June 2008 Archives

Monday, June 30, 2008

The re-launch of SurvivalRealty.com (our spin-off web site) is now in progress. If you are looking for retreat property, then check it out! OBTW, if you know of anyone that has a retreat-worthy property for sale, please let them know that free ads are available for the first month, and thereafter, they will cost just $1 per day! Both real estate agents and "For Sale By Owner" advertisers are welcome.

Dear Jim and Memsahib,
I have been discussing preparedness lately with several of my close friends. One of the things that has aided me in winning friends over to being preparedness minded is your book. Usually, once loaned to a guy, the fellow sees how plausible something like that really is and they begin to prepare. The problem is this; overwhelmingly we find have trouble with our wives. My wife, for example, says please don’t talk to me about that stuff; just tell me to get in the car when its time to go and I’ll go. She tolerates my extra purchases and the buckets in various stages of filling, but she doesn’t like to talk about preparedness. I even present it all as a message of hope, as an idea of peace in the midst of the storm from a God given common sense to prepare (Proverbs 6:6). I tell her that I do this so that we can be okay and help others. She still doesn’t want to talk about it. Several of my other friends have had similar experiences. I have been wondering what we can do. No offense, but they generally have little or no interest in reading your book, partly because it is overwhelmingly male in its tone (thanks for that). But the tactical speak, and all of the military acronyms drive the cover shut in my experience.

So, my request is that the Memsahib writes or has ghost written, a book on preparedness and survivalism from a woman’s point of view. You know, something to bring out that prepared mother instinct in these ladies. Please help before we are all sleeping on stacks of buckets!

Thanks for the consideration, - Trevor

The Memsahib Replies: First, you need to be thankful that your wife trusts you and trusts your judgment about the state of the world. Many people are in complete denial. Many people contend that our nation will always be a super power and we will always be able to give our children a better life than we had. She probably has family members and friends that are telling her that your belief in the fragility of society is silly or downright whacko. Be thankful your wife is willing to trust your judgment even if it goes against her parents, her siblings, and her best friends.

Be thankful that your wife trusts your judgment so much that "she tolerates my extra purchases and the buckets in various stages of filling." Many other preppers are married to spouses who resent any part of the family budget being spent on storage food or tactical gear.

Your chief complaint is that your wife "doesn’t want to talk about it." Let me explain why she and many other wives don't want to talk about it. Your wife's greatest drive is for the happiness and prospering of her children. When you talk survival as a man you are thinking in terms of the big picture. It is a challenge and you will prove your manhood by surviving. But, when you talk of survival to your wife. She is thinking specifically how your dark future is going to impact her babies! She has dreams for her babies for a hope and a future. How is the storybook wedding that she dreams of for her daughter going to happen in TEOTWAWKI? How are her sons going to find sweet Christian brides when you all are living in a bunker?! What about her fantasy of a family vacation with all her grandchildren to Hawaii? Will there even be commercial flights in your vision of the future? When you talk of survivalism you are dashing all her cherished dreams for the future. She might follow your headship to prepare for the gritty life you envision. But, she would rather not talk about it. She must live in her hope that the future for her darlings won't be the struggle to survive that you foretell.

You say, "I even present it all as a message of hope, as an idea of peace in the midst of the storm from a God given common sense to prepare." And she thinks "how can there be hope and peace in your survivalist future?" She knows Jesus said, "For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed [are] the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck." (Luke 23:29). No, she cannot see any hope and peace for her beloved children in the days that you say are coming.

Trevor, the bottom line is: She is not a man and if you keep expecting her to react like a man you will do one of two things. You will either drive her into a state of depression, or you will so alienate her that she will completely reject all preparations.

Thank your wife for trusting your judgment, and get some male friends talk "gloom and doom" and "Ain't it awful" with! Sincerely, - The Memsahib

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I wanted to tell you a personal experience I just had at the bank that scares me to death. If you think a bank can last a few days during a bank run, then you will be very surprised by my story.

I wanted to withdraw $10,000 from a JP Morgan Chase Bank branch in a local Houston [, Texas] suburb. Chase is the second largest bank in the US and Houston is the fourth largest city in the US. I went in and said: “Can I please have my money?” The teller disappeared for 10 minutes and then came back, and told me to my surprise that “We don’t carry that much cash on hand”. I was shocked. I said: “Are you kidding me?” She went on to explain that, even though this was a payday weekend at the end of the month (which means they have more cash on hand than usual), if I took that amount from them, they would be completely out of cash in a few hours. They suggested that I travel seven miles to a larger local Chase branch and ask them.

So, I drove over to the larger Chase branch. When I got there, they had only one teller working (now think about the implications of one teller working during a bank run with hundreds of people in line). After waiting in line for 10 minutes, I walked up to the teller and asked her for the amount. She then told me that she would have to go into the vault to see if they had enough money there! Now this is getting scary because I was starting to think that I might not get my cash – and this isn’t even a bank run! She came back with the cash and gave it to me, but then told me that I need to call ahead next time for that amount. Hmmm… $10,000 just isn’t that great an amount and now I need to call ahead?

I wanted to tell you this story because the implications are very scary: the second largest bank in the USA in the fourth largest metropolitan area only has enough cash on hand to allow one depositor to empty his/her account. A bank run in the USA would only last five minutes because only a handful of people will be able to get their money out [in cash].

Needless to say, I am getting all my money out, ASAP. - W.D.in Texas

Mr. Rawles,
On June 27, 2008 the following Associated Press headline was on Yahoo Finance: After-tax incomes and spending show big gains. "The millions of economic stimulus payments gave a massive jolt to household finanances (sic) in May, sending after-tax incomes up by the largest amount in 33 years."

Q: Does borrowing money from the next two generations, while saddling our grandkids with principal and interest repayment obligations to foreign countries really now count as "after tax income"?

A: Not to regular SurvivalBlog readers.

Regards, - Kevin A.

JWR Replies: Those with the Big Government mindset would answer: "Oh, but we just owe it to ourselves!" Or as J. Wellington Wimpy, from the Popeye comic strip would say: ""I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!"

FWIW, I'm planning to spend my IRS "stimulus" check on some more full capacity magazines (aka "high capacity" in the liberal lexicon) and some .45 ACP ammunition, while they are still somewhat affordable.

Hi Jim,
I was just reading your very excellent SurvivalBlog [post on the Heller decision] this morning. A great site you have.

Regarding Mr. Gura, don’t be too hard on him because he appeared to throw machine guns under the bus at oral argument. I believe that Gura made a tactical decision not to discuss machine guns because he knew that, for now, the machine gun issue was a loser of an argument, and would distract from a more important first step: getting the Second Amendment declared as an individual right. Now that the court has declared (as those of us who can read plain English have known all along) that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, we can work toward machine guns and carrying weapons for self-defense outside the home.

Besides, if you look at what Gura actually argued (quoted in your post), Gura does not say that constitutional protections don’t apply to machine guns, he merely repeats what US v. Miller has already stated, that if weapons are show to be not normally in use by the Militia, then we might not have a right to these. But machine guns are in use by militia members. Just go to Knob Creek every Fall and check out the action at the Machine Gun Shoot. Moreover, as you noted, government can’t illegally ban a class of weapons, wait 70 years, and then make the absurd claim that such weapons are not permitted under the Second Amendment because they aren’t in common use at the time the case is finally litigated 70 years later.

Remember that the reason why we got a ruling like the one we got in Miller is because the defendant did not show up and present evidence that sawed-off shotguns were in common use at the time. This leaves ample room for future litigants to demonstrate common use of machine guns, SBRs, SBSs, and suppressed weapons. I don’t think we’ve lost anything here.

I believe that restoring the Second Amendment to its rightful place alongside our other Constitutional rights will be the “new” civil rights movement for the next generation. Gradually we will chip away at laws intended to burden the lawful use of firearms, just as activists in the 1950s and 1960s chipped away at laws intended to oppress minorities and women. The Second Amendment recognizes an important right for citizens who intend on self-governance. I look forward to seeing it restored to esteem equal to that with which our society regards the First and Fourth Amendments. Best to you, - A.L., Esq.

Several readers mentioned this "must read" article from England: 'The Archers' brings the idea of a self-sufficient community to the fore

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My brother sent me this link: Something May be Wrong with the Sun--and the Weather Could Get COLDER

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Hawaiian K. and Steve spotted this over at the Kitco forums: US meltdown within weeks?

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There are now just three days left in BulletProofME.com's special sale on Interceptor Body Armor and Kevlar helmets, just for SurvivalBlog readers.

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." - P.J. O'Rourke

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I would like to recommend to anyone looking for medical training in grid down austere environments to attend the 2-1/2 day course offered by Western Rifle Shooter's Association (WRSA). My wife and I recently attended their course in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho this past weekend, and found the course informative and thought provoking, considering ing the times ahead of us. Hands-on training in suturing, wound triage, and trauma wounds were a plus to our animal husbandry skills. Another great aspect is [meeting] the like-minded people that attended this event.

The Western Rifle Shooter's Association is scheduling more clinics this summer, so look for their ads. BTW, I also recommend their rifleman classes. - Kepha in Idaho

Good morning, Mr. Rawles.
Thank you for your good work. I have reciprocated by being a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber from a while ago.

I wish to correct an item from today’s SurvivalBlog entry – while otherwise a very, very nice article - Lessons From Grandpa--Firewood Cutting for Seasonal Employment, by JSW

The author says “a Pickeroon [a.k.a. "Peavey" or "Cant Hook"] which is glaringly incorrect; they are three separate and unique tools. A pickeroon is a short-handled hookeroon – which is a single straight pick about six inches long set at a 90 degree angle from the end of the tool handle. A pickeroon has about a 14 to 16 inch straight axe-type handle and a hookeroon has about a 24 to 28 inch straight axe-type handle. Either tool is used in conjunction with a pulp hook in reaching for, moving and tossing cord-sized wood up to 4 feet long. Think of a pickeroon as a hatchet-sized hookeroon. All three were very popular in the pulp-wood industry.
A pulp hook, by the way, looks like a farmer’s hay hook only much more substantial.

A Peavey is a river-driver’s tool much like a cant-hook. Typical Peavey handles are 48 inches long and round-shafted; some Peavey handles may be up to six feet long. Like a cant hook, they have a free-swinging J-shaped hook suspended from a steel collar on the working end of the tool, but unlike a cant-hook [they] have a straight spike from 4 to 8 inches long jutting straight from the working end and secured by the same steel collar. While a Peavey is okay for rolling logs on the ground, its primary purpose is turning and pushing loose logs in water. Many a logjam has been corrected with good Peavey men working with others with pike poles.

A cant hook is built just like a Peavey but with a shorter handle seldom more than 4 feet long. It has the same or similar steel collar and suspended J-hook, but instead of a straight spike has a smaller steel hook or double hook bent 90 degrees from the collar in the downward direction of the suspended J-hook. The primary purpose of a cant hook is indeed turning logs on the ground, which with practice works slightly better than using a Peavey for the same purpose. Unlike use on the river, cant hooks were used most on landings, decks and in the mill yard.

The “Peavey” is named after a New England man from the 1850s whose last name was Peavey.

Sorry to nit-pick, but as these tools are becoming more common it would be wise for others to use correct terminology. A good reference is Bernard S. Mason’s The Book for Junior Woodsmen from A.S. Barnes Co., New York published in 1945 and long out-of-print. Others may find copies in the usual venues for old books. I highly recommend it for those exploring new ways to use old woodsmen tools. Two other excellent books are Spiked Boots and Tall Timber and Tough Men, both by Robert S. Pike. They were recently re-printed by The Countryman Press in Vermont .

I am a long-time soon to retire rural law enforcement officer with many years experience in a timber-industry and logging background. Our family has lived in the same county for approaching 400 years now and we know a bit about farming and logging. Regards, - Ancient Woodsman

JWR Replies: Thanks for setting me straight on the tool terminology. The error was mine, not the author's, since I was the one that added the mention of the other tools in brackets.

Reader KT mentioned that Mike Kemp's analysis of the Heller Second Amendment supreme court ruling has been posted at the Staying Alive blog.

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Hawaiian K. recommend a web site with some tips on survival cooking.

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I 've discussed cartridge and shotshell adapters several times in SurvivalBlog. Henry sent me a link to the web site for a maker of some high quality shotshell adapters: Gaugemate. They make them with integral extractors, and more simple (and less expensive) "push out" models.

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Kevin A. flagged this article for us: Commodities rally driven by fundamentals, not speculators. Here is a key quote: "In sum, our research suggests that loose monetary policy has played a much more important role than speculators in the recent commodity price rally."

"Man is a tool-using Animal.... Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all." - Thomas Carlyle

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $370. This auction is for two cases (12 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans donated by Ready Made Resources, valued at $260, a course certificate for a four-day Bushcraft & Survival Course valued at $550, 25 pounds of green (un-roasted) Colombian Supremo coffee courtesy of www.cmebrew.com valued at $88.75, and a set of 1,600 U.S. Military Manuals, Government Manuals, and Civil Defense Manuals, Firearm Manuals on two CD-ROM disks, valued at $20. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Dear Jim, I would like to build up a moderate sized collection of precious metals as a hedge against inflation and also in case of an Argentina like economic melt down. I do not have a whole lot of cash to spend and want small denominations so silver is what I am looking for. I got into the links section and found Eastern Numismatics but from there it got confusing. Different coins had different values which makes sense but I just want to get some "junk silver" so the difference between x coin and z coin is of no concern to me (should it be?) as long as both have the amount of silver.

Also, since I will be purchasing in small amounts of a couple coins a month. It will not add up fast but it is feasible. It would be nice to be able to go to a local store instead of saving up and making a mail order/ internet order from time to time and not get hosed, is this realistic? I know different coins have different amounts of silver and (aside from collectors value) should thus have different prices. It would be great to know what older U.S. coins are worth so I can be an informed consumer.
All advice would be real helpful. Thanks. - TheOtherRyan

JWR Replies: First and foremost, I'll begin with the caveat that SurvivalBlog readers should not invest anything in precious metals until after they have an honest year one year food supply set aside, and they already have all of the other requisite essentials for their family's preparedness (Water filtration, first aid, commo gear, guns, ammo, and so forth.)

I often stress in my writings and in my conversations with consulting clients that the precious metals emphasis for preparedness-minded families should be on common date pre-1965 US 90% silver bullion coins. Leave the numismatic coins to the collectors. For barter purposes, you strictly want the most bullion value for your dollar. Pre-1965 US coins are widely recognized here in the US, and hence will be the most useful for barter transactions. Outside of the US, other coins will doubtless be preferable. In Mexico, it will likely be either be silver Pesos, or perhaps silver "Libertad" Onza de Plata coins. In Canada, it would be pre-1968 (80% silver) quarters, and in Australia it would be pre-1954 silver Australian shilling coinage or perhaps the handsome new .999 fine silver Kookaburras.

Many people buy one-ounce .999 fine silver "trade dollars." They do have their merits--most notably that they are minted in precise ounce increments--unlike 90% "junk" silver U.S. coinage minted in or before 1964. If you already have some one once rounds, keep them, but do so with the realization that they are not nearly as readily recognizable and trusted by the general public for barter purposes, and hence they may not be trusted in a post-collapse economy. (The question you can expect to hear is "How do I know this is real?" That will only rarely be an issue with pre-'65 US coinage.) Also, since most of these have no hardeners added, (they are pure silver) they will begin to wear quickly if a barter economy carries on for an extended period of time. If that ever happens, then through trade you should gradually get rid of your silver "rounds" and "medallions", and replace them with pre-1965 quarter and half dollars.

It doesn't make much difference if you buy 90% silver dimes, quarters, or half dollars. However, it has been suggested that silver dimes might be the inferior choice, only because they tended to be more heavily circulated and hence suffered the most from surface wear--to the point that they noticeably started to lose weight. (If you are offered a bag ($1,000 face value) or a half bag ($500 face value) of dimes, take a look and see if it contains a high percentage of heavily-worn Mercury dimes. If that is the case, then you might want to pass. (A heavily-worn Mercury dime can be shy as much as 7% of its original weight--and hence you aren't getting full value for your money.)

Dear Jim,
It is almost a year since I [started to] read SurvivalBlog. It is a great thing. Thank you for it. I am doing my best to be ready for the moment WTSHTF.

Here in Europe, as you know, we have a problem with the gun control, so the only way to have guns is for hunting purposes (for self defence is almost impossible), and after few difficult tests, that includes psychiatric and medical tests, some law knowledge about guns regulations, safety and laws, and of course, having a clean background (no prison). Of course, there is regulation even about the amount of ammo that you can have at home. I read you store 10.000 cartridges just of .22 [rimfire], and I can’t believe it!!!! Here, the government would take your license, guns and of course, all the ammo plus assess you a nice fine.

Comparing with your great country, it’s a madness. I feel envy of how easy you can buy such tools.

I always want a gun, but feel too lazy to apply for it and pass through all those tests, controls, taxes (did I mention how many local, regional and national taxes must be paid??).
Thanks to SurvivalBlog, finally I decided and encourage myself to get one or two weapons (of course for “hunting purposes”).
After few months, I finally got my permit last week. And now I have my doubts: which models should I buy. What will you recommend for me?

I want a 12 gauge for home defence: My choices are Mossberg 590 or Remington 870 Police. Which one do you believe is better? I am considering the 870.

As a rifle, I really have no idea, so I would appreciate your opinion about this matter. I believe with a 12 gauge I am served for short distances, but for hunting and long distance shooting, what would you recommend? And what about the caliber?

Thank you very much for your blog, which is helpful as nothing else I found in a long long time. I am almost ready with food, location, medicines, and other stocks…. everything but the weapons.

Hopefully nothing will bring us TEOTWAWKI, but I am getting ready, just in case. Good luck. - TL

JWR Replies: I recommend 12 gauge for riotguns. Functionally, I consider the Mossberg 590 or Remington 870 roughly comparable. Both are sturdy and reliable. The Remington 870 has a slight edge on quality over the Mossberg, but in my opinion not enough to justify the higher price. For left-handed shooters, I generally recommend the Mossberg, since their top-of-tang safety is truly ambidextrous. (Whereas the M870 triggerguard-mounted safety is a bit slow for left-handers.) If you opt for the Model 870, I recommend that you replace the fragile black plastic cup shell follower (in the magazine tube) with a Choate Machine and Tool Company solid high density orange plastic follower. These are almost indestructible. There are also steel cup followers made.

For rifles,assuming that semi-autos are probably restricted, I recommend that you buy a "Scout" type bolt action chambered in .308 Winchester. I realize that many European nations restrict civilian ownership of rifles and pistols in "military" calibers. If that is the law where you live, then I recommend getting a .243 Winchester.

A news story of interest to preppers in the Midwest: What to do with all the sandbags? There might be an opportunity later this summer to get hundreds of sandbags that were never contaminated by sewage, free for the asking. (Well, that is, if you are willing to empty them and haul them yourself.)

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Frequent contributor Jack B. found this article: “Darkest Future” for US Commercial Aviation? My comment: It may very well be that the US commercial aviation sector was significantly over-built, based on cheap and plentiful JP-4. Now that those days are gone, it is likely that more than half of the commercial air carriers will go out of business, and the only a fraction of the currently-available flights will be operated, and some air routes will be entirely abandoned. coincidentally, I also predict that the economy of Nevada will be hardest hit of all states, since it is so heavily depended on out-of-state tourism. Since most of those tourist other drive long distances, or fly in to Nevada, the handwriting is on the wall. Nevada's casinos were already under pressure from the advent of big, splashy Indian Tribal casinos that are more convenient for Californians. Some of those tribal casinos now feature big name entertainers. Sell your Bally's stock!

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A reminder that the Survival Secrets SAS BBC documentary that I mentioned last year is still available for free download. It has a surprising amount of detail on small unit tactics, hand/arm signals, and field "kit".

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"Wolf" suggested an article by the ever-cheery Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on a nascent mass inflation (an ugly wage-price spiral): Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve's credibility crumble

"Survival is not an entitlement." - Rourke

Mr. Rawles,
In all the discussion about the [US] supreme court [Second Amendment] ruling, today's stock market plunge may have been overlooked. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11453.42. That's just over half a point gain to date for the millennium. On December 10, 1999, (8-1/2 years ago) the Dow closed at 11452.86. In the years since then, our country has grown by tens of millions of people, and the most optimistic estimates of inflation average 2-to-3% annually. But the market is up only 0.005%.
As [the pop music singer] Prince might say, "Party like it's 1929." - Robert E.

JWR Replies: You are correct in your observation that on average, US stock market investors have lost ground to inflation since late 1999. There have been some noteworthy exceptions, but almost like walking in the doors of a casino, the law of averages has been against US equities investors. There is an old saying on Wall Street: "Nobody beats the bear." With the current economic climate, I don't expect the outlook for stocks to improve. In fact, given the collapse of the global credit market since the summer of Aught Seven, I wouldn't be surprised to see outright collapse of the stock market.

If, instead of stocks, someone had bought silver in December of 1999, they would presently be miles ahead . In December of 1999, silver was selling for around $5.25 per ounce.When I last checked, it as at $17.37 per ounce--well over a 300% gain.

If someone had bought bulk military surplus .308 (7.62 mm NATO) ammunition in December of 1999 it would have cost as a little as $219 per 1,000 rounds in sealed "battle packs". Identical ammunition now sells for as much as $610 per thousand.

If someone had bought bulk hard red winter wheat in December of 1999 it would have cost around $10.80 per 100 pounds, if purchased in 50 pound sacks. It now sells for $23 to $29 per hundredweight, if you can find it. (OBTW, if you call any of the big food storage food vendors like Walton Feed, they will likely tell you that they presently don't sell what in bulk sacks. They are probably setting aside the little that they have left to nitrogen pack in #10 cans.)

The coming decade will likely be the decade of "I Told You So", for survivalists. For now, and for at least for the next few years tangibles will rule!

Friday, June 27, 2008

We are happy to welcome our newest advertiser: Everlasting Seeds. Check out their web site that features a great selection of non-hybrid vegetable and herb seeds. BTW, they are offering a special wheat seed packet bonus for SurvivaBlog readers. Just mention coupon code "SB-W" when you place an order.

Today's first post is by "Jeff Trasel". Those of you that have read my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" will recognize this real-life individual as the basis for one of the novel's characters. He is a former USMC (Force Recon) NCO that went on to work in high tech industry and more recently has lived abroad and pursued a Master's degree and later a Doctorate degree.

One of the constant knocks by the mainstream media on the preparedness movement is the oft-touted canard that preparedness, indeed the “survivalist” mindset is nothing more than an excuse by far-right loons to engage in Rambo-esque fantasies of firearms, firefights and macho posturing. While there is a scintilla of truth to this in some far dark quarters of doomsday lunacy, it is for the most part fiction. (This matches JWR’s caveat on discussing unregistered suppressors [in the US] or other illegal preparations). So that we bring no discredit on what is nothing more than prudence, perhaps a few short observations can be proffered here so those of a serious nature can learn to assume a proper martial mindset without resorting to hysteria.

Preparedness, survival, or any other euphemism one can assign to our interest is as much mindset as gear, land or other physical manifestation of prudence. It is in itself a way of life that incorporates simple daily teachings, practice, and when training, the incorporation of real-life situational aspects that can better model an actual emergency scenario or a situation of social unrest. Any competent defense professional will say that greatest advantage in warfare is information, followed by logistics, then combat power. It’s no use having the greatest army in the world if you don’t know where the enemy is nor if you can’t you feed your troops. As Napoleon so famously postulated, an army marches on its stomach.

So with those adages in mind, how does one prioritize daily living to more readily understand these concepts? We all have things we do on a daily basis, so the question of incorporation becomes one of time management, especially given the marvelous source of information now available in today’s 24 hour “always on” culture. For instance, instead of perusing the morning newspaper or watching the morning breakfast, find several reputable financial news sources such as the online versions of the The Wall Street Journal or Barron’s. Start educating yourself on how markets move, how seemingly insignificant moves in commodities or futures, such as pork or wheat can have a direct impact on your daily life. This also gives you markers to start creating your own scenario planning data for acquisition planning, and in the worst case, a timeline for moving to your retreat. American’s are notorious for living in a bubble, in what is now a deeply materialistic culture, and missing the obvious signs of downturns both in the US and abroad. This new discipline has an upside as well, in that by becoming a more financially-aware individual, you can make more informed decisions on how to manage cash flow or even become a day-trader, freeing up capital for other, more serious purposes. Understanding the world around you, looking at information as intelligence rather than simple factoids and being aware of the bits and pieces that can provide a different and in many instances, a more accurate picture of what is really going on, is a skill that will pay one back in spades. Think outside the box!

Next, personal fitness is a must. In any crisis situation, adrenalin levels, stress, even physical injury can manifest themselves in a variety of ways that can cripple or terminate the best laid plans. It is therefore mandatory that anyone considering a preparedness strategy baseline their family health. The advantages of this are twofold: first, it gives one an idea of how much exercise they will need to incorporate into daily life to bring them to a level of basic fitness of a recruit in the US Army, ideally the Marines, which is not as hard as it may appear. Second, this will aid in identifying a medicine acquisition plan for family members so you are not caught short in a crisis situation. There won’t be heart or blood pressure tablets around if the mob has burned all the Walgreen [Pharmacies]. Gun shows are great places to get surplus, mil spec-quality first aid equipment, along with catalog houses that supply paramedics or EMS personnel. The best book on the subject is the US Army Special Forces Medical Manual, available anywhere, along with “Where There is No Doctor” and “Where There is No Dentist”. (I will cover medicine in a survival situation in greater detail in another post.) Learn how to take your blood pressure, especially pre- and post-exercise so you understand the difference between resting and active pulse. The various military physical fitness programs are all available on the web. Pick one that you can realistically follow upon consulting your physician, and then be rigorous in its application.

You want lean, endurance-based conditioning – not necessarily big bulky SEAL-like muscles. I can remember from my [USMC Force] Recon days watching these guys while with them at dive school, getting all bulked-up and then not being able to run worth a damn with my fellow Marines. You want endurance, endurance, endurance. Muscles will come, and remember: shooting skills are as much a kata as a karate movement and are technique-based on a solid, lithe platform. Incorporate a martial art into your training regimen if possible. This can be a speed bag, or large punching bag, dojo work, sparring with a partner or any other self-defense program. These teach discipline, respect for the art, and most importantly, stamina and situational awareness, all priceless skills in a crisis situation. These types of activities begin to solidify the warrior mindset, and in solidifying this mindset, you now assume the duty, indeed the responsibility to only use these skills in the protection of kith and kin, and not as a license to bully, cajole, or simply show-off. Many years ago my first sensei gave me an axiom that rings very true: “One warrior may spot another in an instant. Be it by the way he moves or by the way people avoid him. The problem lies when would-be warriors and/or fools attack a true warrior. The fool may seem to back the warrior down, but the warrior knows by instinct that he outclasses the opponent and does nothing, or just kills.” By increasing you martial acuity, you will soon learn to spot fools, an invaluable skill not only in crisis situations, but in life in general.

Learn to live in the outdoors. Go camping or hiking with your family as much as possible. Carry weight when you hike, so you get used to load bearing. Increase it, and record you accomplishments. Not only is it great exercise, but it allows for team-building activities and provides an avenue to understand group dynamics and how task-oriented your family is or is not and what your personal and familial endurance levels are and should be. Bring map and compass and learn orienteering skills, and if possible, find the local orienteering club and go on organized compass courses when you can. Land navigation is an invaluable skill along with map reading (topographic – not your normal service station map of greater Canton…). This was the greatest challenge when I attended [US Army] Ranger school, the skills of pace-setting and azimuth shooting, particularly at night. Remember, you may not have the luxury of G.O.O.D. as a family unit, so it is imperative everyone know how to find your retreat, rally point, or rendezvous site by azimuth and location. Moreover, in fleeing, you may need to alter your route intentionally if pursued, and you will want to keep your bearings so you eventually end-up where you need to be. This will help bond your family unit, and help in math skills with kids. Thinking on your feet and being able to understand where you are without navigational aids is the ideal. Hold a rehearsal drill with a prize or incentive at least yearly. Also have a vehicle plan that works on the same level – and here any of the relatively inexpensive commercial GPS systems can be a great help. However, don’t become reliant on them, as they fail, they require power, and they can be tracked. Map and compass are best – master them. Have your kids join the scouting movement in your area as this will also provide an inroad to appreciating living rough. I learned more about outdoor living in my 10 years of scouting than was ever taught to me in the many schools (with the exception of S.E.R.E. – Survival, Evasion, Rescue, and Escape) that I attended whilst in the military. Lastly, get local guidebooks that identify edible plants and animals indigenous to your potential egress/retreat area. Again, take the family out and do some plant, bird, and animal spotting. Knowing how animals behave – particularly what they eat – can give you insight into how they react around humans, particular those humans not know to them. Understand the ebb and flow of the environment around your egress and retreat area. The warrior knows his terrain intimately and it is a force-multiplier in a crisis situation. From the Art of War, on the Varieties of Terrain for the commander: “if ignorant of the conditions of mountains, forests, dangerous defiles, swamps and marshes he cannot conduct the march of the army…”

We’ve now started to look at incorporate an intelligence gathering outlook on life, followed by a fit state of readiness for the unexpected, now what about conflict? Unless you live in a state that allows concealed carry, you most likely will not have much experience in the carry of, or more importantly, the skills of living with loaded firearms. The old soldier’s adage of training as you will fight is key here: living with live weapons does not impart a casual familiarity that can lead to tragedy, more so the understanding of levels of readiness depending on the scenario. Combat pistol and rifle craft will be followed in another post and there as many philosophies as there are gurus. I subscribe to the school of Jeff Cooper and Mel Tappan, and readers are encouraged to seek out their writings. Suffice to say, in regards to our emerging warrior ethos, the idea is mastery, as a weapon is only as effective as the mindset and situational awareness of the person wielding that weapon. Begin to think of becoming one with your chosen piece; don’t choose a combat handgun, rifle or shotgun simply on caliber and aesthetic appeal. You want to ensure you have good grip control, eye relief (for rifles) and for shotguns, that the stock fits snugly when snapping the weapon to your shoulder. This is especially critical when fitting weapons for women and children. Your martial mentality is the platform for that weapon to be effective so it is imperative it feel comfortable. Next, find an air pistol and air rifle that resemble your chosen battery. Rather than wasting ammo “snapping-in” on the range (and fielding potential embarrassing and/or curious questions), use these tools to get the feel for breath control, trigger pull and eye relief. Use toy soldiers to simulate range. If you pick a particularly loud air rifle, check local ordnances prior to beginning your training. I have used air pistols in my garage for many years with no problem. Just ensure you have sufficient target backing. You will be amazed by how well you shoot your live weaponry once you’ve disciplined your stance, breathing and bench positions with the air weapons.

One of the reasons I stress familiarity with a martial art is that all involve a relatively similar pre-contact stance. That is, feet slightly wider than shoulder width, a light bend in the knees coupled with a straight back and slight relaxation in the elbows in a punching position. This easily translates into the FBI “A” (“triangle,” “apex,” etc.) shooting position when using a pistol. There are a variety of shooting stances; find one you’re comfortable with and practice it until it becomes rote. I like to shoot on BLM land where I can set up a loose range with a variety of targets that can simulate a variety of situations. Moreover, one can carry side arms “live,’ the most important part of the exercise. Always use caution and appoint one of your group as range master. I cannot emphasize enough the importance in warrior thought of acclimation to daily use of one’s weapons. Each pistol, rifle and shotgun, and the associated ammunition and accessories, all have specific, indeed quirky, characteristics that are best discovered and addressed in a benign environment. Another advantage of the informal range is practicing contact drills in the form of fast draw and point shooting; again, topics for another time, but key to the mindset. In conjunction with the mechanics of the draw and basic tactical levels (safe – elevated – hostile), there is the consideration of dress and load-bearing equipment. We’ve all seen pictures of militia-types and airsoft rifle enthusiasts kitted-out to the nines, but in reality, no warrior worth their salt dresses in such a poseur fashion.

Kit should be scenario, then mission-driven. It’s ok to mix commercial and military gear, as it gives you the best of both worlds, along with adaptability and more importantly, a covert OPSEC profile. One need not run around in camouflage with chickenplate-enabled body armor and all the other stuff that goes with such a mindset in order to present a hardened, tactical, preparedness profile. Try running 10 to100 yard wind sprints with what you consider to be “appropriate” gear, along with running up and down hills, pausing frequently to set-up a shooting position, and you will soon see what gear is needed and what quickly proves superfluous. Moreover, one quickly grasps the need for constant conditioning, proper diet, and rest – again, train with the gear you intend to use in your preparedness planning. Crisis situations entail short-burst energy requirements, breath control, noise and movement discipline and a host of soft-skills that are much more important than having “cool” gear. You may have the slickest web gear, a trick battery of personal defense weaponry, and way-cool “digital” cammies, but if you’re too winded to hold an aim point, too thirsty sucking down water like there’s no tomorrow (and at that rate, there won’t be…), or cramping and puking for lack of salt, you are now ineffective as a resource, a drain on those dependent on you, and more likely dead, as you were not sufficiently aware tactically, as you were too troubled sorting yourself out… The warrior is ready at all times, and uniformly effective, regardless of time, place, or contingency.
I rarely wore the same load bearing equipment (LBE) configuration twice, as operational contexts were always different.

The axioms I lived by were simple enough: keep your [front] belt area free of any pouches or protuberances; this allows you to lie flush when rounds start flying; next, position you main weapon’s magazine pouches on your side, slightly behind your hip or ideally, over your kidneys, as again, when prone, they are easier to access without elevating your profile. You drink more than you shoot, so canteens can be located at the traditional hip pistol position; use [CamelBak-type water] bladders where possible, as they are less noisy, hold more, and can double as a pillow, rifle rest or anything else you can come-up with. 1 qt. plastic mil spec canteens are fine, but I normally carried them on my main LBE framed knapsack or butt back. Use mass to distribute weight (your hiking with weight pays off here). If you do use them on your waist belt, ensure they are positioned in such a way that you won’t injure yourself collapsing quickly on the deck, nor are they in the way of your weapons carry. Never attach a side-arm to an LBE belt that leaves your body. Drop-leg pistol holsters seem all the rage, and for Close Quarters Battle (CQB) and urban warfare, they have a place. In a retreat scenario, less-so, as they will hang on fencing, drag on brush, and hamper quick ingress and egress from vehicles. Use good quality leather or black nylon (i.e. low-profile, non-martial appearing) pistol dress when not in tactical mode, and again, wear it as often as possible so it becomes second-nature. Shoulder holsters are good for this as well; just ensure it fits, can carry spare magazines, and that you have practiced drawing from the holster so it is not a liability. As to holster location, again, this is personal preference, as some like to cross-draw (i.e. a right-handed shooter holsters their piece on the left hip, magazine facing the target, and draws across the body) or use the simple hip draw. [JWR Adds: The disadvantages of cross-draw rigs have been previously discussed in the blog.] Concealed carry is much in the same vein, although by its very nature, you normally carry a smaller weapon, using a variety of purpose-built holsters on the arms, legs, inside the belt, or small of the back. I like the small of the back myself. Constantly experiment with your LBE until it is no longer “fiddly” and fits and works the way you desire. Run in it, dive on the ground in it, get it wet, understand how it behaves in a variety of circumstances. Use black electrical tape, or ideally, mil spec“100 mph tape” (in reality, olive-colored gaffer tape) to secure loose straps and to cover metal or plastic tabs or sharp edges that might become noisy or otherwise problematic in use. Don’t use black duct tape as it is too sticky and leaves a residue that gets on everything.

In recapping the warrior mentality relative to equipment, remember that less is indeed more; the more you pre-place, the less you need in a bug-out kit. Blend in and look "conformist" as much as possible, using situational awareness, concealed carry, and normal attire when going about your business in urban and non-conflict rural areas. Don’t depend entirely on surplus or new mil spec gear; use the best kit for the job, but more so, maintaining a martial “look” may draw the authority’s attention or encourage other fools of a tin soldier mentality to take you on. Adjust your kit profile to the appropriate level of security and risk and you should be fine. Lastly, you must reconcile in your mind the concept of deadly force. Regardless of how prepared your scenario, you may be forced to confront those that wish you harm, and you will die if you start the mental ethical thought process at the contact point. Knowing your tools, knowing where to shoot, and understanding the need to shoot will allow you the upper hand when dealing with fools. Concise action can often abrogate the need for violence; so again, preparedness can be as much a tool of avoidance as much as kinetic action. Deadly force will comprise several upcoming posts and I will also provide a topical reading list in the next few weeks, addressing not only use of deadly force, but the warrior mindset, how to plan and what constitutes strategy, tactics, and conflict. In the meantime, start thinking about times you’ve been scared, or in a heightened state of anxiety, or even shot at. What went on in your mind? How perceptive were you? What physiological signs manifest themselves? How did you compensate? In short, begin to analyze things from an angle of what you would do, say in an airplane crash or severe auto accident – I call this reaction planning, and it will save your life. Understand that danger has constants, just like any other natural phenomena. The more you think of “what-ifs?” the more you will be ready for crisis.

In closing, preparedness, like any other skill, is much, much more mental than physical. The successful preparedness planner is in essence a renaissance thinker, as you must understand and appreciate a variety of skills, and master the most critical at least at a basic level. In creating this series of articles, I will be working with a variety of assumptions: many of my readers will have had some military or scouting background, and possess a passing familiarity with firearms. You may have only just started to think about contingency planning, and I encourage you to mine the marvelous resources of SurvivalBlog. Next, that you have families, and you intend to incorporate your family or immediate friends or relatives into your planning; also, you are in the early days of simply trying to sort through the myth and reality of what the preparedness movement and mindset entails, along with the commiserate moral, ethical, and practical considerations one must entertain to not only thrive in a crisis situation, but also maintain the social mores of being a good citizen, neighbor and staying within the remit of reasoned law. And like a good scout: Be Prepared… Stay tuned! - "Jeff Trasel"

I was pleased to hear of the recent DC v. Heller US supreme court decision that affirmed that the "right to keep and bear arms" is indeed an individual right of all citizens. However, I was disappointed to see that the court used circular logic in their assumptions on what constituted firearms "in common use" Just as I warned back in March, (immediately following the oral arguments), the court relied on arguments made by Mr. Gura (the plaintiff's attorney). In my opinion, Gura's arguments were a disservice to American gun owners and "the militia at large". (Which consists of all male citizens age 17 to 45, per US Code Title 10, Section 311.) Gura discounted any Second Amendment protection for machineguns, because he claims that the Second Amendments protects only those guns "in common use" as suitable for individuals to bring from their homes, for their personal use in service with the militia. Gura stated:

"They wished to preserve the ability of people to act as militia, and so there was certainly no plan for, say, a technical obsolescence. However, the fact is that [US v.] Miller spoke very strongly about the fact that people were expected to bring arms supplied by themselves of the kind in common use at the time. So if in this time people do not have, or are not recognized by any court to have, a common application for, say, a machine gun or a rocket launcher or some other sort of ..."

