May 2008 Archives

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles:
You are clearly (and presciently) on the record as recommending the purchase of precious metals, ahead of the current inflationary cycle. Congratulations on that excellent macro call. But I believe you also recommend holding the physical commodity rather than synthetic ownership through an exchange traded fund/note. This makes less sense to me.

As an economic hedge against fiat currency deflation, synthetic gold has lower transaction costs since you don’t have to pay for the transport of the gold, the retail broker markup, or the non-gold coinage aspects of value that are embedded into Krugerrand, Maple Leaf, and American Eagle. Gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) like the iShares Comex Trust typically charge a modest expense ratio of 0.4% per year to pay for storage and other fund costs, and gold ETFs are backed dollar-for-dollar by physical gold. Synthetic gold can be instantaneously bought and sold, and easily transferred into different currencies or across borders, with a few keystrokes.

Synthetic gold is also safer. If you own physical gold, you have to guard against theft and other loss. You could insure against this risk, but then the cost of insurance (which is quite high for precious metals) will be a material drag on your returns. I suppose one could argue that synthetic gold is exposed to extraordinarily unlikely events such as a nuclear exchange with a resulting EMP that wipes the digital record of your ownership—although I am not even sure that is correct because of redundant, multi-location data backup—but if that is the principal risk you’re trying to guard against, relocation to the Australian outback would seem more sensible (i.e., you have bigger worries than inflation).

It is true that physical gold, in a SHTF situation, would have value as an instrument of barter, whereas synthetic gold would not. However as an instrument of barter, physical gold has tremendous limitations. First, the instrument is not easily divisible, and if you were trying to barter with 1 ounce coins, it could be a bit like trying to buy things with a $100 bill and nobody being able to make change. Second, in a SHTF situation, because your barter counterparty would likely have problems establishing authenticity and weight, you would be charged a discount to value by him/her. In a nutshell, if physical gold’s bartering qualities are what attract you, I would propose that owning other commodities like coffee, cartridges, salt, etc. would be more effective.

My own view is that physical gold combines the worst of all worlds, given the risks that a reasonably prudent (but less than apocalyptic) survivalist should be considering. I’m curious about your view. - DC

JWR Replies: In precious metals investing, there is a continuum of risk that ranges from negligible risk to maximum risk. To my way of thinking, the "near end" of this continuum starts with the gold in your teeth and it terminates with highly leveraged futures contracts at the far end. Electronic gold is somewhere in between, and probably closer to the "safe" end, in normal times. However, since much of my thinking is geared toward some unpleasant "what ifs", I err on the side of caution. I realize that I'm foregoing the convenience of electronic gold, but being a survivalist dinosaur, I want my metals in hand, if at all possible.

As a preparedness-minded individual, I am relatively risk adverse, and I suspect that the majority of SurvivalBlog readers share my outlook. I recommend buying physical silver, stored very well hidden at home. See the SurvivalBlog archives for some recommendations on wall caches and other secret hiding places.

There are indeed limitations of physical gold in barter as you mentioned (and as I illustrated in the "For An Ounce of Gold" chapter of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"). Recognizing that, my approach has been to encourage my readers to buy and hold a core holding of silver coins, for barter. Pre-1965 mint date US circulated 90% silver coins are widely recognized and have small unit values that makes them ideal for barter transactions.

Your article today about diesel vehicles still providing long term cost savings was quite interesting. The question I have, and perhaps [shared by] some of your readers is this: is home heating oil and kerosene acceptable fuel for a diesel engine? - Thanks, - Jim G.

JWR Replies: Home heating oil burns fine in any diesel engine, but in may countries it is not legal to do so in a vehicle that is driven on public roads. This is a "road tax" issue. Aside for a red dye additive, the formulation of home heating oil is almost identical to the diesel that was made before the recent advent of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD). The only significant difference between the two is the Federal standard on ash content.

Kerosene is a different matter. Kerosene has insufficient lubricity to be used just by itself in a diesel engine. I have also read that it burns hotter than diesel, so it might harm injectors. However, this is largely a non-issue in all but exceptional circumstances, since kerosene typically sells for as as much as one dollar more per gallon than diesel. But in an an emergency, it is presumably safe to mix as much as 20% kerosene with your diesel and not cause excessive engine wear. And, BTW, the aforementioned road tax is also an issue for kerosene.

To explain the road tax: In the US, Canada, the UK, and several other countries it is not legal to use dyed (untaxed) fuel in a vehicle that is driven on public roads. Of course if you are using the fuel in a generator set, or in an off-road vehicle such as a tractor, you can't be accused of cheating on the road tax. The two types of diesel fuel are distinguished by the dye additive. In the US, there is no dye added to road-taxed diesel. Enforcement of these statutes varies widely, but the fines can be substantial, so stay legal.

From reader RBS: Buffett sees "long, deep" U.S. recession

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Mike W. sent us a link to a piece written by one of my heroes, Dr. Walter E. Williams: False prophets of doom--Environmentalists would prefer that we forget these predictions

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I was doing some web surfing, and a stumbled into a great collection of photos of Swiss bunkers.

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While the Novovirus threat is subsiding with warmer weather, Rourke sent us an article about a new threat, a bacteria called C-diff: Gut superbug causing more illnesses, deaths

"Unfortunately, solving our economic problems is not a simple matter of passing a law to reestablish gold or any other commodity as money. It was not the politicians, but rather the electorate that demanded the abandonment of the gold standard and the establishment of a credit-money standard. In a nation run by majority rule, unless you can convince individuals to abandon the use of government as a sword of theft, gold or any other commodity will never last as the basis for money. A gold standard is not the cause of a stable economy, it is the result of a stable economy; it is not the solution to our problem, but will be one of the consequences when a solution is found. We had a gold standard in the U.S. for over 150 years, yet it didn't prevent our current economic debacle. Establish it again, and it will be abandoned again. In fact, it may be established again just as a sly trick to restore confidence in the value of currency, since backing the dollar with gold would make people think that our problems were solved. But the problems will not be solved, not until the use of government as a method of plunder is stopped." - John Pugsley, The Alpha Strategy

Friday, May 30, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $650. This big auction is for any of you that are gun enthusiasts. It includes 17 items: A four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate, which was kindly donated by Naish Piazza of Front Sight (worth up to $2,000), a $200 gift certificate from Choate Machine and Tool Company (the makers of excellent fiberglass stocks, folding stocks, and shotgun magazine extensions), $450+ worth of full capacity magazines from my personal collection including five scarce original Ruger-made 20 round Mini-14 magazines and five scarce 20 round Beretta M92 magazines, and an autographed copy of the book "Boston's Gun Bible." The total value of this 17 item auction lot is $2,700! (See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for details on exactly what is included.) Note: Because this auction includes full capacity magazines, no bids will be accepted from outside of the US or from a resident of any state with magazine restrictions. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments. The auction ends on June 15th.

The following article is the final entry for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 17 of the writing contest begins on June 1st, so get busy!

Some of the things I will mention might have been covered before, but it never hurts to mention them again. Some readers might have missed them.

I can tell you from experience that people will tease you about your preparations, but when something happens they will come calling. My own brother borrowed my new-in-box chainsaw and my [12 VDC] jump starting [battery pack] to light up the area so that he could saw in hours of darkness. I told him to keep the jump pack charged. Several months later I got the chainsaw and jump pack back. The saw will not start and the battery is dead in the jump pack. I just held my tongue. They are only possessions. But it goes to show how stuff loaned out gets treated.

I did have a real cool setup until about six years ago when a water leak turned into a [household] mold. When the mold showed up we were told to immediately evacuate. We left with just the clothes on our backs. The second company yanked everything in the house out leaving just a shell. This took several months. We had been told it would only take two weeks. In meantime insurance company didn’t pay anyone. So a second company took all our stuff. When it was returned, we found that many items had been pilfered. After six years, our lawyer finally told us to settle but this never covered all our losses. Now we have several judgments against us. God has watched over us. We had a roof over our head and food on our plate. I'm telling this story to show how you never know what can happen.

We had a year supply of mt house food from nitro-pak, a great company. Second company took it to their warehouse where not environment controlled heat up to a 100 degrees F and cool down to 10 degrees F.

I had a three-way generator [carburetor] set up. This is a little more expensive, but it gives you options. The carburetor can use propane or natural gas or gasoline. I had it set for propane. I had a 500-gallon tank put in the back yard and a line run tom genset. With this setup, you can store more fuel, and not worry too much about it going bad. It also was hooked to the main power. If needed I could throw a switch. That was for down the power line safety for anyone working on the power lines. My main concern was for the well pump. You can’t live without water.

Some things that might have been over looked are hats to wear when going to bed in the winter. If you’ve seen the older movie about Scrooge, the hat he was wearing when he went to bed wasn’t for looks. It was for keeping warm and preventing body heat loss. Remember that you lose more heat from your head than other places on your body. In the winter, when our power has gone out we do a thing I call tenting. It is where you either pull covers over your head or leave a small hole to replace air and keep in your body heat when you exhale. You can make something to go over the end of the bed if the power failure lasts longer than a few hours.

Save old bottles, there is always a use for them. Pump bottles are good if you can buy stuff in bulk, like hand sanitizer or wash. Make sure you clean the bottles out and let them dry before using. Two liter bottles can have many uses. You can cut them up and make panels to nail down and maybe make a small greenhouse. Ideas are only limited to the imagination.

You can buy hand warmers at WalMart or Sam's Club. These can come in real handy. We had a real bad ice storm and we went to my wife’s parents house because they had a fireplace. We took our dogs and some sleeping bags that were rated at 30 degrees F, plus several blankets. We were less than 10 feet from fireplace and it was cold . Most of the heat went up chimney. I opened a hand warmer, shook it and in a few minutes it was warm. I place between my knees and went right to sleep. My wife didn’t want one and was miserable all night. Guess who was also made miserable? Yep, misery loves company. She shook me awake about every hour and told me, “I’m cold get more wood on the fire.” She had both dogs with her. The hand warmers don’t have a flame or odor and are very safe to use. Depending on what brand you get, they last from 6 to 12 hours.

Condoms. I could say enough said, but they are also multipurpose. They can be put over a gun barrel to protect it. They can hold liquids as a last resort, and just about anything that you can think of.
Stuff for foods like salt and pepper. Your body needs salt, and pepper will be hard to get. Plus any other spices you might like or need. Eating the same old food everyday gets old real quickly.

Bug nets or mosquito nets. They are not just for outside use, but inside to cover your bed at night. If power is off, most likely the windows will be open to cool off the house in the summer. Bugs have a nasty way of getting in. You can inexpensively get soft netting from eBay. Some are ready-made to cover beds. At Lowe's hardware, in their door screen section, you can buy rolls of screening and make your own inside or outside net. Get the smallest mesh possible like "No-see-um" netting.

Now that things are starting to get back to normal in our lives, we are replacing everything. If you are about broke, or on a tight budget, here are some ideas. Since I can’t afford the Mountain House foods and they [presently] are not available [in #10 cans] anyway, I buy [wet-packed canned foods in the large Number 10 cans (one gallon) at the grocery store. They are date stamped and most last almost two years. I can buy most at less than four dollars a can.

Get canned meats like beef stew and corned beef hash, canned ham, Spam etc. As of today, those are dated to expire in 2011.

Stuff like powdered Gatorade or the single serve tea packs are good. Gatorade has sugar. The tea uses Splenda. Get Splenda at Sam's Club if possible because they are cheaper there compared to the grocery store prices. [JWR Adds: I have some serious concerns about Splenda and most other synthetic sugar substitutes. See the recent SurvivalBlog letter on diabetes, for details]

Other things that might be missed are razor blades and aftershave. I don’t want to shave without them. Remember that preventative care is better than acute health care(if its available.) You will need other toiletries too.

Every time you go to store pick up a few items. Getting two cans of soup here and extra toilet paper there adds up tremendously. All these items can be used to trade with. Buy in bulk when you can. At Sam's Club get the big bags of disposable razors. If people come knocking you can give them one, or trade. Sometimes acts of kindness go a long way to settle down people with an intent on harm or who are belligerent.

Don’t forget some forms of entertainment, like books for reading. The most important book is the Bible. Trust in the Lord, He will see us through. - Tim G.

The best known symbol of the United States is the Statue of Liberty. It was a gift from the people of France, with a framework designed by Gustave Eiffel. (Yes, the same gent that designed the Eiffel Tower.) Eiffel's Liberty statue armature design was clever, and made the statue an amazingly lightweight for a structure that towers 151 feet tall. Rather than a traditional solid masonry statue, Lady Liberty is built on a hollow framework to which copper sheets are attached. I have recently come to realize that the Statue of Liberty is a fitting symbol for the United States in this new century. We are now a hollow nation.

In the past 30 years our manufacturing infrastructure has been gutted. Countless industries have moved their manufacturing offshore. Political commentator Patrick J. Buchanan summed it up well in a 2003 article for The American Conservative:

"Across America the story is the same: steel and lumber mills going into bankruptcy; textile plants moving to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the Far East; auto plants closing and opening overseas; American mines being sealed and farms vanishing. Seven hundred thousand textile workers—many of them minorities and single women—have lost their jobs since NAFTA passed in 1993."

The following are a few random observations that illustrate just how hollow our nation has become::

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the home of the "Steelers" football team now produces precious little steel. Steel production went into steep decline in the 1970s and has never recovered. The big Pittsburgh steel companies can't compete with foreign steel, some of which is state-subsidized. Sadly, the decline that starting in the 1970s has continued. The state of Pennsylvania lost another 202,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2007.

Ironically, many inventions that either originated in the US, or that were co-developed here are no longer produced in significant numbers, or even produced at all. These include the sewing machine and the television.

With each passing year, imported automobiles have gained market share in the US. The recent spike in fuel prices will make small imported cars even more popular.

The loss of American manufacturing and simultaneous increase in imports has led to some absurdities. Just try to find a pair of American-made tennis shoes in sizes for children. It seems that 95% of the tennis shoes are made in mainland China, and the rest are made in other Asian countries like Malaysia.

One of our advertisers, Wiggy's, is one the last remaining handful of sleeping bag manufacturers that has a factory in the US. Nearly all of their competitors have switched to having bags with their label made offshore.

Even trucks and heavy equipment are getting foreign competition. A decade ago, seeing a foreign-made heavy truck was a rarity. But now, it is not unusual to see A truck made by Volvo. I'm also starting to notice more Asian-built excavators, even here in the "Buy American" heartland.

America is also suffering from a loss of technological leadership. This has led to the so-called "Geek Gap". In another decade, China and India will no longer be dependent on US innovation. They will be the technological leaders.

Our dependence on imported oil has only worsened since the 1970s. If an OPEC oil embargo were to happen today, it would be devastating.

Roads, bridges, and tunnels in poor repair. Freeways designed in the 1950s and 1906s are now insufficient for current traffic flows, causing traffic delays that hinder economic efficiency.

Six decades ago, we helped win the Second World War because of our manufacturing strength. Given the decline in US manufacturing, I doubt that we could duplicate that feat. The erosion of the US defense manufacturing base is troubling. If supplies of foreign-made components were to be disrupted, we would be hard pressed to build many high technology weapons systems. I wrote about this trend when I was on the staff of Defense Electronics magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, our reliance on imported parts--particularly microcircuits and LEDs--has increased considerably. I'm talking not just about competitiveness. I'm talking about physical survival as a nation. If we have to fight a protracted major war--something similar to the Second World War--we might just lack supplies of the requisite little "fiddly bits". Too many of them are imported.

Ditto for raw materials. In the 1970s and 1980s, the US Department of Defense (DOD) created a $6.5 billion strategic stockpile program, which set aside "440,000 troy ounces of platinum, 8,500 tons of chromium, 129,000 tons of natural rubber, 47 million pounds of cobalt and more than 5 million carats of diamonds." But since the end of the Cold war, there have been calls to sell the stockpile off as "obsolete" since it would be a great "cost saving measure". Some claim that all that is needed is to set aside $24 million worth of iridium, tantalum and quartz crystal. What madness. Without tech strategic reserve there is no way that we could fight a major war that involved the disruption of shipping and air transport. There is no way, whatsoever.

Clearly, something has to change if the US is going to remain competitive in manufacturing and retain its ability to fight a protracted war. I'm not calling for government-mandated protectionism. I'm just suggesting that the "Buy American" ethic needs to be renewed. Look at labels before you make a purchase. Buy American when when you can. And if a particular item is not domestically made, then buy used items instead of new. (Typically, the older items are American made, but in any case you at least won't be sending more cash offshore.)

In many ways, The United States is entering an era that is analogous to what happened to Spain, in the waning days of their empire. Like the US is today, they were essentially a naval power. They got involved in some overseas adventures that in the long run were not profitable, using lots of borrowed money. When their credit ran out, they were forced to scale back drastically. Spain was eventually relegated to the status of a third rate power. But I should mention that in their case, their timing was particularly bad. Spain was starved of credit just as the industrial revolution was getting underway. So they essentially "missed the boat" on industrialization.

In summary, we are indeed now a hollow nation. As individuals with an interest in preparedness, we need to recognize that. At the personal level, we need to mitigate the risks that the dependence on imports has created. We should stock up, and do our best to Buy American, as we do so. We also need to recognize the macro level economic instability that the trade deficit and dependence on foreign financing have created. Be ready for a deep, long recession or even a depression. A sharp economic decline is very likely coming, and coming soon.

Reader RBS found us this: Five Foods That Are Cheaper to Grow

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RBS also found this in a Hawaiian newspaper: Gasoline thieves cutting fuel lines

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Red Cross warns of food riots over soaring prices. (A hat tip to Bill in Ohio.)

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"I Told You So" Department: Washington Mutual - One of the Nations Largest Banks Having Trouble. (We mentioned potential margin call problems at WaMu, back on March 16th.) There are bank runs coming.

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"Cowboy" found this article that ties in with the recent letter on Treet brand canned meat: Sales of Spam rise as consumers trim food costs

"Man is not free unless government is limited...
As government expands, liberty contracts." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The following is another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Successfully raising chickens after TEOTWAWKI has a few important differences from raising chickens during normal conditions in the developed world. Changes in the availability of feed, day old chicks, and increased pressure from predators and thieves are the most likely factors to precipitate failure for many people who think they understand chickens, but are not prepared for these challenges. This article addresses the adjustments that must be made to successfully raise chickens after TEOTWAWKI.

Sustained reproduction of the flock should be the primary focus of the survivalist who wishes to ensure a supply of eggs and meat into the future. In order to maintain reproduction the flock must have a nutrient rich high protein diet. Under current conditions in the developed world obtaining an adequate diet for your flock is as simple as a visit to a trusted feed mill. However the survivalist needs a different solution as prepared chicken feed does not store well. Commercial feed goes rancid quickly, often in as little as two months, particularly if the feed contains extruded soy beans.
The best choice in storage feed for chickens is feed grade whole yellow corn or sorghum, whole oats, wheat and Azomite, a mineral supplement. Azomite is a highly regarded natural mineral product which is economical and suitable for use in livestock feed, as a soil amendment and a tonic for humans. The survivalist who is committed to the long-term survival of his poultry should store a one or two year supply of feed and seed to plant future crops of grain. Seed corn does not store well and germination rates decline rapidly. Annual rotation of the open-pollinated seed corn is strongly recommended. Some farmers in living in primitive and very remote areas of the third world store a two year supply of seed corn. Each year they plant their oldest stock of seed corn and replace the seed they planted when they harvest the new crop. This is a sound technique which encourages the trait of longer seed viability and at the same time ensures a reserve of seed in the event of a crop failure.

In order to economically meet the protein requirements of the flock’s diet, allow them to free range, use portable pasture pens or feed insects to the birds. The biggest problem with allowing chickens to roam free is the high, often devastating losses to theft and predators. It would be possible to feed soybeans for the protein and fat values they offer. However soybeans must be roasted or otherwise cooked before use as feed to deactivate growth inhibiting substances in the soybean. This additional step is labor intensive and therefore the use of soybeans is not recommended. Raising insects for your flock can be done easily with either earth worms or fly larva otherwise know as maggots. There are ample resources detailing earthworm production available elsewhere and so we will not examine this subject in depth here, in the attached supplement are directions for a controversial technique for producing fly larva under difficult conditions. Under normal or favorable conditions allowing chickens to scratch through compost, a manure pile or deep bedding will supply the protein needs of the chicken.

The final key to producing fertile eggs that will result in acceptable hatching rates is adequate vitamins. In most cases the best solution is to use portable grazing pens to allow the birds to eat all the grass and weeds they can. Two of the more common designs are wood framed “Salatin Pens” and portable hoop houses. The portable hoop house offers the advantages of easier access to the interior and welded construction with a light weight steel frame. A 10’ x 15’ hoop house is an easy to manage size. It is also helpful to soak or germinate grain before feeding in order to increase the vitamin content of the grain. It is best to feed the germinated seed while the sprouts are the same length as the seed.

Once your flock is eating a nutritious diet keep your eyes open for a hen exhibiting interest in nesting. It is best to have several experienced hens or female turkeys for hatching eggs. There is a learning curve both for the survivalist and the hen. The hen must have a safe place at a comfortable temperature with food and water available at all times and which is inaccessible to the other hens. Other hens will chase the setting hen off the nest to lay their eggs there unless they are denied access. There are several advantages to using a turkey for hatching eggs. In the first place the turkey can sit on more eggs than a hen can. Secondly a turkey can defend her nest and chicks far more aggressively than a chicken. A hen turkey will often give a beating to a curious dog or any other intruder that she sees as threat to her chicks. Also a hen turkey will not allow any other hen to peck or bully her chicks the way many non-dominate hens will, she is the biggest bird in the flock and demands respect for her chicks. As a result the mortality rate of hen turkey raised chicks is often lower than when raised by a hen. One consideration with a hen turkey is that she walks and runs faster and further than a hen will. In order to reduce stress and avoid over exertion of the new chicks it is advisable to use a hoop house or other pen to restrict the movement of the hen turkey and her chicks.
Within 24 hours of hatching the chicks should be offered food and water. Be very careful to insure that the watering pan is chick safe and will not be likely to drown or trap chicks. The chicks will readily eat crumbs and scraps from your table along with freshly ground coarse cornmeal, Azomite and finely chopped liver if available. They should have small gravel and sand available for grit. As the chicks grow they will be able to handle cracked and then whole grains. Sorghum and wheat are smaller and easier to swallow than corn and oats.

In primitive conditions the pressure from predators is frequently greater than in more modern situations. It quickly becomes obvious that everyone likes to eat chickens and their eggs; that includes neighbors, dogs, coyotes, house cats, rats, possums, coon, snakes, hawks and skunks. The protection that portable grazing pens offer is the first line of defense against predators and thieves. Dogs that are bonded with chickens and other small livestock are very helpful but you must back them up with traps and a gun. One of the most effective traps for feral dogs, possum and skunk is a Connibear trap in front of a bucket with bait in the bottom. It is very important not to set any of the larger Connibear traps where a small child could get in the trap as the 220 and larger connibears may kill or seriously injure a child. It is advisable to have a gun handy when caring for the flock because it is virtually assured that sooner or later it will be necessary to terminate the depredations of a feral dog or other varmint.

In summary there are challenges involved in raising chickens under primitive conditions after TEOTWAWKI. However with a little foresight and planning chickens can be a productive source of high quality protein, even under difficult circumstances. Supplement: Insect protein for challenging conditions.

Harsh dry conditions may make the common sources of insect protein unavailable. A prolonged drought can almost completely eliminate available insect life and turn compost in to lifeless piles of bone dry organic matter. In many tropical and sub-tropical climates with a dry season and monsoon such events happen every year. The end of the dry season becomes a time of suffering as the water sources dry up. Insects disappear and egg production all but ceases at the time additional food is needed most. Children become malnourished, sicken and die, when an egg a day would have saved their lives.

Cultivating fly larva on animal carcasses is one controversial technique that produces an abundance of fly larva under the worst of drought conditions. Under no circumstances is the production of maggots from poultry carcasses or offal recommended due to the risk of disease and parasite transmission. To produce fly larva simply throw any healthy animals or animal parts you do not wish to eat in a barrel with a scavenger proof lid on it, feral dogs are ideal candidates. At times it may be necessary to add a few cups of water as needed to keep things from drying out. This process stinks but produces a steady stream of fly larva, which when fed to the hens are converted into an abundant supply of eggs.

It is important to not allow the chickens to eat the decomposing flesh from which you are producing the larva due to the risk of food poisoning or disease transmission. The simplest method for separating the flesh and larva is to install a grate a foot above the bottom of the barrel. The carcasses remain above the grate but the larva fall through into the bottom of the barrel. By cutting a couple openings large enough to provide access to the larva a very low maintenance scavenger proof self serve feeder is created.

Several advantages are realized by feeding the larva to the chickens rather than directly feeding the animal flesh. First, insects of all types are a natural food for chickens. Second, the risk of disease transmission is greatly reduced by preventing direct contact between the chickens and the animal parts. Third, larva are a very low cost source of protein. Even in the best of times the protein component of poultry feed is costly, during a severe drought it may be completely unavailable. Fourth, by attracting flies to lay their eggs in the feeder and feeding all resulting larva to the chickens the local fly population is reduced thereby reducing the risk of transmitting fly-borne diseases to humans. Fifth, raising fly larva for poultry feed is a traditional solution to the problem of finding sufficient protein for a flock of chickens under difficult conditions. Other methods of obtaining protein for the flock are preferable but under extreme famine conditions this is a valid solution.

About the Author:
"Gospel Guy" has gardened and cared for chickens since childhood, and has raised pastured poultry commercially. For the last three years he has raised chickens for his family’s use just outside a small town in the mountains of a Third World country where he is a Christian missionary of the reformed tradition. One of his favorite ways to relax is watching chickens forage and play. His planning for TEOWAWKI is geared toward preserving knowledge and culture through a multi-generational societal collapse in the tradition of the monasteries of the dark ages. If you appreciate the author’s work, please thank him by collecting and preserving books, art and music.

Paul from Kentucky sent this: Pioneers show Americans how to live "off-grid"

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John in Ohio flagged this: Diesels [Still] Equal Savings. The article didn't mention the price differential between road-taxed diesel and "off road " diesel. Currently, off-road (dyed) diesel sells for about 50 cents less per gallon than the road-taxed variety. That makes a big difference for those of us that store diesel for tractors and diesel generators.

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I spotted this article linked at Drudge: US home prices drop at sharpest rate in 20 years. I predict this downward spiral will continue for at least four years.

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SurvivalBlog reader "Tanker" noticed that the US Federal Reserve is continuing to increase the size of its now ongoing Term Auction Facility (TAF) liquidity-pumping frenzy. Check out the figure at the bottom of the "Non-borrowed" column! That is a lot of money created out of thin air. The global credit crunch is far from over.

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation then by deflation, the banks and the corporations will grow up around them, will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." - Thomas Jefferson, from the debate on the recharter of the Bank Bill, (1809)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In 1890, the US Census Bureau made its pronouncement that America's western "frontier" was closed.

One television program that the Memsahib really enjoys re-watching now and again is the PBS series Frontier House. That led to a discussion of when the frontier officially closed. While researching that, I stumbled into the National Center for Frontier Communities web site. They have a very loose "by consensus" definition of what defines a "frontier" county. This map shows the absurdity of their definition. I suspect that they made the definition loose, so that participants can qualify for government grants. If you look at the Year 2000 US Census data, it is a far better gauge of who actually lives in truly remote rural counties. For example, in California, only 2% of the population lives in frontier counties, but in Wyoming the figure is 73.9%.

The generally accepted threshold for "Frontier" population density is six or fewer people per square mile. But to this day, there is no official definition of what "frontier" means. By my definition, less than 100 counties in the Lower 48 States could still be considered truly "frontier."

So here are some of my subjective estimations of what constitutes a present-day frontier county:

When a tree falls down across the county road you don't even bother calling the county road department. You just get out your chainsaw.

You know the names of all of the neighbors in a five mile radius.

A shopping trip sometimes requires buying more than one tank of gasoline.

There won't be cellular service in your area for another 5 or 10 years, but nobody really wants it, for fear that it will attract yuppie land buyers.

Nearly every conversation includes the phrase "Get 'er done!", and nobody thinks that its a humorous reference.

The only factor that keeps you from having the lowest car insurance rate in the nation is the high number of deer collisions

Your friends' most closely guarded secrets are the locations of their favorite fishing holes and berry patches.

The nearest grocery store also sells fishing bait, propane, ammo, Ivermectin paste, and T-posts.

One out of every five vehicles that you pass on the highway is a quad ATV.

The standard greeting for two months of each year for men, women, and children is: "Hi! Did you get your elk yet?"

Though this PDF starts out explaining how to make "briquettes" for cooking fuel, it eventually shows a crude oil extraction press. This could be a handy tool for supplementing one's diet with vegetable and nut oils and also for making biodiesel (or for use in a Straight Vegetable Oil powered engine). Regards, - Hawaiian K.

We are on board with what is coming. Regarding location, my concern for the Idaho and Montana areas are the Yellowstone caldera - should it have a massive eruption and being downwind from the Seattle area should there be a nuke attack there. What are your thoughts, please? Thank you - John

JWR Replies: All of Idaho is upwind of Yellowstone except for during the most unusual weather conditions. Ditto for any parts of Montana where you would likely want to live. This is because anywhere that is east (downwind) of Yellowstone is also potentially downwind of the Montana missile fields. (Headquartered at Malmstrom Air Force Base near Great Falls, but dispersed across an area of several hundred square miles.).

As for your mention of the anticipated fallout from targets like Seattle and Bremerton, essentially the only portion of the continental US that is not downwind of a potential nuclear target is California's northern coast (from Mendocino County northward), and southwestern Oregon. And even people living there have to worry about residual fallout from nuclear strikes in Asia. The bottom line is that every family in the US should have a fallout shelter. And some families that live near anticipated nuclear targets need a combination fallout and blast shelter.

"The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in." - General George Washington, January 14, 1776

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mr. Rawles,
I just graduated from college this month and am still under the huge weight of college loans. I want to get prepared, but my budget (for now, at least), is very tight. You said that water should be the highest priority. I agree with the wisdom of that. I'd like to buy a [gravity ceramic] Big Berky [water] filter, but they are way too expensive. Even an Aqua Rain [filter] would be too much of an expense. Are there any lower cost alternatives for water filtration? Thank You, - R.T.D.

JWR Replies: The least expensive option is to make your own filter. In my experience, the much-touted field-expedient sand and clay filters are only effective for use as a pre-filter. Their output still has a brown-tinged pond water look to it, and since the filter media is so coarse, they do not remove all harmful bacteria. (So their output still has to be treated either chemically, or by boiling.) You can, however, buy Berky filter white ceramic filter elements by themselves from a number of vendors including Ready Made Resources and Lehman's. With these elements, you can build your own bargain basement "Berky Clone". This consists of a pair of food grade plastic buckets, stacked one above the other. The top bucket has one or more holes drilled in it, to accept the Berky spare filter elements. Each element by itself costs around $40 . To get decent volume production from your filter, I recommend that you buy at least two elements. (A set of four is best.)


4 - Food Grade HDPE food storage buckets (three to six gallon capacity), with lids
1 to 4 - Big Berky White Ceramic Filter Elements


Drill one to four 1/2-inch diameter holes near the bottom-center of the upper bucket. (The same number of holes as you have filter elements.) Space the holes at least two inches apart and no closer than 1-1/2 inches from the edge of the bucket perimeter.With clean hands (to avoid contaminating the filter pores), insert the filters in the holes, screwing down their nuts on the bottom of the upper bucket. The nuts are plastic, so do not over-tighten them. But they must be tight enough to compress the o-ring seal, or the seal may leak--and this would be a contaminating leaks. (The filters point upward into the upper bucket, to avoid damage and to allow them to be cleaned periodically.)

Using a jig saw, cut a 7-1/2-inch diameter hole in the center of the lid of the lower bucket.

A third bucket is used to carry water. The fourth bucket is used as a pre-filter. This has a piece of tightly-woven cloth that is wired or taped over the top. Since the cloth will be saturated and will drip over the edge the pre-filtering step is best done outdoors, or in a large laundry sink. If treating river, stream on pond water, be sure to use a pre-filter. Just using a couple of thickness of T-shirt material will greatly extend the useful life of your secondary filter element(s).


Set the bucket with the hole in the lid on a low, stable surface. Stack the bucket with the filter element(s) on top of it. Gently pour pre-filtered water into the upper bucket, until it is nearly full. Note: Be very careful not to spill any water down the exterior of the upper bucket, or you will contaminate the water in the bucket beneath. This is a slow filtering process, so be patient. Even with four filter elements, it will take a considerable time to filter six gallons.

Mr Rawles,
I have been a survival blog reader for over a year now, and my hat is off to you, sir. "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", and the information presented on these pages have been extremely positive influences in my planning and preparations. While I have been, to this point, content to absorb the wealth of knowledge presented here, I was compelled by a recent post to submit this correspondence.

In [the letter posted on Sunday] titled "Clash of World Views”, David D. makes the claim that “We’ve had our grand experiment in deregulation and the magic of the market, and it’s now perfectly clear where it got us.” I would respectfully submit that a deregulated free market and personal responsibility are quite a bit removed from the causal factors in the current state of affairs, which is more correctly attributable to injections of “equality” and “safety nets” into what would be a self-regulating system, otherwise. Where equality is the goal, excellence is a casualty. When the incentive for achievement is removed, mediocrity and sloth are inevitable results. If excellence and success are not rewarded, but instead, the products of those efforts are forcibly redistributed by government intervention, we are enabling the parasitic existence of an exponentially growing number of non-contributing dependents. Gone, too, is the incentive to get off the dole. When receiving assistance from the charity of a neighbor, a reasonable man soon endeavors to better their condition in order to remove the requirement of outside help, and indeed, to pay back the favor in whatever way possible. When the system provides sustenance through the form of an anonymous check every month, the incentive to better one’s condition has been removed by the government “safety net”. Measures meant to protect equality and provide safety invariable hamstring the self-regulating nature of a free market, and we have, in this country, injected enough equality and safety into what started as a free market to strangle and pervert the “grand experiment” into a near unrecognizable form.

I am greatly disheartened at where we now find ourselves, so far from the intent of our founding fathers, when all men were created equal, but where they went from there was based on their own exertions, and not augmented by the social “entitlements” they were eligible for. Wise men began this endeavor in federal government with the intent to keep the entity small and out of most state affairs. With a staggering portion of the national budget now going towards entitlements, in effect, redistributing wealth, and with volumes of regulatory and mala prohibita nonsense, we are a far cry from a free market. We have long been sliding down the slippery slope into a socialist democracy where those supported by the efforts of better men have the electoral power to increase their claim to the fruits of the labor of others through votes, sympathy, and by invoking a twisted sense of social guilt. We have been legislated into chains, and each year, as our liberties are taken under the guise of stewardship, they grow heavier.

We need more people willing to take ownership of their own destiny, and fewer victims waiting for rescue. We need less regulation, more liberty, and the attendant greater personal responsibilities. Our founders meant to provide these conditions in perpetuity through the Constitution for these United States, and I truly believe that if we can undertake stripping back the perversions we have applied to their intent, this document from our past is the key to a successful future. I, for one, would welcome a world where “equality” refers to the interaction among men according to the Golden Rule, and the “safety nets” are provided by family, community, church, and charity, instead of through wasteful and overbearing government redistribution. Thanks for all you do, - D.

Jack B. recommended this piece by James Howard Kunstler: Wake Up, America. We're Driving Toward Disaster

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A news headline that we've anticipated: As homes foreclose in U.S., squatters move in.

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Naish Piazza's most recent weekly blog post includes a video clip that makes it clear just how incompetent and ignorant the liberal gun grabbers are. OBTW, Naish Piazza's very generous "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer will likely end soon, since it is being run at or near cost. Don't delay!

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From an Athens, Greece newspaper: Hunger collides with oil prices. (Thanks to Jack in Texas for that link.)

