July 2008 Archives

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Today we present the final entry 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 18 (which runs through the end of September) begins tomorrow, 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.

Many of my fellow Tennesseans awoke to headlines the other day that two of the Corp of Engineers dams in our area that are supposed to protect the people from floods and provide water and electricity are in danger of failure. Built more than 50 years ago, the Wolf Creek Dam and the Center Hill Dam overlook several hundred thousand people in central Tennessee, and are leaking significantly. The Wolf Creek Dam has been classified as being at high risk of collapse.

The Wolf Creek Dam is located on the Cumberland River 190 miles up stream from Nashville. The dam has had problems for more than a year and last year, officials determined repairs would need to be made to the dam because of leaks in and around it. The dam holds back 100+ miles of the Cumberland River, near Jamestown in south central Kentucky. Now, the dam is weakening and immediate action is being taken to stop what could be a catastrophic flood. The water level was dropped and more testing was done on the dam. It is the results of those tests that caused officials to put the dam at high risk of failure, though they state failure isn’t considered eminent. A gentleman I know that works for the Corps has stated that large chunks of masonry the size of small cars fall off the dam weekly, so I choose to remain skeptical about the Corps position.

If the Wolf Creek Dam were to break, starting 100+ miles up the Cumberland River in Jamestown, Kentucky, the town of Celina, Tennessee would be flooded first and most likely wiped out completely. Then, water would flow downstream toward Carthage and Old Hickory Lake impacting the towns of Gallatin, Hendersonville, Mt. Juliet and Old Hickory before flooding downtown Nashville's riverfront area under as much as 30 to 50 feet of water. While Nashville would have some warning, many of the smaller towns mentioned would be impacted so quickly that warnings would be ineffective. The area impacted would be massive.

This has been a wake-up call for many citizens in our area. For many the threat of a major catastrophe was what it took for them to finally learn they need to be prepared for potential emergencies. What was startling for many of our citizens was that these are major impoundments maintained by the Federal government. While this was a wake-up call about the possible threat from major impoundments, most people still are not aware of smaller private and municipal impoundments that potentially pose a threat every day. Many of these small dams have ruptured in the past century leading to death and destruction on a massive scale. Some examples are the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889 that killed an estimated 2,300 people, the Baldwin Hills Reservoir in California in 1951, and the privately owned plantation dam that broke near Kilauea, Hawaii in 2006. So what can be done to better protect you and your?

First, make a point to become aware of any and all dams that may pose a threat in your area. Even small farm pond dams can cause significant flash flooding if they breach. Floods, especially flash floods, whether from rain or dam breaches, kill more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, wind storms or lightning. About 60% of all flood deaths are people in vehicles that moving water sweeps away. Experts advise you not to drive or wade into flood water at all, especially if you can't see the bottom. Water over a road, no matter how deep, can hide washed-out pavement. As little as six inches of moving water is enough to float a small car and carry it away.

Always prepare for problems before they happen. When possible build your home on high ground, and if possible never downstream from a dam. During the winter of 1991 a dam on a five acre impoundment ruptured a few miles from my home. Luckily the people a couple of miles downhill were warned and escaped harm, but their homes were washed off their foundations and across US Highway 70, which was a couple of hundred feet away. These homes were on high ground, but someone built a relatively small pond on even higher ground that had a devastating effect.

Get a copy of the 500 and 1,000 year flood zone maps for your area. These will tell you the most likely route the water will take following a catastrophic breach. They will also point out the likely flood areas from heavy rainfall or snow-melt. These are useful tools, but as shown in the previous paragraph, don’t get overconfident. When possible don’t build in these areas. It still amazes me how many people will build in the same location after floods have wiped out their homes on multiple occasions. I know some may not have a choice, but this isn’t always true.