That was a specious argument. What Gura overlooked is the fact that machineguns are not presently "in common use" only because 74 years ago, Congress effectively banned them, by placing a confiscatory tax and onerous fingerprinting and background check requirements upon purchasers. It is a tax of $200 per machinegun transfer. (Which was a huge sum of money, in 1934.) Machineguns would be in fairly common use today in the US by private citizens, if it were not for the National Firearms Act. Oddly, I find myself siding in part with Justice Breyer (one of the liberal softies on the bench) who stated in the dissenting opinion:

"Nor is it at all clear to me how the majority decides which loaded “arms” a homeowner may keep. The majority says that that Amendment protects those weapons “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.” Ante, at 53. This definition conveniently excludes machineguns, but permits handguns, which the majority describes as “the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home.” Ante, at 57; see also ante, at 54–55. But what sense does this approach make? According to the majority’s reasoning, if Congress and the States lift restrictions on the possession and use of machineguns, and people buy machineguns to protect their homes, the Court will have to reverse course and find that the Second Amendment does, in fact, protect the individual self-defense-related right to possess a machinegun. On the majority’s reasoning, if tomorrow someone invents a particularly useful, highly dangerous self defense weapon, Congress and the States had better ban it immediately, for once it becomes popular Congress will no longer possess the constitutional authority to do so. In essence, the majority determines what regulations are permissible by looking to see what existing regulations permit. There is no basis for believing that the Framers intended such circular reasoning."

It will be interesting to see how the precedent set by Heller will be applied --possibly overturning other unconstitutional gun laws at the State and Federal level. I am hopeful that Heller will be the death knell of such laws, but the realist in me can see the waffling and back-peddling included in the decision. (With phrases citing "“laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings”".) Let's wait and see. Who knows, you may find full autos on the tables at your local gun show in a few years, available for "cash and carry" sale.

Reader "EM Joe" mentioned that from Noon on Saturday, June 28th to Noon on Sunday, June 29th, it is "the annual US Ham Radio Field Day. About a half a million radio operators will leave their cozy houses and head out to the Great Outdoors with their Tents, Radios and Antennas to simulate a massive emergency situation. This is the whole idea of Field Day, to let Ham Radio Operators all do this on the same day, using every possible radio they got in every possible way. It is almost a religious event. This will allow you to hear how well it works, how well it could be used for Intel, and oh yes, how crowded the radio spectrum would get! For more info about Ham Radio Field Day you can look at the ARRL web site."

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RBS flagged this: Alaskans would get $1,200 each to offset energy costs under Palin's plan

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A useful article: Cost Effective Practice--Combating the High Cost of Ammo. I'll add the proviso that the safety rules for dry practice cannot be over-emphasized. FWIW, the dry practice safety rules available from Front Sight (included in their free gun training reports) are superior, since even more explicit.

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Courtesy of Jack B.: CIBC report: high gas prices to take 10 million vehicles off U.S. roads by 2012

"The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home." - DC v. Heller, decided June 26, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The following is another article for Round 17 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 ends on July 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.

Grandpa was never one of my favorite people. He wasn’t a bad person, just that I thought he could be more like the grandfathers in the books I was reading.
Born in November, 1893, in north-central Minnesota, a World War One veteran and farmer, he moved to his last residence in 1952. So he’d grown up in a rough and tumble era, had a rough life and died owning his home, his truck, and a full baker’s dozen children had been born to him and Grandma- who I did like a lot more. Probably because she made bread daily, filled the house with its wonderful aroma. Of course, she had work for us kids, too.

It was with his background that he taught us boys a few things. When working now, at home or on the job, I often think of those lessons learned, albeit unwillingly learned at the time. Too, quite often I find myself in conversation with Grandpa as I go about the chores.
Splitting wood just a few days ago, I heard his voice clearly scolding me. “That should have been done last winter, not this spring.”
“ Right, Grandpa,” I replied. He was right, of course.

Firewood is best gathered in the deep of winter- for many reasons. First, but not most important, is that there’s no plowing or gardening to do in Minnesota in January. Second, in the deep of winter, there is little sap in the wood- it’s all in the roots waiting next spring, so it dries faster/more easily. It also cuts and splits more easily. Too, getting wood is hard, hot, sweaty work. Doing it in winter cuts back on the sweat factor by ten or more.

“ That’s not very good wood,” he told me.
No, it isn’t: I was splitting Jack pine. Stump dead, it was weathered and beginning to rot around the edges. But it makes a very good wood for autumn days when it isn’t really cold, or in the spring for the same reason. In the dead of winter, preferable woods are oak, ash, birch, and maple, in that order. These all burn with good heat, not so hot as to risk burning out a good/new/quality stove. Birch and maple are sappy woods, create quite a creosote problem if they’re not fully dried. Let them hang a couple years and they burn clean, don’t clog the chimney much at all. Oak and ash burn well, cleanly and hot. (Ash has a urine smell when it burns, however, so don’t get the smoke indoors.) Lesser woods to burn are tamarack/larch: this wood is excellent for heat, burns hotter than oak and ash, even. Which is its problem: burning too much tamarack will burn out your stove, or through it if it isn’t well-built. Poplar is a soft-hardwood, burns well with medium heat output and, as a tree species, grows quickly, dies almost as quickly. Its biggest drawback is that it’s really hard to stack due to the slippery bark. Jack pine, white pine and sometimes Norway are used as firewood- though anything will work in a pinch- soft pines, they contain some heat but not really enough for cold-cold winters. Other pines- spruce and balsam are worthless for home heat.

Grandpa’s voice cut into my thinking as I sliced a two inch thick piece of branch so I had to tell him, “It’s for kindling, Grandpa. Besides, this splitter makes it so easy I just enjoy it.” Grandpa would have a fit if he caught us kids splitting pieces smaller than six inches so we learned quickly to use our hand span. Still, around here, everything gets split once at least, and I cut down to two inch size branches. It dries better and has fewer bugs remaining active under the bark. And just because it’s so easy with the 20 ton hydraulic splitter. Ten inches or more is split into thirds or quartered.
But that isn’t the only reason. My stove is kind of small, takes a twenty inch piece of wood if it’s stuffed in and the door slammed. To compensate, the wood is cut to 16 inches, appropriately, the length of my chainsaw bar.

To keep mess out of the yard, the wood is bucked up in the woods and tossed into the pickup, hauled home and split as it’s taken from the truck. I find this to be the best/easiest method for a one-person operation. If a load is delivered by any local logger, he stacks it about ten feet from the cordwood pile, leaving enough room to get the splitter between the stack and pile. (Life is more simple when you have a plan. Besides, I’m lazy and usually the best way to do something is the easiest.) Any mess made from splitting is cleaned, thrown into the pickup and hauled back to the cutting area and dumped before the next load goes in. Follow the KISS principle.

Stacking is how I know how much wood I actually have and can monitor the usage. One cord is a pile four feet wide by four feet high by eight feet long. My stacks are head high- six feet- and twenty feet long. About one cord per row, in other words. In a mild winter, using the stove only during the hours at home, five cords will last a year. In severe winters with lots of wind, eight cords will do a season. (My furnace is in the house with two fire extinguishers near “just in case” and I use the propane furnace to maintain sixty degrees when not at home.)

Grandpa said to stack the wood bark down. His logic: if the wood is tarp-covered, the escaping moisture acts like a sauna or kiln and provides better ‘heat’ to dry the wood faster. One of my neighbors says to stack it bark up to shed the rain. Personally, I don’t think it matters a whole bunch. Getting the wood supply large enough for two years, always burning the oldest first of course, and the wood will have ample time to dry. And birch and maple really need the two drying seasons. So will poplar/aspen if it’s spring or summer cut. As to having two years’ supply on hand, three is a more comfortable margin, though it takes up a lot of yard space.

Of course, most of this thought is considering a total system breakdown where wood is going to be the only really consumer-gathered heat source. For the most part, this is what I expect in my ‘imaginings’, though something less harsh will probably be the case. Either way, wood is the heat source that warms three times for one season and the most practical heat in any situation.

“ You make a good stack, Jim,” I heard Grandpa say. “Now clean up that splitter and go have a cup of coffee.” I did as told- cleaned up the tools and went for coffee, my injured back happy to.

Garnered through years of work in the woods and as a carpenter who helped with log homes, my tools are the simple and effective tools of a logger. The half- ton four wheel drive pickup; two 25 foot lengths of ‘skidding’ chain; two chainsaws- newer Husqvarna and old Poulan with two chains each and toolbox with assorted tools; a Pickeroon [a.k.a. "Peavey" or "Cant Hook"] for moving and/or lifting a trunk to slip the skid chain around, sometimes for pulling pieces forward in the truck box; and the new 20-ton Honda powered splitter that replaced the six pound maul and home-built hydraulic splitter--the latter now owned by my neighbor. A pair of leather work gloves and chaps conclude the tool list. As for the chaps- everyone should wear them, or an equivalent pair of Kevlar jeans, but I find most often I go without. “With familiarity comes…” is fair warning. Steel toed logger boots are my standard footwear and they’ve paid for themselves many times just in bruises alone and a great investment. Except in winter when the steel toe attracts cold. A wonderful invention these days is the [Stihl brand] helmet with [integral] ear muffs and face shield. Definitely worth the investment for hearing alone. Even wearing glasses, the shield will keep large chips away from eyeballs, though I have had a flier or two get behind the shield and into my eye, it doesn’t happen often- usually when the wind is ‘right’.

Coffee cup in hand, I gaze at the wood pile and feel a touch of satisfaction in knowing I’ll be warm this winter, and stronger and healthier for doing my own gathering. All in all, a good day, Grandpa- thanks for the help. Now if I only had Grandma’s green thumb. - JSW

I hope all is well with you and yours! I am pleased to note that I have made faithful followers of your blog of many of my friends. The more the merrier!

The blog has been an incredible source for enlightenment and inspiration.

I now advise everyone that I can prove that since 1964 and based upon the 1964 monetary system, the gallon price of gas at the pumps and the relative price of consumer goods have not increased in cost or value. Only the Federal Reserve note has lost buying power. In my humble and simple observation, cost or value are mere reflections of each other and are not necessarily defined by mediums of exchange, as in fiat vehicles we all call 'notes'. Allow me to explain.

In 1964, the price of a gallon of gas was +/- .21 (twenty-one cents). An automobile nicely proportioned was $2,000 (two thousand dollars).

In 1964, silver coinage was the norm; however, the Federal Reserve and its cronies in "guv'memt" plotted silver's demise as a free market trading medium and standard.

Today, fuel is $4.00 (four dollars) per gallon. A really nice car costs $40,000 (forty thousand dollars).

But the cost or value of fuel and consumer goods has not really increased. In 1964, a silver American dollar, the standardized value of exchange for the United States of America, equaled the cost of nearly five gallons of gasoline.

Today, a 1964 'junk silver' Morgan (1921 or earlier) dollar will fetch $20.00 (twenty dollars) in Columbia, Tennessee. That 'exchange rate' for fiat currency reflects that still nearly five gallons of fuel can be purchased for the same value. Now, divide that cost of a $40,000 (forty thousand dollar) automobile by $20 (twenty dollars) and one readily observes that the cost or value of this consumer good/want/need has really not changed as it still costs 2000 (two thousand) 1964 silver ounces or 'dollars'.

I do note, however, that one should not confuse the notion of intrinsic value with perceived value.

What has changed, though, is the great deception upon which the American citizen has been saddled, the wholesale fleecing of the wealth of this country! If everyone who reads your blog would recognize the stability of precious metals and adjust their way of defining cost or value they might find direction in their economic travels. More so, recognizing the grim realities of the Federal Reserve's economic policies, one should be able to read the writing on the wall. Sadly, we exist today economically on the 'oil standard' which oddly enough is a reflection of the old 'gold/silver standard'. Now all can stand on the street and point out that the King of the Federal Reserve is wearing no clothes!

When I point out to my friends the observations noted, they take great pause and likely start buying up 'junk silver'. Precious metals really don't 'increase in value', they just don't lose purchasing power by government inspired inflation.

OBTW: Thanks for the heads up on 'The Alpha Strategy'. - Matt in Tennessee

Yishai alerted us to this video clip from tele-pundit Jim Cramer: Banking Doom Is Upon Us

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Eric suggested this column from The Delta Farm Press: Batten down the hatches, road ahead’s looking rocky

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Investors Hide as Banks Come Knocking Here are some quotes from the Wall Street Journal piece: "Investors are tired of trying to catch a falling knife," says one investment banker who specializes in the financial-services industry. "Investors have good reason to be skittish." "Even the smart money isn't looking so smart." (Thanks to Kevin A. for finding us that article.)

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Florida Guy spotted this New York Times article: Rethinking the Country Life as Energy Costs Rise. Florida Guy's comment: "This is an obvious 'move back to the city - the country is just too expensive' hit piece. Smart, preparedness-minded and aware Americans will never fall for it, but it's still worth a read.

"Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner." - James Bovard (1994)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $350. This auction is for two cases (12 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans donated by Ready Made Resources, valued at $260, a course certificate for a four-day Bushcraft & Survival Course valued at $550, 25 pounds of green (un-roasted) Colombian Supremo coffee courtesy of www.cmebrew.com valued at $88.75, and a set of 1,600 U.S. Military Manuals, Government Manuals, and Civil Defense Manuals, Firearm Manuals on two CD-ROM disks, valued at $20. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Well, I am back on the Internet for a time at least. Mind you, from the look of the soap opera world, I didn’t miss much. Grin

A bit of background first for context. I am forecasting grim things for the fairly near future, particularly in financial terms. In one sense I am a type of survivalist, in that I want to prepare. Most survivalists tend to plan and prepare for a type of bunker at a fixed location to survive whatever doomsday they foresee coming. Such a plan has very distinct, real, and important advantages. However, the armed forces have a saying, “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” In my case I did not feel I had sufficient forecasting ability to make a viable plan, nor do I think that most others have either. So I decided to be as flexible as possible based on a couple of premises. One; That there were negative changes coming for humanity which would cause great social disturbance, and when the stuff is about to hit the fan, it is best not to be standing about with your face hanging out. (Want to be at least a tank of gas away from a major population center.) Secondly economic conditions will likely deteriorate dramatically, and with them a good deal of the scientific infrastructure that makes life so good today. If humanity is going back to the 1800s, I want to prepare using the advantages our infrastructure of today provides.

I picked a number of locales at which I felt I could, in extreme circumstances, be largely self sufficient. All have plusses and minuses. A large degree of isolation became a central point because of expected social disruption. (Desperate, starving people.) Part of isolation is to be in a place where no one would likely go, or at least not roving gangs. And that means having no roads or trails leading to you. Individuals who are lucky enough, or experienced enough to find you, may make good additions to the team.

Events of Aug 15, 2007 convinced me that it was time to stop planning and begin acting. I decided to move to the nearest locale that I felt could be a possible final location, and which would allow me to be far enough away from a major population center so as to avoid the worst of the initial social disruption, yet close enough to rescue the non believers I care about, and also be able to salvage a good deal of valuable stuff before people recognize its value. From there I could watch events unfold in relative safety, while still likely to be able to move on if that became desirable. As practice and to test my plans, during the last five weeks I began setting up the beginnings of a permanent residence and clearing enough land for a garden. I don’t expect to use this location, but in a worst case scenario, or proper circumstances, I can. This is a report of the surprises I encountered.

Probably the biggest mistake I made was one that I had experience with, and logically, knew what to expect because I grew up with no electricity or refrigeration. I had not expected how emotionally dependant I had become on refrigeration and the offshoots from that. Logically, I had supplied myself with lots of dried foods, etc. In a “grid down” situation it becomes much worse than even those who grew up without electricity, and refrigeration will expect.

The most stupid mistake was to think I could use a cell phone as emergency backup in case of accident in an isolated, unpopulated place. You’re on your own. No signal.

Some small tools, such as a leaf rake which I never saw the likes of in the 1930s, would be invaluable. I tried to remember exactly what we had on the farm then and replicate that. A fly swatter or it’s equivalent is easy to pass over in planning. Pioneers valued their cutting edges above almost all else. Axes and saws were gold. I had plenty, depending on how society fell apart, but I have added more for a worst case scenario. I also found one of those charities selling used clothes and stuff. They had various sharp “butcher” type knives on sale for .19 each. I snagged about 40, along with some stainless steel kitchenware, and other goodies. [I think some things like specialty steels (razor blades) and aluminum (Energy intensive) will become very scarce.] I did one really good thing, and that was to obtain a loggers tool I have not seen in years. I call it a Peavey but it is sometimes known as a cant hook. Used for wrestling with logs, particularly in water such as a river.

Only once before in my life (over 50 years ago) had I met insects that raised significant welts on me. (And I have spent years in the bush, mostly in isolation.) The insects at this location did, enough so that I broke my isolation rule and visited a doctor. Four pills of Benadryl brought me back from sheer agony and fear of major change in plans. (I thought part of the problem was allergies due to advancing age. Maybe, maybe not.) A Calamine lotion with an antihistamine content helped marginally. Anti-allergenics are a must have in your medical kit. (Along with an insect mesh jacket and hood I discovered. The brand name was CAMPAC and within the last couple of days, I am informed that this type of jacket/hood can be purchased in the order of $11, versus the $36 I paid when in a rush.) Stocking enough DEET to be effective would fill a warehouse, although it works well.

I had forgotten what percentage of the time one spends in rubber boots, and how easy it is to poke holes in them. Of course I had a pair, but now I have four good pairs, and would consider more if rubber boots did not deteriorate relatively rapidly, unused.

Glass for windows and light will be sorely missed. Thankfully, I am also skilled in glass making.

After some scouting, the location I picked was on the edge of a swampy area of about 100 acres. Swampy area produces good soil when drained. (And lots of bugs until then! It was probably crown land. The problem in converting the area to farmable land is twofold. One; the trench(s) to drain it, and two the huge stumps and roots it produces, which must be removed or they simply sprout again. (One can do controlled burns it three consecutive years in the spring and it will be largely cleared, except for roots. [Watch for ground fires, particularly the third year] I had neither three years nor the inclination to attract fire rangers to my spot.) I had decided that fuel for mechanical devices would likely be difficult to get in isolation or TEOTWAWKI, so had opted for chain blocks and other hand methods for heavy lifting such as stump removal. I can say these methods do work, but they are very slow and hard work. I had expected to supplant my own muscles with horsepower, but moving animals before having a fixed location is a no go. (Plus animals don’t like biting bugs, which are plentiful around swamps, any more than we do and they move away.) Regarding stumps and roots- you can expect as much wood below ground as above ground. Lots of digging.

I began thinking about an easier way. Eventually, despite my resources being finite, I began to consider some form of small engine driven unit such as a 4 wheel ATV, (Arctic Cat) construction loader (Bobcat) and finally one of the mini-Kubota diggers. (Available in tracked or wheeled models) A regular backhoe would be ideal, and efficient, but it uses about 2-1/2 litres of fuel per hour. (Approximately 4+ litres per US gallon, or 5+ per Imperial gallon) Cost new; $35,000-40,000) At a maximum I felt I could not store a two year supply, if for no other reason than degradation of fuel. (A Kubota is a miniature backhoe, but one can buy attachments such as a blade or bucket.) The Kubota would be rather like emptying a swimming pool with a teaspoon, Can be done, but oh so slowly and ineffectively. (Note: A major problem with any form of backhoe is the hydraulics and their repair. If the hydraulics break anywhere, they may be useless.) For trenching, or digging roots the Kubota would be worth its weight in gold. I do have a chainsaw and spares, with an expected useful life for any engine of less than two years. (Fuel supply)

Overall, horses would be far more efficient than the mini Kubota, and the other small engine machines were non starters. (the BobCat less so than the ATV.) On the other hand, horses require feed. Unless one has a relatively small fenced area, and can bring the food to them, horses travel great distances to forage. I have seen them go 10 miles hobbled, and 20+ miles if un-hobbled, in one night. You can spend all your time chasing horses. (The pioneers often used cattle to draw their wagons as they traveled. Cattle will not wander so much when foraging, and stay in a herd, whereas horses go off in all directions, but are better and faster for hauling.) Since I had no feed to bring to horses, I could not consider other than forage. Until I had enough land cleared for my food and horses food, (Or fences up, and shelter is a higher priority) I would have difficulty getting thru the winter. (Plus, particularly now, I didn’t want visible trails from the road by packing in repeated loads.) Ah, the problems one faces for having a variable plan.

I can hear the questions/arguments now. I do expect land prices (not value) to drop dramatically as the world financial system collapses. (And government and law as we know it to fall apart completely.) Besides, there are few locations with developed land that do not have roads. Where I tried my experiment, there were no roads within five miles, and then only one poor secondary road/fire trail. So far as I know, there were also no habitations within 20 miles or more or even ATV trails either. So, while I am rather closer to a major population center than I would like, I feel that it is unlikely that I will be found easily by an inexperienced group capable of taking me (and those who accompany me) down. In the time available I could not make a significant impact on the ecology, since to build a largish fire to burn downed trees would have the fire rangers investigating instantly. I do believe I have tested out my general plan, and found some problem areas that need addressing. And that was the purpose of the exercise.

Warning: Do not try this at home. It requires lots of experience, particularly in the bush, but in farming as well, and even then success is not guaranteed. And it is so easy to fatally injure yourself, particularly if you are living alone.

In the news today, Dow Chemical is announcing a 25% price increase, following a 20% increase three weeks ago. Since they produce the feedstock chemicals for almost every industry on earth, this should be a great indicator of what’s coming. - ZBM

JWR Replies: Ay carumba! Dow produces a huge variety of chemicals and compounds that go into everything from fertilizers to plastics. This is an alarming indicator of consumer price increases in the near future. When paired with fuel price jumps, this becomes downright frightening for near-future food prices at the consumer level.

At this point, precious metals investing and a systematic Alpha Strategy (investing in practical tangibles, in anticipation of future price inflation) make even more sense. This based on wise 30-year old advice from author John Pugsley. Echoing Pugsley's writings, I have been recommending "tangibles, tangibles, tangibles", for many years now. This strategy is really starting to pay off. Ammo stored in your basement in now much better than money in the bank. (In fact, it is much better than almost anything denominated in US Dollars, which will soon positively melt in the heat of sustained double-digit inflation.) If you have been hesitating, stock up, soon. Every week that you delay will only cost you more!

OBTW, for any of you that feel smug holding Euros, watch out! This inflation will most likely hit globally, so your investments won't be safe denominated in Euros, either.

Speaking of price inflation, reader ADS passed along the following along:

Score Board -- percentage change for the year, so far, in various items:
Crude oil up 42.5%
Ethanol up 20.7%
Heating oil up 43.9%
Natural gas up 76.5%
Unleaded gas up 39.5%
Cattle up 1.0%
Corn up 58.8%
Soy beans up; 26.4%
Wheat down 2.2%
Coffee up 5.9%
Aluminum up 32.7%
Copper up 25.7
Platinum up 33.4%
Gold up 6.0%
Silver up 13.4%.
S&P 500 down 10.24%
Frankfurt DAX down 18.32%
London FTSE down 12.23%
Paris CAC down 19.64%
Hong Kong Hang Sang down 18.33%.
Tokyo Nikkei down 9.47%
Singapore Straits down 14.04%.
Seoul Composite down 9.57%
Sydney All Ordinary down 15.76%
Taipei Telex down 7.40%
Shanghai Shanghai B down 44.42%

You gotta love this one: Outside the Shanghai exchange people were picketing and protesting. It seems they wanted their money back.

One addenda to the data from ADS, from JWR: The reason that beef prices are remaining low is that ranchers are currently dumping cattle onto the market, because of high feed prices. Once that beef has worked its way to market, the remaining cattle (on the hoof) will jump up in price. So we can expect a huge spike in beef prices in 12 to 18 months. Buy your canned and freeze dried meats before those price increases!

Jim, Memsahib, et al:
I just finished an order into LAPoliceGear.com they've had this clearance sale going on for about three weeks. And I didn't take a close look at the boots section, until today.

Some of the Bates boots (women's) are $9.99, regular price as much as $169.99. And the sizes available tend toward those with smaller feet. They also have a closeout on 5.11 pants, if you buy this stuff new it's $50 a pair, on sale for $17. Lensatic compasses for five bucks (non-tritium). And some other nifty stuff.

Thought you might like to pass along the link to their boot web page. A little scrolling about and you can find the other closeout items listed on the left hand side of the page. - Jim H. in Colorado

JWR Replies: Thanks for the heads-up. We just just ordered two pair of boots for The Memsahib. At just $9.99 per pair for new American-made boots, that is a Hotel Sierra deal! Who cares if they are "cosmetic rejects". If looks could kill, there would be dead bodies littering the streets.

Thirty years on, inflation makes global comeback. I've said it before: In many ways, the current economy is starting to resemble the 1970s.

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From a San Diego, California newspaper: Diesel shortage hits other cities. The article mentions Americans crossing the border to buy government subsidized gas and diesel.

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Hawaiian K. notes: "Awareness seems to be bubbling up across the political spectrum. See this article [from a left-of-center web site]."

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Bill in Wyoming was the first of several readers to send us this article link: Food brawls among Wisconsin flood victims

"I feel I was denied critical, need to know information". - Michael Gross as "Burt Gummer", Tremors 2

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I occasionally hear from readers that some of the links to third party web sites in my older posts no longer work. Unfortunately, we live in an era where people change URLs and e-mail addresses almost as frequently as they change their socks. If you find any broken links in any of my static pages (the pages available with the buttons at the top of the main SurvivalBlog page) or if you find any broken links in any of the daily posts that are less two weeks old, then please let me know via e-mail, and I will do my best to update them. (I greatly appreciate hearing from you!) But unfortunately, I don't have the time to continuously update the links in the SurvivalBlog Archives.

Dear James -
Thanks for the great article link on "growing fuel" and thanks again for all the information at SurvivalBlog!

Low speed diesels [that were recently mentioned in the blog] such as the Lister and Listeroid clones are fantastic, but sadly that ship has sailed. The anemic dollar, high metal prices, rising shipping costs and the hassle of US Customs have pretty much halted importation. Also, word is that [the US] EPA will soon (if they haven't already) re-block importation of these marvels because they don't meet emissions requirements for stationary engines. As to that, Listeroids are extremely efficient so they might just meet standards - it's more likely that the cost of certification is prohibitive.

Sadly, the annual total emissions of these stationary power plants are meaningless in the grand scheme, and that's obviously not the real purpose of such inane regulation. Anyway, there are emissions-legal alternatives (the Yanmar, Weichai, et cetera.) but they're more expensive and not widely distributed. Also, they're less suited to running vegetable oil fuels and may require a bit of modification for this purpose. To make matters worse, I'm told by the folks who sold me my Listeroid that the Chinese expeller presses that press the oil from seeds have likewise soared in price and are practically impossible to come by.
Yet another indicator of how late it really is [to prepare]. Regards, - Fred H.

JWR Replies: Lister clone engines do pop up on the secondary market here in the US. Watch for them vigilantly at Craigslist.com and in newspaper and "nickel" paper classified ads. Note that not all sellers will use the correct terms Lister or Listeroid in their ad titles, so also do searches on "low RPM Diesel" or "one cylinder diesel". OBTW, SurvivalBlog reader Glenn recommends Central Maine Diesel as a source.

Mr Rawles:
I sent you a link awhile back about the old timer from Wall Street who is still working in the industry and lived through the first Depression - he was greatly worried about what was coming. I agreed with your assessment that he was wrong about staying in stocks. My own former husband is a Wall Streeter who has moved much of his money out of the country now. He manages part of my own retirement portfolio and has been saying that what's coming is going to be horrific to bear. His grandparents arrived in the US at the start of the Depression and proceeded to buckle down and weather it out. He agrees that we just don't have that kind of overall wherewithal left in our collective psyche to ride this out nicely.
I work in dual careers, one for a consulting firm. My other career is as a critical care RN - I went to business school on my employer's dime, so no loans. No debt. I know now that I can never give up nursing altogether - it will be needed in any coming disaster on a large scale.

My husband and I now faithfully read your blog and are implementing more than our standard for hurricane weather, as we still spend so much time in Florida. Being debt free is God's blessing because it allows more to be freed up for preps and emergency spending. (We are buying from your advertisers.) As I casually send links to friends and warn them of life changing on a massive scale, there are more in agreement, even if they don't understand the economic lies being fed into the machine. One is on the edge of liquidating solid performing accounts to buy waterfront property that is about $300,000+ than they could be comfortable in. They own almost free and clear now, near the water. I told her to stay put.

People are already flipped out about $4.00 gas and it's hitting the lowest tier of workers - they are fast being unable to get to work to keep the jobs they do have, never mind other errands. What happens as it creeps out further - violence will erupt.

Many of the patients I see (I work two weekends a month in a major city university hospital) are at the bottom of the barrel - fewer and fewer people are coming in with full insurance - almost all have great stress as to how to pay for the care they're receiving. All of this: food/oil prices, corn diversion for ethanol, mortgage mess by crooks, stagnant wages/layoffs, now floods in the Midwest, have combined to give us the perfect economic storm. (As an aside, watch the CNN special this weekend titled "Out Of Gas" - it's from a few years back, but still timely. James Woolsey, former CIA director, is probably a SurvivalBlog reader: The man has had his home and life prepared for years, and is interviewed in the piece. A CIA Director thinking ahead like that says that there was something in the mix years back that portended this...)

You also had a piece from Mike Morgan up this week - part of his real estate blog. I'm from Florida, still own a home there in Sarasota that is safely rented and cared for by family. Everyone in Florida listens to Mike Morgan - he's the "E.F. Hutton" equivalent for real estate and trend casting. Now he can legally dispense investment advice having passed his Series 65 [license]. Here are a couple excerpts from the blog this past week that show he's not mincing words about looming human disaster ahead: - Lisa, RN

Hi James,
First, thanks for sharing Mike ["Mish"} Shedlock's recent article with the SurvivalBlog.com community. Like you, I've grown to trust his observations and analysis and I read his work as often as I read yours - daily.

I wanted to add a couple of comments, which will strengthen both Mish's and your viewpoints concerning your observations on the potential for a nationwide banking panic.

First - is that [as mentioned,] the FDIC is preparing for this crisis right now, by hiring back some retirees, with specific experience in dealing with bank failures, as they are expecting a large number of banks to fail. This is, of course, very big news and we all know the obvious reasons why this announcement was so poorly lit by the mainstream shills.

Second, FDIC is no longer capable of insuring all of the coming bank failures, so it is astonishing to me that they can actually raise their limits on how much they can insure. This seems like a desperate attempt to head off a panic state. At this point in time, I see very little chance that this crisis can end without at least several major failures. Once everyone learns that FDIC cannot insure all which they claim they can, then it may be game over and a gargantuan panic far beyond anyone's wildest expectations could, indeed, unfold.

They will reap what they sow. Regards, - HHH

I earn my income from two primary sources, one from a "dot.mil" source and the other from a "dot.edu" source. I have made moderate progress on preps and other issues, but have one external factor that I cannot control very much, short of an unrealistic change in jobs (I will have earned my retirement in another five years, for example, from one of the jobs).

Both of my income sources require the use of [payroll] Direct Deposit. I cannot change that without changing my employer. I have some savings, cash and precious metals, but my regular income flow is purely electronic. Are there reasonable steps in that area I can take to protect myself from a banking crisis? Are there special vulnerabilities I should be aware of for this type of pay method? Thanks! - Todd in Virginia

JWR Replies: Anyone trapped in a "direct deposit only" payroll system has limited options in the event of a banking panic. If the banking panic is widespread or if there is a nationwide "bank holiday" declared, I suspect that many employers will revert to paper paychecks within a few weeks after the crisis begins.

The best thing that you can do is to have your direct deposit sent to a checking account that is in a relatively safe bank that has minimal exposure to subprime mortgage debt. For many years, I have recommended Weiss Ratings (now part of TheStreet.com) as an information source for judging the safety of banks and insurers, for my consulting clients. Marty Weiss and his staff do excellent research and, unlike Standard & Poors, they are truly independent and objective.

The only other thing that comes to mind is keeping the equivalent of three months worth of rent and important expenditures on hand in greenback cash or in very liquid assets (such as precious metals), at home, as a reserve. I realize that A.) Few readers have that sort of cash available, B.) You will be foregoing any interest income on the cash, and leaving it fully vulnerable to inflation, and C.) It will be vulnerable to theft. To minimize that latter risk, construct a Rawles "Through the Looking Glass" wall or door cache, or something similar.

Matt Bracken suggested this economic commentary with a preparedness message by James Macfarlane: The Thin Red White & Blue Line. Matt's comment: "Make sure to read to the "What to Do" section at the end of the essay." Macfarlane's essay ends with this: "The wisest words I heard lately are these: In the next few years it's not going to be about where you live, but about whom you live with. Make friends with your neighbors."

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Krys in Idaho found this ABC News piece for us: Everything Seemingly Is Spinning out of Control. A comment from Krys: "This article shows that even the mainstream press is no longer able to deny the truth. KYPD."

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The floods in the midwestern US still aren't over, but their end is in sight. Forecaster: End is near to Mississippi River rise. BTW the floods will make already tight grain supplies even more scarce in the next year. I hope that SurvivalBlog readers stocked up, many months ago.

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The Memsahib notes: This morning I was looking back through my farm journals. In the Fall of 1995 we bought grass hay for $75 a ton (delivered and stacked!) We bought 50 pound sacks of cracked corn for $8. My total feed cost per ewe (excluding what that ate at pasture) was $41.12 per year. Given today's feed costs, I think that we are going to have to raise the asking price for our lambs and kid goats next spring.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." - Galatians 6:7-8 (KJV)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Today we present a guest article from Mike "Mish" Shedlock, a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. I highly value his investing analyses and his "big picture" view of the global economy.

Credit is drying up everywhere. Banks are now concerned (finally), about rising credit card debt. They have every reason to be. The bankruptcy reform act of 2005, which encouraged such reckless lending is now blowing up in lenders' faces.

Banks and credit card companies wrote that bill. They got everything they wanted. It goes to show you two things:

1.) Be careful of what you ask, you might get it.
2.) Greed kills.

Furthermore, I expect many of the debt slave provisions of the bill to be undone after Obama is elected. That will increase defaults. Even if an unwinding of that "reform" does not happen, the writing is on the wall for lenders for the simple reason "You cannot get blood out of a turnip".

Regardless of what the law says, unemployed people are not going to be paying credit card bills. A second point is that someone unemployed, with no income, will meet the strict guidelines for wiping away all their debt.

I talked about this in Bankruptcy Reform Act Finally Blows Sky High.
Banks have finally beginning to get the bleak message that credit card defaults are going to soar. In response, Banks are Trimming Limits for Many on Credit Cards.

The easy money that led Americans to depend on credit cards to pay their bills is starting to dry up. After fostering the explosive growth of consumer debt in recent years, financial companies are reducing the credit limits on cards held by millions of Americans, often without warning.

Washington Mutual (WM) cut back the total credit lines available to its cardholders by nearly 10 percent in the first quarter of the year, according to an analysis of bank regulatory data. HSBC Holdings, Target (TGT) and Wells Fargo (WFC) each trimmed their credit card lines by about 3 percent.

Among those four lenders, that amounts to a reduction of about $15 billion in three months. Over all, the amount of available credit for the industry appears to be about flat, with the three biggest issuers - Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C) - slightly increasing their overall credit lines. But even they are trying to rein in risky individual accounts.

“This downturn is the perfect storm where the consumer is getting squeezed from all levels,” said Michael Taiano, a credit card industry analyst at Sandler O’Neill. He projects that credit card loss rates for lenders, now around 5.7 percent, could go as high as 10 percent in next 18 months. That would be higher than the peak levels reached after the 2001 technology bust.

Meredith Whitney, an Oppenheimer banking analyst, said the impact of the recent regulatory proposals on lender profits could be so severe that she expected the industry to pull back $2 trillion in outstanding credit lines by 2010. That would be a 45 percent reduction in credit currently available to consumers. Risky borrowers would be squeezed the most.

Direct Bottom Line Hit

Every default is a direct hit to the bottom line. And 10% chargeoffs would not be surprising in the least.

Furthermore, a reduction in credit lines by $2 trillion is not peanuts. Credit is contracting folks. Yes, this is deflation regardless of what energy and food prices are doing.

FDIC Bank Examiner Audits

From a source I consider reliable, I received this email the other day: A good friend of mine has a friend who is a Bank Examiner(BE) for the FDIC. The BE says the message he takes into every exam is "You must raise your loan loss reserves". This is delivered directly to the Chairman, President and CFO of every bank visit, every time. No Exceptions!

I asked for clarification and was told no exceptions, literally means no exceptions. Note that an increase in loan loss provisions means capital will need to be raised or fewer loans will be issued, or both.

Zombification of Banks Accelerates
As I said in Regional Banks Spiral Towards Zero, I suspected Bank United (BKUNA) was raising money at $1.90 because it was told to. BKUNA was down another 11.58% on Friday, to $1.68. I do not see how it can survive even if it raises the $400 million it is seeking.

Much of the credit on the books of banks is worthless. It will be written off. There is nothing inflationary about this at all. The zombification of banks that I mentioned in Night of the Living Fed is now picking up steam. Consumers are being increasingly zombified as well. - Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Since September of 2007, I've been warning SurvivalBlog readers about the potential for bank failures and bank runs in the US, spawned by the unfolding global credit collapse. I am now raising my warning to multiple red flags. There are certainly some ominous signs. These include: New banking scrutiny--especially for investment banks. Plunging bank reserves. A few more bank failures this year than in a typical year. A record increase in "bank owned" (foreclosed) houses. New FDIC rules on assessing risks at major banks.To be ready for bank runs, the FDIC has even re-hired some former employees from its division of resolutions and receiverships.

It is noteworthy that the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will soon announce that it is raising the limit on individual depositor insurance from $100,000 to $250,000. Could it be that the FDIC executives are expecting more bank failures in the near future and they want to give everyone a warm fuzzy feeling--just to head off a potential banking panic?

A key indicator is the level of bank reserves. Many US banks are now technically insolvent. These banks are on life support, courtesy of your tax dollars. Since February of 2008, I've been warning you about the "Non-Borrowed Reserves" figure at the Federal Reserve web site. Bank reserves are plummeting deep into negative numbers. When you look at the US banking industry in aggregate numbers, there are effectively no genuine reserves left. If the average bank depositor was aware of this, then there would already be huge bank runs in progress. But the Generally Dumb Public (GDP), is still blissfully ignorant, and continues to be lulled into a sense of complacency by the long-standing universal depositor's insurance backed by "the "full faith and credit" of the US government. Seeing the alarming negative numbers at the Fed's web site puts me at a loss for words. I don't know which metaphor to use: House of Cards? Ponzi Scheme? Collision Course? Whatever you choose to call it, be ready, folks! Again, I predict some widespread and very ugly bank failures and bank runs in the near future that will make last September's Northern Rock Bank debacle in England seem small, by comparison. It may take six months or more all of the FDIC claims to be paid out. Since ATMs and online banking will likely be shut down and virtually all bank instruments (including debit cards) will be disallowed or at least widely distrusted you will need plenty of greenback cash on hand to see to through a banking crisis. Withdraw some cash now, while you still can.

Hawaiian K. mentioned a glow-in-the-dark paint product. This could have numerous uses at a retreat, such as painting firearms front sights. In my experience, luminescent paint is quite useful for painting light switch plate covers.

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There are now just 10 days left in BulletProofME.com's special sale on Interceptor Body Armor and Kevlar helmets, just for SurvivalBlog readers.

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Chris Laird predicts economic and political trends by following precious metals market behavior. In Dangers - Danger period 2008 and 2009 posted at the Silver Bear Cafe. Laird writes: "...the US, the world's biggest grain exporter, is seeing widespread damage to its grain crops. Without the US ability to continue huge grain exports into 2009, the world will face new grain export restrictions by many other grain exporters. This will lead to a real world food crisis into [20]09. There is no bigger factor that will lead to world destabilization than food shortages." (A hat tip to Kevin A. for the link.)

