWR Adds: Some provisos: Be sure to waterproof all connections with RTV silicone, or something similar. Be sure to have an antenna connected whenever transmitting, to prevent damage to your transceiver. Since nearly all CB radio transceivers are set up with vertically polarized antennas, it is important that you rig your antenna vertically. (This way, the geometry of your transmitting wave will match the vertical geometry of the receiving antenna.) This may seem counterintuitive when you are looking at a dipole, but trust me, you should set it up with the two elements running up and down. And, of course, all of the usual antenna safety precautions apply.

I love your blog site and appreciate the service that you provide. I stumbled on SurvivalBlog several months back and quickly ordered your novel ["Patriots"]; loved it and found it to be life changing event.

I am a former Infantry Marine of 13+ years medically retired from wounds received in Fallujah in November of '04. Needless to say, I have had some pretty major paradigm shifts (in the line of preparedness and government encroachment) since I retired in August of '06. On with my question: I have done quiet a bit of ballistic demonstrations on the usual and conventional building materials, but have not ever seen what protection straw bales offer. My wife and I are partial to that method of construction for its fire protection and insulation properties. I'd love to here any insight you may have. Thanks, -Jon

JWR Replies: Unless straw bale houses have a thick outer stucco or adobe clay coating (two inch or greater thickness), then they are poor at stopping small arms fire. Just one layer of sandbags works much better than even two straw bales back-to back (4 feet thick.) For that reason, I prefer ICFs, tire houses ("Earthships"), monolithic domes, or traditional reinforced masonry construction over straw bale.

Some comments on studying climates and microclimates: I do a fair amount of this professionally, and there are a couple more things worthy of discussion:

1) when looking at a specific area, in which a subject property is located, pay particular attention to low areas where cold settles. These areas will freeze first. Crop performance will vary widely.
Study not just the winds, but the exposure--the microclimate. Solar, wind, rainfall and snowfall patterns.

2) Do not build with haste. We encourage people to live with a property in as-is conditions for a year if they can, so that they can fully understand what the seasons are like all over the subject property. This is obviously not possible for everyone, but if there is a rustic cabin on the site, chances are it is in the best location for exposure, proximity to gardens, pastures, etc. It is likely that someone lived there long enough to understand the property.

3) Understand the neighboring properties, their owners, occupants, and passers-through, both human and animal. Don't expect that just because you think you have the best place for a house, that it's without complication. Ever seen a new house built right on top of a game trail frequented for decades by moose, deer, and predators? Nice big windows to many species look like opportunities to graze just beyond the reflection. Deer inside homes in the forests are not uncommon. Moose once in awhile too. Where there are deer, there may be bear, cougar, etc. It might be downright interesting, to wake up and find a moose in your great room. Take care, - Thomas S.

Reader "FFF" recommended some commentary from Patrick Buchanan: Subprime Nation

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For any of you that have been dragging your feet on taking a course at Front Sight: they just announced their biggest freebie offer ever. The Memsahib and I have both taken the Four Day Defensive Handgun course at Front Sight, and we can vouch that it is absolutely top notch training, even for experienced pistol shooters. And BTW, the Springfield Armory XD .45 that is included in the offer is a fine choice for self defense. Here in the States it is now just as popular as the Glock 21. Hopefully more spare parts will soon make it into the pipeline, which will make the XD .45 the ideal choice for a defensive handgun.

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Don't miss the new Montana retreat listing on SurvivalRealty.com

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Signs of the times: Russian police hunt for thieves who stole a 200-tonne metal bridge

"Controlling carbon is a bureaucrat’s dream. If you control carbon, you control life."- MIT climate scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen, March, 2007.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Congratulations to Kevin B., the high bidder in the recent SurvivalBlog benefit auction for an HK Emergency Flare Launcher and 28 flares. Today we begin a new auction. This one is for a Brunton Solarport 4.4 watt photovoltaic panel, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources (a $140 retail value) as well as seven other items: A set of Michael Z. Williamson's sniper trilogy books, a copy of the latest edition of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery (a $32 retail value), an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots" (a $23 retail value), an autographed copy of my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" (a $25 retail value), and a SurvivalBlog Key Logistics Tote Bag (a $14.50 retail value.)

I'm not sure if this has been covered here before, but here are a few links to Government climate data and maps in the US. Microclimate data are represented as well, to a degree limited by the number of stations:

Climate Maps of the United States - Lookup Page

Monthly Station Climate Summaries - By Station

U.S. Climate Normals

For those interested in wind speeds and patterns across the USA for whatever reason, the map link above can be supplemented with the data for the major population centers.

Thanks again for your hard work, - The DFer

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending those links. They are very useful for both assessing the "livability" of various locales. Along with prevailing wind maps (which are useful for radioactive fallout prediction), I consider maps an essential planning tool. I strongly recommend that anyone considering retreat locales should do a climate study first. It is notable that climate and growing season duration are what caused us to rule out areas east of The Great Divide when we went searching for the Rawles Ranch.

The recent SurvivalBlog article on snap shooting was great. I think that there is one useful thing to mention and that is how body armor vests (particularly thicker ones with rifle plates) change the way you shoot. The first and most obvious change to the proper way to shoot both rifles and pistols is to always face the target with your body armor! This means facing your chest directly towards the enemy, it really changes the way snap shooting works. Bringing rifles on target while keeping your chest straight toward the target is something that needs to be practiced for awhile. Doing the same with pistols is easier but still must be practiced. When wearing body armor also change the way you shoot from the prone to reflect the protection of the vest. Instead of the traditional strong side knee bent lying mostly on your weak side the way to do it is flat on your chest straight to the target so the vest protects you as much as possible.

The second way that body armor changes the way you shoot is ergonomics. Vests add thickness to all sides of your upper body. If your long gun has a stock that is exactly the right length for you [when wearing street clothes] then it will be roughly two inches too long. This is where M4 or HK91 adjustable stocks are real nice. Web gear is also going to fit smaller. These little things get to be a significant problem after a while. Try to get some hours at the range practicing snap shooting. Practice shooting with your entire kit (weapon, web gear, body armor, [and helmet]) now, so that if you need to change something you can do it before you really need the stuff--[in times when] going online and ordering a larger vest or shorter stock will probably be impossible.

Body armor is a big purchase (about the price of a decent battle rifle especially if you get [SAPI] rifle plates). After stocking a good pantry full of food and a basic firearms battery for each adult (with plenty of ammo and accessories); I can not think of another more useful item to have. - Ryan

JWR Replies: I agree with you wholeheartedly that body armor should be a high priority purchase. It is one that is often overlooked by my consulting clients. As your budget allows, each adult family member at your retreat should buy a Level IIIA concealment vest and a Kevlar helmet. If you have a big budget, then also buy an Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) vest (or equivalent).

If I had to choose between buying a second gun and buying body armor, I would definitely choose the body armor! Consider it part of your life insurance--the type that insures that you don't die--as opposed to traditional life insurance that pays after you die. (Well, technically, it would be "assurance", rather than "insurance", but you get my point.) Do some comparison shopping, for price, quality, and proper fitting. (The latter is crucial.) One vendor that I recommend offers all three is BulletProofME.com. (I was recommending them long before they ever became a SurvivalBlog advertiser.)

Howdy Jim,
Regarding the quotation by Dr. Walter E. Williams wherein he writes about "dollars as being 'certificates of performance'" it reminds me of discussions years ago of the nature of money. Perhaps it may be condensed down to something such as, "Money is a measure of life energy."

Whether it is fiat paper currency, or silver or gold coinage currency, or electron-charged cyberspace currency, what it measures and thereby accounts for is life energy. As an example consider the different measures of value we accord to an ounce bar of pure silver and an ounce coin of the the same material. The difference is the amount of life energy involved in making the coin. ("The only people who 'make money' are the people who work in a mint. The rest of us have to earn it." - Earl Nightingale) The life energy expended in turning the silver ore into a pure-silver bar makes the bar more valuable than the ore. The life energy expended in turning the pure-silver bar into a pure-silver coin makes the coin more valuable than the bar. The different values we accord these various forms of this one material are the amount of life energy we humans are willing to invest or exchange in order to posses or control these different forms of this one material. Whatever medium of exchange we use (paper, coin, electron, or other), it serves as a measure of life energy.

Thank you again for all that you and yours are and do. Regards, - Lex

Today I went through some of the links on SurvivalBlog that I might have otherwise passed over, for whatever reason. I came across the Google Video link: Maxed Out. Normally I would not have taken the time to watch an hour-and-a-half video on the computer, but I was curious just because you would take the time to post it up on your site. I knew that credit cards would one day become a problem, but even in my wildest dreams I never could have imagined anything even close to what is contained in that video. For those of you who have not seen it, go and do so! Go as soon as you read this, and pass it along to everyone that you know that has a computer. If ever there was any doubt that we were being used and manipulated for evil reasons, by evil people, then this should remove all that doubt.

Years ago I had two department store credit cards that I thought that I would never get paid off, but I [eventually] did. I paid the minimums, just like everyone else. However, I saw "the flaw in the slaw" and used every chance that I could get a bit of extra cash, to help pay it off quicker. As soon as I did, that was it. I had finally had enough. I have never had another [credit card] since. Recently, my auto insurance company, as well as a few others, have sent me notices to the fact, and now I pay a small amount extra on my premiums because I have a lower credit score, because I don't owe anybody anything other than my regular monthly bills (my house payment is not included, because it is paid for.) At first I was mad beyond belief, that I had to pay more, because I was smarter than the rest of the people who bought into the Credit Card Fairy Tale. (You all know that one, where your life will become sooooo much better! After a few phone calls that went nowhere, I decided that the powers that be, had me by the short hairs. In retrospect, and after seeing this video, I can see that I am getting off cheap. Weighing all the factors, I am still ahead in the long run. So as Mr. Rawles has pointed out in so many other of the daily pages, pay off your debts as quickly as you can. And if you do decide to keep your cards, ask yourself this very important question: are you really happier that you have them? - Dim Tim

JWR: Replies: I do recommend having at least one "no annual fee" major credit card, just to keep on hand for emergencies such as car repairs on cross-country trips. But unless folks have the self-control to never use them, or at least never use them for impulse purchases (so that the balance can be paid in full each month, with no interest charges), then I recommend that they leave their credits card locked up in a home vault, or simply cut them up.

Reader E.L. recommended that we look at some of the YouTube clips of economist Peter Schiff. This Neal Cavuto segment aired back August, 17, 2007, when the Dow had "dipped" 7% below its 14,000 high, silver was around $12.70 per ounce, and the US Dollar Index was around 81. Most of the the pundits were downright bashing on Peter Schiff and calling the subprime crisis "a buying opportunity" for financial stocks. But given recent events--with the Dow now in the 12,700 range, silver around $16 per ounce, and the US Dollar Index down below 76, it seems that it was Schiff who was right.

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I found some interesting economic analysis from Alex Wallenwein posted over at Gold-Eagle: Gold and the Biflationary Depression. Alex may have hit the nail on the head: we may soon see simultaneous currency inflation and asset deflation.

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"The Bricklayer" in Detroit mention this YouTube video showing a low-tech small scale power windmill in Africa.

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Steven found this nearly one-year-old Reuters news story that you might have missed: U.S. companies prepare for bird flu pandemic

"[When lead starts flying] You won't rise to the occasion – you'll default to your level of training." - Barrett Tillman

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This is the last day in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. The bidding is now at $540. 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 at least $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. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments. Be sure to submit your bid by midnight (eastern Time) tonight!

As I mentioned a few days ago, Bank of America (BofA) is buying out troubled Countrywide Financial (a home mortgage lender) for more than $4 Billion, and taxpayers are going to help them finance the buyout. This is good news for Countrywide (whose CEO is being given a ludicrous $110 million going away present), but bad news for the economy as a whole, and for taxpayers.

I should mention that it has been rumored that BofA felt obliged to acquire Countrywide, because the two firms had some large derivatives contracts, and if Countrywide had folded, BofA would have to write-off some very large dollar figures--perhaps enough to wipe out BofA. But by buying out Countrywide, BofA now holds both sides of the derivative transaction (they are in effect both party and counter party) so they can just zero out those derivative contracts. I expect that regardless of whether or not they are able to offset their derivatives exposure, buying out Countrywide may still be disastrous for BofA. One of the longest standing legal precepts in mergers and acquisitions is: "When you buy a company, you also buy its liabilities." The full downside risk at Countrywide is enormous. If the default rate spikes in the nascent recession, Countrywide's mountain of bad paper could very well take BofA down with it. I think that A.P. Giannini (the founder of the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America), is probably rolling in his grave right now.

What does the Countrywide experience portend for the larger economy? I believe that the credit collapse will eventually spawn numerous taxpayer-funded bailouts of financial institutions, some of them measuring in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In essence, the credit collapse is just getting started. The bad news that is presently being trumpeted about subprime mortgages, will soon apply to the entire mortgage credit market. There are so many institutions--banks, hedge funds, mutual funds with financial stock holdings, and more--that have direct or indirect subprime exposure, that once the dominos start to tumble there will be many billions if not trillions wiped out. So much debt has been re-packaged in so many different ways that nobody can tell who owns what debts, and exactly what property is backing those debts. (There are now a dizzying array of Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), Convertible Contingent Debt Securities (CODEs), Enhanced Equity-Linked Debt Securities (ELKs), Mandatorily Exchangeable Debt Securities (MEDs), Stock Return Income Debt Securities (STRIDEs), Structured Investment Vehicle (SIVs), and even "Super SIVs"--SIVs that aggregate other SIVs.)

It is the bankers' inability to assign risk that inspired the summer of Aught Seven credit collapse. Liquidity has dried up worldwide because bankers are terrified of issuing loans if they cannot evaluate risk. With all of the repackaging within repackaging, it is nigh on impossible to identify risk. The term "marked to market" has become meaningless. With so much debt marked to mystery (my term), we are in uncharted waters. In my estimation, anyone that isn't apprehensive about the economy is a Pollyanna.

While much of the credit market is going through a meltdown, the credit rating agencies like Fitch, Moody's, and Standard & Poor's are of no help because it has now been revealed some of them were in on the sub-prime scam--artificially boosting credit ratings in exchange for bribes. (You can look for this scandal to be one of the biggest financial news stories of 2008, potentially much bigger than the Enron scandal ever was.). Any further turmoil in the financial markets--and I expect that there will be plenty--will surely depress stock prices and the value of the US dollar. The dollar is already in deep, deep Schumer. There is a significant chance of a full scale collapse of the US Dollar in 2008.

Knowing the way that things work in Washington, DC, I conclude that bailing out the bankers will eventually mean both higher marginal tax rates, and a higher capital gains rate. As previously mentioned, this is just one more reason to shelter most of your assets in tangibles. For the most part, tangibles are not taxed until after you sell them and realize a profit. And, as I also recently mentioned, here in the US, land and houses are not taxed by the Federal government(at least not yet.) I don't expect the mortgage tax deduction to go away anytime soon, but I would not be surprised if once they feel the squeeze, the Federal government ups the size and number of unfunded mandates on cities, counties, and states, forcing them to increase property taxes.

Snap shooting is something I learned a few years ago that can make one well trained, aggressive shooter, able to defeat many lesser-trained opponents. The idea of snap shooting is to present as small a target as possible while quickly peeking out and delivering accurate fire, and then returning to your cover.

In the movies you always see the bad guy will put his back against a corner, using it for cover. He then turns the corner, exposing his entire body, raises his weapon to take aim, and is promptly shot dead by the good guy. Snap shooting aims to correct all the mistakes of this very poor example of how to exchange gunfire with someone who aims to shoot you.

When someone is shooting at you, you obviously want to expose as little of yourself as possible, for as short a duration as possible, to minimize the chance of being hit. At the same time, you have to deliver accurate fire when you do expose yourself to make the risk worth something.

The first thing to know about snap shooting is how to properly use cover. Ideally you will have some decent cover to use (something that can stop incoming rounds and provide concealment) In our movie example, the bad guy puts his back up against the corner and then turns the corner and exposes his entire body to make his shot. In doing this, he has limited his visibility of what is going on, by facing away from the target, and as he presents himself, does so in a way that maximizes the enemy's likelihood of hitting him. At the same time, because his weapon is not raised, he must expose himself for a longer period of time to aim his weapon and fire.

Stand, or crouch behind your cover, facing towards the enemy. You want to put yourself far enough off your cover so that you can pre-aim your weapon, and also be mobile enough to quickly move to other pieces of cover, or move to flank and continue engaging your target. Raise your weapon and get proper sight alignment towards where you believe your enemy to be. This will save you the time of doing later outside of cover.

Now that you have your weapon raised and ready to fire, quickly peek out with only your barrel and eyes, putting your weight on your right foot (left foot if peeking from the left side of cover) and bending at the torso. Only expose what is absolutely necessary to get an accurate shot off. Fire as many shots as you feel you can safely and accurately, and then return to your previous position behind cover. (This should just mean bending back to cover from the torso.)

In the space of a second you can peek out, exposing only your barrel and eyes, shoot off a couple of well placed shots, and bend back into cover. This technique should be used to fight your way into a position of better cover, more advantageous shooting positions, or for flanking your enemy if working within a team. That is not to say that this is only good for aggressive movement, but is also fantastic for defending a fixed position or close quarter battle. With practice you can become very fast and remain deadly accurate, while only exposing a very small target for your enemy.

Being "backed off" from your cover so that you can peek around also allows you to have greater situational awareness. Greater situation awareness can win the battle, and often does. Also be sure to peek out from different positions so that you do not become predictable. You can peek out standing, crouching, on the left or right side. Just keep things mixed up to throw off your enemy. Here is a good example of some snap shooting being done by a paintball player. [JWR Adds: I consider paintball a useful adjunct to tactical firearms training. Just beware that paintball competitors have a tendency to start subconsciously thinking of concealment as cover (since paint balls have minimal penetration), and they also develop a "60 yard mindset" wherein they feel safe to maneuver if they are more than 60 yards from their opponent(s). Modern centerfire rifles of course have 400+ yard effective range!]

One might say this is something paintballers use and doubt its effectiveness, but its effectiveness in paintball translates into the real world as well. So practice snap shooting the next time you go out to shoot and see just how fast you can engage targets with accurate fire from cover. One very skilled snap shooter can defend very well against many untrained shooters. I spoke with a friend of mine who is an Army Ranger and got through most of Green Beret training before suffering an injury that put him out of training. He never trained in this style of shooting! It is somewhat surprising that something people who play paintball use all the time and is extremely effective is unknown to nearly all combat forces. Make sure you have the edge and train to snap shoot!

I recommend the AR-15 with a 16" barrel for this, or another short rifle, because the AR-15 rifle is lightweight, light recoiling, and accurate. It lends itself well to snap shooting. The .223 is not and will never be a .308, but will allow you to carry more ammunition for suppressive fire when working in a team of two or more, so you can cover one another and out flank your enemy for killing shots if you cant score them from your current piece of cover. Good luck and train hard.