"Every action is seen to fall into one of three main categories, guarding, hitting, or moving. Here, then, are the elements of combat, whether in war or pugilism." - Military Historian B. H. Liddell Hart

Monday, May 26, 2008

The following is another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The author has gardened and preserved food since childhood. He has been using lacto-fermentation since 2001. For the last three years he has lived on the outskirts of a small town in the mountains of a Third World country where he is a Christian missionary in the reformed tradition. His planning for TEOTWAWKI is geared toward preserving knowledge and culture through a multi-generational societal collapse in the tradition of the monasteries of the Dark Ages. If you appreciate the author’s work, please join him in collecting and preserving books, art and music.

In a world with no power from the electrical grid how can perishable foods be stored? Drying and canning are common solutions but are not suitable for all foods. Canning in particular is troublesome due to its dependence on access to industrial supply chains for new lids or seals, the need for precise control of temperature and time, and its consumption of large amounts of energy. The easiest, cheapest and most overlooked method of food preservation is by lacto-fermentation which has the advantages of making the food more digestible and neither precise measurements nor exacting temperature controls are necessary. Lacto-fermentation is the intentional culture of lactic acid loving bacteria to preserve and flavor food. Lacto-fermentation is not an alcohol producing process. Rather it creates an acidic environment which is not favorable to the growth of spoilage causing organisms. Lacto-fermented foods contain large amounts of enzymes and beneficial bacterial, preserve temperature sensitive vitamins, and have a delightful tangy taste. Many people with digestive problems find that eating lacto-fermented foods frequently will provide relief. A further benefit of lacto-fermented vegetables is that when eaten on a regular basis they help to prevent diarrhea. Using lacto-fermentation yogurt, cheese, pickles, fermented vegetables and sauerkraut can all be made from materials readily available on the homestead. Foods produced by lacto-fermentation will keep for extended periods of time in a cave, root cellar, spring house, evaporative cooler or, if one is available, in the refrigerator.

The best way to begin enjoying the benefits of lacto-fermentation is by placing raw milk in a clean covered container and setting it in a warm place with a temperature in the upper 70’s or 80’s. Let the milk sit until it sours and then gets thick like yogurt, this will require from two to four days depending on the temperature and bacteria count in the milk. At this point several options present themselves:

1. Simply cool the clabbered milk and eat it with your morning oatmeal.
2. To make a very soft cream cheese similar to Neufchatel pour the clabbered milk into a cheesecloth-lined colander and drain the whey. Save the whey to use as starter for future batches of cheese, yogurt or lacto-fermented vegetables.
3. To make hard cheese heat the clabbered milk gently in a double boiler, near the chimney of the wood cook stove or other hot location until it separates into soft curds and whey. Once it begins to separate gently cut the curds into pieces using a clean knife without removing the curds from the whey. Then slowly raise the temperature until the curds and whey boil. The hotter and longer it is heated the harder the cheese will be. Pour the curds and whey into a cheese cloth-lined colander, basket or other container which will allow the whey to escape and when most of the whey has drained away salt the curds according to taste. Higher levels of salt promote better storage but many people prefer the flavor of lower salt cheeses. Set a clean rock on a plate on top of the curds wrapped in cheesecloth to compress the curds and force out the rest of the whey. The heavier the weight used to press the cheese the harder and dryer the cheese will be. The cheese can then be aged according your preference. Air drying in a screened, fly-proof, cool, breezy area to form a rind is recommended and should be followed by waxing and storage in a cool place. Variation in the technique outlined above will produce an endless variety of cheeses. The whey from the hard cheese making can be used in cooking and baking, to make drinks, or as animal feed. Chickens, pigs, dogs, and cats all love whey. Whey from hard cheese cannot be used as a starter because the beneficial bacteria were killed when the whey was heated.

Whey from the soft cheese can be used as a starter for any lacto-fermentation process. The advantage to using the whey as a starter for yogurt, cheese and lacto-fermented vegetables is that it often results in a much milder tasting and smelling product. The initial souring of the milk can occasionally result in strong odors and tastes that, while perfectly harmless, are offensive to the unaccustomed palate.

To make yogurt, place a small quantity of whey from the soft cheese into a clean jar. A couple tablespoons of whey are about right for a quart but precise measurement is not required. In the future when you have a particularly tasty batch of yogurt a small portion of that yogurt can be used as starter in place of the whey, this will increase your chances of getting another batch like the one you liked. Thoroughly mix the starter with enough raw milk to nearly fill the jar and place in a warm draft free location which is about body temperature. It is very important that the milk which you have cultured with the whey not be disturbed and that the temperature remains constant, otherwise it will separate into curds and whey. The yogurt will be ready to cool and eat in 4 to 8 hours depending on the conditions. The yogurt may be carefully checked to see if it has thickened but be careful not to disturb it too much. Cooling the yogurt before serving will reduce its tendency to separate into to curds and whey. Commercial yogurt often has products added to stabilize it and reduce separation. If the yogurt comes out with a strong flavor the most likely cause was keeping the yogurt warm for too long. Try making another batch and either reduce the temperature at which the yogurt is fermented or reduce amount of time the yogurt is kept warm. Strong flavored yogurt, if it was cause by high temp or overlong fermentation, can be used as starter for a new batch and the strong flavor will not be passed on to the new batch. However if the yogurt smells yeasty it is fine to eat or make cheese from it but it should not be used as starter unless the object is to make more yeasty yogurt

Traditionally cabbage is the vegetable most commonly preserved by lacto-fermentation. Today, however, most sauerkraut is preserved by pickling in vinegar rather than by lacto-fermentation. The flavor of pickled sauerkraut is far more acidic and harsh than that of sauerkraut produced by lacto-fermentation and has much lower levels of vitamins and enzymes. The following recipe presents a method of producing traditional sauerkraut which leaves the vitamins and enzymes intact.

The following materials are needed to make sauerkraut. If no whey is available double the salt; however not using whey increases the chances of spoilage.
1 medium Cabbage
4 tablespoons whey from soft cheese or yogurt
1 tablespoon Non-iodized salt such as Real Salt TM, sea salt, or canning salt
Thoroughly cleaned jars or crocks.

Shred the cabbage using a sharp knife or grater.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pound with a wooden masher or meat hammer until the cabbage releases juice. This usually requires 10 to 15 minutes of pounding depending on how much cabbage is being processed and who is doing it.

Pack the mixture TIGHTLY into the clean glass jars and mash it down until the juice covers it completely. In some cases it may be necessary to use a weight to hold the cabbage under the surface of the liquid. If there is not enough juice add additional whey. Cover the jars to keep out insects, mice and dust. Canning jars and lids work well but any jar or crock will do.

Store the sauerkraut at room temperature for several days and then move to a cool place. The sauerkraut will keep well for six months or longer and the flavor will improve with age. Many people like to add additional ingredients, such as caraway seed, shredded carrots, onions, chili peppers or what ever strikes their fancy. The same process, omitting the pounding, can be used with cucumbers, beets and turnips as well as many other vegetables in place of cabbage. In the event that the lacto-fermented vegetables spoil the odor will be so vile that nobody would be willing to taste them. Spoilage in lacto-fermented foods is very obvious unlike canned foods where the food can be fatally contaminated by botulism yet show no obvious sign of spoilage.

Lacto-fermentation as a method of food preparation and preservation is a useful addition to the skill set of anyone who wishes to preserve food safely and does not have access to the power grid and modern supply chains. Lacto-fermentation used in conjunction with drying, potting, salting and smoking allows the preservation of virtually any food produced on the homestead with out relying on outside inputs other than salt.

Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary G. Ph.D. Nourishing Traditions, Washington, DC: NewTrends Publishing, 2001.

JWR Adds: Be sure to follow the necessary safety guidelines for lacto-fermentation. If you suspect that a batch has gone "off" then discard it. Anyone with a sensitive stomach should show great caution when considering adding fermented foods to their diet.

Mr. Rawles,
First, I would like to say thank you for honoring our Lord in your work. Thanks also, for writing your novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". It is excellent. I have been recommending it to all of those I love.

As I have been preparing for a while, I have been more often cooking my prep food and trying to adjust to that life style. I have been caching "Treet". It is a canned [spiced luncheon] meat that has a consistency similar to bologna. I have been storing Treet rather than Spam, because it is supposed to keep for about a year longer than Spam, and it is about 75 cents less expensive [per can].

The following is a delicious recipe that I came up with from my survival stores.

1-1/2 cup rice
1- Teaspoon of salt
A few shakes of garlic powder
A few shakes of onion powder
Some celery seed
Parsley flakes
A dash of paprika since color affects our attitudes about food
One can of cubed Treet, sauteed
Soy Sauce to taste

Cook the rice to the desired consistency and then add the cubed Treet and soy sauce. Adjust salt and soy to your preferences. - Trevor T.

More than a dozen readers mentioned this prominent mainstream media mention: Energy fears looming, new survivalists prepare. This was an Associated Press wire service article also ran in the Washington Post, on, and in daily papers across the nation. It is no wonder that all of the long term storage food vendors are getting deluged with orders. Some of the Sheeple are awakening.

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From one of my distant cousins across the Atlantic: Dr. Kate Rawles: Why the climate change debate has gone wrong

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And from Tom Rawles, one of my more closely-related cousins (third cousin, once-removed), in Arizona: Can A Christian Be A Libertarian?

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This article from Canada makes it abundantly clear that having a Facebook page is not good OPSEC: 'Sleep with an AK, ride with a .45'--Internet discussions show young man preoccupied with guns, survivalism. The article is also further evidence that Canada is developing a full blown firearms phobia. From now on, I suppose that I should refer to Canada as "Nanny State, North". (A hat tip to reader JT, for sending us the link.)

"Just because the river is quiet does not mean the crocodiles have left." - Malay proverb

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hello Jim,
I'm a 26 year old guy living in the city in Washington [state]. I've been watching the world deteriorate over the past five years, and suspect it will get worse faster. For a long time, I'd simply resigned myself to dying young. It didn't really bother me (probably because it was not at hand.)

But recently I've been thinking that I might have a chance, and anyway I've never liked this "labor for dollars" way of life. I've saved up $140,000 and about 3-to-4 year's worth of stored food. I have very low expenses, no debt, and no attachments. (Though I don't have much of a support network either.)

I'm smart and have plenty of ideas, but little experience. I'm not afraid of hard work though, and I want to get some space so I can stop daydreaming and start working. (I don't even have space for a garden here in the city.) I've quit my job so I'd have time to dedicate to this.

I was thinking that I could get a small amount of land, and start building it up towards self-sufficiency. I checked out, but [the current listings there are] all out of my price range.

I'm trying to find about five quality acres, about half wooded, with a good water source that I can begin to cultivate. I would live there full time, and work on it full time. My "dream" is to simply live, and not have to deal with dollars and bosses ever again, preferring to trade and share with neighbors as much as possible in the kind of meaningful community that's hard to find in the big city. I have vague worries about property taxes since I'd have no income, but I could pay them from savings for a while.

At this point, I'm honestly not concerned about defensibility (although I do want it "out of the way"). Land seems very expensive in most places (about $50,000 for 5 acres), but I think I don't know where to look. I've found better prices in Arkansas ($15,000 to $30,000 for 5-to-10 acres), but of course I haven't actually seen the properties. I was thinking to spend a maximum of $70,000 on land, so I'd have $70,000 left for everything else.

I could always go back to work and save more money, but I feel like world events are accelerating and it might be now or never. Do you have any advice for me? Methods to find good land, other approaches I should consider? Thank you very much, - Adam M.

JWR Replies: Wow! Yours certainly is a different story from what I usually hear from SurvivalBlog readers! The majority of my readers have no savings and plenty of debt. Normally, I recommend that folks in their 20s--who are usually cash poor--join an existing group retreat. But in your unusual case, I suggest that you form your own group, handpicking a few individuals--namely: a jack of all trades, a doctor, a master gardener/small scale farmer, and someone with infantry combat experience. (My novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" shows a retreat group with a good mix of skills. Since you have the cash available to buy the land, you can call the shots--you would pick the locale, you would form the group, and as the land owner you would effectively control and direct the group.

As I almost always advise my consulting clients: Unless you can work from home, and hence live at a rural retreat full time, it is important to recruit someone that is willing to live at the retreat full time and be the caretaker. See my Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area static page for some recommendations on networking in a discreet manner.

It is probably not realistic to expect that you can live entirely self-sufficiently and not eventually eat up your retained earnings. If you would like to to be your retreat's resident caretaker, then I recommend that you develop a recession-proof home based business so that you will have cash available for necessities and for paying your property taxes. (See the SurvivalBlog Archives for details on self-employment and home-based businesses.)

If you'd like to stay in Washington (I assume for the purposes of avoiding a state income tax) one area that I recommend for retreats is Winthrop, Washington. If that doesn't appeal to you, see my other retreat locale recommendations, as well as the greater detail included in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" In particular, see my warnings on the Olympic Peninsula and its proximity to the hordes of Seattle. Also see the discussion in the blog a few months back about the the limited number of constrictive highway routes across the Cascades.

If income tax is not a big issue for you, then my top choice for retreats is Idaho. In the portions of Idaho that are beyond commuting distance of the population centers (where jobs are plentiful), the land prices are still affordable. Towns like St. Maries and Bovill are semi-remote. Towns like Elk River, and Elk City are truly remote. That is where you can find some bargains, especially in the "buyer's market" that exists today.

Please take full advantage of the SurvivalBlog archives before sending any follow-up questions. (Most of what you'll need to know is in the archives!)

Dear Editor::
I have followed SurvivalBlog for some time now and find it very interesting and helpful. I believe your readers may be interested in the two following listed [PDF] articles about planning and execution of "expedition" type bicycle travel and motor vehicle travel. While not specifically "SHTF" planning, both go into great detail on selection, supplies, planning, and actual execution of trips in (or "on", in the case of bicycles) both forms of travel and are not the typical "give me my bullets 'n beans" articles so prevalent on other web sites.

Desert Expeditions [This PDF was already mentioned in SurvivalBlog.]
Bicycle Expeditions

Thanks again for such a great web site! Best Regards, - Bob

Mr. Rawles:

[Your frequent quotes from conservatives such as Thomas Sowell and Austrian School economists] blithely ignore the reality of corporatism, authoritarianism, predation, and entrenched elites. We've had our grand experiment in deregulation and the magic of the market, and it's now perfectly clear where it got us. Why don't you look up a good quote on the definition of an idealogue [sic] -- someone who won't let go of pretty delusions even when the real world proves the idealogy [sic] wrong. This is where the right wing is today. They want yet more of what has driven this country onto the rocks.

If you're interested in applying thought, rather than [vulgar word deleted] right wing slogans, to our current economic problems, I'd recommend that you spend a little time on Nouriel Roubini's web site in the spotlight area "Do We Need to Promote Localization to Save Globalization." Inequality and the weakening of the safety net is hobbling, not freeing, the American economy. - David D.

JWR Replies: The context of the words "inequality" and "safety net" and the overall tone of your letter are indicative that you favor socialism. I am opposed to socialism, fascism, communism, and any any other other "-ism" that uses force to deny anyone else of their, life, liberty, or property. One of my dreaded "-isms" is socialism. (And, FWIW, I am opposed to it just a strongly as I am communism and fascism.) Red flags went up when I saw you use the terms "Inequality" and "safety net". Those are are both popular buzzwords of socialism. You asked me to look at a web site. So it is only "fair" and "equitable" that you do likewise: See this animation that nicely sums up my libertarian philosophy.

Ponder what socialism does: In essence, in redistributes wealth, by force. Even if that force has a friendly American face, under the color of law, with a neat and orderly system of taxation, it is nonetheless still force. The bottom line is that under the socialist model, without my consent, some of my earnings are forcibly extracted from me and eventually put into the hands of another citizen that did not earn them. If I refuse to pay my taxes, then I will pay huge fines and/or go to prison. Period.

Whenever you see a Federal courthouse, just imagine that there a dungeon beneath it. (Of course, in reality, the "dungeon" is a sprawling prison, way off in some rural county.) The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the "free" world. One contributing factor for the high incarceration rate is our system of taxation.

All of the foregoing is not to say that I don't believe in charity. Quite to the contrary, I'm part of the small Christian minority in this country that still gives a full tithe (one tenth of my gross earnings) to my church, as well as additional donations to other charities. I do so gladly, as a "cheerful giver." (And it is noteworthy that I'm not alone. Conservatives are statistically far more generous givers than liberals.) To sum up my point: To extract taxes by force to fund a wretchedly inefficient socialist wealth redistribution plan is the worst sort if tyranny. It is slavery with almost invisible shackles.

Hawaiian K found us this: Energy Watchdog Warns of Oil-Production Crunch--Daily 12.5 Mil Barrel shortfall by 2015

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Eric flagged this article: More go off-grid as economy tanks

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Reader N.L. mentioned that an on-line Volunteer Safety and Survival Reference is available for free download. It is an updated and expanded version of “The Universal Survival Handbook” published in 1979, by David A. Nuttle,

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Jack B. sent us this: Soaring oil prices may end dollar global status - Study

“Various kinds of ideas can be classified by their relationship to the authentication process. There are ideas systematically prepared for authentication ("theories"), ideas not derived from any systematic process ("visions"), ideas which could not survive any reasonable authentication process ("illusions"), ideas which exempt themselves from any authentication process ("myths"), ideas which have already passed authentication processes ("facts"), as well as ideas known to have failed- or certain to fail- such processes ("falsehoods" - both mistakes and lies).” - Thomas Sowell

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. There are still a lot of preparedness-minded folks that have not yet heard about the blog . Links in your e-mail footer and/or at your web page or blog page would be greatly appreciated!

Any basic care kit in a WTSHTF scenario would be lacking if it did not include several essential oils. Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times for medical and religious purposes; its proponents have included Galen (personal physician to Marcus Aurelius), Avicenna (an Arab physician at the turn of the first millennium) and Rene Gattefosse (the father of modern aromatherapy). Essential oils are mentioned in Chinese medical texts dating back over 4,000 years; they were utilized by the Egyptians to embalm their dead. When the Black Death (bubonic plague) ravaged Europe during the Middle Ages, aromatherapists were largely unaffected (probably due to the fact that certain essential oils repel rodents, which carry the fleas which transmit the disease). Hence, in any situation where traditional medical care is severely limited, essential oils serve a valuable purpose. There are several important factors to consider when using essential oils:
1. One must know the botanical names of the plants associated with such oils. If one sees a bottle of “marjoram,” is it sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana), a sedative, or wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare), a stimulant also known as oregano, which is considered too toxic for human use? If one wishes to obtain chamomile and buys Ormemis multicaulis, he is really purchasing Ormenis oil, which is not a true chamomile. Therefore, knowledge of scientific botanical names is an absolute necessity.
2. Never take essential oils internally-some are toxic in very small doses (eucalyptus has caused fatalities in doses less than a teaspoonful). Given orally, they will cause severe damage to the mucous membrane of the GI tract. They are also not as effective orally as they are topically—gastric acids & digestive enzymes alter their molecular structure.
3. Less is more with essential oils; a few drops is all that is necessary to produce a desired effect; in addition, they are synergistic when mixed together (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). For example, the anti-inflammatory effects of chamomile are increased when combined with lavender.
4. Buy essential oils from a reputable manufacturer such as Aroma Vera, Aura Cacia, Radiant Garden, or Original Swiss Aromatics. Vitacost ( offers high quality essential oils at bargain prices.
5. Essential Oils do not come with an expiration date; Citrus oils (orange, lemon, lime, etc.) tend to degrade most quickly (six month shelf life); the typical shelf life of essential oils is about two years. However, some essential oils, such as rose, jasmine, or eucalyptus globulus, become more potent with age.
6. Store essential oils in dark glass bottles; they degrade plastic.
7. If buying as essential oil from a store, place a drop of it on tissue paper. They are volatile. If an oily streak remains after a couple of minutes, the oil has been diluted with a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil or grape seed oil).
8. As a rule, one should not apply essential oils undiluted to the skin; severe skin rashes or phototoxic reactions (exaggerated sunburn) may occur.
9. Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before topical use. A good rule of thumb is 2-5 drops of essential oil in 5 ml (1 teaspoonful) of carrier oil. Good examples of carrier oils include sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, or even corn oil.
10. For children, use a dosage of 1-2 drops of essential oil per 5ml carrier oil. Good essential oils for children include tangerine, lavender, chamomile, and spearmint.
11. Some essential oils must not be used during pregnancy. These include birch, sweet marjoram, myrrh, thyme, and rosemary.
12. Never get essential oils in your eyes; if this happens, first dilute the essential oil with milk or vegetable oil, then flood the eye with water. Using water first will simply intensify the burning sensation.
13. Be careful with essential oils around a heat source-there is a risk of accidental fire.
14. Never buy essential oils from a supplier who charges the same or similar amounts for all of them—these oils vary widely in price. Jasmine costs roughly 100 times as much as grapefruit! Buyer beware!Here is my list of essential oils that are good to have in a survival situation.
1. Lavender (Lavandula vera, L. officinalis, L. angustifolia, and others): if you are going to have only one essential oil in your kit, make it this one. It is one of the few essential oils active against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is touted by Patricia Davis (a British expert on aromatherapy) as being the “supreme choice for insomnia.” This oil is very useful for treating burns as it promotes rapid healing and helps prevent scarring. Lavender also serves to relieve muscular pain, treat acne, and repel insects. Very few people have allergic reactions to lavender, and this oil can be applied directly to the skin.
2. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia): some sources state that tea tree may be applied undiluted to the skin. Like lavender, it is also active against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is a powerful immuno-stimulant, and is especially useful for topical fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot. It can be applied to cold sores and blisters caused by shingles or chicken pox. This essential oil is so useful for medicinal purposes, that during WWII, Australian producers were exempt from military service until enough had been accumulated.
3. Peppermint (Mentha piperata): described as cephalic (stimulates the brain and clear thinking); vermin hate the smell of mints in general—this oil can be used to deter mice, rats, and insects. It is probably most famous for promoting digestive health. In children, spearmint is a gentle substitute for peppermint. In extreme cases (I say this with the utmost caution!) it can be used undiluted on the skin to relieve severe sinus congestion; however one does risk skin irritation (possibly severe). I have used this on myself numerous times directly on the skin of the face without any side effects, and it has relieved my congestion. This was recommended to me by a naturopathic physician (my boss at the massage school where I am a science instructor) who stated that patients were able to cancel sinus surgery after using this treatment. Be prepared for a unique sensory experience lasting about 30 minutes (burning, tingling, and tearing); I could actually feel a “popping” sensation within my sinuses as they began to open.
4. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates): this inexpensive essential oil is valuable as an insect deterrent. Do not apply to skin which will be exposed to sunlight, as a photosensitivity reaction may develop. It has a soothing effect on headaches, but must first be diluted (do not use more than 3 drops in a carrier oil at one time). This stimulating oil has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries to reduce fevers and treat infectious disease. It is also helpful for excessive sweating.
5. Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha, C. molmol): an outstanding essential oil for the prevention and treatment of gum disease. I have been using it for years (1 drop in a teaspoonful of mouth wash and mixed with a glass of warm water) to prevent gingivitis. This oil must not be used during pregnancy. Unfortunately, due to the unrest in the Sudan, this oil has become even more expensive in recent years. The best price I could find was $25 for 15ml (one tablespoonful) at This may sound pricey, but consider that a 15ml bottle contains about 300 drops of essential oil; this oil has a thick resinous consistency and a bottle lasts me about a year.
6. Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata): only the oil distilled from the sun dried buds, not the leaves, should be used. This pale yellow essential oil is famous as a treatment for toothache, but can also be used for digestive problems, muscle soreness, scabies, and respiratory infections. It should not be used in pregnancy and must be diluted before being applied to the skin. This oil has been used to sterilize surgical instruments.
7. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla- German chamomile; Anthemis noblis- Roman chamomile): these oils are soothing, calming, and anti-inflammatory. Their properties often overlap with those of lavender. These are gentile oils are suitable for use in children. They are especially valuable for treating skin conditions. NOTE: Artemisia arborescens is often sold as "blue chamomile", but is in fact a type of mugwort-- It should never be used during pregnancy!
8. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus, E.radiata, etc.): E. globulus is more commonly used and its potency increases with age, but E. radiata is less likely to irritate the skin. These are famous antibacterial and antiviral agents; however they can also be used to combat muscle soreness, deter mosquitoes, and relieve headaches. E. globulus should not be used in children under 12.

Worwood, Susan & Worwood, Valerie Ann. Essential Aromatherapy, Novato, Calif., New World Library, 2003
Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. San Rafael, Calif., New World Library, 1991
Davis, Patricia. An A-Z Aromatherapy, Essex, England, C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd., 1988
Feller, Robin. Practical Aromatherapy, New York, Berkeley Books, 1997
Lawless, Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Rockport, Mass., Element Books Ltd., 1995

"If socialism, a scheme of mediocrities rather than men of proven ability, is financially unworkable, what happens when the United States is at last socialized by confiscatory income taxes and strangulation of industry in the British manner? Without a capitalist nation to produce wealth, civilization may expect chaos." - Economist Dr. Karl Fuerbringer (Austrian school)

Friday, May 23, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $600. This big auction is for any of you that are gun enthusiasts. It includes 17 items: A four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate, which was kindly donated by Naish Piazza of Front Sight (worth up to $2,000), a $200 gift certificate from Choate Machine and Tool Company (the makers of excellent fiberglass stocks, folding stocks, and shotgun magazine extensions), $450+ worth of full capacity magazines from my personal collection including five scarce original Ruger-made 20 round Mini-14 magazines, and an autographed copy of the book "Boston's Gun Bible." The total value of this 17 item auction lot is $2,700! (See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for details on exactly what is included.) Note: Because this auction includes full capacity magazines, no bids will be accepted from outside of the US or from a resident of any state with magazine restrictions. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments. The auction ends on June 15th.

In a recent post, you wrote: I recommend HK91 clones because they are presently less expensive than M1As, and their spares are much less expensive. An M14 parts kit (everything but the receiver) is around $750, if you can find one. But you can buy a G3 part kit for under $250."

Please tell me where I can buy $250 G3 parts kits. They have all dried up. $400 to $500 if you can find one. I'm needing a couple. Thanks, - Craig W

JWR Replies: The last gun show that I attended (late last year) had a table where a gent was offering eight G3 parts kits for $250 each. I guess the available supplies have dried up rather quickly, since then. So these days, your best bet is the private owner secondary market, rather than dealers. But I still see fixed price ads for them at GunsAmerica (often under $300) and the last time that I checked, that was also the typical auction price at or Another good place to check is Buddy Hinton's parts board. There are a lot of shooters that bought parts kits when they were cheap and plentiful, and then never did anything with them A simple "Want To Buy" (WTB) post at Buddy's board might turn up a few kits that would otherwise be gathering dust. Don't try looking on eBay. A few months back, they banned the sale of most gun parts and magazines (aside for some furniture, sights, and some minor parts, which they begrudgingly allow.) They've really shown their true colors.

Battle rifle parts kits are definitely drying up, but G3 parts kits are still not as scarce as FAL and L1A1 kits, which now fetch $400 or more for nice ones. As an illustration, I just recently paid $200 for a nice L1A1 barrel/gas tube/handguard assembly (a kit "front end") at the FALFiles Marketplace forum, and was happy to get it at that price. By comparison, in the early 1990s I was buying complete, minty British L1A1 kits for as little as $105 each!

The biggest problem seems to be the U.S. barrel import ban (Section 925(d)3), which has effectively banned the importation of full parts kits (with everything except a receiver). I'm sure that importers will get clever about bringing in incomplete kits (sans barrels), to meet the new regulation. (Much the same way that folks have worked their way around Section 922(r). that requires seven US-made parts for "builds" in the US.) They'll import the parts piecemeal if they have to. But such work-arounds, since they involve newly-made barrels, add considerable cost to what would otherwise be inexpensive military surplus items. Inevitably, the barrel import ban will cause the price of all battle rifle kits--even AK kits and the less desirable SMG kits--to go up. I suspect that new new price "floor" will be around $300. The bottom line: Buy your parts kits soon, while the prices of kits complete with barrels are still reasonable. If nothing else, buying such useful tangibles is a hedge against inflation, even without the impact of the stronger importation restrictions.

Mr. Rawles,
Concerning the mention under the "Communications Gear" category [in a recently-posted Profile]: "CB and base station with modified ham frequencies". One bit of warning - if you don't have a FCC Amateur Radio license, who do people think they are going to talk to on the ham frequencies? Amateur Radio is not the free-for-all situation that is commonly found on Citizen's Band (CB). In addition to the FCC Rules & Regulations (Part 97), it tends to be very self-regulated. Even in an "emergency situation" you might find it difficult to find anyone willing to answer your bootleg transmissions for help.

Many people simply don't realize the huge differences between Amateur Radio and Citizens Band (CB) radio. Even back in the days when the FCC required a license for CB radio, it was just a matter of filling out an application form and sending it in with the license fee. In spite of this, many folks either did not send in the paperwork or simply didn't use their call sign on the air. But nobody on CB really cared if you had a CB license or not - everyone used "handles" (nicknames) and just wanted to chit-chat. Few actually used their FCC assigned call sign.

Because of this, the FCC eventually decided the requirement for issuing and tracking an actual CB license and the associated call sign was not worth the bureaucratic costs involved. While the requirement for a CB license was dropped, the various other regulations governing the CB radio service still remain in effect today. (See "Part 95" of the FCC Rules & Regulations for more information. Amateur Radio is a completely different 2-way radio service, regulated by "Part 97" of the FCC Rules & Regulations. "Hams" must pass a written exam in order to receive a license. Because of this, they tend to be very particular about who transmits on their ham frequencies. Unlicensed bootleggers are not welcomed, and will be turned in to the FCC. Many hams practice radio direction finding techniques to help during searches for lost aircraft. Don't think you can be anonymous and no one will be able to track you down? Again, if you don't have a license - who are
you going to talk to? It's an entirely different situation than CB radio. If all you want is a dusty 2-way radio that will be left in a box down in the basement for when the "SHTF", then a traditional CB
radio is by far the best choice.

I bring this up in the hope that the "Foxtrots" have not convinced themselves that they have their radio communications needs covered because they have CB radios with "modified ham frequencies". If you don't know how to use those frequencies, and don't have a ham radio license, all you will be doing is calling attention to yourself (and also your location). The entry-level "Technician" Amateur Radio license is so simple to obtain, and provides the basic electronics background helpful for setting up other types of radio systems (such as CB) that everyone should have it on their list of preparation "things to do". Otherwise, I guarantee that if you don't know what you are doing and end up transmitting in AM mode in the CW portion of the 10-meter ham band, you will get noticed! The local ham radio "posse" will beat a path to your hidden retreat, and they will not be happy. The goal of maintaining a low profile will be busted, and you might wind up on the Federal government radar screen if the FCC gets involved.

Play it safe - get a ham radio license and blend in with the radio crowd. Establish a network of local and out-of-state contacts that could be useful someday. Use a post office box address on the license application if you do not want your actual physical address made public. Amateur Radio is such a useful tool, but like many things it needs to be practiced in order to be effective during an emergency situation. You wouldn't mark off "Obtain bug-out vehicle" from your preparation checklist just because you have a stick-shift vehicle (but you only know
how to drive an automatic). So don't mark off "Communications Gear" just because you have a modified CB radio with "ham frequencies". Take the next step and get your ham radio license. Know how to use your communications gear! - Sarge

Hawaiian K. spotted a captivating article over at Wired: Peter Thiel Makes Down Payment on Libertarian Ocean Colonies. Well, the Memsahib has always talked about having a second home in the tropics. So, just for fun, I've started a Rawles Seastead "Chip-In" page.

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Several readers sent us this: High gas prices drive farmer to switch to mules

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Flhspete mentioned that Survival Bloggers in Missouri should check this out: Dealership offers free gas or a gun with new car: 80% choose the gun

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Dutch in Wyoming found this "signs of the times" article: Grease pirates plunder tanks of old cooking oil

"Liberty enters the field of journalism to speak for herself because she finds no one willing to speak for her. She hears no voice that always champions her; she knows no pen that always writes in her defense; she sees no hand that is always lifted to avenge her wrongs or vindicate her rights. Many claim to speak in her name, but few really understand her. Still fewer have the courage and the opportunity to consistently fight for her. Her battle, then, is her own to wage and win. She accepts it fearlessly, and with a determined spirit." - Benjamin R. Tucker, Liberty, August 6, 1881

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I recently received the following Retreat Owner Profile. I will be adding it to the static web page. OBTW, I still have room for at least a dozen overseas profiles, as well as just a few more in the United States. (I'd like to reserve those few remaining slots for profiles for people with unusual retreat locales or unusual retreat approaches/modes--such as 'Snowbirding" or sea-mobile.)

Present home: Recently moved to new residence in luxury community in South Texas because of a job loss in the Northwest. we sold our our 40 acre retreat because prices were top of the market and it could help in Texas to have no mortgage and to continue preparations. Many acquisitions will occur within the next year including another retreat property (prices are about same as when we bought our first retreat and inventory up in the Northwest.)

Ages: 46 and 51

SOs: One adult child that lives out of state

Annual income: $61,000+.

Profession: Technology (him) and Homemaker (her).

Investments: Law Enforcement Degree for child (once graduated soon and in a job should come in handy), A mix of local real estate, conventional securities in retirement accounts, stocks/options, valuable collections and junk silver including coins in 1000's face value.(currently turning the collections into cash)

Vehicles: Honda CRV 4WD. (I just sold my gas powered full size pickup in preparation for a full size 4WD diesel and a smaller alternate fuel vehicle)

Firearms Battery: Smith and Wesson 586 .357,Winchester 30-30 nickel plated, Winchester Model 1300 - 12 gauge Parkerized 30 inch barrel and 21" rifled slug barrel, Rem 11-87 -12 gauge 30" and short also parkerized, Remington Model 870 20 gauge, old smooth bore side by side scatter gun, pre-war Winchester Model 62 (.22 Short and 22 LR), Mossberg Bolt action 12 ga. adjustable choke,1896 .30-40 Krag (sporterized), various BB and Pellet Guns as well as hunting slingshots and worth noting for the small game and birds that can be actually hunted using cheap ammo also current plus is living in Texas and working with fervent gun owners so I am stocking up as I sell off of valuable collection turning it into cash. (I am thinking of trading some of the antiques in at a gun show for a real rifle with spare parts and some hand guns as most were inherited from father but keeping, the .357 because it was my wife's gun and she shoots it, the .30-30 because it's plated [for humid weather resistance] and ammo is cheap. I'm also familiar with it having shot it as a kid, maybe the .22 if I can't get enough value because I have tons of ammo in both short and LR and all the Parkerized 12 gauges, the bolt action shotgun because of the adjustable choke and I'm having a larger magazine made by a gunsmith friend and the 20 gauge )

Stored ammunition: Roughly 15,000 rounds packaged with silica gel and about 10,000 in powder, bullets, shot and casings. Most in 12 Gauge, .22, .22 LR and 38 Special, and .357 Magnum . This will significantly increase after completing the move and the decision of caliber and reloading supplies. (I've got all the 12 and 20 gauge equipment.)

Fuel Storage: Regular utilities now but will be solar and underground storage tank with asphalt coating. (We had a 1,000 gallon diesel tank that we left for the new owners)

Improvements: TBD

Annual Property Tax: TBD but significantly more than in the northwest (definitely a con here)

Livestock: Will get back into raising rabbits, chickens and goat(s). (All our breeding stock and equip has been housed with friends in exchange for the contingency that if the SHTF and our retreat isn't ready we can stay with them.)

Communications Gear: Off-brand AM/FM hand crank receiver SW, AM /FM and other public bands, six FRS walkie-talkies with solar re-chargers, CB and base station with modified ham frequencies. We have numerous old laptops, wireless routers and devices and web cams for private solar based network/perimeter security. I already have the skills to implement this.)

Food storage: 1-1/2 years for two adults and equipment supplies for putting up and charity for many more. More to come later when we have more cool dry space. (The humidity is too high here)

Hobbies: Shooting, re-loading (both), gunsmithing/re-loading (him), sewing, herbal and nutritional cooking (her), reading, learning canning and dehydration (both), solar and computer technology (him), Internet surfing and storing information (both).