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Several readers in the US wrote to mention that another bit of our privacy is at risk: Senate Housing Bill Requires eBay, Amazon, Google, and All Credit Card Companies to Report Transactions to the Government. If this bothers you, then please contact your congresscritters.

"A nation is the more prosperous today the less it has tried to put obstacles in the way of the spirit of free enterprise and private initiative. The people of the United States are more prosperous than the inhabitants of all other countries because their government embarked later than the governments in other parts of the world upon the policy of obstructing business." - Ludwig von Mises

Sunday, June 22, 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!

Dear Jim,
Does Sterno style fuel have a shelf life? I have come across two cases (48 cans) of Don brand Heat Wick (WX-6) six hour fuel - the type used in catering. The price for the lot is $5. Seems like it's too good to be true. Is it worth it? Are there special storage issues involved with this type of fuel?

Thanks for all the info you put on your site every day. I am using it to get my family ready! Thanks again, - Beth F.

JWR Replies:
That is a great price! The cans should last almost last indefinitely, if they are well-sealed. If the sealed cans emit no odor when purchased new, then odds are that they have intact seals and hence are not out-gassing any alcohol vapors. But if they do smell like Sterno, then you can bet that they have a limited shelf life. The best way to test for minor leakage is to take a random half-dozen can sample and leave them in a sealed Tupperware-type container for 48 hours. At the end of 48 hours, open the Tupperware and take a sniff. If there is no noticeable alcohol smell, then you'll know that those cans have tight seals. OBTW, if there is an alcohol smell, all is not lost. You can then try dipping the tops of the cans in melted paraffin, to establish a secondary seal. (This is a method that was developed years ago, to extend the storage life of canned tobacco and some other goods stored in two-piece cans.) Following the paraffin dip procedure, you should repeat the 48 hour sniff test.

After stocking up on beans, bullets, and band aids, I recommend putting in a decent supply of socks and underwear for the whole family. One can get used to wearing old, worn out clothes in TEOTWAWKI, but socks and underwear can be like gold--to help one retain a bit of dignity and morale in a grim aftermath world. Ask any vet how important a pair of clean, fresh socks meant to them. - Ron in Upstate New York

JWR Replies: In addition to dignity and morale, they are also crucial hygiene items. Every family member should have a three week supply. You never know when circumstances might force a delay in doing laundry.

Watch diligently for seasonal sales advertised at discount stores. Also, for some reason tube socks are often sold at bargain prices at flea markets.


A friend and I went to a Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) match last weekend. It was a good clinic to learn how to hit a long distance static target. (Cough.) Say what you will about how useful that it, I think that learning many different techniques for doing a thing gives you a better understanding of the thing. In this case marksmanship.

On to the point. We both ended up drinking three liters of water over the course of the day. The next day I could barely balance, couldn't eat, was mostly incoherent (felt stupid). I drank water for the entire morning and didn't get better. I had a can of V8 (high sodium) [tomato juice cocktail] and was better within 20 minutes. Salt is your friend. - Ben M.

Some guys have all the luck! Commander Zero featured a link to blog by a gent who recently discovered a forgotten 60 foot long Nazi underground tunnel in his back yard. A brief video shows the excitement of the discovery.

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FerFAL (SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Argentina) has posted some observations on a recent home invasion robbery incident in Martinez, Argentina.

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Frequent contributor Bill N. flagged an interesting article about growing your own fuel for a low speed diesel engine.

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Jack B. spotted this piece in The Financial Times: Security fears over food and fuel crisis. This will no doubt be a recurring theme in the next 10 years.

"God made Sun and Moon to distinguish seasons, and day, and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons: But God hath made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies; In paradise, the fruits were ripe, the first minute, and in heaven it is alwaies Autumne, his mercies are ever in their maturity. We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never sayes you should have come yesterday, he never sayes you must againe to morrow, but to day if you will heare his voice, to day he will heare you. If some King of the earth have so large an extent of Dominion, in North, and South, as that he hath Winter and Summer together in his Dominions, so large an extent East and West, as that he hath day and night together in his Dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgement together: He brought light out of darknesse, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring; though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons." - John Donne, circa 1615

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The following is another article for Round 17 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 ends on July 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.

As prices increase, many shooters are looking for ways to take the bite out of their shooting budget. Here are ten tips to help:
Take the bite out of your shooting budget:

If you are like most, you did not buy nearly enough ammo over the past few years. Most of us told ourselves that our budgets just couldn’t be stretched any farther. So our ammunition reserves either dwindled or stayed static despite knowing that prices were rising. Boy are we sorry now! Anyone who was not paying attention had a severe dose of sticker shock when hunting season arrived, and it is just getting worse. This is not an “I told you so” piece despite my advice to stock up on ammo in articles from late 2006 and early 2007. This is a warning about what is coming next and what you can do about it. It is too late to buy cheap ammo. You will never see brass cased, Boxer-primed 308 of good quality for under $200 per thousand again. You will never again see even steel cased 7.62x39 to feed your $99 SKS for $99 per thousand. You will never again see 9mm Luger (Parabellum) for $12 per 100. Not only has the price of factory loaded ammunition soared, the price of reloading components have begun to climb as well. What can you do? Here are 10 steps you can take to offset some of the financial bite in your shooting budget.

#1) Shop wisely - use the Internet and toll free phone numbers to research current prices and comparison shop. Information is power; use it to your advantage. Some sites raise prices more slowly than others. Some include shipping in their prices. Be sure that you are matching apples to apples when comparing prices and factor every penny including shipping and sales taxes when you are making mail order purchases.

#2) Watch for retail bargains at local stores. If your local gun shop or back country general store has an odd box of cartridges or shotgun shells with a five year old price sticker on it. Buy it. The price of ammo has literally doubled in the last five years. Even those last few dusty corners will be cleaned out soon. If you can take advantage of a ‘first in last out’ inventory system, do it before someone else does. Every once in awhile the larger stores like Dick’s and Wal-Mart will run ammunition sales with discounts on case quantities that still seem reasonable. If you see a good sale, stock up! [JWR Adds: Also look for ammo that might still be available pre-inflated prices at on table of private sellers at gun shows. When you do find a bargain, be sure to ask "Do you have any more of this elsewhere?" Look for ammo at garage sales, and estate sales. It might even be worthwhile to place a "want to buy" ad if there are free or low-cost classified ads in your area.]

#3) Roll your own. Reloading has long been a means of saving a few dollars as well as improving the quality of loads tweaked for your rifle. Despite the recent increase in the cost of reloading components, you will still pay less for ammo you load yourself than for off the shelf factory loaded ammunition. The price of reloading components and equipment have begun to climb as the cost for materials and interest in reloading have increased. The prices will climb higher. So now is the time to buy. If you shoot on a regular basis, your savings from reloaded ammo quickly offset the investment in reloading equipment. This is especially true if you pick up a used press. Classified ads and estate sales are the places for buying reloading equipment. A good quality press like the RCBS Rockchucker can frequently be found for less than 50% of the retail price for a new press and will have several decades of hard use left in it. I recommend that you start watching for used reloading gear.

#4) Buy used. Not only can firearms and reloading tools be found at bargain prices, many an old hunter was an avid reloader who left behind a bench full of components when he met the Lord. I’ll happily pay for partial boxes of projectiles, primers, or powder (in the original containers) and make use of those components building my own loads. If you happen to run across full or even partial boxes of factory loaded ammunition at gun shows, garage sales, or auctions you may be able to get it at a fraction of the retail cost as well. But use caution. Never, ever shoot reloaded ammunition of unknown quality. You are literally gambling your life if you shoot someone else’s reloads. There are very few people who I trust my life to. I am just not willing to pull a trigger on a cartridge that might be unsafely loaded.

#5) Stock up! It is too late to get the bargains that were available a few years ago. But it is not too late to stock up before further price increases, taxes, tariffs, and out right import bans. Despite the current market price: buy primers, projectiles, and powder while it is still legal and anonymous to do so. A day is coming when you will need a permit to buy powder. I think it will be within our lifetime. Buy 22 rim-fire cartridges. You can’t reload them, so stock up on them for you and for the next generation. It is prudent to stock up on anything that you use regularly, even without waiting for a sale discount. With inflation at over 10%, “investing” in assets like food and ammo has a better return than the stock market. Plan ahead. Don’t buy just for this weekend or this season. That is the thinking that got you wishing that you had more ammo on hand. Prices are going to continue to climb. Buying in bulk now will generate savings over the long term.

#6) Make your shots count. "Spray and pray" is neither tactically nor economically sound. Make your plinking sessions count. Aim every shot carefully. When testing new reloading recipes, test small batches for signs of pressure and accuracy. Try three or five round test batches instead of ten or twenty round batches. The same is true for sighting in a new scope or a new rifle. Check the target every second shot instead of after each full magazine.

#7) Retool. If your chief reason to plink is for backyard entertainment, consider swapping out of centerfire ammunition to 22 rimfire or even a low cost pellet rifle. Another option is the kits that convert your rifle or pistol to fire 22 cartridges. Shooting a more economical cartridge may pay for the cost of a [.22 LR] conversion kit or a new 22 rifle in as little as a single weekend’s shooting. By way of example, if you shoot 500 cartridges of 22 long rifle (at three cents each) over the course of a weekend instead of 500 cartridges of 308 (at 53 cents each). You save a whopping $250! Just let that sink in for a moment. Plinking with a 22 instead of a 308 saves two hundred fifty dollars every 500 trigger pulls. Wow! That adds up fast and the savings won’t stop with the first $250. It will continue for every similar shooting session you have in the future.

#8) Make use of your skills. Let your investment in shooting sports generate savings in other budgets. Put meat on the table. Moose, elk, mule deer, white tail, pronghorn, turkey, geese, hares, rabbits, pheasant, duck, partridge, squirrel – all are tasty and every bite on your plate saves money out of your grocery budget – especially if you learn to dress and butcher the game yourself. Besides the financial savings, you’ll have a sense of pride like little else when you know that the freezer is full and you have all the jerky you can eat because your hunts have been successful.

#9) Waste not. With scrap metal selling at or near the all time high, don’t waste the byproducts of your range time. Even if you do not reload your cartridge cases or shell hulls, someone else might be willing to pay for the chance to reload them or as salvage. Keep this in mind when you shoot Berdan primed brass. I have been unable to locate a current US retailer of Berdan primers, but that may change in the future. Even steel and aluminum cartridge cases have value as scrap and of course the lead itself can be reclaimed to smelt and mold into new musket balls, bullets, and shot, as well as being sold as scrap metal. It may seem like more work than it is worth, but remember that the prices are climbing and the sand bank behind your favorite target may already hold several hundred pounds of lead.

#10) Fight back. Be vigilant. Be proactive. Vote against new tariffs, taxes, and bans. Vote against candidates who restrict your freedoms, raise license fees, and create access permits or talk about doing so in the future. Encourage and educate not only your friends, co-workers, and neighbors, but also the next generation so that they will do the same. We may not be able to stop the global forces aligned against our shooting sports but if we work together, we might just slow them down long enough to preserve the sport and keep it affordable for one more generation. - Mr. Yankee

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I had a question about the article titled Letter Re: For Want of a Battery. In it you said to connect the Northern Tool & Equipment Solar-Powered Trickle Charger — 5 Watt Item # 339973, with this battery pack . How does the panel connect to the battery pack? And does your recommended Accupower AccuManager 20 Battery Charger (a battery charger for AA, AAA, C, D, and 9 volt rechargeable batteries connect to the 12 volt battery pack via the cigarette lighter plug? Also, could you please tell me how many AA batteries you could charge from one 12 volt battery pack. Thanks for your time and your blog. Signed, - LZ

JWR Replies: Unless it already has one installed, you would have to wire a cigarette lighter-type plug on to the lead wires from the photovoltaic panel. Those are available for any electronics supply store such as Radio Shack. Typically with DC wiring the red or white wire is positive, and that would go to the "tip" terminal on the lighter plug. (Note: Be sure double check the polarity with a volt-ohm meter before plugging it in!) One nice thing about jump packs is that they have a built-in charge controller. If you upgrade to larger capacity storage--such as a standard car battery or better yet a pair of golf cart batteries--either add a charge controller to the circuit or be very careful about checking voltage regularly during charging so that you don't "cook" your battery.

I own an AccuManager 20 Battery Charger. They were designed by a company in Germany, but I was sad to see that they are now made in mainland China. However, they do work well. They are a "smart" charger-- so they will not over-charge your batteries. They come with both a 12 VDC cord (with cigarette lighter plug) and a 120 VAC adapter. The charger has six "channels", so it can simultaneously hold four AAA, AA, C, D cells, and two 9 VDC batteries.

You can recharge at least 20 AA cells from a jump pack that is fully charged. With a five watt photovoltaic panel it might take two or three days to charge your jump pack. A 10 watt panel (or two 5 watt panels wired parallel) works much better, and a 20 watt panel works even better still. Your ability to "make do" with a smaller panel depends on your budget, how many batteries you need to keep charged, and your time available to re-position the panel to keep it in full sunlight throughout the day.

John T. mentioned that political maverick H. Ross Perot has launched a new web site. It is a convenient all-in-one place to access charts showing our national economic predicament.

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Reader "PJ" said that he found an interesting Wikipedia page on refrigeration not requiring Freon: The Einstein Refrigerator.

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Rudy R. notes that the government of Mexico has decided to freeze prices on 150 foods until December 31st. “Companies agreed to hold prices steady for cooking oil, tortillas, flour, tomato sauce, canned soups and tuna, beans, chili sauces and other staples of the Mexican table.” The history of price freezes is that they spawn shortages and economic chaos. Count on it in Mexico, especially if the price freeze period is extended beyond the end of 2008.

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Robert V. recommended this piece over at Wired: Gallery: 10 Best Apocalyptic Vehicles . OBTW, the Wired writer correctly identified Max's car from The Road Warrior as a highly-modified Australian Ford Falcon (XB GT). The car is often misidentified as a modified AMC Javelin because of its distinctive pug-ugly AMC door handles. (There were apparently some body parts from other cars used in the body work. It was a bit of a Franken-car.)

Jim's Quote of the Day:

"There are two kinds of discontent in this world: the discontent that works, and the discontent that wrings it's hands. The first gets what it wants, and the second loses what it has. There's no cure for the first but success; and there's no cure at all for the second." - Gordon Graham (as quoted in Elbert Hubbard's "Scrap Book", 1923)

"There are two kinds of discontent in this world: the discontent that works, and the discontent that wrings it's hands. The first gets what it wants, and the second loses what it has. There's no cure for the first but success; and there's no cure at all for the second." - Gordon Graham (as quoted in Elbert Hubbard's "Scrap Book", 1923)

Friday, June 20, 2008


Last weekend my town was threatened by a pretty big fire. Dozens of homes burned, thousands of citizens were evacuated. My neighborhood was among those ordered to flee the advancing flames. (Drama!)

My family was prepared to leave ahead of time and evacuated safely in large part because of the advice and encouragement I have found at SurvivalBlog. Thank you.

I did learn a few things. Theory flies out the window when panic is in the air. What is organized and prepared ahead of time actually works, what is thrown together at the last minute tends to fall apart. I had my Bug Out Vehicle (B.O.V.) fueled and standing by the night before but many did not and I saw long lines at every gas station as people were struggling to flee. The major exits were all jammed with vehicles and as tensions rose, tempers flared. Several collisions were reported, slowing down the evacuation further. People generally remained orderly, but my spouse reports that as fire trucks and other emergency responders were making their way via siren through the crowded roads, opportunistic tailgaters would follow them. I saw none of it, as I took the less known and less traveled back woods roads out of town.

I hauled all the usual checklist items; important documents, tangible savings, family photo albums, firearms and ammunition, fuel, genset, med kit, food and water supplies, camping gear, etc. With all normal routes into and out of town barricaded we had no idea when we would be allowed back in or what we would find when we got there.

Communications broke down when concerned calls flooded in. The local paper did a bang-up job of keeping us informed using Google Maps, but when the power lines burned it was tough to get on the Internet. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone lines tied to cable service fail when the cable service substation is dependant on local power. We are considering putting in a backup "Plain Old Telephone Service" (POTS) line for emergency communications. Cell systems were overloaded as well, and it seemed the only way I could communicate with my spouse who had left work to head to our pre-arranged Bug Out Location was by relaying through an out of town relative.

I also discovered that trying to organize your assets solo while simultaneously keeping track of a small child and keeping an ear out for updates is much harder than when you have time to think in peace. Finding a way to contain the child safely and keep him entertained became a prerequisite to having my hands and mind free to load up our gear.

I am thankful that the fire was managed and most folk returned home safely. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the firefighters who saved our town and to those neighbors whose homes were lost. - Anonymous

Mr. Rawles,

First, I'd like to thank you for your blog. It's well worth the 10 Cent Challenge [voluntary subscription]! My question is about grain storage. We live on the outskirts of a big city and recently bought an old trailer on 25 acres in the country. It's a three hour drive from where we are now and we can't live there full time because of my husband's job. I moved half of my bulk storage buckets (about 10) up there and during the winter it was fine but now it's hot (in the 90's) and humid during the day. We can't leave the air conditioning running because the trailer is old and very drafty. With the country in the shape it's in I'm really undecided if I should bring the buckets back or just leave them there. Will the heat really damage them or just shorten the life? In an emergency situation we may or may not be able to transport everything from point A to point B. We may be lucky just to get there with the clothes on our backs and it would nice to have supplies already positioned. What are your thought on this? Thanks and God Bless, - JM

JWR Replies: Grain suffers far less from heat than other storage foods. But the loss of nutritive value will accelerate, shortening the storage life. Wheat causes the least worries, but anything else--especially with a high oil content (such as brown rice) is at risk of going rancid at higher temperature. Those items should probably be moved back to where you can store it below 80 degrees. (Ideally, under 50 degrees, but few of us have even basements that stay that cool.) OBTW, the humidity should not be much of an issue if you are using properly sealed buckets (with o-rings in the lids.)

In the long term, unless there is a high water table at your retreat, you should put a priority on constructing a large root cellar at your retreat. Ideally, it should double as a fallout shelter. Because your property is not occupied regularly, your best bet is camouflaging the cellar entrance and exterior air vent(s) rather than trying to make a burglar-proof door. Given enough time, someone will bring a cutting torch and get through just about any door. Camouflaging a door with a large rubbish pile or a stack of old rotted cordwood usually works well. Your goal is to get the miscreants dismissively thinking: "There is nothing worth stealing here..." You can leave your almost empty trailer as bait, to distract their attention.

Mr. Rawles
I'd just like to present an alternate thought to one of the statements made in the most recent piece written about G.O.O.D. bags: "Try to avoid foods that are high in sodium. You will have to drink more water." Salt is not the enemy! Especially in hot climates. If you are traveling on foot you will be depleting a lot of your body's salt. Low sodium levels in the body can, in a surprisingly short time, lead to muscle cramps at the least and seizures and death in the more severe losses. Salt also provides an osmotic gradient that can be instrumental in keeping water in the body.

You previously posted a very good electrolyte replacement formula [in SurvivalBlog] which [includes salt and that] would be a very good item to keep in your G.O.O.D. bag. Also include a balanced B vitamin complex will help with the energy producing functions in the body. Although I prefer a well balanced vitamin/mineral such as Theragram M or Centrum.
Regards, - D.D.S. (R.Ph.)

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:

As you may know Mountain House has curtailed all shipment of their freeze dried foods in cans throughout the U.S. until at least October of this year. I repeat, the supply from Mountain House has been cut and I fully believe that when their food in #10 cans is available again, it will be at much higher prices.

We still have a large supply of Mountain House Freeze Dried foods in our warehouse. It appears that we have one of the largest remaining supplies in the country as some of our biggest competitors are referring their customers to us since they are out of stock.

We do have an excellent supply of fine Dehydrated Foods on hand. Due to the unprecedented incoming response it is taking 2-to-4 weeks from receipt of order to shipment. Before you order it is always a good idea to call for availability of any given item.

The best way to reach us is by phone on our backline number at (530) 265-8333 as our "866" number and our e-mail in-box are in constant overflow.

If you call and get our recording be sure to leave your phone number; do not keeping calling back as several people are doing in hopes of getting through as this is using up our voice mail space and causing problems for everyone else. Please understand that this situation is unprecedented and be especially patient. - Freeze Dry Guy


Eric sent us this "signs of the times" article: More and More Moving to Escape Gas Price Burden. Meanwhile, the British press reports: Gas and electricity bills to rise 40 Percent, experts warn. (A hat tip to Jack B. for that link.)

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From a South African newspaper comes more troubling news from Zimbabwe. Here is a quote: "We are not going to give up our country because of a mere 'X.' [on a ballot]. How can a ballpoint fight with a gun?" Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said yesterday while campaigning for reelection, in warning that he won't give up power even if opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai beats him in the presidential run-off on June 27. Mr. Mugabe's threat coincided with a sudden worsening in violence in the townships around the capital, Harare, as mobs of hundreds of governing-party youths marched through the streets at night, chanting war songs, dragging people out of their homes and beating them up with sticks, iron rods and axes, the Times of London reports." Comrade Mugabe and his cronies must go! Of course, now that they have disarmed most of their opponents, that might prove difficult.

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Charles suggested this how-to whole house water filtration article PDF file: Gravity Fed Water Treatment System

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Reader A.D.S. mentioned this article: World crude production has peaked: Pickens. As I often say, the law of supply and demand is inescapable. T. Boone Pickens is right: Only sharply higher prices will cause demand to slacken.

"That's the difference between governments and individuals. Governments don't care, individuals do." - Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The high bid in the new SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $350. This auction is for two cases (12 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans donated by Ready Made Resources, valued at $260, a course certificate for a four-day Bushcraft & Survival Course valued at $550, 25 pounds of green (un-roasted) Colombian Supremo coffee courtesy of www.cmebrew.com valued at $88.75, and a set of 1,600 U.S. Military Manuals, Government Manuals, and Civil Defense Manuals, Firearm Manuals on two CD-ROM disks, valued at $20. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

The following is another article for Round 17 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 ends on July 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.

This is a brief outline for preparing a vehicle-borne Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.). bag or Bug Out Bag (B.O.B.). We are all hopefully suitably prepared at our homes or retreats, but what if you find yourself away from your retreat WTSHTF? Recent events and some blog readers have mentioned the importance of having a G.O.O.D. bag in your vehicle. The floods in the midwest as well as the wildland fires in my neck of the woods, speak to this necessity. what ever the situation you are facing you should be able to get back home or at least remove yourself from immediate danger should vehicle travel for whatever reason become impossible.

The basic idea for a G.O.O.D. or B.O.B. is to be self sufficient without outside support for 72 hours (three days). Your individual bag must have everything you need within immediate grasp. If you have to look around for a missing piece of kit it could mean the difference between getting away from danger and being stuck in a worse situation.
The first item to consider is the pack itself. Invest the money in high quality gear. Your bag must be large enough to carry all of your equipment, but not ungainly. Especially if you are not used to carrying a load on your back over distance. I am a fan of Maxpedition brand packs. I use a Condor II pack regularly for all types of activities. (The Condor II is probably too small for use as a G.O.O.D. bag.) The MOLLE straps on the outside of many kinds of tactical type packs are great for securing additional gear or clothes. Packs with internal drinking water bladders are also good to look for.

Ultimately you will have to experiment with different types of packs to see what is most effective for you. You may also consider getting a more generic looking pack to avoid unwanted scrutiny that a distinctly military looking pack may draw.

You might want to supplement your pack with a vest along the lines of a photographers, safari or fishing type. Vests are great for storing small items you will need frequently or quickly. Things like a compass, small snack foods, pistol magazines, or things it would be impractical to store in your pack. It would not be good to stop and take your pack off every time you want a snack or need to take a compass reading. Digging in your pack for a pistol magazine when you really need it could be disastrous.

Water is the most important consideration. You will suffer some without food for three days but going without water for three days will probably kill you.

During high heat physical exertion your body may require a gallon of water a day. Its not practical to carry three days worth of water. Water is heavy! Weighing 8.2 lbs a gallon, most people cannot carry 32.5 lbs of water along with their other equipment. Keep extra water in your vehicle to hydrate yourself with before you abandon your vehicle if time and circumstance allow. Look for small air force flask type canteens to stuff into pockets as well as a CamelBak-type water bladder or a pack that has an internal hydration bladder. Ever bit of water you can carry is important!

Depending on where you live you may not have to rely as heavily on water you carry. Keep in mind depending on the situation presented you may not be able to stop and purify or boil water. It is still a good idea to carry as much water as you can.

Because water is heavy and keeping in mind "The Rule of Threes", you need to carry some sort of method of making water you encounter suitable to drink. Water Purification tablets are small and light weight but don't do anything to remove the big chucks or discoloration. You can use a bandanna or a T-shirt to improvise a filter that will get some of the stuff, but obviously won't remove everything. A better method would be to use the bandanna or T-shirt then use some sort of compact hiker type mechanical water filter. The best you might encounter would be to use tablets as well as a mechanical filter.

If you find yourself having to abandon your vehicle, grab your G.O.O.D. bag and set off overland your already in a pretty tight spot. You don't want to make your situation worse by risking an intestinal bug, which in this case could be life threatening. Basically its like this:
The best water you have is what's already with you.
The next best water is treated then filtered. Or boiled for at least 10 minutes.
The next best is water that has been filtered or treated.
Untreated or unfiltered water is very hazardous. Even the most pristine looking mountain stream has all kinds of potentially bad parasites in it. We all know what bears do in the woods, and they do it in streams too!

If your situation gets bad enough you may have to do what you have to do, just keep in mind the possible repercussions.
The next thing to consider is food. There are a lot of options for this consideration. Everything from Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) to freeze dried foods. For my own G.O.O.D. bag I have a mixture of MREs and Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDRs) I break them down and keep only the items I know I like, as well as to save space. Keep in mind that high heat drastically reduces shelf life of MREs and HDRs. Your going to be keeping this pack in your trunk or truck in the summer sun. Rotate your items out at the very most every six months.

Freeze dried foods such as Alpine Aire or Mountain House are another option. They are much lighter than MREs or HDRs but require water--usually near boiling hot water-- to prepare. I prefer MREs because you can eat them cold or use the the chemical heater with military MREs. Making a fire or using a stove could compromise your OPSEC. You can eat an MRE and keep moving.

You should supplement whatever food you decide to use with small prepackaged snack foods. Journeys overland expend huge amounts of caloric energy requiring constant replenishment. Additionally circumstances may dictate that you might not be able to stop and prepare a meal and having readily available snack food will help keep you going until you can stop. Try to avoid foods that are high in sodium. You will have to drink more water.

The next thing to consider will be shelter. Your shelter will depend on the weather. Try to keep weight to a minimum. You will be mobile. You may not have time to make a very substantial shelter. Keep it basic. Just something to keep the rain off while you sleep. You must take into account the type of environment you will likely face. Keep in mind where you are, where you are going and what's in between. You should consider the season as well. You probably won't need as much during the summer months. It makes sense doing a seasonal rotation of your kit to fit the current season. Doing a seasonal rotation allows you to inspect your entire outfit and ensure everything is in good working order.

I feel it is important to keep fitting seasonal clothing with your bag in your vehicle as well as some good boots. You must be able to move comfortably over distance and you might not be dressed appropriately for you current situation. Make sure your boots are well "broken in".

Depending on your environment and or skill level you may be able to improvise shelter from what's around you. You can include a couple of contractor grade garbage bags to improvise shelter or shade. You could also use clear plastic construction sheeting but this won't be effective for shade. I prefer a small tarp. I use a brown colored one as opposed to the typical blue. Brown blends into the landscape better.

Mylar space blankets are very thin and probably won't hold up well when utilized as shelter. You should include one or two to use as intended and could probably be used as a back up in a pinch. Be sure to include some packable rain gear in a neutral color or at least an emergency poncho. A better choice would be both.

The next thing to consider is navigation. The idea of vehicle G.O.O.D. or B.O.B. is to allow you to get from point A to Point B with body and spirit intact. If you don't know how to read maps, learn. I feel the best maps are USGS topographical maps but is impractical to carry a large number of these maps. You should have some road maps in your bag. I carry a regional map (e.g. Western U.S.) a state map (e.g. Oregon) and a compact national atlas. If you have room put in adjoining state maps. If you are planning a road trip put in those states as well. The situation you are in may require you to completely avoid roads but you can use them as a reference point.

Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers are very nice to have but require batteries and can be affected by environmental conditions (e.g. canyons, overhead cover) GPS can fail. Do not rely entirely on your GPS. Get a compass, and learn how to use it. If you have a compass get another one for a spare.

We all know the shortest point between two points is a straight line, but this might not be the best one. Determine the navigational hazards between you and your destination. Remember choke points, mountain passes, bridges and depending on circumstance cities and towns. Try to learn the areas you travel frequently. That will help you a great deal. Learn terrain features the routes you travel frequently to help determine direction and distance. Forget about using moss and other axioms to determine direction. They are not reliable.

The next item is fire. Fire could have been included with shelter but I felt it important to mention individually. You should include three separate means of making fire. Whether you use a butane lighter, matches and a fire tool. Use what works for you.

Fire is an important survival tool. It provides heat, can be used for cooking and provides a means for making water suitable to drink. Learn how to make fire in adverse conditions and practice it. Actual skill is better than gadgets. You should also include a metal cup suitable for cooking or boiling water.

Remember your OPSEC. If you are trying not to be noticed, then lighting a fire is not the way to do it. You will have to figure out an alternative or take the risk if your situation requires it.

A small stove could be a viable alternative to lighting a fire. Keep weight and fuel in consideration. I have included a small Esbit stove in my pack. They are very small and can carry some fuel inside the folded arms.

There are also some other miscellaneous items you should include in your pack. These are usually along the lines of tools. A good quality multi-tool such as a Gerber or Leatherman is a good idea. A small folding shovel might be good for making your fire less obvious as well as doubling as a hatchet with the edge sharpened. Toilet paper is a must. Handling the call of nature with leaves is not fun.

A good quality compact first aid kit is absolutely required. Any medications you must take have to be included. Over the counter pain relievers and medications for common ailments should be included as well. A good idea I saw somewhere was a small plastic tackle or crafts box to contain your medications with the lid labeled to keep it all organized.

Be sure to include a couple of small flashlights, and extra batteries. I also have included a couple of small LED key chain lights. They have a surprisingly bright light for the the size.

Make sure to include a couple of knives. I have a surplus Mora sheath knife in my pack as well as a folding pocket knife.

Some people may want to include a firearm of some sort. This is a question that can be a little sensitive and is full of personal opinion and legal questions. I personally have included a firearm. For me its not a question because I am legally permitted to carry a firearm concealed. You will have to examine your personal situation and decide to act as you see fit.

In conclusion I hope I have given you a good base to start from. A large part of having a well prepared G.O.O.D. pack is trial and error. Remember to practice beforehand. The middle of a crisis is not a good time to apply a new skill set. Remember to keep it simple. You can't carry everything you will need to meet every set of circumstances but you can use what you have and improvise. Hopefully you won't find yourself in a situation where you will have to abandon your vehicle, but maybe with a well-designed G.O.O.D. bag, you can make the best of it.

Hi Jim,
Within the last couple of days I have noticed that multiple economic and financial institutions have started to issue global financial crash alerts. For instance:

- Morgan Stanley warns of a 'catastrophic event'. The point of maximum stress could occur in coming months if the European Central Bank (ECB) starts to raise rates and the Fed backs away from expected tightening. The rates differential "could trigger a 'catastrophic' event".

- The Global Europe Anticipation (LEAP/E2020) team is now convinced that this period will consist for the whole world in a major plunge into the heart of the phase of impact of the global systemic crisis. The upcoming six months are in fact the core of the unfolding crisis. The troubles met in the past 12 months were mere harbingers.

- In its latest quarterly report, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warns that the credit crisis could lead world economies into a crash on a scale not seen since the 1930s.

- The Royal Bank of Scotland has advised clients to brace for a full fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months as inflation paralyses major central banks.

You know the risk for a 'mother of all great depressions' is real when normally cheerful bankers start to openly warn about a global crisis.
Time to recite the old adage: "The one who panics first wins!" Thanks for publishing a great blog. Regards, - Alain

JWR Replies: Here is one more article to add to your list: Paulson & Co. Says Writedowns May Reach $1.3 Trillion

I have been raising red flags ever since the global credit market collapsed in the summer of 2007. As I've mentioned before, credit used to be the lubricant of the global economy, but in recent years credit has become the prime mover of the economy. The nascent recession cum depression could be very, very bad. If you haven't done so already, get your logistics squared away. And if you don't already live at your retreat, the vast majority of what you need should be pre-positioned there, muy pronto.

Mr Rawles,

First, I will be taking the 10 Cent Challenge starting this week, as I get far more than 10-cents worth of information per day from this wonderful blog.

Second, I saw this article on the BBC web site. Fuel £1.99 a litre as tanks dry

That's right, for stations that haven't run dry yet (1970s America all over again?), gas is selling for the equivalent of $14.76 per US gallon.

Time to start thinking about what the US would look like at $15 a gallon. Yours, - DLF

Bill N. wrote me to ask: "Did someone read your novel? Check out the charging system powered by a bicycle."

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A reminder that Wiggy's is having a 20 percent off sale until the end of July. They have great products at great prices, and they are American-made. Here at the ranch, we have five Wiggy's FTRSS sleeping bag sets and four of their Lamilite ground pads that we use very regularly. They have received far above average use since 1993, so we can attest to how sturdy and well-made they are.

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More than a dozen readers sent us this news link: Royal Bank of Scotland issues global stock and credit crash alert. (Also noted in Alain's letter, above.) Be ready, folks!

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"Catman" suggested an article about a Florida "Food Network". Catman says that he thinks that these wholesale buying networks may catch on.

"The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic destroyed." - Abraham Lincoln, November 21, 1864, a letter to William F. Elkins

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The high bid in the new SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $260. This auction is for two cases (12 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans donated by Ready Made Resources, valued at $260, a course certificate for a four-day Bushcraft & Survival Course valued at $550, 25 pounds of green (un-roasted) Colombian Supremo coffee courtesy of www.cmebrew.com valued at $88.75, and a set of 1,600 U.S. Military Manuals, Government Manuals, and Civil Defense Manuals, Firearm Manuals on two CD-ROM disks, valued at $20. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.


I'm sending a follow-up to your link on the historic flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Typical issues: Roads closed or collapsed, bridges flooded or swept away, traffic jams for miles, power and gas outages, water shortages, businesses closed, forced evacuation of 20,000 people included the local jails and a hospital. Cleanup will take months, and there will be shortages of construction material. Heck, we had shortages of lumber and sheetrock in Iowa during the Florida and Louisiana hurricanes.

And what has become typical - jurisdictional disputes. Local law enforcement has its own issues, but FEMA doesn't play well with others.

Armed police and National Guardsmen stood ready to prevent you from re-entering your neighborhood and your property. First, they and the fire department will break into your home to determine if it is safe for you to enter. Then they "allow" you one trip, only to your home, and only to retrieve what you can carry on your back.

Watch the YouTube clip at the 1:58 mark. Sometimes those who "protect and serve" are not very friendly. And "contraband" items were not overlooked. It would be a kick in the teeth to return home to an arrest warrant.

What made the flood more destructive was the fact that the crest predictions were off by 10 feet and overwhelmed the levees. People who felt safe by moving their possessions to the second floor found that the unanticipated extra 10 feet of dirty river water invaded that, too. One might want to rent a storage garage (on a high hill!) when the flood warning is posted.

BTW, I received my .45 ACP Springfield XD [pistol] Saturday along with the rest of the Front Sight "Get a Gun" training and gear package. I've attended Orange Gunsite for rifle and pistol, but it's been some time. This [pair of courses at Front Sight] should be fun. Thanks for giving me the push I needed. - Redmist

Mr. Rawles,
As a long-time resident of Alaska, I agree in general [with your Retreat Locales page assessment] that it's just not a viable survival location for most people. Someone wanting to move here should carefully consider whether it would work for them. Alaska is huge, with a low population. While 275,000 people live in the Anchorage area, only 400,00 live in the rest of the state, comprised of over 1/2 million square miles. But more than 99% of the land is off limits to settlement, because it's owned by either government or native corporations. Even if land were available, most of it is inaccessible if you can't afford a helicopter or float plane. Much of it is treeless, windblown, and covered with ice and snow more than six months per year. When the ice finally melts, the roads buckle and heave due to the cycle of freezing and thawing. This requires expensive maintenance that would not be sustainable if TSHTF.

The economy of Alaska is driven by oil income and government spending, both of which would cease if the U.S. economy collapsed. There is very little local manufacturing capability. Sadly, even most natives have lost the ability to live off the land, due to income from various government programs and business ventures.

Home heating is a huge expense in Alaska; $6,000. or more per winter for some households. Even if you have a source of wood and cut it yourself, it's going to occupy a lot of your time.

On the plus side, there's unlimited pure air and water. While wildlife isn't as abundant as most people think, there are more than enough fish to keep everyone alive in a survival scenario. There are almost no insects to bother crops, and although the growing season is short, some vegetables do very well in the long daylight hours in summer. Alaska has one of the best concealed-carry laws in the country, and most prisoners are outsourced to other states, so they would not be a problem in a collapse. Alaska has a high concentration of military and former military personnel, who generally have a sound grasp of Constitutional issues.

Alaskans understand survival. Many who live in villages or in the bush have no running water. Some have no electricity. Alaska is a great place to practice survival skills. But you might not want to stay after TSHTF unless you're in extremely good health, you tolerate cold well, and you're prepared to do the hard work it would take to survive in a hostile environment. - K.L. in Alaska

JWR Replies: Thanks for those comments. I've updated the Recommended Retreat Areas page, accordingly.

Dear Jim,
I read with interest the posted letter on KIO3 versus KI. “Letter Re: Potassium Iodide Versus Potassium Iodate for Post-Nuke Thyroid Gland Protection”. As a manufacturer of both KI and KIO3 I would like to point out that KIO3 is FDA approved and inspected. All of the ingredients are FDA approved and inspected as is the facility where it is made. Even the tableting machines and mixers are registered with the FDA and the DEA.

KIO3 as well as it's ingredients are, by law, approved and inspected by the FDA. Here is an example where our KIO3 is assayed under the watchful eye of the FDA according to the rules of the Food Chemical Codex (FCC). Our KI is assayed under USP. An example of the assay of my KIO3 can be viewed here. Notice that it is assayed above FDA minimum standards.

The FDA approval that some people are so proud of is called the Orange List or Orange Book. OTC (over-the-counter) [drugs and supplements] are not controlled substances and do not need to be on the Orange List unless:
1) You apply for it, or
2) The FDA invites you to be on it. In the case of KI and KIO3, the Orange List gives you permission to bid on Federal contracts if you desire to do so.

In 2002 the FDA and [Center for Drug Evaluation and Research] (CDER) asked my company (Medical Corps) if we would consider coming to Bethesda, Maryland to put Medical Corps’ KIO3 on the Orange List. So, I did some studying and determined that—at the time—putting KIO3 or even my KI on the list would be like the kiss of death for the following reasons:

1.) What is sold to the government doesn’t go to the people, it goes in storage.
2.) It would drive the price up
3.) At the time, the FDA had the wrong dosages down for KI and I wanted no part of that.
4.) Most importantly, I didn’t need FDA approval to sell KIO3 to the public or the States.
5.) For their own personal use government employees often buy KIO3... Secret Service, State Department, FBI, FDA, DEA, others.