Get a weather radio. If a large dam breaks, warnings will be broadcast through the emergency channels, but don’t count on this when dealing with smaller dams. If a warning comes down that a breach is about to happen, get out. I know many of us including myself don’t really trust the “authorities”, but I think in these cases the wise thing to do is “bug out” and get to a safe location, then assess if it was the proper mode of action later. To do this, plan and scout several potential escape routes. Most people will take the route they are most familiar with, and it always seems to be the same route, which turns the road into a parking lot. Often smaller less well known roads can get you out of the area faster. In my area the local emergency personnel are encouraged to learn the local off road trails in case something happens to the main roads. This would also be advisable for the general public, as this may be the only way out. Set up a meeting place that all the members of your family or circle know about as a rally point. It is also a good idea to designate a family member or friend in another county or state as a contact person. This is so anyone who can’t arrive at the rally point can check in with their status and location. We saw this happening many times after the tsunami in Indonesia as many tourists became separated from their parties. Make sure everyone has the number, email address, or whatever. This information should be memorized in case they become separated from their wallet, date-book, etc.

Sometimes the opportunity to evacuate is lost through hesitation or just bad luck. In these cases one should try to find an area to “evacuate vertically”. In many cases this means sturdy built, tall buildings, towers, or hopefully a mountain or hill. If the water approaches too rapidly, this may simply be a tree. Again, scout around to see what would be available if something were to happen.

If you have to escape a flood or any situation it is a good idea to have a emergency pack with sufficient supplies ready. This may include food and water, first aid gear, medications, a change of clothes, communications gear, fire starting supplies, and in my case a spare set of eye-glasses. I also suggest having a cache of supplies in a secure location, just in case you need them.
Hopefully nothing like this will befall you, but being prepared could mean the difference between life and death should the worst ever happen

I haven't seen much discussion to date in SurvivalBlog on Propane-burning vehicles as a retreat / bug out / EMP-proof vehicle. From what I understand, Propane combusting vehicles are not as popular in the USA as they have been in Canada, not to say we have a large amount of them running on streets, however, they are here and they are available. I'm looking at a EMP proof vehicle right now which happens to be a 1985 Chevy, 4x4, 1/2-Ton which has been converted to propane. Are their any issues with this that you may or may not be aware of as an EMP proof convertible vehicle?

Propane is currently cheaper [per gallon] than gasoline and as you know stores much longer than that of Gasoline or [even] Diesel. If it can be done, others should start looking that way. Aside from the small amount of loss in power, the pros could far out weigh the cons providing they can be EMP-proofed, which I don't know anything about when it comes to propane vehicles. Please advise. Thanks in advance. - Dan S.

JWR Replies: Because propane might be hard to come by "on the road", I don't recommend propane for bug-out vehicles, unless your retreat is within range of one tank of fuel. But propane is ideal for trucks and tractors that will not often leave your retreat property. I prefer converting pickups rather than SUVs, since propane fuel tanks are relatively large. For some details, see this blog piece that I posted in June.

A 1985 Chevy will have an electronic ignition system. But it is not too difficult to retrofit a traditional ignition system (with rotor, points, and condenser) at the same time that the fuel and Carburetion systems are converted to propane. (Owners of newer vehicles should be advised that there are other microprocessors present in critical subsystems. (Most notably solid state voltage regulators and components in the fuel and transmission systems that should also be retrofitted to make a vehicle "EMP proof").

There are some issues involving payment of road taxes, in some states, when converting to propane, If it were not for that, I believe that propane conversions would be much more popular. (Consult your state and local laws before doing a conversion.)

Propane or "GNC" (Gaz naturel comprimé) conversions are popular in many countries. For the sake of versatility and flexibility, I highly recommend that one of the vehicles at your retreat can be run on propane. With today's soaring gasoline and diesel prices, you will have the added benefit of buying fuel that is less expensive, per BTU. (At least at the present day.)

Andrew Hankinson, a journalist at FHM magazine in the UK, e-mailed us to mention that he is looking for a survivalist in the US to spend a few days with. There would also be a photographer. He's looking for someone who lives somewhere remote, hopefully in a survivalist community. The idea is to sample life as a survivalist. It is a serious piece coming on the back of much Peak Oil debate in the UK. If anyone could help – it would need to happen sometime in early August. lease contact him via e-mail.

   o o o

Cheryl N. flagged this from The Telegraph: Bigger Than Roosevelt's New Deal: The Fannie and Freddie Bailout, as well as this from The Mogambo Guru: The Problems-Solving Paulson Package

   o o o

Reader KT mentioned a mobile "under the hood" arc welding generator made by Zena Corporation.

   o o o

D.A.B. found this article about DARPA's Big Dog robotics program.