Background: Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot originally lived in California, but moved to the northwest to avoid high income taxes, high property taxes, excessive property prices, excessive government regulation on gun ownership, and an undesirable political / moral climate. We are relatively new to the preparedness life. (For the last five years.)

JWR: Why did you choose your location?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Conservative/Constitutionalist libertarian politics, Christian community, Lots of contacts, Great outdoors.

JWR: What are the drawbacks to the region?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: A little close to the Golden Horde

JWR: Who will be joining you at your retreat if the balloon goes up?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Two or possibly three adult family members maybe more depending on a neighboring state's situation

JWR: How long do you expect that it will be before order is restored?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: No idea but hopefully ready for the long term (we tried a little self test one winter)

JWR: What is your worst case scenario?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Needing to defend the retreat from adjoining state (Golden Horde).

JWR: What personal circumstances have shaped your preparations, and how?
Mr. Foxtrot: Seems like even though I grew up in the "Nanny State", I've been preparing my whole life for this (my resume looks like five different people), and even though I was living in Tech City I always felt like I was destined to be a homesteader. My wife shared the same belief system when we met and we've been trying to establish our retreat ever since. It was so painful to leave our old retreat, but at the same time it showed us that we were willing to do whatever it takes to survive and once we get it back it will take an awful lot to give it up again, if at all.

JWR: What shortcomings does your retreat have that you would like to improve if you had the opportunity?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Not purchased yet hopefully done before TSHTF and Band-aids although we have a lot of kits we need to learn how to use them appropriately

JWR: What are your long term goals?
Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot: Be prepared, be good and charitable Christians, accept that it is inevitable that we die and not up to us, but how we choose to live, is!

The most recent response to this article includes the following quote: “ I noticed that many seem to be fans of Ultimate Fighting and I'm not going to say its fake, but it is entertainment. The fighters are great but lets be honest, the matches are intended to draw ratings by selling the drama.”

I felt I needed to respectfully respond to this, not with the intention of arguing, but clarifying, based on a more educated and informed perspective on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I’ve been a martial artist for over ten years, and involved in Mixed Martial Arts (or Ultimate Fighting) for eight of those years. I’ve met and trained with some of the best fighters in the sport, and have been involved with and trained regularly with traditional martial artists from every conceivable discipline including Goju Ryu, American Kempo, Kyokushin, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Aikijitsu, Judo, Russian kickboxing, American kickboxing, Western Boxing, Capoeira, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, freestyle wrestling, submission wrestling, muay thai, Sambo and Gung fu. I’ve trained with two different police departments, bouncers, and numerous members of the armed forces on hand-to-hand combatives. I have also fought “in the cage” as they say.

Without knowing any better, many people compare Mixed Martial Arts to Professional Wrestling, and assume that it is either fake, scripted, or “entertainment”. Unlike WWE or TNA (pro wrestling organizations), Ultimate Fighting organizations (The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), King of the Cage, World Extreme Combat, Pride, Bodog Fights, etc) do not script their matches or decide the outcomes beforehand. The sport of MMA is a combination of the three most legitimate combat sports that exist today: boxing, kickboxing, and wrestling. In fact, the sport existed in the ancient Greek Olympics under the name “Pankration”, and was the first and most celebrated sport in the games.

Many people’s idea of martial arts comes from watching Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, or Chuck Norris take down an opponent in a fast, cool, calculated fashion…often with little effort. This is Hollywood . This is fake. Anyone who has been in real combat with tell you that it’s dirty, clumsy, unpredictable, and scary. To expect two MMA Athletes (Ultimate Fighters) to step into the ring or cage and finish one another off quickly and realistically is to insult their skill and devotion to the sport. The fact that an Ultimate Fight can last 15 minutes is purely due to the level of proficiency, athleticism, and rules involved in the sport itself.

Imagine Mike Tyson being confronted on the street by a mugger. One lunging hook later, the mugger is laid out cold with a broken jaw, assuming he doesn’t have a weapon. However, though Iron Mike walked through many opponents in the ring in this manner, fighters like Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield just absorbed Mike’s tremendous power and kept on coming. Why? Because they trained every day to do just that.

If an MMA athlete was confronted by an untrained person on the street, that untrained person would likely end up in the ICU with broken limbs and a collapsed trachea. However, when two highly trained, experienced, and athletic MMA fighters square off, it often becomes a chess match. On the other hand, there are plenty of lightning fast knockouts and submissions if that’s what you’re after.

The rules in MMA were created for the safety and longevity of the fighters, and due to constant and rigorous pressure testing, real application, and scientific examination and re-examination, the style of “Mixed Martial Arts” or “Ultimate Fighting” has become the post complete, efficient, effective and proven self-defense system in existence today. That’s why Police Departments and Militaries the world over are now training these concepts. Without the rules, MMA would be a gladiatorial bloodbath, and high caliber athletes would steer clear. However, think about the techniques that aren’t allowed: biting, eye gouging, hair pulling, groin strikes, throat strikes, finger breaking, kicking a downed man…
How much training do these techniques really require? In fact, combine all those techniques, and I’d say that’s pretty much how an untrained person would fight. Do you really think a trained MMA Athlete wouldn’t utilize these techniques in a life-or-death altercation? Of course they would!!!

As was also said in the article, “As many have stated before [you need to learn] a system with equal parts grappling, punching, kicking, elbows, knees, etc.” Well, that’s the definition of modern MMA or Ultimate Fighting. Combine with that the natural “dirty” techniques mentioned above, as well as training with firearms and blades (we do cover blades in my MMA class) and you’ve got a comprehensive self-defense system that has something few others do… a regular and high caliber testing arena, that all are free to watch and enjoy, where the finer techniques of the system are constantly streamlined, tested, innovated, sometimes discarded, and generally forced to evolve from the outdated traditional exercise routines they are based on.

Next time you watch The Ultimate Fighting Championship, imagine that hypothetical fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris… and know that both were/are outspoken proponents of MMA. Most Sincerely, - EID



A very well thought out and personally researched treatise on martial arts. There were one two points with which I respectfully disagree: Point #3) MMA/ UFC fighters are great athletes, and at the top end are the best ring fighters, bar none. As such, they are fighting within time limits, rounds, etc. and have a precise time frame for the entire event. Thus, what looks like stalling is, in fact, a chess game to make one's move without getting caught coming in. In a street encounter, one doesn't know which round one is in, so don't dawdle: see initial statement of point #3; Point #11) owning a gun makes one no more of a gunfighter than owning a piano makes one a musician. Any artificial weapon must be an extension of a natural attack. The more complex the weapon, the more complete the new skill-set to master said weapon becomes (brass knuckles require far less training than an Uzi to use effectively, for example). If one neglects to acquire these necessary skills, little more is accomplished than providing weapons to bad guys.

On the highlight reel: #5) Awareness! Fights avoided are rarely lost...#4) The fight's over when the winner says so! Now, shut up and reload!...#9) We call this Environmental Awareness, and it's not the Al Gore Greenie-Weenie Variety; simply stated, your Environment is everything in, on, and around you. Spinning some miscreant headlong into a dumpster has the same effect of a crack to the forehead with a PR-24 night stick, without the hassles of carrying one; #8) Fight Dirty! Strike hard, strike fast, strike them to the ground...I call this The Theory of Inverted Sportsmanship. If you'd like to know a solid basis for self-defense, get wrestling, boxing, judo, and UFC rulebooks. Everything in these that is considered a foul is to protect the fighters from serious injury. Therefore, these are the methods to apply first and most vigorously when attacked.

I found myself in total agreement with the letter , with the exception of the two minor points stated earlier. One omission I would like to emphasize, that gets scant attention in any martial arts setting, for politically correct reasons: you must be absolutely ruthless with your attacker. You must be willing to brutally smash him into submission. If you are squeamish on this now, your flight instinct will take over in a confrontation, your fine motor-skills will vanish, you you will get your head (or some other vital or exotic part of your anatomy) handed to you. We refer to this as Spiritual Point of Origin: finish the fight, in its most gruesome outcome, now, in your head, and make peace with it. If you cannot accept mentally and spiritually that which you may be required to do, how can you possibly manifest the same physically? The short answer, folks, is, you can't...As always, Keep the Faith, - Bonehead

Frequent contributor Inyokern sent this: T. Boone Pickens offers further prognostication on Peak Oil and alternative energy.

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A reminder that Front Sight's very generous "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer will be ending soon. It is limited to the first 5,000 people that sign up. The response has been huge, so don't dawdle! If you miss out on this deal, you'll surely regret it.

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Oil prices pass $133 per barrel after report of supply drop

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RBS sent us this: Guess this buyer saw a golden opportunity. It reminds me of the old maxim; "The value of a thing is what that thing will bring."

"There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. Mentioning the blog in forum posts or when you call talk radio shows would be greatly appreciated!

Hello James:
Conventional wisdom holds that one should not plant seeds saved from "hybrid" plants. This wisdom is ironclad boilerplate and generally appears in paragraph 2, sentence 2 of every essay on gardening when it really counts. I want to push back on that idea.

My understanding of agricultural history is that most farmers raised landraces of vegetables and animals prior to the 1600s. A landrace is a swarm of similar-but-not-identical plants or animals. There are very few exceptions, Merino sheep being one of them and asexually reproduced fruit trees being another.

The introduction of "County Fairs" changed that. Suddenly, the emphasis went from feeding and clothing one's family to having the biggest gooseberry or carrot, the earliest ripening apple or the most artistic sheaf of oats. This coincided with the dawn of the industrial revolution. Fertilizer was barged in from the coasts and suddenly the struggle to supply absolute minimum calorie and protein per-capita requirements lifted.

The County Fair provided a new venue to prove one's worthiness as an alpha male. "Show" characteristics were selected for to the exclusion of vague, difficult-to-measure attributes like "livability" and vigor. Those characteristics simply did not "show" and win ribbons.

Genetic selection of one characteristic to the exclusion of all others nearly always results in a narrowing of the genetic base. The fastest way to select for one characteristic is some form of in-breeding. That also results in a loss of general vigor.

More than two hundred years of "County Fair" style based breeding and the resulting in-breeding depression created the backdrop for the hybrid revolution. At that time, Agricultural Scientists found that crossing two in-bred lines generally resulted in a 30%-to-40% increase in yield. One perspective of hybrid seed is that it allowed farmers to regain the vigor of the landrace genetic swarm while retaining the extreme uniformity (important for mechanized agriculture) of in-bred cultivars.

Simple facts:
-Most in-bred lines used to produce f1 (first generation) hybrids are edible.
-All of the progeny of those hybrids will be edible.
-Most modern hybrids offer high degrees of disease resistance.
-Many of the progeny of modern hybrids will retain various degrees of that disease resistance.
-There will be a huge increase in plant-to-plant variation in height, ripening season, fruit/grain size in the f2 generation compared to both the hybrid and conventional cultivars.
-It is unlikely that the f2 generation will suffer a 40% loss in productivity compared to the hybrid parent. Two factors come into play. One is a quirk of mathematics. Going from 100bu/a to 150bu/a is a 50% increase but going back from 150bu/a to 100bu/a is a 33% decrease. The second factor is that the basis for the early hybrid comparisons were fairly inbred cultivars. The progeny of f1 hybrids won't suffer from in-breeding depression.

-In dire circumstances, planting seeds from hybrid tomatoes, corn, squash, etc. will produce far more food than leaving your backyard in Kentucky Bluegrass.
-There will be a large increase in plant-to-plant variation.
-Plant-to-plant variation can be managed by increasing the seeding rate and thinning out the goofy plants.
-This is not heresy. Rather, it is a return to the genetic swarm of the landraces that fed humanity for thousands of years.
-Scientific breeding is the art of breeding the best to the best...and culling the rest. So save the best of your f2 generation for the next year's seed. Regards, - Joe H.

JWR Replies: You've swayed me a bit, but I stand by the assertion that seed saved from hybrids will generally not provide the same potential yield and quality as the parent plants. Hybrids are fine to use in the short term, but in the long term, to be fully prepared you need to have non-hybrid (a.k.a. "open pollinated" or "heirloom") seed reserves to fall back on. You need to continuously practice saving seed. (It is a skill that takes some time to learn.) Also, be sure to practice isolating plants from unintended cross-fertilization.

Further, keep in mind that the new (and patented) "Terminator Gene" technology will undoubtedly become more widespread in the years to come. Seed saved from those crops will have virtually no useful yield, and even if they did, it would invite lawsuits.

You mentioned stocking up on Potassium Iodide (KI). The head trainer at Medical Corps--(I took their awesome class, thanks for giving it kudos)--developed Potassium Iodate (KI03). It has a huge benefit over KI, in that it doesn't upset the stomachs of the people taking it [as much as KI]. Medicine is much more beneficial if you don't involuntarily purge it.

Another thing I'd like to mention to SurvivalBlog readers is that KI and KI03 don't expire, even if the bottles have expiration dates marked. Since it is not an organic--it a very basic chemical compound. Iodine might leach out and turn the tablets dark, but iodine is still iodine. Just mix it with food to cover the bad taste and it'll still be effective. With Regards, - Cody (a 10 Cent Challenge Subscriber)

JWR's Introductory Note: The following is a re-post from the Energie & Klima Blog, which was kindly translated by SurvivalBlog reader Martyn B., a multi-lingual Danish ex-pat that lives in Spain . To read the original article in German, see: Überleben in der Krise

Within the next two years, the price of oil could rise to $150 to $200 per barrel, analysts of the investment bank Goldman Sachs forecasted yesterday under the management of the famous chief analyst, Arjun N. Murti. According to the news agency Bloomberg, the cause is stated mainly as being that the supply of oil cannot cover the rising demand from countries that are comprised by the growth, such as China. The chief analyst of said bank in Munich Harlaching, where parents in the "villa suburbs" exchange the newest economic developments while they watch the kids playing in the sandbox and on the climbing rigs, only smile at such forecasts. The man in his late forties who is never seen without science and economy magazines, has already moved on. For a while, he has now been reading and praising "Walden" by Thoreau.

On request, Uwe informs overbearing, smiling parents that the imminent "crisis" has nothing to do with the crisis from the 1980s where Monaco Franze [bon-vivant, small time crook and protagonist of a German television series by the same name] procured forest strawberries, parma ham and champagne from Dallmayr (Delicatessen chain) for picnics with pretty female schoolmates in the English garden while the whole world around him was talking about crisis, saved and dared not "fill up". No, the imminent crisis, according to Uwe, is written in upper case: PEAK OIL, CLIMATE CHANGE, FINANCIAL CRISIS, HUNGER RIOTS and cannot be charmingly painted pretty by Munich-Harlachingen-ish island mentality, a completely misguided "Munich feeling". You need to
get prepared, right now, for a totally new, radically changed lifestyle in order to survive this CRISIS.

As The Guardian reported at the beginning of the week, Uwe is a part of a greater international movement. So-called survivalists with a sharpened awareness of the possibility of an impending total breakdown of Economy and Society, would be discussing on countless pages on the Internet where to find refuge and how to best equip your retreat once the time comes.
While many would not shy away from breaking arms legislation when equipping themselves, most will, according to information from The Guardian journalist Harriet Green, be content with the milder methods for fighting for survival, such as stashing food, growing fruit and vegetables in their own gardens as recommended by the famous British television chef Jamie Oliver and self-sufficiency in terms of energy and water.

When it comes to money, survivalists will also be looking for new opportunities. According to Harriet Green, precious metals are preferred. (For savings, Uwe advises stocks and real estate).

"The safe haven must be self sufficient". Ex-banker Barton M. Biggs also knows this. He is also one of the people cited in The Guardian's Survivalist Overview as warning against the impending total breakdown. The former (until 2003) "Chief Global Strategist" of Morgan Stanley has published a book, "Wealth, War and Wisdom" and contains, according to Bloomberg, has an unusual piece of advice for the rich: "Insure yourself against war and disaster by buying a remote farm or ranch and procure large stocks of seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes etc."
The "etc.", Bloomberg alleges, "must mean guns".

But even when "the wolf is at the door", there are also survivalists with a less bleak concept of the time after Peak Oil, such as the webmaster of WolfAtTheDoor, who predicts to The Guardian that TEOTWAWKI will occur within the next decade: "I'll be turning 50 this year. So far, I've had a good life. I want to enjoy the next 5 to 10 years."

Uwe, as it seems, has found a girlfriend among the single parents in Munich-Haidhausen; maybe he will soon be writing crisis in lower case. I'll soon be going to BeraterBank to find out.
- Thomas Pany, May 7, 2008

From Matt in Texas: The Rise of Stagflation Means the End of Fiat Wealth

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E.J. (our British ex-pat correspondent living in rural Italy) mentioned this piece from The Guardian newspaper: The island house that powers itself - with a little help from 100 mph gales

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Readers Sam K. and Stephen S. note that Peak Oil is now getting more mainstream media coverage, such as this CNBC piece: $12 Gas and Rationing? Possible, Says Expert. (The article quotes Robert Hirsch, who was the lead writer for SAIC's well-publicized Report on Peak Oil, in 2005.) And speaking of Peak Oil, reader A.A.P. mentioned Tom Whipple"s scary piece about diesel price escalation posted over at Energy Bulletin. A.A.P.'s comment: "A diesel backup generator may now be a bad idea." FWIW, I still lean toward propane-powered gensets. But if I had access to a source of biodiesel, I'd definitely be in favor of diesel generators.

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Stephen S. sent us this link: Gun owners pinched as ammo costs shoot up. Congrats to the SurvivalBlog readers that stocked up in advance of the recent price increases. Ammo is better than money in the bank.

"There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy." - George Washington

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Because I get inquiries via e-mal almost every day asking "How do I find people in my area that share my interest in preparedness?", I decided to create a new "Finding Others" static page. You might find it useful.

It's funny how life gets in the way. I was in the process of writing a fairly long (I stopped at 15 pages) discussion of pandemics and medical care at home when the report in Chest came out. Suffice it to say that the wind was somewhat taken from my sails. And my take-home messages would have been 1) Hospitals are terrible places to be in a pandemic so stay away (I plan to), 2) Since you're not going to the hospital, people at home better learn how to do basic nursing care (so finding older nursing textbooks and patient care equipment like bedpans is a good idea), and 3) despite what all of medical science can, and cannot do, think about what to do when your family member succumbs to the disease.

I'm also pleased to see the various good points offered by others with regard to medical care. The Western Rifle Shooters Association course looks particularly good. Almost all of the various suggestions are good, but there are a couple of things that need to be emphasized:

For example, having antibiotics and administering them can be very good - but, you have to use the right antibiotic for the organism in question. Using an antibiotic that is effective against (say) Gram-positive organisms when the patient has a Gram-negative infection is not 'almost as good' or 'close enough', it's not only not at all helpful, it can make the patient much worse (not to mention using up valuable resources that are not easily replaced). There is a reason there are lots of different antibiotics, and there is no one magic bullet that works on everything.

Starting an IV is sometimes necessary, but usually not - we use them in the hospital to keep a route open for drug administration right away, should it be needed, and to provide fluids. However, the current Tactical Casualty Care Guidelines (used by military medics in combat, and limited in applicability to that sort of trauma, only) call for IV fluids to be withheld until hemorrhage (bleeding) is stopped. Not only is it wasteful of scarce resources (in combat, you only have what you have, not unlike a TEOTWAWKI situation), but adding more fluids to drain out onto the ground is actually dangerous to the patient (IV fluids don't carry oxygen, and washing out red blood cells is a bad idea). So, stopping the bleeding (if any) comes first.

In a medical (the patient is sick, not hurt) situation, keeping the patient hydrated is important, but giving too much fluids via IV can be just as harmful - especially in a respiratory infection kind of pandemic: The fluid has to go somewhere, and can build up in the lungs causing pulmonary edema and eventually heart failure. In fact, this is one of the modalities that people died from during the 1918 influenza pandemic. IVs too, can cause harm if used with gusto by people who don't fully understand the physiology of the body.

Also, being able to apply a cast is great - but, if the fracture is not reduced (straightened) first, the person will be left with a life-long disability. If the blood vessels are compromised (either by the fracture, or the treatment) the persons limb will certainly be put at significant risk, and their life very much potentially so. It's not a matter of simply applying a cast. And should a person need a wet plaster cast applied to a leg (for example), it will be several days at least before the cast will be strong enough to be moved, so the patient will require bed rest and care for that time - and as you and others have said, they will require a wheel chair and crutches for several months while the leg heals - a big plaster cast is heavy. And care must be taken to not apply the cast too tightly, to monitor the cast and limb for swelling and be ready to cut it open (bivalve it) if swelling is present, and the right amount of padding must be used since the plaster gets pretty hot while it is curing.

And finally, there are few (if any) reasons why a wound must be sutured in the field. All wounds will heal, eventually, and it's often better to leave a wound that is contaminated with foreign matter open than to close it. All wounds must be cleaned out, and while we will use sterile water or saline solution plain clean water is just fine. Using a 30cc syringe with a 22 gauge angiocath (a flexible needle used for IV administration) will provide about the ideal pressure, but using a plastic bag with a small hole poked in it will work adequately. The important thing is to get the wound cleaned out - dirt, leaves, blood clots, and anything else not viable - including dead and dying tissue, which must be removed surgically (we call that debriding). Then, the body is made in layers, and when you're sewing it up it each layer has to be sewn separately, with each layer using a particular kind of suture material, a particular needle, and a particular kind of stitches. Even closing a 'simple' skin laceration can cause problems if the edges of the wound are pulled too tightly - blood flow is compromised, the tissue dies, and infection sets in leading to sepsis and gangrene.
After all, the first rule of medicine is "First, do no harm". - Flighter


Chuck Fenwick at Medical Corps runs a fine operation, but there are other ways to learn to suture. Chuck does have great surgical equipment and suture material for sale at very good prices.
First download Ethicon's book on wound closure, or buy a printed copy from, among other places.

This is the same book (in a newer edition, of course) that I was taught with back in the early 1960s in my summer job as an ortho tech while in college.
Then get the necessary instruments (needle-holder, surgical scissors, etc.), including a package or two of suture with an atraumatic needle (needle attached) or separate curved needles. Don't worry about sterile technique at this point. You're learning technique and to tie knots.

Next, order a fresh ham (not smoked) from your butcher or the local grocer. This will be your "patient". Now make a small incision through the skin of the ham, maybe 4" long. Suture the incision following the directions in the manual. Then make another incision and suture it closed. Continue this until you can close an incision at a reasonable speed with a nice neat row of stitches. This is how I learned to suture, at the kitchen table at home.

Finally, remove all the sutures, bake the ham, and serve with red cabbage and sweet potatoes for Sunday dinner. I hope this is of help to your readers. - Jonas P.

JWR Adds: Keep in mind that most wounds do not require suturing--although failing to do so will likely result in the formation of some extra scar tissue. But remember that we are talking about TEOTWAWKI here--not a beauty contest. Also, don't be in a hurry to suture! In most cases wounds should indeed be allowed to drain extensively, and premature closure could actually increase the risk of sepsis.

Hello Mr. Rawles.
My Father bought me your novel "Patriots" and I read it and it really inspired me and woke me up to becoming more of a survivalist. I live in the country just about 50 miles out side of Chicago (pretty much the worst place to be if the SHTF, well even if it doesn't, it still sucks, LOL), but never mind that we have other places to go, thank God. I have always been around guns. I have been shooting probably since I could walk. Anyway, I am wondering why in your book you chose to [show the main characters owning] HK91s instead of M1As? We have both a HK91 and an M1A, both with lots of accessories. I would most likely take my LMT AR-15 over the .308 but I'm open to change. I was just wondering why you chose the Heckler and Koch or which one you like better for that matter. Thank you for the advice if you can. - Eric B.

JWR Replies: I consider the two rifles essentially comparable, although if fiberglass bedded, an M1A can be much more accurate. I recommend HK91 clones because they are presently less expensive than M1As, and their spares are much less expensive. An M14 parts kit (everything but the receiver) is around $750, if you can find one. But you can buy a G3 part kit for under $250. Excellent condition military surplus HK G3 magazines are as little as $2 each. So buy at least 50 of them, while they are still cheap. Meanwhile, USGI M14 magazines are $22 to $28 each. Ouch! So buying 50 spare magazines would cost you around $1,100--which is enough to buy another rifle!

Yishai suggested a Hack-n-Mod video clip on how to make thermite. Warning: Some serious safety precautions must be taken, because thermite burns at temperatures hot enough to liquefy steel, and once ignited, it is almost impossible to extinguish. (It generates its own oxygen.) Note the minor accident near the end of the video. He'll also have some serious explaining to do about that back porch slab.

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Kevin a recommended this piece by Marty Weiss: Brace yourself! The U.S. government could be understating the Consumer price Index by 7.6%!

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Frequent content contributor Michael Z. Williamson mentioned a web article about some locals in Cambodia improvising a working rail train from a few spare parts. Note that from the photos it appears to be dead level ground and there is no sign of a hand brake. Having a brake is a must, for safety. Also, see our archived survivalBlog articles about high-railers and rail motorcars (a.k.a. "speeders"--such as this one posted in July of Aught Six--that discuss the serious legal and safety implications of using right-of-ways that belong to railroad companies.

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Any SurvivalBlog readers fluent in German will probably find this Energie & Klima Blog post interesting: Überleben in der Krise.

"[T]he Clinton administration launched an attack on people in [Waco,] Texas because those people were religious nuts with guns. H*ll, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns. Who does Bill Clinton think stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock? Peace Corps volunteers? Or maybe the people in Texas were attacked because of child abuse. But, if child abuse was the issue, why didn't Janet Reno tear-gas Woody Allen? - P.J. O'Rourke

Monday, May 19, 2008

I recently finished trenching and running a few hundred feet of irrigation pipe on land that has been in my wife's family for a few generations. We are the proud recipients of this small farm in the Southeast US. My Mother-In-Law was helping, and getting various tools and such out of the 100 year old barn (still standing and strong). We found an old hoe that was worn so that over half of the tine was missing. She said that her father and grandfather had used this hoe to manually weed and till every bit of the 50 acres! This was a farm that didn't have indoor plumbing until the early 1970s.

Here I was, exhausted from digging a trench (with a machine of course), and laying pipe (plastic with glue), and had been working "very hard" for a few hours. Slowly realizing, listening to my mother-in-law that her family worked this land without the aid of gas powered equipment until her father died in the late 1980s. For over 125 years this farm had produced an income and raised families. I was tired after working, but now had an understanding that in no way can I count myself in the same league as the men that had worked sun up to sun down by hand, these were true men. I whine when the lawn mower won't easily start, or when the padded handle on the shovel gets too hard for comfort!

In the interest of preparedness, each of us should examine ourselves to see if we have it in us both physically and mentally to work at providing for our loved ones. After this experience, I am doing more to get myself physically in shape for what may come. No matter, I will be happier, healthier, and more humble than before! God Bless, - RJ in the Southeast US

Hi, Jim!
I want to thank you for having SurvivalBlog support Front Sight's current special of $1,199 for the class [with a XD pistol and other extras included.] I took advantage of it, along with my son, aged 20, a couple of weeks ago, and had a great time down there. This was my third time down there, my son's first.

One thing people may want to do is rent one of [the Springfield Armory] XD pistols in 9mm for $100, for the class. This gives you much more control on target, especially for someone (like my son) who hasn't had much pistol experience. Plus the cost of 9 mm ammo is about half the cost for 45. While we are getting the XDs in .45 caliber, renting the 9mm gave us the XD experience and probably saved us over $100 in ammo costs. We can practice with our .45s at a more leisurely pace. As you've indicated before, the instructors there are very professional, very friendly, and the class gives you the whole perspective of accuracy in shooting, the psychological mindset that one must have to defend oneself, and the legal knowledge of what kind of problems you might encounter. - Chester B.

Mr. Rawles
I just found this blog after checking out Steve Quayle's web site and links. I must say this discussion is a breath of fresh air.

My experience is much different than many who have posted; I have little training in the martial arts, and never been in the military. I don't even watch those Ultimate Fighting shows.

I work with kids in state juvenile facility here on the West Coast of the US. Most of the "residents" as they are called are 14-20 years of age, and usually very aggressive and violent gang members. Unlike adult corrections in my state, we don't carry weapons of any kind including pepper spray. We wear street clothes and work in a average ratio of 12 residents to one staff.
In other words I deal for eight hours a night with the most likely people you would face in a survival situation. Most reading this live in an area where these are the most likely assailants and unless your a hardcore survivalist living in a tree these are the people that most reading this will face. Here are some things I've learned - usually the hard way

1) Forget talking your way out of it. Once they have decided on violence talking is only used to distract you or to manipulate you into believing you can talk your way out of the situation. We are trained in verbal de-escalation skills but experience also shows us that gangstas who are on a mission to raise their status in the gang by "putting in work" will not listen to reason, or pleas. Conditioning by the gangs to see violence as nothing more than a tool or as a way of enforcing rules within the gang literally enables most gang members to shut off a conscience or thought of potential consequences. They in many cases may also be under the influence of various drugs that hinder their reasoning ability. In other words don't bother talking if you want to live.

2) Forget any martial art that wastes time on flying kicks and roundhouse punches. Don't waste time learning how to use swords and throwing stars. As many have stated before a system with equal parts grappling, punching, kicking, elbows, knees, etc.

3) Learn to take assailants(s) out quickly. I noticed that many seem to be fans of Ultimate Fighting and I'm not going to say its fake, but it is entertainment. The fighters are great but lets be honest, the matches are intended to draw ratings by selling the drama. I have no doubts that those same fighters without the rules would be able to take out their opponents much quicker than they do. You should do this as well. Don't play around or make unnecessary movements. Don't stop and sermonize half way through giving a beating.

4) Finish the job. The idea that you should get your opponent down then run away is pretty d**ned dumb. First you may have nowhere to run to, and nobody to help you. You are better off once your opponent is down making sure they don't get up on their own power for a long time. All I can say is do what your God given conscience deems necessary for you and your loved one's survival in such a situation

5) Awareness!, Awareness!, Awareness!
If a person, place, or situation makes those little hairs stand up there is good reason for it. If your in a crowd always be aware of eye movements, body movement. Also be aware that criminals/gang members never attack alone. Even if they aren't joining in the attack they have accomplices serving as lookouts to either tip them off or to distract. Be aware of where you are, and who is around you at all times. Watch what those people do or say.

6) Learn to fight in close quarters. A dojo or a gym is great but have your sparring partner and you fight within a small chalk circle for a while. Better yet a medium sized walk in closet. Many well known street gangs that got their starts in the California prison system (Sureños or 13s come to mind) created fighting systems for both offense and defense in their cells. The "fighting art" consists mostly of elbow, and knee strikes with some uppercut punches, followed by takedowns. Is it any good? Ask any correctional officer who now extracts these guys from cells using "stun shields", pepper spray guns, and eight-man extraction teams. Fairly intelligent, and motivated sparring partners can probably duplicate this style with a little trial and error.

7) Don't waste your time getting into a punching contest. In most cases your assailant is a more experienced fighter than you. They also have experience taking a punch. How many punches have you taken lately Sugar Ray? Probably not many, if any. Forget kicking too unless you have been trained how to do it properly or when to do it. Sending a kick to someone's face like Chuck Norris or Jean Claude Van Damme is cool in movies - especially after its been choreographed and practiced for weeks, then filmed from the optimal angles. Its looks pretty dumb when you do it though. It tends you get you beaten or dead as well. If your assailant is on the ground a few well placed kicks to the mid-section, groin, ribcage, neck, or face couldn't hurt however.

8) Go for the eyes or throat. Cut off the assailants sight and air. If more than one assailant hit the first ones eyes, and take out the second ones breathing ability. If three - eyes, eyes, air. Go for knees ankles, and feet if you do kick. Avoid the groin since most men are genetically inbred to react to protect their assets. If you can take the side of your foot and say run it into an aggressors knee and then driving your leg, the results are quite surprising. Same with the ankle.

9) Use any weapons available. This also means improvising weapons. I once was charged by a young resident in our living units kitchen. I had a container of ranch [salad] dressing in my hand which quickly made contact with his face and most important - his eyes. Immobilize the assailant with whatever is available. Another resident charged me on the floor, and I pulled his shirt up over his head tight which blinded him and made it hard to swing on me. I have seen coins, cans of chewing tobacco, coffee, and even a handful of hard candies thrown into the face of an attacker to disorient. Knocking eyeglasses or hats off can have similar effects.

10) Any fighting system that doesn't teach just basic arm bar takedowns, goosenecks, and "Z" holds should be avoided. There is a reason these things are taught to correctional officers, cops, and people like myself and its because they are easy to learn, easy to retain, and most important they work. With just a few modifications these moves can be quickly turned from less than lethal to lethal moves. Also learn moves that can be applied when your fine motor skills are impaired. When the fight or flight syndrome kicks in finesse goes out the window, and the more basic the better. If the take down has complex actions then forget it you'll be too messed up thanks to your heart rate to attempt it.

11) Arm yourself. A knife is great, a gun is better. Train to use both and practice often. Most important get into the mindset to use the weapon.
Just a few things I thought that I'd throw into to stir the pot. - C.T.

JWR Adds: I agree that high kicks and roundhouse kicks are strictly "Hollywood" showmanship. Not only do they deliver less power, but they also leave you vulnerable to being thrown off balance.

Unfortunately, California's Nanny State mentality has led to enactment of laws that have made concealed carry of some knives a felony on the first offense, open carry of firearms--except when hunting--a misdemeanor, and concealed carry of firearms either a misdemeanor or a felony on the first offense, depending on circumstances. It is very difficult to obtain a handgun concealed carry permit in most California counties unless you are engaged in a business that requires you to regularly carry cash or valuables. Even "trunk" carry of firearms is effectively banned unless you are on your way to or from a shooting range or a hunting trip, or to or from a gunsmith's shop. To make matters worse, local law enforcement and interpretation of these laws varies tremendously. Sight of a citizen with a gun that wouldn't cause a sheriff's deputy to blink an eye in Modoc County would be cause to call out a SWAT team in Alameda County. California's complicated laws make effective self defense outside of one's home quite difficult. Thankfully, California has not banned canes, walking sticks, and umbrellas. So my advice to Californians is to concentrate on stick fighting martial arts. Train regularly and don't leave home without your cane! And if you can, move out of California! Vote with your feet.

Wes at WK Books has been working on an index/reference of known U.S. Military manuals and publications. It is hard to find a comprehensive list of military manuals to get an idea of what is out there and what you may want to add to their personal reference library. Please do not confuse this index with his product (the 1600 U.S. Military Manuals, Government Manuals, and Civil Defense Manuals, Firearm Manuals). When printed out, the index of known U.S. Military manuals is 15 pages long and includes the last publication/updates by month/day/year. Wes told me that it is current as of May 16, 2008.

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Inyokern sent us this article: High Steel Prices: A Preview of Peak Oil. Inyokern's comment on the article: "Here's a canary in the coal mine. The high price of oil impacts the price of steel, impacting the cost of building or replacing equipment to make solutions to the cost of fuel and food." My comment: Of immediate concern is that the increased wholesale price of steel will soon work its way down to the consumer level. So if you are certain about any fencing projects at your retreat in the next two or three years, then buy the materials in advance. (Rolls of woven wire, rolls of barbed wire, smooth wire, T-posts, staples, et cetera.) Consider it part of your Alpha Strategy.

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More news from disarmed England: Airport-style scanners on the streets. In their socialist utopia, they want everyone equally disarmed. There are just two problems: 1.) Criminals, by definition, don't obey laws--only the law abiding citizens do, and they aren't the problem.2.) Even if they do succeed is disarming everyone, it will leave anyone that is smaller, older, or weaker at the mercy of those that are younger and stronger. (BTW, I find it ironic that the same liberals that champion women's rights also want to disarm them, putting them at a disadvantage to thugs. On average, men have about 50 percent more muscle mass than women in the upper body, and 10 to 15 percent more in the lower body.) My advice to SurvivalBlog's readers in England: Take the gap and emigrate to the US or New Zealand, soon!