Dear Jim,
I want to endorse Flashlight Outlet who has provided great products, prices and customer service. Larry helped me track a missing package I sent to Hawaii, and offered to replace it if it didn't show up (it did).
My new acquisition is the OLight T20. I wanted something as bright as my Surefire, but to be able to dial it down when I didn't need quite that much light. The OLight T20 is even brighter than the Surefire [when set] at max, 160 lumens, with four times the battery life with the same C123s (90 minutes vs 20 for the 120 lumen Surefires), 70 hours at 10 lumens, and has a memory function so it recalls the last set brightness.
In addition, it has a strobe function that can make it a devastating defense weapon. I tried it on myself, and the strobing 160 lumens completely disoriented me, even in indoor light, and left me dazzled for about two minutes. It would make a great addition to any hand to hand encounter with a bad guy.
The price is reasonable, and includes a lanyard, holster and spare gaskets. The electronics are a minor concern for potential failure or EMP damage, though I suspect it would default to max brightness. I'll still be keeping my Surefires as weapon lights and backup, of course.- Michael Z. Williamson

Novovirus reaches epidemic levels in England. I strongly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers prepare themselves for when this virus flares up in the US and Canada, especially if you have any infant, elderly, or otherwise "at risk" folks living under your roof. Stock up, be ready to self-quarantine, and if you must go out to work and to shop, then be prepared to decontaminate yourself.each time that you re-enter your home. If nothing else, practicing with these measures will leave you well-prepared for any eventual influenza pandemic that is spread by casual contact.

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I noticed that yesterday spot gold in London got briefly over $912 USD per ounce before closing in New York around $902. A lot of the speculators are saying that $1,000 gold is not far away. If you can't afford to invest in gold, then silver is "The working man's gold." And if you can't afford to invest in silver, I posit that US nickels (five cent pieces) will be "the poor man's silver." They are presently available for face value, but their nickel and silver content are already worth 6.22 cents each. Someday you can regale your grandchildren with stories about how you bought roll after roll of nickels at banks and casinos while the rest of our citizenry was somnambulant.

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The Nanny State run amok: California wants to control home thermostats. The only way that I'm ever moving back to California is in a pine box, bound for the family plot in Boonville.

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Thanks to Paul D. for this Science News story link about Ug99 Wheat Rust: Wheat Warning—New Rust Could Spread Like Wildfire. And speaking of wheat: Soaring Grain Prices Prompt Wheat Thefts

“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by precedent, by implication, by erosion, by default, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other - until the day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.” - Ayn Rand

Monday, January 14, 2008

There are just two days left in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. The bidding is now at $390. 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.

I just finished reading my review copy of Michael Z. Williamson's latest science fiction novel "Better to Beg Forgiveness". This fast-paced novel is set a couple of centuries in the future and follows the adventures of a band of mercenaries sent to guard a national president on a war-torn backwater colony planet. The story has some obvious analogies to the current use of "contractors" in Iraq. And it is obvious that in creating the fictional "Ripple Creek" off-world mercenary company, Williamson drew heavily on the real-life experiences of a few Blackwater types in researching this story. This adds an unmistakable air of realism to a fictional tale, making it quite fun to read.

I must admit that my reading of the book was sporadic--not because of any fault of the novel but rather because of the interruptions of elk and deer hunting season, and then holiday travel. But the recent heavy snowfall here at the ranch curtailed most of my outdoor chores and got me into into one of those cozy-by-the-woodstove book reading moods, so I was finally able to finish it.

"Better to Beg Forgiveness" is a well-told tale. It has plenty of the elements that Williamson fans love: action, great technical detail, believable characters, accurate tactics, vivid imagery of distant worlds, and some compellingly deep drama. Mike Williamson is prior military service, and his experience definitely shows. Unlike most of the schlock military science fiction genre novels that crowd the market, Mike's books are technically and tactically correct. That is a real rarity!

Without spoiling the plot, I can safely say that the story has plenty of interesting turns. Williamson is well-versed at weaving technical details into a story without bogging it down. (As a fellow novelist, I can assure you this is very difficult.) He is also a master at blending, action, drama, and character conflicts. In this particular story, he describes inter-agency, and inter-governmental conflicts exceptionally well, without making the story drag. Again, this adds texture and realism to the tale. In all, I thought that the storyline was plausible, the characters were believable, and the action was compelling. This is a book that is well worth reading. Just one proviso: because of some adult situations and copious battlefield violence this book is definitely not for children!

I got my review copy early, but I've noticed that "Better to Beg Forgiveness" is now available from Amazon.com.

Mr. Rawles:
In regards to the Home Defense Tactics for the Disabled and the Infirmed post.
This is a YouTube video that plays a 911 recording of a lady [in Indiana] who was at home alone when a guy whom she had dated a couple of times and then after she broke up from him, he started stalking her. He came to her house one night and she called 911.

Fortunately she had a weapon and was willing to use it.

Near the end after he broke into her bedroom he tried choking her, she shot him three times, one of the shots is muffled because she had the pistol pressed against him.
This needs to be shared with every woman you know. This proves the old adage that police investigate crimes and are unable to stop most of them. They would not been able to protect her. Yes she had court orders in place to "protect" her, they didn't do any good either. When seconds count, 911 is [still] minutes away. - Eric B. in Southern Idaho


Like you, I am also not a fan of red dot sights for "at night" use. Some time ago I investigated the different available night time systems available. Below is what I discovered:
1. Red dot sight-- okay during the day but at night-- not good! Because of the brightness it causes pupil constriction, and due to the "consensual eye reflex" (CER) the other pupil constricts as well it was dark before, now it's really dark, i.e. it blinds you ! (until the rodopsin recovers).
In trying to turn the red dot site down to a level that doesn't cause this, it makes it very difficult to reliably see the red dot!

2. Night vision mounted as a scope on a rifle-- same as above-- better have a buddy with you to watch your back who has natural night vision unimpaired while yours recovers.
A headset is better but you're kinda stuck in tunnel vision as you don't have peripheral vision with these. (See note above about having a buddy.) Better to keep them on until in an area of safety.

3. OEG (occluded eye gun site) works off tritium (and fiber optic during the day). Oddly this seems to adjust to the needed level automatically without stimulating pupil constriction. I am not sure why, maybe it's a different wavelength of red that doesn't stimulate CER. The problem with this site is that it does take some training to use though as you don't look into it as your do past it. I think the best thing is the Trijicon ACOG as it works in a very similar way.
With this site you can actually look into it, it offers magnification, and again adjusts to ambient light levels to prevent CER. The drawback is of course price.

4. The plain, good ol' tritiums sights, as you recommended, are the low buck choice. These as well do not seem to stimulate CER as they are usually far out enough from the eye (arms length) to not be too bright. I prefer the ones from TruGlo for pistols that are fiber optic as well and XS Systems for rifles and shotguns. Well, I hope you find this helpful. Yours in Freedom, - DH

Dear Jim,
I just discovered SurvivalBlog.com in November 2007. I have bought two of your books so far. We are working on our lists, in the meantime I am building FIFO shelving for the canned part of our provisions. We thank God for you, your great work, and The Memsahib's support of this.

I'm not so sure this article will be a fit, but it is good news nevertheless. From Scientific American: Grass Makes Better Ethanol than Corn Does. The USDA and farmers took part in a five-year study of switchgrass, native to North America. They found that switchgrass ethanol can deliver around 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, as opposed to corn ethanol which can only yield around 124 percent. - BCW

JWR Replies: Switchgrass does seem more viable for ethanol production than corn, because of it his high EROEI ratio. I am hopeful that an ethanol production and distribution infrastructure will be assembled in the US in the next three or four years. OBTW, I highly recommend that every SurvivalBlog reader own at least one "Flex Fuel" vehicle that is E85 ethanol compatible. Make that a high priority the next time you buy a new car or truck. Even if there is not yet E85 available in your area, plan ahead for when it will be. Someday, you may be glad that you did.

Thanks to T.C. for sending us this YouTube link: Glenn Beck interviews GAO Comptroller Walker on the Social Security Timebomb--America;'s $53 Trillion Debt.

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Anyone planning on putting together a 12 VDC power system to energize their small electronics and battery charging trays should first read the low voltage connection basics primer over at the Appropedia. OBTW, for anyone that wants to standardize 12 VDC connectors, I recommend Anderson Power Poles rather than the bulky and unreliable cigarette lighter plugs and jacks. (The latter are not designed to handle high current, and they tend to pop apart unexpectedly.)

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We have been having fun here at the ranch, going through a reprint of the 1897 Sears Roebuck mail order catalog. It certainly illustrates the devastating effect of long term currency inflation. Can you imagine buying a brand new Winchester Model 1894 .30-30 rifle for $13.98 (add $3 for the takedown model), or $12.95 for a Colt Single Action Army .45 revolver? Or how about 35 cents for a 26" hand saw, or $1.90 for an entire wooden barrel of cut glass dishes--36 pieces, including a pitcher? (Add 25 cents for up to 500 miles railway freight.) Of course, in those days an average working man made less than $2 per day. See the Inflation Calculator for some comparisons with today's prices.

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John T. forwarded us this: BofA's awesome Countrywide tax break--Brace yourselves, taxpayers of America. You're going to help Bank of America finance its $4 billion buyout of Countrywide. I anticipate that the credit collapse will eventually spawn numerous taxpayer-funded bailouts, some of them measuring in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Knowing the way that things work in DC, I conclude that this means both higher marginal tax rates, and a higher capital gains rate. This is just one more reason to shelter most of your assets in tangibles. For the most part tangibles are not taxable until you sell them and realize a profit. And, thankfully, land and houses are not taxed by the Federal government.

"Towering genius distains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored." - Abraham Lincoln, from the January 27, 1838 Lyceum Address

Sunday, January 13, 2008

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, so e-mail us your entry soon! Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Picture this: It is 2:00 a.m. and you are in bed for the night. Things are falling apart due to a local upset of some kind, be it man made or a natural disaster. You are isolated by these events and there is no help to be had as the local Authorities are to busy with damage control in other areas. You are disabled and have little ones to protect. Your spouse is a bit of a worry wart and panics fairly easy. You hear something that is out of place, what do you do? If you have any form of home defense you should consider how best to use them to your advantage. Let’s look at what the possible scenario you would run into if the Bad Guy really wants to get what you have. With the exception of Alaska in the summer, the majority of the world is dark at 2:00 a.m. So we have one ace here to start and that is the darkness around you. This is an advantage and also a disadvantage. If applied properly, darkness can be used to give you the edge in a confrontation with the Bad Guy.

Lighting around your home is one thing that you should consider. In the case of a disabled individual, I would suggest that you consider emergency backlighting of a potential target. One issue that you might want to consider is backlighting a potential target that may be trying to gain entry into your home or apartment. The way this works is that if you hear a bump in the night, you turn off the lights inside of your house and you have a set of emergency lights outside that come on and illuminate the front, rear and sides of your home. That way the intruder [who's eyes have adjusted to the bright light] is coming into the dark to find you while he's illuminated from behind. Because you have him backlit, he stands out. Because you're in the dark somewhere he is at the disadvantage because his eyes must first adjust to the dark and you can see him as a silhouette with the outside lighting. Everything that you do along these lines increases your chances of survival and decreases the intruder's chances.

Think about red dot sights or maybe even when and how to use lasers to your advantage. So there you are: You're hidden by the darkness with a gun with a red dot sight that does not give away your location. You have a suspect standing across the room from you who can't see but is a perfect target for you, if you need to shoot. I won't guarantee a 100% first shot effectiveness but I would be amazed if this approach didn't work out for you.

Another thing that I would do: contact your local NRA regional counselor or local NRA firearms instructor. This is the sort of situation that these great people live for! They'll come to your place, look it over and make suggestions to help you out. They'll explore all sorts of options with you and study ways to help make your life more secure and safe. Since you have a computer, go to the NRA's web site and contact them if you think it is appropriate. You can also call them. I would start with 877-NRA-2000. Explain your situation and see if they can forward your call to people who have worked with other disabled or infirmed people. I'd bet a month's pay that you will not be the first person with a disability to call them.

Another thing that can be of use to you in this situation would be some form of intruder alert system that would not require utility (120 VAC) electric power. In a grid-down scenario you will have no power to run your expensive home alarm system if you have the luxury of affording such a system. The back lighting can be accomplished with solar powered lawn lights and good placement. If the Bad Guy is smart enough to kill your diesel generator you still have a backup on the back lighting.

For those of us who have children this project can be great fun. That and your camouflage you home brewed alarm system that you string across your windows and seldom used doors. Using 550 Para cord and old soup, vegetable or coffee cans [with a few small rocks or bits of hardware inside to act as "clappers"], a hammer and a good sized nail along with some craft paint and brushes you can create a cheap alarm system that for all intents and purposes could scare the bad guy away and alert you to an uninvited guest if they are determined to enter your home. Using the hammer and nail punch holes into the upper part of each can so you can run the Para-cord through each can. After you have done this the family can sit down and paint the cans with the craft paint to dress them up a bit. Be creative and make this a family project. Once decorated and the paint is dry string the Para-cord through the holes and secure them to the window frame and door jams in a manner that allows them to clank together if someone tries to get past them. In the case of the doors I would recommend that you only string them up at night and in a manner that if the door is opened the cans would fall off of the door frame and clatter to the floor. If you have little ones who have gotten a hold of several cans you can’t believe how much noise those things make when tossed about on the floor even carpeted floor. If asked about the cans hanging in your windows by those people who are not onboard with the prepping and security issues when TSHTF you can just explain it as a family art project and your kids were so proud of their little art masterpieces that you wanted to show the world how talented you kids are. (Some people might think you were a bit of a whacko if you told them the cans were used as and intruder alarm. Sheeple tend to forget that in the event of a grid-down scenario that their fancy ultra high tech alarms won’t be working.)

The next system was created by my mother who is 65 and lives alone with her 10 cats. She hates computers and technology in general so she had to be creative in her home defense measures. Her weapon of choice is a 2 foot long wooden stout stick and a can of RAVE #4 hair spray. An eye full of that stuff and it can be as effective as pepper spray. Believe me I walked in to her room one day to ask a question right when she was spraying her hair. I think it took me about a week to gain full use of my left eye after she inadvertently hit me with the stuff. Talk about pain that stuff knocked to the floor as soon as it hit my eye. Even flushing immediately did little to help. Being hair spray the stuff sticks real good to anything it hits. I got my first lesson in unorthodox defensive weaponry that day. I didn’t give it much thought until years later when my mom got an uninvited guest trying to get into the house. One of the transient bums from the homeless shelter down the street though my mom would be an easy target. He was drunk and determined. The rattling cans didn’t deter him he just shoved them aside but that was enough to alert my mom. She grabbed her RAVE hair spray and went to investigate. To her surprise the perp was opening her bedroom door as she was about to go see what all the noise in the dining room was. He of course was at the disadvantage because mom had surprise on her side. The perp was probably not expecting this little old lady with a determined look on her face to be ready to defend herself. As soon as he opened the door he got a face full of RAVE. This of course had the desired effect. The perp nearly broke his neck trying to get out of my mom’s house. One little thing my mom did to prevent cat escapes was to place a 2x4 across the entrance hall leaving enough room for the front door to open and to keep cats from making a mad dash for the door without hitting the 2x4. Well Mr. Bad Guy in his mad scramble to get out did not see this board and proceeded to trip over it on his way out the front door. This of course produced some rather anecdotal commentary from my mom when she told me what had happened. So with no fancy Alarm system and no Gun my mom managed to rid herself of an unwanted guest. It turns out that after mom filed the police report the perp was picked up a few hours later in the emergency room of the local hospital. It seems he was having vision issues and a bit of a bump on the head from his tumble out the front door of my mom’s house. It turned out this guy was bad news there had been a string of break-ins in the area and he was generally very unpleasant to the home owners if they confronted him. Most of the confrontations did not end well for the home owners.

In most of the cases they were elderly and unprepared for an intruder. In two of the cases the home owners had security systems but didn’t activate them. My mom’s security alarm did not require a security code or any form of activation. It is passive 24x7 protection. The cops involved in the investigation actually got quite a kick out of my mom and her little security system and defensive measures. For someone living on a fixed income with little to no resources to protect he home from the bad guys she managed to do something that others with the means and resources could not do. I will say if you can afford it having a good quality security system is always the best means of protecting you and yours but in the end it is your wits and a little pre-planning that will make the difference in anything you prepare for. We, as humans, tend to depend on technology more than we should and in some cases the convenience makes us lax and we lose to some degree the edge we will need in a SHTF scenario. My mom is not rich by any stretch but she has common sense and a severe dislike for high tech gadgets. Having those nice toys would be cool but in the end it won’t be the technology that keeps us alive it will be our own determination and hard work that keeps us alive. A dose of practical skills--not technology based--will be the difference between living or dying in the face of a world turned upside down, be it man's own self destructive behavior or the wrath of nature. The few who think "outside the box" will be the ones who make it after the fall of civilization as we know it today.

JWR Adds: Readers should beware of using any chemical weapon that could cause permanent eye injury, such as lye or insect repellent. Even using hair spray might be misinterpreted as criminal intent to maim an opponent. In our litigious society, that could result in a lawsuit that could leave you without a home, and penniless. In localities where it is legal, I recommend 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 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. Leave them concealed but quickly accessible in several parts of your home. You should keep one by your bedside, one near each exterior door, and one in your bathroom. (The latter, keeping in mind that criminals might break in at the most inopportune times!) Now that all of our kids have been properly trained with firearms, we take the same approach with keeping loaded guns handy. Here in the hinterboonies, it is four-legged rather than two-legged predators that are our main concern, but many of the same principles apply--such as maintaining at least Condition Yellow vigilance and keeping weapons close at hand.

Many of the major firearms training schools such as Front Sight, Gunsite, and Thunder Ranch make special accommodation for handicapped shooters. I highly recommend getting the best training available. Having a gun and knowing how to handle it confidently and competently is a tremendous equalizer. Even an 90 pound elderly woman can be a match for a 220 pound man in his 20s that is on steroids--but only if she has a gun handy and knows how to use it. Burglars: Beware of Granny with a Glock. FWIW, I've heard that wheelchair-bound students at Front Sight have received tremendous support and praise from their fellow students and instructors.

Regarding night shooting, I second your motion on backlighting. Short of using lethal force, you might also consider strobes or other dazzling lights or sirens that can be activated remotely. (Not in the same room that you are in!) That will be enough to "buffalo" most nighttime intruders. Used photographer's strobes can often be found on eBay or on Craig's List for very reasonable prices. Rigging a remote control switch is child's play. And in a long term grid-down situation, a rechargeable boater's compressed air horn might serve the same purpose as an electric siren. (See BoatersWorld item #367340023.)

I generally prefer tritium sights rather than Red Dot electronic sights. Red Dot sights are battery dependent and hence require regular inspection and maintenance, but tritium sights are always "on". Tritium is a radioactive isotope gas that has an 11.2-year half-life, so that in 11 years they will still be half as bright as they were when bought "fresh". Since in my experience most tritium sights are too bright when new, they effectively have a 22+ year useful life. No muss, no fuss, and no batteries to go dead.

A few comments about the article discussing soft maple as a "softwood" firewood. Technically, Soft Maple is not [classified as] a softwood, it is a hardwood. That being said, yes it is a fine firewood - sometimes better that hard maple because it dries faster. I've heated my farm house and barn 100% with wood for many years. I also own several 100 acre-plus stands for "hard" and "soft" maples.
A softwood is a needle-bearing conifer and a hardwood is a broadleaf deciduous tree. Some softwood trees have harder and stronger wood then many hardwood trees. Yellow Pine is a prime example of a very strong softwood. Basswood and Poplar are examples of very soft hardwoods.