"The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits." - Plutarch

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is $500. This auction is for a big mixed lot: a NukAlert radiation detector, donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value), and the following package of survival gear all kindly donated by CampingSurvival.com: One case of MREs, one pack of water purifications tablets, a bottle of colloidal silver, a fire starter, a bottle of potassium iodate tablets, an emergency dental kit, a pack of "Shower in a bag" bath wipes, and one messenger bag to pack it in. The auction ends on August 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

Mr. & Mrs. Rawles,
Following the guidance in your "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" book, I. recently bought a 20 acre retreat in southeastern Oregon that backs up to BLM land, with some good ground for pasturing [livestock].(But most [of it] is too rocky for cutting hay.) There is an old fruit/nut orchard with some amazing big trees. (It is half of what was originally an 1880s homestead.) There is both a well and spring. The spring only puts out 1.3 gallons per minute, but I plan to have it fill a big cistern that I'm soon to be building. We might be able to get a [grazing] permit on the [adjoining] BLM land. I'm not sure what sort of animals we will be getting (sheep, cattle, or whatnot). We might also get a horse.

The property has some old falling-down fences (three strands of old rusty barbed wire). I'm planning to rip that out and start fresh. What would you recommend for fencing that'll "do it all"? What kind of posts, and [at] what spacing? What is the best way to stretch a fence [to proper tension]? Do you like tube-type gates?

Thanks for your blog and books. They've put me on the true path to self-sufficient style living. Enough skating, on my part: My 10 Cent Challenge [voluntary subscription] payment for three years will be arriving soon, in silver coins. You've earned it! Thx and God Bless You and Your Family, - Phil in Oregon

JWR Replies: My personal favorite for versatility is 47" tall variable mesh woven field fencing, tensioned on six foot heavy duty studded T-posts that are spaced 10 to12 feet apart. This will give you a fence that will hold sheep, some breeds of goats, most cattle, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, horses, mules, and more.

In my experience, used, creosote-soaked railroad ties work fine for H-braces, anchor braces, and corner braces. To tension the diagonal wires for the H-braces, I prefer to use ratchet tensioners, rather than the traditional"twisting stick" windlass arrangement. Be sure to wear gloves to avoid skin contact with the creosote, which is toxic

When building a fence in rocky soil, a seven foot long plain digging bar with hardened tips will be indispensable.

If you get into an extremely rocky portion of ground along the intended fence line, you can construct above-ground "rock boxes"--the type that you've probably seen in eastern Oregon. These are cylinders of woven wire between 30 and 40 inches in diameter and four feet tall that you will fill with rocks anywhere from fist-size to bowling ball-size. Because the fence will have to be tensioned, make sure that side of the rock box that will contact the main fence wire has no rock tips projecting through the wire mesh that might hang up the main fence wire as it slides by, during tensioning.

Horses, in particular, tend to be hard on woven wire fences. Especially in small pastures, they'll often lean their necks over them, reaching for grass on the other side. You can add a "hot" wire at the top of the fence that is energized with a DC charger. (Such as those made by Parmak--like we use here at the Rawles Ranch.) In anticipation of grid-down situations, a solar-powered fence charger is best.

I do like steel tube gates. If you strap on (or weld/braze on) some woven wire or a hog panel, the gate will become "sheep tight."

For the best security, you should mount the hinge pins with at least one pointing upward and one pointing downward. Otherwise, an intruder can simply lift a locked gate off of its hinge pins. You can also tack weld the nuts onto both the bolt threads and the gate's hinge sleeve assemblies to prevent them from being disassembled.

Tensioning a woven wire fence can best be accomplished with a 48" "toothed" bar to hold the woven wire. These can either be bought factory made, or custom fabricated in your home welding shop. But for those without welding equipment, here is a simple expedient that can be made with wood, carriage bolts, and chain: Cut a 52-inch long pair of 2x4s, and install a row of protruding screws down the length of one of the wide sides. Drill a row of shallow holes in the other board, to accept the screw heads from the other board. (Like the teeth on a commercially-made bar, these screws will evenly distribute the stress on the full height of the woven wire.) Drill through holes and position 6" long 3/8"-inch carriage bolts through both boards at both ends. Sandwich the woven wire between the two boards. Attach chains to the carriage bolts, and then connect the chains to a "come-along" (ratchet cable hoist). If no large trees are available as an anchor for the tensioning, then the towing hitch receiver on a parked large pickup truck will suffice. Proviso: All of the usual safety rules when working with come-alongs apply!