So, I turned down the much-touted FDA approval for the Orange List.

As for KI being FDA approved for the Orange List: some is and some isn’t. Only if you want to fill Federal contracts do you need to be on the list.

I no longer sell my KI to the US public. While studying KI, I came across several studies that showed that KI causes cancer in lab animals. KIO3 didn’t. To me, that’s important. Most of the rest of the world uses KIO3 and the Scots advise that the citizens should have the KIO3 in their homes and not in a stockpile. (Note: I, personally, would not hesitate to give a patient KI in a Nuclear Emergency. It is a good thyroid blocker.)

The only toxicity study with KIO3 was some people in India swallowed the equivalent of thousands of tablets of KIO3 and it gave them blurred vision for a while. I’m surprised that it didn’t kill them.

So if someone bought KI because someone said the FDA Orange list made it superior—it’s not true. Overall, KIO3 is superior —unless you think selling to the Federal government makes you superior. Medical Corps has put many millions of tablets of KIO3 into the hands of American Citizens as well as State EMS departments. Millions of our tablets have gone overseas where the standard has always been KIO3. It was Medical Corps' KIO3 that created dozens upon dozens of sub-distributors and supported their efforts for preparedness for over the past decade.

I have actually given trade-ins for people with KI just to get it out of their houses.

Both KI and KIO3 can be rough on the stomach. I've taken both on more than one occasion for testing purposes. KIO3 seems to be a bit rougher on the empty stomach, but KI is exceedingly bitter. Here's what to do;

First and foremost, you need to have several weeks worth of KI or KIO3 on hand in storage now because if we have a nuclear event the chances of you getting it after the event is remote to nonexistent. The National Pharmaceutical Stockpile will not be able to reach in a timely manner because of radiation pollution and especially EMP [disrupting communications and transportation]. There will be no [grid] electricity and vehicles, radios, television et cetera will not work. Ergo, no distribution or thyroid blockers for America.

Another point to consider: If we have one nuclear event we will most likely have more than one over several days time. That is the reason we (several manufacturers have multi-dose bottles. We had to ask ourselves, "How much is enough?"

If you are counting on the two tablets of KI or KIO3 that was handed out, it won't be enough. Since I no longer carry KI for the US, who would I recommend to purchase more KI from? Shane Conner of www.ki4u.com has a ready supply and he is a trustworthy manufacturer. I often recommend him. The other maker I would recommend is Kevin Briggs who makes Rad Block. It can be purchased at www.TACDA.com

How to Take KI and KIO3

KIO3 can be taken in tablet form or sprinkled on food or drinks. It is not bitter and children won't throw it up--which is the point. However, taking it on an empty stomach feels like taking an aspirin on an empty stomach so take it with food or especially lots of water. If food or water is not handy then by all means don't delay--just take the proper dose or chew up the proper dose. KI has less of that "I just drank a cold drink" feeling.

KI is terribly bitter and the taste must be disguised. It made about 6% of the population vomit during Chernobyl and I would think that most were children. The FDA has devoted a huge page on disguising the taste of KI. Here is a quick list on what to do, reprinted from the FDA's site:

* Low fat chocolate milk
* Orange juice
* Flat Soda (For example, cola)
* Raspberry syrup
The mixture of potassium iodide with raspberry syrup disguises the taste of potassium iodide best. The mixtures of potassium iodide with low fat chocolate milk, orange juice, and flat soda (for example, cola) generally have an acceptable taste. Low fat white milk and water did not hide the salty taste of potassium iodide.

If you only have KI then it is a must that the child keep it down or the child's thyroid may be exposed to a lethal dose of I-131. Find some way to make them keep it down.
In the event of a nuclear disaster or nuclear bomb you will have to take KI or KIO3 to protect your thyroid if you are down wind.

I'm supposed to say that the authorities will tell you when to take the KIO3, but EMP will be a problem for that and most likely the authorities will either be in a shelter or be glowing plasma--so you really are on your own. A gas mask will not do the job properly. Human skin will absorb radioactive iodine even if you have on a mask. The only way to completely avoid I-131 is to have a self-contained blast [and fallout] shelter [with air filtration].

In closing, I repeat, buy your KI or KIO3 now so you can concentrate on other things like food, water, shelter and education. Especially education because the old civil defense motto was Knowledge Replaces Fear.

Sincerely, - Chuck Fenwick, Director, Medical Corps

I'm in the process of building a gun vault / safe room and would like to hear your recommendations on a good NBC filter system. Thank you, - M.T.

JWR Replies: By coincidence, SafeCastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) currently has a special sale in progress, for their fallout shelter HEPA air filtration and ventilation systems. They are priced at 30% off, and the sale ends at the end of June. I highly recommend their products.

Bill N. Sent us the link to an article by two doctors on how to remove ticks. Bill's comment: "It connects to a summary on how to remove ticks and more importantly how to avoid being their dinner."

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A reminder that the WRSA has another Practical Medicine course scheduled, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, June 20 to June 22. They now have just one or two seats still available. This is excellent, very affordable training that is taught by an Emergency Room doctor with many years of practical experience. The course is subtitled: "Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments." This course will fill you in on the things that the Red Cross doesn't teach, like dealing with pneumothorax and gunshot wounds.

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Reader "Pills" pointed us to a useful discussion over at The High Road Forums about spotting some fake Colt-marked M1911 pistol magazines that are being passed off as genuine.

"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."- Robert A. Heinlein, Life-Line (1939)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The high bid in the new SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $230. This auction is for two cases (12 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans donated by Ready Made Resources, valued at $260, a course certificate for a four-day Bushcraft & Survival Course valued at $550, 25 pounds of green (un-roasted) Colombian Supremo coffee courtesy of www.cmebrew.com valued at $88.75, and a set of 1,600 U.S. Military Manuals, Government Manuals, and Civil Defense Manuals, Firearm Manuals on two CD-ROM disks, valued at $20. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

The following is another article--commendably of near epic length and detail--for Round 17 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 ends on July 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.

It was June, 1998. Y2K was a salient topic of conversation. It got my attention. When the electricity went off and there would be no water to drink, and no fuel to move food to the JIT grocery stores, I could see things getting very ugly. I had been willing to fight for this nation as a member of the US Army. Now it was time to fight for my household. I bought a Springfield Armory M1A. I bought a safe to store it in. I bought another M1A (for the spousal unit of course!) I bought ammo. Lots of it. I bought gear. I bought food. I became awakened to the idea of being self-reliant.
That was 10 years ago. Y2K didn’t cause a global melt down. (Although I have a friend in the service that sat in a command bunker holding his breath at Y2K – the government didn’t know what was going to occur.) I have not had to live through or endure Hurricane Katrina. No participation in the 9/11 attacks. In fact, I can’t claim a campaign ribbon for any disasters. Am I upset or sorry that I have changed my life to follow a path of self-reliance? Most definitely, absolutely not!

Let me share with you the good and the bad of what I have done in the last ten years. So often, people new to self-reliance are like ants at the foot of a mountain staring up with their head touching their back wondering how in the world they will ever be able to replace modern society and be able to take care of themselves WTSHTF. Well, truth be told, you can’t do it overnight unless you’re Warren Buffet. I am walking, talking living proof, however, that you can make significant progress. Let me show you!

In order to show you that you do indeed have cause for hope, let me share a few of my screw-ups. How about the initial purchases I made while in a state of “marked concern” when I became “self aware” with regard to self – reliance. The money I invested in self-reliance was my spousal unit’s “down payment on a house”. Do you think this view of “my nest” versus “the world may end” led to some intense “discussions”? You bet your last dog flea it did. For much of the intervening 10 years I have been the one prepping while my wife harbored a severe grudge against the entire topic because I spent our money for the house down payment on crazy self-reliance materials. A grade of “F” to me for consensus building. She is just beginning to come around in the last two years. Poster child example of a bucket of wet sand. (If two guys fight, they belt each other like two crazed wolverines. Eventually they realize they were stupid for fighting, shake hands, forgive and are back to being friends. Kinda like a cow urinating on a big flat rock – big splash and splatters, but it dries up pretty quickly. Get in an argument with a gal and it is like pouring water into a bucket of sand – the surface may dry after a bit, but it stays wet down in that bucket for a long time.)

I very religiously squirreled away Gillette Atra razors because that is what I used each day. The handle that you click onto the blade cartridge gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service. The stores don’t sell them anymore! Now I have three dozen packs of five cartridges with no way to use them to shave! Fortunately, I did find a second/spare handle in my stores and will be able to use them up. Did I re-learn some valuable lessons? You bet!

Two is one, and one is none.
You need to see what you have (inventories!)
Store what you Eat/use – I did great on the cartridges, but forgot spare handles!

In the run-up to Y2K I bought a dozen 6 volt golf cart batteries to be able to set-up some kind of power system in the house. Great intent. No photovoltaic panels No wiring until last year. They have been “stored” sitting on pallets in a friends storage building for 9 years because I have not been able to get to the replacement power system yet. I could have used that money for a higher priority item.
The spousal unit and I built our home last year. We did many things very right. Some learning experiences occurred, however. Maybe chief amongst them is my underestimation of the massiveness of the size of this endeavor! I joke with friends about not being free from the To Do list to be able to get into trouble for at least five years! Fix the septic pond berms. Sort out the “scrap” lumber. Put a deck on the back of the house so the [building] code Nazis will give us the permanent occupancy permit. Fix the leaking pressure tank in the basement. Fix the DR mower. Mow. Clear 30 trees dropped to get the septic pond clearance (not done with that one yet). Cut and split and stack firewood. The list goes on. Don’t get me wrong – I would not trade my homestead back for city living for anything. Was I able to foresee the "second & third order effects” of the change to a country homestead? Nope. Not even having read Backwoods Home magazine for 8 years. Thank God I listened to my in-laws and did not try to finish the upstairs interior construction while living downstairs!

Prior to Y2K I tried very hard to create a group. It failed in many ways. Had Y2K caused the feared problems, we would have been road kill. Okay, we would have been the third or fourth critter on the highway run over by life, but we were nowhere near ready to deal with WTSHTF/TEOTWAWKI. The Yuppie Queen and her husband went right back to spoiling their princess/daughter, buying Jaguars, clothes, and hair implants. You know - living the typical American city life. The other couple moved out onto 20 acres in a very rural county and raise goats and chickens. I am on 20+ acres and moving in a self-reliant direction. Two out of three ain’t bad!

I endured the gauntlet of multiple careers trying to find a fit for who I am. Thankfully, my spousal unit was trained well by her farmer parents. We never carried any debt other than the mortgage. One thing we did do smart was under-buy on our home with a condo (sixplex) in town. No car payments. No credit card payments. We kept 3-6 months of expenses in savings. One business venture was as a franchisee for Idiotstate. Massive mistake. Four years with no income for me and a net loss of $60,000 overall. What preps could you get done with an extra $60,000? I am certainly not happy I put one in the “L” column. I am not proud of failing. I am proud of jumping into the fight and giving it my 110%. As they used to tell me in the military, “What an opportunity for character building!” Learning lesson for me was that I should never have stopped Soldiering. I simply have green blood. I have returned to the Army by working as a tactical/leadership contractor at a nearby Fort and getting reappointed into the National Guard. Will a deployment take me away from directly protecting The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU)? Yes. Does staying employed doing what God designed me to do mean we’ll have a steady income? Likely. Does a pension check from age 65 on make us better able to care for ourselves? You betcha. The world may not disintegrate in 30 days. It may actually remain fairly normal. One has to prepare for that contingency as well.

By now you have to be thinking “What a knothead! This guy couldn’t find his fourth point of contact if you put one hand on a cheek!” Well, not so fast there Skippy! I have a thing or two that should go in the “W” column. I should give you a massive dose of hope! Let me describe to you in a quick overview where I have come to in my 10 year quest to become more self-reliant. First, about our home…

Your home is your castle, right? Well mine actually kinda is. It sets on a chunk of land that is 20+ acres. The terrain is rolling and 95% wooded. It butts up against a cemetery to the north, a 900+ acre conservation area to the south, a river to the west, and a section line to the east. The home is an Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) structure. The walls are 1” of concrete fake rock veneer, 2.5” of foam, 8” of reinforced concrete, 2.5” of foam, 5/8” of sheetrock. It is “round”, being made up of 12 wall sections each 8 feet in width. Two stories with a basement. About 1,800 square feet of living space. (2,700 with the basement, however, that area is not finished yet.) Geothermal heating/cooling and a soapstone wood stove. Metal roof. No carpeting – oak floors and tile. The wellhead is inside the home so I don’t have to worry about winter breakdowns or freeze-ups, nor losing access WTSHTF. We are running at top speed towards the 20% equity checkpoint in order to get rid of the bankster-invented Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) extortion racket. (We have a credit rating of 804, so the “risk” the bank incurs by carrying our note is a freaking joke!). It suits our lifestyle very, very well. Our intent was to have a very low maintenance home. Having lived here one year in two more weeks, it looks like we have a very big check mark in the “W” column. More details on the design/floor plan in a future article!

Weapons & Training
We have an M1A set-up for combat, and one set up for long-range precision work. The Glock 21 [.45 ACP] is the base pistol for the household, with one for each of us and a G30 [compact Glock .45 ACP] as back-up. The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU) doesn’t carry a rifle or carbine, just the pistol. (More on that later.) Training for both of us includes Defensive Handgun 1 and Team Tactics with Clint and Heidi Smith at Thunder Ranch. I have also had General Purpose, Urban, and Precision Rifle with Clint. I completed a special symposium at Gunsite (pistol, rifle, shotgun, carbine). I am an NRA Certified pistol, rifle, and home defense instructor. I have several other weapon platforms as a “Dan Fong” kind of guy. The two rifles with accoutrements, and the four pistols with same were certainly not cheap. Nor was the training. I do, however, know how to properly employ them now.

Food & Supplies

The spousal unit & I could stretch the on-hand food to cover two years. Canned freeze dried is 45% of it, bulk buckets is 45%, and “normal use” food is the last 10%. We have built a rolling rack set of shelves for the 3rd part to ease rotation of the canned goods with each grocery store trip. No, I haven’t found the secret spy decoder ring sequence on how to rotate the bulk and freeze-dried stuff with our normal, both of us work, lifestyle. The sticking point for this area I see is that WTSHTF, Mom & Dad in-law, Sister-in-law, Brother-in-law with wife and two princesses (one with hubby), and my Mom & her husband will show up on our doorstep. That makes for an even dozen mouths to fee

Now for a bit more detail. First topic up, IAW my military training, is Security. The base of everything here is God. I have chosen to bend my knee to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I can amass all the weapons, ammo, food and “stuff” you can imagine, but He is the one ultimately in charge. I am charged to be a prudent steward of His possessions - my family, property, vehicles, food, weapons, ammo, etc.. I am definitely striving to be the ant storing things for the winter. If you ain’t right in this area, it will really matter in eternity.

Part of your security is weapons. There are sheeple, wolves, and sheepdogs. I am definitely in the 3rd category. In today’s world your “teeth” are your firearms. I plan from a Boston T. Party paradigm of having a battle rifle. Hence, the M1A. Were I starting over today, I would likely go with a FAL, but now "I will dance with the one that brung me". Or maybe just accept the brilliance of the M1 Garand at $620 delivered to your doorstep from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). I do have two of these. Hard to argue with .30-06 ball. I renovate Mausers as my hobby and so have a .35 WAI scout rifle. A second one in the more common 7.62x51 chambering is in work now. I laos have a Mossberg 835 [riotgun], two Ruger 10/22s (one blued, one stainless), Ruger MKII stainless .22 LR pistol, S&W 625 pistol in .45 ACP/.45 Auto Rim, a few Enfields, and a couple of Mosin-Nagants round out the field.

Let me detail for you the path to get to the Glocks. I think it may save you some of your money. I received a Colt Gold Cup [M1911] .45 ACP pistol from my Dad as a graduation gift from the Hudson Home For Boys [aka USMA West Point]. Great intent. A weapon as a gift – how can you ever be wrong in doing this?! However, a terrible choice as a combat weapon. The Gold Cup is a target pistol. Tight tolerances. Feeds only hardball, and that can be tenuous proposition. I carried it on the East-West German border leading patrols. The rear sight broke twice. The front sight shot off once and tore off twice. It was a jammomatic. I hated it. Sold it to a guy that wanted to target shoot.

Took that money and bought a stainless Ruger P90DC. Sack of hammers tough. always goes bang when you pull the trigger. Inexpensive as far as handguns go. After some marked de-horning, you could even make it run in a fight without shredding you at the same time. One marked problem. Two [different weight] trigger pulls [for first round double action versus subsequent round single action.]. This started to teach me to throw the muzzle down as I pulled the trigger in double action. This nasty habit caused a problem when you were firing the 2nd through X rounds, as now it operates as a single action. TLSU had a heck of a time with it at Thunder Ranch. Clint loaned her his G21. No more trigger problems.

Still bowing at the altar of the 1911, I bought a Kimber Compact to carry instead of the Ruger. (I still have the Ruger – it is still “the gun that my Dad gave me” and no one buys the P90 used for anywhere near it’s initial cost, so I can’t sell it without taking a significant bath on it.) The Kimber was going well. Then I got a little too aggressive at slamming magazines home in the shortened grip and jammed it. Then the recoil rod unscrewed itself during an IPSC run and seized the gun while messing up the trigger. Off to Kimber. Free warranty work and 48 hours without my self-defense pistol. Now I have no confidence in the pistol. I Loc-Tite’d the recoil rod and staked it so it wouldn’t come undone again. Then I sold it.

Glocks cost roughly one-half of what a Kimber does. Crummy factory sights, but all my pistols wear tritium anyway. No ambidextrous safety required. My short fingers are mated to big palms, so I can handle the grip. TLSU has been trained on the Glock Model 21 (G21). It ain’t an issue of psychological derangement like many guys get about their 1911/Glock/H&K/Springfield, but it is a comfortable and working relationship between Glock & I. I have a G21 and a G30 for both of us. They always go bang accurately and they have never rusted. I am not pleased with Gaston [Glock]’s refusal to take responsibility for any mistakes they make in manufacturing. No problems with the G21 however. A pistol is what you use to fight your way back to your rifle, which you shouldn’t have laid down in the first place.
M1As hit my safe because it is what I knew from the service. They also fire a full power cartridge, 7.62x51. It makes cover into concealment. I don’t have the other 10 guys in an infantry squad fighting with me so I can maneuver under their covering fire. I have to hit the bad guy with a powerful blow once and move on to the next wolf/bad guy. Mouse guns firing rabbit rounds don’t scratch that itch for me. To each his own. My two are old enough to have USGI parts and good quality control. Here are the mods I made to my “combat” M1A. Maybe they will help you:

Krylon paint job to disrupt the "big black stick" look
M60 [padded] sling
Front sight filed down so that zero is achieved with the rear sight bottomed out
Handguard ventilated
National Match trigger group, barrel, and sights (came as a “Loaded” package from Springfield)
Rear aperture drilled out to make it a ghost ring
Skate board tape on slick metal butt plate
For the “Surgical” M1A (it shoots1/2 minute when I do my part):
National Match loaded package
Trigger assembly additionally tuned at factory
Unitized gas system
Factory bedded
Stainless barrel
Swan rings and QD bases
Leupold M3 3.5-10x40 scope
Handmade leather cheekrest

Other weapons - I have two M1 Garands. Both were bought from the CMP. One is stored offsite with a "Bug-In Bag" (BIB). One is a Danish return, less wood, that I re-stocked. TLSU has claimed this one as hers. Ammo from the CMP is cheaper than any other cartridge out there, save the communist surplus stuff. An M1917 Enfield (also from CMP) is in the safe, along with a 2A, a #3, and a #4. A VZ24 is stored offsite. The first Mauser I renovated is sitting there as an additional .30-06 with a Trijicon 3-9x40 tritium-lit scope. A Remington 700 with Leupold VX-II scope is in the safe, but likely to be sold soon. A Mosin-Nagant (M44 or M38) ride in each vehicle.

I formerly had [Ruger] Mini-30s. I could never find any 20 or 30 round magazines that would function reliably. I sold them and got SKS carbines. When I quit holding out for TLSU to become a Warrior and carry one, I sold them off to fund other toys. I am pondering the purchase of an AK folder because it is a sack of hammers tough and can be transported discretely. I don’t know if I have ever come out on the positive side when selling a gun. Now I have to re-buy an AR-15 to have one for training purposes. The SKSs could be useful for arming the family showing up on your doorstep. Hindsight being 20/20, I would caution against selling any gun you buy. (The 700 mentioned above is a 2nd precision weapon and I have no AK to train with. Still deciding.)

Ammo is required to feed these weapons. I have over 10,000 rounds of 7.62x51. I have over 10,000 rounds of .22 LR. No, I don’t think these amounts are enough. Now that the costs of ammo have risen to heart stopping levels, I really don’t feel like I bought enough in the past! I need to plus up the quantities/smatterings of other cartridges that I have like .30-30 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .40 S&W.

The location of my home is the best I could get balancing competing requirements. It is as far from the city as we can get and still stomach the drive to work. It is between two major line of drift corridors – 12 miles to the major one, 8 miles to the secondary one. It is bordered by neighbors on only one side. The folks in the cemetery don’t say much. The critters in the wildlife area are more vocal - the ducks, turkeys, geese, hoot owls, loons, coyotes sound off regularly. We don’t mind. About 95% of the property is wooded. A few hickory, lots of oak. walnut, (unfortunately) locust trees are all there. The local river comes out of it’s banks about every other year and blocks our driveway for several days, but never comes near the house. The German Shorthair is long in the tooth for security, but she is there. A new pup is in the pipeline.

I would feel a great deal more secure if the homestead was picked up and dropped into Idaho or Alaska. It is about as good as we can do, though, staying near a major city so we can have decent paying jobs. There are some improvements we can make though. I just bought a weather alert radio from Cabela’s today. Tough to hear tornado sirens when you live miles away and have 1 foot thick walls! We need a driveway monitor/alarm. Again, the superior insulation of the walls means we hear nothing outside. I can see the utility of sandbags if things got really ugly. Some more land line communication assets would be useful. I think an AR-15 for training people would be useful, as would an AK. Overall, I think we have done pretty well in the security arena.

Our Home
We started the 10 years in a condo. It was part of a six-plex set on a small pond. I hate Homeowner’s Associations and their covenants! We could afford the mortgage on one of our two paychecks. Good thing! I didn’t get a paycheck for four years. We scraped by. Two years after re-entering the job market we built our house. We worked on the plans for five years. Beware! Finding a property piece and building a non-shoebox home on it is not for the feint of heart! You effectively are funding the construction of a mini town. You build and maintain mini roads (your driveway). You must build and maintain a mini sewage plant (Your septic system/pond). You must build and maintain a mini water plant. (Your well.) You must perform mowing and tree removal for the mini parks of your town (Your “yard”/acreage). I will write a separate article detailing our construction woes.

Let me highlight some of the self-reliant features of the house for you. We did not want to spend a constant stream of Federal Reserve Notes [FRNs]on maintenance. We used insulated concrete form (ICF) construction for the structural strength and the energy efficiency. The metal roof should outlast us. The geothermal and the R-50 walls of the ICF are paying us back the initial investment in construction costs. We opted for no carpeting due to the track in mud nature of the property, having a dog, and me having allergies. Wood and tile floors don’t hold dirt like carpets do. Less fire hazard as well. We used commercial steel doors for the exterior and security-need spots. They have ASSA [high security] locks. They have peepholes.

The basement has a 10’ square root cellar for the storage of canned produce from the garden. It also has a safe room/shelter. 12” of concrete overhead. The well head is enclosed in it. Land line telephone and power service into it via buried lines. Food stored in it. DC wiring in place to the attic for when we get to the photovoltaic [PV] system. We also ran DC wires to each room in the house for the use of LED lighting off of a battery system. The soapstone wood stove augments the electrically driven geothermal. (In spite of several damaging thunderstorms this past year, we have not lost power so far – great job juice Coop!)

The stairwell was kicked out onto the W/NW of the house. This shields the house from the hottest part of the day’s sunlight, and the coldest winter winds. We made the stairwell an extra foot wide. What a huge nice difference that foot makes to walking up and down each day, not to mention moving stuff up or down them! The mud porch/entry was set up for coming in with muddy boots, or for snow covered coats. We should have made it 1’ wider, as it can be a little tight. The bench is great for donning/doffing boots. The tile is easy to clean the muddy paw prints, human or canine, off of.
Windows were one of the few areas that caused some fireworks. TLSU wanted a green house in order to take advantage of the great view of the property. I wanted firing ports to defend against mutant zombie hordes. I am still hugely uncomfortable with the nakedness the windows leave us with. Yes the view is great, but what about when we experience incoming rounds, or more mundanely, when someone comes out to the property while we are away from the house all day at work and they help themselves to our stuff? Some relief is in sight, however. We are pricing Shattergard vinyl film for the ground floor windows.

Things That are Still Need on the Home
The great thing about the R-50 ICF walls is that they are R-50 and pretty tough. The bad thing is that they are R-50 and pretty tough. We can’t hear anything without a door or window being open. Hence the just purchased weather alert radio for us from Cabela’s this week. It is kind of eerie waking up at 0200 hours and having no idea if the thunderstorm is just a thunderstorm or if it is a tornado. The television is useless when the rain is so heavy that the dish won’t get a signal. With regard to 2-legged varmints, a driveway MURS Alert system is on the purchase list as we have had multiple invited guests show up, beat on the front door, and have to walk around to the living room windows to get our attention so they can be let inside. Okay for invited guests – certainly too close for uninvited varmints!

The entry hallway was one of TLSU’s “must haves” in the house layout. It has worked out well in terms of traffic flow and such. The security door at the foot of the stairs is a tough choke point to deal with at 0500 in the dark. No light installed there means nothing is visible through the peephole. I will have to install a camera and/or light so I don’t open it to let the dog out in the morning and get rushed by 2-legged varmints.

So far, the only commo needs are between myself and TLSU. When the sister-in-law, brother-in-law, parents-in-law and my Mom show up and we start pulling security, we will need to be able to talk more. I have an old set of TA-312 [field telephone]s and wire for the primary LP/OP, but obviously will need more in this area. Just not a sexy/fun area to spend FRNs on for a combat arms kinda guy, but I am working on the self-discipline needed.

We did look ahead and sink the FRNs into running 12V wires in the home for future installation of PV panels and batteries. Obviously things like the Shattergard film, more food, more Band-aids, etc., are of a higher priority though. We are working our tails off to reach the 20% equity mark to get rid of the PMI extortion as well. I still have an ASSA lock to install on the shelter door, and one to put into the basement door. Other projected door enhancements include armor plates for the front, outside basement, shelter, and outside storage doors. There just never seems to be enough $ to go around, does there?

The other major source of fireworks during the home design/build was on-demand water heaters. Having taken a 30 minute hot shower with one in Germany for 5 marks while on an FTX, I well understand what a brilliant piece of technology they are. TLSU, having never been outside of CONUS cannot give up on the electric water heater. She still doesn’t believe that the electricity will ever go out for more than an hour or two. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to draw hot water at the kitchen sink, and take a hot shower from a propane fired on-demand heater? She doesn’t get it yet. Obviously not something to break up a marriage over. We really did very well on the whole house building thing. The opposite of what everyone warned us about. I am pretty proud of that performance!

We started a garden this spring. So far, it is an endeavor run by TLSU. Spinach, onions, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, beets, and some herbs. I have not been able to convince her to expand the size. She wants to learn in steps and I am the whacko that orders 100 seedlings at a time from the conservation department, which then overwhelms us in the planting department. For example, the first iteration of this tree-planting endeavor, we got them the Thursday before Easter weekend. Friday night and all day Saturday we planted our buns off. TLSU was indeed a great Trooper about it, planting right along with me. Sunday was spent at church and pigging out at family’s homes for Easter. Monday I had shoulder surgery to grind off bone spurs and remove cartilage chips. Too much, too fast. But at 7 FRNs per 12 seedlings, how can you argue? I have to admit though, that after two years of the 100 seedlings, I am ready to give it a rest. This year we settled for seven apple saplings. Initial inspection of the cherry, pecan, oak, walnut and persimmon seedlings around the house reveals about an 80% survival rate. Only another 10 years and we will be getting food from them!

The initial freeze dried and bulk storage food needs to be rotated. Anyone figured out how to do this kind of at home cooking when the two of you work? The canned/”normal” food is now being rotated with each grocery store trip. We have canning jars for this year’s veggies and the root cellar has a robust collection of shelves to store them on. How much is enough? I don’t know. Four geographically separate and secure stashes of three year’s worth of food for all of the family? Who knows!?

I have Boo-boo kits just about everywhere now. You know, the band-aid and antibiotic salve with ibuprofen kit that handles 90% of life’s issues in this area. Now comes the high-dollar investment stuff. The combat blow-out packs for gunshot wounds or serious car wrecks. I did go along on a buying trip to a medical warehouse and got some catheters, sutures, gauze pads, etc.. I did get in on the last great iodine buy before our loving big brother government banned the sale of iodine to us mere citizens. (It is a stewable ingredient to make drugs, you know – “we must deprive/punish all to protect you from a few. Oh, well, you don’t need to be able to sterilize water anyway – we’ll take care of you on that too….”)

TLSU and I eat very healthy food – locally raised beef with no antibiotics or growth hormones. No growth hormone dairy products from a local dairy. Spinach from the garden. There are sugar detectors on the doors. Also, no chips allowed. We get to the dentist regularly. We both do Physical Training (PT) . She jogs 3 miles, 3-4 times per week. I run over lunch at work about 4 miles, 4-5 times per week and lift weights twice per week.

“Needed Still” list includes: Blow out kits, more bandages, more hospital type stuff, more medicines, syrup of ipecac, more antibiotics, more feminine stuff (think of a vaginal yeast infection with no drug store open), drinking alcohol, poison Ivy soap and remedies, athlete’s foot cream, more baby wipes, more hand sanitizer, all forms of baby stuff, get the bone spur ground smooth in my other shoulder and the cartilage chips taken out, get rid of the cat (allergies).

We still have the same vehicles we had in 2001. A 1998 Toyota Corolla bought with 30,000 miles, and a 1999 Ford Explorer bought with 45,000 miles. Both were paid in full when bought. Both avoided the 25% loss of value when driving a new car off the lot. The Corolla gets 37 MPG. I hate it. Every bit of plastic on it has broken – the car door locking mechanisms, the trunk lock, the ventilation system fan. It gets 37 MPG. I can’t find anything to touch that. The Ford is too big to get decent mileage, and too small to really be a useful truck. It is paid for and has AWD/4WD. It always starts. Both vehicles have BIBs and gas masks in them. Both have trunk guns. Both have roadside gear to help ourselves out of a jam. We are saving for the replacement of them both. We are going to be saving for quite a while. We need more cash in the BIBs and Bug Out Bags (BOBs)

All of the preps in this section were done via Cabela points. I bought gas and paid for business expenses - everything I could pay for with a credit card was paid for with the Cabela’s credit card. You get points at some sickening rate of $.01/FRN spent, $.02/FRN in the store. However, when you buy $6-8,000/month of stuff between personal and business stuff, it adds up! The gear for the BOBs & BIBs, weapons gear and parts – a significant percentage – 85%+ - came from Cabela [credit card bonus] points. When I got birthday or Christmas monetary gifts I spent them on self-reliance items. We did this never incurring any interest penalties because we zero the balance out each month. Our BOBs are set-up to sustain us for 10 days. They are packed in Cabela’s wet bags for load out in five minutes. Originally I sought to wear a tactical vest and ruck. After two unsuccessful winter BOB campouts where I could barely waddle one mile with both of them on at the same time, I dropped the vest. TLSU’s back is in tough shape due to scoliosis, so she is not humping any mammoth rucks with the extra three mortar rounds and can of 7.62 linked. We also decided that the G21 was what she could carry and dropped the SKS and chest pouches of 10 round stripper clips. Her ruck is a Camelback Commander. That is as big of a ruck as she can hope to carry without killing her back. We are not leaving home to go on a combat patrol in Hit or Fallujah. We are fleeing some kind danger and have every intention of avoiding additional entanglements, to include government hospitality suites in stadiums.

The Lovely Spousal Unit (TLSU)
I started self-reliance the wrong way. No consensus development. I saw a danger and acted. I am a male/sheepdog/warrior type. I am not sure that I could have ever persuaded her to participate in any meaningful manner before Y2K. She has only recently begun to do so after eight years of seeing me provide for and protect her. I was, however, stubborn/strong enough to do what I thought was the right thing and to heck with what was popular. Most “males” check their gender specific anatomical gear at the wedding alter and continue on in sheeple status. I get that females are the nurturers. I get that they work from an emotional starting point, not logical. Not wanting the tornado to destroy the house or the hurricane to wreck your and the adjoining three counties is, at best, the French method of addressing life. TLSU is finally helping me to rotate food via the grocery store purchases. She no longer rolls her eyes or sighs disgustedly when I spend my Cabela points to buy gear. Once I explained to her that I was planning to shelter and feed her parents and siblings and that our one year of food wasn’t going to feed all of them for very long, she started to get on board. She even likes spending the points off of her Cabela’s card now. She is running 3-4 times per week and gets some PT from work outside in the garden. She has come a long way. As best as I can tell, she will not ever be a warrior. We have come a substantial distance from sleeping on the couch each time a self-reliance topic hits the table of discussion though. A definite and growing check mark in the “W” column!

Skills that I have acquired:

Rifles – renovating Mausers and training at Thunder Ranch helps your ability to use these tools immensely.
Soldering – fixing plumbing leaks myself vs. paying a plumber $200 to show up and start billing me for work
Building – I invested 13 full work weeks of time during the building of our home helping the contractor. Some of it was the nubby work of cleaning up the scrap and sawdust. Some of it was banging in joist hangers. I laid all the tile and 95% of the wood flooring in the house.
Fix-it – the DR Brush mower has long passed it’s warranty period and while performing quite admirably, does need attention every now and then. The 1974 F100 demands attention regularly. Each of these repair work challenges teaches me a little more about mechanical items and taking care of things myself.
Sewing – Yes, my dear Grandmother taught me to sew buttons, and my Mom taught me to survival sew/repair things. A 1960 gear driven Singer sews nylon gear though!; )
Skills still needed:
More First Aid – it appears that a first responder or wilderness 1st aid course may be in the cards for this year.
More Hand to Hand – my goals and objectives list has had this goal on it for several years. Good news – I got started on knocking it off the list. Bad news, it revealed an “old man” shortcoming in my shoulder. Good news, I am getting the shoulder fixed (hopefully) during “normal” times versus after Schumerization. I just may get ambushed and not have my trusty M1A in hand. Having unarmed defense skills means never having to be a steak dinner/victim.
More riflesmithing – each birthday or Christmas gift of money has been partially apportioned to the purchase of gunsmithing tooling. I need more practice with the tools I have. I still need more tooling. I recently secured Parkerizing gear, but have not gotten the metal stands for the tanks built. Still, progress is progress and I can already do more to maintain weapons than 95% of the population.
Knife making – I just cringe at the idea of spending $300 for top quality knives. CRKT is my friend. Even better is learning to assemble the scales and blank myself. Eventually, knowing how to forge blanks myself would be useful.
Mill lumber – with 95% of my property wooded, I have the material to be self-reliant with regard to my lumber needs. I need a way to saw the tree into lumber though. First, the mill, then the skill to use it. Then I have the gear to diversify my income and help others.

Have I always done the smartest thing? Absolutely not! Much to the crazed satisfaction of a former operator buddy, I have cycled through the “best/high dollar” gear approach to the “sack of hammers USGI/AK” school of self-reliance. Don’t get me wrong – I ain’t surrendering my Kifaru rucks anytime soon! However, there were a great number of FRNs spent on those self-reliance tuition payments! Have I learned a lot? Absolutely, yes! Am I better able to maintain my independence and protect and provide for my family? Absolutely, yes! Could you do better than I did? Good chance. Have you done as much as I have in the last 10 years? Only your freedom, loved ones, and the quality of your life post-TEOTWAWKI depend on the answer to that one.

Eric (a frequent content contributor) spotted this: Farms Take Root in Detroit's Foreclosures. Eric"s comment: "These articles about urban farming are popping up everywhere, where even a few weeks ago there were only a handful of articles on the subject a week now there are many more. Times are a changin'"

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Thanks to KAF for finding this: Waves of Emigrants Leaving Britain.

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Hawaiian K. sent this from Money Week: Why gold could hit $8,500 an ounce

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Kudos to JT for finding this: Nestlé's Chairman: High food prices here to stay

"I am one of those who do not believe that a national debt is a national blessing, but rather a curse to a republic; inasmuch as it is calculated to raise around the administration a moneyed aristocracy dangerous to the liberties of the country." - President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), (from a letter to T.H. Colman, 26 April, 1824)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Congrats to Matthew B., the high bidder in the recent SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. Today we begin a new auction. This one is for two cases (12 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans donated by Ready Made Resources, a course certificate for a four-day Bushcraft & Survival Course valued at $550, 25 pounds of green (unroasted) Colombian Supremo coffee courtesy of www.cmebrew.com, and a set of 1,600 U.S. Military Manuals, Government Manuals, and Civil Defense Manuals, Firearm Manuals on two CD-ROM disks. The opening bid is just $50. Details on this new auction will be posted soon.


Mr. Rawles:
I've seen your advice on guns and commo gear, but what do you recommend for bulletproof vests? Should I have one for concealment, and a separate [heavier] one for a stand-up fight in the worst case? Or is there a compromise thickness? Also, what do the [NIJ vest rating] "Levels" stand for, exactly? Thank Ye Much, - Arnie V.

JWR Replies: I forwarded your questions to Nick at BullterProofME.com, since his knowledge of body armor dwarfs my own. Here is his response:

Dear Arnie:
Your questions are very well put.  The most basic question of Body Armor is - do I need to stop rifle fire or pistol fire?  It's all a tradeoff of weight and concealability versus protection.

Soft concealable vests (e.g., Kevlar) will NOT stop rifle fire, but are rated Level II-A or Level II for standard handgun threats, or Level III-A for more exotic pistol threats such as 9mm sub-machine-gun or .44 Magnum.  Weight is only 3 to 6 lbs. (1.4 to 2.7 kg.) generally.

Rigid Rifle Plates are rated Level III to stop lead core .308 Full Metal Jacket (NATO 7.62 x 51mm), or Level IV to stop steel core .30-06  Armor-Piercing (AP).  Rifle Plates, are generally 10" by 12" (25 by 30 cm.) and will add 7 to 18 lbs. to a vest, depending on the type chosen, as you need a pair for Front and Back protection, .

For technical details on the NIJ ratings, see the ballistic ratings chart.

Tactical Body Armor, e.g., the Interceptor vest we are running a special on is roughly twice the weight of a concealable, torso protection vest at 10 lbs. (4.5 kg.), but twice the coverage area with extended torso protection, plus neck and groin protection.  But then you add the weight of Rifle Plates!