When it comes to wood burning - all wood has the same basic heat energy per pound. However, woods vary in density and natural water content. Denser woods also take longer to dry which can be a factor in burning wood that has not had a lot of time to lose that moisture.

Soft maple weighs less by volume as hard maple, but dries faster and splits easier. Some hard woods, like Ash, have very low moisture content before drying. Hard maple, once dried properly has more heat energy per volume and will hold a fire longer in a woodstove or furnace with finite storage space for wood.
The main danger with burning true "softwoods" is the resin most carry that plugs chimneys. Most "hardwoods" don't have the resins. Another potential danger with softwoods is - when dry they can burn very hot. We've used softwoods for years for heating up a fire quick when boiling maple sap to make syrup. When using a woodstove inside a house - that is normally
fired with hardwoods - a bunch of dry softwood thrown in can make it flare up fast - and ignite a chimney wall if coated with creosote.

One more comment about the maples. The generic names e.g. "soft maple" , "swamp maple", etc. can mean different things in different places. In my area of New York, "soft maple" connotes Red Maple, and "swamp maple" is usually a reference to Silver Maple. Hard Maple usually means just the sugar maple, but is also applied to Black Maple. They all make good firewood - and - for making maple syrup - they all work to some degree. Red maple has less sugar content and therefore takes more boiling, making the best sugar producers Sugar and Black Maple.

For reference:
A dry cord of Basswood weighs 1,980 lbs. with 13,800 BTUs per cord. Hardwood
A dry cord of Soft Maple weighs 2,752 lbs. with 19,000 BTUs per cord. Hardwood
A dry cord of Soft Maple weighs 3,680 lbs. with 25,500 BTUs per cord Hardwood
A dry cord of White Pine weighs 2,250 lbs. with 15,600 BTUs per cord Softwood
- John in Central New York

Eric S. found this Reuters article: Prepare for big flu pandemic economic hit, UN says

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RBS sent this one: Dengue Fever Is A Potential Threat To US Public Health, Experts Say. If you haven't already done so, be sure to read my advice on preparing for pandemics. In particular, see the details on oral rehydration solutions. Stock up, or be prepared to make your own.

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Hardly a news flash: As housing slumps, realtors quit

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Uncle Sam seems to have made a successful "end run" at implementing a National ID Card: New Security Rules for US Driver's Licenses

"Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed." - Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $360. 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,
I have set out on an experiment in heating my home that has been interesting and is important to relay to other readers as their are many questions about using Soft Maple as a heat source. My experiment follows nearly a lifetime of wood burning, tree felling, splitting, chimney cleaning lifestyle and is of course not from a "professional", so ask a professional when experimenting with home heating.
I have used wood only heating in my current home for five years with 100% safety and 1,000% enjoyment. Before that, I had 11 years of consistent home heating by wood. I ran into a project on my property that involved felling some gigantic Soft Maple trees in order to adjust fencing and grading issues. These trees also became a looming headache about falling on my building. This past early summer was the project.

The trees were about 48"-to-60" in diameter. With all the overhead limbs that were as big as most trees appearing to start to hollow out, I felt it necessary to drop these trees with a large tracked excavator. In this scenario, we ripped the roots out from around the tree on three sides with a gigantic frost tooth/ cement tooth attachment. After ripping through the 16" diameter roots, we used the machine to drop the trees by guiding them to the ground with the hook. I could not justify being under any one of those limbs while felling the tree as it would have been instant death upon impact.
Now that this job was complete, it was saw time. I had everything cut into lineal length for the saw mill in two days and the brush cut and stacked for burning. There was no way I could fathom attempting to split the wood with the enormity of the trunks. I decided early on to sell the largest logs to the mill and "deal with the limbs" at a later date. When talking to an old boy at the mill, he recommended against all other advice. He said to split the wood late season and burn it right away. Conventional wisdom would tell you to never burn un-seasoned, (wet) wood in a stove/fireplace or dangerous deposits of creosote would form in the chimney causing a chimney fire. I decided that with my project I had over three years supply of soft maple right in front of me, so I might as well try it given my understanding of how important it is to monitor the burning, I felt completely comfortable with this experiment.

I started heating intermittently in October, exclusively with soft maple. Here are my observations:
-It starts amazingly well given an air space under it. In fact, I have been able to rekindle the fire without any matches for most of the winter by using the bark from the soft maple placed directly on the very small coals and propping up what I would call “Extremely large tinder”, (i.e.- 2” – 4” odd split off fall), give it lots of air and it is going.
-Given its properties, it does not overheat my chimney near as often as hardwood, but did not lend itself to any signs of buildup in my chimney. For the first month and a half I would add “anti-creosote” granules when the chimney was warmed up to keep things clear.
-With fewer BTUs than hardwood, I have gone through about 10% more wood than the previous winter of hardwood burning and have used my electric blower about 20% of the burn time compared to not needing it with hardwood. This was for comfort, not necessity.
-I have cleaned out the ash box and chimney 3 times as much this year compared to hardwood burning. These ashes seem to quickly choke the coals if not monitored when you first get up in the morning.
-I have decided to not use the granules any longer and keep monitoring the chimney. For the past month I have not noticed any change in buildup in the chimney. It is amazing how clean my chimney is for burning a softwood. It has yet to truly need the brush this year, but I have as habit.
-If a long burn is needed, it is imperative that you stack the wood in the fire box in a manner that would not aid in air flow to the fire. In other words, try to stack wood exactly upon itself in the exact same direction creating very small places for the flame to lick out upon the upper wood which allows the wood to smolder in the ash below and keep a more consistent burn albeit at a lower temperature. At least when you get home you have coals and a comfortable abode.This experiment has been fun as I am glad to not waste that much cordwood. I have not cut up the additional logs that were limbs from those trees yet as I did not want it to dry up and not create any heat next year. I will monitor the results and fill you in when that season is upon us. I hope that in 20’ lengths of logs, that it will still retain its moisture without rotting. Soft Maple really does not do well for any outdoor exposure in lumber form.

I wanted to share this experiment as it is against what I have known and could prove useful to someone else when dealing with a soft “nuisance” tree like Soft Maple. Please understand that other soft woods don’t share this property to my knowledge. Cottonwood plugged my chimney faster than I have ever seen before. But Cottonwood and hardwood mix allowed me to get some benefit out of that tree that could not be used at the mill. (I don’t recommend using Cottonwood, after that experiment).

A tidbit of value before cutting up your tree post-SHTF. After felling a tree, look at the rings. If you notice a sizeable, (thumb size or larger) deposit of graphite toned discoloration, then you have a tree with metal inside. Maybe it’s just a nail, but maybe it is a fence post! This is extremely important if you own the sawmill or you don’t have spare chains or teeth for your saws and you can’t get them without UPS [parcel delivery service continuing] as we know it. I would venture this to be very common among fence row trees on the property lines or near pastures of yesteryear. Avoiding that part of the tree could mean the difference between keeping your home heated for the year, or looking for a new saw at the barter faire!

Last bit of advice, the sawmill was happy to see that I over sized the logs by 5” to allow them to trim the ends. They were also glad to see the large logs compared to most customers who split the trunks and sell the limbs. What a mistake as the profit lost could put food on the table! The limbs burn 30% longer than an equivalent size and weight log that is split. I love burning round stock that is properly cured!
In my project, I did have logs that were too big for the mill’s equipment. In those cases I had to saw the logs in half. I guess that is better than trying to axe a 48” diameter log, or roll that widow maker up onto the log splitter!

A little asking around might serve us all better before the need arises. This well seasoned man just heated my family this Winter,…. Maybe he’ll heat yours too! All the Best! - The Wanderer

The following information is freely available on the internet at a variety of web sites including the Wikipedia, the USDA, and the FDA web sites.

First a simple clarification of the USDA information: Dried meat may pose a health risk if: (1) the meat is improperly dried, and (2) the original meat contained harmful microorganisms or the meat is processed in an environment that contains harmful microorganisms.

The original USDA quotation does not mention the addition of sodium nitrite as a solution to this problem. The scientific experiment discussed at this web site evaluated the growth of Salmonella on nitrite-enhanced and nitrite-free hot dogs and found that sodium nitrite only slowed the growth of Salmonella.

Sodium nitrite is not table salt. The legal maximum amount of nitrite is 1 ounce per 100 pounds meat (dry cured). Nitrite significantly delays the development of botulism.

Sodium chloride is table salt. At certain levels, sodium chloride prevents the growth of some types of bacteria that are responsible for meat spoilage. In the proper quantity salt also helps to extend the normal shelf life of many food products.

A brine solution of water and salt, and other optional ingredients, helps to more evenly distribute the salt across the entire surface of the meat. The soaking process then allows the salt water solution to be absorbed into the meat.

Neither sodium nitrite, nor sodium chloride, nor a brine solution will kill all the harmful microorganisms that can adversely impact human health. However in sufficient quantities they will destroy certain microorganisms and significantly limit the growth of other types of microorganisms.

In the old days, after the meat had been soaked in a brine solution of water and salt, the meat was then cured or smoked. The heat generated during this process was the key to the complete successful eradication of the harmful microorganisms in the meat.

Heat will successfully destroy a wide variety of harmful microorganisms. This fact is readily available at a variety of Internet web sites. For example, in beef, venison, and other red meats:

is destroyed at a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Listeria monocytogenes is destroyed at a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Staphylococcus aureus is destroyed at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Escherichia coli is destroyed at a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

In my Pemmican Recipe I recommended drying the thin strips of meat in the oven at a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit for at least six hours. At that temperature the above microorganisms cannot survive.

I also recommended the optional addition of salt to the pemmican after it was dried to improve its flavor and to help extend its shelf life.

The reason I am taking the time to share the above information is to help prevent the spread of information that may have been taken out of its original context from the USDA web site and then presented on your web site in a manner that may be somewhat unintentionally misleading. Respectfully, - Grandpappy

I stumbled into a great Do It Yourself (DIY) blog with some very practical projects: The DIY Blog.

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A reader in East Tennessee wanted to put out a heads-up to anyone looking for property. It's 88 acres with a small house, both sides of the road, ridge to ridge, lots of water. The house is tactically situated and in a good position for solar exposure, good pasture and soil. The location is three roads off the beaten path, but about an hour from the Tri-Cities area. The reader doesn't have any financial interest in the property, but it's a good location, and not far from good Christian folks that read SurvivalBlog.

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Several readers mentioned this alarming article: Moody's: U.S. rating could be pressured in long term. The article begins: "The US is at risk of losing its top-notch triple-A credit rating within a decade unless it takes radical action to curb soaring healthcare and social security spending, Moody's, the credit rating agency, said yesterday." One comment from SurvivalBlog reader "Hiker": "This sounds like a page right out of the beginning of your novel ["Patriots"], discussing how government mandated entitlements tied to automatic inflation increases help bankrupt the country."

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The US economy now clearly appears bound for recession, and for the Federal Reserve the timing couldn't be any worse. The US Dollar was already under heavy pressure in foreign exchange while a global credit collapse is underway. To soften the landing and hopefully shorten the recession, the Fed will have no choice but to further cut interest rates. That will be disastrous for the dollar. Get out of any dollar denominated investments as quickly as possible. Even the safest bond or blue chip stock won't be safe if the dollar itself is wiped out. Diversify into productive farm land that can double as a retreat, useful tangibles (such as guns, tools, and common caliber ammunition) and into precious metals. (As a universally recognized safe stores of value, precious metals will rise inversely to the decline in the dollar.) If the US Dollar Index dips below 74, it could trigger a full scale dollar panic. Semper Paratus!

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

Friday, January 11, 2008

The new science fiction television show "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" will premiere in the US on Sunday (January 13, 2008) at 8 p.m. (and will be repeated the following evening.) Thenceforth, it will air on Mondays at 9 PM.
I watched an early reviewers' edit of the pilot episode, and I was impressed--particularly with the special effects. Oddly, I found the Terminatrix "Cameron" played by Summer Glau more captivating that the lead characters--Sarah Connor and her son John. (You may remember Summer Glau as "River Tam" from the short-lived but highly-acclaimed "Firefly" television series and its spin-off "Serenity" movie.) I also thought that Richard T. Jones --who plays the FBI agent "Ellison" did a great job. In my opinion Jones absolutely nailed it with his delivery of his "Its the robots!" explanatory monologue. (The character name is doubtless an homage to sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison.)

All in all, the shows has a great cast. I hope that the script writing holds up as the series progresses. (Hopefully it won't degenerate into one Terminator peril/chase and McGyvered escape after another.) I have hopes that this series (along with "Jericho"), will in some small way help get people to "think outside the box" about the fragility of our modern society and motivate them to prepare for more inimical times. But perhaps I'm putting too much faith in the "bread and circuses" TV-viewing crowd. OBTW, for anyone that wants to chat about either series, there is both a The Sarah Connor Chronicles Yahoo Discussion Group and a Jericho Yahoo Discussion Group. Both of these are edited by a SurvivalBlog reader. Also BTW, I should mention that "Jericho" will return to the small screen on Tuesday, February 12th.

You may have noted the article titled Thanks to Congress, Ethanol and Biofuel Mandates Cause Food Prices to Soar, before and I missed it.

The article [by Dana Joel Gattuso a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research--a conservative think tank] is very interesting. I can't vouch for the veracity of the report, or the organization, however, it doesn't do anything to lessen my fears that any congressional involvement in the energy business only makes things worse.

Here are a few scary quotes from the article:

" ...ethanol requires enormous quantities of water, a valuable resource already in short supply in many areas of the nation. Producing one gallon of ethanol fuel, including the water needed to grow corn, requires an astonishing 1,700 gallons of water, according to Cornell University ecology professor David Pimentel."

"Yet Washington remains fixated on biofuels, ironically furthering our dependence on foreign oil. Government's selection of ethanol as the chosen source of fuel discourages refiners from expanding capacity. Since ethanol can't come close to meeting U.S. demand for fuel - turning our entire corn crop to fuel production would only replace 12 percent of our current gasoline consumption - we dangerously risk increasing our reliance on imports."

None of this will matter, of course, when Congress acts on the energy bill. As is the way of the world in the nation's capital, the powerful agribusiness and ethanol interests will trump science, and Congress will turn a blind eye to the poor's struggle against soaring food prices." - Bill P.

I must say that I do not recommend the gentleman's pemmican recipe. Unless he adds sodium nitrite and brines the meat, sickness can occur. From the USDA: "Salmonella not only survives drying but also becomes more heat resistant with drying and is more of an issue in non-fermented dried meats, such as jerky, and whole meat cuts, such as dried hams.
Starter cultures are generally not used in the production of jerky. Microbial hazards include Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, S. aureus, and, for beef and venison jerky, E. coli O157:H7. If the product receives inadequate lethality treatment and is insufficiently dried, S. aureus is a potential hazard, since it can grow at lower water activities than most pathogens."Regards, - Jeff

JWR Replies: I agree that salt brining is appropriate before drying meat. Otherwise, Grandpappy's recipe is correct and quite useful, as stated. One good brining method is described at the Walton Feed web site. FWIW, in my opinion, nitrates and nitrites are overused in American processed foods, and in high concentrations they could have some negative long term health effects. I much prefer brining.

I just added a note to Grandpappy's original post, recommending thorough salt brining.

I've seen several mentions of sealing home canned food with wax, most recently in the email from Troy H. My grandmother did this for jams and jellies, which she put up with enough sugar to preserve them even without canning. The wax seal was intended to keep the jam from drying out, and to stop mold from forming on the top. It would too often fail, and we would find mold growing under the wax. I suspect that it failed to seal more often than the mold grew, too!

I would very strongly advise against using a wax "seal'' on any food which might spoil if not canned. High sugar jams and jellies are probably fine; after all, my grandma got away with it for decades, and yours probably did too. At best, "sealing'' vegetables or meat with wax will probably result in wasted food, and it might "seal'' just well enough to allow botulin toxin to build up. Remember, the wax layer doesn't have the "button center'' which will spring up if the seal is lost [on a steel lid]. You have no warning other than your nose if there is a problem, and botulism is odorless.

Potting is an early variant of this wax seal technique. Potted meat is cooked, and a layer of hot meat is tightly packed in the bottom of a clean crock. Very hot fat is then poured in to cover it, then, once the fat has cooled and solidified, another layer of meat, another layer of fat, and so on. Walton Feed has an article with much better instructions. The instructions suggest that you cook the meat again, thoroughly, when you take it out of the pot, to kill the bacteria which have inevitably prospered in the crock.

Salting seems to be a safer alternative to potting, with better potential for longer storage. To salt meat, take a wooden cask or plastic bucket large enough to hold what you need to preserve, and put in the meat in chunks of a pound or two. Pour on a salt brine, strong enough to float a potato. Don't pack tightly, because you want the brine to reach all of the surface of each piece. Weight the meat down slightly so it stays covered. It will take several weeks to pickle. This is a batch process: if you get some more meat to pickle, put the new meat in new brine, then, if necessary, put the old, pickled meat in the new brine, too, on top so it gets used first. Soak the meat in fresh water several times before use to get the salt out. I got these instructions from a fellow who preserved his food that way for years. I've done it once myself, and it made fair corned beef.

If you are concerned with long term self-sufficiency, investigate ice houses, root cellars, drying, salting and smoking. Don't plan on pouring wax in jars. - Nels T.

Wintertime Retreat Shopping -Part II
In a recent edition of the Weekly Survival Real Estate Market Update, I covered the winter access issue relating to getting into your retreat after an event during the winter months, now let's cover how to shop for your retreat during the winter.

When traveling to shop for your retreat during the winter months there are several issues which you'll be dealing with when your boots hit the ground. First and foremost realizing that not every listing agent can force their sellers to plow the driveway to the property will help keep you calm. Recently, working with a SurvivalBlog client we found first hand that there are sellers who take the attitude of "if they want to see it then hike in" and won't spend the bucks to make sure the access is acceptable for a buyer to see their property. Why this is? I have no idea. It seems to me that it would be the owner that should be in charge of maintaining access to the listing, but even I would not do so if the seller would not pay for the service, so getting mad at the listing agent will do nothing more than make them upset. My solution would be to either bring snow shoes with you if you have them or arrange for your real estate agent to rent a few pair for your party so you won't have to 'post hole' up to your thighs to see some of the properties.

There is upwards of three to four feet of snow at the higher retreat elevations here in Idaho now and several properties that are excellent retreats and priced almost rock bottom are not accessible without the proper equipment, although they are right off of county maintained roads! Three hundred yards of walking down a driveway through waist deep snow is not fun! Be prepared to spend hours at your final three possible properties hiking the property lines and seeing what is on the property, ask a lot of questions about debris and fences because when the snow melts and you find hidden treasure (garbage/debris piles et cetera) you won't have any recourse (unless it's toxic waste). Be careful and diligent.