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While web surfing, I stumbled into an interesting treatise on inflation by Michael W. Hodges.

“When I hear somebody sigh, 'Life is hard'; I am always tempted to ask, 'Compared to what?'” - Sydney J. Harris

Sunday, May 18, 2008

With the author's permission, we present a guest editorial from economic commentator Darryl Robert Schoon. It was published May 12, 2008.

Global financial markets are in extreme triage following the credit contraction of August 2007. It is believed central bankers are trying to restore markets to help the economy. In truth, they are like life insurance companies fighting to keep a wealthy patient alive so the high premiums will continue to be paid and the large death payout will be postponed. It has been only nine months since credit markets unexpectedly froze in August 2007. The central bankers who were surprised by the summer 2007 credit contraction now hope the danger has passed. But they are about to be surprised again and soon.

We are witness to the unraveling of historic levels of debt caused by central bank issuance of debt-based money. That such issuance over three hundred years has led to trillions of dollars in constantly increasing compounding debt is not unexpected. What is also not unexpected is that someday the debt could not be repaid. That realization is what happened in August 2007. Suddenly, buyers of debt, those in need of guaranteed downstream revenues realized $1.5 trillion of AAA rated subprime CDOs would not be repaid as expected. The consequences of that realization are now in motion.

When this happened, credit markets froze. The day of reckoning feared by kreditmeisters had arrived. Since then, central bankers have been furiously providing liquidity to banks, the intermediaries of credit, hoping to restore confidence in credit markets - but more liquidity will not restore confidence in debt any more than more money will satisfy the yearnings of the soul.
Once buyers of debt realized they could no longer trust AAA rated debt, the systemic risk to capitalism soared. The foundation of capitalism, a debt-based paper money system created by bankers, is confidence; and when a confidence game is being run, there is absolutely nothing more important than confidence.

When modern banking substituted credit driven debt-based paper money for gold and silver, every aspect of commerce was affected. Paper money with no intrinsic value, and its method of leverage, capitalism, are totally dependent on trust and confidence; and in August 2007, that confidence was shaken. Whether or not the damage is irreparable remains to be seen.
While credit driven paper money produces growth, it does so at the cost of stability. Today's multi-trillion dollar global economy is based on the banker's amalgam, an unsavory collection of credit, debt and speculative greed, a volatile combination that becomes increasingly unstable as it grows - and it has been growing now for over three hundred years.

Capitalism's Minsky Moment
The late economist, Hyman Minsky, is a name increasingly heard in these increasingly problematic times. Minsky's hypothesis was rather direct in its clarity, that as capital markets mature they became increasingly unstable, that over time investments become more speculative leading to heightened instability which culminates in market corrections whose severity is a function of previous excess.

Two excellent recent references to Minsky are: Thomas Tan's Introduction To Minsky Theory, and Doug Noland's Revisiting Financial Arbitrage Capitalism. Both articles will shed light on Minsky's explanations about why markets are collapsing and will continue to do so.

Time is a key ingredient in Minsky's observations on the instability of capital markets. Capital markets came into existence in 1694 when the Bank of England, its central bank, was established. The ensuing three hundred plus years have given capital markets more than enough time to mature - and collapse. Minsky's moment, the bane of maturing markets, is now at hand.

Debt - Cursed Be the Tie that Binds

The world is now bound as never before by the bonds of debt that cross national boundaries. Globalization is the name for the spread of England's central banking system that has given bankers increasing control over global productivity while endebting virtually all of humanity.

Capital markets built on credit and debt need to continually expand in order to service previously created compounding levels of debt. When only England was on a credit-based system, as long as England's empire expanded its increasing debts could be absorbed; but when England's expansion slowed, so too did its economy.

The conundrum of the necessity of continual economic expansion is now being played out on a global scale. Now, the entire world is based on England's debt-based central banking system; and, consequently, unless the world economy continues to expand, the commensurate expanding edifice of global debt will collapse.

When global credit markets imploded in August 2007, the contraction of the world economy began. Since then, despite the best efforts of central bankers, global growth has continued to slow; and, after the present contraction has finally run its course, the world will be a far different place than it is today.

It has been only nine months since credit markets froze and uncertainty replaced the smug hubris of the world's then sanguine bankers. Only a year ago, the IMF was predicting yet another year of strong growth, now they see otherwise.

When Everyone is Blind, the Blind Believe that They Can See
Today, bankers don't understand the trouble they are in because what is happening has never happened before - at least to them. The Great Depression was the last time a financial crisis happened on such a scale but the lessons of the Great Depression were those of another generation and lessons lost must be relearned by those who never knew them.

Unfortunately, we will learn the lessons together as we pay for what we collectively forgot and consciously denied. All of us, even the late comers to capital markets in Asia, are vulnerable to the sinking boat of credit and debt built by western bankers over the past three hundred years.

How Long it Floated, How Quickly it Sank
In May 2008 we are at the cusp of the crisis. Those still in denial hope we are closer to its end than its beginning; but, if we are, that means the descent will be quick and brutal instead of protracted and painfully slow. Either way, the end will be the same.

The daisy chain of debt constructed by bankers has now connected all of us, the solvent and insolvent alike. Personal solvency will provide but little protection when countries, relatives, neighbors, banks, and employers and employees become insolvent. Gold and silver will be among the few lifeboats and faith will be invaluable.

Note: I will be speaking at Professor Antal E. Fekete's Session IV of Gold Standard University Live (GSUL) July 3-6, 2008 in Szombathely, Hungary. If you are interested in monetary matters and gold, the opportunity to hear Professor Fekete should not be missed. A perusal of Professor Fekete's topics may convince you to attend. Professor Fekete, in my opinion, is a giant in a time of small men. - Darryl Robert Schoon

There has been a recent thread on learning medical skills. Studying the disasters like the recent Chinese earthquake, Myanmar storm and Tsunami teach us that in mass casualty situations like these, you can go a long way knowing how to deal with broken bones, lacerations and infections.
Imagine the help you could be if you could:

Apply a cast
Run an IV
Clean and dress a wound
Do minor suturing
Administer antibiotics from your medical kit

These skills can each be learned in a weekend. Sure, knowing how to manage an airway, insert a chest tube, decompress a pneumothorax and manually deliver a breech [presentation] baby are great to know but the basics will go a long way. My advice? Start with the Medical Corps [field medic] course and then follow up with National Procedures Institute for the suturing, Casting Workshop for casting and a phlebotomy course for IVs - SF in Hawaii

JWR Adds: The Medical Corps classes are excellent. I also recommend the Practical Medical Course taught by the Western Rifle Shooters Association. (This course is subtitled: "Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments.") Check their web site regularly, for announcements of course dates and locations. This modestly-priced training is led by an Emergency Room doctor with 35 years of experience.

Brent F. suggested this article from Australia's Courier Mail newspaper: Drivers face fuel ration shock.

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CDO Debt Could Pose Renewed Danger for Banks. (A hat tip to RBS for the link.)

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Nick recommended the text of a recent speech by geopolitical analyst Richard Maybury: You will be either a winner or a loser, there will be no middle ground. FWIW, I have been following Maybury's writings for more than 10 years, and I've found that he is right far more often than he's wrong. He was issuing dire warnings about the Islamic terrorist threat long before 9/11/01. I think that his premises about the implications of instability in "Chaostan" are essentially correct.

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Brenda at Mountain Brook Foods (one of our former advertisers) mentioned that since they have relocated to Idaho, they still need to close out their warehouse in Tracy, California. This is a great opportunity for anyone in Northern California to save on the cost of shipping. Until May 28th, they are selling full cases of storage foods (in nitrogen-purged #10 cans) with discounts of 40% to 75%. All orders will be shipped the last week of May, from California. Please indicate on your order if you would like to pick-up your order in person during the last week of May.

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

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $600. This big auction is for any of you that are gun enthusiasts. It includes 17 items: A four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate, which was kindly donated by Naish Piazza of Front Sight (worth up to $2,000), a $200 gift certificate from Choate Machine and Tool Company (the makers of excellent fiberglass stocks, folding stocks, and shotgun magazine extensions), $450+ worth of full capacity magazines from my personal collection including five scarce original Ruger-made 20 round Mini-14 magazines, and an autographed copy of the book "Boston's Gun Bible." The total value of this 17 item auction lot is $2,700! Note: Because this auction includes full capacity magazines, no bids will be accepted from outside of the US or from a resident of any state with magazine restrictions. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Dear Jim,
Here is some info that other like-minded survivalists might find useful.

There was a recent article on television about beef and chicken being priced very reasonable due to the fact that the market is being flooded by farmers trying to unload their product before it costs them more to feed and ship than they can sell it for. I checked it out and yep they were right. Sam's Club has boneless, skinless chicken breast and beef tip roast for less than 3 dollars a pound. I paid that same price for it a year ago.
Anyway, considering this, one might think, yes great deal, but other than freezing it, what do I do with it? What if the power goes out, then I have lost all my precious food.

I grew up in the mid-west where home canning was as common as corn and bean fields. Anyway, many people don't realize that you can also home can meat using a pressure canner. Yep, just like you do corn and beans, in Mason jars, with rings and lids. (The lids are commonly called "flats" in some parts of the country.)

Now if you are unfamiliar with this method, don't let it scare you off. In the beginning you will have to invest some money for a pressure canner, and also for jars, which come with rings and lids. You can find these at Wal-Mart, or your nearby hardware store. A canner will cost between 60 and 80 dollars, jars are from 7 to 10 dollars a dozen, including the rings and lids...and if you are real lucky and hit an estate sale or auction sale, you might come across jars really cheap..then you just have to purchase rings and lids. I prefer the Presto canner, which comes with a handy little book that tells you exactly how to can with it. Just follow the directions explicitly and Presto! One not use the advice out of an older canning method book. Many of the methods used years ago are no longer considered safe. But, if you follow the instructions with the canner, I personally feel that the food is actually safer than buying it in the store already canned. Consider that you know what you put in the jar, you know that it was done clean and sanitary. Remember to date your jars and rotate [your inventory] just like you would any other canned food. And as far as price: Have you priced a can of Spam lately?

Once you have invested in the initial jars and rings, you can reuse them, if you stock up a nice stock of lids. When you are living at your retreat and bring home a nice deer, rabbit, fish, quail...etc, etc, you can do the same with it. It is really very simple. Virtually you wash and cut up the meat in small pieces, put it in clean jars, adjust the lids and follow the simple instructions that are in the little canner booklet. It sure beats Spam and Vienna sausages. Take it from a Hurricane Katrina-surviving granny, no more Spam for me. Also, you do not necessarily have to have the best cuts of meat because pressure cooking is a natural tenderizer, this would be great with wild game that might not be the most tender. Even though it is prudent to stock up salt, it is not necessary to add salt as a preservative when you can meat in this method.

The canned meat comes in very handy in everyday life. When you come in tired and need a quick meal, you can do most anything with it. Just heat it and turn it into fajitas, chicken or beef with noodles or rice, chili, manhattan sandwiches. The uses are endless.

Also, this is not just a girl husband enjoys helping can as much as I do. It is the finished product that is so impressive. To me the initial cost is well worth it considering the need to preserve meat and veggies etc. WTSHTF. Just be sure to stock up on lids. I also hear there are some reusable lids and am currently checking into them online.

Hope this helps someone to prepare. - Survival Nanna

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. BTW, don't overlook canning fish. Canned fish typically has a shelf life that is longer than other meats. It is noteworthy that there will be no legal salmon fishing on the California and Oregon coast this year. This production shortfall is likely to increase the price of canned salmon from Alaska. For now, canned salmon can still be found for as little as $1.69 per standard 14.75 ounce tapered can. Stock up. In a year, you will be glad that you did!

Hi Jim,
I would be interested in you analysis of this: Nitro-Pak, is not even accepting orders for #10 cans of food.

Emergency Essentials, ( is out of over half of their #10 can selection.

Notice that [presently] you cannot order even wheat in cans or pails.

Is this happening throughout the food storage industry? What is up with all this? - Paul D

JWR Replies: The storage food industry is relatively small and simply doesn't have the capacity to handle orders from more than 1% or 2% of the population. Because of the recent headlines about global food shortages and galloping price increases, that capacity limit has been reached.

From what I 've heard, many of the vendors have orders backed up by three months or more. In some instances they've been told by the food packing companies (their wholesale suppliers) that they cannot guarantee or even commit to estimating a shipment date. It is no wonder that some vendors have suspended taking new orders.

The bottom line: The food storage concept is going mainstream. So expect long delays in order fulfillment. Please patronize SurvivalBlog's paid advertisers first. They deserve your business. Some of these vendors presently have some canned storage foods in stock, available for immediate delivery,. But with the Generally Dumb Public finally waking up, don't expect this product availability to continue much longer.
UPDATED on Saturday May 17th: I just got word that for the time being, Mountain House has suspended taking any new orders on their freeze dried foods in #10 cans.

Mr. Rawles:
Can you direct me to where I can learn how to bury 300 gallon fuel tanks correctly? Also, how to get the fuel out if there is no power. Thanks, - Mark T.

JWR Replies: Unless you expect to use your fuel tank on a daily basis, then I recommend that you install just a manual (hand) pump. These are available from most tank dealers.

If it will be buried in rocky ground, first put down a 4-inch layer of sand, to minimize risk of punctures during installation. Otherwise, burial is pretty straightforward. Be sure to read this general guide on preventing leaks that was published by Oklahoma State University, and this fuel tank safety document, published by the state of North Dakota.

If you buy a used tank, have it pressure tested. If you are getting a steel tank, a coating of asphalt emulsion--although it is a messy job--will extend the life of your tank. Also, talk to your tank dealer about installing a sacrificial zinc anode for cathodic corrosion protection. Together, those two measures can greatly extend the life of a steel tank.

OBTW, see my reply to this posted letter for some ideas on camouflaging your tank's pump head, to prevent fuel thefts.

Micah flagged this Fox Business video clip with some speculation about a possible war with Iran and a resultant spike in the price of crude oil.

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Kevin A., RBS, and Tim P. all mentioned a news article over at the Silver Bear Cafe that focuses on one of our least favorite Nanny States, California: Not-So-Safe-Deposit Boxes: States Seize Citizens' Property to Balance Their Budgets

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"Viking Eric" mentioned a company in England that creates houses out of CONEXes.

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Mike the Blacksmith sent us this: Fed's Discount Window Loans to Banks Climb to Record Level

"In political life today, you are considered compassionate if you demand that government impose your preferences on others." - John Stossel

Friday, May 16, 2008

Congrats to Mark L., the high bidder in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction that ended last night.

Today we begin a new SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. This big auction is for any of you that are gun enthusiasts. It includes 17 items: A four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate, which was kindly donated by Naish Piazza of Front Sight (worth up to $2,000), a $200 gift certificate from Choate Machine and Tool Company (the makers of excellent fiberglass stocks, folding stocks, and shotgun magazine extensions), $450+ worth of full capacity magazines from my personal collection including five scarce original Ruger-made 20 round Mini-14 magazines, and an autographed copy of the book "Boston's Gun Bible." The total value of this 17 item auction lot is $2,700! Note: Because this auction includes full capacity magazines, no bids will be accepted from outside of the US or from a resident of any state with magazine restrictions. The opening bid is just $100. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

The following is another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Scenario 1
You are sitting at your retreat, enjoying the scenery, when you hear on the radio that there has just been a nuclear weapon that has detonated in a contiguous State . You decide to run into your shelter. After a few days in there, you start to wonder when it might be safe to come out. You also wonder if you would have been better off evacuating and getting as far away from the radiation source as possible.

A radiation disaster is a scenario for which we must be prepared. It may be from a radiological source, such as a nuclear reactor accident, or from nuclear devices, such as a nuclear weapon.
Much of what we know about radiation exposure comes from accidents such as Chernobyl [nuclear power plant disaster] and [the bombing of] Hiroshima [and Nagasaki]. With the nuclear reactor accident in Chernobyl (1986), 70% of the contamination fell on 26% of Belarus. 400,000 people were evacuated and 50,000 km squared was restricted and removed from use. The isotopes included Cs137, Cs134, Sr90, I131, and Pu239, with an estimated 114 Million Curies entering the environment. Untoward effects from this accident included 31 initial deaths, 300 injuries and hospitalizations, 150,000 abortions, $ 3 billion spent in emergency response, $500 million spent to compensate Italian farmers, 10,000 reindeer slaughtered, and an increase in cancer (mostly thyroid cancer, many years after the incident).

It is estimated that if a large US city (population 1 million) was hit by a 10-Kiloton (KT) nuclear device, that it would produce the following casualties:

>13,000 prompt fatalities
Approximately 114,000 expectant fatalities (>830 cSv)
Approximately 90,000 requiring ICU support (530-830 cSv)
Approximately 141,000 requiring either ICU or minimum care ward (300-530 cSv)
Approximately 150,000 requiring a minimum care ward (150-300 cSv)
Approximately 159,000 requiring outpatient therapy (70-150cSv)
Approximately 128,000 requiring health monitoring (25-70cSv)
Approximately 212,000 worried [but] well (<25 cSv)

The healthcare system is not ready or able to cope with this magnitude of casualties. That brings us to: What should you do?
The mechanism of injury from a nuclear device is 3 fold: blast, heat and radiation. Assuming a 10-KT burst, people within a 0.55 km radius of the explosion fall within a “blast injury circle” and have a high immediate fatality rate. People within a 0.9 km radius of the explosion fall within a “prompt radiation circle”, and people within a 2.1 km radius fall within the “thermal circle” and suffer 2nd degree burns. If you are outside of these 3 circles, you may suffer from radiation fallout. The amount of fallout you are exposed to is determined by 3 factors: length of time exposed, distance from the original explosion, and how much shielding there is between you and the radioactive source.

To minimize radiation exposure, you will want to reduce your time exposed, increase your distance from the source and have as much shielding as possible. This can lead to a dilemma if faced with this scenario: should you evacuate your retreat (increase your distance from the source), or should you stay and go into your shelter (increase your shielding)? The answer to this question will depend on whether or not you have a shelter, how far away from the initial source you are, the strength of the nuclear device, and the weather conditions. Even if you have a shelter, you may be forced to evacuate due to your proximity to the radiation source (Remember Chernobyl where 50,000 square kilometers were deemed unusable). It can take many months and sometimes years to clean up after a Radiation Event. Most people don’t have shelters that will sustain them for that long. Unfortunately, if faced with this scenario, you will have limited time to make your decision, for if you decide to evacuate you will want to do it immediately to reduce your exposure time, and before the roads get jammed with people. Thus, it would be useful to know a few basic equations to help you make your decision.

Radiation exposure follows the inverse square law- exposure reduction is proportional to the inverse square of the distance. Radiation is measured in Gray. If the source produces 10 Gy/hour at 1 meter, the exposure will be 2.5 Gy/hour at 2 meters (10 divided by 2 squared). The worst case scenario could produce up to 50-100 Gy/hour at the site of the explosion. With this information, you can calculate your exposure based on how far away you are from the radiation source. You must also keep in mind the weather conditions. If your calculation reveals a total body dose of <0.7 Gy, the radiation effect will be minimal, and you should be safe to stay at your retreat.

Scenario 2
You decided to stay at your retreat with some type of shelter, but after 12 hours a family member starts vomiting. Should you take them to the hospital which you know will be full of victims or should you stay isolated?
The key to treating radiation victims is knowing what dose of radiation they received. All medical decisions are based on the dose estimate.
There are many ways to determine dose of exposure, most of which require a hospital visit and laboratory tests. Without access to prompt healthcare, the easiest way to determine dose is to record the time from radiation exposure until the time the victim starts vomiting. Then use the information below to estimate the dose the victim received (measured in Gray):

Time To Onset of Vomiting Post Accident/Terrorist Act

Hours to Vomiting Estimated Dose (Gray)
20 0.1
7 0.5
5 1
2 5
1 10
0.8 20
0.5 50
0.3 100


Use that number for the following interventions:
If they received a dose of < 0.7 Gy, they will not be significantly affected by the radiation and they do not need to be hospitalized.

If they received a dose of 0.7-5 Gy, their lymphocytes (cells in the blood that fight infection) will dramatically decrease. This happens within the first 1-2 days and puts them at a very high risk of infection. Their hemoglobin and red blood cells will also decrease at 30 days after exposure and they will become very anemic. With good supportive care, the blood counts will recover by 60 days post exposure. Treatment includes IV fluids, antibiotics and colony stimulating factors. These are the people who benefit the most from being admitted to the hospital because they need the colony stimulating factors (which are not able to be stored at a retreat). My advice would be to take them into the hospital. If this is not feasible, they must be quarantined for at least 60 days. If they do not get an infection, there is a good chance they will live.

If they were exposed to a dose of 6-15 Gy, the predominant effect will be on their gastrointestinal system- this means profuse, bloody diarrhea and dehydration, starting at 5-7 days post exposure. It is also often associated with severe nausea/vomiting and fever. Treatment includes specific antibiotics, GI nutrition, IV fluids and early cytokine therapy for 5 or more weeks. These people will also benefit from hospitalization if feasible. Survival is possible, but unlikely.

If they were exposed to > 15 Gy, the effect will be on their cardiovascular system and central nervous system. This leads to brain swelling and death within 2-3 days. It is associated with a 100% mortality rate and the best care would be to provide them with pastoral care and to keep them comfortable. There is nothing medically that can be done to save their life.

Scenario 3
You decide to make a trip into town to pick up some supplies. It’s around 10 a.m. and you are walking down the street. All of a sudden you hear a loud explosion and see pieces of shrapnel flying. There are casualties all around you from the scrap metal. You are thankful that none of it hit you. Then you hear someone yell “It was a Dirty Bomb!” You think to yourself, “A Dirty Bomb! What should I do?”
A “Dirty Bomb” is a radiological dispersion device which combines a conventional explosive with a radioactive material. It is not a nuclear weapon, nor a weapon of mass destruction; however, it is a weapon of mass disruption. The impact depends on the type of explosive, amount and type of radioactive material and the weather conditions.

Immediate deaths or serious injuries would likely result from the explosion itself. It is unlikely that the radioactive material would kill anyone. The radioactive material would be dispersed into the air and reduced to relatively low concentrations. Low level exposure to radioactive contamination could slightly increase your long term risk of cancer (mostly thyroid cancer). There would be significant impact by causing fear, panic and disruption. Clean up would be costly and could take many months.

Consider this example: In Goiania, Brazil, 1987, 1375 Ci of Cs-137 spread throughout a neighborhood. It was an accident (not a terrorist event), and yet it caused mass panic and fear. Ultimately, 112,000 people were screened, out of which 249 had detectable contamination. Four victims died within four weeks and 20 were hospitalized. Site remediation took months to complete (Oct 1987-March 1988). Can you imagine the impact if it had been a planned event?

Dirty bombs can expose one to radiation both externally and internally. Internal contamination can occur through inhalation (nose, mouth) or absorption (wound in the skin). The radiation is typically deposited in the thyroid, liver, lung and bone. It is not acutely life threatening.

When dealing with a victim of radiation contamination, act as if they were contaminated with raw sewage. Protect yourself with clothes, mask, and gloves and use standard medical emergency procedures (Airway/Breathing/Circulation). Decontaminate after the victim is stabilized. Removing their clothing and washing with soap and water is 95%+ effective at decontaminating. Treat with fluids, anti-emetics (anti-nausea), anti-diarrheals and pain medication.

There are also blocking and diluting agents, but these are isotope specific:
For Radioactive Iodine (I-131), use Potassium Iodide (KI) - must be given within 4 hours after the exposure, see the dosing chart below
For Strontium-85 and Strontium-90, use calcium, aluminum, barium
For Tritium, use ordinary water (force fluids for 3 days)
For the Transuramics (Plutonium, Americium, Curium, Californium), use DTPA 1 gram intravenously (must be given within 24 hours after the exposure)
For Cesium, use Prussian Blue 1 gram orally three times a day for three weeks

There are two problems with the blocking agents: First, you often don’t know what the isotope identity is until after it is too late to administer the blocking agent. There is no easy way to determine which isotopes were included in the bomb and you will need to rely on medical personnel to provide you with this information. Secondly, most of the blocking agents are not readily available. The only exception is KI, which is easily purchased through many of the SurvivalBlog advertisers. You are fortunate if you have DTPA or Prussian Blue stored away, but most people don’t.

In the absence of knowing what isotopes were in the dirty bomb, my advice would be to have as much fluid as possible (to dilute tritium). I would also take KI if you have some. If I-131 was in the bomb, the KI will protect your thyroid gland (and possible cancer later in life). It must be taken within 4 hours after the exposure. If I-131 was not in the explosive, the KI is safe with minimal side effects. If you decide to take some, use the following dosing chart:
Adults 18 and older: 130 mg of KI
Pregnant/Lactating females: 130 mg KI
Children age 3-18 years: 65 mg KI
1 month-3 years: 32 mg KI
Birth-1 month: 16 mg KI

In summary, the radiological/nuclear threat is real! Mass casualties in your area are possible, but radiation injury is treatable.

JWR Adds: Some readers might not be familiar with the term Gray--the standard unit of measurement for radiation exposure, that replaced REM (Roentgen Equivalent, Man), and RAD (Radiation Absorbed Dose). For us Bomb Shelter Era dinosaurs, conversion from Grays are as follows.

1 Gy equals 100 rad
1 mGy equals 100 mrad
1 Sv equals 100 rem
1 mSv equals 100 mrem

Stocking up on KI tablets is inexpensive, so every family should keep a supply on hand. In 1985, I was stationed in West Germany and was briefly down-wind of Chernobyl. At the time I wished that I had some KI available! Anyone that lives in an urban area should have a Nuk-Alert "key fob" radiation detector. That way you won't have to wait for word from someone else to determine whether or not a nearby bomb explosion was a dirty bomb. Nuk-Alerts are available from several SurvivalBlog advertisers.

Hi Jim:
Just wanted to let you know that my teen-age sons are reading "Patriots", (the latest edition). I appreciate that your book is one that a father can allow his children to read, because it isn't filled with sex scenes. While I'm sure my sons are not ignorant about such things, there is no reason to shove their faces in it constantly.

The real reason for this e-mail is to give you and the readers another idea for raising funds for purchases, and best of all, you get the funds from liberals!
Several months ago, we had a "gun buy back" in the two neighboring cities where I live. I had been waiting for just this type of event, because I had eleven junk guns to turn in. I only turned in ten, because the lady in line in front of me traded me a 4" S&W K-22, target "combat masterpiece" for an old, bolt action 20 gauge.

Before the readers start burning me in effigy, let me note that the shotgun was the best of the guns to be turned in. The rest were junk that had been given to me by friends who know that I am "into" tinkering with broken firearms. The H&R .22 revolver that I had fixed would not group into the side of a barn from the inside, an old Remington .22 rifle with scope grooves hand ground with a side grinder (no kidding) did not function reliably, the other guns were the same level of worth. I could not morally sell or even give someone a firearm that I knew to be extremely unreliable, so this was my chance to get something for guns that were one step from being boat anchor material.

Now the best part is, if the gun was deemed to be "functional" the owner was given $75, "non functional" guns were worth $50 this was in the form of gift cards to a major "big-box" store that sells almost everything, including fuel and ammo. The store gift cards were a parts of the cards donated, others were from grocery stores and restaurants. I ended up with over $600, and a decent K-22.

Almost every gun nut that I know has a few guns that are absolute junk and probably unsafe to fire. If it is a quality made gun that has just seen too many hard times, first check with someone knowledgeable about collector guns. If it truly is "junk" then save what parts might be salvageable, (sights, magazines, springs, pins, etc.) and put them in an envelope with the make, model, and caliber of gun they were from. Some people have guns that were in a house fire and were badly damaged. This is a chance to salvage some value for them.

By the way, a friend of mine was watching the whole event, and he told me that out of approximately 150 guns turned in, perhaps four were of decent quality. It seems that gun owners were using the opportunity to get cash (or near cash) for junk. The big giveaway was when they asked for the gun cases back. All the best, - Raggedyman

JWR Replies: Thanks for that tip. OBTW, I refuse to use the term gun "Buy Back", since it is Orwellian Newspeak. How can these liberal love fests be a "Buy Backs' if the government (or other sponsor of these idiotic programs) never owned the guns in the first place? So properly, they should be called Buy-Ups.

More Gloom und Doom from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: The global slump of 2008-09 has begun as poison spreads. It sounds like he's been reading SurvivalBlog. Don't listen to the Wall Street pundits at CNBC who assure us that there will be a jolly "soft landing,"

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Thanks to Chester for sending this: US foreclosure filings surge 65 percent in April. As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog: Anyone that does not yet own a rural retreat should watch the foreclosure listings carefully. There may some tremendous bargains in the next few years that are right in your "ideal" retreat locale region. Two foreclosure monitoring services that I recommend are and

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From Reader Tim P.: Zimbabwe Introduces a Z$500 Million Note.

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RBS found this one from The Washington Post: Growing Deficits Threaten Pensions--Accounting Tactics Conceal a Crisis For Public Workers

"To be thrown upon one's own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible." Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends tonight (May 15th) at midnight eastern time. The high bid is now at $350. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments before midnight eastern time.

It is not just USA that may is seeing food and fuel prices increase, here on the other side of the pond in the UK we are see the same.
Problem here is that out government are trying to persuade us that inflation is low. Due to keep moving the goal posts and accounting methods.
There is now a worldwide crisis over supplies of key crops such as corn, wheat and rice that has triggered food riots in some countries. In the UK it has brought the biggest rises in bills in a generation.

A family which spent £100 a week on food last year now has to find another £19.10 for the same products, equivalent to £993 a year. Once "must-pay" bills for petrol, mortgages, power and council tax are added, the extra cost is more like £2,200.

Yet the official inflation rate is just 2.6 percent. Experts say a worldwide drive to produce biofuels – made from corn, wheat and soya as an alternative to oil – is a major factor.
Many farmers have switched from food production to biofuel crops. The effect of biofuels on food prices has been dramatic. A litre of corn oil has more than doubled in a year, to £1.38, in one of the big supermarkets. Fusilli pasta, made from wheat, is up 81 per cent, a baguette by 41 per cent and Weetabix cereal 21 per cent.

Farmers are also facing huge increases in feed bills, leading to dearer meat and dairy products. Milk is up 16.6 percent, English butter by 62 percent and mild cheddar by 25.6 percent.
Basmati rice is up more than 60 per cent in 12 months and Britain's biggest supplier, Tilda, has warned of a further rise of around 30 per cent in the coming year.
The soaring price of oil is the second major factor battering consumers. Figures from the AA show the cost of diesel has risen by a quarter in the past year, while unleaded petrol is up 15.4 percent.
The higher price of oil is dragging up the cost of both gas and electricity. How much longer can this go on?

There are more details in this Daily Mail news article. Regards, - Norman in England

Two minor notes:regarding the letter from DS in Wisconsin:
Pulse Oximeters are cheaper now than ever. Some drug companies give them away as promo's. You can find them online starting well under $100, some nearer to $50. These are battery operated self-contained finger clamp units, but I've seen nurses at more than one hospital using them to take vitals.

Secondly, while it is possible to ventilate a patient by hand for long term, it is not very practical. You'd need a staff of dedicated people that are willing to perform a laborious and painful task for hours on end, rest a bit, and then go in for another shift, and to keep this up for days or longer. If you don't think it is painful, then practice by squeezing one of your dog's larger squeaky toys non-stop for, say, 3 hours. Do it in one place, without moving the toy, and while you are standing up. Don't stop for more than 30 seconds or your squeaky toy will die. You will need to keep this up for the entire duration that the patient needs ventilation, or the patient will expire. While you might be able to pull this off for one family member during a crisis, to plan on using this method for treating mass casualties in an outbreak is more than a little bit optimistic.- Patrick M.

In response to the e-mail from DS in Wisconsin: There’s no way anyone can BVM (bag-valve-mask) aka ventilate a patient over an extended period of time, it’s strictly for transporting patients (usually under half an hour). There are several “disaster” ventilators available that rely on purely mechanical ventilation and will function over a longer period of time (think bird flu). Do a web search on “surevent” for an example. Individual pricing for these “disaster” vents is usually under $100. For patients who can breath on their own, do a web search on “bubble CPAP”, a device that can be manufactured at home. In all cases you will need a source of air and/or oxygen that has absolutely no oil residue (remember how a diesel engine works?)—use commercial medical grade compressed gases/compressors only.

As a clinical engineer, I often wonder where people get their ideas. Pulse oximetry (SpO2) is not a reliable indicator of oxygen perfusion, although from an equipment standpoint, it is the cheapest indicator. If you have critical needs, or money to burn, end tidal CO2 (etCO2) is the way to go.

Thanks to Yishai for sending us this interesting article link: Five Modern Secret Room Dreams (and Nightmares): From Creative Hideouts to Dreadful Spaces

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Samuel K. flagged this: Are Backyard Ethanol Brewers an Answer to High-Priced Gas? In the context of Schumeresque days, such systems would only make sense in a place like Hawaii, where it could expected that grid power might be available, and cane sugar is readily available. Used in CONUS, I predict that grid power or transport disruptions would quickly transform these systems into just quaint ornaments. And of course these systems make E100 (pure ethanol) . This is great for Brazil, where there are lots of E100-compatible cars and trucks on the road, but at least for now this is essentially worthless in the US, where there are virtually no E100 cars and trucks available.

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Tom from demonstrates how to use a magnesium fire starter. OBTW, a pill bottle stuffed tightly full of cotton balls should be stowed with your magnesium fire starter at all times, since you never know when you might have to start a fire in wet weather and/or with limited natural tinder available. I have pill bottle full of cotton balls attached to my Blast Match, at all times.

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Lawrence T. suggested an interesting albeit lengthy blog article that discusses the combined impact of fuel costs and JIT inventory systems: J.I.I.T.

"You can call a survivalist irrational.
You can call a survivalist reactionary.
You can even call a survivalist stupid.
But there's one thing you can't call a survivalist: unprepared." - Thomas Greene

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends tomorrow night at midnight, eastern time. The high bid is now at $350. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

After many delays for many reasons, I finally have my hands on a LAR-8, which is Rock River Arms' entry into the AR-10 clone market. This model is the LAR-8 16" carbine, flattop, MSRP $1,100.

The rifle arrived in a sturdy bright blue case, compartmented to fit a disassembled rifle of each length, with one magazine, manual, everything wrapped in plastic. This is a heavy rifle compared to an AR15, at 8.1 lbs (for a carbine, remember), but is quite reasonable for a .308.

From the rear: The buttstock is a standard 6 position, and aftermarket stocks will fit, likewise for the Hogue grip. The internals are proprietary, but it appears that standard AR fire control parts will fit. The trigger felt really odd, almost hair trigger, until we weighed it right about 6 pounds. It is just exceptionally crisp with a very sweet let-off. The fire control switch is right-handed only, which is a little odd, since the magazine release is ambidextrous (button on each side), and the bottom-mounted bolt release is, also. It appears that standard handguards will fit, too.
The controls are easy to reach. I do like the bolt release. Insert a magazine, brush downward with thumb, and it clacks into battery. Operation was flawless for the full day. This is on the rifle as delivered, with no oil, teardown, anything. It chambered and fired every time, and there were no hitches.

Here's one of the prime selling points: The rifle is advertised to, and does, accept metric and inch FAL magazines. I had a little more trouble with inch mags, but I suspect they were older. I bought ten at a gun show for $50. That's enough magazines for 210 rounds of ammunition (nine 20 round, one 30 round). That's about the price for just one of the competitor's magazine. Feed and function was fine with both, assuming the magazine was good. At that price, though, one can buy a case and keep the tight ones for spare parts.

The weapon is tight, well-made, with excellent fit and finish. It is well-balanced and comfortable. It felt very robust and durable, though as a loaner, I didn't do an all-out abuse test. If you are familiar with the AR-15, the only relevant differences for handling are the weight and the location of the bolt release, which is lower than one is trained for, but easily managed. Since most of us slap the paddle as the hand goes down anyway, there's no problem adapting to carrying the motion to the base of the magazine well. Other minor differences are the much heavier recoil spring, and the previously-mentioned excellent if unusual trigger.