Here's a quick and dirty guide as to how armor can be configured - click the links for example photos:

1.  Concealable Vest for pistol protection on the torso e.g., 4 lbs. (1.8 kg.)

2.  Concealable vest with Rifle Plate Pockets and  Level IV Rifle Plates Front & Back, and pistol protection all around, e.g.,  ~16.5 lb. (7.5 kg.) - this would be "concealable under a jacket"

3.  Level IV Stand-Alone Rifle Plates in a Rifle Plates Carrier for rifle protection only on the Front & Back, ~15 lbs. (6.8 kg.) - this would be "concealable under a jacket".  Level III Ultra-light Polyethylene plates would be just 7 lbs. (3.2 kg.)

4.  Overt Tactical Body Armor for pistol and sub-machine-gun protection, ~10 lbs. (4.5 kg.) (without Rifle Plates)
- "concealable under a jacket" if neck and Groin Protection taken off.

5.  Overt Tactical Body Armor with Level IV Ceramic Rifle Plates, e.g., 22.5 lbs. (10.2 kg.)   (You can also add side Rifle Plates)

For running around town to protect against street crime, a concealable vest makes the most sense as handguns are the most common threat.  Just as important, being concealable, light, and easy to wear, it will be worn more often.  As we say - the best vest for you is the one you actually have on when being shot at!  (As opposed to a heavier vest left at home in the closet.)  We spend a lot of time talking folks out of concealable Level III-A vests for more concealable Level II vests that are easier to hide under light clothing.

For continuous use in a low threat environment, it might even make sense to forgo the vest and use a ballistic insert to make a Ballistic Backpack or Briefcase. A briefcase or backpack will usually be around, rather than a vest that won't always be worn because of heat buildup, or clothing choices.

For high threat situations, e.g., glass breaking at 3 o'-clock in the morning, or standing guard in a Hurricane Katrina style disaster, maximum protection in both coverage area and protection level makes the most sense.  Hence Tactical Body Armor with Rifle Plates, and maybe even Side Rifle Plates.  The extended coverage and rifle protection gives you a much "warmer and fuzzier" feeling when you are in a real "two-way range" situation!

So, if you can afford it, both a concealable torso vest, and an extended coverage Tactical vest with Rifle Plates is the optimal solution.  Just as pistols and rifles serve different purposes with different capabilities - it's always a tradeoff between convenience and weight vs. protection.

If your budget dictates one or the other, go with what fits your circumstances most often.  Discreet, concealed wear all day in low threat areas, or overt Tactical armor for shorter duration, high risk situations.

If you need to split the difference, you might want to consider a modular Rifle Plates Carrier to upgrade your concealable vest with rifle protection.   Going the other way, you can strip down an Interceptor vest, removing the neck and groin components for a torso vest concealable under a light jacket. Yours truly - Nick, Manager, BulletProofME.com

Mr. Rawles:
After reading "Patriots" last year, much like Mr. H., I was decidedly ready to act, but largely unprepared logistically. It can be overwhelming and the feeling that “I had a long way to go” was ever present (it still is and I suspect always will be as my education never ends). I'd just like to remind the author to not worry, you’ll get the stuff; you’ve already taken the first step and done something. But preparedness is more than material, the mindset is most important. Start to live right, be frugal, be healthy. Don’t be reliant on outside institutions. Grind that grain, learn to eat and use whole foods. You’ll not only be saving money in this inflationary environment as you prepare, you’ll also enjoy health benefits and be doing your family service by breaking them out of the consumerist mentality that inundates us all and welcoming them into a life of self sufficiency. Most importantly by being a good, guiding father and husband.

Once you get your mind right and start thinking, you’ll learn to set priorities and focus on certain aspects of preparedness individually. Over time you will accumulate materials and skills necessary to not only survive in TEOTWAWKI, but to thrive in everyday life.

Last year I submitted an article called What if The Schumer Doesn't Hit The Fan? - Reasons to Prepare Anyway. I stand by my writing but have learned a lot since and think we are ever closer to rough times.

In less than one year, I’ve accumulated most importantly a wealth of knowledge, but also several months worth of grain and dried food for my family, a grain mill of course, defense items, several books, communication equipment, a generator, a modest gasoline supply, first aid supplies, a pocket water filter and several other items. We also now raise backyard chickens, expanded our garden, increased savings (the most difficult part by far), and I am finally working on starting a small dog training business.

Since deciding to really prepare, it’s amazing how far I’ve come, but I was also amazed at how receptive my wife and kids have been and how much we were either already doing or mentally prepared to do which mesh well with a preparedness lifestyle. Things like home schooling, camping, eliminating debt, learning to do without. I still have a long way to go but I am proud of our accomplishments and enjoying the lifestyle change.

In closing, I'd like to say it's awesome how many people's lives you are changing. Thank you, Mr. Rawles for all you do. - MB

Larry in Cincinnati spotted this sobering Banking Times article: Central bank body warns of Great Depression. Gee, have they been reading SurvivalBlog?

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Jack B. flagged this from Scotland: Petrol supplies dwindling as tanker drivers' strike fuels panic buying

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If you are wealthy and want to own the ultimate "Get Out of Dodge" vehicle, I noticed that there is an U.S. Army/ARVN configuration Cadillac Gage V-100 Commando wheeled armored personnel carrier listed for sale at Dave Uhrig's site. It make the up-armored Ferret Mark 4 that I once owned look wimpy, by comparison. (My Ferret only had seats for two, and a single M1919A4 belt-fed .30 caliber in the turret.)

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Five Ways to Survive Any Disaster--Survival researcher Amanda Ripley explains how to get through the next earthquake/hurricane/plane crash/terrorist attack. A good article, from Mother Jones magazine of all places! This illustrates that survivalism increasingly knows no politics. ( A hat tip to "OSOM", for the link.)

"Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, 'See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk.'" - Harry Browne, April 11, 2002

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends tonight (Sunday, June 15th), at midnight, eastern time. The high bid is now at $1,110. 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. Place your bid soon! Today, with permission, we present a guest article by Mike Morgan:

I was going to call this "Banks March Us Into Depression," or maybe more fitting is . . . "Complete Collapse of US Banking System." Folks, that is what we are looking at. I don't see any way around it. What we're seeing here in Florida, is your crystal ball. And what happens here, is coming to a town near you . . . soon.

This past week I didn't write anything, because what I am seeing unravel is disturbing to the point I had to question what I was seeing and hearing. So I decided to take as much time as I needed to digest it all, and then put something together for you. So here goes . . .

I could prepare volumes of spread sheets with Bernankesque numbers. I could talk about commodity prices and oil and Third World politics and a dozen other metrics that all lead to the same conclusion. But let me give you a ground zero look. That's what I do best. I will leave the manipulation of the numbers to the folks on Wall Street that do it best. The same folks that have created the precipice they will soon push us off.

I spend a great deal of time dealing with Asset Managers hired by banks stuck with REOs. So as not to re-hash the events leading to the housing crisis, I will not discuss the free-money policies of the past, and I will not discuss the absolute lack of accountability in making the bad loans of the past. Let's just deal with how the banks are attempting to recover.

Unfortunately, banks are not making a realistic effort to address the crisis. That may be because they cannot. As the banks and builders have announced write down after write down, my mantra has been . . . and continues to be: not enough, not enough, not enough. I still believe that. The builders and the banks have underestimated the magnitude of the problem, and they continue to do so. Analysts continue to look at the rear-view mirror and attempt to manipulate numbers based misguided historical assumptions. The NAR and the economists continue to twist the numbers, lie and then slip in prior-month adjustments without actually comparing apples to apples. But that is another article. The bankers and the fat cats on Wall Street sit back and watch the carnival, collecting fees from everyone they can snooker.

I have recently started turning away REO properties from banks and asset managers, even though hundreds of thousands of real estate agents nationwide are lined up waiting for these listings. I made the decision because we have reached a point where these listings are costing us money, and the asset managers are squeezing harder and harder . . . because they can. There are great asset managers and there are incompetent ones. The majority fall into the incompetent bucket, but we eliminate them quickly. The banks, on the other hand, continue to throw away money with the bucket of incompetent managers. It seems like the mortgage brokers that pushed funny money for the last six years are now starting asset management companies. We still work with a number of asset managers and banks directly, but the list of asset managers is growing smaller as properties fail to sell. When that happens, properties are bundled up and sold in bulk or at auction. This puts further downward pressure on markets because of lower prices and the inventory was not absorbed . . . it just changed hands.

Banks cannot afford to take 50-75% hits on mortgages, and that is exactly what is happening.
The precipice is here, and we are on it. Recent reports about home sales rebounding are insignificant, because no one is accurately describing the growing inventory build-up. Banks simply don't have the margins to deal with this crisis. And for that reason, we will see massive bank failures and this will snowball into a complete economic meltdown. If you have an argument against this scenario, I'd love to debate you on a live conference call. We deal with the banks. We know what is going on before the numbers show up at the Fed or any analysts desks. We deal with the public, so we hear the desperation at all levels. I listen to grown men cry about how to explain to their families that they are losing everything. I listen to people that I fear are on the verge of suicide. I read about people committing crimes simply to put food on the table. Spend a week with me, and you'll understand why there is no feasible way to avoid a Depression.

The banks will fail, just as they failed in 1929 . . . but worse because this time some of this leverage is as high as 40:1. Insurance? Where is that going to come from? There is no insurance that can cover the cost of the coming bank failure, unless we just print more money. We are two generations removed from 1929. I am talking about Biblical 40 year generations. And when you look at who we were in 1929 and who we are now, you'll realize just how ugly it is going to be. In 1929 there was a stronger base of family values. There was a work ethic that we don't see today. The generation from 1929 - 1969 grew up with a totally different set of values than the generation from 1969 - 2009. The first generation worked their way out of the Depression. Today's generation doesn't understand work. We only understand creative financing and how to live off the next generation. And sadly, that is where we are today. We are at the precipice, and we are going to push our children over the edge because we lived so far above our means and ignored all of the warning signs. We lived just like the Romans in their final days.

Harsh? Like I said, spend one week with me, and you will go home with a new outlook about life, people and the crisis that is unfolding. You will go home with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Guaranteed.

Just Florida? No, but Florida is your crystal ball.

The next generation? I would like to think we will eventually build ourselves out of this Depression with nuclear plants, solar and wind farms, seawater desalinization plants new roads and bridges and state of the art cars and trucks. Unfortunately, who is going to get their hands dirty? For those that study history, how would we manage a WPA with today's generation? It will be a much tougher recovery, because we have lost the fundamentals that made us the greatest country in the world.

Conference Call: I am going to hold a conference call on June 26th. If you would like to join the call, please e-mail me.

Note: If interested in additional information, visit my institutional web site at www.Morgan-Florida.org or my institutional blog or our consumer web site. If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please e-mail me. Since I originally wrote this piece, I have received hundreds of e-mails and comments. Unfortunately, I can't possibly respond to all of them. If you would like to receive my articles, I can add you to my Quick Notes distribution list. Just e-mail me. You can also read prior articles at my web site and on the left hand side you can sort through prior posts by title and date. Thank You all for the nice comments and e-mails. I encourage everyone to email this piece to your Congressman and Senators. The links for e-mailing them are here: House and Senate.

I saw 85% Ethanol (E85) for the first time around me at a gas station for $3.49. Plus or minus the lost gas mileage, I will still be paying the same per mile. If I should choose to equip my vehicles with something like FlexTek, which is an electronic module that changes how long the fuel injectors fire, do you think it would be worth it? In other words, do you think ethanol will go up or down compared to gasoline? If the gap continues to separate to more than 50 cents difference, E85 becomes a real option, do you think this is possible?

You are about the only person I can think of with a broad enough spectrum of knowledge to even make an educated guess. Thanks, Andrew D.

JWR Replies: In the new fuel price paradigm, having at least one E85-compatible vehicle is certainly wise. These "Flex Fuel" Vehicles (FFVs) have fuel tanks and fuel lines designed to handle alcohol as well as ignition systems that automatically sense the flash point of the fuel, and compensate accordingly. (Hence, they can run on unleaded gasoline, E85, or any mixture of the two.) I have been recommending buying E85-compatible vehicles in SurvivalBlog since September of 2005. Rather than doing a conversion, which will void most manufacturer's engine warranties and can even require a gas tank replacement for older vehicles, I generally recommend simply waiting until the next time you replace a vehicle. Finding a FFV is getting easier with each passing year, since they are getting produced in greater numbers by nearly all of the major car and truck makers. The best way to find one is to do a used vehicle search at Edmunds.com, and include the phrase "Flex Fuel" or "FFV".

It is difficult to predict what will happen with fuel prices. Even given general trends, taxation is a "wild card" that is impossible to predict. But it is just plain common sense to buy the most flexible vehicles and and generators available, especially when getting that flexibility doesn't cost much more than buying standard single-fuel engines.

If the price of regular gas rises above $4.50 per gallon (and it likely will), I suspect that E85 ethanol will remain under $3.60 per gallon in the Midwest, making it quite cost effective. (Although E85 has a 100 to 105 octane rating, a FFV burning E85 gets 28% fewer miles per gallon than when burning unleaded gasoline.)

As always, regardless of the make and model you choose, I am not in favor of buying factory new cars and trucks. There are huge cost savings in buying a vehicle with 20,000 to 35,000 miles on the odometer.

Hello Jim,
To follow up on your recent post, I just wanted to let readers of the blog know that Northern Tool & Equipment is having a sale on their solar panels right now. All-Battery.com is also having a major sale on battery chargers and some other items as well. These can be significant savings for anyone needing these items. - Jeff in Ohio

RBS sent us the link to an editorial posted at Numismaster: U.S. May Be on Brink of Financial Crisis

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There are just two weeks left in BulletProofME.com's special sale on Interceptor Body Armor and Kevlar helmets, just for SurvivalBlog readers. They only rarely offer prices this low, so don't miss out!

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Mary R. mentioned this news story from New Zealand: Four weeks until power cuts

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"If Americans feel they are being pick-pocketed by inflation, they should take a look overseas" writes Richard Benson in With Inflation There's No Free Lunch. His chart comparing this past year's inflation rate for 24 nations is informative. (A hat tip to Kevin A. for the link.)

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

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends tomorrow (Sunday, June 15th.) The high bid is now at $920. 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. Place your bid soon!

I got this from a friend in Indiana:
All is well at our house but the town is suffering. Here are a few comments for your edification.
- Small rivers come up fast with 10 inches of rainfall. Unknown to me, but if I had delayed another 30 minutes in going home, I would not have been with my family where I was needed.
- This was the first time other than snow events when I could not leave town. All roads underwater, including interstates and state highways.
- My Chevy 4WD pickup will go through deeper water than most cars. Don't purchase any used cars from Indiana for awhile.
- The portable generator worked great. With smart load management I could essentially run the entire house including frig, freezer, microwave, geothermal air conditioning, and lights. Total power off time was 12 hours with less that 6 hours of generator run time. Now I want to have more fuel on hand. A quieter generator would have been a plus.
- When the power went off and it was expected to be off for the duration of this emergency, we all immediately took showers to use the available hot water. Sometime later the city water pressure went way down but not completely off. Toilets remained operational.
- The hospital was flooded and will be closed for an indeterminate length of time. All patients were evacuated. Plan your medical emergencies accordingly.
- I'm in the market for a battery powered AM/FM radio with headphone jack so I can listen to local news without disturbing others during the night. Local radio seems to be the best source of information. Cable went off line. The weather band radio was useful as they routinely give river level conditions.
- The middle school and later the high school were opened for those seeking shelter. I'd rather sleep in the woods.
- My brother lives 30 miles away but works here. He was stranded and spent the night with us. He appreciated the hot shower, clean bed, dinner, etc. He's now thinking that a bug out kit would be a good thing. He would have slept in his truck rather than go to the shelter. Drinking water would have been his first issue.
- Cell phone communications stayed up but were overloaded. Too many folks use them for non-essential communications. Same for 911 calls. I don't have a good work around but will give this some thought.
- There was no car or pedestrian traffic in our subdivision during the night. I anticipate this would change if the situation had stretched for several days. With no street lights or city ambient lighting, night vision [equipment] would have been helpful.
- The headlamp on a headband really makes the odd jobs in the dark much easier to manage. LED flashlights are a good thing. Surefire [flashlight]s were kept in reserve.
The town is in clean up mode now. Thanks and Best Wishes, - Bill N.

Mr. Rawles

Hello from a long time reader. Thanks for all the info. I thought I could give everyone a heads up on what is happening in the new Wisconsin wetlands. First off it is amazing how foolish people act when a disaster strikes. There a literally hundreds of people walking around in backed up sewer water which is waist deep. Without even shoes? People think that if they drive their sports car fast enough through the water they can make it. People who live within sight of a river are on television saying how shocked they are. Didn't it ever occur to anyone that if you live within 20 feet of a body of water it might rise someday?

My house is fine, on a hill in the higher part of town. Our Bug Out Location (B.O.L.) is fine too, just called and got the"okay" word. It is nice to know which ways to take out of town in the event of a flood for next time. Make a note of this it might come in handy. People are helping each other sand bag their homes and businesses. I wonder how long people will work together if food were to not be trucked in. It was funny to watch my neighbors load groceries into their house in the pouring rain. Preps come in handy on a rainy day, literally.

There has been lots of damage around all of Wisconsin, I had to take an alternate route to work as they shutdown a few of the lower roads. Seeing the damage first hand is sad and at the same time I think is good for people because it makes them realize how quickly everything can be lost. Coming home from my in-laws' house, I had a man hole cover blow off two feet from my truck, due to the water pressure. The next day there was an article in the local paper on how one woman's SUV was totaled because she wasn't so lucky.

Now I'm just waiting wondering if I will have a job, if the d**n on Phantom Lake goes, so does the building that I work at. - Bill C. in Wisconsin

We are all seeing the rise in fuel prices affecting food prices. I would like the readers to do a acres of farm to miles traveled evaluation of their plans when planning for a world with sparse petro-fuels.
The current option is to ignore the prices and continue to fuel large SUVs and pickup trucks even for for "pick me up milk" runs.
A fuel efficient car or motorcycle makes more sense depending on the number of passengers travelling.

Bio-diesel or ethanol from your field rarely makes sense for anything other than a few very important drives per year or towing a harvester, the effort to farm these crops are better fed to work animals and
human workers. Although if you really only make these few drives it might even out considering you make one or two batches of fuel and garage the truck the rest of the year, no daily feeding of a huge hungry beast.

Horses and oxen are very useful on a large post-petroleum farm, replacing the tractor and truck, but you need to feed that large living muscle mass even in the dead of winter when there is little
important(to your survival bottom line) travel or work. It is important to remember that even into the steam age before bicycles and automobiles reduced the number of work animals around half of the US farm output went into the mouths of work and transportation animals. Even if you are able to graze in the fair months of the year most Americans in the northern
states need to have plans to safely mow and store large amounts of hay and grains to feed your livestock. A donkey or mule is smaller and must pull a smaller plow or load but in the off months they are
a smaller idle eater and need less exercise to stay healthy and content .

The last stop in labor is the human body, around the world many poorer peoples use themselves as farming machines. You will see a man pulling a plow with his wife or child steering. A bicycle converts muscle energy many times over saving calories and time for longer range travel, as long as the bicycle can be maintained. The trick with human energy is we don't slaughter ourselves if times get tight, and we can still do useful work even in winter when most work animals are idle eaters. This is why the farm family has always rejoiced in another new baby, not only was it filling the command to be fruitful and multiply but it was another helping hand.(Have you ever noticed that the more religious families even in urban areas often have many children?)

On the plus calorie side chickens, goats, sheep and larger free grazed food animals add calories to your bottom line by metabolizing insects, kitchen scraps, and cellulose like grass into food that humans can easily consume. We need not say that the beast deal is gathered fruits, honey, netted fish, and hunted or tapped nutrition which require tiny amounts of exertion compared to the calories obtained.
Shalom, - David in Israel

Eric sent us this one: Man Retrofits Freezer to Make an Ultra-Efficient Fridge

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Courtesy of Bob from Minnesota: BIO5 Researcher Identifies Cities at Risk for Bioterrorism. Generally, this is yet another piece of confirmation for my preferences in the SurvivalBlog Recommended Retreat Areas page.

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Frank S. flagged this: Too Much Money: Inflation Goes Global

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Carl H. found this MakerFaire video on making crystal iodine from potassium iodide. This, BTW, ties in to the DEA restrictions on Polar Pure crystals--previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog

I remember hearing:

How high's the water, mama?
Two feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Two feet high and risin'

We can make it to the road in a homemade boat
That's the only thing we got left that'll float
It's already over all the wheat and the oats,
Two feet high and risin'

How high's the water, mama?
Three feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Three feet high and risin'

Well, the hives are gone,
I've lost my bees
The chickens are sleepin'
In the willow trees
Cow's in water up past her knees,
Three feet high and risin'

How high's the water, mama?
Four feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Four feet high and risin'

Hey, come look through the window pane,
The bus is comin', gonna take us to the train
Looks like we'll be blessed with a little more rain,
Four feet high and risin'

How high's the water, mama?
Five feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Five feet high and risin'

Well, the rails are washed out north of town
We gotta head for higher ground
We can't come back till the water comes down,
Five feet high and risin'

Well, it's five feet high and risin'

- Johnny Cash, Five Feet High and Rising

Friday, June 13, 2008

Please mention SurvivalBlog whenever you call in to a talk radio show or a podcast where they are discussing preparedness. Thanks!

The recent jump in fuel prices are going to have some far reaching effects on our economy. There is speculation that crude oil may soon spike to $150 to $170 per barrel. As prepared individuals, we need to adapt our plans, accordingly. It is noteworthy that many of us long hence foresaw these dark days, and installed underground fuel tanks, bought alternate fuel vehicles, multi-fuel generators, and at least one vehicle just for the sake of fuel economy. (If you look at the Retreat Owner Profiles--most of which were written in late 2005 and early 2006--you will see a remarkable number of fuel-efficient "secondary" vehicles.) SurvivalBlog readers plan ahead, and it shows.

In a recent issue of The Daily Reckoning, Bill Bonner wrote: "Just on Thursday and Friday of last week, wholesale gasoline prices went up 33 cents. No typo. That’s 33 cents, in two days. So let’s round it out and add another $500 to the annual gasoline bill to operate one average automobile in the US of A. If you are a two-car household, make that number $1,000. Just from a two-day spike. And that does not count the impact on diesel (killing trucking and agriculture) and jet fuel (killing airlines)."

Effectively, the recent price jumps will be like inflationary snorts of cocaine. Sooner or later, the higher cost of fuel will be "passed through" to consumers. Can you imagine what will happen to the retail price of just about everything if and when the price of gas tops $5.50 per gallon? Transportation cost increases are significant, but will impact some product prices more than others. The heavier and bulkier the item, or the farther it must travel (all the way from raw material to your doorstep) the greater the impact of the fuel price jumps. (One hint: If you've been planning to buy a gun vault, then buy it soon, and do so locally, from inventory that your dealer already has on hand. If you delay, it will likely cost $200 more, this time next year.) What will happen to Fed-Ex , UPS, and US Postal Service rates next year? It won't be pretty. OBTW, if you are thinking about setting up a home-based mail order business, then you'd had better consider focusing on small and lightweight products, such as used DVDs.

Think through what the fuel prices will do for various product prices and availability (think: spot shortages), and who they will affect life at your retreat.

I predict that there will be a long lag time while the price of propane catches up to the prices of other fuels. The cost of electricity will also lag behind, especially in regions that have predominately hydroelectric power. In the long run, however, prices will undoubtedly catch up. Exploit this lag time to build up the alternative energy potential of your retreat. Think through you options, do some comparison pricing, and then get busy. (Consider the merits and drawbacks of photovoltaics, wind, micro-hydro, bio-gas, biodiesel, geothermal, wood-fired steam/co-generation, and so forth.)


If you are planning to buy additional vehicles for your retreat, consider the following:

One of your vehicles should be a very fuel-efficient runabout. (Something like a used Geo Metro or Toyota Corolla--but for serious preparedness planning avoid the high cost and complexity of a hybrid.) If you need four wheel drive, consider buying a used Subaru. Notably, Subaru all-wheel-drive cars are the most popular cars with America's contract rural mail carriers. Also consider getting a mo-ped or motorcycle for handling some of your errands in the current pre-Schumeresque times.

Look for a fleet surplus propane-powered pickup. (Utility companies often use these. Watch for auction announcements.) If you could get one that is 4WD, that would be ideal. But even if you can't find one that is 4WD, one option is finding a 4WD of the same year and the same maker as your 2WD propane-engine truck, and then combining parts to create a "Frankentruck." Not only would this be great mechanical experience, but it will leave you with another nearly complete vehicle to cannibalize for spare parts. Another option, albeit more expensive, is converting an existing 4WD to propane. Because Propane tanks are large, this is best accomplished with a 4WD pickup. (I have seen pairs of 47-gallon capacity "torpedo tanks" installed above the wheel wells in a pickup box. This allows nearly full use of the pickup bed space.) Since a propane conversion will likely void a warranty, it is best done with an older vehicle that is "out of warranty". Speaking of propane, don't miss the recent piece by FerFAL, (SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Argentina), posted at his personal blog site: Alternative fuel for your car. It describes a gaz naturel comprimé (GNC) conversion done on his Korean import car.

Own at least one E85-compatible "Flex Fuel" vehicle (FFV).

If your budget allows it, consider getting an electric vehicle. (Several times in SurvivalBlog, I've mentioned Bad Boy Buggy electric ATVs as well as ATV suspension conversions for electric golf carts.) An electric ATV makes an ideal "at the retreat " utility vehicle, particularly for someone that has a large alternate power system with a battery bank.

Here is one vehicle possibility that might at first seem counterintuitive: There will probably be thousands of used recreational vehicles (RVs) hitting the market in the next few years--some for pennies on the dollar. Budget-minded preppers might consider buying an older RV to live in, while building their retreats. Just keep in mind that the resale value will likely drop to nearly nothing if gas prices continue to escalate, so only buy one if you can truly get it dirt cheap.

Horse Power

For the really long term, learn as much as you can about horses, and change your purchasing plans is this approach matches your needs and the pasture carrying capacity of your retreat. There is a lot to this: horsemanship, hay cutting (preferably horse-powered), hay storage, pasture fencing, a barn, tack, veterinary supplies, and so forth. Here at the Rawles Ranch, our saddle horse Money Pit may soon have some new friends in the pasture.

Hay and grain prices have been sky high for a full year now, so this has pushed the price of horses down tremendously. At present, in much of the western US, good saddle saddle horses are literally being given away. Just ask around. If you are not yet an experienced rider, then limit your search to older, gentle "bomb proof" mares or geldings. If you have plenty of pasture and hay ground, take advantage of the current low prices for horses. Buy them while they're cheap. Watch your newspaper classified ads and Craig's List for horses as as well as tack, hay mowers, and a horse trailer. In addition to saddle horse, think in terms of working horses. So while you are searching for saddles, also look for wagons, buck boards, horse collars, long reins, log chains, and other work horse tack.

Fuel Storage

Storing extra fuel is a natural for family preparedness. If you use propane, consider buying a larger tank. That fuel will be like money in the bank. Ditto for gasoline and diesel fuel. (See the SurvivalBlog archives for details on fuel stabilizers and and antibacterial additives. (The latter is for diesel. Yes, bacteria will actually grow in diesel fuel.) What size tank(s)? The bigger, the better. That way you can buy during occasional dips in the market as well as have a reserve that will help ride through any spot shortages. Consult you local fire code for any limits where you live. I generally prefer underground tanks, for both OPSEC and fire safety.


Needless to say, flexibility will be your goal with your backup generator(s). Various diesel generator and tri-fuel generators have already been discussed at length in SurvivalBlog. Despite its current high price tag, diesel is still a viable fuel for standby generators. Keep in mind that you can legally burn less expensive off-road (untaxed) diesel, biodiesel, and even home heating oil in your diesel genset. (Of course consult your state and local laws before doing so.)

Retreat Locales

Higher fuel costs will likely change the way the at you look at your retreat, and where it is located. If you are retired, self-employed, or if you telecommute, the impact won't be nearly so great. You can simply adapt your lifestyle to make trips into town less often. But if you have a daily job "in town", then the impact could be substantial. The whole concept of "public transportation" is foreign to folks that live in places like Wyoming or the Dakotas. Even carpooling can be difficult for people that live in lightly populated areas. OBTW, speaking of carpooling, I predict that both carpooling and ride sharing will undergo a great resurgence in the next few years. The information networking power of the Internet will undoubtedly be put to full use in matching drivers/riders and destinations. The carpooling networking sites like SpaceShare and eRideShare will probably become very popular.

Remote properties will seem even more remote when gas tops $5 per gallon. This has both positive and negative implications. The good news is that it will make remote properties more affordable and will also make them less likely to fall prey to "commuter criminals" and looters. But the bad news is if you are trapped in a corporate job and must commute to work. Ditto for farmers and ranchers that must get what they produce to market.

If you have not yet bought a retreat, then you might want to make the new fuel cost paradigm a more important part of your locale selection process. As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, if you do some concerted searching, you might be ale to find a piece of land with a low-volume natural gas well, or a surface coal seam. Another possibility is finding a property with a large year-round stream and sufficient change in elevation ("fall") allowing installation of a micro-hydro system. If you are an adherent to Peak Oil theory, then you might consider buying a retreat that is close to a community in a truck farming region--someplace that can expected to be self-sufficient in the event of chronic gas and diesel shortages. There are of course security trade-offs, so such a decision might be a momentous one to make. (Since most survivalists value having "elbow room".)

Mr. Rawles:
I stumbled upon your blog site last month and it was the equivalent of a "reboot" in terms of my own thinking about how to adapt to the conditions surrounding "Peak Oil" and Global Warming. I'm grateful for your web site and efforts. I commend your honesty. I envy your faith.

In the past months local and national events highlight the scope of the trouble we now all face. I'm afraid the direction is irreversible. To list a few, gasoline and diesel prices have climbed to new heights, both global and local weather conditions indicate a promise of drought and large scale crop collapse, and our infantile and narcissistic population is in grave denial. I would add this denial is paired with ignorance - as most people in American are unfamiliar with grave or harsh living conditions, nor do they care to learn about adapting to them. "Oh, that's not going to happen here."

As I urge those in my closest circle to begin to prepare for a number of increasingly bad scenarios - I am met with interest, curiosity, indifference and some ridicule. I am the family "kook". My wife reminds me; "Jeremiah." (This was discussed in the book, "Night" by Elie Weisel.)

People are not ready to think about what is coming. For example, in response to a Craig's List ad I posted for a car pool rider (to share my commute.) I've received zero interest. A local news channel did a story on my ad and interviewed me for the story. The article included my comments about "Peak" and a "Long Emergency." No takers. At the YMCA, where I train regularly, most men I speak to feel there is no global warming and either don't know what Peak Oil is or feel the best solution is to bomb another country that has oil. I think to myself: these are the folks I'll be defending my home against. Finally, when I suggested to my parents the need for spare supplies in their vacation house - my suggested list brought denials, anger and ridicule. They can't even begin to think of survival scenarios or WTSHTF. (Their home is a McMansion built on some nice farmland - which I see has having great agricultural value in the future, provided there is adequate rain.)

James H. Kunstler, who wrote the book "The Long Emergency" recently spoke at our school auditorium. Only 20 or so people attended, and few had questions indicating any understanding of how violent these events may actually become. Another professor recently lectured at an area college on the same topic - and spelled it all out. He planned to bug out in advance. A local news paper carried the story. Perhaps this shows some progress? I commended the writer by e-mail.

To adapt, I began to prepare for the worst; I'm reading more about the subject, making no assumptions, stocking food, water and key equipment. I intend to train my 12 year-old to soon have familiarity with all weapons in our home (.22 rimfires, 12 gauge, and 9mm pistols.) Given our home location, its defensibility, and our firepower - I'm unsure as to how long we can make it - especially if civil unrest or military response is too strong, but I'm committed to dedicating resources to the cause - to do what I can for as long as I can and to educating those around me who will listen (this is tricky.)

From speaking with others on the same page, many are overwhelmed. I am too, but I always remind them that they can do a little every week. Underscored here also is that resources such as the bogus tax stimulus checks can be used to build food and supply stocks. I keep a purchase list ready - which will go against my fake tax give back. Grocery runs always include "extras" that will store well.

On a final note, although I'm dedicated to "hoping for the best and preparing for the worst," I find it very difficult to bring my wife and only child into some of these scenarios. My wife is a great life partner and understands this situation very well - but some of this remains unspeakable. Further, I caution great care as to how to work with children on these matters. It is worse than the movie, "I Am Legend" because the "infected" will be real and much more plentiful, and the survival resources few. Camping and "activities" build the skill sets and offer the instructional opportunities, as someone already posted.

Thanks again for what you do, - Jon

JWR Replies: You are correct. Pollyanna denial is rampant. You aren't the only one that encounters it.

Don't worry about ridicule. Noah was considered a "kook". So were the Jews that emigrated from Germany in the mid-1930s. Most of them survived, while those that didn't ended up in the camps and many of them were subsequently victims of Nazi genocide.

Matt in Texas suggested this piece: Kobyashi Maru. Matt's comment: "This should help make it clear that the Federal Reserve is between a rock and a hard place. No matter what decision is made on the discount rate...we are toast."

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Thanks to David F for sending this: Two dead in Europe fuel protests. David notes: "For those who think food riots and fuel shortages are limited to the Third World, I think this article might bring things home a bit. This is hoarding, boycotts, people dying, [all] because of oil. Could the US be next?"

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Flood news from the Midwest: Downtown flooding 'devastating and unbelievable' say onlookers. And meanwhile we read: Corn hits record, soy rallies as floods expand

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I just noticed that following news of some short term "strength" in the US Dollar, the spot price of silver has been pushed down below $16.40 per ounce. Dips like these are a great buying opportunity!

"Never mistake motion for action." - Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, June 12, 2008

There are just three days left in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $650. The high bid is now at $810. 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 Sunday, June 15th.

Hello Jim,
First off, thanks for an excellent book/resource in your novel "Patriots". I read it in the last week and it has had a profound effect on me. I also felt the writing was quite good, being entertaining and educational at the same time. Thanks for it!

After reading your book (and listening to my brother, who has been talking about TEOTWAWKI for some time now), I did finally do some things to prepare in the last week, but I wonder what the next step is for me.

First off, I invested about $80 to make some shelving in a storage closet downstairs that had previously been filled with junk.

Then I went to the local Wal-Mart and bought canned and dry goods: about six each of peas, corn, refried beans, tuna, pinto beans, stove top stuffing, rice, ramen, breakfast cereal, and so forth. I made sure to only buy stuff that we would eat anyway. I guess I’m not quite sure to buy whole grain and a mill, because truthfully unless we get to TEOTWAWKI, there’s no way we would use that stuff. Anyway, total cost for all this food was around $180, and it filled about 2/3rds of my shelves (the [shopping] cart was full though). I figure this is a good start, and now I feel if there was a “run on the grocery store” we would still be able to live for one to two months.

I also have lots of guns of varying calibers, including 8 rifles and 5 handguns, and probably 500 rounds of ammo total, approximately 300 of these are cartridges for my 9mm Glock which I just purchased new a few months ago.

Based on my brother’s advice, I did buy 12 one-ounce gold coins within the last year, and have those here in my house. After having read your book, I did go trade one of those coins for silver the other day, so I now have approximately $900 in silver as well.

I have decided to allocate all of my tax “stimulus” check towards preparing for the future. Our stimulus was approximately $700 (I made too much money to get the full amount), so I have about $400 left. So here’s the question: What do I spend this $400 on? More silver? More food? More ammo? I assume your opinion is that the price of all of these is going to continue to go up, but I hate to buy ammo when I see how doggone expensive it is now!

One more question: Between my wife and me we have a substantial sum invested in retirement funds, mostly in low-load mutual funds through Vanguard. I am wondering about taking a portion of this money and putting into a money-market account so that when/if the stock market crashes I will retain some value. However, I am also aware that inflation would eat this money alive, if we get into heavy inflation. I would be interested in your opinion on this question as well. Thanks, - Mr. H. in Wyoming

JWR Replies: Your tax stimulus check is probably best spent on additional useful tangibles such as food, first aid supplies, and ammo. Despite what appears to be the high price tag, the price of ammunition will likely continue to go up. Don't think of it as ammo going up in price. It is more a function of the dollar going down in purchasing power.

With the recent collapse of the credit market, US stocks are now quite precarious. The dearth of credit is shutting down the economy. But regardless of whether or not there is a stock market crash or if US companies continue to limp along, US stocks certainly won't have the same returns that they did in years past. So it is best to divest yourself of nearly all of your stocks and stock mutual funds. IMHO, the only stocks that are presently worth holding are in the energy sector and precious metals mining, and even then those should be the minority of your full portfolio.

At the present time, after paying off any outstanding consumer debt (such as car loans or credit cards) I'd recommend that you then reinvest the remainder of your mutual fund divestiture, as follows:

40% in inflation indexed US treasuries (TIPS),
20% in a global currency fund (to minimize your dollar exposure),
10% in additional food storage and various preparedness gear (first aid, communications, et cetera.)
10% in money market account
10% in silver mining and energy stocks
10% in barterable tangibles (as I've described in my blog--things like guns, common caliber ammo, and full capacity magazines)

However, your priorities my differ so you might want to adjust those ratios. The important thing is insulating yourself from inflation, and a the likely collapse of both the stock market and the US dollar in foreign exchange. Because of the global credit collapse, we are on the verge of a depression that could be as bad or worse than that of the 1930s. Be ready. Get out of stocks and minimize your US Dollar exposure.

If and when inflation jumps to double digits, even TIPS won't be a safe investment (since government figures under-state inflation). At that point you should then sell your TIPS and close you money market account. Invest that more heavily into tangibles--both barterables and retreat-worthy land. By that time, the real estate market will be in cardiac arrest, so there will be some genuine bargains. Living in Wyoming, you might consider some of the locales I mention in my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", such as The Big Horn Basin, and the Star Valley. Look for properties with good topsoil and plenty of water. Be sure to buy land that is on defendable terrain and that is well-removed from any major highway.

Good Morning Mr. Rawles,
I found SurvivalBlog about a year ago have been hooked since, [your novel] "Patriots" was inspiring and awesome.

I would like your opinion regarding 401(k) retirement funds. I am 49 years old and have a fair amount of 401(k) funding, I understand any early withdrawal would result in about 30% tax and loss. I know you don't have a crystal ball but would 70% not be better then a 100% loss in a situation of a full economic collapse. I know these are very hypothetical questions but I have come to respect your opinions, and could fast-track my preparedness if I cashed out early. - John V.

JWR Replies: First, ask your company if they offer a "Self-directed 401(k)" option. If so, you can put your money in a contrarian ("bear") stock (and stock shorting) fund, and some energy and silver mining stocks.

Is there any chance of rolling over your 401(k) into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)? If so, you can get a US Gold Eagle IRA. (The folks at Swiss America can set one up for you.) I have heard of some people "trapped" in very limited 401(k)s that have switched to independent contractor status, changed jobs, or even gone so far as to briefly quit their jobs and then get re-hired, just to free up their 401(k) funds to accomplish a rollover without penalties. (Some of these approaches, of course, would require having a sympathetic boss.)

If none of those approaches will work in your situation, then at least re-direct your 401(k) out of stocks and stock mutual funds and into a money market fund. (Most corporate retirement fund plans allow at least a small portfolio "menu" of investment approaches.) But I would not recommend doing anything so radical as taking a 70% loss.