I am confident that most SurvivalBlog readers heeded the advice that I gave on May 19th. Pardon me for being repetitious, but this is important:

"Of immediate concern is that the increased wholesale price of steel will soon work its way down to the consumer level. So if you are certain about any fencing projects at your retreat in the next two or three years, then buy the materials in advance. (Rolls of woven wire, rolls of barbed wire, smooth wire, T-posts, staples, et cetera.) Consider it part of your Alpha Strategy."

This same advice or course applies to tube gates and modular steel stock panels. The increased cost of diesel fuel for trucking and galloping steel prices may soon work together to double or triple the retail price of heavy and bulky steel items such as tube gates and stock panels. (And, as I mentioned before, gun vaults.) If you find that you have "missed the boat" on price increases in your local area, then shop for a used gates and panels, by placing a newspaper or Craigslist want ad. As I've written before, the clock is ticking.

Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I have a Certificate of Deposit (CD) at 5.25% of $425,000 that will be maturing in December. She is all fired-up to travel to Canada in September, and with an interest-only withdrawal using $20, 000 to open bank account using converted US Dollars [(USDs) to another currency] as a hedge against the falling value of the USD.

I have a bad feeling about this.

From reading your site for several months, I suspect that you would suggest buying tangibles but, I fear that my wife will not agree to spending that kind of money on tangibles.

What are your comments regarding direct investment in foreign currency?

JWR Replies: Since you have that much money to shelter, an offshore account has some merit. Just make sure the grand total that you are carrying is less than $10,000 each and wearing or carrying no jewelry (aside from wedding bands) or other items such as optics, collectibles, gemstones, or flash memory cards that could be deemed "liquid/cash equivalent" assets. (The $10,000 reporting limit for Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs), I've been told, is practically sacrosanct, and the IRS has no sense of humor.) Also, be advised that multiple trips abroad carrying cash might be deemed to be "structuring."

Try to find a bank that will open accounts denominated in a variety of foreign currencies. In my opinion, in the long run Swiss Francs will beat Euros and Canadian dollars by a huge margin.

If you can't convince your wife to buy practical tangibles (guns, tools, etc.) then at least try to get her to see the wisdom of buying either A.) Productive farm land, at a distressed price, or B.) Gold during a dip in what is an otherwise a secular bull market.

I must admit that the intricacies of this subject go far beyond my own expertise. For details on the wide variety of offshore accounts available, refer to the Sovereign Society's Offshore A-Letter.

JT found us this: Bad News and Bank Runs. Talk about more “stimulus checks”, and blaming “blogs” for “misinformation” that fed people’s fears. And reader Cheryl N. found two articles that tie in nicely: FDIC Smoke & Mirrors and US National Debt Limit Raised Ahead of Budget Busting Bailout Legislation. (Cheryl's comment: "Paulson's Bazooka will be locked and loaded with enough firepower to blow what's left of our economy into the dustbin of history. ")

   o o o

The WRSA has another "Grid-Down Medical Course" scheduled soon. This one will be in Everett, Washington, September 12-14. Their training is inexpensive, and highly recommended. This is also a great way to bump into fellow SurvivalBlog readers. (Wear your SurvivalBlog hat or t-shirt!) For those of you living in the Eastern United States, Medical Corps has a "Medical Response in a Hostile Environment" course scheduled for that same weekend, and they may still have a few seats available.

   o o o

Reader Michael H. recommended some economic commentary from Bob Chapman: Paper Sold To Pools Of Liquidity

   o o o

Just in time for the Olympics, Recombinomics reports an outbreak of an unidentified hemorrhagic fever in China's Shandong Province. After reading the summary, click on the ProMED link in the article for more information. (A hat tip to "Cyberiot")

   o o o

JT also spotted this: Merrill to Sell $8.5 Billion of Stock, Unload CDOs. The article describes the shell game the banksters are playing with their worthless CDOs.