The rifle came without iron sights on this model (other models have M16A2 style sights). This was a minor problem. I have excellent scopes, but no riser to bring them high enough above the receiver, and no mountable front sight. I managed by attaching one of my EoTechs. The EoTech is a combat sight, not intended for long range precision, but seemed to work well enough. I was within 8" of center with the first shot (before zeroing). That's good enough for combat shooting at 100 yards.

Weather: 64° F, 62% relative humidity, Barometric pressure 29.87 and falling, elevation 630 ft above sea level.
Using South African surplus R1M1, 204W, Lot A11/80, I was able to keep 4" groups of 20 rounds. This is 4 MOA, with 30 year old ammo, a short barrel, a combat sight with a red dot shooting at a red target. I find this acceptable.

With US [military] surplus Lot 1-80, three shot groups ranged from 2.125" to 2.375", very consistently.

Using US military match grade XM118 LR PD (2002, Lake City), our groups ranged from 1.125" to 1.6", median 1.375". This is well within the 1.5 MOA accuracy promised, using an inadequate sight. I am impressed and satisfied. A good handloader could probably break 1 MOA, and this is with the 16" carbine, not the 26" heavy barreled "varmint" rifle.

I would suggest Rock River make the fire selector switch ambidextrous, since all other controls are. That's the only improvement I can think of.

It cleaned easily, with a little more room to get inside than an AR-15. The bolt cam pin appears to go in sideways compared to an AR-15 (rotated 90 degrees). The firing pin is longer. Everything fit well, had a good metal surface and a very dark parkerized finish.

For those of you wanting .308 power and range with the AR's handling, welcome home. For those wanting a reasonably priced precision rifle for target shooting, hunting, or SHTF, you'll be hard-pressed to do better than a Rock River LAR-8. The availability of AR-platform accessories and mods are significant points in favor of both, as are the dirt-cheap military surplus FAL magazines. One can buy the rifle and included case, customize stocks, grips, handguards and mechanicals, load 200 and more rounds in magazines, and still be money ahead of a competing AR-10 clone. Add in the exceptional accuracy and strength, and it tops my list.- Michael Z. Williamson

Dear Jim,
This letter is in response to NC Bluedog's very informative article that appeared today. Here in rural Wisconsin, we have the same problems as he noted--shortage of high-technology life-saving devices. This is due to the overall situation that our medical care industry is dollar-driven. He have a small hospital, and two more within a 15 minute dash via ambulance. Each hospital has at least a four-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with a ventilator per bed, and at least two extra ventilators that can be used outside of their ICUs. Beyond that, there are none available. Extra units would have to be imported from major hospitals within the state. To get these units would take time, along with the funding to lease them--providing the disaster is confined to my area. The hospitals in my area are not sufficiently wealthy to do this in a mass emergency event.

So, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, what can you or I do? There is a solution. Each EMT and Paramedic have in their Rescue bags, a set of airways and a bag-valve mask. Some even have a device called a "Pulse Oximeter." This unit measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. When an airway, bag mask, and Pulse Oximeter are used in conjunction with each other, you have a primitive ventilator. There are more devices that are available to the EMT/Paramedic, but all require more advanced training in their use. I won't go that way here. However, to use these devices requires training, and I suggest that you enroll in the proper program to use them correctly. The only down-side to ventilating a patient in this manner is very time-consuming and labor-intensive. If you must do this for any length of time, I suggest you have several individuals willing to take over and give the proper ventilations to the patient. This method is used in our hospitals as a back-up should there be a ventilator failure.

How much does this cost? The basic set of six airways will run approximately less than $5, and bag-valve-mask starts at approximately $10 and goes up, and the killer is the Pulse Oximeter. I've seen them advertised starting at $300 and continue on up through the roof. If you are a family, and have the need for such a unit, (an asthmatic child, etc.) talk to your insurance company and see what can be done. If you are a member of a group, talk it over and have each member donate toward the cost. Then get proper training. These units together are not hard to use or understand. Think about this when you have your next group meeting. All of these devices can be purchased Over The Counter (OTC) from the better Medical/EMT supply companies.

I hope this small solution will answer a lingering question that any of you have concerning the availability of ventilators in an emergency. Start thinking about, and plan for, the addition of airway management tools to your medical preps. Doing so now will give you an edge up when the day comes. - DS in Wisconsin

The other dirty secret that isn't described is that at some point, you will run into staffing issues. I'm an Intensive Care nurse at a big teaching hospital, and I find the challenge of a complex patient: managing ventilators and "dancing on the vasopressors" is second nature and even quite fun.
NC Bluedog makes a good point that the hospitals are chronically short of staff an money, but let's play with the idea further. We'll grant that we've been able to find intrepid and dutiful nurses and physicians who will work for free and will work more than a hundred hours a week. And the Ventilator Fairy drops all of the vents (and warmers, IV pumps, heart monitors, Swan-Ganz monitors, etc, etc, etc...) that we need. Even with the Hollywood Scenario, at some point there will not be staff. Certainly in an outbreak, but I wonder about it often during especially bad flu and pneumonia seasons. There will be no staff because they're all out sick themselves (the stress and long hours having weakened their immune system in the face of super bugs, or just the "run-of-the-mill the native drug-resistant ones we have in the hospitals now), or because they've got a sick family member to care for. Or they have their own kids to look after- recall earlier this year when Singapore (or was it Hong Kong?) closed the schools for two weeks to prevent the spread of an especially bad infection. Someone's going to have to stay home with all those quarantined kids. I can't put them in day care while I head to the hospital after all.
And at some point the devotion to duty will start to fail. Even with the threat of lost licenses (State Boards of Nursing frown on folks who walk away from their patients or who don't show up when needed), folks will feel the need to be home with their kith and kin.
And that's when we reach Kunstler's "World Made by Hand" - Regards, Michael G.

R.E. found a link to this map of the population density of the US, Mexico, and Canada. Do you see why I prefer the Western US for retreats? Too bad that Canada has a frigid climate (inland) and such draconian gun laws. Otherwise, much of western Canada would be ideal. See my free Recommended Retreat Areas web page for more detail on my recommendations, and my nonfiction book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" for even greater detail, with some very useful accompanying maps.)

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Eric sent us this: Hard-hit consumers turn to Amish--People save by buying 'scratch and dent' and reclaimed grocery items

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Brent mentioned this article about Australian farmers sowing a record-breaking number of hectares in wheat: Sowing, Not Sewing. And speaking of wheat, Bob G. sent us this alarming article:
UN alert: One-fourth of world's wheat at risk from new fungus

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Kevin suggested this piece from Slate: Gauging the risk of an inadvertent nuclear war.

"Oppression can only survive through silence." - Carmen de Monteflores

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $325. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends in two days--on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

"A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers." (Proverbs 24:5-6)
Most survivalist planning focuses on physical needs—food, shelter, clothing, first aid, self defense. While the physical essentials rightly belong at the top of the list, there's almost always some empty space left in the locker/bunker/trailer/back-of-the-truck for...something. What to put in there?

Human beings are social animals, and we need each other; God has woven this into our genetic code. A "Lone Ranger" survivalist might have an edge in the short-term, but a group of survivors has a distinct long-term advantage—if they can overcome the challenges. Other than basic supply-scale issues, the primary challenges facing larger groups center around communication issues—making sure everyone is fully informed and knows The Plan. Communication helps build trust, and trust-based relationships are exactly what you need as a survivor—whether you're dealing with your family, or with the family down the road, in the next county, or across the globe.

One of the reasons I enjoy being a technology consultant is the fact that technology brings people together. Postal mail, telephone, fax, mobile phones, email, text messaging, videoconferencing, two-way name it, it's basically about human communication. As I formulate and revise my overall survival plan, I find myself evaluating various technology gadgets in this light: Would this gizmo (whatever it is) provide communication benefits to me if I were in survival mode, and, if so, is it feasible and reasonable to utilize it in that capacity? Note that what is "feasible" and "reasonable" are almost completely subjective, depending on the skill set of the particular individual or group—those who have a "techno-wiz" or two in their midst can obviously support more complex technology than others. By evaluating your group's capacity for utilizing technology, and carefully selecting from some proven technologies, you can improve your survival capabilities in numerous ways by improving your ability to communicate within your group of survivors, be it large or small, and increase your access to outside resources. Here are some ideas:
Get your ears on. The mobile phone infrastructure may or may not be operational, and even if it is, your survival retreat might not have decent reception—so don't count on it. If your group consists of more than one person, odds are that you will need to split up at some point, and radio communications give you a huge advantage in almost every situation—especially if you run up against an aggressor. Anything is better than nothing, so at least grab a set of inexpensive "bubble pack" FRS/GMRS radios. Better still, see if you can develop a relationship with a like-minded radio guy in your area, and draw upon his expertise. Find yourself an expert and get educated.[JWR Adds: See the ARRL for a directory that will include a ham radio club in your area.]

Get eyes in the back of your head...or house. A good survival retreat includes a security system, and this is a great place to leverage technology. D-Link, TrendNet and others make decent network cameras, both wired and wireless, for around $100 each. You can string network wires through the trees, direct-bury, or go wireless. Virtually any inexpensive wireless access point (e.g., Linksys/Netgear/D-Link cable/DSL routers, Apple AirPorts, etc.) can be used to provide a basic communications network for wireless cameras. Using multiple cameras with software like Security Spy for Macs or NCH Software for Windows, one person with a laptop computer can cover a lot of ground just sitting in a chair. You can even configure the software's motion detection features to alert you (by making a noise, flashing the screen, etc.) when anything moves, so the man on duty doesn't have to keep his eyes glued to the screen. Much of this equipment runs on 12 VDC, so it's perfect for photovoltaic-powered systems.

Own the night. Get some night vision equipment. Others have written extensively and with much more knowledge on the subject than I possess, but if you can see in the dark, you have a huge advantage over the guy who can't. Find yourself an expert and get educated. 'Nuff said. [JWR Adds: One night vision gear vendor that I recommend is JRH Enterprises.}

Get connected. What happens to the internet after TEOTWAWKI? A safe assumption is that the Internet will be unreliable at best, and possibly unusable. This may be true to varying degrees on a global or regional scale, but understand that the internet itself is simply a conglomeration of smaller networks. If you've built a security network like the one mentioned above, you can use point-to-point wireless links to connect your survival retreat with your closest like-minded neighbor (you do know your neighbors, right?), so you can communicate more quickly and easily. Remember, there is strength in numbers—especially when you can maintain good communications. What's more, if you build a "mesh" of interconnected networks, if just one location has internet access, those communication and information resources immediately become available to the entire mesh. Remember all those articles you always meant to print out but never did? If the server is still online, now you can get to them!

The least expensive wireless point-to-point equipment is generally going to be a pair of weatherproofed 802.11b/g radios hooked to a directional antennas. The disadvantage to this configuration is that 802.11b/g is a "line-of-sight" technology that uses microwave frequencies—so, anything that would heat up in a microwave oven will attenuate the signal. Thus, if your two locations are separated by foliage or terrain, you'll have to get those antennas up over the treetops. Not only is that a hassle, but it's also a very easy way for non-friendlies to locate your retreat. In that case, you'd be better off utilizing more specialized equipment from a manufacturer like Motorola or Trango. It's pricier, but it's non-line-of-sight (NLOS) and will shoot through trees.

Light 'em up! A good solar power system is a great addition to a survival retreat in any case, but it becomes a necessity if you want to leverage electrically-powered technology. A basic solar power plant is comprised of one or more photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which generate electric current whenever they're exposed to light, one or more deep-cycle batteries to store the excess power for later use, and electronics to regulate the voltage and manage the battery charging. Power is usually delivered at 12 VDC, which can be converted to 120 VAC using an inverter—though it's more efficient to simply use equipment that will run on 12 VDC. Don't skimp on photovoltaic gear, and I recommend sizing your solar panels to at least double your usage projections. For one thing, you'll always want more juice than you think you'll need. For another thing, many vendors quote solar panel performance based on best-case conditions, and even if they regionalize their numbers for the amount of daylight in your area, they typically use an average length-of-day instead of the shortest length-of-day, and they either ignore or underestimate the effects of cloudy days, dust coating, bird feces, etc. on PV panel performance. Solar power is quiet, too, so you won't be giving away your position with a noisy generator. [JWR Adds: One alternative energy system vendor that I recommend is Ready Made Resources Also, don't overlook the references available at SolarDoc, at Backwoods Home magazine, and at Home Power magazine.]

Protect your equipment against electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The general effects of EMP are fairly well documented, but the specific effects of EMP on various types of electronic equipment, and the most effective ways of protecting that equipment, are not so well-documented. EMP is surrounded by misinformation, urban legend, and simple unknowns. Most "experts" on EMP seem to agree that the most straightforward way to protect equipment is probably to store it inside a "Faraday box," which could be made by lining the inside of a metal filing cabinet with several layers of newspaper, or wrapping a cardboard box with a couple layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Stored in these containers, your electronic equipment is reasonably protected against EMP. Note that I said "reasonably." When we're talking about EMP, we're talking about nuclear attack, and survivability—for electronics and people alike—is obviously highly dependent on where you are in relation to ground zero, so all you can do is make reasonable preparations and pray to God for grace.

Only you can determine whether or not the benefits of these technologies are worth the money and effort in your particular survival plan. If you decide to utilize any particular technology, I highly recommend building and testing the system now, before it's needed. And, of course, you should always have a "Plan B" for those times when—not if, but when—the technology fails. EMP, rainwater in the wrong place, a broken wire, and a dead battery all have the same end result—dead equipment—and you need to plan for it. Note, too, that the ideas presented here were kept to a basic level of information due to the limited scope of this article—each topic would easily merit a fairly lengthy book, if not a complete volume, in order to be explored to a satisfactory degree—so I strongly encourage you to seek further knowledge in those systems that are of interest to you.

Again: Find yourself an expert and get educated. If you're an expert in one or more survival fields, find someone who wants to be educated and teach them. Being a survivalist doesn't mean you have to be antisocial. Remember that part of your survival plan should involve building relationships with like-minded people who have, among them, a diverse enough skill set to be able to handle the widest possible range of survival tasks. One of the primary uses of communications technology, aside from its immediate tactical use, is to build and maintain these kinds of relationships even (or especially) in a survival scenario."Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Here is a non-exhaustive list of Internet resources, to help get you started:

Night vision:
Optics Planet

Point-to-point and outdoor wireless:
Radio Labs
Trango Broadband
Motorola PTP
MoonBlink Wi-Fi

Photovoltaic power:
Solar Power Directory

EMP protection:
AusSurvivalist EMP Protection Pages
Faraday Cages
1997 Military EMP Hardening Handbook EMP Hardening Handbook

I live in an area of the south that is fairly rural. People her still plant gardens, can, hunt, raise livestock and I believe could if need be survive longer than most in a crisis time. Don't get me wrong I am stocking and preparing for a long term survival and defense possibility.

My question is this: The 40 acres I live on is situated on a ridge in this area surrounded by deep flowing rivers,streams and creeks. These water ways separate the area I live and a metropolitan area 80 miles in one direction and another 60 miles. In a full collapses such as in your novel "Patriots" would it be feasible to block or make impassable these bridges as to route the flow of scavengers and marauders away from my area. Also it would funnel any that would find their way in to my area in from one defensible direction.

I'm talking about doing this only in the event of a full collapse as in TEOTWAWKI. The only real protection the people in this area will have will be themselves and their neighbors. Our group will be large enough to defend our stronghold at the size it is now. I just think that a more controlled area with fewer entry points would be easier to defend. Now we are not going to box ourselves into a hole, but limiting vehicle access just would be prudent. If we pulled back closer there are four smaller bridges that are less than a mile away that would close our "back door" from unexpected visitors. Most of our neighbors are self reliant and I believe in that situation would agree that limiting access would be to all of those in the "enclave's" best interest. I'm not talking of destroying them--only blocking them with junk cars and such. We have a lot of heavy equipment between us and it would not be a problem. Typically the bridges are in low spots so they are also easily defendable from higher ground. I know this sounds extreme but we are planning long term defense and survival. - Southern Survivor

JWR Replies: Legally and ethically, as an individual you can only block roads on your own property. But if a small community makes a collective decision to block a road or bridge, then that is another matter. I would assume that every state in the Union has laws forbidding blocking any public road. Further, as both police (in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, under color of law) and various protestors have found, Federal law prohibits blocking interstate freeways.

As I've mentioned in SurvivalBlog several times, it is best to pick a property that is situated away from channelized areas (also known as "lines of drift.") A ridgetop location is generally quite good, but this of course raises the age-old issue of clear fields of fire versus concealment. The best possible solution would be to have a cleared area for at least 50 yards, yet still have a solid screen of trees close to any nearby thoroughfares. This necessitates having at least 20 acres--which is out of the price range of many preppers. In the end, it comes down to compromise, and tailoring your defensive preparations to your locale and to your personal "worst case" expectations.

In my years of consulting work, I've met many folks that have confided that in the event of an absolute worst case--the dreaded "Mutant Zombie Biker" scenario--they plan to block public roads or even destroy bridges. Two of my consulting clients own large Caterpillar-type tractors. I've urged them to not use those Cats to move earth and rock to block roads, but rather to possibly use them as mobile road blocks. Parking a Cat crosswise at the end of a two-lane bridge (with its blade lowered) will stop most vehicles. OBTW, when doing this, don't depend on just a keyed switch to disable the vehicle. Just a few types of key variations were made and/or they can easily to bypassed ("hot wired".) So a mobile roadblock must be disabled by temporarily removing or disabling a crucial ignition, fuel, or hydraulic system part. (See how utility companies do so, for some examples.)

By using a mobile road block that is under armed observation 24/7, you will minimize the risk of alienating your neighbors. Who is to say how long a crisis might last? If you were to block a road with earth or rock piles, or even with wrecked cars, you would probably infuriate any neighbors that decide to return to a normal life of work and commuting, as well as any that resume hauling produce or livestock to market.

Also, as I've pointed out many time in the past: Physical obstacles are just delays--not absolute safeguards. People will find a way through them, over them, or around them--on foot if need be. Also, given enough time, almost any obstacle can be reduced or removed. This necessitates covering any obstacle with armed sentries. For a community in a post-collapse situation, this is best accomplished by 1.) a mobile roadblock, 2.) prominent warning signs, and 3.) covered by one or more well-camouflaged sentries equipped with scoped battle rifles and radios, from a 200+ yard distance. Just one rifleman in a ghillie suit, set back in a tree line can have a tremendous psychological impact in defending a roadblock. ("Where did that shot come from?") In my estimation, the traditional "armed party of men" standing behind barricades manning a roadblock is a thoroughly antiquated carry-over from the Ancien Régime. In the modern context, it is just an invitation to take casualties, as well as a waste of manpower.)

22 dead in Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia after new round of storms. This underscores the need for anyone living in tornado or hurricane country to construct an effective storm shelter.

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Rob at MURS Radios mentioned that he will soon have a limited number of Kenwood TK-2100 MURS radios in stock. These are similar to the ones that he used to sell and at the same price. These come with a used radio (programmed for MURS frequencies), antenna, drop-in charger, and a new battery. The price is $69 each, plus shipping. Rob is taking pre-orders on a first come, first served basis. I highly recommend the MURS band, since it is far less crowded than the FRS/GMRS band, and the Kenwood radios also have superior range. This may be his last batch, so don't hesitate.

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"I told you so" Department: House passes bill to make coin-making cheaper. Steel or zinc "nickels" now seem inevitable. Did you stock up on real nickel nickels, as a I suggested, back in November of 2007? It is still not too late to acquire some rolls of five cent pieces at face value.

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SF in Hawaii sent us the link to a well-produced Flash animation web page that articulates the core of libertarian thinking.

"There comes a time in every man's life when he is called upon to do something very special; something for which he and only he has the capabilities, has the skills and has the necessary training. What a pity if the moment finds the man unprepared." - Winston Churchill

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm scheduled to be interviewed on Steve Quayle's "Q Flles" Internet/shortwave radio show today at 4 p.m., Pacific time (7 p.m. Eastern time.)

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $325. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends in three days--on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Dear Mr Rawles,
Just wanted to thank you for SurvivalBlog, and I especially like the useful tidbits from the troops overseas. I was a Navy Corpsman / combat advisor with a Marine [Corps] Police Transition Team (PTT) in Hadithah six months after the alleged massacre, interesting times for sure.We got in-country in August 2006, and the Nomex suits were just catching on [with Marines]. We managed to snag a set for each of our 10- man team. The only real reg[ulation]s were that at Al Asad or any large Garrison type Base they wanted you wearing camouflage [utilities], otherwise they fine with the Nomex, the big deal [with IED flash burns] was the synthetic Under Armor type shirts that are great for staying dry and cool(er) but [in a flash fire] will melt to your skin. the Uniforms weren't really the problem. I prefer the uniform especially on patrol, it goes back to training, with my uniform I know where all the pockets are, and most importantly I can wear a belt and not feel like I'm wearing a dress.

I hit one IED in Hadithah, which means I was a lucky b****rd., I was in the back [of the vehicle]. Two other [Marine]s got med-flighted out. We had been totally engulfed in the blast and flames but no one got burned. Thanks again, - Matt B.

Dear JWR:
I feel that there is a strong premonition in the article you flagged on Wednesday (Who Should Doctors Let Die in a Pandemic?) This hit the Main Stream Media (MSM) early this week and quickly fell off the news cycle. The topic is simply too uncomfortable. The original articles were published in the medical journal Chest (The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians and are very dry and difficult reading even for a physician. This is unfortunate because it is a salient topic which needs to be vigorously publicly debated (instead of who got voted off – insert various “reality TV” show). It has specific implications for those of us reading your SurvivalBlog. Several recent postings in SurvivalBlog (specifically two discussions initiated by questions raised by DS in Wisconsin ) show this to be a paramount topic.

I would like to address some of these issues by means of an analogy to the area I live and work. We have a typical, financially struggling, small (100 bed) non-profit hospital serving a population area of approximately 50,000. Down the road is the “Medical Mecca” (actually more than one) with total bed capacity in the thousands. Our small hospital has an 8-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) which is always full, with the typical patient in one of the various states of terminal disease processes. When a critical care patient leaves the Operating Room (OR), there is the usual story of “Musical Beds”, where a patient has to be transferred to “make room” in the ICU. This usually involves transferring the least critical patient to the “Step Down Unit” (SDU). ICU patient transfers to the “ Mecca ” typically takes 24-48 hours because their beds are also constantly full. Our hospital owns four ICU ventilators, and if the number of patients requiring ventilation exceeds this, additional units have to be delivered from the “medical supply house”, which also provides rental units to the “Medical Mecca”. Due to financial constraints, there is no “surge capacity” in the system. In the typical bureaucratic system, the “mirage” of available space is accomplished by simply “redefining” a given patient from “Intensive Care” to something less, either wholly inside our hospital or by including the “Mecca” in the system (as in a “larger” system). [JWR Adds: I briefly discussed the chronic shortage of ventilators in my static article on Asian Avian Influenza. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the shortfalls in medical delivery infrastructure!]

The issues addressed by the articles in Chest concerned Emergency Mass Critical Care (EMCC) events, prototypically pandemic influenza. In such a situation, even the “mirage” of available space breaks down because you cannot “enlarge” the system by including more “geographical” area since each additional area is encompassed by the same problem. The currently circulating “bird flu” H5N1 is a particularly nasty bug, more closely resembling the various “hemorrhagic fevers” than typical influenza when infecting humans. The syndrome includes pulmonary edema (fluid collecting in the lungs, i.e. drowning in own secretions), disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) (internal bleeding) and multi-system organ failure (kidney and/or heart failure, etc.). Treatment typically includes intensive hemodynamic and ventilatory support until the body can clear the infection and heal. Even in our relatively rural area, it would not be unreasonable to expect to have tens, if not hundreds, of patients needing this level support in order to survive. The “Mecca ” will see proportionately more demand.

The recommendations of the authors of the Chest articles are well reasoned and intelligent, but totally impractical in our financially strapped and egalitarian healthcare system. These recommendations include providing for the ability to surge to three times the ICU capacity and provide for 10 days of service without resupply. Due to shortages of trained nurses, our ICU depends on locum tenens (contract agency) nurses to staff the ICU and medical care is provided by a single pulmonologist (physician specializing in lung diseases). It is totally impractical from a staffing issue to provide 3x surge capacity. As far as inventory, 10 days is an eternity. Where will the money come from to stockpile these items and medications (our hospital only has about 30 days of operating cash on hand)? Will the staff forego a paycheck in order for this to occur? Additionally, the “medical supply house” typically only has a couple of unissued ventilators at any given time, before having to “tap into” their larger supply chain (i.e. maybe a dozen or so “extra” in the entire State). Where do you expect these to be issued in such a crisis (try not to be cynical, but I suspect it will be near the State capitol)?

The most difficult (albeit the most logical) recommendations concerns the rationing of the scarce healthcare resources. They suggest that the effort should go to those most likely to survive, instead of those likely to die (i.e. those most likely to benefit from the therapy). This is described as making a medical decision for the entire population, instead of an individual patient. The goal is to maximize survival in the population (at the expense of individual survival). The difficult question is: Who should get the resources and whom should be “redefined” into the “expectant” (i.e. expected to die) category? Should the ventilator go to the college student with severe pulmonary edema or the nursing home patient with the stroke? Should the neonatal/pediatric ICU bed space go to the 20 week premature infant or the previously healthy two year old? If only these decisions would be this straightforward. Who is going to tell the family that grandmother doesn’t meet criteria? Who is going to care for the other patients while the situation is explained (repeatedly) to these families (typically hours with each family)? Do you think that that family will quietly accept the decision or will there be riots? Do you ever wonder why during a food riot, the first thing destroyed is the bakery? Do you think healthcare providers will show up for work at an armed camp with constant rioting or stay home and care for their own family? Would you go to work in a similar situation?

As in most things health related, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With communicable diseases, isolation and personal hygiene are the most important. These are issues which do not need to be described to the SurvivalBlog family (look at the archives), but should be seriously discussed within your own family/group. In regards to the questions raised concerning emergency medical transport and personal/retreat medical stockpiling, it is an important consideration. In such a crisis situation, transportation is likely to be futile, if not fatal. While nobody should expect to have a personal ventilator in their medical kit, a supply of IV fluids and electrolyte preparation should be standard for those who know how to administer it. Antipyretics (fever reducers) and antispasmodics/antiemetics (diarrhea and nausea medication) should also be standard fare as well as easily digestible foods. A broad-spectrum antibiotic would also be warranted for bacterial superinfection, although everyone should already know that antibiotics do not treat viral infections. The data on antivirals (amantadine, rimantadine and oseltamivir/Tamiflu) is inconclusive at best and contradictory at worst concerning H5N1 [Asian Avian Influenza], but if they are available it may be prudent to have some on hand.

It is unfortunate that the public discussion of this topic has died such an untimely death. Perhaps a little more debate would spare a few hospitals from the ultimate riots, but I am not enthusiastic, human nature being what it is. In this era of “Hope and Change”, especially with regards to healthcare, it will undoubtedly be continued deterioration. We will continue to spend the majority of healthcare dollars in the last six months of life, instead of helping the survival of those most likely to survive. In summary, logical evaluation of such a crisis leads to an illogical result (riots and destruction of the healthcare system). We will likely be left with taking care of ourselves and our family. - NC Bluedog

Mr. Rawles:
T. Davies' letter begins with the proper assumption, that most people reading it will be suffering from hardening arteries and softening backsides, and NOW is the time to reverse the trend. Swimming, walking (especially), and running are all good exercises and abilities to possess and cultivate.

Beyond that, his comments range from dangerous (foot conditioning) to the plainly fallacious and silly (Tae Kwon Doe Masters kick harder than any others!). Where to begin?

Firstly, as to foot conditioning: yes, most of us could use some foot toughening, but the author ignores the fact that the African Bushman, as well as any other barefoot Aboriginal type he'd care to mention, is a tiny grasile creature, with very little extra weight (muscle or fat) on his bones. Therefore his body density to total body mass is much greater than his Northern European counterpart. Humans have become much larger, particularly in the past fifty years in this country. Why? ask your local, genetics, it's really just a guess, but the Aboriginal is small because a small man requires less food to sustain himself. Thus, diminutive size is a survival advantage on a daily basis. Also, the Aborigine, when on walkabout, isn't carrying a pack, rifle, ammo, and water, along with assorted medical supplies and munitions. He has, at most, a bow and a few arrows, and maybe some sort of water carrier. That's it. Walking around barefoot while burdened is asking for permanent foot injury, unless you are a Sherpa by birth. Limping and gimping about is the quickest surest route to becoming every MZBs first and favorite target. Modern boots are a bargain. Buy the best you can afford that fit you well, then buy two more pair and rotate them! Survival is dependent on one's ability to MOVE (Motionless Operators Ventilate Easily). The first thing one does when in a fight with a stronger adversary is to degrade his ability to move. (Read: chase you.)

Which brings us to the Martial Arts section:
Karate is highly focused on repetition, not kata, and makes greatest use of powerful linear attacks.
Tae Kwon Do masters kick no harder than any other masters. (I have been kicked by, and kicked, masters in almost every Martial Art taught in North America, and I have come out on the winning end of most of the exchanges. The hardest kicks weren't by Tae Kwon Do masters, and I don't practice Tae Kwon Do.) Backup mass is one of for Major components in generating power in all motion: Backup mass, timing, balance, and speed. There are many others, and these apply to ALL motion, fighting or otherwise. Notice, the term used is Backup, not body mass. without alignment with the direction of one's attack, the size of the body doesn't matter. Imagine me swinging a wooden arrow at you, arm fully extended. Now, imagine the same effort being exerted, but this time I am thrusting the arrow ...get the point?

Tai Chi is the root form (or the closest living relative) of all Chinese, and therefore by default Japanese, Okinawan and Korean martial Arts. The deadly fighters mentioned are master fighters, schooled in many styles and systems not just Tai Chi masters,

Kung Fu is a generic term applied to Chinese Martial Arts (as opposed to karate for Japanese/ Okinawan). I have never seen a generic "Kung Fu" school in this country. Most honor their distinct heritage proudly (wing chun, qi gong, jeet kun do, kempo, kenpo etc. Ed Parker's American Kenpo karate is considered kung fu by many, due to its origins in China) It is no harder to learn than any other form of fighting art.

Ninjitsu is an art I have no personal experience in, so my only comment would be that time spent practicing with arcane weaponry would be better spent practicing firearms proficiency. One may be able to disguise a sword as a walking cane (I do it all the time) but a Glock tucks right into the trousers as easily. Efficiency first, esoteric later...
Aikido is based on two principles, both using an opponent's energy (their attack) against him. First is evacuating the line of attack; second is turning big circles into smaller circles (a declining radius/apex arc, in engineering terms). Judo is not a sport form of Aikido. Aikido is a "sporting" version of Aikijuitsu, the Martial Art practiced in the Japanese Imperial Court. Judo is a "sporting" version of jujitsu.

Jujitsu is a grappling art, not just focused on grappling. Brazilian jujitsu is a "ring" oriented style. The greatest weakness with any style of "-jitsu" is that it is singular combat, and bad guys come in bunches, and it is becoming more ring-oriented (i.e., more "rules", ala boxing). I had a kid try an arm bar on me the other day. He caught me by surprise, got the legs around my arm and neck, but before he could straighten it , I locked my hands together, put a foot on his throat, and began to lift. I may be old, but I'm still plenty mean, quick, and crafty, and if you want to cheap-shot me in my own school, I'm more than happy to play rough! Needless to say, as my weight and his and my pulling all became directed on his neck via my foot, his efforts ceased precipitously, and he tapped out immediately and vigorously!

Please do not misunderstand my comments, but [Mr. Davies'] misinformation must be corrected before it becomes "common knowledge". After all, you and SurvivalBlog have become the "source of record" for the survivalist movement with the mainstream media. FWIW, - Bonehead


Regarding Mr. T. Davies' statement: "When you run, you should never touch the heels of your feet to the ground."

Is completely incorrect as is most of the rest of his remarks on running. To be honest the above statement is correct only if the runner is sprinting. Long distance running (800 meters or more) can be run on the heals of your feet! At least I do, and my knees have not been the problem.

For some really good advise on running please see Running World and Running Ahead. The latter has some really good runners that post often and are very helpful to both new and old runners alike.

I started running after walking the One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon a few years ago. I run to control my Type 2 diabetes sans medication. And so far so good

For new runners, do a web search on "Couch to 5K race" training program and follow it. It is a great way to start your running.

Some general rules to follow.

Build miles slowly. Don't add more than 10% to your weekly miles per week. In other words if you currently are running a mile a day for six days a week then next week should be no more than 0.6 miles more.

You should have one long easy run per week, and that run should be no longer than 30% of your weekly total miles

An easy run should be at a pace where you can carry on a normal conversation with your running partner

Cross train. It is important to have good core strength. If you don't you joints will attempt to move in directions the joint was not meant to go.

And stretch before and after your runs. This is a must. The before run stretch is always after a nice 3 or 4 minute warm up session. Never do this "cold"!!

Don't be afraid of walking some of your miles! Here is a fact: A lot of runners that keep missing qualifying for the Boston Marathon attempting to run all of the distance in qualifying races. When they start doing recoveries (walking) some of the distance, they find they make the qualifying time.

These rules will generally help and I want to repeat that: They will help in avoiding injuries. But very lucky is the person that completely avoids running injuries.

The number one rule for running (and even walking) is getting the proper shoe and having it properly fitted to your gait! This, more than anything, helps avoid injuries! Do a web search on running clubs in your area and contact them. Ask them where they go to get fitted for the proper shoes. The people in these shops are trained to watch you run and most of the top shops have machines that analyze your gait in the shop and see the mechanics of how you run, then fitting you to the proper shoe. To skip this process in your running is like buying a nice new .45 ACP then stocking up on .357 ammo. There are going to be problems! And be prepared to pay from $75 to about $110 for good shoes. I have not spent more than $95 to include tax on any of my shoes. The price range can go to $250 and above, but you still are going to be replacing them at between 300 and 500 miles no matter what you spend, so don't unless you just have to have the absolute top of the line. Oh and one other thing, NB 767 bought at Penney's for $55 is not the same NB 767 bought at the Runners Shop for $85. You will be replacing them in 150 to 250 miles. That is not saving money!! Tracking shoe miles is where Running Ahead comes in. There is a top of the line free on line log there and the tools are great! You can lay out training runs complete with miles. water stops etc. You can toggle between street mapping and Sat images and even graph the course elevations.

And don't forget to enter some local races. You'll meet some great people and learn more about running and your body than you ever thought possible! Where I live we have Pace for the Race Training each year. It is a group that meets to train for 15 to 16 Saturdays before the Indianapolis Mini. For several weeks before we run that morning we have guests come in and teach us the things we need to know to avoid bad knees, shin splints and ITBS (ITBS hurts like h**l!)

Hope this helps. There is nothing like completing your first 5K or half-marathon! - Gregg S.

FerFAL--SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Argentina--reports in his personal blog on the effects from the volcanic eruption in adjoining Chile.

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We found this linked at Steve Quayle's site: As usual, journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard pulls no punches: Global free market for food and energy faces biggest threat in decades

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Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned that they have just five cases each of the following Mountain House freeze dried foods briefly back in stock, available for immediate delivery:
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce $110 per case
Chicken and Rice $110 per case
Beef Stew $165 per case
Beef Stroganoff $125 per case
Lasagna $165 per case
Full cases only (six #10 cans, one gallon size). Sorry, no mixing and matching. Because these are in such short supply, this is a "by phone order only" special. Call: 1-800-627-3809

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From Dr. Gary North: Mapping the implosion of the real estate bubble

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” - Thomas Sowell

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

There is a lot of information online and in print about what gear to have on hand if the worst happens, tons and tons about how to store food, fuel, etc. There is even a plethora of information on how to get food and build shelter in the extremes. All of this leaves out some crucial elements. In this article you are going to see how to prepare your body and mind for working without equipment in adverse or even brutal conditions. the steps involved are extremely labour intensive. What you do with it is up to you.