Vehicles! Regardless of your Realtor's vehicle you should rent the best four-wheel drive truck they have available at the airport. No, not the Escalade, the only bling around should be the night sights on your pistol, not the rims on your ride. Why? Because you're responsible for the safety of your family. When we were shopping for our retreat we never rode with an agent (especially with four kids). We either followed them or had them ride with us. Expect the worst conditions and be prepared to either dig yourself out or wait for a tow truck if you get stuck, no matter the locale some properties are on very icy and un-maintained roads with help hours away. Your agent should be carrying all the tools needed for a dig out (tow ropes, shovels, chains et cetera) in their vehicle and having two vehicles will be of immense help in such conditions. Getting stuck and throwing off your showing schedule really is a bummer. Pack a small Bug Out Bag for your vehicle as well with some food and water (such as a Camelbak) and first aid supplies as well.

If you are not working with an SurvivalBlog approved retreat Realtor then for goodness sake take a firearm with you on your trip. It's not as big a hassle as I have heard some folks make it out to be and especially during the spring and summer months there is danger from wildlife. If you can't bring a firearm then pick up a canister of bear spray before heading out. The bottom line is that you should be armed no matter where you go (in CONUS) so be sensible, your family is counting on you.

Another noteworthy action would be to make sure that your Realtor has previewed each listing. This is for several reasons. First, to make sure that the property meets not only standard retreat criteria but your specific criteria as well. The second and most important is to verify access! This past weekend we ran into this issue. The one and only property that I did not preview out of 18 showings that weekend was our first, on Saturday morning. The road was terrible with snow lightly covering almost two inches of ice! Needless to say we ran off the road and never made it to that property. We were in the same vehicle and had to call a wrecker to pull it out. Lesson learned! We did finally see 16 of 18 listings over the weekend but it was a bit more hurried that it should have been.
The reduced daylight during the winter months can play havoc with your sightseeing and make for very short days. In northern latitudes, you can expect only 8 hours of daylight versus almost 15 hours in the summer. Winter is a great time to shop for your retreat, just be prepared. If you have any questions about Idaho retreats please contact me via e-mail. God Bless, - Todd Savage

A bit of "I told you so" for my friend Fred, who claimed that he had "missed the boat" when gold got up past $550 per ounce. I have been begging him to diversify into some silver and gold, ever since gold was around $345 per ounce. Yesterday, (Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008), spot gold spiked briefly to $895 per ounce and spot silver shot up to $16.21 per ounce. There will surely be a lot a volatility--including some scary dips--but the long term trend is almost certainly up for all of the precious metals. Buy on the dips, folks.

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David V. recommended an exceptional piece of economic analysis from Mish Shedlock's blog: Ponzi Financing and the S&L Crisis Revisited

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Retiring General Aims To Create a Culture of U.S. Preparedness (A hat tip to Jason W. for send us the link.)

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"Poik" e-mailed us a link to an article at the Possum Living blog: Home Built, Trailer Mounted Cabin

"All initiation of force is a violation of someone else's rights, whether initiated by an individual or the state, for the benefit of an individual or group of individuals, even if it's supposed to be for the benefit of another individual or group of individuals.:" - Congressman Ron Paul

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Our first post today comes from "Grandpappy", who you will remember as one of last year's winners of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

Pemmican is a Native American Indian survival food that has a very long shelf life and it requires no refrigeration. It is similar to a Granola Bar except it contains no artificial preservatives. It is a compact energy source that contains protein, fiber, fat, carbohydrates, natural fruit sugars, vitamins, and minerals. It also tastes great because it is a simple combination of meat jerky and your favorite dried fruit.

To make pemmican you only need three basic ingredients:
1. lean meat,
2. animal fat, and
3. fruit or berries.

Pemmican has several very important and desirable characteristics:
1. It uses both the lean meat and the fat from an animal.
2. It conveniently stores your summer food harvest for winter consumption.
3. It requires no refrigeration or canning jars for safe long-term food storage.
4. It does not weigh very much because it contains no significant moisture.
5. It is a complete meal all by itself.
6. It is very nutritious and very tasty.
7. It can easily be made in the wilderness without any special cookware or equipment.

The following recipe uses equal amounts of dried lean meat, dried fruit, and melted fat. However, pemmican is a very flexible food and you can vary the quantities of these three basic ingredients to more fully utilize almost all of whatever food you may have available. For example:
1. Most animals have a lot of lean meat but very little fat. In this situation you should only use just enough melted fat to hold your pemmican together.
2. Depending on the weather conditions the summer wild fruit and berry harvest may be excellent or very poor. Depending on what you actually have available each summer you could use more or less dried fruit or berries in the recipe.
3. During the summer when wild game and berries are widely available you can harvest as much as you can and then process it all into pemmican for winter consumption when little or no food will be available. This is the reason pemmican was such an important survival food for the Native American Indians.
4. If you have more lean meat than you can use, then you can simply convert the extra lean meat into meat jerky.
5. If you have more dried fruit than you can use, then you can simply save the extra dried fruit for winter consumption.
6. If you have very little animal fat, then it is possible to make a simple granola snack for winter consumption by mixing some dried meat and dried fruit together without using any melted animal fat. However, if you have animal fat then you should use it because animal fat is a necessary food for long-term survival.

Instructions for Making Pemmican:

Basic Ingredients:
1 Cup of Dried Meat
1 Cup of Dried Fruit or Berries
1 Cup of Melted Animal Fat

Meat: Use deer, moose, caribou, or beef, but not pork. It takes between one to two pounds of fresh meat to make one cup of dried meat. The meat should be as lean as possible. Trim off all the fat. If possible, grind the fresh meat twice. If you don't have a meat grinder, then cut the fresh meat into wafer thin slices about 1/4 inch thick or a little thinner. Then dry the meat using a meat jerky recipe. [JWR Adds: To reduce the risk of Salmonella or E. Coli contamination, meat should be thoroughly salt brined before drying or jerking.] Or you can spread the meat evenly and separately on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and dry the sliced meat at 180 degrees F for between 6 to 8 hours, or until it is crisp and chewy. Turn the meat strips over after two hours so they will dry evenly on both sides. You do not want to cook the meat. You only want to dry it. If the meat snaps or cracks when bent it is done. If it bends it still contains too much moisture. It it crumbles it is too dry but it can still be used. Grind or crush the dried meat almost into a powder. If you have an electric blender then blend the meat into a fine pulp. (Note: Or you can simply pound dried meat jerky into a powder.)

Fruit or Berries: Use one or two types of fruit or berries, such as blueberries, huckleberries, currants, raisins, apples, apricots, or cherries. Cut the fruit into thin slices or pieces and allow them to dry in the sun. Or dry them in the oven at the same time you dry your meat jerky. Or use an electric food dehydrator. Grind the dried fruit into a powder but leave some of it a little lumpy to provide for extra texture and taste. Mix the dried meat powder and the dried fruit powder together in a bowl. If you have an electric blender then add the dried fruit to the dried meat in the blender and mix them together.

Optional Salt: Add a little salt to the mixture to enhance its flavor. Salt will also increase the shelf life of the pemmican.

Other Optional Ingredients: Add a little honey. Or add some minced dried onion for flavor. Or add a few crushed nuts. However, keep on mind that nuts contain oil and that because oil goes rancid, the nuts will shorten the shelf life of your pemmican. When adding these optional ingredients you should begin with a very small batch of pemmican. This will permit you to experiment and determine if the results are agreeable to your family's taste requirements without ruining a huge batch of pemmican.

Optional Granola Snack: If you have nuts, such as acorns, then a better use for them would be to crush them and mix them with your extra left-over dried meat and dried fruit to make a granola type stack. Granola is easy to mix together if you have the ingredients and therefore it should not be prepared before you are ready to eat it. If you prepare it too soon and one of your ingredients goes bad then it will ruin all your granola. But if you wait until you are ready to eat it, then you can easily detect the bad ingredient and discard it and not put it into your granola mix.

Animal Fat: Use fresh beef fat or pork fat or bear fat. Animal fat will quickly become rancid and it should be melted (rendered) as soon as possible. Cut the fat into one-inch cubes and melt it over medium-low heat in a small amount of clean rainwater in a clean cook pot. Do not allow it to smoke. If it starts to smoke then you are burning the fat. When the fat is completely melted gradually pour it over the meat-fruit mixture in the bowl and stir until the mixture is well coated and sticks together. Then spread it out like dough and allow it to cool completely. When cool cut it into pieces about 1 inch wide and 4 inches long.

Storage: If possible, wrap the pemmican in plastic wrap or store it in Ziploc bags or in plastic storage containers with a tight fitting lid. Pemmican can be safely stored for 8 months. If you can keep the temperature between 40 to 75 degrees then pemmican can be stored for several years.

I appreciate the SurvivalBlog site and loved your novel "Patriots". Keep up the good work!

Let’s assume TSHTF in a long term way. Let’s further assume you have made reasonable preparations for food, both stored food, and open pollinated seeds for future gardens. How do you store all this future food?

Freezing will be iffy since the electricity may become unreliable. It only takes a few days to ruin a freezer full of meat and veggies.

Drying can be effective for some, but not all foods. It’s a very time consuming to prepare the food, and it has to be stored cool and dry, which is not always easy. This will affect flavor and texture a lot. Cooking with dried foods is also different.

Pickling works for some foods, and depends on acidity and/or salt to preserve the food. Limited shelf life if not heat sterilized. Definitely affects flavor/texture. Not everything tastes good pickled.

Canning with glass jars is very satisfactory, with good to excellent shelf life. Color, texture and flavor are often excellent for years. Recent studies suggest that
the nutritive value may be pretty good for a decade or longer, though flavor, texture, color and nutritional value does decline slowly. Shelf life varies a lot depending on the food too.

Now for the real problem with canning. Where are you going to get disposable canning lids and jars and canning equipment after TSHTF? The lids are only good for one use, though the glass jars may last for a hundred years.

The shelf life on the disposable lids is pretty good, and the jars last forever if you don’t break them. I’d bet real money that canning lids become excellent barter goods. [JWR Adds: I recommend that you stock up whenever you find lids on sale, purchasing above and beyond the supply that you anticipate needing for your own use--for barter, and for charity.]

If possible, buy a pressure canner that does not need or use a rubber gasket, but rather, uses precision machined metal surfaces to make the seal. Anything with a rubber gasket will probably be out of commission in ten years or less. A spare parts kit would also be a good idea. Here’s a nice one, though they are not cheap.

Another jar sealing alternative is using paraffin wax. It’s not nearly as reliable, but it is reusable to a point and may be more available after TSHTF.

The most up-to-date directions/instructions/recipes for canning
is a product of our tax money (one of the rare good results of our tax money). This is a great book, it costs less than twenty bucks and that includes shipping to the continental U.S. If you do a bad job at canning, botulism has a pretty high mortality rate, meaning that it can kill you the first time. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

[The canning jar and lid maker] Ball also produces a nice little booklet for less money, but it’s not as extensive.

I’m sure there are other options out there, but I wanted to point out the urgent need for procuring canning lids and jars now. Finest Regards, - Troy H.

"The Other Jim R." sent us this: Goldman Sachs sees recession in 2008. Since this recession was triggered by a global credit collapse rather than just a typical market cycle swing, the recession could be deep and long. (There is even the outside chance of it worsening into a full blown depression.) The nascent recession will also doubtless make the post-Housing Bubble period much longer and deeper. Be ready.

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Thanks to WW for spotting this article: Shortwave infrared: Next-generation night vision

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Steve in Pennsylvania flagged this BBC story: South Asia Hit With Food shortages. Steve's comment: "Looks like you beat mainstream media to the punch by about two weeks."

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Nathan M. recommend this 1-1/2 hour documentary on Google Video: Maxed Out. It does a great job of illustrating the huge whole that American consumers have dug for themselves.

"I have had a taste of it myself, and it's mighty bitter. A debt is a debt, whether it's margins or mortgages; and debts are all the same, no matter how you try to camouflage 'em. You never get much out of 'em except trouble. On the farm or in Wall Street, if you use the other fellow's money, it costs you a lot more than it's worth." - Sue Sanders Our Common Herd, 1940

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

K.L. in Alaska has presented a lot of interesting sources for information. I've noticed that you tend to link Wikipedia a lot when discussing various topics, I thought I would point out that there is a DVD with [a snapshot of] all of the English Wikipedia articles. It is a good general reference that can be viewed and searched offline when the Internet is not available.
There also exists a Wikipedia free DVD download site, but it's only a small part of the depth that the whole database has to offer.
Great job on the blog! - Bman in Utah

I saw your post on The Memsahib's collection of seed catalogs coming so soon. The reason for this is a simple one: to get your plants to a respectable size, and in the ground after the threat of frost has gone, they must be sent to the customers as early as possible to allow proper selection by the customer, mail processing time, order fulfillment, return processing, and in the case of some seeds, proper germination time before setting out into the garden. I know these things, because I have started a few gardens from seed before. This all plays out to the final objective, which is getting the garden to produce to it's full capacity in the set length of your particular growing season. While a lot of people just buy their plants at garden centers and so forth to skip all this, some others go the seed route. While there is nothing wrong with this practice at this time, other than the fact that you are limited by what they produce and sell, in the case of TSHTF, this is probably not going to be an option. Everyone who visits this site to gather information to help them plan, should at least try to sprout their own seeds for some, if not all of their produce. And they should be looking at as many heirloom (or "open pollinated" seed)s to plant, so that they can re-seed the same plants the following years, in case TSHTF from the cargo bed of one of those massive dump trucks that work some of the Western open pit mines.

There are a lot of seed sources out there to choose from. Take your pick. Some preparedness sites like Emergency Essentials ( www.BePrepared.com ) sell packs of seeds for a survival garden, packed in a #10 can. I do not advertise for them or any other company, but use them as an example only. Whichever company you choose, order two or three, just to be on the safe side, in case you have a bad year in the garden that year (drought, pests, et cetera). Just like the Boy Scouts, you should always, be prepared! - Dim Tim


I ran across a web site several years ago and thought you might be interested: Seeds Trust. I liked the fact they have varieties for high altitude gardens. Take care, - Tom

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. The non-hybrid ("heirloom") seed vendors that we have done business with are The Ark Institute (a former SurvivalBlog advertiser), Territorial Seed (beware that they sell some hybrid seeds so read the descriptions carefully), and The Seed Savers Exchange. All are quite reputable and have mainly non-hybrid varieties.

Dear Jim:
I need your advice. Years ago, when it appeared likely that some type of an 'assault weapon' ban would be enacted, I began to look for a semi-automatic rifle which would be suitable for hunting, but which would also possess the absolute reliability and durability of a military weapon. I wanted something which wouldn't look too 'threatening' to people who were not comfortable around military-style firearms, and something a bit more powerful, with greater penetrating ability and longer range than typical .223 based weapons.

I settled on a little-known rifle, the .308 Hunter made by Valmet Company of Finland. It boasted one of the best AK mechanisms ever made, fired the most satisfactory 7.62 NATO or .308 Winchester cartridge, and cleverly concealed it's 'mean looking' gas tube and mechanism under conventional-looking wooden stocks.

My Valmet Hunter came with three magazines, one each of: 5, 9 and 20 rounds capacity. I did not attempt to add any extra magazines at that time. Sadly, our family's home back then, was located in the populous Baltimore-Washington corridor, and opportunities to 'exercise' my Valmet were infrequent.

Now I live in a small south-central Pennsylvania town, and my wife and I are working feverishly to improve our family preparedness situation. Regrettably, during the intervening years, a 'friend' managed to lose the 20-round magazine, Valmet went out of business (After 40 years?!!) , and magazines for the hunter have become unaffordable at best and unobtainable in general! In-spite of the fact that the Valmet is not the most accurate rifle for long range shooting, I have become quite fond of it, and I am reluctant to let it go, but a personal protection weapon with only two small magazines is not the most useful.

What would you advise? Our family has very limited means. Right now we have only two handguns, a shotgun, one small caliber and one larger caliber rifle (the Valmet) . Should we give-up on the Valmet, sell it, and buy something else? Or, keep vainly searching for magazines which I might be able to hammer, file and grind to fit what we've got? Sincerely, Steve W.

JWR Replies: If you can find magazines, then keep that Valmet! OBTW, you can tell your friend that he lost a magazine that is now worth between $250 and $300.

My wife a has a shortened Valmet .308 Hunter (called a "Petra" in Finland") with a Trijicon 3-9x scope, and she loves it. When I offered to build an L1A1 for her in the same stock and barrel dimensions, for the sake of magazine compatibility with our primary rifles, she refused to part with it. Luckily we had bought 9 spare 20 round Valmet magazines back when they were still affordable.
I recommend that you buy at least of a dozen of the 12 and 25 round Galil .308 "waffle" magazines (much easier to find than Valmet mags!) and have them converted to fit Valmet M76/Hunter pattern, by a competent gunsmith.
One good place to find 25 round Galil .308 magazines is Buddy Hinton's board. (You might try a "WTB" post there.) Some very inexpensive Galil 12 round .308 magazines--originally made for blank firing, but the the blocking plate is quick and easy to remove--are available from WhatACountry.com. OBTW, when you call, please tell Yasha that Jim Rawles sent you. You might also try Ohio Rapidfire (ORF) as a source for 25 rounders. They have apparently tapped into all of the importers for magazines from Israel since ORF has started building Galils in the US with surplus parts sets and American-made receivers.

From The Baltimore Sun: Higher food prices start to pinch consumers

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LHW suggested this British newspaper article on Plunge Protection.

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I just heard about a great site featuring do-it yourself field and survival gear--and much more: Funditor.com

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Hawaiian K. recommended this chart showing the long term "adjusted for inflation" price of gold.

"At this point the debate is not about a soft landing or hard landing; it is about how hard the hard landing will be." - Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $340. 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.

Our generation in the First World is presently living in a time of unprecedented wealth, luxury, and leisure. Technology has allowed huge advances in transportation, health care, and commerce. But much of the "wealth" that has been created is transitory.

Real Wealth

In essence, the only real wealth in the world is extractive. Extractive wealth come from mining, oil drilling, timber cutting, farming, ranching, or fishing. Manufacturing, while important, is essentially re-arranging what was originally extracted. And all other "wealth creation" in the so-called service economy is even more abstract--it is merely shuffling around bits of paper or electronic digits that represent someone else's original extractive labor, or manufacturing labor.

Our society has put unrealistic values on services. What would you rather own? One share of Google stock (currently worth around $650), or 10 shares of Caterpillar, Inc. ("Cat") stock--also currently worth around $650.) Google does not produce any tangible products. They only provide a service. Their capital assets are a just office buildings, computers, desks, and chairs. In contrast, Cat has huge factories with almost 100,000 employees that produce many thousands of machines each year that can be used to extract real wealth through mining, farming, and forestry. But oddly, the market capitalization of Google is larger than that of Cat. What is wrong with this picture?

Now consider this: What would you rather own? 12 shares of Caterpillar Tractor stock (currently worth around $850), or an ounce of gold (also currently worth around $850)? The Caterpillar corporation could go bankrupt, making your shares of Cat stock worthless. (Just ask anyone that owned Pan-Am stock. Those stock certificates are now useful only as bird cage liner.) Can the value of an ounce of gold ever reach zero? Certainly not.

You are probably familiar with Bill Whittle's web site. Whittle's writings are always arresting. His latest essay has relevance for all of us SurvivalBlog readers who are going through OODA loops ["Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act"] unwittingly and therefore inefficiently. His essay observes that although OOD is far more important than Action, success after all depends on Action--done with speed. So this subject is timely for those of us watching events unfolding. Many are pretty good at Observing and Orienting. Fewer are Deciding (which is a concrete term--not ephemeral "planning").
Your site is very good at presenting the issues with an underlying OODA concept. It's up to readers to understand it and to Act!
Maybe Whittle's essay will help. - Bob B.