Is the Front Sight certificate [offered in the current auction, and available as writing contest prizes] good for the course that includes the “free” pistol? Also, you keep mentioning “gray” certificates but not all of us know what that means! Thanks, - MDR

JWR Replies: The "gray" course certificate is for one person to attend one Front Sight four day course (or for two people to attend a two day course.) The certificates printed on gray paper are transferable, but are "introductory", meaning that they can't be used by someone that has already attended a Front Sight course. The four day courses are normally $2,000.

Front Sight's current "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer (including a Springfield Armory XD pistol) is a separate offering. But that also includes a gray course certificate, which makes the offer a real bargain!

Dear JWR,
You have rightly pointed out in the past that New Zealand is a good location for surviving a world crisis. New Zealand has less than half the average population density of the USA (39/sq mi. versus 80/sq mi.), there are just 1.3 million people in our largest city and many regions are blessed with wonderful conditions for horticulture.
Of course there are downsides to New Zealand's isolation during normal times. The United States of America is a large marketplace with over 300 million people - you can have supplies for any niche need delivered to your door. Over here, often the airfreight on specialized survival goods from the US costs more than the goods themselves! And unless you can fill a shipping container, you can forget about purchasing any heavy goods.

I'm writing to let your readers know that there is a new company offering bulk storage wheat and rice in New Zealand. Our product is packed into mylar bags and the oxygen is removed, leaving a partial vacuum with a nitrogen atmosphere. The bags are protected by a heavy duty HDPE pail with sealing lid, for durability and a secondary oxygen barrier.
Wheat stored in this way has the potential to last 20 years or more, and white rice for 10 years or more.

I'm a survivalist who has got into business, not a businessman who has got into survival - I regularly use a grain mill to turn my own product into delicious wholemeal breads at home. I would like to invite your readers to view our Enduring Supplies Limited web site. As an introductory offer, I will offer Survivalblog readers a 10% discount on whole pallet orders and a 5% discount on smaller orders placed in the next two weeks (finishing Friday 27th June). I look forward to hearing from some like minded 'locals'. Kind Regards, - Craig (a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

JWR Replies: I wish you the best with your business. It will certainly fill what has been a chronic need.

OBTW, you mentioned New Zealand's population density. The stats that I have seen list North Island's density as 27.5 per square kilometer, compared to just 6.7 per square kilometer on South Island. There is no doubt where I'd recommend our Kiwi (and Kiwi wannabe) readers live: the farming and ranching country on South Island.

Our friend Michael Panzner of the Financial Armageddon blog just linked to this key article: Crisis shifts to regional lenders. This shows that the global credit collapse is s far from over!

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Larry W. flagged this piece by Jim Sinclair: Total Notional Value of Derivatives Outstanding Surpasses One Quadrillion Dollars. That is a lot of zeros! BTW, I think that Sinclair's figures are high, since among other things, credit derivatives are actually dropping rapidly in their notional aggregate value. This is inevitable as the global credit market is continuing to contract. But regardless, the risk posed by derivatives is still enormous The recent Bear Stearns bailout is indicative of the extreme measures that could be required, when a counterparty suddenly ceases to exist.

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Bob H. spotted a safety alert article that describes in detail a threat posed by the "The Meth Head Next Door": Anhydrous ammonia and propane cylinders

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Pain at the Pump: It’s Time to Start Thinking About $7 a Gallon Gasoline. Meanwhile, we read: An ominous warning that the rapid rise in oil prices has only just begun

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United Stated where men were free." - President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mr Rawles,
I found your web site a few months ago and have been pouring through it ever since. This past week, I finished reading the SurvivalBlog archives through the end of 2007. Just six months of archives left :) I also just finished reading your excellent novel, "Patriots"

As a fundamentalist Christian who was homeschooled, I truly appreciate your willingness to unabashedly share your faith and your conservative family values through your web site and writings.

I am also a West Point graduate who became an Armor officer in 2000, so I really enjoy and relate to your anecdotes and descriptions (and military jargon & acronyms) of your personal Military Intelligence experience, as well as the fictional experiences of "Doug Carlton". Your descriptions of M1A1 tanks, Fort Knox, Advanced Camp (Camp Buckner for me), et cetera. are all spot on. Your description of tankers, down to the details about being chronically horrible on security, was exactly correct. I well remember getting a CS [tear gas] canister thrown into our perimeter at [National Training Center] NTC by the [Observer Controller] OC because we were all asleep. We received a briefing on the vulnerabilities of Abrams tanks at the Armor Captain's Career Course and, in light of that, I found your discussion of the matter in "Patriots" very interesting. As a note of interest, since the Iraq War, the training in the Armor CCC seems to place renewed importance on urban warfare and especially on combined operations with Infantry. In fact, I believe Armor and Infantry CCCs have combined now to form a single "Maneuver Captain's Career Course".

After my platoon leader time, I worked in the Fort Knox Garrison S3 shop as a planner for two years at Fort Knox's Emergency Operations Center, working on their contingency operations plans for everything from earthquakes to terrorists attacks. I took advantage of my time there in taking a lot of FEMA online courses, getting my amateur radio license, and taking a lot of civilian and military training in [Search and Rescue] SAR. That being the case, I absolutely loved the Fort Knox aspects of the plot in "Patriots" and wish to heck that I had your book during my time there to pass around to the other guys. My time there was also the point in my life when I realized that a lot can go wrong in this world and I'd better have a plan to prepare for it.

Wanting some change, I later became a Civil Affairs officer with deployments to Iraq and West Africa. Civil Affairs just became it's own branch in 2006 as the Army recognizes that "civilians on the battlefield" play an enormous role in low intensity conflicts like Iraq. The civilian dimension, both as potential OPFOR and BLUFOR, is being studied and analyzed in depth in today's Army, as it should be. However, it is terrifying to contemplate a "Patriots" type of scenario where that scrutiny, analysis, and subsequent operations would be turned towards our own populace. Double ditto for all things related to the new branch of Psychological Operations

After reading survivalblog, I've been re-examining my military experiences, especially my time in Iraq and West Africa from the survivalist viewpoint. I don't want to make this e-mail into a book, so I'll only mention a few things for now: In many of the Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAP) that we conducted in Africa, one of the hugely popular items was adaptive eyewear. Essentially, they are adjustable glasses where the user can modify the power of each lens to his or her needs. It works through fluid-filled lenses. You can checkout their web site at http://www.adaptive-eyecare.com/index.htm . I'm not affiliated with them, by the way, but I have handed out a lot of these things. They look like the Army BCGs, so they aren't pretty but they are effective. I went to a village last year where they told me their number one medical need was eye care. Actually, it appeared as though a large percent of the elderly people had cataracts which we couldn't fix obviously, but the adjustable glasses were a hot item for many others. I thought about it when I read some of the previous posts about eye care and about barter items. How many people would have lost or broken their glasses after a few years of TEOTWAWKI? Or their prescription changes? Glasses might be a popular barter item, but who wants to stock every prescription imaginable? These glasses can be adjusted from +6 to -6 Diopters.

The only catch is... I think this company mostly sells their glasses in bulk to NGO-type organizations for use in third world countries, so I have no idea if they are available to the normal person here in these united States. However, now that you know they're out there, you might keep a watch out for something like it. This is an example of something that is probably not currently marketable in a developed country because of lack of need. However, that could quickly change if TSHTF. I think I heard that the glasses were about $10 or $12 each, but they were trying to bring the costs down. Also, I'm no eye doctor, but I surmised that one of the reasons for the surprisingly high number of cataract and eye problems in these places is that they go through their whole life living outdoors without sunglasses or eye protection. Granted, we were in or near the Sahara Desert, where conditions are unusually harsh, but the lesson I took away is that sunglasses and eye protection are essential, especially if spending a lot of time in harsh-sun environments or anywhere there isn't an eye doctor.

On another note of interest, probably the number one ailment by far we saw were bowel problems, probably related to unsanitary conditions and unpurified water. There were also always a sizable number of people who had dental problems who were hugely grateful when our dentist pulled their problem teeth. As you've mentioned before, having a dental kit and knowing how to pull teeth doesn't sound too exciting now but if the time came when you needed it, you sure would be thankful that you could. Our dentist made it look so easy, pulling people's teeth while they sat on an Army cot or the back of a pickup, that I asked him to pull my wisdom teeth. He wouldn't do it, though, saying that there's a big difference in pulling out a malnourished person's tooth and pulling out a McDonald's fed American's teeth. Plus, he didn't want the liability in case of complications. My wisdom teeth weren't a problem for me, but I went ahead and got them pulled when I got back from the deployment. I figured it was better to get that out of the way now rather than wait until TEOTWAWKI when I'd be sitting on the back of a pickup while some goon is putting a pair of pliers in my mouth.

One huge "mistake" that we made was our method of handing out some giveaways during our MEDCAPs. Be careful of your how you hand out charity! We gave out bolts of cloth (the cloth had pro-American prints on them) to the women of one village and within a few hours, we had near-riot conditions. Several people were injured and nearly suffocated and/or trampled, the local police grew, shall we say, heavy-handed, and we shut down all operations. Your advice of giving out charity from a distance and using an intermediary like the church is exactly correct. Another lesson is that bolts of cloth are another really popular item for people who have to make their own clothes.

Thank you for all you do. My 10 Cent Challenge contribution will be forthcoming. God bless you and your family. Respectfully, - The Kansan

I'm doing some preparation research now since I'll be pretty close to Yucca Mountain when it comes online, which I ultimately expect it to. I recently saw a posting on your blog [from "Cody"] regarding the taking of the thyroid blockers Potassium Iodate [KI] and Potassium Iodide [KIO3] in case of a nuclear event. The person writing you said that Potassium Iodate was superior because it didn't cause as much stomach irritation as Potassium Iodide. I did a web search on "potassium iodide versus potassium iodate" and came up with these links:
Approved Brands
Iodide Versus Iodate
WHO Guide to Radiation Prophylaxis (PDF)

I did as was suggested and searched for Potassium Iodate as being FDA approved and couldn't find it. Also, the World Health Organization actually does say that Potassium Iodate actually causes more stomach irritation, not less (see page 17 of the third link I included)- " KI is the preferred alternative, since KIO3 has the disadvantage of being a stronger intestinal irritant". That directly contradicts what Cody claimed in his letter. I just wanted to pass this along to get the accurate info out.
Take care, - Bill in Las Vegas

JWR Replies: Thanks for finding that piece of information! OBTW, living in Las Vegas, I think that you should be even more concerned about Las Vegas as the potential target of a terrorist nuclear "dirty bomb" than you are about the Yucca Mountain storage facility, or the vehicles transporting nuclear waste to it.

Thanks to Manuel for sending this ".45 ACP versus 400 pound bear" story from the mountains of eastern Oregon: ‘Bears always run away'. OBTW, hammer down on a live cartridge is not a good way to carry a Model 1911 pistol! (There are safety issues in lowering the hammer without causing a negligent discharge, and the pistol carried in "Condition Stupid" is very slow to get into action.) Most bears and two-legged predators are not nearly so polite as to give someone the time to both un-holster and then thumb-cock a M1911 pistol. These pistols are properly carried in "Condition One" (a.k.a. "cocked and locked".) I hope that the reporter just got that part of the story wrong. Oh and BTW, somebody must also educate the reporter on the difference between a "clip" and a magazine.

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Several readers sent us this chilling Daily Mail article: Nine meals from anarchy - how Britain is facing a very real food crisis

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A reminder that the WRSA has another Practical Medicine course scheduled, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, June 20 to June 22. This is excellent, very affordable training that is taught by an Emergency Room doctor with many years of practical experience. The course is subtitled: "Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments."

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Jack in Texas notes that the US is not the only country that is top-heavy with accumulated debt. He sent this Korea Times link: Household Debts Hit All-Time High of W640 Trillion

"All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife." - Daniel Boone

Tuesday, June 10, 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.

Although I think there is a lot of mindless drivel on television, I wouldn't have know about your blog site if I hadn't watched [the news story on CNN [that mentioned SurvivalBlog] yesterday. I was on the computer all afternoon yesterday reading information you have posted, as well as visiting the sites of some of your advertisers.

You are right on your opinion of Alaska, [regarding its unsuitability for most people as a retreat locale]. We live in a coastal fishing community (population under 3,000 year round, double that in the summer when the cannery workers & tourists come to town) and are not connected to the road system. Everything comes in by plane or water (barge and ferry). We have one gas station and have heard that gas just went to $5.42 per gallon and diesel is over $6 per gallon.(You know how gas stations have signs out with their prices on them? Not here - they're the only game in town, so they don't have to post prices. If you need gas you have to go see them eventually. Bread is $4.99 a loaf, a two pound block of Tillamook cheese is over $16.00 and a 32 oz. jar of Best Foods mayonnaise is $7.65 in one of the stores here. (We have three small grocery stores here, two of which are owned by a local person and the other by a Canadian company). We sometimes have to wait weeks for car parts, etc. to come in and some items are prohibited to ship from the lower 48, like ammo. We have a very short growing season and not much in the way of top soil (lots of muskeg) so raising our own veggies is difficult.On the plus side, we have one freezer full of seafood and another full of moose, as well as some I have canned.

I feel fortunate to have grown up learning from my grandmother who told me stories of raising six kids on a farm with no electricity or running water and what it was like to go through the Depression. (when they cleaned the soot out of kerosene lantern chimneys they'd save it and use it to polish their Sunday shoes). I learned to can from my mom and our family always had a frugal mindset. I worked in a health food store years ago and began to learn about whole grains, etc. as well as wild plants for medicine and food. Five years ago we moved to Alaska and I began to learn more about wilderness survival due to our remote location and travel by bush plane.

In my spare time I taught myself some skills that may come in handy, such as soap making. Skills are learned over a lifetime and it is an ongoing process.Also, there is a wealth of information rolling around in the heads of older people - all you have to do is ask them.

We will be returning to the Outside soon and your advice on locations will hopefully come in handy (we will have to settle in a location according to my husband's employment).

We have some of the skills we need, have been stocking up for a while, but have a ways to go.

I will be a frequent visitor to your site now that I know it's there. Thanks for the wealth of information. - Lonnie in Alaska

James –
I'm a long time reader first time writer. I have been in the food business for 31 years with many companies, over the past 12 months I have had to raise my prices around 27% but my costs have risen 57%. We are afraid to continue passing on the rise because business has already decreased substantially but within the next few months we will be forced to raise our prices another 25% or quit the business. What I am trying to say is that we are at most, only halfway through the food inflation which has already occurred, as to the future it is entirely possible that it could continue unabated. The difference between now and the inflation of the 1980s is demand. In the 1980s we suffered transportation and fuel cost crisis, we are currently have those same issues combined with demand exceeding supply for many items. - JPG

Mr. Rawles,

Bill from Ohio writes: "Most people buy guns and they never shoot them, in fact, last time I heard a statistic regarding firearms usage in the United States, the national average of rounds fired per gun was seven - and that is over the entire lifetime of the owner!" There are about 250 million firearms in the US and about 10 billion rounds of ammunition sold per year. That's an average of 40 rounds per gun per year. On average, each US resident fires about 2,400 rounds of ammunition in a 72-year lifetime. Assuming a 40-year lifetime for a gun, that's roughly 1,600 rounds per firearm.
So "seven" is off by more than two orders of magnitude. It should have been obvious that this figure was seriously unrealistic. - PNG

JWR Replies: You are correct that Bill from Ohio's figure of an average of seven rounds was erroneously low. However, there are several qualifiers that I would add to your analysis of the 8 to 10 billion small arms cartridges produced in the US each year:

First, there are serious shooters and there are casual shooters. The serious variety ("target shooters") consume far more ammunition than most others, who fire very few cartridges through their guns.

Second, more ammunition is produced each year than is fired. This is purely anecdotal evidence, but I personally know several SurvivalBlog readers that only fire 20 to 50 rounds of centerfire per year and perhaps two or three times as many rimfire cartridges, yet they have 30,000+ rounds (including rimfire ammo) stored in their basements.

Third, not all ammunition is produced for the civilian market. The military Lake City Arsenal, for example, produces nearly 1.5 billion round per year, and only a tiny percentage of that is eventually fired by civilians.

Fourth, not all ammunition is produced for the domestic market. I recently saw a statistic of $3.1 billion worth of ammunition commercially exported by the US in 2005--not counting foreign military sales (FMS) programs. Assuming an average of 28 cents per cartridge, that equates to close to one billion rounds (perhaps 1/8th of US annual production) in exports. Offsetting that of course are ammunition imports, but US exports of ammunition far exceed imports.

Fifth, I believe that the oft-cited estimate of 250 million guns in the US is a low estimate. I think that the actual figure is closer to 400 million.

Together, all of these factors radically push down the number of rounds fired in centerfire guns that are purchased by casual shooters. There are quite a few guns sold that never get fired at all. These are the so-called "desk drawer" guns and "safe queen" guns. It is surprising to see how many guns described as "new in box", "like new in box", or "test fired only" that are advertised on the secondary market. (The listings at GunBroker.com and GunsAmerica.com are indicative.) Granted, there is no logical support for Bill from Ohio's figure, but I would assert that it was not off by nearly as large a margin as you suggest.

Several readers flagged this: US grain reserves reach the bottom of the barrel. Here is a key quote: "The only thing left in the entire CCC inventory will be 2.7 million bushels of wheat which is about enough wheat to make 1⁄2 of a loaf of bread for each of the 300 million people in America.” Back in mid-April, I told a New York Sun reporter about the massive outflow of US grain, and mentioned that I was surprised that the Bush Administration has not implemented export controls. With these recent figures, I am even more concerned. I believe in free markets, but I'm a realist. At some point in the near future, the Bush Administration is likely to step in and stop the hemorrhaging wheat from the US. If you haven't done so already, stock up on hard red winter wheat as soon as possible. By this time next year, wheat prices will likely double again.

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Israeli minister says alternatives to attack on Iran running out. (A hat tip to SJC, for sending that link.) Be ready for the full implications of war with Iran, if and when it comes. We can expect dramatically spiking oil prices (and shortages) and possibly some acts of terrorism by sleeper agents inside our borders. There will also likely be a spike in the price of gold. (Gutsy investors might consider selling a portion of their gold holdings at that time, and then buying back in, on a subsequent dip. As they say on Wall Street: "Buy on the rumor, sell on the news.") Secondarily, there will likely be diplomatic discord with any countries with extensive economic ties with Iran, such as France.

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This CNN article on survivalism last month continues to gain attention, as it gets picked up by other new outlets: Survivalists get ready for global meltdown

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You might have noticed that last week Standard & Poors belatedly downgraded three of the big brokerage stocks. They now carry ratings that are nearly "junk." The ostensibly "neutral and unbiased" S&P of course should have done this nearly a year ago, but there has been plenty of collusion going on. In my estimation the entire financial world is still in the early stages of a meltdown, which was precipitated by the credit collapse last summer. It is just happening in slow motion. The bottom is still nowhere in sight. I stand by my predictions, particularly for the hedge funds. In a collapsing credit environment, they are nearly all doomed. With each passing quarter, they may fall like dominoes.

"If America forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution." - Carl Sandburg, American writer (1878-1967)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Here is the link to the video clip of the CNN news story on Peak Oil preparedness that I mentioned last week. So much for "fifteen minutes of fame." This news story mentioned SurvivalBlog for all of about three seconds. Don't blink, or you'll miss it.

Mr. Rawles:
I was working through my "List of Lists" yesterday, and a thought struck me like a lightning bolt: Without batteries--lots of rechargeable batteries--I'm hosed. There are so many items that I'll depend on in an emergency that need batteries: My weather radio, Kenwood MURS handhelds (thanks for that suggestion, BTW), starlight scope, and my flashlights. (And thanks also for your suggestion of IR [flashlight] filters). Without [those battery-powered items as] "force multipliers", I'd be at huge disadvantage to looters, who could be wandering the countryside in droves, if and when it all hits the fan. So, with that realization, I'm investing in a small [photovoltaic] solar panel [for battery charging], and a boatload of NiMH batteries. Do you still recommend All-Battery [as a supplier]? And who sells a small panel--say 5 to 10 watts--that is reliable and weather-tight?

The battery situation reminds me of that old poem: "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost..." Thanks In Advance, - George L.

JWR Replies: Yes, All-Battery.com is an excellent source. If you can afford to, buy a triple or quadruple set for each piece of gear that takes batteries. (Even if you don't use them all yourself, the extra batteries will be ideal to keep on hand for barter and charity.) You are correct in mentioning the NiMH low self-discharge (LSD) technology (such as the Sanyo Eneloop). It is currently the most reliable rechargeable battery on the market.

As I've mentioned in the blog before, if you cannot afford a large battery bank of deep cycle batteries, then at least buy a "jump pack" 12 VDC gel cell unit. These are available with either110 VAC (US/Canada) and 220 VAC (UK) utility power charging cords. You can then plug in a 12VDC "smart" battery charging tray (using a DC power cord with cigarette lighter plug.) That is far more efficient than using an AC inverter and then a DC transformer (like those in most home battery chargers) That way you are just changing one DC voltage to another DC voltage--instead of a DC inverted -to-AC-and-transformed-back-to-DC proposition. (Which is very inefficient.)

To keep your "jump pack" charged, I recommend the small PV panels available from Northern Tool & Equipment--one of our Affiliate Advertisers. Once you are at Northern Tool's web site, search on Item # 339973.

Hi Jim,
Regarding the Canadian who was wondering about wind power versus diesel. The Windmill is a good idea if he uses an Amateur Radio "Crankover" type tower, better than the crank up towers [usually sold for small] windmills. However, there is a caveat: If [the reader in Canada] goes with wind power, then have a spare. If he can [afford to] put up two windmills, then buy three, when he buys them[, which will provide one as a spare]. Even a bird hit on a reasonably modern power generating windmill will cause mucho damage. Just my humble opinion.

I had L-16 battery problems at the ranch this year for the first time in 10 years. Then I figured out the -60 F temps for nine nights was likely the cause. Oh well, stuff happens, corrective actions are underway. Regards, - The Army Aviator

Dear Jim,
Things have changed a bit [in recent years on wind generator reliability]. Yes, old school turbines with folding vanes are a pain, but there is a wind unit on the market that is darn near bullet-proof (in fact, I came up with a mod for that too.) They have been flown in hurricanes and are being used in Iraq, where high gusts and debilitating dust are the norm, never mind broiling heat. They keep ticking over, no problems and turn out juice in slow to screaming wind. They are the Hornet Series [from Hydrogen Appliances]

Essentially, they took a standard wind genny and beefed it up, almost to Russian-type specs. They just built everything another 20-50% thicker, wider, etc. then they had to. They are little beasts.
For any maintenance issues that might come up (rare) the best bet is to install them on a tip up tower. They can be lowered and raised with a come along or horses or whatever if necessary. Regards, - Mosby

Dear James,
I've mentioned to you before that I'm a affiliate instructor with another major firearms training school. The comments made [by correspondent PPPP] about pistol malfunctions are 100% in line with what we see on our firing lines, as well.

We advise our students to run away screaming from any weapon that has 'target', 'match', 'custom', or 'accurized' stamped on the side of them. It was [Mikhail] Kalashnikov [the designer of the incredibly robust AK-47] who pointed out to us all that when you have something with moving parts, the parts need room to move! Most custom shop and high dollar pistols are temperamental beasts that react very poorly to heat and dirt. We see the $1,200+ [Model] 1911 choke and seize up all the time once the guns get hot. Most people buy guns and they never shoot them, in fact, last time I heard a statistic regarding firearms usage in the United States, the national average of rounds fired per gun was seven - and that is over the entire lifetime of the owner! Manufacturers sell guns that they bet will never see hard use, and usually they win that bet. And the tight, 'accurate' 1911s lead that pack. This is why it is imperative that every reader of your blog get out to the range and run their guns for real!

Yes, professional schools are expensive and the cost of ammunition is getting ridiculous, but at risk of sounding like a cheap slogan, how much is your life worth? Going out for two or three days of intense training will put your weapons and accessories through the use and abuse you will need to truly decide what works and what needs a second look, as well as teaching you a host of valuable skills.

Standing in a booth at the local indoor range, picking your gun up off of a table, and firing when you choose to at a static piece of paper, is at best an exercise in marksmanship. You haven't been training for real until things start breaking. We announce at the beginning of every class, that it is our sincerest hope, that everything our students brought with them - every gun, every holster, every magazine - breaks! If it sucks, we want to find that out now, not when innocent life is on the line. We run the gear and the students hard because that is the only way to truly test things, and it's the best way to build the confidence of the operator. [JWR Adds: And it is in grungy conditions that's the best place to learn to do stoppage clearance drills. If you can clear a Type 2 stoppage when your gun is filthy, when your arms are tired, and when you are under stress, then odds are that you can later do the same in combat. Fine motor skills are sharply degraded when you are under stress. Train like you will fight, repetitively!]

Things that I would add to the list of bad ideas:

1.) 8-round magazines for the 1911. I've seen few that finish two days of training without blowing apart. Usually the floor plate dislodges from the base of the magazine, leaving the student standing there with a pistol gummed up with loose rounds, a follower and a spring clogging the ejection port, and a magazine body that they can't get out of the well. [JWR Adds: The only brands of 8-round M1911 magazine that I have fond that good strength and longevity are original Colt brand, and MetalForm brand. And coincidentally, Colt now buys all of their .45 ACP M1911 magazines from MetalForm, under contract. (These are manufactured for Colt by MetalForm, using Colt "rampant stallion" stamped floorplates, and sold in Colt packages.)

2.) Recoil buffers - get these out of your life! Get them out of your pistols and get them out of your rifles! They never fail to disintegrate under heavy use, rendering the weapon useless until disassembled and cleaned out.

3.) Extended this, and enlarged that. Don't modify guns with oversized slide stops or extended mag release buttons, mercury guide rods or rubber grip sleeves, etc... There's one bit of wisdom that I learned the hard way years ago: There is nothing you can buy, bolt, glue or screw to a gun that will align your sights and press your trigger for you. You cannot spend money on things to make you shoot better, regardless of what our modern American mindset tells us. Marksmanship comes from proper technique and proper practice, and good old fashioned work. Obviously there are some issues like sharp edges and [S&W] J-frame [size] grips that are too small for a shooter's hands, but serious equipment issues are hardly what the majority of add-ons sold in the Brownell's catalog are aimed at. Save your money and spend it on training!

Lastly, I agree with every recommendation the writer mentioned. 'De-horning', or removing the sharpe edges off of carry guns, is highly recommended and something I have done to all of my concealment guns! And de-cocking the SIG [pistol]s before re-holster is mandatory on our range - as a matter of fact, we teach that the pistol be de-cocked every time the trigger finger breaks contact with the trigger and returns to register. This way, the trigger is reset to the position that the trigger finger is used to finding it every time it enters the trigger guard. That applies to all of the de-cocker equipped pistols - [such as] H&K USPs, Beretta 92s, Walther PPKs, et cetera.

The instructor who wrote the letter that you posted is obviously one of the good ones, and anyone within range of him would be well served by attending his course! - Bill from Ohio

Another bit of agreement on one of my predictions: Surging inflation will stoke riots and conflict between nations, says report

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Kory found us this: Antibacterial wipes can spread superbugs: study

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Shale sent us this AP news article: DOJ sues Honeywell over faulty bulletproof vests. Zylon is again the culprit. We've been warning SurvivalBlog readers for nearly three years to avoid Zylon vests.

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The Reuters London bureau reports a common theme on both sides of the Atlantic: Home-grown vegetables grow in popularity. The article begins: Almost 70 years after Britons were urged to Dig For Victory to produce hearty home-grown food to help the war effort, domestic horticulture is coming back.

"For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for the want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of care about a horseshoe nail." - Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Do you have a favorite attributed quote that relates to preparedness, survival, strategy, tactics, self-sufficiency, liberty, faith, resourcefulness, charity, or other topics of interest to SurvivalBlog readers?? Please e-mail them to us, and as space permits, we will likely post them as Quotes of the Day. Thanks!

I'm a Family Doctor in rural Michigan, and a Major in the Army Reserve Medical Corps, who enjoys your blog every day. A pharmacist friend, who works at WalMart just gave me their new list of $4 drugs for 30 days and $10 drugs for 90 days [sales promotion]. What a bonanza! If your friendly local doctor will do it, he can prescribe for you, drugs such as Cipro 500 MG (a great broad-spectrum antibiotic), # 90 count for $10. Or Ibuprofen 800 MG #90 count for $10, or a very wide selection of medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal conditions and other maladies, all for $10 for three months. For $100 you could have a well-stocked pharmacy of your own for tough times. I could easily treat 99% of conditions I see every day from this long list of medications. Continue the march and keep 'yer powder dry. - FLS, D.O.

Mr. Rawles,
In his article [Alternatives to Firearms for Defense and Hunting in a Survival Situation], Bill H. missed something very important in his segment on air rifles, the modern large bore pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifle. I have a Quackenbush .308 caliber. It shoots standard .308 diameter cast lead bullets into one hole at 25 yards and does about 800 to 900 feet per second. It is my first choice for killing stray/feral dogs. Filling the reservoir with a hand pump is a tiresome job and plinking with the gun is not fun due to the work it requires. However you cannot beat it for accuracy, low cost shooting or sustainability. There is no part of the gun except the barrel that cannot easily be made in my home machine shop, so who cares if it has parts that aren't common. Any machinist worthy of the name can make any part on the gun or pump that could conceivably break or wear out.

I do hope to get a spring piston rifle soon for practice and training my children to shoot, but it will never replace my PCP air rifle. Modern big bore PCP rifles are adequate for hunting deer and other large game and more than sufficient for killing varmints. With my .308 PCP I get complete penetration on [feral] dogs. What more could I ask?
- Andrew B.

It can be prudent to not quite break the 1,100 fps barrier, as the resulting sonic 'crack' would sound like shooting a .22 anyhow. That would definitely draw attention in an urban environment. - Sid, near Niagara Falls

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. The speed of sound is nearly 1,118 fps at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. (OBTW, the oft-quoted "at standard barometric pressure, at sea level" phrase is better expressed "at X degrees air temperature", since air pressure and the density of air are proportional at a given air temperature.)

Dennis B. forwarded us a link to an editorial by Richard J. Greene on the dangers of buying "electronic" gold via Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Something tells me that there is some creative accounting going on. In fact, I'll go on record as stating that I have my doubts that there is a tangible ounce of gold in custody for every "ounce" purchased.

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I heard from a reader about a new and informative reference site: Set2Survive.com.Take look.

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Several readers sent this: Avian Flu Found In Tyson Chickens (in Arkansas). "Oh, but it is just a mild strain", they tell us. But of course the same path of virulence could spread a new strain. See my article on the influenza threat for some details on preparedness measures for the potential outbreak of a "high path" strain.

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Food riots are not the sole domain of consumers. Some producers are also angry. Hoss noted this BBC news clip: Riot police confront fishermen protesting high fuel prices. Meanwhile, we read in Der Spiegel, German dairy farmers complain: 'I'd Rather Toss Out My Milk'

"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 froward 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." - Proverbs 6:6-15

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Today's first post comes from The Pioche Professional Polymer Pistolero (PPPP), one of our volunteer correspondents. He is an instructor at a well-known firearms school.

Mr. Rawles,
I just returned from instructing a handgun course with 42 people on my range, and another 40 on my brother's range. (He is also an instructor). I wanted to pass along some information on handgun maintenance and note several observations from this weekend that are typical in the courses we teach (approximately 800 rounds fired [per student] over several days).
First., the [Model] 1911 model handguns took top honors in failures (defined as taking you out of the fight, not just a malfunction). Six of the approximately 25 [Model] 1911s had these problems. (includes both ranges). This is typical! While 1911s have their merits, they are consistently prone to failures. Some are stone cold reliable, but you really won't know until hundreds to thousands of rounds later. Often the most expensive finely-tuned 1911s have the most problems. Have spare parts on hand and know how to service your weapon.

A side note for all handgun users, but particularly the 1911 group: Be sure to check your handgun for sharp edges on the slide, controls and any other piece of the handgun and have these sharp edges removed professionally if possible... you'd be surprised at how many bloody hands we had over the weekend.

Second. The Springfield [Armory] XD grip safety needs to be fully depressed. Not fully gripping the firearm can prevent malfunction clearances and obviously prevent firing the weapon. It was unusual, but one grip safety actually broke, rendering the firearm inoperative.

Third. Recoil springs can get weak after high round-counts causing a failure to feed, so replace them occasionally (applies to all makes and models of handguns).

Fourth. There were a few malfunctions with Glocks, but no failures. Over the long haul the factory plastic sights should be replaced with the more durable iron sights.

Fifth. Use high quality magazines and have lots of them!

Sixth. SIG [brand pistol]s had no failures, but the heavy double action initial trigger pull, followed by the light single action second pull caused students to perform poorly. As a result of the two differing trigger pulls, many students [armed with SIGs] tried to "game it" by leaving the hammer cocked and re-holstering which is a big safety concern. One student narrowly missed shooting his leg when re-holstering because of this. A note on SIGs: While there is nothing wrong with SIG's quality or reliability, remember that due to the two differing trigger pulls this handgun will require three to four times the amount of practice to master compared with any other common handgun. The exception would be their new "DAK" [double action only] trigger.
Remember safety and mindset! - PPPP

JWR Adds: I heard from another friend who is an XD aficionado (he now owns four of them), that failure to get full depression of the grip safety is only an issue for some shooters, depending on their shooting habits. Some shooters just don;t grip a pistol as tightly as others. The shape of your hand is also a factor. If you turn out to be one of the minority with this difficulty, it is easily resolved by building up the thickness of the exterior of the grip safety. This is a quick and easy modification: Simply glue on one or two thicknesses of plastic, using Krazy Glue (or similar cyanoacrylate adhesive). My friend used two thicknesses of black plastic that he cut with a an X-Acto knife from an aerosol spray can's plastic lid. It is about a five minute job, and it is easily reversible. OBTW, do not be tempted to disable the grip safety--for example, by wrapping a rubber band around the grip, as I've seen done with M1911s. Disabling firearms safety features is a bad idea, no matter how experienced you are as a shooter. (With two notable exceptions: removing a "magazine" safety (such as on Browning Hi-Powers) or retrofitting a politically correct "key locking" safety (such as on the current Remington Model 870s) with a traditional safety button.)

Speaking of Springfield XD pistols, if you want to get one of these fine pistols for next-to-nothing, Front Sight's very generous "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer is still available. However, it will likely end soon, since it is being run at or near cost. Don't delay!

I've been trading crude oil for a few decades now, and in the last two sessions I've seen trading like I haven't seen since Desert Storm, large unexplained up moves, $5.50 yesterday (6/5) and as I type this the market opened $6.00 higher. For a huge liquid market such as Crude Oil, these are large moves.

I went to the Jerusalem Post to search out any open source tidbits/indicators and I stumbled upon this article.

To buttress this, Gold is up $22 and Silver up 35 cents.

The first piece of Israeli ordnance to hit Iranian soil could cause a hyper spike of anywhere from $20 to $70 in Crude in a single day of trading the day after the attack, which in my estimation is coming sooner rather than later.

May God bless you and your family. Pray for Israel, in Jesus' love, - N. in Chicago

JWR Replies: I'm sure you've seen the headlines: Crude oil was up over $8 in one day, on Friday, setting a record at $137 per barrel.On April 18, 2006, I warned SurvivalBlog readers to start keeping their gas, diesel, home heating oil, and propane tanks filled, in part by means of "keep full" contracts. That was back when regular gas was around $2.29 per gallon. I'll say it again: "Fill your storage tanks, folks!" If you didn't take my advice at that time, then please do so now.

I'm debating with myself. Do I install wind power or purchase and fill another diesel tank? The wind power would be the best investment, but my concern is the wind tower would be a giant sign that a prepared person lives here. I live in the middle of the Canadian west 10 miles from a town of 1,000 people 40 miles from a city of 25,000 people and 250 miles from a city of 400,000 people. I own 1,000 acres and my yard is in the middle. Does the distance from large population give me enough protection to install the wind power?

I think the only drawbacks of my location is winter and the government. We are working on changing the government. I also think plenty of water is a good trade for winter.

OBTW, I would be willing to lease land at a discounted price to any reader who is interested.
Thanks for your help. - Ethan.

JWR Replies: I only expect fuel prices to continue to escalate, so simply adding more diesel tank storage space might be a mistake. But so might be getting a wind generator. Let me explain: As I describe in my preparedness novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", small wind generators are generally more trouble than they are worth. They tend to fail in high winds, usually in the dead of winter. If a wind generator's automatic prop feathering mechanism, or its tail-vane flipping mechanism fail, a generator can run over speed during high wind gusts, and tear itself apart. This happens with alarming frequency. Who wants to climb a tower and work with hand tools to swap brushes or other parts at a time like that? For the past 25 years, the cost-per-watt for photovoltaic (PV) panels has come down steadily, but meanwhile both the cost-per-watt and the reliability of wind generators has remained about the same. Also consider the safety factor. Raising or lowering any large wind generator from a tower is a tricky operation. In the present day, I would recommend hiring a crane company to do so. In the event of TEOTWAWKI, where no mechanized help would be available, you would have to do it yourself, and that could be a real risk. And of course there is the OPSEC factor if there are any public roads with line-of-sight to your property. That is probably not an issue--since your home is in the middle of a 1,000 acre parcel, but it could be a issue for many other retreat owners.

Even at your high latitude, it might be more cost-effective to use PVs. Talk it over with an alternative energy pro, like Bob Grizwald (with Ready Made Resources) or Steve Willey (with Backwoods Solar Electric Systems.)

Diesel thieves wreak havoc on California farmers

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Yishai found us this, by way of Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit: If GPS Gets Knocked Out, the government has a backup plan.

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I missed this news article when it was posted a couple of weeks ago: Home Foreclosures: Crisis Is Only Getting Deeper. More recently, we've read: Bernanke urges more action to stem home foreclosure crisis

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Some analysis by Frank Barbera: Return of the Credit Crisis – Did It Ever Leave? We still haven't seen the full impact on the banking sector. And we may yet experience some bank runs in the US.

"I say that the Second Amendment doesn't allow for exceptions — or else it would have read that the right "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless Congress chooses otherwise." And because there are no exceptions, I disagree with my fellow panelists who say the existing gun laws should be enforced. Those laws are unconstitutional [and] wrong — because they put you at a disadvantage to armed criminals, to whom the laws are no inconvenience." - Harry Browne, August 8, 2000, speaking at a Second Amendment rally in Arkansas

Friday, June 6, 2008

I was pleased to hear that SurvivalBlog.com got fair treatment in a CNN television news special segment about survivalism that aired on Thursday.

The following is another article for Round 17 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 ends on July 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.

While in a modern setting there is no replacement for a well maintained firearm, individuals who read Survival Blog are well aware that the terms "Modern", "Optimal" and "Best Case" are unlikely to apply in the not so distant future. Most tools can serve more than one purpose. A large Crescent wrench can be used as an impromptu hammer for example. Likewise your .308 battle rifle could be used to hunt rabbits, but it has several drawbacks to be being used in such a way. However just as a proper tool kit has a hammer as well as a Crescent wrench, a well-stocked retreat has a .308 (or similar rifle) as well as an alternative way to hunt small game. Keeping that in mind a bit of research into alternative weapons coupled with some practice would be advisable for those who wish to provide for and protect their families.