If you are out hunting and home base catches fire, will you be able to get to a location suitable for shelter in a reasonable amount of time? If everything goes wrong and your supply caches are gone, the fuel stores have burned and the damned jeep is toast, is your body in the kind of shape it needs to be in to survive? If you are confronted by an attacker and your ammo is long gone, can you win in hand to hand?

Even the basics, like walking for a full day, are beyond most people in North America. This isn't a natural condition, and is not true in most of the world. In the highlands of Papua New Guinea a native will still walk a full day with a spear sticking through his leg if conditions require it. In the plains of Africa it is not uncommon for a tribesman to run a hundred kilometers in a day. This level of survival is available to anyone if they simply take the steps and do the work to build it.

A good place to start is with walking. People think that walking requires good shoes or boots. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some form of light foot covering such as a moccasin is useful but not necessary and most of the walking footwear out there will actually get in your way over long distances. Your feet are built with natural springs in the form of the muscle in the arch of the foot, most footwear destroys that muscle by giving constant support for the arch. Your feet are also supposed to bend at the toes, most footwear restricts movement through the toes. Then there is ankle support. In rough terrain your ankles are supposed to constantly modify their angle in order to maximize your footing, string ankle support actually prevents your ankles from being able to do their job. Finally we come to padding. Padding in shoes is supposed to cushion you from shocks. It actually does the exact opposite, providing no protection for impacts above 5 psi while preventing the bodies natural feedback mechanisms from reporting the true strength of your impact. Put another way, wearing those expensive hiking shoes can really mess up your legs over any kind of real distance. As stated above, simple moccasins are great as they offer a degree of protection to you feet, but they do lack durability. Other options include Nike Free's (the cross trainers are not as good from the foot health perspective but are much better than a normal shoe and will last a very long time). Alternatively, Parade boots have no padding at all and as such are better than hiking boots and last almost forever, while being very cheap from most surplus stores. Of course, barefoot is ideal and your feet will toughen up over time. Any of the walking options mentioned above will take a lot of getting used to. If you are unused to walking with this kind of footwear, you should start to practice now. The first few days will cause you pain in areas that are unfamiliar. After a few days the pain will mitigate and you will be able to walk faster than you were able to before, but you still won't have much in the way of arch muscle so anytime you push it you are going to experience muscle fatigue. Push yourself, but keep in mind that if you push too hard you will injure the muscle and be in worse shape than before you started. It can take quite a long time for a muscle that hasn't really been used since early childhood to develop, so be patient with it.

Running would be the next spot. Again, footwear has all of the same problem associated with it as it does in walking, plus there are some thing you will probably need to unlearn before you can be an effective runner. When you run, you should never touch the heels of your feet to the ground. The pattern is toes to ball or mid-foot, use the toes to launch again (this requires very developed foot arch muscles). Running on your heels means that the impact if transferring to your knees, causing minute damage with each step. The accumulation of that damage will increase your odds of a serious knee injury, usually within the first your of running. In a true survival situation your legs are your best friends, treat them with kindness and respect and they will outlast any vehicle, cover terrain that even a horse can't touch and keep you going when everything else has failed. Breathing is another aspect of running. If you have ever done track, odds are good you were taught how to breathe. Unfortunately you were taught wrong. When you run you should breathe exclusively through your nose. There will be a strong temptation to breathe out through your mouth (after all, that is what we were all taught). The problem with that is twofold. One, it rapidly expels all the Carbon Dioxide in your blood. This seems like a good idea, but in reality we require a small CO2 reserve to allow us to properly absorb oxygen. Without that reserve, you are simply making your body operate with less oxygen than it should have. Two, mucus. This sound fairly unpleasant, but mucus exists in our body for very good reason. In this case it helps to lubricate the nasal passages, but needs strong out breaths to flow properly. If you try running on a cold day, you will notice that for the first few minutes every in breathe through the nasal passages hurts, but once the mucus is being pumped properly the pain goes away. There is one other benefit of nasal breathing: many asthmatics who have tried it have found that they become asymptomatic and remain so. There is no real research on this, so these are purely anecdotal accounts, however the sheer volume of them is fairly persuasive.
So now you can walk somewhere and run if you need to put on a burst of speed. This is where the advanced stuff comes in. Parkour is a discipline that was created in France in the late eighties by a man named David Belle. Parkour is essentially the art of running away really fast in places that your pursuer probably can't follow. The best info on parkour will come from local communities, but barring that, the web site is a great resource. [JWR Adds: This video clip and this one of the notorious "Ninja For Hire" show the more extreme aspects of the art. Disclaimer: Kids, Do not try this at home! Their interpretation of the "art" seems foolhardy, especially engaging in practice jumping without at least wearing a rock climbing helmet!] What follows is more of a brief summary of the training and methodologies involved.

A huge part of Parkour is the idea of gradual progression. When you begin training you should practice landing as much as you can. Go to a flight of stairs and go up one step. Turn and face the bottom of the stairs and then jump off. When you jump, lift your legs as high as you can in front of you, and then bring them down so that they are almost straight (just a slight bend in the knees) and point your toes. Your feet should be a little more than shoulder width apart. Land on your toes, spreading the impact across all of them. As the impact starts to hit, bend your feet until you hit the balls of your feet, resisting with your foot muscles. Then start to sink down using your thigh muscles, while resisting as much as you can. You should end with your hands on the ground, between your feet. Listen to your landing, it should be almost silent. Once you can do that perfectly a hundred times, move up to the next step and start the process again. There is no point where you are finished training how to land, practitioners of parkour who have been doing it from the start still train how to land every day. That is fairly typical of parkour training, intensive repetition combined with conditioning and incremental improvement. The key skills are: landing, rolling, vaulting, climbing, jumping, and running. Parkour can save your life in literally hundreds of situations, from extracting yourself from a burning building (the creator was a fire fighter in France) to escaping pursuit, but it isn't a casual discipline and requires a very high degree of commitment.

Swimming is another skill that every survivalist should have. For swimming, it is probably enough to be able to cover a lot of distance although the stronger a swimmer you are, the better.
Finally there is unarmed combat. While parkour can keep you out of most situations involving hand to hand combat, there may come a time where it is needed (either because you are unable to formulate an escape route, or if you are diligent with parkour more likely because you are protecting a loved one who is unable to escape). Obviously there are many, many styles of martial art, and many factors as to which one is going to suit you best.

Karate is the classic martial art, because it was really the first one that western audiences had a large exposure to, but that doesn't mean it is the right one for you. Karate is highly focused on Katas [(choreographed sequences of footwork, kicks, strikes, and blocks)] and improvement can be slow, while many believe that Katas are actually detrimental to your ability to win a fight (Bruce Lee was among those who believed this.) Having said that, many people find the rigid discipline of Karate valuable, and it does leave you far better equipped in a fight than an untrained opponent.

Tae Kwon Do is more focused on mastering very hard, very effective punches and kicks. A Tae Kwon Do master actually kicks harder than someone of the same skill in any other discipline. Improvement tends to be fairly rapid, with the average time to black belt being around 3 years at 100 lessons a year and diligent practice. One down side of this is that physical condition is imperative, on the other hand diligent practice at Tae Kwon Do tends to leave you in great shape. Body mass is also a major advantage, as it is the main source of power.

Tai Chi is not usually thought of as a martial art, but more as an exercise for elderly Chinese people. However, Tai Chi teaches you a huge amount about redirection of force and using spirals to create energy. Some of the most effective fighters in the world are Tai Chi masters.

Kung Fu is actually not one style of martial art, but it is usually taught as a single style in the west and so is being considered that way here. Kung Fu is probably the most stylized of all the martial arts listed here, and takes the most time to master. There is a high focus on Kata again, and a high demand for physical conditioning. Basically, Kung Fu is really, really hard to master. Once you do, it is very difficult to beat. The amount of time you can dedicate to it and your passion for the beauty of the movement should be the determining factor in taking up this martial art.

Ninjitsu is a Japanese martial art that is very different from the rest on this list. Ninjitsu was a peasant martial art, designed to take on opponents who were better armed, armored and equipped in a situation where if you were caught training with weapons you would be killed summarily. As such, ninjitsu is eminently practical. Kata's simply don't exist in ninjitsu and most moves are designed around deception and redirection. Joint locks, low kicks and nasty nerve strikes are the main weapons, as well as a thorough training in stealth.

Aikido is an art that focuses on redirecting your opponents force and moving them off balance. Aikido is very effective for smaller people, as it doesn't rely on your body mass or ability to generate force at all. It uses many of the same locks and throws as ninjitsu, but is more focused on them. Judo is basically a sport version of aikido and probably shouldn't be your first choice for unarmed combat.

Jujitsu has been receiving a lot of focus lately as it is the most common martial art in modern mixed martial arts competitions. It is focused primarily on grappling. A really good jujitsu fighter can beat most other styles if they can get the fight to the ground, but there is inherent risk associated with the process of getting someone to the ground. That is why most Jujitsu fighters cross train at least one striking martial art as well.

There are many, many other styles out there (Capoeira, Savate, Kick boxing, Muay thai, Escrima, Krav-maga, Jeet kun-do, etc.) each of which has its own specialties. The one to take is a very individual choice but all require dedication and focus. Parkour and Tai Chi seem to be a common combination, although Parkour tends to magnify your abilities in any martial art due to the simple physical awareness and athleticism it imparts.

Of course, strength training is important for any and all physical routines (for Parkour a strict body weight routine is strongly encouraged) and the more cardio you do the better your endurance will be.

In the end, the only tool you can't lose is your own body so it makes sense to keep that tool in as good a condition - T. Davies

JWR Adds: I do not recommend the "foot toughening" approach and/or wearing minimalist foot gear that lack thick soles and arch support--such as moccasins or ninja tabi--for preparedness. Note that this foot gear would be mutually exclusive with Parkour, which requires foot protection. It is also out of the question for anyone living in an area with long-spined cacti (such as Cholla), or for anyone that might ever have to do any karst climbing or reef walking. Foot toughening also requires a commitment of time and a level of training dedication that few adults can afford. You will note, for example that barefoot competitive runners are few and far between. ]

Mr. Rawles,
Over the past few months some relatives and I have been reading However, we have been "SurvivalBlog Voyeurs", lurking in the cyber-shadows, benefiting from usable information while failing to contribute to the 10 Cent Challenge [voluntary subscription program]. Well, we shall lurk no more! The next time I am in town, I pledge to mail you my contribution, and my son-in-law says that he will do the same. Thank you for your generous site, and I would encourage others who benefit from the information here to do the same: Support SurvivalBlog. It is the site that brings the world a uniquely critical link to helpful information. - KMA

Jack B. forwarded this: Wheat disease threatens supplies.

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Reader KBF found a mainstream media article that has good general advice and great links for food cost savings: Tips for taming rising grocery prices.

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 Frustrated owners try to unload their guzzlers.

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Oil surpasses $125 per barrel ahead of US driving season.

"Once the coffers of the federal government are opened to the public, there will be no shutting them again." - Grover Cleveland

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I got a hoax press release on Friday about Chile declaring war on Peru. But meanwhile, there are lots of real wars gong on. Fierce fighting has broken out in Lebanon. And to top it off, crude oil spiked to an all-time high of $126 per barrel, in part because of tensions between Venezuela and Columbia.

In the midst of all this war news, the ongoing global grain shortage crisis is likely to cause additional civil wars, and possibly cross-border wars. It is all too clear that we are living in very dangerous times. Let's call them fragile times. In such circumstances it is prudent to be well prepared. Si vis pacem, para bellum. If you haven't done so already, get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids squared away, muy pronto. This advice is meant for all of SurvivalBlog's readers--all over the globe. (We have readers in 130+ countries.) Modern commerce is now so globalized that shortages and conflict anywhere affect us all. Pray hard.


I was wondering: How many batteries should I store for all my radios, flashlights, smoke detectors, and so forth? I'm also planning to get night vision goggles, soon. I assume rechargeables, right? If so, what kind [of rechargeables], and who has the best prices? - T.E. in Memphis.

JWR Replies: I recommend buying mainly nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Stock up plenty of them, including some extras for barter and charity. Unlike the older Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) technology, NiMHs do not have a "memory" effect. (The diminished capacity because of the memory effect has always been one of the greatest drawbacks to NiCds batteries.) The best of the breed are the latest Low Self Discharge (LSD) variants, such as the Sanyo Eneloop.

One discount supplier with a very good selection that I can enthusiastically recommend is They also have great prices on "throw away" batteries, such a lithium CR-123s.

In response to BES in Washington's comment on Paramedics and EMTs I must say that I agree when it comes to workaday medics. A great benefit to having the years of training as a paramedic is that it earns you some credibility.

My advice to paramedics and long time EMTs is to speak to your training officers and EMS directors and find out if your supervising physician or another doctor would be willing to mentor you in surgery[, though observation]. I had the opportunity starting with my paramedic internship to make relationships with quality doctors who wanted to mentor me in advanced surgical skills which were often outside my scope of practice. It is important to somehow become a student under the hospital so their insurance or that of your school will cover you or
this is a pointless exercise.

Getting advanced mentoring means establishing a bond of trust. You need to convince the surgeons and doctors that you are reliable as well as being the type of person that they want to have in their O.R. for hours. It doesn't hurt to mention a desire to go to medical school in the future, I believe it was my interest and reliability that opened many doors to advanced training that might have otherwise would have remained closed.

The other thing that helped me was taking a part time job in the E.R. on my off days, it was easy to have my beeper go off and run to the O.R. when there was a surgical emergency. I got to see trauma calls come in and because of my special training relationship with many of the doctors and departments I was able to follow many cases from the door to the ICU. I made many career decisions based on the opportunity to advance my skills.

In the end, once you are inside the system as a professional start asking for extra training, remember that the title Doctor means teacher and if approached with the proper attitude most good doctors are very happy to help you learn. - David in Israel


Just a quick note regarding medical training. While the combat medic courses look okay, they are limited. EMT courses require a lot of advanced equipment.
A much better option would be a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course. It is an 80 hour course over about 10 days that teaches extended care and injury management. It is the gold standard in the outdoor industry. The "wilderness" designation means that definitive medical care is more than an hour away--and then trains you to deal long evacuations or extended care.

There are a number of places offering WFR courses throughout the United States. You can contact the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS for a list of courses, as well as others. What we like about the WMI courses is that they focus on real world scenarios, as well as judgment. They are not about memorizing lists, but about learning how to make good decisions under stress. The courses and on-going recertification are more than worth it, as they keep you sharp and up to date on what the latest issues and concerns are in wilderness medicine.

Perhaps the best thing about WMI and related companies is that their instructors are in the field teaching and doing wilderness medicine all the time--they know what works and what doesn't work.- Mark R.

Dear Jim,
Thank you for sending us your autographed copy of the best of the blog and the patriots. In response to the posting "Letter Re: Advanced Medical Training and Facilities for Retreat Groups"
I commend the writer for addressing these important issues. Here are a few thoughts to add: Over the years, the field of medicine has become very complex, including training, equipment, and delivery. Lets look at each of these individually.

First, training. It used to be that every physician went through medical school, then completed a general practitioner residency and then specialized in a particular field if they were so inclined. About 10 years ago, that all changed. Now, even before medical school is completed, the students decide which area of medicine they would like to pursue and go directly into that residency program without becoming a general practitioner first. What this means is that physician's knowledge is highly specialized. Physicians are good at what they do, but lack the knowledge/experience to perform tasks outside their area of expertise. For example, if you were to suffer a bone injury which required an operation, the person you would need to see would be an orthopedic surgeon. However, they would most likely not feel comfortable putting you to sleep. For that, you would need an anesthetist. And, if you also had and abdominal wound (e.g. gunshot), the orthopedic surgeon would most likely not feel
comfortable operating. For that, you would need a general or a trauma surgeon. And if you happened to have burns associated with your injury, you are best off with a plastic surgeon. Now throw a diabetic patient into the picture (for which you need an internist), and you get the picture.

I am a physician, having recently graduated after 14 years of university, including a biochemistry degree, a medical degree, and five years of residency specializing in oncology. If you have cancer, I will
know what to do, but if you put me in an operating room, we're all in trouble!
The point is that if you have "one physician" in your survival group, don't expect them to be able to do everything. Medicine is very multi-disciplinary:

General surgeons are best at abdominal wounds and trauma
Plastic surgeons are best at handling burns
Orthopedic surgeons are best at dealing with bone fractures
Internists deal with medical problems like diabetes and heart disease
Anesthetists provide anesthetic to put you to sleep for the operation
Oncologists deal with cancer
Pulmonologists deal with ventilators and such, et cetera.

All of these are highly specialized physicians, but physicians knowledge of cross specialties is limited!

Second, equipment. In third world countries, physicians have wonderful diagnostic skills based on physical examination of the patient. Most American physicians don't have these skills. We rely very
heavily on tests including X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, angiography, blood work, laboratory tests with pathologic interpretation, etc, just to name a few. All of these require expensive equipment, laboratories, power to run them, and a radiologist or pathologist (specialized physician) to interpret them. Asking a physician to diagnose your ailments without being able to perform any of these tests is like asking your mechanic to tell you what is wrong with your car without allowing him to lift the hood. It is very difficult! Thus, even if you have a physician with appropriate knowledge in your survival group, if they don't have access to their equipment, they will be very limited in what they can do.

Third, delivery. Let's assume that a member of your group becomes ill and that 1) you have a physician in your group with appropriate knowledge and 2) the physician has access to equipment which allows them to diagnose your ailment. Then, the physician would know how to treat you. However, there is a big jump from knowing what you need to actually being able to deliver it.
For example, suppose a member of your group developed a bacterial pneumonia. Lets say your physician was able to perform a chest xray to confirm this. Now the physician knows how to treat you. You need an antibiotic. Now the problem becomes access to appropriate medications/treatment.

What if your retreat does not have any antibiotics on hand? or insulin? or nitroglycerin? or Fentanyl/Versed (anesthetic)? or IV fluids? or blood? or chemotherapy? etc. Many of these are difficult to access and/or store.

In summary, the current healthcare system is highly complex in its training, equipment, and delivery. Many of these issues need to be thought out beforehand when planning your medical room at your retreat. - KLK

Dear JWR & SurvivalBlog Readers (especially DS in Wisconsin ):
I would like to respond to DS concerning his questions. I agree wholeheartedly that nobody should try on-the-job training for medical care without a good mentor. That is what nursing and medical training is for as JWR strongly suggests. I also agree that the human body is complex and can be inadvertently damaged with attempted care. However, the human body does have an amazing ability to repair damage if allowed. This is why I strongly suggested learning techniques to control and stop bleeding, replace lost intravascular fluids and limit infection. In trauma, there is the concept known as the “Golden Hour”. During the first hour after a near-fatal injury, the body can compensate for bleeding by shutting down perfusion of not immediately critical tissues such as kidneys, skin, muscles and extremities, thus permitting limited perfusion of heart, lungs and brain. This is a state known as shock. If the patient can be stabilized in the first hour, the likelihood of survival is dramatically increased. This is accomplished by controlling bleeding and replacing lost fluids. Nearly everyone can be trained to control bleeding, since holding pressure on a dressing is not difficult. Starting an IV is slightly more complicated but is not beyond the ability of most people. Even the most gruesome of wounds, such as a chainsaw injury, will eventually heal if allowed to (although the cosmetics may be less than desirable). If you can get over the “Golden Hour”, you are blessed with what I refer to as “The Tincture of Time”.

My second suggestion was to do everything you are capable of doing, even with the knowledge that survival is unlikely. This is where the concept of errors of commission verses errors of omission comes into play. In my mind, it is better to attempt something life-saving than omit the possibility because the outcome may not be successful. As the quote goes: “Tis better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all.” Our mindset has to change from “First do no Harm” to one of “Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?”. I don’t think anyone is suggesting reading a guide while doing this, simply suggesting doing something you are capable of doing. The key is not to destroy your psyche with remorse and self criticism if the results are not optimal.

As far as our personal preparations, my wife and I are both experienced medical people and long ago decided that that would be our biggest contribution in TEOTWAWKI. As such, we have an elaborate and extensive setup, not unlike what you describe, however our garage is reserved for other uses currently. We are an extreme case and should not be viewed as a guide. Unfortunately, I feel that JWR seriously overestimates the medical preparation of the general population. Instead of 98%, I would suggest 99.99% of the population is ill-prepared. The biggest asset in a trauma situation would be a couple of cases of heavy duty (I think they are called “heavy days”) feminine pads and some rolls of tape. IV supplies and the skills to administer it would make you invaluable. The “field surgical kit” would simply provide appropriately sized sharp scissors and tweezers/clamps for cleaning out the wound after you have administered the “Tincture of Time”. It is not something to carry while also hauling around an enormous ego. - NC Bluedog

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I read your reply reharding "EcoBeam Construction for Ballistic Protection".

Three years ago, a friend of mine and I shot a concrete wall until we made a nice size hole in it. This was just to see how much small arms fire it could take. [We used handguns.] Here is a web page I made about it with photos.

Readers will get a idea what you meant about sand and and gravel being better at stopping small arms fire than even reinforced concrete.

Take care, - Wes

Eric mentioned that Rock Port, Missouri is the first US city to be 100% [net meter] wind-powered.

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Burma death toll worse than Tsunami. We may never have an exact count, but the previous estimate of 100,000 dead may have been a huge understatement. And to make maters worse:

UN halts aid to Myanmar after junta seizes supplies.

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I found an insightful article by Devvy Kidd linked over at the Bull (Not Bull) blog site: Do You Have a Plan?

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A reader in Iraq mentioned that US Marine Corps soldiers in fairly significant numbers are bending their field uniform regulations. They are wearing desert tan Nomex flight suits instead of their desert pattern utility uniforms. The reason? Worries about flash burns from IEDs. There have been some reports of their standard utility uniforms burning and causing some severe burns with complications. Since Nomex is highly flame resistant, it offers better protection from flash burns. The consensus seems to be: "I'd rather risk getting an Article 15 [non-judicial punishment for the uniform violation] than risk a long stay in the hospital."

"Remember the ancient saying: '[Si] vis pacem - para bellum' - if you want peace - be ready for the war. Within the whole history of our civilization, no one disproved it. So let the weapons be not the means of terror, but the way to defend peace, democracy and law. I wish you all health, success and fruitful work. With best wishes," - Mikhail Kalashnikov

Friday, May 9, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $270. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends in six days--on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

We were sent a review copy of "Surviving A Disaster - Evacuation Strategies And Emergency Kits for Staying Alive". This slim paperback (just 57 pages) is a basic overview and introduction to Getting Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) It was written by Tony Nester, a wilderness survival teacher in Arizona. Nester has also written the books "Practical Survival" and "Desert Survival".

The book covers Bug Out Bags (BOBs), basic first aid kits, home evacuation gear, water, food, and so forth. It is mainly written about preparedness for evacuation in the case of a short-term natural or man-made disaster, not TEOTWAWKI. However, it does cover 'minor' disasters fairly well.


  • It is a basic look at preparedness, that your sheeple brother-in-law and co-workers could understand.
  • Also, the author speaks about preparedness very rationally, not sounding like a paranoid whacko.
  • He includes extensive lists of everything you might need to pack in your BOB.
  • He presents ideas on how to organize your gear. (Particularly, having a layered system. For example, if the road is impassable, you will be ready to leave the car and go on foot.)


  • The book is aimed at new and non-survivalists. It doesn't go into extreme detail.
  • There isn't much here that is really new ideas.
  • If you are already well prepared, you probably won't need it.

If you've been prepared for a decade or more, then you probably don't need this book. However, if you are new to preparedness, or have friends and relatives that are unprepared, this might be a good starter. It does not have that intimidating 'survivalist' look, and starts with the basics.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I recently read your novel "Patriots", which was a very positive experience.

For more than a year I have read most anything I can get my hands on concerning survival, as I started feeling led by God in the direction to prepare for something...not knowing what the something may actually be.

I recommend buying the "Forever" postage stamps, as a hedge against inflation. [JWR Adds: This is the last week to buy the "Forever" stamps before the upcoming rate increase.]

Hurricane Katrina gave my family and I just a small taste of what I am afraid we may all face in the near future. And no one is going to be bringing FEMA trailers by the thousands, and sending Red Cross checks etc. We were one of the lucky ones that did not loose our home, minimal damage, and we are located only 1 1/2 blocks from the beach. My only response, God was watching over us. Our home was two feet higher than the tidal surge, dropped 8 huge trees in our yard which all missed our house. We spent 2 weeks without electricity and water, and months in a neighborhood that looked like a scene from a war zone. We learned a lot, luckily we had prepared, didn't loose our stuff, and had spent a lot of time camping in the past. But people are already forgetting the hard lessons we learned during that time.

Do you recall the scene out of [the movie] Star Wars? The Cantina scene where there was some bloodshed, the music stopped, a hush fell over the room, they dragged the bodies out, all was quiet for a few moments, and then all at once the band started playing, people started talking, and laughing, and right back to how things were. I think that is how the majority of people in the US are today. I am very afraid that they are all just partying it up, like in the days of Noah, and one day it will come down like the rain. Sincerely, - Nancy G. in Mississippi

Residents of the US state of Louisiana can purchase needed items free of sales tax as they prepare for the 2008 hurricane season.
The inaugural 2008 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday takes place on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25. The holiday is an annual, statewide event created by the Louisiana Legislature to assist families with the important job of protecting their lives and property in the event of a serious storm.
During the two-day holiday, tax-free purchases are allowed for the first $1,500 of the sales price on each of the following items:
• Self-powered light sources, such as flashlights and candles;
• Portable self-powered radios, two-way radios, and weather-band radios;
• Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
• Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits;
• Gas or diesel fuel tanks;
• Batteries – AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, or 9-volt (automobile batteries and boat batteries are not eligible);
• Cellular phone batteries and chargers;
• Non-electric food storage coolers;
• Portable generators;
• Storm shutter devices – Materials and products manufactured, rated, and marketed specifically for the purposes of preventing window damage from storms (La. R.S. 47:305.58).
The 2008 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 24, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 25.
The sales tax holiday does not extend to hurricane-preparedness items or supplies purchased at any airport, public lodging establishment or hotel, convenience store, or entertainment complex.
For more information, visit the State of Louisiana web site.

I have been enjoying and appreciating the letters and replies throughout the blog, and I am compelled to respond to “Advanced Medical Training and Facilities for Retreat Groups”. The letter contained very accurate and useful information, but I must comment on medical skills available to survivalists.
First of all, need to say that I am a professional Emergency Medical Technician – and have been for 25 years. I have treated dozens of real-life gunshot wounds, hundreds of knife wounds, and thousands of other cases of trauma that I would prefer to not remember.

As a 911 responder, I appreciate the faith that the general public has in my knowledge and skills. The word of an EMT or Paramedic is trusted – and we don’t take that trust lightly. This is a part of the reason for this letter. In our existing EMS system, EMTs are very good at arriving as quickly as possible and providing life-saving treatment until definitive care can be provided. In a TEOTWAWKI event, the shortcomings of EMT skills will be readily apparent. My crew and I are as good or better than anyone at stopping bleeding, splinting, providing IV support, protecting airways, and rapid transport. However, final treatment of a gunshot (or fracture, or chainsaw laceration, or what have you) is completely out of the realm of experience for any EMT or Paramedic.

A gunshot requires the cessation of bleeding – often requiring surgery. Usually gunshots also involve bone fractures or organ damage – and require surgery. An antibiotic regimen is also required – of which EMTs have little to no experience. All of this is typical for the most simple of gunshots. My fear is that in TEOTWAWKI, people too readily equate a physician’s knowledge and skills with that of an EMT. To put a number on it, Physicians attend medical training for 12 years or so. EMTs typically have two months of medical training.

Now – before I begin to get hate mail from other EMTs – let me say this: For the treatment of traumatic injuries in the pre-hospital setting, no one does our job better. I promise you I can do more effective CPR than most any doctor. I can intubate in the field better than most any respiratory technician. But my training and skills are limited to pre-hospital care. Of course, an EMT will have basic useful skills in a hospital or clinic setting but they pale in comparison to those of a physician. To state otherwise is foolish.

So, as a professional EMT for 25 years, the plan for my retreat is as follows:
1. Have a good relationship with a physician (preferably a surgeon) at the retreat
2. Have a RN, Veterinarian, or Physician’s Assistant at the retreat.
3. Know where other surrounding physicians are located
4. Have a method for transporting severely injured people to the physician,
5. Have adequate, in-depth barter stock to pay for surgery
6. Lastly – and I mean very last – would be to use a scalpel to open up a family member.

Barter stock would be best that is applicable to the physician’s skills: surgical tools, antibiotics, rubbing alcohol, sterile bandages, pain killers, sutures, and so forth. Also beneficial for barter would be other high value items from gold or silver coins, firearms, or even a fifth of whiskey.

The short of it is this: EMT skills are extremely valuable in the niche that they are designed. However, they are not designed for long term care. For my family, I will be providing life-sustaining care to include cessation of bleeding, splinting, IV, treatment of shock, pain management, and antibiotics – and they I will do whatever I can to get them to a surgeon. Anything else is second best. Yes, I have several great books that provide great information, such as “Emergency War Surgery” and “Where There Is No Doctor”. But to plan on performing these techniques without adequately exploring all options to get my wounded to a physician, is foolish. - BES in Washington

Reader D.K. mentioned this item that first appeared in the AMA's Morning Rounds e-newsletter: Hospitals in Cities Most at Risk of Terrorist Attack Do Not Have Capacity To Treat Injured, Report Finds

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Eric mentioned that the US Federal Reserve has now resorted to desperation measures to pump liquidity in the midst of the global credit collapse: We read in The New York Times: Fed Takes Steps to Add Liquidity. The piece begins: "The Federal Reserve announced new steps on Friday to help ease tight global credit markets by increasing the size of its cash auctions to banks and allowing financial institutions to put up credit card debt, student loans and car loans as collateral for Fed loans." Yikes!

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US diplomat: 100,000 may have died in Myanmar cyclone. The article begins: "Bodies floated in flood waters and survivors tried to reach dry ground on boats using blankets as sails, while the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar said Wednesday that up to 100,000 people may have died in the devastating cyclone. Hungry crowds stormed the few shops that opened in the country's stricken Irrawaddy delta, sparking fist fights, according to Paul Risley, a spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program in neighboring Thailand..." We also read in The Globe and Mail: How the 'rice bowl of Asia' was emptied. We can expect even more severe shortages of rice, globally.

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Joe S. suggested this piece over at the LATOC site: The U. S. Electric Grid: Will It Be Our Undoing?

"Civilised man has marched across the face of the earth and left a desert in his footprints." - from Topsoil and Civilization by Vernon Gill Carter and Tom Dales (available for free download)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It never fails that when the mainstream media writes about survivalists, they try to lump us together with racists and tin foil hat whackos. Failing that (since the whackos represent such a miniscule fraction of "survivalists"), they will often trot out a psychologist or other "expert", to try to convince the general public that preparedness is irrational and that it is evidence of some deep-seated paranoid delusion. This was the case in the recent BBC news article titled: "Do you need to stock up the bunker?". The article focused on Barton Biggs, who is a well-known and relatively mainstream hedge fund manager and economic commentator. Biggs recently became a convert to survivalism, and that got the liberal media all in a tizzy. "Well, we mustn't have that!" they grumbled. So it was time for the "expert" gambit. The BBC rolled out this nay sayer:

Frank Furedi, the British-based author of The Culture of Fear, says people should calm down.

For all the talk of a global bird flu pandemic, in the past five years there have been 200 human deaths from bird flu. In the same period more than six million people have died from diarrhoeal diseases and more than five million in road accidents – these would seem to be more pressing, practical problems to solve.

"What's interesting about the 'new survivalism' is that its focus is everything," says Prof Furedi. "Unlike previous alarmist responses to a crisis which focused on one main threat – for example, nuclear war – today's survivalism is driven by an unbounded imagination of anxiety."

"The new survivalism can also be seen as a highly ritualised affectation," says Prof Furedi. "Through self-imposed restraint and expressions of concern for the future of humanity, the individual sends out signals about his own responsible behaviour."

"The affectation of survivalism is one of the most interesting features of our 'culture of fear' today."

I have a self-diagnosis to report to Professor Furedi: One of the "highly ritualised affectations" that I have is the desire to put food in my stomach at least once per day. This is a deep seated desire. I also have a corresponding deep seated fear of missing too many meals. Clearly, I must be suffering from "anxiety" and have irrational delusions.

I suggest that Professor Furedi make some changes at his Ivory Tower. First, he needs to stock it with some canned goods.

Mr. Rawles,
Last month I wrote to SurvivalBlog about what do one would do medically in TEOTWAWKI, when all systems are down. I had received three very good replies, and have ben thinking about what was said. I want to thank those people for their valued replies. Now, I have more questions and concerns.

From what I've read concerning medical advice leaves me wondering. All of the advice given has stated to get a good quality Field Surgical Kit, and two books: "Emergency War Surgery"; and, "Where there is no Doctor". Then these articles went on to [imply that] when a medical emergency arises, grab your surgical kit and the Emergency War Surgery Manual, and handle the situation. This is where I am concerned.

First: The human body is not like the family car. Both are made up of many complex parts that must work together to provide transportation, in the sense of a car, and life, in the sense of the human body. There are numerous maintenance manuals for the car, and the repair of your auto can be learned in a short time. However, This is not the case for the human body. The human body is composed of many systems, that are inter-related. It takes a highly trained individual to repair us, and sometimes, complex medical instruments to help him do his job. The skills are not learned over night or in the quietness of your family room. They must be used and practiced on a continual basis in order to do the job properly. Anyone that says he can operate on a human being with a Field Surgical Kit in one hand and an Emergency War Surgery Manual in the other, in my humble opinion is wrong! This individual is about to break the Cardinal Rule of Medicine: First, "Do Thy Patient No Harm!"

Second: For those either setting up a retreat or are already living with theirs, I ask this question: Are you prepared for medical emergencies? I'm talking about a specific area for treatment (i.e. disease and trauma)? If you do not, then now is the time to prepare for that need. A treatment facility need not be very large--about the size of a two-car garage. Inside this structure would be an operating suite, intensive care unit for two patients, and a small laboratory. You will need specialized training to utilize each area. You can add wind or solar power systems, running water, or whatever you feel is necessary. It takes a lot of work and effort to build something like this. It will also be expensive to supply the right equipment.

Third: If you are a member of a group, you may be in a better position to set up a treatment facility, and to find a General Practitioner Physician/Surgeon. Finding such an individual is like having gold in hand. This individual would be the most important member of your group. He would take care of all the aches, pains, sniffles and sneezes.

Think about these things and give me your feedback. It will be valuable information to all the readers. In advance I want to thank you for your replies. - DS in Wisconsin
Not every retreat group is blessed with finding a doctor to be part of their group. In the absence of a doctor, I recommend that at least one group member get EMT training. This is best accomplished by volunteering with your local Emergency Medical Service. These are usually paid positions, so the pay offsets the training expenses.

JWR Replies: Regardless of whether or not your group has a medical professional, I recommend that all adult group members get as much training as time allows. Start out by taking the Red Cross basic and advanced courses and their CPR course. Then take the field medic course offered by Medical Corps. Several SurvivalBlog readers have taken this course, and they all have all commented to me about how impressed with their training. In fact, one of our readers from Hawaii flew all the way to Ohio to take this course, and he reported that it was worth the expense. Their upcoming class (May, 2008) is full, but get on the waiting list for the next one.

I also recommend the Practical Medical Course taught by the Western Rifle Shooters Association. (This course is subtitled: "Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments.") Coincidentally, they have one scheduled for May 16-17-18, 2008 in Brookings, Oregon. Check their web site regularly, for announcements of other course dates and locations. This modestly-priced training, led by an Emergency Room doctor with 35 years of experience, will teach you many things that the Red Cross doesn't teach you! For example, their classes place an emphasis on treating gunshot wounds.

Only the largest and best-financed groups could afford to set up a surgery suite and lab like you described. It is a worthy goal. But keep in mind that even modest medical training, instruments, facilities, and logistics are better than no preparation--which sadly is the state of 98% of American families.