I thought you might find this interesting as I recall a posting about this some time back. Here is a link to an interesting article about a foreseen food shortage that is described as not if but when it happens.

I would like to point out the implication of this towards those who are interested in survival in that it would directly impact those trying to establish long term food storage using raw ingredients such as wheat and corn as they are highlighted in this article. The United States has more than enough ability to feed our nation and pretty much all nations around the world with our domestic food growth capabilities, however, the irony is that we have over a period of time reduced that output and depend more on imports. Yet another reason why government involvement makes absolutely no sense at any level with decisions made 30, 40, and 50 years ago impacting us today in such negative ways.

I have personally felt it would be more constructive to grow and store your own food while you can still readily by food for your day to day needs. This would serve a couple purposes; the practical experience of growing crops in volume, and of course the cost saving of producing your own long term food stores minus the Mylar bags and storage containers. Your brother in Liberty, - Dave in Florida

I couldn't help but enjoy and giggle at the article that painted North Dakota so empty, old, and bleak. I am proud to be a North Dakotan, and find living here a blessing. "Brutal climate", well it is the debt we North Dakotans pay to live in a beautiful land, with solid people, and raise our children in a nurturing environment. Young, strong, very well educated youth are our best export . Of course grain, oil, and livestock are good too. And, I regularly see youth returning back to good ole North Dakota for the quality of life once they figure out the grass really is greener here; I did! I'm betting most of your blog readers are strong enough to handle a North Dakota winter - it's a character builder! "Nuclear weapons", well, every place has its down side. There are many places well west of the [nuclear missile] silos, and with our solid westerly winds, I don't worry too much. Finally, "lack of jobs" ... this is a bit misleading, to say the least. We are desperate for reliable, solid people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Especially in Western North Dakota, the oil industry is especially desperate for good workers and starting them out at mid-$20s per hour. A person can make that go a long way in an area that has land prices starting at $500 to $1,000 per acre. Something to consider for people looking for a little freedom. Here, one does not need to buy a whole town for concealed carry. Is that really how bad it is in other parts of the country? Spike in ND

JWR Replies: Thanks for your comments. I rank North Dakota 8th out of my list of 19 western states, for retreat potential. I would probably rank it higher if it weren't for its harsh climate. You can of course make up for a lot of that by building a large greenhouse and by keeping extra home heating fuel on hand. I advise keeping a three year supply, whether you heat with coal, firewood, propane, or home heating oil.

All of North Dakota is potentially down wind of nuclear targets in Montana, most notably Malmstrom AFB and extensive surrounding missile fields. I recommend that every family in North America have a fallout shelter, since in this age of terrorism you never know when and where the next nuke will be detonated. (And terrorist nukes will almost assuredly be ground bursts that will kick up plenty of fallout.)

Due to the recent huge storm in Northern California the Freeze Dry Guy's phone lines are down. (But they can still handle orders via e-mail.) Yesterday, Professor Jim McCanney likened the recent storm to a hurricane.

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RBS kindly sent us this (and the two subsequent): Russia raises grain export duties to 40%. I wouldn't be surprised to see the US make a similar move, to stem the flood of grain out of the US, primarily to Asia.

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News from Australia: Mozzies in plague proportions

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China could be winner in Alaska oil war

Jim's Quote of the Day:

"Punishment is now unfashionable... because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility." - Thomas Szasz

Monday, January 7, 2008

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, so e-mail us your entry soon! Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Does a good holster really make a difference? The answer is that sometimes it doesn't. That may sound odd coming from a custom holster maker, but lets consider the average handgun owner. They keep their firearm on the top shelf in a shoe box in the closet, or in a nightstand drawer. On the way to the range, it might ride in a plastic case in the car trunk and back to the closet again. Should they need a container for their pistol that affords some protection and allows belt carry for short-periods of non-critical use, then factory produced budget models will fit the bill nicely. I'm glad to refer them to my local sporting goods store. The elements of quality holster design and construction are only noticed at the upper levels of performance.

The Situation Report.
Since I do a lot of concealed carry holsters, most of my clients are off-duty, plainclothes, undercover officers, and private citizens. But contrary to popular belief, it is the latter group which will benefit most from a quality concealed carry holster. Private citizens with Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permits have lost those permits by allowing their weapon to become visible (called "flashing") or show through their clothes (called "printing"). A panic "man with a gun" 911 call then summons uniformed officers to the scene. Their officer survival training will make them assume everybody is a bad guy until they sort out the mess. Off-duty and plainclothes officers often wear their badges on the belt next to the holster. If their piece should inadvertently "flash", the fearful person also sees the badge which settles them down. This tends to create a cavalier attitude among some officers toward concealment. Intentionally or unintentionally broadcasting the fact that you are armed can create a tactical disadvantage. Determined predators who know in advance that a shopkeeper, for instance, is armed tend to come in shooting. And it is the height of foolishness to draw on an already drawn gun.

General Holster Notes.
A quality designed and executed holster is part of a overall system that is used in emergency situations. A defensive pistol is an emergency rescue tool, like a fire extinguisher. The problem is having it handy when you need it. This may seem obvious, but the first rule of gun fighting is have a gun. Having a pistol that is ready without restricting activities of daily living is exactly the mission of the well-designed holster. The holster is a means of always having it when you need it, on your person. For this reason I do not suggest using a bag or purse holster for your primary pistol if it can be avoided. A purse or bag is difficult to draw from, and is often the target of the assailant in the first place. If you expect trouble grab your shotgun or rifle. Holsters should be precisely fitted to the pistol they will carry and should be used only for that pistol, or a pistol with identical dimensions. The selling of holsters marked "Large Auto" or "Medium Revolver" is a common practice but totally ill-advised when serious use is intended. Factory produced holsters can and do make compromises in their design, the primary one of which is ease of production. Factory produced holsters are no better than the least skilled worker who builds it. Two types of makers design most holsters: Firearms enthusiasts with no leather experience, or secondly, experienced leather craftsman with no firearms and specifically, no concealed carry experience. The good designers have a combination of both like the late Bruce Nelson, Milt Sparks, Andy Arratoonian, and Thad Rybka, etc. Some of the best designs have been collaborations of these two knowledge bases. In addition, when a holster style or design is successfully created, the manufacturer then attempts to make similar patterns for other types of handguns with subtle differences in weight, balance, and handling characteristics. This compromises the original for the sake of simplicity of production. Some manufacturers contract out the R & D aspects of holster design because they have lost the ability to innovate in house, whereas the custom leather craftsman seeks to address a specific design problem with every project. I have never made two holsters exactly alike. The rule, "form follows function" applies here. The second restriction on quality is that the best materials are expensive and in most instances hard to obtain in quantity. When the dense, tough leather is found that makes the best holsters, the supply may not remain constant in its quality. A parallel example exists with bench rest shooters who demand premium reloading components so that they can make their own highly accurate ammunition.

Combat Grip.
The most important aspect of achieving a consistent firing grip is the burying of the web between the thumb and forefinger into the upper blackstrap of the pistol. This is particularly true of recoil operated semi-automatic pistols, some of which have grip safeties that must be depressed by this proper grip. Many holster designs require the changing of ones grip prior to achieving a firing stance. Any holster that, by its inherent design, prevents a full and final grip upon first contact with the pistol while still in the holster is fatally flawed from the outset.

Front Sight, Press. Proper aiming requires focusing on the front sight and allowing the target to blur somewhat. The holster needs to be designed so that the front sight blade does not shave slivers of leather off the inside of the holster. This can be very distracting.

Belt holsters are by far the more popular holsters for people who carry a handgun concealed for serious social encounters. Belt holsters come in two general types: those worn inside the pants, and those worn outside-the-pants. Inside-the-pants rigs are commonly called inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters. Generally IWB holsters conceal pistols better than outside-the-pants holsters since the pistol is only visible above the belt line. There is a downside to this level of concealment, however.

Even the best IWB holsters won't change the fact that you are carrying a big chunk of steel in your pants. Some people like IWB, some do not. Reinforcing the holster mouth for re-holstering is good for all holsters, but essential for IWB holsters.

Weight and balance are very different between revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. While revolvers center their weight in the cylinder, semi-autos will center their weight in the grip area. Particularly with semi-autos, so-called "high ride" holsters can be very top heavy. Positioning the trigger guard any higher than belt level, places up to 80% of the weight of the pistol from one to three inches above the belt. Example: With a "high ride" Colt Officers ACP pistol on a 1" belt, one could grab the holster and pull out and down until the holstered gun was upside-down on the belt. Smaller torso women find high-ride pistols hitting them in the armpits on the draw, looking like a "chicken wing" motion. With revolvers I position the cylinder at belt level.

Belts should be wide enough to support the weight of the pistol. At least 1 1/2", preferably 1 3/4" for larger pistols. (Caution, wide gun belts scream "Cop" if they are not otherwise common in your area). Gun belts should be leather lined and about 1/4" thick or otherwise reinforced torsionally. Fabric and braided leather belts should be avoided. Cutting the belt out on a curve creates a more comfortable belt, especially for women. The belt should fit tightly into the holster slot when new and will break in to a proper snug fit. Constantly adjusting a poorly fitted holster is the sign of a novice and a dead give away that you're "packing iron." This solid belt/holster connection assures that the pistol will be in the same place with every draw. In time, your firing stroke will be as natural as reaching for your wallet. Consistency leads to smoothness, which with practice leads to speed with accuracy.

Strong side holsters have been the preferred position for belt holsters. Traditionally these holsters were made with the barrel angled as much as 45 degrees back from vertical. This position is commonly called the "FBI rake" or "FBI cant". When first introduced with medium frame revolver holsters with single fold-over belt loops, the design helped to conceal the larger butts of these pistols. In the early 1960's with the advent of practical pistol competition, it became apparent that this angle was detrimental to achieving a good grip on the pistol. The hand as well as wrist should be in as close to firing stance as possible. Imagine a line running through the forearm, wrist, hand and parallel to the barrel of the pistol. In 1967, with the introduction of the #1 Professional for semi-auto pistol, Bruce Nelson was among the first to correct this problem by designing his holster with no rearward cant (vertical). A 10-degree angle is still good for revolvers due to their longer curved backstrap, however. He solved the problem of the butt printing by using a belt loop with a trailing slot to pull the butt in tight to the body, Askins style (i.e. Charles Askins). This allowed the proper firing angle to remain consistent throughout the firing stroke. The further one wears their holster rearward from the right hipbone toward the back, the more angle is required. For this reason, most Small-Of-the Back (S.O.B.) holsters are nearly horizontal. A word of caution on S.O.B. holsters, falling backward against a hard surface wearing a full-size handgun in a S.O.B. holster could lead to injury of the lower back. Use of S.O.B. rigs with only smaller frame pistols is advisable.

Cross draw Holsters are good for concealment purposes for two reasons. They provide easier access while sitting and simplify the clearing of the coat since you reach inside the coat rather than "sweeping the coat" out of the way as in a strong side draw. Cross draw holsters are better for women, who are actually faster with them than their male counterparts due to their narrower torsos, greater flexibility, and more limber arms . Some people however give cross draw holsters a bad rap as being easy to snatch away since the butt of the pistol faces forward. With the belt loop and trailing slot design, the gun butt is pulled tight to the body making it less obtrusive. Weapon retention is primarily a training issue and not a holster design issue. Attempts to make snatch proof duty holsters have made them difficult for officers to draw themselves. In addition, the use of a retaining strap can slow the draw and interfere with obtaining a proper grip on the pistol if not designed properly.

Shoulder holsters are also better for women for the reasons cited above, in addition they are good for pregnant women who can't wear belts. The hardest part to conceal in a shoulder holster is not the holster but the harness; since most harnesses "print" through jackets. BTW, one way to discover ("make") a person wearing a shoulder rig is to pat them on the back. One-handed blind re-holstering is almost impossible with shoulder holsters. As an experiment, try to simultaneously cuff someone while re-holstering your pistol in a shoulder rig. Not only is it a two-handed operation, but you will probably have to look to see what you are doing. On a personal note, as a certified firearms instructor, horizontal shoulder holsters (where the muzzle points backward), have always made me cautious. If you are new to concealed carry and must use a shoulder rig, use a vertical shoulder holster. I use an Andy Arratoonian SHR vertical, it's the best. Sorry "Miami Vice" fans.

Ankle holsters are well suited for guns of back-up size such as medium to small semi-autos and shrouded hammer or "hammerless" J-frame revolvers. Why might someone who is not an officer, carry a second gun? The fastest reload is a second pistol. Also, imagine a situation where your client is confronted by multiple assailants (read: gang). He can now arm his fully trained and trusted associate who doesn't have a firearm, thus greatly improving their odds of survival. For a right-handed (strong side) person the ankle holster should be positioned above the inside ankle of the left (weak side) leg. Ankle holsters work well when seated or pretending to tie your shoe, but are not particularly fast. One draws his primary pistol, reaches for his back-up gun, and struggles for his hideout piece (don't let things degenerate to hide-out phase please). This is one mode of carry that would benefit from a pull-through type of retention strap. However, always hand bone the holster for proper fit first, then size the straps, never rely on the retention device for proper holster fit. This maxim applies to all holsters but especially ankle rigs. I do not generally use linings for holsters, but ankle rigs need to be padded and lined on the leg side of the holster. Thick wool fleece is often used, but an orthopedic (silicone tannage) suede over non-crushing foam seems best. Wool fleece will absorb moisture and get matted down. Also, if you are apt to break into impressions of Gene Kelly doing "Singin' in the Rain", an ankle holster may not be right for him.

Pocket Holsters work well with handguns of back up or the smaller hideout size. The practice of carrying a pistol loose in a pocket presents several problems. A pistol loose in your pocket looks like a pistol loose in your pocket. It will probably not be oriented butt up for a proper draw when you need it. Dirt and pocket debris can foul the action if not protected. In addition, the loose lining of some pockets can block hammer travel on revolvers causing a jam. These issues should be addressed in both weapon selection and holster design. Firing from inside and through the pocket should be possible, should things get "up close and personal". Semi-autos have to eject the empty brass cases somewhere and they tend to jam the piece. Revolvers contain the fired brass cases within the cylinder until manually ejected and are better for in pocket firing of multiple rounds. Yes, you are going to ruin your jacket, better that ruining your whole day!

There are almost as many design elements of a quality holster, as there are people to wear them. Holsters can be a very individual and personal item. I’ve attempted to highlight what I feel are some of the more important design elements, and this article is by no means exhaustive. The following resources listed below are well worth the addition to the custom holster users library. - Steven at The Gunfitters

References and Some Suggested Reading:
Bruce Nelson, Combat Leather catalog, 1986
Trey Bloodworth and Mike Raley, Hidden in Plain Sight, 1995
Bill Jordan, No Second Place Winner, 1965
Massad F. Ayoob, In the Gravest Extreme, 1980
Massad F. Ayoob, Handgun Primer, 1986
Col. Rex Applegate, Kill or Get Killed, 2nd edition, 1951
Col. Jeff Cooper, To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth, 1988
Jesus Christ, Holy Bible, Luke 22:36, KJV, 1611

For the benefit of those that are new to SurvivalBlog, it is important to again mention The Four Laws of Firearms Safety, developed by the late Col. Jeff Cooper

1) All firearms are loaded. - There are no exceptions. Don't pretend that this is true. Know that it is and handle all firearms accordingly. Do not believe it when someone says: "It isn't loaded."

2) Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy. - If you would not want to see a bullet hole in it do not allow a firearm's muzzle to point at it.

3) Keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target. - Danger abounds if you keep your finger on the trigger when you are not about to shoot. Speed is not gained by prematurely placing your finger on the trigger as bringing a firearm to bear on a target takes more time than it takes to move your finger to the trigger.

4) Be sure of your target and what is behind it. - Never shoot at sounds or a target you cannot positively identify. Know what is in line with the target and what is behind it (bullets are designed to go through things). Be aware of your surroundings whether on a range, in the woods, or in a potentially lethal conflict.

I finally got the chance to go see the movieI Am Legend". A friend who is not preparedness- minded went with me and he commented that he found the film terrifying only because it seemed plausible. He said that unlike "Resident Evil" which seemed like an unrealistic video game to him, "I Am Legend" was genuinely frightening. This leads me to believe that the film might encourage some erstwhile sheeple to get prepared. My friend did mention that if he was in Dr. Neville's position he would have dynamited and bulldozed all of the buildings in a three block radius to clear fields of fire.

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Matt in Texas suggested this must-read piece economics article: Enter 2008: The System Breaks. Matt's comment: "This article by Jim Willie is an 11 on a scale of 1-to-10 for the 'Sphincter Quotient'".

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Ready Made Resources has reduced the prices on the new photovoltaic (PV) power product in their line. For those of us that can't afford a full-blown PV system, they 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. The price is now under $110 each!

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The Memsahib has been receiving seed catalogs in the mail ever since Christmas. Seems like those catalogs are arriving earlier and earlier every year.

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle awakens knowing it must today run faster than the fastest lion or it will be eaten. Every morning a lion awakens knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It matters not whether you are a gazelle or a lion, when the sun rises you had better be running.” - African Proverb

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I just read your piece on foreclosures. People who are about to get behind on their payments should contact their lender. Banks do not want the properties, they want the cash.
Some lenders are willing to negotiate a modification of the loan terms rather than accept the expense of a foreclosure and resale (usually at a loss) of the property.

Selling the house before the foreclosure process begins is better than waiting because the cost of the foreclosure will be added to the amount they have to repay the bank.
If a person knows they're going to get behind on their monthly payments, it may be better to fall behind on the credit cards and car payments instead of the house. Credit cards will yell and threaten, but usually little else. The car may be repossessed, but if the house payment is not made it will lead to foreclosure.

Also, in most places (Idaho for sure) bankruptcy will not prevent foreclosure of a residence if the borrower is delinquent on the payments. The borrower granted the lender the right to have the house sold at auction when they signed the deed of trust.

Walking away from the house does not absolve the borrower from the obligation of the debt. More lenders are going after borrowers for a deficiency judgment when the house sells for less than the debt owed.

Finally, those who take advantage of a "Short Sale", or a transaction where the lender is persuaded to accept less than is owed so the borrower may sell the house may be in for a nasty surprise. The IRS has determined that that portion of the debt which is forgiven may be taxed as income. The lenders will often report that amount to the IRS on Form 1099, thus creating a tax liability which may pop up later when the IRS finds the borrower has assets/income again.

Just the opinion of someone who is involved in the foreclosure process and not as a representative of my employer. - TheOtherChris

Here is a suitable electric pump that will lift fuel from underground tanks. It is 12 Volts DC, Facet Duralift pump , Facet part #40223 / Carrier part # 30-01108-01 SV (available from Carrier Transcold dealers.) They are typically used for commercial truck refrigerators. This pump is self priming to 120 inches (3 meters). Its designed to lift fuel 10 feet straight up.

It is not cheap, at an average price of $125 from the dealer, but it works. I have one on my '88 F250 7.3 IDI Diesel to solve fuel delivery problems.

It also has a see-through water/trash separator bowl with a pre screen. Regards, - Tim P.