This article is in no way meant to be a comprehensive study of these alternatives but rather a starting point or overview of some of these possibilities. We will discuss modern versions of ancient weapons as well as an improvised archaic weapon. The important thing is to look at the possibilities and outside what is accepted. These tools may not be as efficient as a modern firearm or as easy to learn as a single shot rifle, but are well worth your consideration.

Air guns
We often think of these tools as a kid's toy, yet the truth is that the technologies of sending a projectile down range by using compressed air has been around since the 15th Century and at one time were made as sniper rifles and even big game rifles for Boar and Bear. Admittedly the air guns available to us are a far cry from those antique products of great craftsman, but they are still worth consideration. The benefits of these tools is that they are as simple to use as a single shot rifle and, depending on the quality, very capable of taking small game. The drawback is that they require specialized maintenance and can be difficult to repair due to the nature of specialized parts.

Air guns are commonly available in three calibers, .177, .20 and .22. Of these three calibers the two most common and in my opinion the 2 worth consideration is the .177 and the .22.
When choosing a caliber keep in mind that the velocity of the projectile plus its mass will translate to its power on impact. For this reason the .22 caliber tends to be, at first glance the best choice. Keep in mind however that the projectiles in this case are lead pellets and a healthy argument can be made for the variety of the .177. BB's are reusable and when moving at high velocity capable of killing or deterring a variety of pests. Often the addition of a small magnet must be used to enable a quality pellet gun to fire a BBs.

For the purposes of this article the three types of air guns available are CO2, Pump, and Spring Piston. Of the three I suggest that CO2 air guns be discarded immediately. The need for [commercially filled] CO2 cartridges and the relatively low power of these tools make them useful only as training aids and of limited practical use to the survivalist.

Pump guns use a piston to compress a gas and store it in a cylinder. These often are less expensive and are available at a variety of big chain stores. The drawback of these tools I that they must be pumped multiple times to build up a charge and even at their greatest charge are still underpowered.

Spring piston guns use a lever to compress a spring which drives a piston, which in turn provides the compressed air that drives the projectile. This is an efficient and practical tool and is the design that I suggest Research the air guns available to you and make your decision accordingly. RWS and Beeman are the two top manufacturers and both sell rifles capable of over 1,100 fps. Cost for one of these tools can run over $300 but careful shopping can get you a good quality air gun for around $200.

Regardless of your choice make sure that you purchase the proper maintenance equipment and read the owners manual to get the best use from these tools. Treating them like a firearm for anything but safety will quickly lead to disappointment and potentially catastrophic failure. For example the compressed gas from a spring piston air gun can ignite gun oil and the resulting discharge will destroy the gun.

[JWR Adds: It is important that every family have at least one high-power spring-piston air rifle. They are ideal for pest shooting and for low cost indoor target practice. One Internet mail order dealer that I recommend is Pyramid Air. They have a good selection and competitive prices. They are also one of our Affiliate advertisers. We get a little piece of the action when your place an order with any of our affiliates.]

Often romanticized by movies the crossbow seldom performs the way the purchaser had hoped. The nature of the short prod or bow offers a very powerful but short lived energy source. They do not have the accurate range of a bow, yet have the benefit of being able to be left cocked and fired from a prone position. The crossbow is capable of taking large game and has the additional benefit of being able to reuse its ammo. However it is clearly recognized by any observer and as such if seen garner the same attention as a firearm. It is however quiet compared to a firearm and as such for survival hunting can be a good choice.

There are three basic types of crossbows available. The Standard crossbow, the Compound Crossbow and the pistol crossbow. Of these three I find that the pistol crossbow is most commonly a novelty item with very little practical use. Arguments have been made that at up to a 75 lb prod that they are capable of taking small game and have the benefit of being highly portable. I disagree with this reasoning but encourage readers to make up there own mind. At a cost of as little as $20 I found that purchasing one to test then trading it away when I had confirmed my suspicions to be well worth an afternoons diversion.

The compound Crossbow looks quite impressive and the mechanical advantage of the wheels does make the bolt travel faster. The cost for these tools however tends to be quite a bit greater than that of a standard crossbow and the decision on whether the extra cost is worth it depends on your budget. It has the disadvantage of being more difficult to repair than a standard crossbow with more failure points.

The standard Crossbow comes in a variety of designs both modern and archaic. The average poundage is about 150 lbs which is more than enough to hunt medium sized game. Heavier prods, or bows, are available and can increase its capabilities. Repairs to the mechanical aspects are fairly simple and strings can be made just like making a bow string. If the Prod is damaged another can be fabricated using T6 aluminum, fiberglass or even a leaf spring from a small car. Crossbows are available on line for as little as $50 and well worth the investment Repairs

Regardless of the design and strength you choose make sure that you purchase additional strings and a cocking lever to use with it. The cocking lever uses the mechanical advantage of a lever to make cocking the crossbow easier. It also has the added advantage of making the pressure on and provided by the prod evenly on both arms. This is important to increasing the accuracy of the tool. Practice with it and know its limitations. If you work within its limits the crossbow can be a useful addition to your survival tools. [JWR Adds: If you plan to buy a crossbow, do plenty of research before you buy. Many models have inferior designs that exert excessive friction on their bowstrings, leading to their early failure. Some have been known to "eat" their bowstrings in as little as 200 shots!]

Other Bows
There are many books on the subjects of bows and more information than is practical to go over here. Personally I have a compound bow that I use for Hunting, a recurve bow that I use for primitive archery shoots and a couple of fiberglass bows that have been purchased at garage sales. The later are 35 lb bows that I have on hand as trade goods and training tools.

Compound bows are very fast and have the benefit of incorporating a "let off" which allows a heavy poundage bow to be held at full draw for a more accurate aiming. While superior to older style bows they are difficult to repair and replacement parts can be very difficult if not impossible to fabricate.

Traditional bows come in a wide variety of styles including longbows, recurve bows reflex deflex bows and many more. Traditional bows can range in poundage from 15 lbs to well over 100 lbs. When considering a traditional bow consult a local expert. There are many clubs that practice primitive archery and skills from making your own strings to making longbows from scratch are often available for the asking.

No matter what design of bow you choose, make sure to purchase a good supply of arrows and learn the requirements of making your own arrows out of local materials. Practice with this tool and it can help you feed your family.


A modern slingshot uses surgical tubing to propel a projectile down range. These tools are often seen as children's toys and are overlooked by adults when planning their emergency equipment. The truth is that these tools are extremely useful and capable of devastating force and accuracy. They are capable of taking small game quite readily and with luck can take medium sized game.

As a kid around 14 years old, I often used a "Wrist Rocket" to hunt for squirrel and rabbit. One summer I was out hunting and saw a deer. I decided to practice my stalking and stealthily approached to within 10-15 feet of the deer, who in truth had probably seen me and was unconcerned. In a move typical of a thoughtless adolescent I placed a large glass marble in my slingshot, drew to my cheek and released. The marble struck the deer in the head and it fell to the ground as if poll axed. I ran home and told dad who promptly kicked my sorry rear end all the way back to the deer, made me dress it out, cut it up and pack it out by myself. All the time offering criticisms on my judgment, technique and general intelligence. I learned powerful lessons that day about responsibility and consequences. And while I would not care to have to reproduce taking a deer with a slingshot I learned that it is much more capable than most give it credit for.

I suggest that several of these be acquired and one kept with G.O.O.D. kits. Store each with a bag of marbles and some lead or steel shot. A bit of practice will make this tool an excellent game getter and while not what I would prefer, I would not hesitate to use it as a deterrent against two-legged predator if a firearm option was not available.

[JWR Adds: Used slingshots are often available at garage sales and eBay. Older ones will usually need replacement surgical tubing. This tubing is best bought in bulk. (Again, most reasonably priced on eBay.) Buy a 50+ foot long roll of it. It has umpteen uses, and any excess will be great for barter. It can be used as spring material for various projects, a binding clamp for gluing woodworking projects, Scuba diving spear guns, et cetera.]

The Sling
The sling is an ancient weapon which uses centrifugal force to propel a projectile down range. While this tool takes far more practice than any than those mentioned above it also has the benefit of easily being fabricated, literally from the cloths off ones back. A Google search on "Sling" will provide a large number of web pages to help familiarize the reader with making and employing a sling.

While I do not suggest the sling as a primary alternative weapon I do highly suggest that a bit of experimentation and familiarization would be very useful if the balloon were to go up when you were away from your retreat or G.O.O.D. bag. Besides, it can be a great deal of fun [and a means of exercise].

[JWR Adds: Because traditional slings require a large swinging arc, they are only suitable for use in large open areas. Overhead tree branches or ceilings render slings useless. A slingshot powered by surgical rubber tubing is far more practical for a typical suburban user.]

While far from a comprehensive list I hope that this article has given you food for thought. Any of the above tools can be partnered with a firearm to make an excellent hunting combination and have the benefits of allowing you to harvest game without the tell tale noise of a gun shot.

A side note

As a resident of California, the potential use of these tools are especially important. I live under the constant possibility of firearms confiscation. This need not be the statewide confiscation that most of us fear. Rather it could be an individual situation that stems from a simple misunderstanding. An example of this was demonstrated in a rural area of Los Angeles County recently when a man used a .22 [rimfire] rifle to kill a crow that was destroying his garden, this was admittedly illegal. The man owns five acres and his nearest neighbor is several hundred yards away. A neighbor heard him talking about having dispatched the animal and reported it to the local Sheriff. When officers arrived to investigate the issue they asked him if he had any firearms. He admitted he had and allowed them to accompany him to get the .22 rifle in question, which was secured in a small gun safe. The officers confiscated all of the firearms as part of the investigation. All were legally owned and obtained by the man, and the seizure was not legal--facts that his lawyer proved in court. He won the court case at great personal cost and the Sheriff was ordered to return his firearms. However, when he went to collect these firearms he was informed by the Sheriff's department that the weapons had been mistakenly destroyed with the firearms from a recent gun "Buy Back". He continues to wait for reimbursement. Had he used an air gun or slingshot to dispatch the animal then he would have never went through this situation. Admittedly in another state or indeed another county it probably would have not happened at all. However no matter where you are there are times when not drawing attention to the fact that you have firearms can be beneficial.

Do your research and experiment with these tools to find the best one, or combination of them for your family.

JWR Adds: Be sure to research your state and local laws--including fish and game laws--before buying any of these weapons. Some of the Nanny State jurisdictions now have laws on the books that have made their use, and in some cases even mere possession, illegal. The context in which they are seen by authorities is often crucial in justifying the legal possession of weapons or "dual use" items. A spear gun by itself in the trunk of your car would probably be seen as a "weapon", but one that i stowed in a dive bag, along with a mask, snorkel, fins, diving flag, a current fishing license, and a copy of the current year's fishing regulations would be seen as innocuous. Ditto for a baseball bat, that by itself could be misconstrued. But if stowed in a dufflebag bag with balls, gloves, and a batting helmet would look quite different. A flare gun by itself in the glove box of your car would be a major no-no in many jurisdictions, but one that is stowed in box or bag in your car trunk along with an air horn, nautical charts, current tide tables, and a GPS receiver could easily be explained.

Hello SurvivalBlog Readers:
I just wanted to put in a plug for the newest SurvivalBlog sponsor, Healthy Harvest. I've been doing business with Jan for at least 10 years. The customer service is great. Jan has always been prompt and responsive in her communications. Her prices are competitive and her knowledge of products is excellent. If you live in the Southwest Washington/Northwest Oregon area, you can pick up the products in person at her warehouse. While Jan no longer has a retail store, she does offer occasional open warehouse days with food samples and discounts on product. She will let you know about those days if you get on her mailing list. Highly recommended! - C.A. in Oregon

Mr. Rawles,
Jan at Healthy Harvest is a smart lady and very helpful! I use her for 90% of my food storage needs. (I am lucky she is local.) You shouldn't have any worry having her as an advertiser! She always comes through with the chow. Regards, - Ham

Hi Jim,
Thanks for the info on the food storage company, right where I live. I had no idea! With all the back orders in this business, I'll definitely back-up my truck when I get home to Washington later this month. - Jerry E. in Vancouver, Washington

I wanted to take a moment and thank you for putting up the link to Healthy Harvest, which I was delighted to see was located not far from me here in Vancouver Washington.
I just got off the phone talking to a nice lady named Jan who works there. Unfortunately, they no longer have a storefront but they do have a warehouse and if you give her a call and make an appointment you can go there and have a little shopping spree. That just made my day! Thanks again! - Bustednuckles

How "safe" are safe deposit boxes? Read this article that Simon in England sent us: £14 million seized in deposit box search. Did all 7,000 boxes drilled open belong to "master criminals"? I doubt it. Where is the libertarian outcry? There is now hardly any expectation of privacy remaining in the UK, and property rights are fading fast. Take the gap!

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Hawaiian K. sent this piece from the George Washington Blog: The Derivatives Market is Unwinding! This confirms some of my predictions. Take a look at the piece that I wrote about derivatives a couple of years ago: Derivatives--The Mystery Man Who'll Break the Global Bank at Monte Carlo.

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Zimbabwe Mulls a Z$100 Billion Per Month Minimum Wage. Meanwhile, The Daily Reckoning reports: "And in Zimbabwe, is another story altogether, with inflation going up so fast they can’t even measure it. Prices are said to be increasing at 160,000% to 200,000% per year. But who can tell? There’s nothing to buy." So we can conclude that if implemented, Zimbabwe's new "minimum wage" will be overcome by events within days, rendering it useless.

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Larry W. flagged this: Lanier plans to seal off rough ’hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence. So the term "land of the free" no longer applies to the District of Criminals. How sad to see this happen in the nation's capitol.

"You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely....The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower giving the D-Day invasion order for June 6, 1944

Thursday, June 5, 2008

If you value what you read in SurvivalBlog, then please do us the favor of spreading the word. 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!

I often stress that a key to survival is not what you have, but rather what you know. (See my Precepts of Rawlesian Survivalist Philosophy web page.) In part, I wrote:

Skills Beat Gadgets and Practicality Beats Style. The modern world is full of pundits, poseurs, and Mall Ninjas. Preparedness is not just about accumulating a pile of stuff. You need practical skills, and those only come with study, training, and practice. Any armchair survivalist can buy a set of stylish camouflage fatigues and an M4gery Carbine encrusted with umpteen accessories. Style points should not be mistaken for genuine skills and practicality.

To expand on those precepts, consider the following:

Balanced logistics are important for everyone, but absolutely crucial for someone that is on a tight budget. If you have a three year food supply, then a quantity miscalculation for one particular food item will likely be just an inconvenience. But if you only have a three month supply, then a miscalculation can be a serious hazard. Be logical, systematic, and dispassionate in your preparations. You need to develop some detailed lists, starting with a "List of Lists." Be realistic and scale your retreat logistics purchasing program to your budget. Avoid gong in to debt to "get prepared." A friend of mine who was a Physician's Assistant went way overboard in 1998 and 1999, stocking up for Y2K. The massive credit card debt that he racked up eventually contributed to a prolonged mental depression.

Choose your retreat location wisely. If you can't afford 40 acres, then be sure to pick the right 5 or 10 acres. Finding a property that adjoins public land, and/or property with like-minded neighbors, can make a huge difference. The smaller your land-buying budget, the longer your search should be, to get the most for your money. In today's plunging real estate market, don't overlook the possibility of finding a foreclosed ("bank owned") farm or ranch at a "below market" price. Watch the foreclosure listings in your intended retreat region closely. Two foreclosure monitoring services that I recommend are RealtyTrac.com and Foreclosures.com.

Buy used instead of new. It goes without saying that your purchasing dollars will go farther if you concentrate on quality used tools, guns, and vehicles. Remember that preparedness is not a beauty contest. There are no "Style" points awarded. So owning gear with some dings and scratches is not an issue. Just be sure to inspect used items very carefully. In the case of buying a used vehicle, it is worthwhile to run a check on the vehicle's history through a service like CARFAX. This will reveal if the vehicle might have been repaired after a major collision. Also, hire a qualified mechanic to do some checks before you buy a used rig. That will be money well-spent!

Clip coupons, watch and wait for seasonal sales, shop at thrift stores, go to garage sales and flea markets, attend weekend farm and estate auctions, and learn to watch Craig's List and Freecycle like a hawk. The only thing better that finding inexpensive used items is having thing given to you. This is a common occurrence with Freecycle. For example, it is not unusual to have someone give you several dozen Mason-type canning jars. Just be sure to return the favor, in the spirit of Freecycle.

Strike a balance between quality and quantity. I'm a big believer in the old adage: "Better is the enemy of good enough." Why buy a $320 Chris Reeve folding knife when a used $30 CRKT or Cold Steel brand pocketknife bought on eBay will provide 95% of the functionality of a custom knife? Buying at 1/10th the price means that you will have money available for other important logistics and training.

Take advantage of free or low-cost training. The WRSA, for example, offers shooting and medical training at near their cost. I've discussed other such training opportunities at length previously in SurvivalBlog. In my Precepts page, I noted:

Tools Without Training Are Almost Useless. Owning a gun doesn't make someone a "shooter" any more than owning a surfboard makes someone a surfer. With proper training and practice, you will be miles ahead of the average citizen. Get advanced medical training. Get the best firearms training that you can afford. Learn about amateur radio from your local affiliated ARRL club. Practice raising a vegetable garden each summer. Some skills are only perfected over a period of years.

Learn to distinguish between essentials and non-essentials. Do you really need cable television? Eating out? snacks from the vending machine? ? Use the cash generated to buy the really important things, like storage food.

When you don't have cash, then apply sweat equity. Do you need pasture fence or garden fence at your retreat property? Don't hire someone and "have it done" Do it yourself. Not only will you save money, but you will also learn valuable skills. You might even lose some of that flab around your midsection, in the process. Also consider that people are often willing to barter their excess tangibles in trade for your skills and time. Do you have an elderly neighbor with a big gun collection? Then offer to paint his house in trade for a couple of guns or a few of those heavy ammo cans that he won't live long enough to shoot? In my Precepts page, I wrote:

Invest Your Sweat Equity. Even if some of you have a millionaire's budget, you need to learn how to do things for yourself, and be willing to get your hands dirty. In a societal collapse, the division of labor will be reduced tremendously. Odds are that the only "skilled craftsmen" available to build a shed, mend a fence, shuck corn, repair an engine, or pitch manure will be you.and your family. A byproduct of sweat equity is muscle tone and proper body weight. Hiring someone to deliver three cords of firewood is a far cry from felling, cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking it yourself.

People often assume that because my blog and novel are widely read that I am wealthy. I actually have a very modest income. The only reason that our retreat is so well stocked is that I have been systematically stocking up for 30 years. I am not a "yuppie survivalist" as at least one fellow blogger claims. I gave up my Big City salaried job years ago, to concentrate on living self-sufficiently. Part of this was a conscious decision to raise our children in a more wholesome environment. The major drawback is that the Rawles Ranch is in such a remote area that we don't get into town very often.

The Memsahib Adds. The good thing about living so remotely is there are no shopping opportunities. Even if I had the urge to indulge in some retail therapy, I'd have to drive more than two hours to do it. The next best things you can do is cancel your magazine subscriptions. If you analyze the contents of most magazines you will realize that they are designed to make you dissatisfied with your clothes, your home decor, garden, electronics, autos because they aren't the latest, greatest, and most fashionable. I also highly recommend selling or Freecycling your television, for the very same reason. A couple of exceptions to our magazine rule are Backwoods Home, and Home Power, since they are both light on advertising and heavy on practical skills.

In closing, do the best you can with what you have. Be truly frugal. I grew up in a family that still remembered both our pioneer history and the more recent lessons of the Great Depression. One of our family mottos is: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." I thank my mother for passing that wisdom along to my generation, and I am doing the same, with my children.

Humans along with a few other creatures do not produce Vitamin C. (We also do not make uricase [Urate oxidase] so are prone to Gout, a human disease). As such we must get Vitamin C from our diet. We have already discussed the need of vitamin C to prevent scurvy. Since it is water soluble and [unlike Vitamins A, D, E, and K, is] not fat soluble, we must take it continually. One important time that you need Vitamin C is in the case of trauma or infection. Animals that make their own Vitamin C increase production immensely in these conditions. If you find yourself dealing with a trauma, infection or both (gunshots, anyone?) consider tapping into you Vitamin C cache. Take as much as you can before you reach bowel tolerance (loose stools) then back off a little. As an example, for me, 2 grams a day is my maximum under normal conditions before I reach tolerance. Over the last two days after a nasty full body sunburn I am taking 8 grams [(8,000 milligrams)] a day with no side effects. It's one of the more important things you can do for yourself to accelerate healing. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: I agree wholeheartedly that Vitamin C storage is a must, and that it is crucial for healing following trauma. It has long been known that taking vitamin C minimizes trauma-induced bruising. There is little harm in megadosing vitamin C, since any excess that the body does not need is passed through the urinary tract. Cumulatively, however, if megadosing is done too frequently might be too hard on the kidneys. But I am dismayed that megadosing of water-soluble vitamins is done too frequently by "health nuts". If nothing else, it is a needless expense.

My only strong proviso is to avoid overdosing any of the fat soluble vitamins (the aforementioned Vitamins A, D, E, and K---best mnemonically memorized with the word "KADE".) This has already been discussed at length in SurvivalBlog.


You wrote in reply to a recent e-mail from "Billfour": "JWR Replies: That is a great suggestion. Just beware of any desiccant that has any additives, dyes, or scents. A perfumed desiccant would be fine for tool storage, but potentially a disaster for food storage."

I've just been through this. Tidy Cats Crystals has perfume, which I discovered after getting it home and opening it. (I'll use it for my stored ammo.) The brand that I have found that has no perfume is the Amazing Cat Litter brand. It only has silica gel as the stated ingredient on its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Also, the chunks of silica gel are larger, with much less dust. I used twist-ties and brown coffee filters to wrap-up an ounce at a time, which is the approximate amount needed for six-gallon pails. - Ham

Rourke suggested this video clip for readers that are in tornado or hurricane country: How Pre-cast Concrete Walls help protect your home.

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Barbara W. sent us this Reuters new story link: Food price "catastrophe" feared on eve of summit

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David D. sent this Wall Street Journal article link: Lofty Prices for Fertilizer Put Farmers in a Squeeze.

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Several readers sent us this: Researchers Secretly Tracked 100,000 Cell Users Outside U.S. for Six Months

"There are two dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace." - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Today we are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Healthy Harvest. They are a food storage vendor headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, but they ship throughout the US and Canada. Be sure to visit their web site and order some items from their amazing "deep and wide" product line.

The following is another article for Round 17 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 ends on July 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.

"Death is still a fearful, frightening happening, and the fear of death is a universal fear even if we think we have mastered it on many levels." - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself, as the saying goes. The basis of much fear is simply the unknown. As a society, we have distanced ourselves from death. Hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, and funeral homes do all the "dirty work" and cemetery's are neatly hidden behind fences and walls, trees and hedges. We pass by on a daily basis, unwilling to acknowledge what lies beyond those barriers; but the time is fast approaching when death will not hide its face any longer.

Most of us are not prepared for wholesale death. We have little to no experience with it. We owe it to ourselves and to our families to become acquainted with this "fact of life" and learn how to manage its effects as best we can. The first thing we can do is to look death in the face.

So what does death look like, anyway? Soon after death, anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours depending on various factors, the body begins to cool off. It becomes pale and internal sphincter muscles (i.e., circular muscles controlling stomach, bladder and anus) relax. This leads to the release of their contents if the body is moved. Dependent lividity sets in within about 30 minutes. This is where blood pools in the lowest parts of the body (usually the back and bottom of the person, if in a prone position) and begins to coagulate. Rigor mortis sets in and the muscles in the body begin to stiffen, the skin starts hardening, and hands and toes curl. (I know this is graphic, but think "wicked witch of the west that Dorothy's house just landed on with time lapse photography.) This peaks around 12 hours after death and disappears in another 24 hours, depending on the temperature. Decay becomes visible within 24 hours. Human intestines contain friendly bacteria that help us when we are alive but become predators after we die. The internal organs begin to collapse, the skin loses its connection with underlying tissues, and bacteria create gases that cause bloating and swelling. This is a major cause of the putrefaction (rot) that sets in. The internal organs eventually turn to liquid and when the liquid exits through the orifices (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, exit points of the bowel and bladder), it is called "purge." It's ugly and smelly. The last organs to liquefy are the uterus and prostate. They can last as long as 12 months. This is how a coroner can determine the sex of a corpse dead less than 12 months.

It takes a corpse 12-20 years to return to dust depending on whether the corpse is an adult or child, what the grave temperature is, whether the body was fat (fat takes longer to break down), if and how it was embalmed, etc. In Scotland, where graves are reused, a grave is considered "ripe" until it is at least 20 years old; meaning if you open it before 20 years, you may be in for a very unpleasant surprise. (Due to the rocky terrain, graves in Scotland have to be reused.) So a corpse does not disappear quickly.

So why not just leave it where it lies? If a corpse is left out in the open, wild animals and insects will feast on it. And if the body is diseased, disease will spread quickly to humans. If you wonder why, just imagine flies crawling in and all over a dead body and the purge oozing from the orifices, and then crawling all over your dinner. That is why dead bodies must be disposed of quickly.
And flies are not the only lovers of dead meat. It has been observed that man's "best friend" will devour him when he dies. One man died at home and his dog tore him apart in less than an hour. Firemen used to allow their mascots to come along with them on runs until the fire trucks started following ambulances. The firemen had to stop allowing their dogs to come along on runs because the dogs went straight for the dead meat. Definitely a public relations situation not to mention a health hazard.

Okay, so you've got a dead body in your vicinity. What are you going to do? Assuming the body is in the area you are inhabiting and you do not live near the ocean, you have two options, both of which require a lot of hard work: (1) you can bury it, or (2) you can incinerate it. But the one thing you cannot do is to ignore it.

(1) Burying requires digging a hole six feet deep (and five feet wide and seven feet long, depending on the size of the corpse. You can either bury the body in a shroud or bury it in a pine box (links below). Either way, the corpse will decompose and bacteria could find its way into the water table, which is why current laws require a concrete liner. However, in emergency situations chances are concrete liners will not be available. That is why option 2 may be the better option, unless fire conditions exist (which is more likely given the current worldwide drought situation).

(2) Cremation/Incineration (a/k/a "the funeral pyre") is both an ancient and modern practice for the disposition of dead bodies. For the pyre, stack up lots of wood. Then put the body on top of the wood and pour flammable liquid such as oil, motor oil, kerosene, heating oil, or charcoal on the body and the wood. Then ignite the fire. It is best to keep the fire burning as hot as possible. Do not use gasoline. This will destroy harmful germs quickly and won't contaminate the groundwater. Don't breathe the fumes, the smell of a burning human body is not only sickening, but could make you sick. Make sure the wind will carry the smoke away from your home (or camp). For detailed instructions on how to build a funeral pyre, see below. You can also use a furnace or incinerator if you have one available.

If you happen to be near the ocean, feeding a corpse to the fish would be the easiest way to dispose of a corpse. However, if you are physically unable to do that or any of the above, the best thing to do is to wrap the corpse in plastic sheeting and move it as far away from your location as you can, preferably downwind and not near any body of water. Putting rocks over it (without burying it in the ground) would keep smaller animals from desecrating the remains and the plastic would keep the flies from crawling all over it. One thing to remember with any of these methods, except for burial at sea, is that you are leaving visible signs that someone is nearby. If this will be a security issue, then you must devise a plan to dispose of remains in a way that will be hidden from intruders.

If you are in a position to have a funeral, don't think about embalming the body. It is a complicated process and requires special training, material and equipment. The only purpose of embalming is to delay the putrefaction process so that the funeral can take place 3-5 days after death. In an emergency situation, this will not be possible. Any funeral would have to be done quickly followed immediately by disposition of the body.

Landfills are not a viable solution for the disposal of dead bodies either because not only of the presence of rats and smoke, but paper and plastic film dispersed by the winds, all of which could carry disease.

Composting (animal remains) is also a non-viable option. Flies, mosquitoes, rats, wildlife, and other vectors of disease transmission would be attracted to the compost pile and after a hearty lunch would spread disease. Large bones and hides will not compost easily, thus defeating the composting process.

As mentioned above, improper disposition of human (and animal) remains constitute a potential for ground and surface water contamination. Groundwater is contained in a geological layer called an aquifer. Aquifers are composed of permeable or porous geological material (materials that can be penetrated by liquids or gases) located at greater depths and, though somewhat protected, can still be contaminated when they are tapped for use or are close to a source of heavy contamination for a long time. And that, of course, leads to serious health concerns.

When dealing with dead bodies, always wear a facemask, clothing barrier, gloves and goggles. Depending on the state of decay, gasses could be a problem and you need to be prepared if something were to explode and spew in your face. Decontaminate yourself thoroughly after handling a dead body, as well as your equipment and clothing.

Every home should have a "Last Aid" kit containing the following items:
1. For burials:
a. A pick mattock;
b. A round and square-bladed shovel (one of each);
c. Pre-made pine boxes that are easily screwed together and can be lain flat as a kit under the bed, or kept in the closet in a cardboard shipping (original) container. Needs only a few screwdrivers, and about 2 hours to assemble. No power tools needed. You could also make a coffin or two and use them as coffee tables or bookshelves or storage until they are needed (links below);
d. Shroud material, or coffin lining material;
e. A grave site picked out in the backyard or a place in the city park or the local graveyard. Those on farms or ranches can utilize the "Back 40" for the family cemetery;
f. If there will be a viewing, put some glue on the lips of the deceased, otherwise the mouth can come open and scare people. There should be no viewing if the person died of an infectious disease. If death was caused by an accident and there is disfigurement, bandages could be placed or gauze placed to conceal the damage. Children should not be excluded from the grieving process and should not be lied to that "mommy is asleep" or "daddy is on a long trip." They can always tell something isn't right and will find out eventually anyway.
g. Several strong ropes for lowering the coffin into the grave site.
h. A marker of some type, if desired.
2. For incineration/funeral pyres:
a. Flammable liquids (as described above);
b. Wood;
c. Fire (matches, BBQ lighters, etc.).
3. For situations that are not TEOTWAWKI scenarios wherein the government remains intact (such as might occur in a bird flu pandemic), the following will help the authorities with identification:
a. A complete set of identification and papers should be kept with the body; and
b. All medicines the deceased was taking, placed in a Ziploc bag along with an envelope containing the papers that describe the medicines and put with the body (this could help with further identification as well as an autopsy).
4. As a person nears death, several changes of bedding and blankets should be neatly folded, laundered and ready for changing. When a person is at the point of passing away, the bowel and bladder functions naturally release the sphincter muscles and discharge will follow.
a. Remember, the same bed will likely be reused, so it is best to encase the mattress in a protective cover. Burn the plastic cover after the person dies and disinfect the mattress.
b. Soiled laundry should not be re-used if it can't be cleaned with bleach. If the deceased person died from an infectious disease, soiled laundry should be burned. Always take standard precautions (gloves, goggles, clothing barrier) when handling infected materials.
5. Bodies should be disposed of within 24 hours, if at all possible. Sooner, if death was caused by a contagious disease or the outside temperature is hot.
6. If it is winter or you are in a cold climate, a body can stay frozen, but needs to be disposed of before it thaws.
7. Get some books on grieving, how to conduct a funeral, etc. and get educated so when death comes you will be prepared to deal with it mentally and emotionally. With that taken care of, you will be better equipped to assist all affected by death.

Unstable times are upon us. Things like funerals may become a thing of the past in order to just survive. The most important thing to focus on is preparing yourself mentally and emotionally in advance for the prospect of death, including perhaps your own or your loved ones. Education and preparation are vital so that you will be able to continue functioning in a survival situation.

How to Build a Funeral Pyre

How to Build a Coffin (has links to other articles as well as listing several interim uses for a coffin)

Coffins, Shrouds, Green Burials, Books on Death/Dying, etc.

"On Death and Dying", Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.

"Death to Dust", Kenneth V. Iserson

JWR Adds: Laws on burial on private property vary widely. Be sure to consult your state and local laws. In the event of a disaster situation you may end up burying a loved one ad hoc, and have to catch up on death certificate paperwork after order is restored. Some digital photographs and sworn and notarized statements may suffice to prevent the indignity of a subsequent exhumation. In many ways, do-it-yourself burial is a lot easier to explain to public officials than cremation. Also keep in mind that that it takes a tremendous amount of fuel to fully cremate a human body. This is not an issue for regions with plentiful firewood, but it could be a limiting factor in other regions.

I am a daily SurvivalBlog reader from France. I'm writing this in response to Joel Skousen's article on "How to Adapt to High Gas Prices." I own a Volkswagen with a diesel engine (TDI).

Here in France (and elsewhere in Europe) common rail [diesel engine] technology became really popular (about 60% of the new cars that are sold here use common rail technology) since it provided better mileage and better performance than conventional gasoline engines.

However, there is at least two drawbacks to common rail:
Firstly, the diesel fuel quality has to be super high. It passes through a hole that has half a hair diameter (0.015 millimeters) at a pressure between 2,000 and 3,000 bars.
If there is some water in the diesel it will damage the injector so that you have to change the whole common rail (a minimum of €3,000 Euros). It's because diesel has a lubricating effect, and with the size of the injector there is no margin of error.

There is usually a water filter on common rail motors, but if it's full your motor is ruined.

Also, in case of emergency this technology means that you can't use home heating oil in your motor.

Secondly, this technology is so popular that diesel prices are starting to rise accordingly. It still cheaper to use diesel, but I don't think it's going to last. Too many cars using it and oil companies lack the refining capacity to produce much more.

Some numbers that may help you make a choice:
- With my diesel car (which is from year 2003) I get 43 MPG, and I was getting 33 MPG with a conventional gasoline car from year 1998.
Those numbers are without trying to save fuel : I could go to 53 MPG if needed [by driving more conservatively].
- A diesel engine is usually €2,000 to €4,000 Euros more expensive than a gasoline one.
- We pay €5.41 Euros ($8.42) per gallon for diesel and €5.68 Euros ($8.84) per gallon for gasoline (unleaded, 95 octane). By comparison, I hope it will help you appreciate your "high" fuel prices ;-)
I hope that this helps, Regards, - Jean-Michel N.


Dear Editor:
A motorcycle should be considered for those [with health and circumstances that make them] able to ride. Recently, Yamaha [motorcycle dealerships in the US] had a sale on their V-Stars, and I bought a 650cc on sale for $6,000. The dealership offered the purchase interest free if paid for within six months. Most motorcycle [in this engine displacement range] get 50-to-54 MPG.
Even though I'm now 63 year sold, I have been riding for 40 years. - John S.

JCR mentioned a MSN web page that identifies the best gasoline prices, by postal ("ZIP") code.JCR says: "Just enter a ZIP code at this web page, and it tells you which gas stations have the least expensive prices (and the highest) on gas in your ZIP code area. It's updated every evening."

   o o o

The WRSA has another Practical Medicine course scheduled. This one will be in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, June 20 to June 22. This is excellent, very affordable training that is taught by an Emergency Room doctor with many years of practical experience. The course is subtitled: "Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments." This course will fill you in on the things that the Red Cross doesn't teach, like dealing with pneumothorax and gunshot wounds.

   o o o

Thanks to Tom H. for finding this evidence that he mainstream media is finally getting with the program on disaster preparedness: Commentary: Task as Americans is to be ready for disasters. To me, his recommended"Ready Box" sounds a lot like a "Get out of Dodge" kit.

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Kurt suggested this article: Yesterday's food complacency proves hard to swallow 

"Control the oil and you'll control the nations; control the food and you'll control the people." - Henry Kissinger (1970)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Today we present a guest article from Joel Skousen. Joel is a former Marine Corps fighter pilot who is very well known in the preparedness community. He is an economic and political commentator, and the author of several books on survival retreat construction and strategic relocation. (All of them highly recommended.) He is also the editor of the excellent by-subscription newsletter World Affairs Brief. This article appeared in the May 30, 2008 issue of his newsletter.

In one of the most outrageous examples of price gouging ever witnessed, fuel prices have risen almost 10 cents per gallon per week now for more than a month. The American consumer is being held hostage to an economic and personal lifestyle that was established a century ago based upon an abundance of cheap oil and is now locked into our economic infrastructure. Most people have no ability to escape what is now upon us and getting worse. All of our cities are developed around the commuting lifestyle, allowing Americans to live in rural or suburban openness to escape pollution and city overcrowding. We travel long distances on fast freeways to get to work and none of that can be changed quickly. We never did like the European style of city living, with millions crammed into high rise city apartments, with gas prices so high that only the wealthy could afford a personal vehicle. But now it appears the Powers That Be are forcing that urban lifestyle upon us: mass transportation, high density urban dwellings, water rationing, zero-scape yards, and runaway inflation. We have a duty to both resist and adapt. This week, I'll give some practical tips on how to adapt to avoid some of the pain.

First, let's look at the big picture on the economy and how fuel costs are affecting everything. Obviously, anything in the economy that must be transported is rising in price to reflect the cost of shipping. Every business that can is passing along their higher fuel prices to the consumers--plus a little extra. When prices become unstable or rise too rapidly, consumers lose their ability to judge what is fair. A lot of wholesalers and retailers are taking advantage of that by increasing prices more than necessary. The result is going to be galloping inflation on many fronts, not just gasoline.

Business Week put out a warning this week that defaults on loans and credit cards are not stabilizing. Rather, the crisis is deepening. I think the fuel cost component in people's budget is causing many people who are living on the margin of solvency to default on payments. A lot of that default is showing up on credit cards as people charge their fuel purchases and then can't pay off the mounting debt.

Ben Steverman reports that, "Nobody was expecting an easy year for U.S. banks, but many observers thought the bulk of the industry's credit troubles would come in the first quarter. Now, it seems the rest of the year may be even worse. Case in point: A May 28 announcement from KeyCorp (Key Bank). Mounting loan losses at the regional bank company suggest the banking industry's troubles with bad loans are just beginning. The main culprit is the bank's portfolio of loans to residential homebuilders, KeyCorp said in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing. Losses have also increased on education loans and home-improvement loans."

There are also a lot of businesses that cannot simply adapt by raising their own prices quickly enough to keep pace with fuel costs. Take the airlines, for example. There is a lot of competition out there, and in an atmosphere of rising fuel costs, the airlines are looking for ways to raise revenue without raising fares (directly). One of the first big enticements to boost market share was the promotion of frequent flyer miles. All airlines have oversold this benefit such that now you can hardly find one of the limited "free seats" even if you have thousands of frequent flyer miles. Delta and others played fast and loose with the fine print. Technically, you could get a free trip with as little as 25,000 miles per ticket--but there were so few of those seats available that everyone was essentially locked out by lack of availability. Then Delta tells you that, if you were willing to turn in 50,000 of your air miles for a seat you might get a seat. Thus, in effect, they just eliminated half of your miles. This whole racket is a Ponzi scheme. They'd go bankrupt if all the frequent flyers redeemed their accrued free miles. So, I don't play this game anymore. I don't use credit cards that offer free miles. I only use cards that offer a 1% cash back, and use the cash to shop the internet for the cheap flights (which are no longer so cheap). If you fly for business and get the free miles anyway, don't save them up. Use them up in any way you can, as soon as you can. Someday, the airlines won't be able to honor them.