We've tallied the 75+ reader responses to our recent poll on your favorite music with a survival or preparedness theme. Based on the responses, I can see that a large number of our readers are rock-'n-roll fans. The Top 10 tunes mentioned were (in descending order of popularity):

1.) "Silent Running", by Mike and The Mechanics

2.) "Its The End Of The World As We Know It", by R.E.M.

3.) "A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams, Jr.

4.) "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire (Buffalo Springfield 's rendition of the same song was also mentioned.)

5.) "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult

6.) "Riding the Storm Out" by REO Speedwagon

7.) "Bad Moon Rising" by Credence Clearwater Revival

8.) "Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon

9.) "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash

10.) "We Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who

Other songs not in the top 10, but still mentioned by more than one reader included: "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty, "Thank God for the Renegades" by Steve Vaus, "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen (a cover by The Duhks was also mentioned), "Going by the Book", by Johnny Cash, "Political Science" by Randy Newman, "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earl, "March of Cambreadth" by Heather McDonald, and "You Do Your Thing" by Montgomery Gentry.

Just to cheer you up after all this Gloom und Doom, listen to this song that was mentioned by three SurvivalBlog readers: "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?", by Merle Haggard.

Hard numbers: The economy is worse than you know

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UBS reports first quarter net loss of $11 billion, cuts 5,500 jobs

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Just as I had warned you, folks: Penny prices pinched by rising cost of metal. The article begins: "Further evidence that times are tough: It now costs more than a penny to make a penny. And the cost of a nickel is more than 71⁄2 cents. Surging prices for copper, zinc and nickel have some in Congress trying to bring back the steel-made pennies of World War II and maybe using steel for nickels, as well." (A hat tip to Paul in Kentucky for sending us the link.) A reminder: You still have a brief window of opportunity to salt away some rolls of nickels at face value.

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Rumors of shortage prompt rush on rice in Anchorage area. This confirms my previous writings about the vulnerability of Alaska to shortages, because of its dependence on sea and air freight for necessities.

"Political Correctness is just Tyranny with manners." - The late Charlton Heston, in speech at Yale University

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $230. This auction is for four items: A FoodSaver GameSaver Turbo Plus heavy duty food vacuum packaging system (a retail value of $297) kindly donated by Ready Made Resources an autographed copy of : "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", an autographed copy of "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog", and a copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by the late Carla Emery. The four items have a combined retail value of around $395. The auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

The power grid is down… maybe forever

There are hundreds of scenarios which can cause the loss of electrical grid power. These include everything from a faulty relay to a strategic EMP strike that would precede a full scale nuclear war. There are, however, several inexpensive things which can be done in preparedness that could make the difference between life and death. Before explaining, “exactly what to do”, there are a few simple rules to keep in mind.

1) If you die, it’s your fault.
2) If you don’t have the gear, you will probably need it.
3) Be flexible. No battle plan survives first contact [with the enemy]

My wife and I live on 40 acres in southeastern Ohio near its border with West Virginia . Our nearest neighbor is a mile away, so being prepared for emergencies comes with the territory. Even though we have incoming electricity from rural electric, it is not to be counted on and is notoriously intermittent. From the beginning we installed solar panels, batteries and a generator as a primary energy source with the co-op being the backup. Recently I took the solar panels and inverters off line to upgrade the system. The job took a week and sure enough [soon after I disassembled the alternate power system] the co-op grid went down.

I decided that it was a good time to test out my emergency lighting by firing up a kerosene lamp. I have propane lanterns, but I wanted to use the lamps to see how well they function. I filled the lamp with some spiffy blue fuel and lit the wick. After a few minutes the wick turned to ash. I looked at the label of the spiffy blue odorless lamp oil and found that it was odorless because it was not kerosene. It was paraffin. I tried several different things to make it “wick” properly, but the result was that eventually the wick would burn up. Great, my spiffy blue fuel didn’t work. Doom on you Wal-Mart.

Well, I had flashlights and those propane lanterns, but I wanted to use something cheap, like a candle. That’s right, [I had] no candles. Doom on you, Chuck.

Finally the electricity came back on and I turned off my propane lantern and made a shopping list. I bought real K1 kerosene and 244 count 15 hour votive candles with more matches and a package of butane lighters. I even tested the 15 hour candles and [determined that yes,] they really burn for 15 hours so I now have 3,645 hours of votive candle light available.


Buy some. Then buy some more. Store them with matches and/or butane lighters. Any candle will do, however, votive candles are cheap when bought in boxes of 12 or more. 36 count, 15-hour votive candles will provide over 500 hours of light. You can even cook with them and they do provide a little heat.

The good: Candles are cheap, EMP-proof, with a little effort a low tech society can make them, they won't tip them over and spill fuel, their shelf-life is indefinite and they are the most portable of all lights. They are EMP proof.

The bad: Their light (lumens) is low; they are useless in wind and rain unless they are confined. Use caution. Candles are an open flame and can start a fire. Stored in dampness, they are not waterproof because the wick can absorb moisture. [JWR Adds: Also, in the aftermath of an earthquake or landslide, open flames are a bad idea because gas lines may have been broken. My top choice for household emergency candles are Catholic devotional jar candles. There are cylindrical glass jars, about 11 inches tall and 2.5 inches in diameter. Like other votive candles, their candle wax is formulated for long burning. (A formulation that is high in stearic acid.) Watch for these on sale at discount stores. The paper labels can quickly and easily be removed by immersing them in water for an hour.]

Kerosene lanterns and lamps.
Lamps are the next step up from candles and should be in everyone’s home. Most have a ribbon-like wick and some have two wicks. Others have a shaped burner which will greatly magnify the burn surface, producing more light. They have been used successfully for over a hundred years and some, like the Aladdin are quite decorative and burn brightly.

Kerosene (K1)

A lamp uses fuel. The better fuel is Kerosene. Pure kerosene has a strong odor, but refined kerosene like K1 has less odor and still wicks properly and burns brightly. Another fuel is the odorless paraffin lamp fuel. It does not wick (climb the wick from the reservoir) properly unless the reservoir is at least half full.

The good: Kerosene lamps are an excellent reading light compared to a candle. They are fairly portable depending on the way they are designed, and are reasonably inexpensive to operate. They are EMP proof.

The bad: Most are quite fragile because of the glass used in making the globe or chimney. They can also spill their fuel creating a fire hazard.

Lanterns burn brightly because they have a mantle (something akin to a little silk sock) which when lit produces a bright white light. Used mainly for camping they are either powered by white gas or unleaded gas. Another type uses propane gas that comes in a screw-on cylinder. The Coleman North Star has a much longer mantle which produces more light and uses less fuel. It is a good idea to have at least one of each type of lantern. [JWR Adds: The Aladdin brand mantle lantern burns kerosene. All mantle lamps have very fragile mantles, which are little more than a meshwork of ash after they have been burned for the first time. Don't use mantle lanterns in any application where they will be subjected to jarring or heavy vibration.]

The good: They are extremely bright, efficient and inexpensive. They are EMP proof.

The bad: The liquid fuel has a limited shelf-life and if spilled is dangerous. The propane fuel is explosive if it leaks. The lanterns are quite noisy making an escaping air sound.

Flashlights come in numerous sizes, shapes and brightness. Some can be recharged from an outlet, some require replacement batteries. There are even wind-up and shake-up powered flashlights. A flashlight is absolutely essential for the home, car or when camping. Two notable hand-held lights are the MagLite and the Surefire. The MagLite most used is the one like a policeman carries. It has a large adjustable beam and the MagLite bulb has a long life span. The Surefire comes in several sizes too, but the Surefire L2 Digital LumaMax LED is surprisingly bright. The L2 uses lithium batteries which have a shelf-life of several years.

The good: Flashlights are a time-tested life saver.

The bad: Good flashlights can be expensive and battery replacement can be costly. The LumaMax is not EMP proof.

PS: There are dozens of different types of flashlights. There are headlamps and lights that attach to the belt. Some are made for mounting on the barrel of a gun and ones that divers use. I only named two different types. There are stores on the Internet that specialize in flashlights. Do some research and choose a couple of different types that would suit you and your lifestyle. - Chuck Fenwick, Medical Corps

Mr. Rawles,
I have been working on a retreat that I will be moving to later in the year. Naturally, construction is taking up a large amount of my time. My family is on-board for the retreat.

I need help in the area of an Operations and Security Manual. Is there anything that you know of that would be a starting place rather than from the ground up? I know there are a lot of things that I would miss out on if I started [by myself] from the ground up, and not know it until it's too late. I purchased the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and I would have missed the boat on food storage if I did not have that as a reference.

Any direction would be appreciated. Thank you, - Craig in Arkansas

JWR Replies: I can't recommend a stand-alone reference, but I can recommend an abbreviated version of the list of "musts" for your retreat bookshelf::

  • The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. Sasquatch Books. (Get the Ninth or later edition.) This book is 845 pages of valuable 'how to' country survival knowledge.
  • Nuclear War Survival Skills, by Cresson H. Kearney
  • American Red Cross First Aid
  • Where There is No Doctor, by David Werner
  • Where There is No Dentist, by Murray Dickson
  • Emergency War Surgery (NATO handbook) Dr. Martin Fackler, et al.
  • The Ultimate Sniper, by Maj. John L. Plaster

And, at the risk of sounding self-serving, I also recommend my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". It provide a detailed description of what might be needed to secure and operate a self-sufficient rural retreat in a protracted societal collapse.

Myanmar cyclone death toll 22,000+ dead or missing. Does your family have rated storm shelter?

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Joe S. flagged this: Who Should Doctors Let Die in a Pandemic?

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Reader "Bois d'Arc" sent us a link to an interesting Malthusian web page written by Paul Chefurka, which seems to borrow heavily from other sources: Peak Oil, Carrying Capacity and Overshoot:
Population, the Elephant in the Room
. The bottom line is that he expects a population crash from a peak of near seven billion in 2012 to just one billion by 2075.

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D.H.W. sent us a link to yet another mainstream press article on survivalism (this one from New Zealand) that mentions SurvivalBlog: Bags packed for doomsday

"While driving north through Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Interstate 69, we passed a new 'McMansion' subdivision. It was right off the frontage road, screened from the freeway by a few scraggly saplings, and named on a large landscaped sign, "Hidden Glen." My wife and I looked at each other and simultaneously asked, "Hidden from what?'" - Michael Z. Williamson

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The key to successful defense is defense in depth. In each layer of security it’s imperative to have a full 360 degree protection afforded by whatever measures, methods or technology you employ. Where it’s simply not possible to secure your entire perimeter due to terrain or financial limitations, it’s important to know what’s not completely protected, why it’s not protected, and what it’s not protected against.
To plan your retreat security, start at the conceptual level. Define what is to be protected. It might be your primary residence, or it might simply be a cache containing bug-out supplies. Decide now what the parameters of a successful defense look like (My food is untouched, 50% of my food is untouched, 25% of my food is untouched, there are no bullet holes in my roof, etc…). Identify, in writing, the consequences of failing to achieve the specified parameters. Doing these things serves two purposes. First, it will help you do develop the proper scope for your plan. Second, it will help you make some difficult decisions regarding rules of engagement and alternatives planning.

Threat Assessment
Next, you have to consider what the threat looks like. The threats are specific to your situation and you have to decide what level of threat you’re willing or obtain the capacity to defend against. City dwellers might be faced with threats like small bands of unskilled scavengers, or large groups of semi-skilled gang members with reasonably good equipment, where the rural resident may be more likely to encounter small groups of highly skilled woodsmen. Your specific threat is entirely dependent on where you are, and who is there with you.
What the threat looks like will dictate how you prepare for it, and it’s definitely not a “one size fits all” exercise. Decide now what your rules of engagement are, and the level of threat that initiates a flight response versus a fight response. A threat that is larger, more skilled, or better equipped than what you prepared for will simply overwhelm your physical security system. For example, a threat capable of long-distance attack may never engage your security at all while still being able to attack people or things at the resource. Concentrating on high-speed avenues of approach will be appropriate for opportunistic or vehicle mounted threats, but completely ineffective against the savvy scavenger with a modicum of hunting skill.
Failure to identify the threat correctly might result in too much security, which could have been invested in food water or power, or too little security, which will result in someone else gaining the benefit of your preparations.

Security System Design
All security systems have to incorporate three key fundamentals – detection, delay, and response. You must be able to detect an intruder to be able to respond to him, and you must be able to respond before he reaches the critical resource.

Intrusion detection ability comes in many forms, and they have been discussed exhaustively here and elsewhere. Our primary concern is that the detection capability is effective, layered, and sustainable.
It’s imperative that your sensor system have a high probability of detection with a low false alarm rate (FAR)--where we don’t know why the alarm went off) and nuisance alarm rate (NAR)--where we know why the alarm went off, but it wasn’t something we wanted to detect). In other words, it’s good if the dog barks, but not if it barks at everything… or nothing at all. It’s also important to note that people are notoriously poor sensors. Studies conducted by Sandia National Laboratory indicate that a human has a 2% probability of detection under normal conditions, and that they are only effective for the first 20 minutes of a watch. In other words, invest in technology if funding and opportunity allow you to.
Using cumulative probability equations it’s fairly easy to determine that several less than perfect sensors arrayed in series can be more effective that one reasonably good sensor operating alone. One layer of sensors operating at 90% probability of detection (PD) will cost a fortune and provide a 90% cumulative probability of detection (PDC). Two layered sensors operating at 70% PD will offer a PDC of 91% at a lower total price:

PDC = 1-(1-PD1)(1-PD2)
= 1-(1-0.7)(1-.07)
= 1- (.09)
= 91%

If possible, place sensors at the perimeter of your property and again at a defined line within your property. As shown in the example above, two layers of average quality detection devices are more likely to detect a bad guy than one layer of good sensors.

Sustainability of detection devices will be a key issue. If your detection solution is electronic, you have to have means of providing electricity. Fortunately, many technical solutions are designed to work off of 12 volt DC electric or AA batteries and have low power requirements. It’s important that you pay attention to the technical specifications when purchasing equipment. It’s prudent to acquire replacement units or parts in the event that equipment malfunctions or is damaged. Electronic sensors and associated support equipment may not be within your budget. If this is the case, you may elect to go with more cost-effective biological sensors (dogs, geese and others). They will have a reduced capacity to warn you when intruders are coming because they can’t observe your entire perimeter and they, like people, are easily distracted. They require some level of preparation with respect to food and health care, though this should be manageable for most budgets. The major drawback to biological sensors is that while cost effective to purchase and maintain, the opportunity to keep spares on the storage rack isn’t there. In the event that your biological sensors are damaged, replacements may be difficult to obtain,

The objective of an effective delay system is to delay the bad guy from reaching the objective long enough for the good guys to get dressed, grab their arms, and engage him in a firefight. In practical terms, the bad guy’s timeline from engaging the security system (encountering the outermost sensors) to execution of objective is usually measured in seconds. Your job is to make it enough seconds that you can respond before it’s over.

Delay can come from mechanical obstacles, or it can come from distance. The effectiveness of an obstacle is measured in seconds. An 8 foot chain link fence can be scaled by a human in 10 seconds, and so it’s worth 10 seconds in timeline calculations. Distance is also accounted for in seconds, but is dependant on the movement rate of the bad guy. 100 meters is worth 25 seconds of delay if the bad guy is moving at 4 meters per second. Having a large property can be an asset if your security system is set up properly, but is not, in and of itself, an asset. The only barriers or distances that matter are those that are observed by a sensor system.

Specific delay systems have also been discussed exhaustively here and elsewhere. It’s important to note that barriers effective against one threat may be far less effective against another. For example, anti-vehicle ditch works will provide infinite delay for most vehicles but only a few seconds delay for a bad guy on foot. On the other hand, a wide open field may delay a bad guy on foot for minutes, while delaying a vehicle only a few seconds.

The term Response, in the context of physical security, refers to the people; the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP); and the equipment used to neutralize the bad guys. Here’s where you have to ask yourself four questions:
1.) Do I have enough people to secure my critical resource?
2.) Do I have the right training?
3.) Do I have the right equipment?
4.) Do I have alternative plans?

Under optimum conditions, the US military operates under the assumption that it takes 5.2 people to man each security post 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This assumption accounts for eight hour days, leaves of absence, sick time, and all of the variables that mean people won’t be coming to work. It’s likely that you won’t have the manpower to support more than a post or two under these conditions. The fewer people you have to man each post means that, in order to maintain proper security, other tasks start to go undone. If you have only two people per post, for example, that means 12 hour shifts seven days a week with no rest – leaving no significant time for farming, gardening, or other tasks. The alternatives are to accomplish other tasks while abandoning security requirements, or to make arrangements before TSHTF to group with other like-minded people to provide around the clock security.

Proper training for response forces is imperative. At a minimum, each person must be familiar with the rules of engagement and the standard operation procedures required to accomplish the mission. In many cases, this will mean that you need to define what the mission is and how it’s to be done and put it in writing. Additionally, you have to define the threshold for response and the threshold for flight – put that in writing too. Every member of your response force should be proficient in every weapon system employed. Ideally, they’re all using the same weapon type, but in the event that they’re not, they need to be able to use each other’s arms. Every member of the security force should also be familiar with the terrain out to the maximum effective range of their weapons. Advanced training with firearms is desirable, but not always cost effective for groups of any size. If you ask, I’m certain you’ll be provided with contact information for half a dozen quality sources for firearms training.

Proper equipment and familiarity with the equipment breeds confidence in your security forces. Ideally, all of your people will have identical gear. This will ensure that spare parts are available and that weapon magazines are interchangeable in a firefight. A proper kit will include firearms, ammunition, protective gear, restraint devices, and non-lethal weaponry. Suitable arms for your security forces will be of a weight and configuration that can be handled by all of your personnel, chambers a round suitable for your purpose, and has a maximum effective range that can reach the edge of your perimeter (unless you have a really huge place!). The bottom line answer to the question “what’s the best rifle?” is – the one your personnel can use effectively to put rounds on target. Military security forces in garrison typically carry 120 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition when armed with an M16. Depending on your arms, you may vary the load out, but in a firefight you really want as much ammunition as you can carry on an “all the time” basis. Protective gear, whether in the form of body armor or defensive fighting positions (DFPs), should be able to handle impacts from any ammunition common in the retreat’s region. For body armor, [NIJ] level IV protection is desirable, though the type and manufacturer of the armor is really a matter of taste. DFPs should be constructed with overhead cover – more for comfort than protection (unless the neighbors have mortars) – and double thick sandbag walls. Restraint devices are for the bad guys that make it through the initial firefight, or for the bad guys who surrender before a firefight takes place. There are a number of items that fit this category, though I won’t offer specific discussion about any of them except to say that heavy duty wire ties work really well in this capacity. Last, each of your personnel should have access to less-than lethal control methods. Most likely, your rules of engagement don’t go directly from harsh words to lethal firefight – neither should your equipment.

If you’ve given the threat sufficient thought, then you’ll recognize that the security situation will vary widely by the level of threat present in your area. While you are planning, make sure that you address as many of the conceivable scenarios as you can. Once you reach that threshold between viable defense and non-viable defense, put together pre-planned alternatives to standing and fighting. Make sure your group knows when to bug-out and where to go. If possible, pre-position bug-out caches to facilitate these plans.

In conclusion, proper retreat security is a huge, but manageable task as long as you approach it in the correct context. The specifics on how you address individual elements within the fundamental areas of Detection, Delay, and Response are less important than addressing them in a balanced and systematic way. In order to detect the bad guy, you have to have a means of detection, it has to be effective, and it has to be on. In order to slow the bad guy down, you have to have obstacles that are pertinent to his preferred mode of travel, you have to have enough of them so that his total travel time is longer than it takes your personnel to get within rifle range, and they have to be observed. To respond effectively and neutralize the bad guy, your response forces have to numerous enough to counter bad guy forces, they have to know the rules, and they must have and be familiar with their equipment. Lastly, in a “no-win” situation, everyone has to know when and how to get out, and where to go.

Mr. Rawles,
I'm an avid reader of your blog, and have found it most helpful in a variety of ways. However, I have noticed a slight deficiency: there is little mention of ropes and knots.

Rope is an incredibly useful thing, both in everyday life and in a SHTF situation: it can be used in combination with a tarp and two trees to construct a makeshift shelter, can lift or pull objects, can secure objects to prevent them from moving, it can make snares and traps to catch food, and so on. One can even tie their shoes!

However, when tied with clumsy or inadequate knots, rope can be incredibly dangerous. The common square knot can fail if sideways (relative to the length of the rope) tension is applied to one of the working ("free") ends. Certain knots can weaken rope['s breaking strength] by more than 40%, which can be a dangerous condition in and of itself.

For light duty (tent cord, tying things down, etc.), military-style 550 [nylon parachute] cord is incredibly useful. For heavier load-bearing uses, one should use a suitable rope.

As always, the Wikipedia has useful links and information for tying different knots. Bookstores sell books describing hundreds of knots and their uses. As always, having paper books on hand is more useful in a SHTF situation than computer files. Sincerely, - Pete S.

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. I have provided a couple of links to knot tying web sites in the past --such as this site that shows you exactly how they're done (they show examples of around 75 specific knots) via clearly photographed animations.

One item that bears special mention is the rappelling carabiner. Commonly just called a "biner"--and called a "snap link" by the US military--these have umpteen uses for attaching/lifting/slinging/securing loads and acting like a pulley (or providing greater rope friction by adding multiple coils of rope, which of course relates to their originally-intended purpose for rappelling. I recommend buying a half-dozen (or more), with at least two of them with thumb screw-type locking gates.OBTW, avoid the flimsy pseudo-carbiners that are sold as key ring holders. (Thankfully, nowadays most of these are stamped "Not for Climbing Use".) We keep several carabiner in our ATV's cargo bag, along with a 150 foot coil of rope, and a pair of Jumar ascenders. When used in conjunction with our ATV's electric winch, this gear has proved immensely useful for tasks around the ranch, and particularly when packing big game uphill.

Mr. Rawles,
I recently stumbled upon a magazine article highlighting a new home construction technique for people living in some of the most impoverished lands of Africa. It's called EcoBeam.
The system uses very little lumber or concrete and gains most of it's structural support from sandbags. Since the walls are essentially stacks of sand bags it has great mass (read: it will hold up in adverse weather conditions - doesn't require a foundation) and has anti-ballistic properties. Since the bulk of the structure is sand and sand bags little if any heavy equipment is needed to build it . In fact, no power tools would even be required as evidenced by the test structures being built in Africa right now. See this site:
Vertical i-beams made of wood and a metal zigzag web in middle are used to "stick build" the frame using what looks like approximately 36-to-48" centers (or what looks like 2 , 3, or 4 sandbag [width]s.) Sand bags are filled and stacked in the space between the beams. The whole assembly is then covered with a mesh or expanded metal mesh and plastered. North Americans, having far more lumber resources, could probably substitute this wood/metal I-beam for some pre-fabbed plywood I-beams commonly used as floor joists in modern home construction.
This might make for a great construction technique for building retreats in remote or low access regions or as a method of construction for support structures like observation/listening posts, etc. I could envision the integration of indigenous stone, soil, brush, etc. on the plaster coating to aid in camouflaging the structure. The other great benefit to the system is it's thermal properties. It retains heat and cold quite well.

I hope this serves as some benefit to the community. Thanks for bringing us all together. - Tanker

JWR Replies : For many years I've been a fan of Earthship construction, (compressed soil-filled tires) which has many of the same attributes a the new EcoBeam method. Sand and and gravel are better at stopping small arms fire than even reinforced concrete. This is because they shift and refill voids after they are created by bullet strikes. From a practical standpoint nothing stops bullets better!

Keep in mind one important proviso: Beware of any unreinforced construction method, especially in earthquake country. You will recall from news stories about earthquakes in many Asian countries that they have high death tolls. This is often because in many impoverished countries metal reinforcement ("re-bar") is omitted, to reduce construction costs. In an earthquake, such buildings just collapse. Sandbag construction and Earthships must be reinforced. This is best accomplished by placing re-bar vertically on two-foot (or narrower) centers through the wall stacks, making sure that the top of each piece of re-bar passes through a wood top sill, or that it is at least firmly wired in place.

M. In Texas sent the link to a "must read" piece over at The Contrary Investor (for May, 2008): Slowly I Turned

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Oil Tops $120 Per Barrel

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The Werewolf in Brazil found this for us, about a new disease outbreak: 24 Chinese children die of EV-71 virus; other countries affected

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Samuel K. suggested this article: An Unlikely Way to Save a Species: Serve It for Dinner. Samuel's comment: "Some of these local breeds of livestock and crops mentioned in the article may have appeal to survivalists for growing their own food because the food is acclimated to particular climates."

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, May 5, 2008

On a recent looong drive into town to top off our supplies, the Memsahib suggested this: The SurvivalBlog Party Mix. Our favorite "preparedness" music. What are your favorite survival-theme songs? (Just e-mail us your list.) Here are the top three songs on the Rawles family's play list.

"The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash

"A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams, Jr.

"Bad Moon Rising" by Credence Clearwater Revival

How about you? Please e-mail us your two or three favorites. Thanks.

Mr. Rawles,
Hi again and thanks again for the wonderful blog! I wanted to address the request for more information about splinting injuries and stretchers. Before I begin discussing methods of splinting we need to first address the degree of injury. I once "sprained" my wrist playing sports. It swelled, hurt, was sensitive, caused immense pain, and was hot to the touch. Our sports trainer pulled me out of the game, three hours after a "minor injury." [X-rays showed that] I had two hairline fractures and went home with a cast. The doctor was shocked that I waited till halftime and said I was lucky not to further break my arm while I was playing. In the original poster's story, he couldn't even move his knee and it was a sprain versus my case, where I could move my arm and yet it was broken. I could have easily fallen on my arm again and seriously broken it! A real problem with trauma and any kind of illness is that you have an increased chance of falling and re-breaking or breaking additional bones. You have to always consult qualified medical advice on an injury that requires splinting, crutches, or any kind of assistance. In a post-TEOTWAWKI situation that may be your medical person in the group, or "Where There Is No Doctor" but unless you have a serious fracture that is apparent (i.e. bone sticking out of flesh, deformity or immediate inability to move the extremity) you really can't tell and should make every effort to go to a medical professional to get their help. Splinting [in order] to get there is good and fine, but you really should have it looked at by a medical professional before splinting for a long time.

Generally speaking we splint to immobilize an extremity. This is achieved by keeping the joint about and below the injury from moving. If its a knee, splint the injury so the ankle can't move and the hip can move in a forward backward motion while moving the entire leg but unable to bend the knee. For wrist or elbow sprains simply bend the elbow 90 degrees and hold it to your chest. Splint in place. A critical assessment to make prior to and after splinting is to see if you can feel a pulse, if they can feel sensation and their degree of mobility. This allows you to loosen, tighten, or change the split as needed if they lose one of those three things during or after splinting. By far, splinting is more about technique than the materials on hand. Before x-rays and plaster were used, doctors used splints to treat fractures. Anything hard, and straight can be used. From tree branches to long wooden spoons, to a piece of stiff plastic. I once watched a friend splint an arm for a wilderness class using a soft paper back book and magazines with a lot of tape. You can also buy commercial splinting supplies. There are wire mesh types and card board cut outs and of course the simple ACE [elastic cloth] bandage. is a great place to find splinting supplies! Look under medical supplies then splinting. I do not recommend the air splints, they generally are fragile and can pop relatively easily. Once you buy your items open them up and experiment with them, to try different things out and different ways. I also highly recommend taking a basic first aid course that will help you with splinting and immobilizing. For treatment of sprains and twists use the RICE acronym: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.

As far as stretchers go and hospital beds there are a few prominent brands out there. Mostly in hospitals and in Emergency Medical Service we use Stryker products or Ferno products. These offer a large variety of positions and features. The Stryker ambulance stretchers I can say from first hand experience are extremely rugged and durable! American Medical Response is the largest ambulance company in the US uses Stryker gurneys across the nation! While these stretchers are durable, and rugged they have some serious faults:
1. They are very heavy, around 100-120 pounds.
2. Due to their design, narrow wheel base and where the patient sits, they are also very top heavy and tip over easily.
3. More EMTs and Paramedics careers are ended due to back injury than any other reason. All it takes is one improper lift, one time and one back injury to do permanent damage! Proper body mechanics must be used at all times!
4. They are very expensive--usually around $3,000 when purchased new. Typically they are just repaired until they can't function at all, so its difficult to get a quality used one.

Back Boards and Garden Carts:

A better option [for prepared families] in my opinion is to simply buy a back board and put the person on a cart or simply carry them. They run about $100 dollars and the straps (spider straps) are about $50 dollars and are easy to use. As I recall, Mr. Rawles recommends having a garden cart for hauling wood and other work related materials around your retreat. Likely this cart would have big heavy duty wheels and could go just about anywhere on your retreat. Back boards have slots at the top and sides for handling and you can easily secure the board via hooks, ropes, or seat belts to the top and rear of the cart. Boards can be made out of wood, but are largely made out of plastic. It would not be difficult to attach one to the side of the cart at all times just in case you need it. In all of these cases back boards should only be used to move the person and not to prevent any head or neck injury which is their primary design in modern medicine unless you are trained to that level of care. Another benefit to a back board is that by strapping them down you are in effect splinting their arms and legs and don't need to do that until after they have been moved or time allows. Another great option is to secure all of your first response medical gear to the board! Get someone to help you, and have all your emergency field gear on top of the board and simply carry it to your patient and have another set of hands to help! So for about $150 to $200 and a cart used for other purposes, you have a heavy duty stretcher to get the injured person back to your retreat!

In my experience as an EMT, I have found that some great places to find emergency gear are:
The foregoing comments are purely suggestions and advice. I accept no responsibility for your actions and consequences thereof.
Thanks again for the blog , James! - Michelle, "The 20-something EMT"

I occasionally get e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers, asking about how I can justify active preparedness in light of my Christian faith. Some cite the "Lilies of the Field" passage in Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

In my view, people are misinterpreting these verses. These are verses about worry, not about work or preparedness. Never does the Bible teach that we should laze about and not provide for our families. Earning our daily bread is the Godly way to live. We are taught not to be lazy or dependent on others. Yes, we are to trust in God's providence, but nowhere do the scriptures absolve us of the responsibility to work or to save up for lean times. Consider these four verses from the book of Proverbs:

He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11, NIV

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23, NIV

The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. Proverbs 21:25, NIV

The plans of the diligent surely lead to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5, NKJV


Food Storage

The Bible encourages storing food. Look at Gen. 41:47-49: "And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number." And then see Gen. 41:53-57: "And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. And the sevens years of dearth [drought] was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

The preceding is a good example that illustrates the need for food storage. As I write this in 2008, a growing portion of the world is already experiencing famine. You should recognize that famine could just a well come to stalk America, Europe, the British Isles, and Australia. (The areas with the largest SurvivalBlog readership.) It is prudent and Biblically supported to stock up during good times in anticipation of lean times.

Prov. 6:6-15: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a forward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Forwardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy."

The lessons from scripture are clear: Don't be lazy and lax. Store up in good times for future lean times. Ponder this Old Testament passage: Psalm 34:9-10: "O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." And then look at this New Testament passage:, from 1 Timothy 5:8: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

One of the many names of God is Jehovah Jireh, which means God Who Provides. As I Christian, I believe that God will provide for his covenant people. I believe that one of the many gifts that the God has provided is a conviction, by the Holy Spirit, to be well prepared. I realize that we are only on Earth for about 80 trips around the sun, and that is just the twinkling of an eye versus eternity. Where we end up after this brief life is far, far more important in the grand scheme of things. We will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell. But how we spend our +/-80 year life on Earth is up to us. (And the most important thing that we do in the is life is make ourselves right with God, though his Grace, to accepting eternal life in heaven. But stepping back to this temporal world: The Bible makes it very clear that we are to be good stewards of the blessings that God provides us. I therefore feel strongly convicted to not just share the gospel of Christ, but also to physically prepare for my own family, and store extra to dispense as charity. The bottom line: I can't continue to share the gospel if I starve to the point of achieving room temperature!

Self Defense
Other readers question how I can justify owning guns for self-defense. Some Mennonites, for example, eschew all means self defense and decry even the willingness to defend oneself or one's loved ones. That, in my opinion is taking "turning the other cheek" (Luke 6:29) to an extreme that is not sculpturally founded.

Exodus 22:2 provides Biblical justification for killing someone if he intends to forcibly rob or kill another man: "If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed." (Exodus 22:2 NIV)

And Jesus teaches that it is wise to be armed, in Luke 22:35-36: "Then Jesus asked them, 'When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?' 'Nothing,' they answered. He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."

In an article titled: What Does The Bible Say About Gun Control? Larry Pratt keenly observed the difference between self-defense and vengeance:

Resisting an attack is not to be confused with taking vengeance which is the exclusive domain of God (Rom. 12:19). This has been delegated to the civil magistrate, who, as we read in Romans 13:4, ". . . is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil."

Private vengeance means one would stalk down a criminal after one’s life is no longer in danger as opposed to defending oneself during an attack. It is this very point that has been confused by Christian pacifists who would take the passage in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek (which prohibits private vengeance) into a command to falter before the wicked.

Let us consider also that the Sixth Commandment tells us: "Thou shall not murder." In the chapters following, God gave to Moses many of the situations which require a death penalty. God clearly has not told us never to kill. He has told us not to murder, which means we are not to take an innocent life. Consider also that the civil magistrate is to be a terror to those who practice evil. This passage does not in any way imply that the role of law enforcement is to prevent crimes or to protect individuals from criminals. The magistrate is a minister to serve as "an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Rom. 13:4).

Jesus taught both to turn the other cheek and to be well-armed to defend oneself. The important factor is having the wisdom to know when to employ either approach depending on the circumstances. I pray, for wisdom, discernment, and discretion, daily. I don't seek out trouble, and in fact I have moved my family to a remote, lightly populated region in good part to avoid trouble. But if unavoidable trouble comes my way, I want to have the option of resisting force with force. And I only have that option if I am armed and trained.

Some critics of armed preparedness cite Matthew 26:52-54, which descries how Jesus responded when Peter cut off the ear of a s high priest's servant, using a sword: "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"

In context, Jesus is telling Peter that it would be suicidal to fight in that particular situation, since they were quite outnumbered. And of course Jesus knew it was in God's plan for him to be arrested, tried, crucified, and resurrected. Jesus told Peter to put his sword in its place –which was back in his belt. Jesus was telling Peter in effect that "there is a time to fight, and this, my friend, isn't it." He didn't command him to "throw that sword away", or "surrender it", or to "stop carrying it". After all, according to Luke, Jesus had just recently ordered the disciples to arm themselves. The reason for the arms was obviously to protect their own lives when traveling--not to protect His own life, which He intended to sacrifice, to pay for our sins, once and for all.

The Old testament teaches both to be armed, and to be trained. We read in Psalm 144:1:

Blessed be the Lord my rock
Who trains my hands for war
And my fingers for battle.

Yes, as Christians our battles are mainly spiritual, but we must also be prepared to defend our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, against evildoers.


Charity--both in time of plenty and in times of disaster--is a Christian responsibility with its roots in the Old Testament tradition of Tzedaka. This responsibility--particularly for the support of widows and orphans--was repeated in the New Testament, such as in Acts 11:27-29: "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth [drought] throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea."

The Biblical approach to survivalism is to avoid trouble, but to be ready for it nonetheless. And when trouble does come, have extra stores on hand, so that you can dispense copious charity. Give until it hurts!

I have finally found one of my favorite books available as a PDF. This Peace Corps Remote Areas Development Guide is just what anyone would need to jump start a agricultural settlement and
everything else the small town would need.

Unfortunately the [photo reproduction] quality [of the PDF file] is low, I have packed my hard copy of this practical pocket guide with me for many years from my college Bugout Bag to here in Israel.

Naish Piazza of Front Sight has regretfully announced that because of increased merchandise costs as well as increased shipping and mailing costs he will soon be raising the price on his very generous "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer. Get your order in right away, to beat the price increase! Also, keep in mind that the offer will likely end soon, since it is being run at or near cost.