In my opinion Violas's comments are balderdash! That's my reaction to all the ranting over "restrictive covenants". I wouldn't buy a piece of property in any sort of subdivision that didn't have such rules. Let me share the experience that convinced me:

About five years ago, I bought a piece of investment property in a small, rural Wyoming subdivision. Lot sizes were 3 to 10 acres and covenants were attached. Those covenants were common sense in nature. hey boiled down to simply treating your neighbor as you would be treated.

Problem was, the covenants weren't enforced. "Nobody's gonna tell me what I can do with my property." You know the litany. The inevitable results:

Animals - The covenants had no restrictions against domestic or small-sized commercial operations--i.e., half dozen horses, 20 or 30 turkeys, goats, etc. Guess what happens? Some clod runs a dozen horses on a three acre lot. Takes about 90 days until all the vegetation is dead and the neighbors are treated to pulverized horse manure and dust blowing in on their pancakes every time a breeze kicks up.

Junk - Covenants allowed up to three junk cars, plus a camper, utility trailers and even farm machinery (junk or otherwise). What happens? You got it, doesn't take long until 2 or 3 people have turned their yards into trash heaps: old tires, worn out swamp coolers, scrap metal, you name it.

Lighting - Covenants simply said we had a "Dark Skies" policy and that folks were asked to use motion detecting or intermittent lighting and that any outdoor lighting did not shine directly on neighboring property. Yep, the first thing you got is million candlepower "security lights" that blaze away from dusk until dawn.

Temporary structures - The covenants prohibit anyone from moving a camper in and living in it. However, if they were constructing a home, they could reside in a camper on-site for a "reasonable" period of time, up to two years. Thanks to unenforced covenants, a family moves in an old camper and settles in. Their septic system? They dug a hole in the ground and piped the sewage into that hole. (Yeah, thank God we don't have to worry about covenants!)

The list goes on, but I've made my point. Anyway, property values drop, decent folks sell out and are replaced by down and outers who can't afford to keep up the property. Pretty soon, it looks like Tobacco Road.

Our solution? We sold the property as soon as we realized that the covenants were being ignored. We are glad that we did! Keep the Faith, - Dutch


Hi Jim,
I wanted to write in response to the latest Weekly Survival Real Estate Update. He mentioned the phenomena of outsiders moving in and establishing "covenants", restrictive ones, which help to alter the real estate landscape, among other things. This touches on something I've noticed in every town I work in that is experiencing growth. Dilution.
The locals at first love the idea of new services coming from the taxes and development fees from new construction. But after awhile, they find out that the new comers don't give a rat's furry behind about any kind of local tradition, culture, or even cordiality. They just buy-in, settle-down (maybe) and vote. The new people vote their own ways, chose a route they prefer, and eventually dilute the will and preferences of people having lived there for years, or decades.

My little town of what used to be 9,000 is now over 14,000. The extra 5,000 seem to think that "old town" doesn't exist, or is so out-of-date that its concerns don't matter. It's not nice, and it's not comfortable. Lots of the locals have moved out, and renters have taken their place, and we know about renters around here. They move in and show all the lack of concern mentioned above, and they add new problems - dirty yards, dead cars, smells and noise. They don't care. They don't have any investment. The newcomers form a serious voting bloc, and are ready to okay assessments and fees on the old town. We need to pay for their developments? Sheesh!

I really would like to get up there. But I gotta wonder, how many Kalifornians have already beat feet to Idaho and Montana and found that they can alter the balance? How many of my recently removed idiot neighbors have decided that the scenery is for them, and screw the locals and their backwards ways? Does the indigenous population understand what is coming their way? You're concerned about the hordes from the cities in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, but you might well see plenty of them ahead of time. And they vote. They will vote according to their comfort desires. They may vote in a government that is hostile to your current freedoms. They may vote in politicians that will expand liberal Schumer deeper into your lives. They will do what they want, and "what's best" for you - whether you want it or not.

I hope that the natives understand, and are prepared to fight the battles at the polls that will need to be won. If I ever make it up there, I'd really like to not see just another transplanted Californian mentality. - Randy in Central California

Our friend Chad suggested this from Bill Fleckenstein: Mortgage bailout just makes it worse.

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Hawaiian K. suggested an article about the precious metals market, from an Asian perspective.

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From a recent issue of The Daily Reckoning:

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E.S. sent us this one: Doctors order millions hit by violent stomach bug to stay at home

"The crowning illusion of our time must be the idea that you can get what you want, rather than what you deserve." - Bill Bonner

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We have what may be stupid question, however, we do not know how to grind wheat. We would like to ask how to prepare wheat for cooking and use.We have searched your great site but I did not find the answer on this. We would like to take advantage of this inexpensive food. Thanks so much . Your work is appreciated. - EG


Mr Rawles,
My family and I are doing our best to prepare for the tough times ahead. Something's brewing, I'm sure we all can feel it. One thing we'd love to keep a store of is cracked corn. The versatility, caloric and nutritional value, etc., makes dry corn a great prospect for our stores. We get it in 50 pound sacks from our local feed store for only about $6.50, where 50 pounds of wheat now costs us $50 ($15 of which is shipping). Please advise me how best to keep cracked corn. I know it won't keep long in the paper sacks. I've looked into five gallon buckets with seals in the lids, and we have a vacuum sealer. I would also like to know how dry corn holds up with climate change. Here we experience temperatures between about 5 degrees F and 120 degrees F throughout the year. Can corn be sealed and stored outside with these temperatures? For how long at best? We're striving for five plus years if at all possible, most likely not having electricity. As time is short, please try to get back to me as soon as possible or link me to where you may have already answered these questions. Thank you very much in advance for any help at all which you're able to offer. God bless you! - Mitch

JWR Replies:
For someone planning ahead for "grid down" circumstances, I recommend getting a hand crank-powered grain mill. To make flour that is fine enough for bread baking, you need to run wheat through a mill twice. The best mills use stone burrs. Some of the less expansive mills use metal burrs. But these are just fine for making corn meal. The meal burr mills such as the "Corona" are less expensive but more labor intensive. With these you might have to grind wheat three times to make fine flour. Here at the ranch we use a Country Living grain mill. They are very efficient, and their crank wheels have a V-belt notch, which makes motorizing or pedal-power converting them quite easy. OBTW, I heard that this model will have a 15% price increase from the manufacturer on February 1, 2008, so if you want one, get your order in soon.

Metal burr grinders are available from Nitro-Pak, Lehman's, and several other vendors. Stone burr grinders are available from Ready Made Resources, Lehman's, and many other vendors.

OBTW, in addition to buying yourself a mill for grinding flour, don't overlook the easiest preparation method of all: soaked wheat berries. By simply soaking whole wheat for 24 to 36 hours, it plumps and softens. When then heated, wheat berries make a nutritious breakfast cereal.

Corn stores best in whole kernels. Once it is cracked, the inner germ is exposed. This decreases its storage life and nutritive value by 80%. Running whole corn through a grain mill at a coarse setting to make cracked corn is quick and easy. A finer setting will yield corn meal.

Unless you have large scale grain bins, one of the most efficient means of storing wheat and corn for small-scale animal feed or human consumption is to buy new galvanized trash cans with tight-fitting lids. If they will be on a damp floor, put the cans up on 2x4 blocks to prevent rust. When galvanized trash barrels go on sale, buy a bunch. Another good storage method is 5 or 6 gallon food grade plastic buckets with gasketed lids. These stack well, but be advised that they are not as vermin-proof as galvanized steel bins or barrels. Determined rats have been known to gnaw their way through plastic food buckets. So if you choose this method, be sure to set traps, and check the buckets once every few weeks for signs of damage. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, do not use utility-type plastic paint buckets. Even if bought brand new these can taint food, because they are often molded using non-food-grade (toxic) mold release agents.

Grain storage is a crucial aspect of family preparedness. Grain will soon no longer be cheap or plentiful, so stock up! Readers JP and Commander Zero suggested this Financial Post (Canada) article: Forget oil, the new global crisis is food And meanwhile, we read: Japan to Increase Emergency Stockpiles of Grains, Wheat has jumped to $10 per bushel, but I anticipate that it will go much higher in the next year. Stock up, in quantity. Buy plenty for your family and your livestock. A total of 200 pounds of wheat and 50 pounds of corn per family member are good figures for planning purposes for a family without livestock. I also recommend buying plenty of extra for barter and charity. You'll soon be glad that you did

Speaking of charity, if you store extra wheat and/or corn for charity, remember that your charity recipients will need a way to process that grain. So be sure to be on the lookout for a few inexpensive used grain mills. You can often find used Corona brand mills (or similar) on eBay or on Craig's List

Hi Jim,
Are there any strategies, (i.e.- negotiations, dickering, etc...) that you can recommend for a after a TSHTF situation in which the government has raised taxes so much that you are hinging on hanging on to your retreat? Any examples that worked back in the 1930s? I know you can relate due to your family's history that you have spoken of. What could we do as a plan to save our properties?
Who can we expect to knock on the door, (i.e.- what entities)?
Do you think there will be more motivation to seize productive ground?
Do you think there will be more motivation to seize ground that has equity in it?
Do you think there will be more of a chance of the Government or the Lender coming to knock on the door if you fall behind on your mortgage payments or property tax installment?
Do you think legal representation will actually prove beneficial under such implied circumstances?
Would you recommend being overly helpful to them at that hypothetical point, or would you recommend dragging your feet hoping that maybe they go on to a quicker seizure of someone else's property?
These are questions that I hasten to type, but, maybe someone has thought of the aftermath and can offer some good sound advice since we will unlikely be able to communicate or have access to the Internet under such circumstances, nor afford an expensive Attorney. - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: I'd like to address this from two distinct angles: tax delinquency and mortgage delinquency. I'll address mortgage delinquency first, since it is far more likely.

Mortgage Delinquency:

It may sound like an elementary precept, but when you buy any property using a mortgage, you don't really own that property until the mortgage is paid in full. It is the banker's house, not yours, until it is entirely paid off. In essence, in the eyes of the law the lender is still the owner. If you get delinquent in your payments for long enough (it varies depending on the state where you live), then you can count on foreclosure and if need be, being forcibly evicted. Currently the county sheriff's deputies in California's post-bubble Central Valley are presently busy with a lot of evictions.

Before talking about delinquency and foreclosure, I should mention one protective measure. State laws vary, but a Declaration of Homestead can help protect your house (and typically just the one acre that it sits on) from creditors in some circumstances. Be sure to research your state's declaration of homestead law thoroughly. In many states, a homestead exemption is automatic--you aren't required to file a homestead declaration in order to claim the homestead exempt status. Again, these laws can vary widely, so do your homework.

Here are some of my thoughts on the four most-often suggested solutions for preventing foreclosure:

Borrow money from friends or family members: This might be an option, but unless you know for certain that you can meet the new payment schedule, then don't do it. It will only cause familial strife that could last for decades.

Borrow from a different bank to get back up to date on past-due payments: This can be accomplished by means of a second mortgage, but I must warn readers that is having trouble paying a first mortgage, then taking out a second mortgage is most likely just a stop-gap measure.

File in Bankruptcy Court (Chapter 7 or 13): Generally not recommended, since it could take decades to recover. You could conceivably keep a mortgaged house when going through either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Sell the property: Most people consider this a last resort, but my personal opinion is that it should be the first option that you consider. Typically, if you find new financing then you will most likely fall behind again on your payments and the end result will be the same: foreclosure. So it is usually best to cut your losses and sell the house. If you are in a situation where you "upside down" in the mortgage (where the value of the property has declined to below what you still owe on the property), then it is probably best to just pack up and move, and mail you banker the keys. (This has recently been dubbed "jingle mail.") With continuing sharp declines in house prices expected in the next few years in the over-bought coastal markets, I predict that the "Midnight Flit" will become a commonplace occurrence.


Tax Delinquency:
This was the situation that my great grandparents were in, back in the 1930s. They owned a large sheep ranch in northern California. At the beginning of the Great Depression they were land rich but cash poor. By the end of the Depression, that had neither much money or land. By 1942, the county had taken most of the ranch for back taxes.

The only safe and sure prevention for such situations is to have cash in the bank, or highly liquid tangibles (such as precious metals). With cash in the bank you can sleep well, knowing that you'll always be able to pay your property taxes. The property tax rates vary tremendously from state to state. The tax rates tend to be the highest in the northeastern US, and lowest in the south and the west. Needless to say, I recommend relocation to states with low property tax rates.

If and when you can't pay your taxes, you can try some legal maneuvers, but once the deputies arrive, don't try anything melodramatic. They are just the instrument of the courts, and it is in the courts that you must find your remedy and recourse. When it comes to foreclosures, unless you live in a county with a particularly corrupt government, I don't thing that it will make much difference how much equity you hold, and or whether or not the land is productive. If you get in arrears on your taxes, they will be "equal opportunity destroyers." The tax sales may get delayed in some cases, but inevitably if you don't pay the taxes, then the land will be seized.

OBTW, speaking of forfeiture for back taxes, if you are looking for bargain retreat properties in rural regions, you can occasionally find small parcels that are available for just the price of catching up on their back taxes. (Again, state laws vary widely.) Typically these are undeveloped parcels that were bought decades before. The owners, often out of state, changed mailing addresses, and somewhere along the line--often because of a death in the family--the property was forgotten, the taxes lapsed, and with no mail forwarding address, the property was eventually seized by the county for back taxes. You can find some such properties through services like Foreclosure.com. But in some cases you have to visit the County Recorder/Assessor's Office to find out about such parcels. You should get to know the people at your Recorder's office anyway, so if nothing else this is a good excuse to go and visit.

You noted gold reaching an all-time high on Wednesday the 2nd of January. But this writer says: "I'm not really sure how all the 'Gold at 27-year high' headlines came to be, but my own calculations tell me that gold would have to break at least $2,400 an ounce [adjusted for inflation] to break its supposed 27-year high."

If that argument is accurate, perhaps it is not yet time to think about getting out of gold 20% at a time just yet. - Robert B.

JWR Replies: The "adjusted for inflation" calculations on the real value of gold are indeed valid, but those folks seem to assume that there are free markets. Sadly, there aren't--they are unfortunately manipulated in a number of ways. The missing variables in calculating the next likely market tops for silver and gold are A.) market regulation, and B.) central bank metals selling and leasing. If The Powers That Be (TPTB) decide that the prices of gold and silver are getting "inflated" then they can either change the trading rules--like the CBOT and COMEX did in 1980, when they drastically raised the margin requirements on silver futures contracts and capped silver futures contract holdings, to stop the Hunt Brothers silver rally--or they can simply announce that there will be some big government gold sales. (Sales of hundred of tons of gold are commonplace.) Either of those would crash the relatively thin metals market. I believe that manipulators will start making such moves when they start to feel discomfort as rising precious metals prices reveal the real value of the fire kindling that they call "money". I predict that this discomfort will reach painful proportions once the price of gold passes €1,000 Euros per ounce. The emperor cannot afford to be seen sans-culottes. If and when TPTB want to push down the price of metals, they will. I am merely recommending that SurvivalBlog readers conservatively unwind the speculative side of of their metals portfolios before this happens. I recommend that take your profit and reinvest your capital in other tangibles such as productive farm land.

An aside: The whole concept of the gold price being "inflated" is laughable, since it is the un-backed paper currencies that have been unbridled, while the metals have effectively been stable. There is only a limited supply of gold in the world, but a virtually unlimited supply of paper and ink. Understanding the "price" versus "value" of precious metals is all a matter of perspective. As economist Howard J. Ruff pointed out three decades ago: An ounce of gold would buy a nice man's suit a century ago, and one ounce will still buy a nice suit today. It is not the value of gold that has changed, but rather it is the value of the fiat paper currencies that has changed. They have all been destroyed by inflation at various rates

There is one other factor that makes metals market predictions almost impossible: the small size of both the "above ground" precious metals market and the market for mining shares. Both of these are so small compared to the global "digits" economy, which--even without derivatives--is measured in trillions. The capitalization of all of the mining companies in the world combined is smaller than the capitalization of the Big Three auto makers. The metals markets are so thin that they are quite vulnerable to manipulation.

Eric S. sent this one: Deadbeat America: Late Payments Soar. It is not reassuring to see that late payment rates are spiking in relatively "good times" with an employment rate that is just starting to falter. Obviously American consumers have collectively gone deep into debt. In the next recession we will undoubtedly see unprecedented delinquency and default rates, followed soon after by a spike in personal bankruptcies. Oh, but wait a minute, US bankruptcy laws have become less lenient.

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And Eric also forwarded us this: Americans Sold Out to Foreign Firms at Record Rate

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From The Oil Drum editors: Oil Price Touches $100 a Barrel; Signal of Pending Oil Shortages Ignored

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Passenger jets get anti-missile devices

"There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means." - Albert Jay Nock

Friday, January 4, 2008

I just noticed that we are fast approaching the 2.5 million unique visits milestone. Not bad for a "niche" blog on a shoestring budget. Thanks for continuing to spread the word about SurvivalBlog! Links to SurvivalBlog in your personal web page and/or in your e-mail footer would be greatly appreciated.

Do you think the subject of work gets underplayed in the survivalist movement? It seems that most of survivalist conversation is about firearms, bug-out tanks, and quasi-military offensive and defensive [tactics and] strategies. What about work, hard manual labor? Yes, work is a ugly four letter word. It is a "hard" word that implies sore muscles, sweating, fatigue, things that it is "hard" (pun intended) to put a happy face on.

Firearms are fun, fun to talk about, shop for, practice with, and debate my choice is better than the other guy's choice. If the SHTF there may be many firefights, or there maybe very few firefights. What is for certain is there will be a lot of hard manual labor that someone is going to have to perform.

Here is an example of the point I am trying to make: If one has a private 300-yard firearms shooting range, and a 10' x 12' enclosed heated building at one end, built for the sole purpose of shooting in any weather. Perhaps another person might say, "wow, if I had my own shooting range like that, I would be shooting all the time".

However the guy with the private range spends most of his time working, laying in 8 to 10 cords of split firewood, fixing chainsaws, repairing and painting buildings, building new buildings, fixing machinery, fixing roads and driveways, caring for animals, tending and harvesting the garden. Running a small home business. Planting cash crops to pay for the paint, lumber, and yes, the firearms.
It seems there is this unspoken idea or subconscious feeling that if you have enough firepower and are among the chosen few to escape the urban institutions for the insane; that one will arrive at the place of "bliss". That the hard part is over, that one has escaped, one has achieved a sizeable victory, and now things will be easy or easier.
Yes, I know that survivalists don't really think that is true, they know at some level that it will never again be easy.
And yet over and over people write to you (Jim) listing their firearms inventory. Some other survival blogs, books and magazines devote the preponderance of space about the perfect firearms, as if the single most important factor in survival is: "have the right firearm". Please keep up the good work, - DAV

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning the sweat factor. When talking in abstract terms about preparedness in a blog, it is easy to lose sight of the numbers of hours and gallons of sweat required to make some of these preparations come to fruition. I can assure you that we expend plenty of sweat here at the Rawles Ranch. In the past year, most of this effort has been on fencing work. Since the price of hay shot up last year in the western US, there has been a lot of livestock available at either greatly reduced prices, or even free for the taking. The Memsahib took this opportunity to increase our livestock headcount. Consequently, it also meant that we had to greatly expand and improve our perimeter fencing, cross fencing, gates, corrals, and chutes.