"…[P]art of your diversification strategy should be to have a farm or ranch somewhere far off the beaten track but which you can get to reasonably quickly and easily. Think of it as an insurance policy…Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food. It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily completely breaks down.” - Barton Biggs, in “Wealth, War & Wisdom"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Memsahib would appreciate your prayers. She is scheduled for surgery for 11 a.m. Pacific Time, today. We are praying for a quick and full recovery.

Dear JWR and Memsahib,
On June 30, in a response to "Help with a Non-Preparedness Minded Spouse", I shared the thoughts of like-minded men in a group meeting regularly with my husband to prepare for survival needs. Due to the lack of female companionship I was experiencing, and the frustration my husband's buddies were experiencing, I offered to start a "Ladies Auxiliary" group to motivate the wives to see the value of preparing for emergency survival. Living near the coast of Texas provides us with the challenge of hurricanes each summer, so that became the topic for personal and immediate preparedness.

We had NOAA hurricane tracking maps, National Hurricane Center Weather Service information, hurricane terminology lists, emergency preparedness time lines, steps for a family plan, lists for emergency/bug out kits and first aid kits, what to do before, during and after the storm, links to pet plans, and how to secure your home, help for the elderly, online vulnerability awareness of communities, plans for escape routes, and the Contraflow Plan for one way traffic during evacuation, all in binders with appropriate tabs. At the back of each binder, I placed a print out from the well-known Red Cross web site which showed kits for general emergency equipment such as three day pack, AM/FM shortwave radios with flashlights, and cell phone chargers. There was an article on how to put together a 72 hour kit and another on clarifying and purifying water. The final article was on dangers in the world right now. (The Internet is an invaluable source of information.)

I sent out invitations, planned snacks, set out chairs, provided TV trays to set binders on for note taking, sent out my husband for hi-liters, then waited in hopes of an hour or so of introductions and preparedness discussion. About half of my ladies came and they stayed for four hours of in-depth planning!! The ladies who couldn't come that day came the following week and also stayed for four hours, with the same results!

The short story is that three days after meeting with my latest group of ladies, the coast of Texas was visited by Hurricane Dolly. Like everyone else in the area, we were busy boarding up windows, filling the bathtub with water, bringing out the flashlights, batteries and radios. The lights went out and we were off the grid for about 22 hours. We got our generator to working for a window AC unit and refrigerator and were able to connect a neighbor's fridge until the lights were back on. We lost one tree branch and developed a small ceiling leak. A neighbor came by and prayed with my husband for protection before the storm. We were spared from local flooding but have seen piles of branches all over town. Unfortunately, other towns have had serious flooding and property damage.

I was able to disperse additional booklets to half of my ladies to file in a front pocket of their binders before Dolly hit. The new booklets are sealed in waterproof Ziploc bags and have charts that I wish I had when I was first married. The charts provide space for valuable information on certificates for births, marriage, insurance, important phone numbers, emergency items, banking, safe deposit box, investments, medical info, property inventory, Social Security, military, adoptions, etc.

I have been able to speak to one of my ladies who couldn't be thankful enough for the planning we did. She stockpiled water in her home and tried to spread the word in advance to everyone she knew. Unfortunately, she told me that some did not prepare and now have serious flooding problems, and have limited drinking water. Hurricane Dolly came upon us very quickly and those who did not prepare early are having serious problems. FEMA is waiting until cities can finish local evaluations before they move in for assistance.

So [ladies and] gentlemen, don't give up if you or your friends have a "Non-preparedness Minded Spouse"! Consider the natural hazards your area is prone to experience, such as: earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, winter storms, volcanoes, landslides, fires, wildfires, hurricanes, thunderstorms and lightning, hazardous materials, etc. Begin collecting information addressing safety needs in your own locale and gently take your spouse and family on a fact sharing mission to prepare in a very real, practical way to protect your loved ones if a natural disaster should hit your area. From there you may be able to move on to even greater plans before something permanent hits the fan. Good Luck! - Charlotte R.