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Inyokern sent this article link about survivalists the UK's Guardian newspaper: Natural born survivors. BTW, it mentions SurvivalBlog and cites the size our our weekly readership.

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Several readers have written to ask me about the impact of the Federal Reserve's recent incremental cut in interest rates. In my opinion, this latest 0.25% cut (the seventh cut within as many months) will not make much of a difference. At this point, the economy is so out of whack, debt levels (public and private) are so high, and the credit market is so badly broken, that a deep, long recession--if not a depression--seems inevitable. America's situation is not unlike that of Japan in the early 1990s. There, a stock market bubble grew out of the Tokyo real estate bubble. First real estate collapsed, and then stocks. The Bank of Japan tried reducing interest rates all the way to zero, to no avail. Now, fifteen years later, their economy has still not fully recovered. Be prepared for decades of economic turmoil, folks!

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Blake W. mentioned this unusual concept: Establishing gated communities peopled entirely with Ron Paul supporters.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." - Gandalf, in The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Today, with permission, we feature an insightful guest editorial from silver mining stock specialist Jason Hommel:

An article by Pratima Desai that was circulated by the Reuters news service, included this:

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - Investment money flooding into silver has overwhelmed poor fundamentals and helped it to outperform gold, but the tide could be turning for precious metals and the probability of large losses is rising.

Silver has outstanding fundamentals, and silver's downside is minimal, and, in fact, it probably just bottomed, as I will show.

Silver's price falls in percentage terms are likely to dwarf those seen in gold, which some fund managers say has stronger supply/demand fundamentals.

Again, the opposite is true, silver's supply/demand fundamentals are much better than for gold, as all the smart money knows, and as I will show.

"History shows that when you get a substantial correction in precious metals, silver falls more than gold ... It's a more volatile market and smaller in value terms," said Stephen Briggs, analyst at Societe Generale.

That's true, silver is more volatile, and in a bull market for silver, which we are in, silver will clearly outperform gold, as it has outperformed gold, as the silver to gold ratio is narrowing, from 80:1 to 50:1, and we have a long way to go to get to the historic 15:1 ratio, or we will likely exceed it, with silver moving even higher.

One big reason behind surging prices has been the tumbling dollar, making commodities priced in dollars cheaper for holders of other currencies. The weak dollar also prompts producers to raise prices to protect profit margins.

Silver producers do not have the luxury of raising prices. No commodity producer does. All commodities in the world are either sold at the spot price, or under long term contracts that have already been agreed upon, which, in this bull market, are usually at lower prices than today.

Last week the dollar fell to record lows against the Euro, to beyond $1.60, an event which has caused many to question whether further losses can be sustained and whether it has bottomed.
While the excess creation of paper money is one of the best factors for higher silver prices, the dollar's relation to the yen and Euro has almost nothing to do with it's relation to silver and gold prices. All paper money, the yen, Euro, and the dollar, are all falling against silver and gold, generally, since 2001 and that trend will continue.

"The dollar is not going to keep on depreciating forever," Briggs said. He expects gold prices to average around $900 an ounce next year from $1,025 this year and silver to average $15.50 compared with $19.20.

Well, actually, the dollar could keep on depreciating forever, as all paper currencies in all of human history have eventually done just that. It's silver and gold that cannot depreciate forever. Furthermore, these spokesmen from the large banks and brokers are always revising upwards their estimates of silver's future prices, and it's always behind where silver ends up going; I've seen this pattern for the last eight years now. Since when have the large banks or brokers called silver right? When did they advise you to ever get into this market to make several hundred percent since 2001? They never did. And now they want you to sell? They always want you to sell.

Financial uncertainty, which has underpinned precious metals since last August is to some extent becoming less important to investors seeking the higher returns stocks and bonds offer.
Stocks and bonds offering higher returns? Since when? Only if you go back 30 years, but not the last 8. The Dow/Gold ratio topped out in 2001 at about 56 and has narrowed down to about 14 now that gold has hit about $900.

With a weakened case for holding precious metals, prices have started to slip. Spot gold is now around $893 an ounce compared with a record high of $1,030.80 on March 17 and silver at $17 from a 27-year high of $21.24.

Weakened case for holding precious metals? What weakened case? They made no case. They didn't even get the facts right. The current dip in silver is probably the bottom, and now is probably the best time to buy!

Goldman Sachs recently said it expects to see gold prices at $835 an ounce in 12 months and silver at around $15.50.
Here's another investment bank revising their estimates upwards again, but making bearish calls. Hilarious. Pathetic. Bullish!

From the end of last year to March 17, silver prices surged by more than 40 percent, while gold was up more than 20 percent. Silver's heftier gains were built on investor flows.
Absolutely. Investment demand for silver surged from 5% of annual mine supply to maybe about 8-10% of annual mine supply, we'll see soon.

Barclays iShares silver trust, the biggest silver exchange traded fund listed in the United States, now holds more than 5,770 tonnes of silver, a rise of about 10 percent since the end of last year.
Gold holdings by New York-listed StreetTracks Gold Shares, the world's biggest gold Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), stand at 591 tonnes, down about 5 percent since end-December.
I agree with those stats, but look at what they mean. With gold trading at about 50 times the price of silver, and the gold ETF holding more than 1/10th of the tonnes of the silver ETF, it means that about 5 times as many investment dollars went into the gold ETF.

"Silver is probably going to fall more than gold in percentage terms," said Wolfgang Wrzesniok-Rossbach, head of sales at German metals trading group Heraeus.
"From an industrial and jewelry point of view, there has clearly been a decline in demand. There has been a lot of additional material coming to the market in the form of scrap."
This "German metals trading group Heraeus" is not said to be either long or short. They could very well have short positions, and just inventing things. They appear to be a silver user, at first glance here:

More than 20,000 tonnes of silver were produced globally last year compared with around 2,500 tonnes of gold.
I agree with those stats. What is not said is that 160% of gold mine supply is purchased by investors each year or about 4,000 tonnes of gold. In stark contrast, about .07% of silver mine supply is purchased by investors each year, about 1,555 tonnes, or about 50 million ounces.

The surplus in the physical silver market is expected by some analysts to rise to around 2,500 tonnes from a surplus of around 900 tonnes in 2007. The physical gold market could see a surplus this year of 600 tonnes from 500 tonnes last year.

There is no such thing as a "surplus" of precious metal. This is an accounting term, used to designate demand by investors.
"Fundamentals come into play when prices are coming down," said John Reade, analyst at UBS. "Silver doesn't have gold's fundamentals."
Exactly. Silver does not have gold's fundamentals, silver's are much better. With industry consuming more silver than is mined each year, any slight increase in investor demand for silver will continue to drive silver's prices upwards, and make a mockery of all of wall street and all they do and all they have to offer. This is why they must band together, to write lying foolishness against silver as they do. This can only be an indication of them feeling pain in the silver market, not being able to coax out any supply from investors after having bombed the price in the last few weeks. The silver shortage is continuing with many coin shops still very low on silver supplies, as investor selling by the public, which was a large part of recycling supply, has changed since gold hit $1,000/oz., and now must be putting the squeeze on all of wall street, who are probably carrying a collective short position in silver.

Silver is often a byproduct of other metals such as lead, zinc and copper, where miners are trying to ramp up production with some success.
Funny theory. True, about 70% of silver production is as a by-product of the base metals. I just read that Chile, who produces 40% of the world's copper, is ramping down copper production due to a power crisis. And several more trusted analysts in our industry have finally turned bullish on copper recently.

That means more silver on the market and together with scrap recycling, supplies are set to jump this year, while overall demand, including that from ETFs is expected to fall.
Why would they project demand from silver ETFs to fall? That would be quite a change. It's rather hard to predict such changes; it's usually more likely that things will stay the same, with ever increased demand from the silver ETFs.

"Silver is very dependent on one source of demand -- ETFs.
That's not true. Silver prices will go up even without new investor demand, due to the overwhelming fundamentals that there is so little investment demand at all.
You can't get excited about silver in the same way as gold. Silver doesn't really have the same cachet," Briggs said.

Now that's true. Silver has absolutely no cachet. As I wrote above: 160% of gold mine supply is purchased by investors each year or about 4,000 tonnes of gold. In stark contrast, about .07% of silver mine supply is purchased by investors each year, about 1555 tonnes, or about 50 million ounces. So, how much money is spent on gold vs. silver each year?

Silver: 50 million oz. x $17/oz. = $850 million.
Gold: 4,000 tonnes x 32,151oz/tonne = 128.6 million oz. x $900/oz. = $115,743 million, or $115 billion.

Thus, 136 times as much money is spent on gold, than silver, by investors each year. Silver has absolutely no cachet, true, so true. And yet, the fundamentals are so much better, precisely due to that lower investor demand. When investors get educated about silver, they buy hand over fist, and create shortages at major coin shops around the world.

"Demand from the photographic sector has been falling fast ... It's no longer an important source of demand." For gold, the picture is somewhat different. Mine production is expected to hold steady this year, but analysts expect output in South Africa, a major producer, to fall over coming years because the ore that remains is deep and expensive to access.
Wow. What a totally biased statement, telling half truths that are totally irrelevant to silver vs. gold. These guys must either know nothing, or be intentionally trying to hammer silver prices. Silver's declining photography demand is being offset by rising industrial demand and the tiny increase in the tiny investor demand.

Fabrication demand -- jewelry and coins -- is expected to continue unabated as rising incomes in emerging market countries such as China and India allow people to choose gold over silver.
More hatchet jobs against silver are expected, while they continue to say that silver prices will be expected to fall, while silver prices actually rise. The reason that the establishment will not tell you to buy silver is because they don't have any. The investment demand is so tiny, they hardly have any silver at all, and have never been able to enter the market in any size. How can wall street establishments, who receive bail outs by the Fed, to the tune of $20 billion dollars at a time, buy any silver when the silver market is swamped by less than $1 billion of investor demand annually?

Be fruitful, multiply and you will see through the lies. Buy silver. They lie. - Jason Hommel

Fred The Valmet-meister relayed this bit of bad news: Berkshire Hathaway's quarterly net profits dropped 64 percent because of derivatives losses

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Norman in England sent us this: India feels the heat as thousands riot over power cuts

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Ron D. flagged this article: What happens when oil is no longer priced in US Dollars

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Gulf States may end the dollar peg. (Thanks to Samuel K. for the link.)

"History is a vast early warning system." - Norman Cousins

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I heard from SurvivalBlog reader Lawrence W. that the "James Wesley Rawles" Wikipedia biography has been exhumed from the graveyard of political incorrectness and is once again being debated. If you are an experienced Wikipedia editor (read: you've had a Wikipedia account for at least a year), and you'd like to comment on the deletion of the article one way or the other, then please chime in, politely. If you are not an experienced wiki editor, then please refrain from commenting, or it will do more harm than good.

Mr. Rawles,
Did you ever have one of those awakenings where the paradigm you have been living under suddenly shifts and you see things you never saw before (or have learned to filter out as you “matured”)? I am personally experiencing one of those times in my life and I have you to thank for it. Let me bore you a little with my background before I explain how your novel, "Patriots" brought me out of my Rip Van Winkle existence and into the glaring light of my current situation.

I caught the “survival bug” early on as a result of my participation in [Boy] Scouting and later through Army ROTC (I can relate very well to the ROTC Basic Camp experience of the character in your book, having humped up and down Agony and Misery at Fort Knox in 1983 myself). I started some halfhearted preps but then life happened. A marriage, a career as a paramedic, then as a Physician Assistant and now a consultant. I have four kids, a mortgage, and life in the 'burbs. That has a way of lulling you into the kind passivity that makes the shadow of the valley of death seem ominously close.

Recent events in our economy, our government and the looming elections with nary a trustworthy candidate have left me restless and seeking. As a result of this I stumbled across your book and read it with great interest. My wife is reading it now and has come to the same conclusion I had – we are not ready for what is coming.

Which brings me to the point of my e-mail: My wife and I need to connect with like-minded individuals in our area – we need to join a group. However, finding a group is proving to be difficult at best. We have skills to offer, we are rapidly building up our preps and we are studying all we can - but we realize now the need to align ourselves with others who can help us learn and grow and work together if/when the Schumer hits the fan.

Do you have any suggestions for us on how we might locate/contact groups in our area (North Texas) who may be looking for members? Thank you for any assistance you can give – and thank you for your book and blog. - Matt W.

JWR Replies: I get one or two e-mails like yours every day. They all ask, in essence: "How do I find like-minded people that I can team up with, in my area?" I usually offer two suggestions:

1.) Wear a SurvivalBlog logo T-shirt or hat around town, or on trips to the shooting range and gun shows. They make a great conversation starter. I have had several readers write to tell me that they found some great friends this way.

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

Needless to say, use discretion when using these services. As prepared individuals, 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. Proceed with prayer!

On the subject of limiting cooking aromas, there is a cooking technique that has been catching on lately in this country. Sous Vide cooking, which means "Under Water", started in France by using food placed in vacuum sealed bags and then placing them in hot water (160-to-185 degrees Fahrenheit) for a long period of time. Here's a link describing the method:

Many recipes can be found on sites such as the one offered by Food Network, or type "Sous Vide Recipes" in the search engine of your preference.

This method is used in large food operations, such as the casino company that I currently work for. We provide food in this manner for five large resorts out of one kitchen. I have used this method, in a much smaller scale, on my excursions into un-named wilderness areas with much success.

The important thing to remember after pulling the food from the hot water: if you will not be eating the food immediately it is absolutely imperative to cool the bags of cooked food as quickly as possible to prohibit bacteria growth. This is easily accomplished by using an ice bath. Your vacuum packed, cooked food will keep for weeks this way and even longer if frozen after cooling.

I hope this helps. - Desert T (An "old school" trained chef)


Mr. Rawles;

Some cooking smells can be avoided by covered pit cooking in clay pots. Take hot coals from your fire and layer them in a hole about 12 to 18 inches deep, take your food and season, wrap in foil or place in a covered clay pot. Of course use a large thermometer to gauge temperature to cook to [the proper] food specifications. Regards, - TD

Reader EG mentioned this Science in Africa article: Make your own 220 Volt [AC] backup power supply Of course the same principles apply to readers in countries with 120 VAC utility power, by substituting a 120 VAC inverter and the appropriate prong pattern plugs and jacks.

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Ian and John M. both mentioned this Wired article: Survival Gear That's Just Crazy Enough to Work

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I just noticed that we surpassed te threshold of 3.3 million unique visits. Thank you so much for making SurvivalBlog such a resounding success! Please continue spreading a the word. Just adding a "Read May Save Your Life!" blurb to your e-mail footer would help tremendously in growing our readership. Many thanks!

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Ronald D. suggested this think piece on the implications of Euro-denominated crude oil: Paper Tiger

"If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers." - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, May 2, 2008

Do you have ay favorite quotes that relate to survival or preparedness? Please e-mail them to me for possible selection as a SurvivalBlog Quote of the Day. Thanks!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
As I was divesting of the useless flotsam one sees as a hindrance to true preparedness, I was inspired to list my trinkets on eBay. (Now, for all those who have a hatred for eBay [because of their anti-gun policies] , this is a separate issue.) I also have a PayPal account. That is another stumbling block to some. But for those of us who are still making the transition to becoming prepared citizens (from their former place in the herd of sheeple), this may be a very viable opportunity. Please hear me out!

So, you sell your trash on EBay and get a [positive] PayPal “cash balance”. Fees notwithstanding, this “cash balance” spends like “cyber cash” with vendors who accept PayPal, if “cash” is such a thing in cyber space, but again, that is not my point here. It is a means to an end. Nothing more.

And we should all agree that there is no point in using credit to stock up. So my solution is turn trash into cash and then cash into stash!

Fir example Honeyville Grain accepts PayPal and sells brown rice, wheat, flour, and the food grade buckets and Oxygen absorbers to store it all--nearly anything you could want. And here is the kicker: they charge a flat fee of $ 4.95, regardless of the size of your order!

I know it is not as simple as a trip down to your local COSTCO, but we have seen how that works lately. The prices may not be dirt cheap, but for a person who is home bound, in a difficult geographical area (high rise dweller), or at a distance to supplies, you can sell useless white elephant trash on eBay, print postage right off your computer, the mailman comes and gets it, you earn a “cash balance” in your PayPal account, you order your food, and it comes to your door. "Easy peasy."

I do hope that the ambivalence some feel toward eBay and Paypal will not stand in the way of your sharing what may well be a very useful tool for someone who needs creative solutions for preparedness in this fast changing situation. Most kindly, and Semper Fidelis - Laura C. in Virginia
P.S.: My friend the former Marine calls me “Caroline Ingalls, Olivia Walton, and Sarah Conner all rolled into one!”

JWR Replies: Keep in mind that Honeyville's prices (pr pound) tend to be higher, since they "build in" the shipping costs to their prices. Also note that several SurvivalBlog advertisers accept payment via PayPal for non-gun related merchandise.

Dear Jim:
In one of the latest posts you mentioned Idaho County, Idaho in regards to population density. What are your thoughts about buying on [Indian Tribal] reservation land? This applying in generally to any reservations, but also in particular to those in Idaho. I know folks in the area and they do not speak favorably [of buying land inside of reservation boundaries] as the Native Americans are free to cross their land, hunt on it, etc where the people who own the land cannot do anything about it.
Thanks a lot, Mike D.

JWR Replies: I describe Idaho retreat locales as well as tribal reservation boundary lines (and related issues, such as hunting, fishing, casinos, and the additional law enforcement jurisdictional layer) in detail, in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation."

Also, take a look at this SurvivalBlog post that I made in June of 2006.

Do you know a place to get a cheap yet reliable FAL rifle? I am looking for one on a budget preferably under $400 or so. I would greatly appreciate help and i like your blog. Thanks, -- Derek

JWR Replies: Unfortunately, because the supply of parts sets has dried up, the price of US Code Section 922(r)-compliant FAL clones is starting to rise. The heyday of FAL clone building was a couple of years ago, when parts sets were cheap and plentiful. The prices then bottomed at about $500. Those days are gone!

Here is some background on pricing: US-made FAL receivers sell for $300 to $450. (That is just for a stripped receiver with sem-auto ejector block.) FAL Parts kits are starting to get scarce (because of the recent Federal ban on parts sets that include barrels), so those kits sell for $220 to $450, depending on maker and condition. (The days of $95 parts kits are long gone.) A set of 922(r) compliance US-made "HTS" (hammer, trigger, and sear) parts is $55. Assembly and headspacing by a gunsmith is $75+. And with refinishing included, assembly is more often $185+. The very lowest price that I have seen FAL clones sell for is about $600 (used, at a gun show), and $800+ is more typical. (Add at least $100 for an "inch pattern" (L1A1) variant.) Some of the nicer DSA-made FAL clones now sell for $2,400. For more details, see the forums. There, in particular see the Marketplace Forum and their Gunsmithing & Build-It-Yourself Forum. For additional background information, also see my FAQ on FAL and L1A1 rifles.

With the decline of the dollar versus the Euro, I only expect FAL prices to rise. In the upcoming recession, you might stumble into a bargain, as cash-strapped owners sell guns in order to pay their bills. But don't count on that. Buy a FAL clone soon! I anticipate they will be at least $1,000 within a year.

Mr. Rawles:
I checked the archives as well as your advertisers for the NATO-style metal ratchet clamp style fuel cans that NC Bluedog recommends, no luck. Do you know of any sources for this product. The Scepter brand jerry can that Ready Made Resources sells are great, but owning 20 of those cans becomes cost prohibitive. Keep up the great work. - PN

JWR Replies: Try searching on "German Army Gas Can", since most of the NATO specification gas cans are German (Bundeswehr) military surplus. OBTW, beware of the French Army surplus cans that use a different type filler neck. The necks for those are scarce!

I anticipate that a larger supply of the new US military fuel can (MFC) design (a.k.a. Scepter) cans will hit the civilian market in the next year or two--either as contract over-runs, or possibly as military surplus. If and when that happens, prices should drop.

For more details on specifications (with photos) see the excellent fuel can article posted at Survival Monkey.

Major Surplus or Cheaper Than Dirt might still have some of the NATO (German) cans in stock.

NC Bluedog just posted about the storage of gasoline. I've got a tested method for long term storage of 93 octane gasoline:

I've found that BP-Amoco 93 octane ("clear") with 4 oz Sta-Bil in 5 gallons stores for 8 plus years with no degradation. I've opened gas stored since 1998 and it was as clear as new, smelled great. The key is to use NATO type 5 gallon steel Jerry cans with good seals (mine are from Sportsman's Guide and Cheaper Than Dirt). I've also found replacement can seals from Army Surplus Warehouse in Montana.

Never store gasoline for longer than a few months in plastic cans - those cans are oxygen permeable. Even without stabilizer I've found the Amoco clear stores much longer than other brands. I'd recommend not storing ethanol blends; here in Pennsylvania, BP-Amoco still does not blend alcohol in their fuels. Fill the cans to the bottom of the filler opening to limit air space. The can sides actually pull in over time as I believe the gas absorbs the oxygen in the remaining air space. This type of gas storage is do-able for homeowners with small outside sheds,--those who cannot reasonably have underground tanks. And a few cans of gas could make all the difference getting to your retreat.

I've found that the best way to pour gas from a can into a car fuel tank is to use a narrow 5/8 inch neck (for the unleaded nozzle opening), 17" long, 5 inch wide mouth funnel. Mine is made by Blitz in black plastic and available from Wal-Mart I have always had leak problems with the clamp-on steel nozzles. It takes a little patience (don't pour too fast), but you can get the whole can into the tank. The NATO can mouth fits fully into the funnel mouth, so you can tip it way up to get the last of the gas out of the can. The funnel dries quickly, too. - BFE

Reuters reports: Investors see recession, Wall Street depression

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Shortages Threaten Farmers’ Key Tool: Fertilizer

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Thank to RBS for sending this link: Americans unload prized belongings to make ends meet

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Now the mainstream media is not just reporting on food storage, they're publishing "how to" tips! See this ABC News piece: Time to Stockpile Food? --A Guide to Preparing for Rising Food Costs or That Next Big Emergency.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after The sweetness of low pricing is forgotten!” - Leon M. Cautillo

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Today we present another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Given that liquid fuel costs are climbing dramatically, and likely to continue rising, I would like to share some of the practices for fuel storage we employ. For our homestead, liquid fuel equates to four items, namely: Propane, diesel fuel, kerosene and last but not least gasoline. For each fuel, there are specific uses, distinct storage requirements and longevity considerations. Let me discuss each in order:

The primary furnace in our house runs on propane. Currently, we use electricity for water heating and cooking. Our annual propane usage is between 500 to 800 gallons per year depending on the weather and how much wood we burn in the small heating stove in the living room. My goal when we bought the house was to have one year of supply, so I had installed two 500 gallon (nominal water capacity) above ground propane tanks (800 gallon capacity at 80% fill). I have the tanks filled during the (typical) summer price drop. Below grade tanks, while preferable for several reasons (ballistic protection etc.), are problematic (i.e. expensive) because of the rocky soil and high water table. Nonetheless, I would like to expand my capacity to two years, and will likely bear the excavation expense and install a 1000 gallon underground tank as well. For the grill and portable propane appliances (stove, lights etc.), we keep a supply of 20 and 40 pound tanks available. Small one pound propane bottles are refilled from these tanks. (Note: US DOT regulations prohibit transporting refilled “disposable” cylinders). Storage life is not of concern with propane, but price and availability are of paramount importance.

Diesel fuel is used on our homestead for the generator when the power fails and for the tractor. My little tractor just sips fuel and only uses about 20 gallons per year (mowing etc.). Our storage capacity consists of a 100 gallon “belly” tank on the generator and a 275 gallon fuel oil tank (i.e. heating oil tank) set up beside the generator shack. This leads to the problem of low use during normal times, where longevity is of concern, and problems with fuel transfer between the tanks. Diesel fuel, being lightly refined, has a relatively long storage life (5-10 years reported) if properly cared for. This includes relatively stable temperature, commercial fuel preservative/algaecide (I prefer Pri-D) and above all else keeping it dry. Again, underground storage would provide the stable temperature, but rocky soil and US EPA regulations have precluded me from doing that. Water is the big problem. Humidity condensing inside the tank collects in the bottom under the diesel fuel (oil-water layer) and provides a nice environment for oil eating micro-organisms. These little bugs make acid (anaerobic metabolism or vinegar fermentation) which will destroy the metal tank and other byproducts which clog filters and injectors. An algaecide limits this but removing the water is even better. To provide for this and allow fuel transfer, I set up a plumber’s nightmare of supply and return lines with valves to a water-separating filter and a fuel-oil circulating pump. The pump is rated at 45 gallons per hour (GPH) and was bought on-line (~$100) and the filter was bought at the local farm supply. The pump runs on 12 VDC and draws only 2 Amps off the generator starting battery. Since this pump only runs part-time, a 1.5 A trickle charger makes up for the difference during down times. Diesel powered boat owners call this “diesel fuel polishing”. My supply lines are set up at the low side of the tank, so water will preferentially be pumped out of the tank. About once a month, I set up a “polishing” operation during the weekend, letting each tank circulate for 24 hours each. Every year I add an appropriate amount of Pri-D to each tank. Fuel transfer at 45 GPH is relatively slow, but it only takes 7 minutes to fill the 5 gallon portable tank for my tractor. Any transfer between tanks needs to be watched closely so you don’t overfill the receiving tank. While the generator will siphon its own fuel while running, by adjusting the valves one can provide a little pressure feed to the injector pump and polish at the same time. I would like to increase our storage capacity of diesel fuel for more reserve generator use, but in the absence of a diesel powered vehicle, our annual consumption would not permit enough rotation to keep the fuel usable.

Kerosene is used in our homestead for the portable kerosene heater, Aladdin lamps (power failures) and in real hard times the Prize stove. Annual use is 10 to 20 gallons per year during normal times. Our storage capacity consists of a 50 gallon drum and ten 5 gallon jugs kept in a dry room in the barn. I prefer the round drum-shaped jugs since they are stackable. Kerosene, like diesel fuel, is lightly refined and has an approximately 5-to-10 year shelf life if stored properly. To keep the fuel rotated, I use a bulb siphon pump attached to a 4 foot piece of copper tubing that I can place in the drum and siphon from the bottom. This permits removal of any moisture collected in the drum. The transferred fuel is drained into a 5 gallon jug for routine use. The height difference from the drum to the jug permits siphon action without hand pumping, so long as the drum is nearly full. New replacement fuel is added to the drum as needed.

Gasoline storage is a real problem. First, it is volatile and very dangerous to handle. Second, it is the one of the most commonly used liquid fuels at our homestead. Third, its storage life is extremely limited. And fourth, it is desirable to have a portable supply in a Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.)scenario. These are competing and contradictory considerations. During normal times, our use is between 7 and 10 gallons per week (350 – 500 gallons per year). For normal use, 6 months would be considered a typical shelf life, but this can be extended for up to a year with a good stabilizer (I prefer Pri-G). Gasoline stored longer may be usable but problematic. Problems include filter and injector/venturi port clogging and loss of volatility (may require starting ether). The most difficult aspect is keeping the fuel rotated, since if you store fuel but continue to fill up your vehicle at the pump, the stored fuel is never rotated. To address this problem, I have a tiered system of storage. Weekly use of gasoline comes from a supply of 5 gallon gas cans (currently 20). I strongly prefer the metal NATO ratchet clamp style. Consumer quality plastic jugs are just far too fragile in my opinion and the newer military specification HDPE jugs too expensive. Don’t waste your money on surplus or old style “Jerry” (Blitz) cans. I have never had one that did not leak while pouring, even brand new ones. The NATO style cans may be stacked and even laid on their sides without leaking. They are tough enough to handle a GOOD situation in the back of a pickup. When emptied, these portable tanks are filled from two 100 gallon “transfer” tanks in a fixed location. Fuel transfer is handled in a similar manner to the diesel fuel setup except that the pump is more expensive since it is rated for gasoline. The fuel is also pumped through a water separating and particulate filter. These tanks are periodically refilled from a transfer tank in the back of the pickup. The routine is as follows: Weekly, I top off all vehicles with portable containers. Since full, the vehicles store more than 100 gallons total. These 5 gallon cans are refilled, to keep an additional 100 gallons in easily portable containers. About once every two months, I fill the transfer tank in the truck with added Pri-G stabilizer and refill the “fixed” transfer tanks in storage. This provides me with 400 gallons of stabilized fuel in constant rotation with my nadir being 320 gallons, when it is time to buy more gasoline. All gasoline is in a well ventilated “shed” and weather/sun protected. There are several nearby fire extinguishers.

Besides the above “four-horsemen” of liquid fuels, we keep some additional fuels available. There is a supply of liquid paraffin for odorless burning in the oil lamps. Any oil lamp we keep filled with fuel for immediate access has liquid paraffin in it since it doesn’t vaporize and “disappear” leaving wick-killing varnish like kerosene does. There is also some mineral spirits for the Prize stove (mineral spirits was the original fuel for oil lamps and stoves prior to the “invention” of kerosene). Additionally, we keep some naphtha (white gas/Coleman fuel) despite the fact that all of our gas appliances/lanterns are “dual fuel”. I do this because it provides for the best longevity for the “generator tube” in these appliances and may be a good barter item for people using white gas only appliances. These could be considered part of the respective kerosene/gasoline inventory, but I consider them as un-inventoried extras.

Fuel storage is problematic because the fuels mostly needed during TEOTWAWKI, namely diesel fuel (for electricity generation and tractor use) and kerosene (for heating, lighting and cooking) are the most infrequently used during routine times. Our homestead gasoline consumption will likely drop dramatically in bad times. Propane storage is mostly an economic and availability issue since the furnace won’t run without electricity and we can heat (at least part of our house) with wood or kerosene. By limiting he running of the generator, we should have close to a years’ worth of diesel fuel. Aladdin lamps use about a pint of fuel for 8 hours, so 100 gallons of kerosene may keep us with light for up to a year. Gasoline storage should be adequate for up to the useful storage life of the fuel.

I have tried to strike a balance between annual consumption, storage capacity, rotation and shelf life in my planning. Basic information would include baseline consumption data for your homestead, anticipated consumption in bad times and available storage mechanisms or space. Running these calculations for your own situation will be enlightening and encourage you toward further preparation.

If and when you find yourself tapping into your survival food, consider that the change in diet may have some unexpected effects.
As an example, I recently increased my protein intake, then noticed a pain in my foot. I thought at first it was just an injury from training (jumping out of a moving car is a little tricky). Later I realized it might be gout. Four gallons of cherry juice later it's gone and it set me to thinking, how might my food cache effect me.

I think the main concerns with stored food would be as follows:

Food Allergies. High wheat intake could lead to allergic reactions that could range from mucus to irritability, fatigue and disturbed digestion.

Constipation. All that dehydrated/freeze dried food has a minimum water content.

Aflotoxins. If you have mold growing on your food, this can create allergic and in extreme cases, toxic reactions. Cooking will not get rid of these toxins as they are not alive (infectious) but chemical in nature. You may be able to see them fluoresce with an ultraviolet light (pen type lights are available) but even in a dark room you may not see faint color. There are some ideas on the Internet about washing in various solutions to get rid of the toxins.

Vitamin deficiencies. While minerals will stay in stored food, vitamins and possibly amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) will deteriorate over time.

Here are two sites that discuss some of the symptoms. (There are many others):
Real Time

How might you increase your vitamin intake after the crash? I already wrote in SurvivalBlog about sprouting grains. Here's another idea: Fermentation. Consider making yogurt and beer. Both types of fermentation increase vitamin levels, specifically the B vitamins. Beer has the added advantages of being able to lower stress and is a something we can barter with. On the other hand, alcohol lowers vitamin C level. - SF in Hawaii

Dear JWR;
A week ago, I did the first big spring mowing with a push mower "for the exercise" (3 acres). The next morning, my knee was swollen, wouldn't bend, and the pain was breathtaking.
I'm now down to limping around with a cane, and should be fine in a few more days.
I discovered a weakness in my first-aid preparedness the hard way: I had no crutches, canes, or aids to mobility for the injured.

I now own a fine set of crutches, two durable walking canes/livestock sticks, and have a Cold Steel Heavy Duty Sword Cane on the way. I'll be looking for a folding wheel chair at the spring flea market this month. I discovered that both of pharmacies in my nearest town give away new cane tips to anyone that asks. This may common, but surprised me.

Would you, or any of the Medicos in the forum have any recommendations on knee/elbow/shoulder braces, stretchers, gurneys, etc? My search of the archives did not generate specific brands or preferred features to shop for. Thanks in advance! - Mike on the Reservation

JWR Replies: I have found that Craig's List, garage sales, and estate sales are the best sources of inexpensive (or even free) used "hard " medical items. (Garage sales in retirement communities are wonderful.) If you have the storage space available, buy plenty, since they are often available for pennies on the dollars. Don't overlook items like walkers, wheelchairs, toilet seat extensions, bed pans, "potty" chairs, bed linens, and hospital beds. (For the latter, look for the old-fashioned hand-crank variety.). You never know when someone at your retreat or a neighbor will become, sick, injured, or wounded, and require lengthy rehabilitation or even long term (chronic) care.

Count me as another check mark to add to the "switch to XD" category.

I know several shooters who've made the switch from [Model] 1911 [pistols] to the [Springfield Armory] XD with almost no issues. Most of them shoot equally well or better with the XD.

In my experience, Model 1911s are just too prone to fail. We see too many here at the Un-named Shooting School take a dive. Virtually no Glocks or XDs have mechanical failures, though.

Good Providence! - The Pioche Professional Polymer Pistolero (PPPP).

JWR Adds: PPPP is the pseudonym for a SurvivalBlog correspondent that is an instructor at a well-known firearms training academy. I trust PPPP's accumulated wisdom and experience. He has worked with many hundreds of pistol shooting students, and has seen all manner of weaponry with and without all of the popular modifications. He knows from experience what works, and what doesn't. He has seen what breaks, and what is "bomb proof."

There are M1911 aficionados, and there are Glock aficionados. For many years I was a dyed-in-the wool M1911 kinda guy. But I could see the wisdom of the Glock revolution. Their reliability is astounding, and their magazine capacity is superior to a M1911. (Well, aside from the ParaOrdnance double stack M1911s.) My only complaints about Glocks were A.) their lack of an external safety, and B.) their uncomfortable grips. The latter can be altered by a gunsmith. (The grips can be re-countoured ("reduced") by machining to be slimmer, and the grip angle can be improved a bit.) But recently, the Springfield "Extreme Duty" (XD) pistols hit the market, and in my estimation they are "the best of both worlds." It combines the advantages of a polymer frame and the high capacity of the Glock with the same grip angle as a M1911, (which provides natural pointing for most shooters), and the .45 ACP Service Model variant has an external safety! Bonus points to the designers! (Call me a dinosaur, but I like external safeties.) If you are already a trained Glockophile, you can either get can XD without the thumb safety lever, or simply get in the habit of not touching it--since you can rely on just the "in-the-trigger" safety--the .45 ACP Service Model XD has both safeties.

I recommend that if you are interested in getting an XD pistol, you should take advantage of Front Sight's very generous "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer. It is available only for a limited time, so don't hesitate. And again, if you are a Rawlesian, you should specify the XD-45 model.

From Reader CSG: Energy crunch forces Juneau to conserve

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Jesse sent this: "Doomsday Clock" Moves Two Minutes Closer To Midnight

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Mark in Michigan flagged this article about Nanny State meddling: Canada's C-51 Law May Outlaw 60% of Natural Health Products

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A couple of articles that I found linked at Drudge: Worst UK house price slide since 1996 raises negative equity fears. And meanwhile in the US: Disappearing now: $6 trillion in housing wealth

"The [crude oil] prices are high due to the recession in the United States and the economic crisis, which has touched several countries, a situation that has an effect on the value of the dollar. Each time the dollar falls one percent, the price of the barrel rises by $4 and of course vice versa." - OPEC President Chakib Khelil (April, 2008)

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