Meanwhile, we have also expanded our garden plot, and that took laboriously digging umpteen post holes in rocky ground for the fence posts. The posts, BTW, were all from cedars that I felled here on the ranch, cut to 12 foot lengths (to provide a 9 foot high fence). This of course also necessitated dragging the posts, peeling them, and painting the bottom three feet of each with a bug-resistant copper-based solution. Read: work, work, and more work. The "bliss" factor only comes at the end of a hard day when I can enjoy a glass of iced tea and switch to my light work--blogging.

North Idaho Update
I just had a call from a local Realtor informing me that a currently-approved retreat property just outside of Bonners Ferry, Idaho has just been reduced by 20%! This spectacular retreat has a large functional home on 10 sloping acres and is shielded from the small county road by a stand of timber. The home enjoys big views of the snow capped mountains and rates an overall 8.5 out of 10, relating to defensibility, sun exposure and water availability. List price has been dropped from the high $370,000 to under $299,000! Please email me for further information.

Viola Moss, our approved Northwest Montana Survival Real Estate Agent has the following report on the Montana market, thanks Viola! - Todd Savage

2007 Year End ~ Northwest Montana Survival Real Estate Update
Greetings fellow Preppers! Here is a report looking at our past and present real estate market in beautiful Northwest Montana.

We have a good news/bad news scenario. Of course, one's news depends on if you are the buyer or seller. This news is very interesting in light of the rest of the U.S.A.
While number of sales is slumping and prices are being slashed in many areas of the country, our market remains stable. That is not to say that we don't have issues and that the rest of the nation's problems don't domino effect us – because they do.

The biggest effect I see, is that there are many buyers wanting to come here but they have to sell their existing property to make that purchase.

Let's look at the past two years in this market.

First, the good news. This area of the country is the #2 choice for buyers which is good for sellers and until lately, we have been a seller's market. However, I see this beginning to be transitional.

Since 2005, even when most of the nation was experiencing the first signs of a crash to come, this desirable locale has enjoyed an increase in the average price of property sold, rising 9% in 2006 and another 23% in 2007 for a total increase of 32%. I see this finally leveling out. This is especially true if the market doesn't get better for the rest of the nation.

Two items particularly affecting this is 1) having lenders make it easier to get loans (which they are increasing their requirements) and 2) the economy changing so that those who are trying to sell can do so at a decent price in order to relocate here. This would help the buyer. The domino effect will be, if buyers can't make a purchase due to limited funds, then sellers will be forced to lower prices or take their property off the market.

In any case, have you ever asked yourself:

"What will happen if the majority of the people decide they want to move to the Northwest (Idaho/ Montana) or other more remote areas? Would this not further reduce the chances to sell my property as there will be fewer buyers in a market and economy that is fast declining?"

"What if there is a Northwest land rush?"

"What if a local/national/global economic or natural disaster destroys my job, property or town before I get around to putting my current house on the market? What will I have left then for funds to relocate or purchase a retreat?" [TS adds: every reason to walk away from the high life and live at your retreat with a self-sustainable home business.]

As we all know, these could very well be possible scenarios. It's possible that you're wrestling with "stepping down" in your comfort level and lifestyle only to later find yourself possibly in a more dire place of need and you would be "stepping up" from where you have landed as a result of such calamities.

Have you paid attention to the real news and note what doesn't make the .GOV- controlled news regarding property being destroyed and people having to move to FEMA trailer camps? This is nationwide, not just on the coastlines. [TS adds: For real uncensored new and commentary from all over the world try Blacklisted News instead of the big four government propaganda media outlets, FOX, CNN, NBC and CBS] Having our property destroyed was a very possible scenario for us back in 2004 having had to dodge hurricanes, Charlie, Frances, Jean and Ivan living in Florida. Though we were in the process of selling and trying to relocate, as we headed for safe zones to let the wind blow over, we were never sure if we would have a home to return to and sell!

I took a few weeks at the time (just before selling and moving here to Northwest Montana ) and I worked for a subcontractor to FEMA inspecting and evaluating homes for qualification of repair funds. Many people had nowhere to move to other than out-of-state or a few hours drive away because there were so many homes destroyed and/or damaged. Many who were not moved to FEMA trailer courts were living in homes that continued to have mold growing, since insurance inspectors couldn't respond for months and contractors weren't available nor were materials available to repair them. Some of these homes were hit by more than one hurricane or storm and the damage continued to increase while they lived in the home! They didn't have funds to go anywhere else and they were happy if they still had a job! Would you like living in a house with parts of the roof missing and/or mold growing along the ceiling and down the walls to the floor? Be prepared!

One might want to consider and ask themselves, "Do I really believe hard times are coming.? And if so, am I just going to think about it or am I going to do something about it?"

The thinking part will do one no good when the time comes. Also, consider, many are holding back because the rest of their family or friends who are not in the same line of thinking and won't budge. Most likely they won't want to leave but will put their heads in the sand. Those that decide not to make the big move because they just can't emotionally leave their extended loved ones behind and not care for them will be in denial. I know, I've been there and done that, and I see it frequently with my clients.

By the way, after three years, my whole immediate family has finally moved here and prefer it to the comforts they had. I only have two brothers left to come to their senses and do something. They think and they know but don't act.

Let me ask you, "If you really believe a day is coming of reckoning for this country, and you don't relocate now --- what good are you going to be for your loved ones? Though you may have to part from them now and it will bring you tears and heartache --how much grief, sorrow and remorse will you have when your loved ones will not have a place to run to – that being you and your new location?!" Sometimes we need to make pre-ordained moves knowing that we'll need get ready to care for our family when the perilous times come

True, they may wait too late and never make it out. But if you don't make your move now, they surely won't have much chance, nor will you, short of a miracle and great mercy! Thus, you may have to make a hard choice now but it will bring great joy in the future and you may have a chance of having your family being a surviving remnant for future generations.

Back to the good news for Sellers. So the average price for your property here has increased and the average days on the market has decreased! Good news, now it takes only an average of 6 months to sell versus the 9 months that it took two years ago. Not bad considering the average number of properties sold has decreased 32% (down 15% for 2006 and down 17% for 2007.) This has resulted in a total sales volume decrease of 16% (almost an $8 million drop)!

Now for the bad news. The bad news buyers are already aware of , but Sellers are just now beginning to come out of their slumber. Prices have soared, banks are making loans more difficult to obtain, and the economy is keeping them from making a sale of their existing property or lowering their income in order to make that wanted purchase.

Point in case, this bad news for buyers is catching up and the Sellers here are beginning to feel the impact. So what are they doing?

One thing that really puts a burr under my saddle and yours whether you realize it or not is a new trend which I consider to be a major death to liberty and what made this country so great and this state for that matter. This trend is making it more and more difficult for me to cull through the listings and find you property in spite of more inventory, especially in newly subdivided land listings. Do you know what it is? Can you guess?

It is an ironic problem for the great, free and open Big Sky country. Her land liberties are quickly fading. This is a result of mostly baby boomer's moving in and bringing their citified, suburban, "service me and don't let anything be an inconvenience to me" liberal, socialistic mentality. This slaps in the face of the liberty loving, self-sustaining, mind your own business but do right to others mentality of most of the folks here.

Then we have the baby boomer locals who are ignorantly or knowingly being fueled by greed aiding this epidemic. They are exchanging life and liberty for "making a buck" now. These same people, those here taking advantage of the situation and those who are moving in with this mentality will one day be begging for their antics to be reversed and will be crying and wishing they had a neighbor who had a chicken that lays eggs (which might inconvenience them in the morning with a cackle or crow), goat, sheep, cattle, garden, etc. and even an extra dwelling or two for extended family or friends to have a place of shelter.

Surely, you have guessed my burr by now! Restrictive covenants! Somehow, I learned a covenant was to protect and provide for two parties for the good of all. Nowhere did I learn a covenant was for taking livelihood and liberty and controlling how one moral person should live. They should be called Gestapo tactics, fascists, communistic, controlling, whatever word you may want to choose. It is getting ridiculous. It could be funny except it will be heart breaking. It will become criminal to have your dog bark! Honestly, I just reviewed a new subdivision covenants for potential buyers and found the following wording:

"...no trade, craft, business, profession, religion , educational , commercial or manufacturing activity shall be carried on or conducted on any lot or from any single family residence."

Do you see the problem with this? It is written in such a way that one could argue that you couldn't sell Avon from home, have a prayer or Bible meeting, or home school! I know, some of you won't see or understand this until you have become the victim of it.

Now, let's skip all the other things that make me angry regarding whether you can have a fence, the size of your home, yada, yada, yada and get to the animal part.

"...no animals or livestock of any kind other than horse, dog, cat or bird shall be kept or maintained on any lot ... All animals permitted by this section shall be contained within the boundaries [no problem with this as it is only courteous and being responsible] of their owner's lot. Provided however, any animal that barks, howls, roams at large or chases vehicles ...shall not be kept in the subdivision at any time."

Let's keep in mind that these subdivision rules are for parcels four acres or larger and that you can't have fences or trees, etc. to block another's view of the mountains or deter the wildlife.

Now, let me ask you, "Can you expect to have wildlife outside your back door and not have a dog bark?"

To bank on this new trend of silent dogs, I thought of opening a clinic to de-vocalize dogs but that would be a crime unless I had a vet's license and then I would go to jail for animal abuse. Hey, I have an idea! Why don't we tell the deer they can't jump in the yard and the grizzlies not to eat our raspberries and cross our property? How about that mountain lion? Why can't we restrict the wildlife so dogs can bark and men can work for a living cutting timber and mining, etc? Sarcasm intended. Reminds me of California!

Dogs have lost their rights along with people. Think about it – how far and which end of the scale of bizarre can we go?

Now, let me ask you, what good is having new parcels subdivided out of larger parcels if it becomes a crime to home school, have a prayer meeting, work from your home, not have a mini farmstead and your dog can't bark?

In actuality, the basic restrictions required by the state of Montana are minimal and one of the reasons why I love this state. However, the sellers and developers think that by adding their covenants and restrictions, their property value will increase and protect them in the future. Oh what the loss! They do not see! And they think its all -- for a dollar!?

I hope I see people refuse to buy these restricted use properties and demand properties that can be used as land should be. These types of properties could actually be of higher value due to the lack of inventory for such!

I have many buyers who would like to come to this wonderful neck of the woods but finding affordable property without covenants is harder to do every day. Though I may have 80 listings to cull through, only about 10 or less are not restricted wherein you could have a chicken, goat, sheep or garden to be a somewhat mini self-sustainable homestead. To further this burr, most listing databases I use don't have a data entry box so I can sort through covenants. I have to research each listing individually. To further drive this burr in, some Realtors and sellers don't make this information easily available and don't want self reliant buyers.

So, buyers beware, though there are many properties that may appeal to you, be sure to ask the Realtor to research the covenants before you even waste your time and don't make an offer without knowing the covenants and/or making it a contingency for them to be provided, reviewed and approved. If you find a property you like and want to move on it, move and make an offer! But reserve the right to approve the covenants as a contingency to the sale. Also, don't rely on the Realtor or owner to answer this question – go to the courthouse and title company to double check. Even though I'm a Realtor, there have been times that the listing agent or owner I requested the information from told me, "There are no covenants or minimal ones." Then I did further research and found out – it was not true!

Buying bigger parcels are usually not affordable for many people. So you may seriously want to consider getting together with other families and raise the funds to subdivide the property and not add on additional restrictive covenants in order to get what is needed for living as free as possible in these days. We may all very well be forced to come together out of necessity and not individual self comfort to find a place where we can continue to raise a family and have a future.

We are fast coming into more bondage in this country. It is not far off that we may have to provide our own straw to make the bricks for the homes we will never own. So, don't wait too long to get out of the comforts you have now have before it is too late to make that move

[TS adds; One last note, for the ultimate in seclusion., privacy and protection ask Viola about listings in the Yaak River Valley, where less than 4% of the land is privately owned, perfect for the ultimate retreat!] If you would like more information on unrestricted land and homes here in Northwestern Montana please contact me! Viola K. Moss Phone 406-293-2939 E-mail: mtnmama@kvis.net

Perennial contributor Eric S. sent us this: Saxo Bank’s ‘outrageous predictions’ are grim. (They are predicting a 25% drop in the S&P and as much as a 40% drop in China's stock market.)

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Don't miss the new SurvivalRealty.com listing in North Carolina with gravity-fed spring water.

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On a recent road trip over the holidays, we noticed that the graffiti blight in America's urban areas seems to be getting worse. Living out in the hinterboonies as we do, the only significant graffiti that we see is the mobile sort that comes to us--painted on the sides of train cars. But in the big cities, and now even in the suburbs, it seems to have become more pernicious and widespread than dandelions. If graffiti is any gauge of respect for the property of others, then my advice is: don't consider an area where you see graffiti a viable "retreat" area.

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Jim from Illinois suggested this article: Disappearing Towns in North Dakota. Jim asks: "I would think that there are already wells and electrical power at these sites, but I was wondering if a group of survivalists could buy a declining town, appoint a Sheriff and deputize everyone in the town. This would allow the deputized residents more freedom in the selection of firearms and concealed carry should not be an issue. In the article one man said that he often goes six months without seeing anyone, so the area is quite isolated. The down side would be the brutal climate, nuclear weapons close by and the lack of jobs."

"'Need' now means wanting someone else's money. 'Greed' means wanting to keep your own. 'Compassion' is when a politician arranges the transfer." - Joseph Sobran

Thursday, January 3, 2008

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, so e-mail us your entry soon! Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Recent comments in SurvivalBlog provided excellent advice on using the public library. You can gain lots of knowledge with no expense, then purchase only those books you want to keep on hand for personal reference. Also, many colleges and universities loan to local residents, so you can use them too, even if you aren't a student.

If your local libraries participate, a great resource is Worldcat. It lets you search for books from home, then go check them out, or get them through interlibrary loan.

What will happen to the Internet when the SHTF? There's no guarantee it will survive. Even if the World Wide Web endures in some form, most of the individual computers connected to it will not. Hopefully by then you will have already downloaded all the free info that's going to help you cope with the new world.

You may want to download a copy of information on this web site or any other web site with useful content. It would be a shame to face some disaster when all the resources of the internet are no longer at your fingertips.

 In preparation for a worst case scenario, it's a good idea to begin now to collect the knowledge that will come in handy later. You can download whole books, save them to jump drives, and keep an entire library in a very small space. All kinds of free manuals, guides, tech tips, and schematics are available on the internet; for everything from firearms to furnaces to computers to appliances.

All of the downloads listed here are in the public domain or allowable for copying. Stay away from sites that may involve copyright infringement. If you use a file-sharing site such as Limewire, Kazaa, or any site that uses bit torrents, you are not only downloading, but also uploading. Your participation involves automatically uploading to other users. If the file is illegal, you are distributing illegal material, not just downloading it. Stay away from these and stick with the legitimate sites listed below.

Keep in mind that some of this information you download might be illegal to use at the present time. You can't practice dentistry on your neighbor just because you have the book. Nevertheless, you have the right to possess this very vital information. After TEOTWAWKI, all bets are off. The information you collect today might save your life or the life of somebody you love.

Many downloads are in Portable Document Format (PDF) form, so to read them you must have a suitable program such as Adobe Reader, which is the free version of Adobe Acrobat. There are alternatives to Adobe that can read PDF files, if you prefer. Some of these files are very large. If your internet connection is slow, it's better to right click and download rather than try to read a huge file online.

Some documents you may want to print out. Others you can just leave on disc. Just be sure to store your drives safely. Not included in this list are the many web sites that are very good resources in themselves. Rather, these are the files you can download for offline viewing at a later time. Download them while you still can!

Project Gutenberg was mentioned as a good place to go for eBooks.

The Smithsonian Institution is another great resource. They have digitized many older books, maps, and documents in their collection.

Wikisource has a nice collection of free eBooks.

One way to search for books no longer in copyright is to use Google Book Search. Check "full view." If it comes up in the search, it can be downloaded as a PDF file.

A good alternative to Google is the Internet Archive which includes books, images, audio, and more. The Internet Archive also hosts the Wayback Machine, which archives copies of an incredible 85 billion pages from the internet of years past.

Over 100,000 free eBooks can be accessed through Digital Book Index

2020ok is a directory of free online books and free eBooks

The British Columbia Digital Library has an impressive Collection, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and most importantly, the Holy Bible. It also has a Guide to other digital libraries.

Scribd is an online document library of free research articles, eBooks, and other content.

A great resource for home schoolers is the Internet's largest directory of free audio & video learning resources maintained by LearnOutLoud.com.

Check out the postings of Home Schooling On-line Resources on the The Mental Militia Forums, as well as the "Must Have" Books/reference material topic.

More than 3,200 pages related to the U. S. Constitution can be downloaded from The Founders' Constitution

Firearms For any firearm you own or plan to own, you should have a drawing of its Exploded View, which will help identify parts and how they fit together. One of the most comprehensive collections of Exploded Views is the paper edition of the Numrich Arms Catalog, which in itself is a gold mine of information and very inexpensive for a volume of over 1200 pages.

But if you only need certain Exploded Views, there are many places on the internet where you can download them for free:

Gunuts is a good place to start with hundreds of drawings. Another source is The Okie Gunsmith Shop, which is apparently no longer operating, but you can still download drawings and parts lists from its web site.Big Bear Gun Works has another good list. For pre-WWII firearms, check out Gunsworld. For examples of specific firearms manufacturers, see Remington, Browning, and SKB Shotguns

The book, The Defensive Use Of Firearms by Shane C. Henry is available as a download from rec.guns. An enormous amount of additional gun information is available on the rec.guns web site.

There are several good sources for Military Publications: GlobalSecurity.org has a huge collection of Military manuals.

Try Integrated Publishing for access to millions of pages of engineering manuals and documents.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command maintains the LOGSA web site for access to thousands of Army technical manuals.

The U.S. Air Force maintains the Air Force e-Publishing web site.

As mentioned recently, The Small Wars Journal has a Reference Library of downloadable military documents.

The Brooke Clarke web site has a good guide to accessing military field manuals

Surviving War and Nuclear Attack For a basic guide, download How To Survive A Chemical Or Biological Attack.

Nuclear War Survival Skills, along with some other very interesting books, can be found on the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine web site. This book includes plans for the Kearny Fallout Radiation Meter (KFM). If you have not bought a radiation meter, you should at least download the book for future reference. You can also get the Free Plans from The Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Nuclear War Survival Skills is also available on the KI4U web site as an online book, but not as a download.

The Equipped To Survive web site has some free ebooks, as well as books for sale: Survival, Evasion, and Recovery and U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76.

The Volunteer Center of Marin County, California has prepared A Guide to Organizing Neighborhoods for Preparedness, Response and Recovery which you can copy from their web site. 

Medical Resources The Disease Net has a library of downloadable manuals on survival, weapons, emergency medicine, and less serious subjects.

Virtual Naval Hospital is a digital library of naval, military, and humanitarian medicine

The very important field manual, First Aid For Soldiers FM 21-11 can be downloaded here.

One of the best medical handbooks available is the U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook ST31-91B. It can be downloaded free (as well as additional essential guides) from Delta Gear, Inc.