Rising fares are inevitable, but no airline can afford to get out there ahead of the others in price. To raise fares would put them out in front as a "high priced" airline which could be deadly to business. To lose market share is fatal when you have many competitors and are billions in debt. What the airlines do is raise fares for selected unadvertised markets, like business travelers who typically book flights on short notice, and get stuck with high prices. For the price conscious occasional traveler, airlines keep offering the cheap fares, but only for booking in advance and flying during midweek when demand is lower. Watch out for the increased fees when you try and change these tickets. That's why the airlines long ago stopped making tickets non-transferrable--so those that couldn't make a flight would not have any recourse. It wasn't a security problem, just a way to make a certain percentage of tickets worthless. Using a different tactic, American Airlines started charging for checking even the first bag. So far other carriers haven't followed suit and American is suffering from the perception of being a leader in higher pricing, which they can little afford. We're going to see more and more shake outs as airlines continue to merge or go bankrupt. Six went belly up last month. But even the mega mergers like Delta and Northwest don't offer much economy of scale anymore--especially when there are so many union fiefdoms to protect in each airline.

Trucking has been hit especially hard by the excessive rise in diesel prices. A lot of independent truckers get their hauls through brokers and are being squeezed by rigid freight contracts which cannot be adjusted upward as fast as diesel prices. When fuel costs eat deeply into profits, many can't make their truck mortgage payments and go bust. The auto industry is particularly in a bind. It takes years to develop new vehicles. While all the manufacturers have a few small economy cars in their lineup, including hybrids, these vehicles have never constituted a large percentage of sales or profits. Pickup trucks have been the profit leaders for car companies for years. Now those days are gone, and companies have excess factory capacity and inventory, which can't be easily changed. The demand for heavy hauling vehicles will always be there. Certain people still need heavy hauling vehicles for business or towing trailers. But a lot of people bought pickups for recreational or occasional use. These are the buyers (almost half) that are looking for other alternatives. Tip: put a trailer hitch on your car and use a light trailer for occasional hauling rather than a pickup.

Ford was just beginning to turn around its losing business when high fuel prices killed its high profit truck and SUV sales. Now it will be forced to lay off 12,000 salaried personnel to stave off more red ink. Even Toyota had been gearing up for years with bigger and bigger trucks, which isn't profitable any more. Fortunately, they are the hybrid leaders and are selling the Prius as fast as they can make them.

Will low prices ever return? I don't think so, though people are suckers for thinking they are getting a good deal if price come down from $ to $3. George Soros warned this week that the oil bubble, built upon a new base of significant speculation, could burst. But, he says, that "wouldn't burst until both the US and British economies slipped into recession, after which oil prices could fall dramatically... You can also anticipate that the bubble will eventually correct, but that is unlikely to happen before the recession actually reduces the demand. The rise in the price of oil and food is going to weigh and aggravate the recession." I think there will be a correction since speculators can't keep bidding up the price indefinitely. But I think the retreat in price will only be temporary.

Long-term, as transportation costs become very expensive I see the economic model of far away production coupled with cheap shipping diminishing in favor of more local production. It will take a while for that pendulum to swing back in this direction, but with increasing instability in the world, it is inevitable. Ultimately, the world will be better off with a better balance in national and regional self-sufficiency rather than going for the world-wide low price only. Just-in-time inventories, as another example, are certainly more efficient than keeping large inventories, but utterly useless in a crisis when only stockpiling in advance will save a company. Keep that in mind if you own a business that has a fragile supply line.

Some Practical Suggestions

Cars and trucks: Take stock of what you own right now. If you have any gas guzzling cars or trucks that you are making payments on, consider selling them now. Bad as the market is for used vehicles with poor gas mileage, it's not going to get better, so try to sell now. Keep in mind that there are people out there who still need cars or trucks with power and good towing capacity. If your vehicle qualifies, consider installing a heavy duty trailer hitch so you can target the towing or construction market.

If you have older vehicles that aren't fuel efficient but are paid for, they may not have much market value, so you'll have to consider the trade off in keeping them around (and using them only when needed) vs. selling. Even at today's fuel prices, it takes several years to see any economic gains from buying a new vehicle compared to the reduced expense of keeping an older vehicle that you own outright. The down side of that strategy are the costs for keeping it maintained, insured (remove collision and comprehensive but always keep liability and uninsured motorist insurance), and finding a place to park it. Learning to do your own maintenance is highly recommended to save costs on older vehicles.

If you are stuck with a non-fuel efficient vehicle, here are some things to consider: All of these vehicles were designed to put out more power than they need for cruising down the highway. That excess power can be put to use by adding an after-market overdrive unit to your transmission or changing the top gear to a higher gear ratio. Gear Vendors, Inc. is the largest manufacture of overdrive units. There are many dealers around the nation. Do an Internet search for "overdrive units."

Even high efficiency cars can benefit from higher final gear ratios. Many specialty automotive shops have access to higher gears for VW diesels, Hondas and Toyotas. Typically, you can increase your mileage by 10-20% with a higher final gear ratio. These are not add-ons to your transmissions like overdrive units, but replace the actual gear ratio inside a manual transmission. If you have an automatic transmission, you'll need an overdrive unit. Auto performance shops also sell aftermarket performance-enhancing ignition computers that can be programmed for higher mileage.

Here are two other big tips for getting much better mileage on the highway if you have to stay with your non-fuel efficient vehicle. Most of the drag on the car comes from 2 sources: wind resistance and engine/drive train friction. Take note of this next time you drive. If you are driving along the highway with a downward incline, take your car out of gear and let it coast. Most cars, depending on the slope will only slow down very gradually, demonstrating that most of your fuel is being used just to keep your engine up to speed with the coasting. If you are following a truck or big SUV within a safe distance (2-3 car lengths) when you begin to coast, the wind resistance is reduced so much that you will sometimes gain on the vehicle in front. Coasting out of gear may be technically illegal in some states but it is quite safe as long as you keep alert to any closure with the vehicle in front. When you coast down a hill rather than keep your car and engine engaged, you mileage will increase to over 100 mpg gallon for that portion. In fact, using this coasting technique, a driver can actually get better mileage in mountainous terrain than driving across flat land at highway speeds. That's because it takes a less extra gas to take your car up the hill compared to the amount of gas saved coasting down the other side. Test it yourself.

Driving on flat land takes a different technique to save fuel. The best mileage on flat land is obtained either by slowing down to agonizing 45-55 miles per hour (mostly reducing wind friction) or by following larger vehicles within 2-3 car lengths (called "drafting") and taking advantage of the suction zone behind them. Technically, you get the full benefit of this drafting vacuum only by following within one car length. That's what professional drivers do on the racing circuit. But that is dangerous, irritating to the driver ahead of you and often illegal. You can still get 80% of the draft effect by staying at a safer 2-3 car length distance. In addition, the more vehicles you follow in a row, the better the overall drafting result as air is accelerated forward with each passing vehicle.

Caution: Do not use this in bad weather or when road conditions are poor. This technique is also not for drivers who have slow reactions. It is also a bit more stressful to drive like this as your eyes have to stay more focused on the vehicle in front to be alert for any sudden stop. Most people I know who use drafting prefer to follow larger trucks since they don't slow down as fast as a car and give more time to react in braking. Is it worth it? I've seen highway mileage go up by 30% so on a long trip the savings can be significant. Drafting another vehicle is much more effective than slowing down, but you must do this very carefully.

New cars: For those of you who have the funds to buy a new fuel efficient vehicle, a new breed of super efficient cars is now entering the market. Trade in your current vehicle and let the dealer worry about marketing it to others. Despite all the positive hype, I still do not recommend getting a hybrid car, unless you have the money to do the standard American thing: Buy new and trade in on another car before the warranty is up. These are very complex vehicles, and are not suitable for do-it-yourself maintenance after the warranty period. They work very well when they work, and so far the maintenance history is very good, but keep in mind that if you buy a used one, you will certainly have to pay in excess of $10,000 for a new battery pack at some time in the future. The one main reason why Toyota has resisted allowing the Prius to run only on its battery (turning it into a plug-in electric vehicle) is that the life of the battery pack diminishes rapidly with deep cycle use. They keep it going throughout the warranty period by forcing the engine to recharge the battery pack every time it gets below 80-90% capacity.

Someday, however, we will have a major crisis of war and destruction that will not permit you to trade in your overly-complex hybrid for a more maintainable car. You'll be stuck with what you have. So from a survival perspective I still recommend you buy one of the new super high mileage diesels. The common-rail diesel technology has beat out all the competition and represents the current pinnacle of diesel fuel efficiency. All the major foreign car companies are now producing a common rail diesel engine option--for Japan and Europe, but few are importing them to America. That is changing now. Here's the latest lineup of cars destined for the US later this year or in 2009 (from Wikipedia.com)

BMW's D-engines (also used in the Land Rover Freelander TD4),
Mercedes (Daimler's) CDI (and on Chrysler's Jeep vehicles simply as CRD),
Ford Motor Company's TDCi Duratorq and Powerstroke,
General Motors Opel/Vauxhall CDTi (manufactured by Fiat and GM Daewoo) and DTi (Isuzu) Daewoo/Chevrolet VCDi (licensed from VM Motori; also branded as Ecotec CDTi)
Honda's i-CTDi
Hyundai-Kia's CRDi
Mazda's CiTD
Mitsubishi's DI-D
Nissan's dCi
Subaru's Legacy TD (as of Jan 2008)
Toyota's D-4D

Volkswagen/Audi: The 4.2 TDI (V8) and the latest 2.7 and 3.0 TDI (V6) engines featured on current Audi models use common rail, as opposed to the earlier unit injector engines. The 2.0 TDI in the VW Tiguan SUV uses common-rail, as does the 2008 model Audi A4. VW has announced that the 2.0 TDI (common-rail) engine will be available for VW Passat as well as the 2009 Jetta. [Only the Jetta will come with a manual transmission, however]

Volvo D5-engines are common rail diesels.

Diesel is the current wave of the future. The extra efficiency of the diesel engine technology easily overcomes the current premium you pay for diesel fuel-which will come back down on par with gasoline sometime in the future. Unfortunately, many of these auto manufacturers are offering diesel engines only with automatic transmissions. For best mileage, performance and versatility, always choose a manual transmission. Automatic transmission have slippage built into the torque converter at low speeds to aid in smooth shifting. The big savings, however, doesn't come from just evading slippage, but in being able to shift at lower RPMs than an automatic does. I can get near highway mileage in town by accelerating very slowly (not exceeding 1,800-2,000 RPM) by shifting up to the next gear earlier than normal. You can do this without lugging the engine (harmfully) as long as you accelerate slowly and don't put much pressure on the engine. Don't accelerate too slowly as you want to avoid spending too much time at the higher RPM shift point. When in 5th gear I can roll along at 40 mph in town and be getting over 30 mpg.

Another benefit of having a manual transmission, is that you can always pop-start a car if your battery runs low--just roll the car down a slight incline and engage the clutch in 2nd gear with the ignition on. I use this feature at least once every year it seems--saving myself an expensive tow.

Electric vehicles have a great deal of promise, but the battery technology is still currently too expensive to allow the electric vehicle to come down in price for ordinary consumers. If we have enough time for the technology to mature (a big if, given the wars looming in the future), I'm guardedly optimistic that this will become a reality. So, we'll be careful not to overstock on conventional technology which could quickly become obsolete.

A note on fuel storage: Fuel storage is important not only to guard against shortages in supply or long lines at the pump, but to ensure that you have enough reserve fuel to get out of town to a retreat when needed. Diesel is the best fuel to store. It can last for decades underground, whereas gasoline goes bad within a year or two (you can still use it when old if you mix it with fresh gas, but it needs octane and anti-gum additives to help it run right). There are storage additives for both fuel types (see a listing of products from the appendix of The Secure Home --my magnum opus on preparedness, security and self-sufficiency). Even with the problems of storing gasoline, you need to store the type of fuel you use. As a minimum you ought to keep at least a few empty barrels around so you have the capacity to buy more when prices dip lower (if they do). I'm still driving on $2/gal gas that I purchased last year when prices dipped briefly. There are small 30 gallon barrels available in PVC plastic that are safe for fuel and easier to load and unload than the 55 gallon drums. But, you can get 4 gallon plastic gas jugs anywhere. A hand truck is helpful to move around the barrels. If you store fuel around your home, keep it in a separate shed. If all you have is a garage for storage, keep the fuel containers near the garage door on a rolling dolly so you can remove them from the garage quickly in case of fire. Housing and Lifestyle changes: As many of you know from my book Strategic Relocation, I am very much in favor of establishing a rural life or at least a rural retreat for times of crisis when social unrest will overwhelm the major metropolitan areas. This will be especially important in an epidemic where you need to isolate yourself and family far away from high density population centers. That ideal hasn't changed, but what has changed is the severe price you will have to pay to keep a primary residence in a rural area right now if you have to commute into the city for a job. That is why I spent so much time outline contingency planning in the book--because so few are in a position to live full time in an ideal area. Even the ideal rural place has major compromises in terms of distance to the amenities only offered in major metropolitan areas-and the cost of getting there.

More and more, the cost of fuel is going to require that you find a job or position that allows you to work from home at least a portion of the time, or find a cheap place in town to live during the work week where you don't have to commute very far. The best situation would allow you to live close to work during the good times and have a well-prepared retreat in a rural area for the times when you need to leave the city, even temporarily. That presupposes, of course, that you prepare carefully your transportation and security options to get to your retreat when you need it. Ultimately, you will need a retreat large enough to have a place where you can grow your own food. This can be done (with high intensity gardening) on a half acre to an acre of good quality land. It is best if you practice gardening skills before your life depends on it. But if you can't due to work pressures or lack of space, do stockpile the tools, the books and the heritage (non-hybrid) seeds to ensure you can start the process when needed.

Summary: There are a lot of threats out there as the world deteriorates and as evil men conspire to create conflict to take away our liberty. We can't do a lot about the really big threats that are beyond our control, but we can prepare to survive them and build a network of like minded people to assist us. That's one of the main reasons why I put out this weekly news analysis--to build the movement and help people see far enough in advance of what is coming to prepare for it.

But preparedness is not cheap and self-sufficiency is darn right expensive. More than one of my clients has had to come back to the city because they ran out of money trying to live off of their savings in a rural paradise--where they had no work. Most of us are going to have to stay in the job market most of our lives in order to survive financially--inflation is going to take its toll on each of us. So, be prepared to start cutting back now to economize while you learn to adapt. Here are 10 basic suggestions for adapting to our deteriorating economic situation:

1. As an inflation hedge, try to secure work where one can more easily increase salary or income to keep pace with inflation. If you have rental income, negotiate an inflation clause (I recommend 1.5 times the annual CPI as a minimum).

2. Prepare for alternative skills that will be useful in a crisis of shortages and unrest (repairing existing technology is always a good bet--both mechanic and electronic skills are needed.)

3. Prepare for an alternative profession if yours is one that is subject to fragile financial markets (mortgage brokers found this out too late, and were suddenly without a viable market).

4. With commuting costs now rivaling monthly rental costs in some areas, consider moving closer to work if it will reduce those costs. Under some conditions it could even pay for a small apartment and leave you free to still keep your house in the suburbs or the country as a retreat.

5. Buy a fuel efficient vehicle, even if small, and use it for most of your commuting or running around. If you can't afford the new ones, good deals can still be had on older VW diesels (TDI)-1996 and newer. These engines last a lot longer than gasoline engines and can be overhauled for less than a couple of thousand. They can get between 40 and 50 mpg.

6. Consider riding a bicycle for short trips. The fuel savings will add up. It's great for your health and surprisingly comfortable with the variety of mountain bikes available.

7. Start eating more basic foods (wheat, rice, and beans) that provide lots of energy for very little money. You can cut your food bill in half by not buying prepared foods at the grocery store (nor eating out so often).

8. If you are heating with oil or propane (which have tripled in price) get a new furnace system this summer before the winter rush. Consider the new ground source heat pumps. They are more costly to install but can save money in the long term. Electricity is relatively cheap now compared to other energy sources.

9. Add a solar water heating system. They save money in most climates. I have a water jacket on my wood stove that takes over in the winter when the solar doesn't produce enough heat to preheat the water.

10. Add a high efficiency wood stove to your home. It will save on energy even if you don't run it all the time. Best of all, it will provide you emergency backup heat during a winter power outage.

Copyright 2008, Joel Skousen. Brief quotations with attribution are permitted. Cite the source as Joel Skousen's World Affairs Brief

Chris T. recommended this Time magazine article by Amanda Ripley: How to Survive A Disaster

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BulletProofME.com (one our loyal advertisers with a great reputation) has just started a one-month special sale on Interceptor Body Armor and Kevlar helmets. The sale price is just for SurvivalBlog readers: $500 for a mil-spec Interceptor vest in Woodland Camouflage or 3-Color Desert Camouflage. (That is below wholesale - only possible because of a military contact overrun in these colors. So te special sale price only applies to those colors. (They do offer a 15% discount on other colors.) They are also offering a a 20% off special on military surplus Kevlar helmets: A Military Surplus PASGT helmet, in almost new condition $96, complete with a 4-Point Helmet Suspension, or $109 with a Foam Impact Liner which gives about 70% of the Blunt Trauma protection of the state of the art MICH / Advanced Combat Helmet system, or $175 with the full MICH / ACH blunt trauma pad system retrofitted. This SurvivalBlog special ends on July 3rd, or when stock on hand is exhausted, so don't hesitate!

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Who says that you can't live a "low-profile" life? Hidden tribe outed 'to prove they exist'.

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Jack in Texas sent us an article that illustrates one of the implications of sky-high feed prices: An Epidemic of Abandoned Horses

"Probably all laws are useless; for good men do not want laws at all, and bad men are made no better by them." - Demonax - (Roman philosopher, circa 150 A.D.)

Monday, June 2, 2008

I got the following note from a reporter named Alison, at one of the big "Three Letter Acronym" television networks: "I"m a reporter a looking to do a story about how some people are becoming "survivalists" as our energy prices skyrocket. I am looking to profile someone, or a family, in the New York region, preferably in the New York Metro area, including the tri-state region. If they wish to remain anonymous, we can also call them different names and not give away where they live." If any SurvivalBlog readers are interested, send me an e-mail, and I will forward your e-mail to her.

The following is the first article sent to us for Round 17 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 ends on July 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.

Citizen Band (CB) radio requires no FCC license to operate so it is a good choice for local communication. If cell phones fail to work for whatever reason, it may be the best method for remote communication since its range is better than FRS and GMRS. When I installed my first CB in a vehicle, I was happy just to get it in and be able to transmit to my buddy who lived the next block over. I’ve matured since then and my tolerance for white noise is less than what it used to be. I’ve learned over the years how to properly set up a radio system and I’m normally left with a CB that has few problems. So, I’m writing this to help those of you that use Citizen's Band radio in your vehicles, but may be plagued with noise, weak signals, or are just generally unhappy with your radios performance. At worst, this article should give you a jumpstart in your quest for a 1:1 standing wave ratio.

The basic components of a radio system are simple: power, radio, antenna feed line, and antenna. If all function properly, the radio shouldn’t give you any problems. But for vehicle use, with all those wires and working parts, problems do arise. I’ll talk about each of the above mentioned components and other aspects of radio communication you may need to know for a proper set up. Please keep in mind, these pages are not entirely comprehensive about CB installation or uses and may not answer all your questions… it’s written based upon my experiences in radio communication and quite frankly, I haven’t experienced it all, yet. But with that said, here goes:

The two most important things to consider when mounting an antenna are grounding and positioning; when both of these things are considered and handled properly, you should receive a decent Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) reading (more about that, later). The best way to ground an antenna is to drill holes for the mounting bracket into a metal portion of your vehicle. If you’re concerned about resale value and don’t want to drill, look into mobile mounting units that require no drilling from a supplier like HRO (Ham Radio Outlet); they sell units for doors, trunks, rain channels, etc.
An antenna mounted in the middle of a metal roof will get the best signal because it is surrounded by a reflective surface. However, you may have a problem grounding the antenna without causing a leaking problem in your roof (but that would of course mean you won’t be asked to drive that often so it has its upside). You should mount the antenna where you will get the best SWR without sacrificing clearance or risking damage to the antenna or mount… or getting while driving in a rainstorm. I recommend a pickup bed immediately behind the cab, a lower quarter panel, or the lid of a trunk. If you mount your antenna in any of these locations, you should get be able to clear the roof line of your vehicle by about 6” to 1’ with a 36” antenna and transmit decently.

Two other things to consider are antenna quality and length. First, quality. Simply put, the two best brands of antenna on the market are Firestick and K40; I would recommend both of these two brands for a mobile unit. Second, the length of your antenna is a matter of preference quite honestly, although I will admit that longer antennas generally transmit and receive better. The reason it is more a matter of preference than performance is clearance. A 6-foot antenna mounted on a roof is going to have some clearance issues with your garage, trees, etc.; but if you choose to mount your antenna on a bumper, then a 6-foot model would probably be fine. I use a three foot antenna on my pickup and can transmit about five miles on the regular 40 CB channels. Just another issue to keep in mind when you purchase your setup.

Feed line
The Feed line is the length of coaxial ("coax") cable from the radio to the antenna. There are subtle differences in coax Feed line based upon insulation, grade of cable, etc. Generally speaking, the better the Feed line, the better it will transmit your signal, so buy quality coaxial cable. When buying the necessary mounting supplies, you need to make sure it is all matched for impedance. Almost all CB radios will have a 50 ohm impedance jack for the antenna input and most coax sold for CB radios is as well--but it doesn’t hurt to ask before you buy.

Much has been said about the length of the Feed line for a CB radio. Some people say that 18’ is the proper length, some people say 17’ is the proper length. To be honest, impedance match is the most important thing. But I cut my coax to 17’4” staying in practice with radio theory that the Feed line should be a factor of the wavelength that you will transmit on (I won’t bore you with the calculation with MHz and inches). 17’4” is probably much more than you will need, but will allow for an antenna choke if you need it. Be sure to buy Feed line that already has PL259 connectors already installed if you’re not familiar with the installation process. But FYI, it’s not difficult to learn if you’re familiar with soldering; any radio technician at Ham radio Outlet (HRO) can explain the process.

Radio and Installation
First, let me bash on the handheld units a bit. CB transmission is essentially line of sight transmission and anything that blocks the line of sight is going to weaken the signal. A handheld CB is for use outside of a vehicle… using it inside a vehicle you get minimal transmission distance because the signal bounces off the metal components of the vehicle, and even with a soft top jeep, the signal still needs to pass through a barrier and as a result it’s weakened. So if you’re using a handheld and wonder why you can’t hear much, there’s the reason. I will admit that I have a portable unit, a Midland 75-820, that is a handheld unit with a separate magnetic base antenna for use while in a vehicle. It’s performance is adequate but not optimal. Frankly, the Midland setup has two major problems, 1) engine noise which can be caused by the rotation of the alternator feeding back through the electrical system (a problem more prevalent on older vehicles but still present on many today) because the ground for everything is through the cigarette lighter… and 2) the limited volume the unit puts out with such a small speaker (an operator in a loud truck or topless jeep may have problems using this CB when driving on the highway). I use this unit only as a backup unit or in a second vehicle that doesn’t have a hard wired setup.

I currently use a Cobra 18WXST II. It is a reasonably priced unit from a quality manufacturer. Regardless of what you buy, most quality units will have an internal noise filter, scanning feature, and NOAA weather bands, but be sure to buy the unit best suited for your needs. If you’re interested in SSB transmitting or extended range, you may want to get a better unit; I recommend the Cobra 148GTL. [JWR Adds: That is also one of my favorite models. Its proven design remained essentially unchanged for many years, making it readily adaptable for out-of-band transmission by licensed ham radio operators that can transmit in the 10 Meter band (which is adjacent to Citizens Band.)]

Now, it sounds as though it should be common sense but be sure to mount the unit where it will be easy to use and not an obstruction while using the vehicle (the dash board is probably a bad choice as is the foot well near the pedals). I recommend bolting the unit to the center console or using a RAM mount somewhere on the transmission hump.

Cleanliness of installation should be considered too. Do you want coax cable on the floor of your back seat or run under the carpet? Do you want to run the wires out an existing hole in the chassis or drill a new one? I normally run the power line through the dash and directly to the battery; this eliminates some noise you can receive when tapping into an existing hot [12 VDC energized] line or fuse (more on that later). Be sure to use a fuse for your radio before hooking it up or you may soon be buying a new radio. The coaxial cable I normally run under the carpet or floor mats to the rear of the cabin and drill a small hole (if necessary) near the mount.

Now that the system is set up, lets learn how to optimize its transmission capability. The first thing we need to address is SWR. Essentially, a SWR meter measures how well your equipment will transmit and receive on the specific frequency you intend to use. If you have everything grounded properly, your equipment is impedance matched, and you have a decent antenna mounted in the correct location, the SWR should be ok. An SWR reading of 1:1 is optimal but a reading of 1.5:1 is excellent, a reading of 2:1 is considered good (actually great for most applications), but anything higher than 3:1, well, you pretty much wasted your time with the installation. Getting the best SWR on your specific rig is a matter of trial and error… in my experience, you can’t go wrong if you ground everything well and place the antenna on top of a metal roof or mount it where at least a portion of the antenna clears the roof line.

An SWR meter can be purchased at any Radio Shack or electronic supply house. Most come complete with directions and are pretty easy to use, even for a novice. If you’re unhappy with the SWR you get from your setup initially, don’t worry, you can improve it by tuning your antenna. All antennas are tunable, but some are tuned easier than others. Some need to be cut and some need to be bent to retard the oscillation on the part past the bend. The K40, for example, is one of the easier ones; it has a small whip that sticks out the top on the antenna and is moved up and down using a supplied Allen key; by adjusting the length of the whip, you can receive a better SWR reading.

Noise Elimination
Even if you are happy with the SWR you get on your system, you may still have problems with noise (one doesn’t necessarily effect the other) so lets learn how to eliminate that noise.
Most radios come with an internal noise filter… a button or toggle switch on the face of the radio that eliminates much of the squelch noise from the radio output. The problem with this feature is that it also makes distant transmissions difficult to hear. If you want to (or need to) address the problem further, know that noise on a CB unit (while the engine is running) is normally caused by two things… 1) noise coming through the hotline of the radio or 2) noise being picked up by the antenna.
(Note: You need to remember, a CB picks up 27 MHz radio waves and an engine or other vibrations can cause interference and distortion of those radio waves. Power windows or seats can cause feedback… that’s normally caused by the electrical motor. An older engine can create oscillation heard on a CB… chances are it’s the points spinning in the distributor. So noise isn’t necessarily just an electrical hotline problem… you need to eliminate both possibilities mentioned above.)

A few simple tests can isolate the source of the noise.
1. Hook the radio up to the battery directly or better yet, a separate battery not hooked into the truck’s electrical system. This will bypass and eliminate any noise caused by the alternator or firing of the cylinders. If you still get noise, it’s coming in through the antenna.
2. Disconnect the Feed line from the antenna or the Feed line from the radio. This will eliminate any noise being received on the antenna. If you still get the noise, it’s coming from the power/ground lines.
I’ve had both types of problems (both on the same rig once)… so here are the fixes I used to eliminate most (not all) of the noise.

Antenna Noise
To eliminate noise caused by the antenna receiving unwanted signals, put in an “antenna choke.” Disclaimer time: I have an idea why this fix works but I’m not sure and I haven’t gotten a straight answer from anyone on the matter… so do me a favor and don’t ask because all I can tell you is that it does work to eliminate noise coming in through the antenna. Take about 6 feet of the Feed line and wrap it into 6 or 8 loops (kind of like wrapping up an electrical cord or piece of rope but about the diameter of a coffee can) then tape the loops together.
If an antenna choke doesn’t successfully eliminate all noise, there are other methods to try. Try changing the location of your antenna to a spot on the vehicle where it is shielded from the engine. Radio waves are line of sight reception and sometimes simply hiding the antenna from the constant oscillation of the engine can do the trick. Another method is to try using shorter or longer lengths of coax… but that is an expensive exercise in trial and error… try the other methods first.

Hot Wire Noise
First off, try attaching the hot wire(s) for the radio directly to the battery of the vehicle. Much of the noise picked up through the hot wire comes from the alternator feeding current into the system.
This method should work, but if not, try installing an external noise filter onto the hot wire and ground wire of your CB. They are small cylinders (about the size of a bicycle handle) and can be picked up at Radio Shack or other electronics stores. Simply attach the hot wire(s) from the radio to the red wire of the filter, then the red wire on the other side of the filter to a power source. Attach the ground wire from the radio to the black wire on the filter, then the black wire on the other side of the filter to a chassis ground.

These techniques should help you set up a radio properly, even if you run into difficulties. It may take some time and trouble shooting on your part but you’ll be left with minimal noise and decent reception/transmission capabilities. The cost shouldn’t be too bad either. It all can be done for under $150 with new equipment. But if your budget allows, spend more [for the best equipment available].

Hi, James
There is always a need for desiccants for various uses, be it food storage, caching, or other projects. Most who need such things already have a favorite supplier, but I'll make another recommendation for the sake of saving a few bucks. Any local grocer, pet supply dealer or Big Box store carries silica-gel cat litter in amounts from 3 to 30 pounds: Tidy Cats Crystals is one such product, though there are many. A rounded tablespoon place in a square of mesh fabric purchased in a craft/hobby department (where it can be bought by the yard--think about the bird seed packets at weddings) and securely tied [or sewn shut] will work well when placed in the desired container; depending on the need, they can also be spooned directly into the bottom of the vessel. Note that I'm suggesting the clear-blue "Crystals-only" type which are pure silica; one doesn't want the silicate-clay "Blend" which is also offered.

Being silicate, they have the potential for re-use by oven drying. Compared to the cost of individual commercial [silica gel] packets, this is a bargain. Regards, - Billfour

JWR Replies: That is a great suggestion. Just beware of any desiccant that has any additives, dyes, or scents. A perfumed desiccant would be fine for tool storage, but potentially a disaster for food storage.

Hello Jim,
This is in response to the gentleman's question about using kerosene in diesel engines. Yes, it can be done. I had two 55 gallon drums of kerosene that were reaching the end of their storage life. I also have an old Mercedes diesel car and ran the kerosene with some added lubrication in the vehicle and it worked very well. You are correct that kerosene doesn't have the same lubrication values of diesel but that is solved by simply adding vegetable oil or biodiesel to to the fuel. I used a 10-to-1 ratio as recommended by another poster on the blog. As far as kerosene burning hotter, it has fewer BTUs per gallon than diesel so I doubt this is a problem.

This discussion brings up another advantage of diesel engines and it's a big one. That is the variety of fuels they can run on including kerosene, home heating oil and vegetable oil-new and used. Some people over at Mercedesshop.com have even used automatic transmission fluid and lightweight motor oil in their cars as well. I would only do that for a short period of time and if I were truly desperate. Several caveats apply here also. Used vegetable oil must be filtered very well or you will have serious problems. To run 100% vegetable oil ("straight vegetable oil") in cars it must have a two-tank system that heats the oil first and flushes the fuel lines with diesel when shut off or the oil will solidify in the fuel lines the car won't restart. However I would not hesitate to use 50% diesel/kerosene with 50% new vegetable oil in warm weather. All this gives you have several options if you need them. Scenario 1: There is a major fuel shortage with low supplies and long lines at the pump. With a diesel engine you can simply go to the kerosene pump and fill your cans up while everybody else waits in line. Scenario 2: You are evacuating from a [Hurricane] Katrina-like situation and begin to run low on fuel. Simply go to any grocery store and pick up several gallons of vegetable oil and dump it in. Then go to the auto parts store and grab a few quarts of ATF and motor oil and dump it in if your really low.

Again some of this I would not do unless I was truly hard pressed, but desperate times call for thinking outside the box. FYI, the drums of kerosene mentioned above are nine years old and were not stabilized (I didn't know any better at the time. However, it was in very good condition and ran well in my car. I hope that this helps someone. - Jeff in Ohio

Kirk flagged this Business Week piece: Bad Omens for Banks?--News from KeyCorp suggests U.S. banks' loan losses may worsen. Is the credit crisis hitting a second, even scarier phase? The global credit crisis is worsening. Take steps to protect yourself.

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Thanks to Dave S. for sending this: US rail network facing congestion 'calamity'

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My recent mention of health concerns about synthetic sweeteners (such as Nutrasweet and Splenda) prompted readers Chris D., Kim, and EMW to all remind me to mention the herbal sweetener, Stevia rebaudiana. It is a safe, natural sweetener derived from a plant that is native to Paraguay. Following enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), Stevia can be sold legally in the United States only as a "dietary supplement." Ironically, even though ounce-for-ounce Stevia extracts can be up to 300 times more sweet than sugar, they cannot be sold as "sweeteners." OBTW, reader Rick C. mentioned that "Splenda is not aspartame-based [like Nutrasweet]. It consists of sucralose and maltodextrin." But I should add that Splenda has its own set of health concerns.

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Frequent news tip contributor RBS sent us this: George Soros: 'We face the most serious recession of our lifetime'

"Regardless of the size or quality of defensive forces, the defender usually extracts large costs from the attacker in time, resources, and casualties." - Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) MCWP 3-35.3

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The judging was difficult because we had so many great entries. But after much deliberation we decided that the first place winner of Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is KLK for her article "How To Prepare for Radiation Emergencies". She has won two valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!)

Second place goes to B.H. for his article "Safe Food Handling". He will receive a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing

Three Honorable Mention prizes go to NC Bluedog for "Homestead Fuel Storage and Rotation", JLG in Texas for "Technology After TEOTWAWKI"., and to Gospel Guy for "Lacto-Fermentation--Enlisting Trillions of Microscopic Allies in Your Fight for Survival." They each get their choice of autographed copies of either my books "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" or "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog"

Note to the prize winners: E-mail me and let me know the snail mail address where you'd like you prizes sent. Congratulations to the talented prize-winning writers!

Round 17 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is now open. Round 17 ends on July 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.

Hi James
I am in the import food business and one of the products that I sell is canned tuna. I know that a lot of survivalists have canned tuna in their larder and thought I might be able to provide some useful information. There are four species of tuna that are sold in cans; skipjack, tongol, yellowfin and albacore. Skipjack is the cheapest and Albacore the most expensive.

I have been selling tuna for about 20 years and over the last two years, have seen the raw material prices double. Normally, prices go up and then back down, as the catch decreases and then increases. However, since there are really no controls on the amount of tuna that are caught, I have been concerned about over fishing, especially with skipjack as it is the every day item that supermarkets sell as chunk light tuna. Given that the frozen fish price has increased from about $1,000 per metric ton to just under $2,000 per metric ton, I think that we may
have hit the point where demand will outpace a diminishing supply. I expect retail prices to continue increasing.

When I was at a Costco [warehouse store] a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that they are still selling 6 ounce albacore for around $1.00 per can. This is a very good price and I don't expect it to
last for long.

The other thing that has been happening is that many of our overseas suppliers are having trouble getting empty cans. We have had many shipments of fruits and vegetables delayed because the packers have the raw material, but no cans to pack the product in. I know that there have been increases in tinplate costs, but do not know why some of our suppliers are unable to get cans. It could be that they don't want to pay the higher prices.

Given the decline of the [purchasing power of the] dollar, increases in freight rates, as well as inflation in other countries, I see many food prices continuing to climb indefinitely. All the best, - Kurt P.

JWR Replies: Thanks for the update. SurvivalBlog readers should plan accordingly. If you haven't done so already, buy a three year supply of canned tuna for your family, post haste!

Mr Rawles,
The letter from the gent who recommends investing in synthetic gold startled me. Prior to the Great Depression my family was very wealthy. My great-great grandfather, was an assemblyman from New York State who [had] moved to the backwoods of Pennsylvania and built what was at one time the largest tannery on the east coast. The family also owned a large hotel, at least two other tanneries, a general store and a gristmill. When his son took over the reins of the family wealth he invested the bulk of it in silver stock. When the stock market crashed the family was plunged into stark poverty. My great grandfather had to build a home for his family out of the packing crates that the produce for the store was shipped in. Stock [or shares] of any kind are dangerous if that is where the bulk of a person's wealth is invested.

Make your readers aware of how dangerous the financial situation is at this time and to steer clear of investing in anything that you cannot hold in your hands, or eat or walk on or wear. Thank you. - DM from the Mountains of Northwest Pennsylvania

Hello James:
I came across these ignition temperatures in a reference book and thought they might be of use to others,. This may be useful for whatever folks may be doing with flammable materials or fuels at their retreat or at home. All ignition temperatures noted are in Fahrenheit:

Cut Newspaper 446 degrees
Cut filter paper 450 degrees
Straw and sawdust 450 to 500 degrees
Gasoline 536 to 800 degrees depending on octane rating
Kerosene 480 degrees
Natural Gas 1,000 to 1,200 degrees
Propane 871 degrees
Butane 806 degrees
Paints and Lacquers (the flammable part isn't the pigment, although the metallic chromate pigments are flammable) 475 to 1,000 degrees
Amyl Acetate 715 degrees
Acetone 1,000 degrees
Linseed Oil 650 degrees
Mineral Spirits 473 degrees
Turpentine 464 degrees
Alcohols 750 to 900 degrees
Petroleum Naptha 475 degrees
Magnesium 1,204 degrees, but if material is finely ground then as low as 900 degrees

Regards, - Mikael

JWR Adds this Strong Proviso: Reader Jim. H. in Colorado has pointed out that the full potential fire hazards of stored materials should not be evaluated according to the preceding chart. The chart was based on direct contact of a solid material with a heat source. The true measurement of the volatility of a stored material is its "flash point", which in most cases is considerably lower than the figures noted. It is explained at this Wikipedia page. Essentially, Mikael's chart was correct. Any of those material that are heated to those temperatures will combust (without the presence of any flame). However, the essential definition is: "The flash point of a material is the point at which the material will give off gasses that, when mixed with oxygen, can support combustion if exposed to an outside heat source."

Also note that combustible gasses, dusts, and vapors (such as gasoline vapors) can sometimes travel long distances and still be combustible or explosive. Over the years, SurvivalBlog has stressed safety, particularly with stored fuels. I've written this a dozen times, but this bears repeating: Stored liquid fuels should never be stored in a typical attached garage. Most suburban garages also have a natural gas-fired or propane-fired hot water heater with a continuous pilot flame. That is a very dangerous combination of a vapor source and vapor ignition. Read: Kaboom!

Also beware of any processing operation that produces combustible dust, such as grain milling or even metal grinding. There have been countless news stories over the years about grain mill explosions. As I illustrated my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", ounce-for-ounce, fuel-air mixtures can be some of the most potent explosives imaginable.

Bill from Ohio sent this: Hunger Prompting Desperate Acts

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Reader David D. mentioned this article by Ellen Brown: The Secret Bailout of JP Morgan. One is naturally led to ask: Cui bono?

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Elisha R. mentioned a handy state of Texas PDF on rainwater catchment

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CDR sent us this link: China quake survivors scavenge amid the ruins--They search for scrap metal to sell so they can buy food for their families

"JP Morgan has assets of $1.6 trillion and equity of $126 billion. They seem reasonably well-capitalized at 7.6%. We just hope that there's no problems in their almost $92 trillion derivative exposure that is more than 50 times their assets and, more importantly, greater than 700 times their equity. We hope them to be well-matched, but if they are even the tiniest bit wrong, their equity could be wiped out as their equity represents just 0.13% of their gross derivative exposure." - Steven Romick, writing in Agora Financial's Rude Awakening e-newsletter, May, 2008

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