A newer version of the Medical Handbook, plus more great material can be downloaded from NH-TEMS (New Hampshire Tactical Emergency medical support).

The American Red Cross has some of their disaster guides online for download. For most of their material, you have to go to the local office. Some of it can be copied from the Earth Changes Media Survival Tips page. 

The Red Cross Book, First Aid in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency book, The Ship Captain's Medical Guide

Hesperian makes available free downloads of its books for medical treatment in primitive conditions. Two highly respected guides it publishes are Where There Is No Doctor and Where There Is No Dentist.

Here is a direct link to the must-have book Survival and Austere Medicine: An introduction. Australian Survivalist Online has several additional Files for downloading.

The Department of Agriculture has a treasure trove of information for free download. This agency maintains The National Agricultural Library, a collection of free information on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition, and other related subjects.

Another USDA web site is the Cooperative Extension Service. Click on the map to navigate to various Extension offices around the country. Don't limit your search to just your own state. Many of them have invaluable information on animals, crops, construction, food preparation and much more for free download.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) offers downloads about preventing plant and animal diseases, among other topics.

The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) offers Fact Sheets about food handling and preparation, and emergency preparedness.

Other Important Reference Resources The classic outdoor guides, The 10 Bushcraft Books by Richard Graves are available on the Chris Molloy web site. Free manuals for electronic equipment can be downloaded from eServiceInfo.com. Another source is UsersManualGuide.com. For Ham Radio and Test Equipment Manuals, the KO4BB web site has Free Downloads, as well as LINKS to many other web sites with free downloads. A few examples of repair information for outdoor equipment are Penn Reel Schematics, and Mercury outboard parts.

Paid Services In the unlikely event that you can't find free information on the Net to fix that generator or whatever you need to repair, there are web sites that charge for information. As a last resort, you can check Sam's PHOTOFACT service manuals, or RepairManual.com. Hopefully, that won't be necessary.

The foregoing just begins to scratch the surface. Some of these free downloads are also available as books or CDs from eBay, Amazon or from some of the survivalist web sites. That is fine. Sometimes it is easier to just pay the money and buy the book. But nobody can afford it all, and downloading gives you access to millions of pages - much more knowledge than you could acquire through any other method.

Instability in Pakistan, $100 per barrel crude oil, declining US manufacturing, and shaky Asian markets have all worked together to push the US dollar down, and precious metals upward. You may have noticed that the intra-day spot price of gold set an all time high on Wednesday, spiking briefly to $861 per ounce. Meanwhile, spot silver spiked to $15.27 per ounce. Although there may be some profit-taking in the next few weeks, I stand by my assertion that the precious metals are in a primary bull market that will carry on for several more years.

Amid all this good news for those of us that are metals investors, I wish to modify one of my predictions. I had previously stated that I thought that in terms of percentage gains, silver would out-perform gold. However, since the global economy now appears to be sliding into a deep recession triggered by an unprecedented credit collapse and since silver is more of an industrial metal than gold, I think that gold might do better than silver in the next 12 to 18 months. For those of you that have invested in a mixed portfolio, I recommend that you closely watch the ratio of the price of gold to silver. If and when silver takes a short term jump in relation to gold, then you might want to capitalize on that and ratio trade into a portfolio that is heavier on gold than silver. (Keeping in mind, of course, your trading costs.) Regardless of your readjustments in your speculative portfolio, you should hang on to your core holding in silver coins for barter in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Think of that core holding as a multi-generational investment.

As the metals bull continues his charge, you should consider your exit strategy. Do not attempt to "time" the absolute top of the market. The chances of doing that successfully are slim. Instead, I recommend that you gradually liquidate your speculative precious metals holdings, in logical increments. You might want to sell 20% of your speculative metals holdings each time that there is sustentative advance in spot prices. For example, selling 20% of your holdings when gold reaches $900 per ounce, another 20% when gold reaches $1,100, and so on. What should you do with the proceeds? Do not leave them in dollars or any dollar-denominated investment, since those will be eroded by inflation. You should immediately invest your capital in other tangibles. I predict that the metals will peak just about the same time that real estate will bottom. Talk about a "win-win"! This could be your chance to buy productive rural land that could be used as a survival retreat at effectively just 25 cents on the dollar. (Assuming that you bought your metals low, you sell them high, and then you buy land at or near its next low.) But in the near term, as you begin to liquidate your metals holdings, you can't go wrong investing in high quality practical guns, full capacity magazines, and common caliber ammunition. The latter is what the late Col. Jeff Cooper called "ballistic wampum."

Commander Zero recommended this web site: How to build a super top secret bunker under your house.

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Frequent contributor Rourke tells us that there is plenty of buzz about the upcoming disaster film "Cloverfield." about "a monster the size of a skyscraper." It was shot in a way to make it look like it is an amateur hand-held video, stylistically similar to "The Blair Witch Project"--but obviously with a much bigger budget! The debut for "Cloverfield" is set for January 18th.

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Frequent link contributor Eric S. sent us this: Sudan's Central Bank opts for Euro. The peasants are starting to point at the Emperor, and snicker.

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Triple F sent us some news about fallout from the ethanol boom: Wiper fluid price set to soar

"This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer." - Will Rogers

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Call me old-fashioned or whatever you'd like, but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the plethora of gadgets that are now being sold under the banner of "preparedness". The latest one mentioned by a reader was this: The Tactical Mirror Sight. Oh yes, and don't forget the combination vertical foregrip and laser. And while you are at it, get yourself a M-203 look-alike 37mm flare launcher! It isn't just tacti-cool, it is practically a fashion accessory! Who buys all this stuff? I'm sure that some of the more strident Armchair Commandos over at AR15.com just can't wait to unlimber their credit cards and fill up all the quadrants of their gee-whiz, Oh-so-OIF-looking Knight's Quad-Rails with this Schumer. Sorry folks, but I'm not buying into this Mall Ninja paraphernalia cargo cult.

I've said it before and I'll doubtless feel obliged to say it again: Your chances of survival are not increased so much by what you acquire, but rather by what you know and have practiced. All the gadgets in the world are no replacement for common sense, hands-on experience, and friends that you can trust.

I'm making this post short, for good reason. My message is simple: Don't fall for the trap of gadgets versus skills. Stick with the basics. Maintain balance and common sense in your retreat logistics procurement. Buy quality gear, and develop a deep larder, but remember that it will be proper training and teamwork that will be 99% of the battle.

I wholeheartedly concur with your recommendation of DMT sharpeners. A bit of advice in selection: get a "Blue" sharpener (medium grit) for knives, "Black" (coarse) for shovels, hoes, and really heavy sharpening jobs. Reserve the "red" (fine) for woodworking tools. A coarser sharpener puts a more aggressive edge on a blade, which will generally last longer and cut easier than a super fine edge. If it's really bad, secure the blade in a vise and use a new single cut mill bastard file to start. The Blue DMT [diamond stone] will put a shaving edge on a knife, you just have to live with a little razor burn! As to exact technique, there are many ways to skin a cat, and it would take a long article to describe a few seconds of work, but a few points bear mentioning.

1) Get out of you own way own way: if you are right handed, stand with the stone at your right hand, on a solid table (non-slip if at all possible).

2) Set the edge angle like you are going to use the knife: Fine cutting like butchering, a low, thin angle; chopping or heavy cutting, a somewhat steeper angle. Visualizing the knife shaving a thin layer off the stone may help. With your thumb of your right hand on the top of the handle, stroke away from you down the length of the sharpener, keeping the cutting edge as perpendicular to the line of travel as possible. Sharpen from the heel (the part of the cutting edge closest to the handle) towards the tip as you make your stroke. Use moderate pressure: not enough and nothing happens but wasting time; too much and you wear out knife, sharpener, and operator or both.

3) Rotate the knife handle 90 degrees clockwise so you right thumb is now on the left side (pointing away) of the handle on the bolster. Now, setting the same angle on the other side of the blade, bring the blade toward you, using the same motion.

4) Repeat steps 2 & 3, using decreasing pressure, until sharp enough for your satisfaction. (Keep your thumb in the same position for each direction; this will "index" your angle. If you make the same stroke with the knife in the same angle and position, you will be gaining ground with each stroke. If you lack consistency, you will be shooting in the dark, and ultimately become frustrated, not to mention taking years off your knife's life). Listen to the knife as it is sharpened. A dull knife make an uneven sound as it is drawn across a stone. As it becomes progressively sharper, the sound becomes more even, until it is a grating hiss.

5) A light stroke on each side with a slightly elevated angle to clean up the edge, and then stop! The most egregious sin newbies make with knives is over-sharpening them. It will only get so sharp! How sharp depends on the steel used, the degree of hardness, whether it has been forged, and if so how it was forged, among a myriad of factors, again, material enough to fill a book or three.

6) Finally, sharpen your own knives, and teach everyone to sharpen the knives they will use. Everyone has a slightly different hand and touch at this, and you will be working at cross-purposes until you have done this as many times as I have (personally hand-sharpened about 70,000 blades in the time I worked in the family business). A sharp knife is easier to sharpen than a dull knife, just as a well maintained rifle is easier to maintain than an abused one. Keep them sharp, and you will never need to dig around for a "good one" to work with; they'll all be good to go. It's really quite simple. That is not to say it's "easy", rather there is a specific method to achieve the desired results, with few exceptions. Learn the methodology, do it a few thousand times, and it will be easy, and you will be one of "those guys" with a shaving-sharp knife, always! As always, Keep the Faith, - Bonehead

Several years ago, whilst working for an outfitter in Wyoming (as a camp cook), a fellow that I worked with, introduced me to the Lansky sharpening system. I was fascinated, 'cause I had always been like you, a traditionalist with Arkansas stones.
What I really like about the system is that you can keep a consistent angle down the entire length of the blade.
Since then, I purchased the Lansky with the diamond stones, and use it exclusively all all of my blades. Which by the way, is a fairly extensive collection.

Thank you so much for your books, especially "Patriots" I have four copies, one older edition and three of the updated edition that are loaned out constantly. God Bless, - Bob P. In Idaho


Dear Jim,
The most important aspect of sharpening knives is maintaining a good, consistent angle between blade and abrasive. Somewhere between 20-25 degrees is typical. Shallower is for finer, slicing edges, broader is for chopping.
You'll hear people specify some exact angle as the "ideal" or "Scientifically proven" or other such mumbo jumbo. The correct angle depends on the steel, the edge geometry, the abrasive and the intended use. Worry more about consistency than exact angle.

If need be, use a fine file to true the edge and shave down nicks. Then go to any stone of choice. I've even successfully used a sheet of sandpaper on a flat bench. There are several devices that will hold the blade at a consistent angle, from Buck Knives, Lansky and others. I recommend them.
Some blades actually work better with a coarser finish--120 grit or so. Unless really fine slicing (skinning, surgery) is intended, don't worry about polishing to too fine an edge. It won't last as long and may not cut as well.

Older Buck knives and some utility blades have a convex edge. This takes practice to sharpen. The alternative is to remove one convex side and replace it with a flat grind. Busse knives come from the factory this way. One side is the sharpening side, the other side (the convex) is left alone. Chisel grinds are sharpened on one side only, the other side left straight (except for removal of nicks). Be sure to have the grind on the proper side for your handedness. Many so-called "tactical" knives are sharpened on the wrong side for right-handed users, because that is the "presentation side" of the knife in a display case. Not very tactical, when it comes down to it. Serrated blades are subject to much debate, with some loving them and some hating them. What I generally do is sharpen them straight across. The serrations turn into a wavy edge that cuts very well. If the blade is kept long enough, they'll eventually go away. One can sharpen them with a fine chainsaw file or ceramic stone, but I've found that less effective. I recommend against hollow-grind sharpening on a wheel. The edge will be very fine, and degrade very quickly. (This is for the sharpened edge only. There is nothing wrong with a hollow ground shape to the blade itself.)

Be sure to use the stone as intended. Some require water, some require oil. This acts as a medium for either lubrication, or for washing residue away. Some self-appointed "experts" insist that oil is detrimental. They're wrong. Oil stones need oil, and oil is not bad for blades. Water stones need water, and the blade should be wiped and oiled afterwards.
If the blade is intended for use with food, use an edible nut oil.
In an emergency, any oil is better than no oil (for carbon steel blades especially).

I always advise against putting utility or kitchen knives in the dishwasher, even plastic-handled ones. The heat and impact of other utensils is not good for them. Wash promptly after use with a small amount of soap and a clean cloth, or a scrub pad, then wipe dry and place in a block, either horizontal or edge up to protect the edge. Utility knives should be returned to a sheath if worn, or kept out of a non-plastic sheath for long term storage--leather and some fabrics attract humidity, and leather can generate acids.
Maintain leather sheaths with any leather treatment, with mink oil, glycerin and saddle soap preferred over silicone. Michael Z. Williamson

From The Guardian in England: From the sub-prime to the ridiculous: how $100 billion vanished

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This one has been at my Links page for many moons, but is worth mentioning again: The Seismic Monitor

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Reader Bill N. mentioned that there is an instructional ice rescue video on the Discovery Channel-Canada's web site. Bill N. notes: "To anyone who might be around lakes or rivers that are frozen over, you should check out this video on how to save yourself if you fall through the ice."

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Eric S. flagged this: Timber theft is a growing 'business'. Eric says: "a prescient article for those of us who have/plan on having unattended retreats with multi-acre size woodlots. "

"It is a wise man who, in quiet times, keeps his knives sharp and ready" - Lao Tzu

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year! (And to the many new SurvivalBlog readers in Finland: Onnellista uutta vuotta!) I pray that in Aught Eight you and yours are safe, healthy, right with God, and prepared for all eventualities.

Because SurvivalBlog 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions are entirely voluntary, I do not send out reminder e-mails when they lapse. I just post an annual reminder in the blog each January. This is it, your one and only reminder. (I hate to pester anyone, especially for something that is voluntary.) When you make a subscription donation, please mark your calendar, so that you will know when to renew the next year. Many Thanks!

Hi Jim,
I work for a general, solving problems in the Middle East. Fixing vehicles is easy, its fixing the people that's hard...
I love your stuff on SurvivalBlog and thought I'd add:

There are plenty of submersible type improvised fuel pumps will fit down into a 3" pipe. Background is that GM and most other manufacturers' in-tank fuel pumps are part of a tank 'module' which includes the fuel gauge sending unit, pressure feed, return feed, and evaporative emissions sensor. The pump is designed to run when submersed in fuel. I'll get some part numbers if you would like but its fairly straightforward.

* Get a fuel tank sending unit module from any post-1987 fuel injected GM truck or car.
* Strip the fuel pump, pick up screen (filter) and electrical connector from the sending unit module.
* Connect 20-25 feet of wire for power and ground using secure and chemical resistant wire/connections.
* Connect 20-25 feet of 5/16 fuel line.
* Connected to a switch and battery you now have a submersible pump like any deep well water pump. Dip [the assembly] and pump.

I've used this setup to pump out fuel tanks removed from vehicles but no higher than 6-7 feet although I think that this may work for up to 15-20 foot lift.

Safety Note: Remember that sparks and fuel should only be combined in a combustion chamber or in a structure that you are denying an enemy.

Any poor connection or general stupidity could/would cause similar to what was reported to be the cause of the downing of [Pan Am] Flight 103.
Cheers, 'The Mechanic', in Iraq


I am new to your site. read the first 40 pages of your novel "Patriots" online and ordered a copy. Looking forward to it and digging deeper into you site. Thanks for all your hard work.
As for fuel transfers, I have worked with some #2 oil + kerosene furnaces lately and they have all had a great fuel pump on the side.
Some of these pumps, if configured for a two pipe system, claim to have an 18 foot lift ability at 1/3 gpm. This is quite slow as it's designed to provide high pressure at a slow rate to the furnace
injection nozzle. However if you cap off the injection nozzle (on a two pipe system) and take the return to tank line and put it in a collection tank I believe you will achieve a much greater flow. These are self priming gear pumps that usually operate at 1,725 rpm or 3,450 rpm. Many cordless 3/8-inch drills can reach at least 1,200 rpm and the drill chuck will clamp right down on the shaft.
I see these pumps still attached to furnace burner guns all the time at the metal scrap yard and out back of the furnace repair shops. They should be easy to obtain for free or scrap price, and are only held on by two bolts.
Most all the info anyone would need to test this theory is here.

It is important to note that the pump must be set up for two line use or capping of the injection line will blow the seals out of the pump. I will hopefully be testing this setup sometime next week and will let you know the results. Diesel should be no problem, transfer of gasoline is probably discouraged by the manufacturer, but I will test
it. - Andy in the Adirondack Mountains

JWR Replies: To the best of my knowledge, drill motor-powered pumps are not approved for pumping gasoline, since drill motors are notorious for throwing sparks. (Read: explosion risk!) They should not be operated near gasoline vapors.

Shalom Jim,
I purchased some utility knives and a bayonet recently and it got me to thinking about what and how are the best ways to sharpen a dull edge. Do you have any suggestions or techniques that you are using? Seems like the best method would be without the use of power tools. I appreciate your help, once again.
Todah Rabbah (Thank you), B'Shem Yahshua HaMoshiach (In the Name of Messiah Yahshua) - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: I may be a dinosaur, but I use traditional Arkansas stones for most of my knives. I do have a few knives that were made with extra-hard ATS-34 stainless (Rockwell 60 or higher) that can only be effectively sharpened in a reasonable period of time with a diamond sharpener. For these I use an early-generation Eze-Lap in the field and a medium-size DMT "stone" here at the ranch house. The good news is that once they are sharp, these extra hard blades hold an edge exceptionally well.

I don't recommend power sharpeners for two reasons: 1.) They cause excessive wear on blades, and 2.) They don't work without utility power.

Independence from utility power is one of the central tenets of my preparedness philosophy: Don't complicate things unnecessarily. Don't use 21st Century technology when 19th Century will suffice. Long chains of dependency (like using on an elaborate photovoltaic power system to run umpteen power tools) makes the loss of that system a real show-stopper. My shop has just a few power tools but lots of old-fashioned hand tools. One of the most prominent is a hand-cranked bench grinder. It is probably 80 years old, and built to last another 80. The only thing better would be one that is treadle-powered. (I'll keep looking for one of those.)

Dear James
I saw the posts about sprouting and would like to suggest Sprout People:

The have loads of information on sprouting and have good prices for many types of sprouting seed and sprouters. I have the Sproutmaster, the Bioset and the Hemp Bag. I find the Bioset to
be the easiest (water twice a day) and larger than the Sproutmaster, which also works quite well. I also find that if you want to have sprouts every day, you really need to have two sprouters.
Sprouts are nutritious, tasty and easy to grow. They are the perfect survival food. All the best, - Kurt P.

Gold edges up towards record highs on Pakistan unrest, low dollar  

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SJC sent this piece from Jim Jubak: Don't count on a 'normal' recession

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The humorous and informative Dr. Housing Bubble blog outgrew its Blogspot hosting site, so the editors got serious and bought their own domain and hosting: www.DoctorHousingBubble.com. Be sure to update your bookmarks.

   o o o

Speaking of Dr. Housing Bubble, don't miss their recent article on California house prices: 10 Homes throughout the Golden Bubble State.

"Now stir the fire,
and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtain,
wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column;
and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate,
wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful
evening in." -William Cowper, "The Task" (1785)

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