I was intrigued by Robert C.'s recent letter which questions why we should prepare. I think he has a great question there, and one which deserves further discussion.

I put together a personal 'Top Five' I'd like to share: Top Five Reasons To Be Preparedness Oriented:

5) It's simply a natural extension of growing up -- understanding and fulfilling our responsibilities. As babies we have all of our basic needs provided for us by our parents. As we mature, we all begin to take some responsibility for our own needs by doing things like getting an education; learning how to cook; learning a trade; working for money which we trade for food, shelter, and other needs; etc.

Lots of people stop in their development when they get to a point where their current personal activities interface with their current societal and cultural infrastructure in a way that meets their current needs. Part of this is their current revenue supports desired 'quality of life', but it's really more than that. The problem is that current personal activities (including but not limited to career); the interface to society (including but not limited to economy, government, and society); and current needs (including but not limited to shelter, water and food) are all dynamic.

Some people experience a moment of insight during their development that says, "Hey, if xyz changes I'm going to be in trouble. I won't be able to <fill-in-the-blank> so I had better be ready, just in case!" there this person realizes, "Wow, what else have I been taking for granted in a way that might adversely affect my ability to achieve my responsibilities?"

Preparedness living in this context is the realization that as adults, and in particular as heads of households, we must be able to provide for all the basic needs of our families without relying on preconceived assumptions about what others will provide for us.

4) Because we're not mentally ill. We have uncontrolled wildfires at times that threaten life and property, right? Sometimes we have earthquakes, right? sometimes have tornados, right? Hurricanes? Flooding? Hard Winters? Crop failures? Food contamination? Do heavy winds sometimes knock-down power lines? Do heavy snows sometimes preclude me from driving into town to get a pizza? Do we ever have banking failures? Do we sometimes experience economic recession? Do some entire industries (like manufacturing) get 'outsourced' threatening job security? If I'm not mistaken we've had all these in the USA in just the last 10 years, right?

On a less frequent basis do cultures experience wars? Pandemics? Great Depressions? Government collapse/restructuring? Genocide? Haven't all these happened on a world scale in the last 50 years?

To deny these things happen would be diagnostic of a mental illness. They do happen. Preparedness orientation is simply the acknowledgement of this truth, coupled with the will to act.

3) For the same reasons we wear seat belts when we drive our cars; have fire extinguishers in our kitchens; carry health insurance for ourselves and our families; and buy life insurance. It's not that we want to be involved in motor vehicle accidents; experience kitchen fires; have medical problems; nor die young leaving a wife and children behind -- we just recognize that such things are possible and seek to mitigate these dangers.

2) In the end, we will either be right -- there was a need for preparedness and we were ready to face all challenges; or we will be pleasantly surprised -- there was no need to prepare and live through a time of hardship. Either way, we win!

1) In obedience to God who tells us that all things will not continue as they have in the past; and that we should: Provide for our families. Arm ourselves. Not be destroyed for lack of wisdom. Keep oil in our lamps. - Keith C.


Please refer the reader back to the link you and others have posted on the Internet over the past year to "Topsoil and Civilization" : "Civilized man has marched across the face of the earth and left a desert in his footprints." What more documented evidence should he need after that? Here's my Cliff-notes version of the problem
and solution
(with some more useful links). - Thanks, - Chris


Hi Jim:
It seems an odd request from the poster today that he wants someone to convince him to prepare to take care of himself. He probably has never faced being unemployed? Never faced any family member of friend being unemployed? Too bad as that would have given him the understanding of how much on his own he can be. He likes to have his trash collected. In my community I have to pay the trash collection service to take away my trash. It doesn't come for free. I have to pay for my water to come into my home. That water station uses energy and with energy costs rising -- that water is going to cost more money.

Why prepare? Well, read what even the US government and the global governments are urging citizens to do to to help themselves. They are telling folks to prepare to help themselves. Hint: the government is not going to be their immediately on a white horse to bring you your groceries, haul away your trash, etc.

Any historic events to support a need for being prepared? Good grief! Has this person being residing in a cave all of his life? Where to begin -- 1) The dot.com bust; 2) the current housing bust; 3) the financial bust globally in sub-primes; 4) the 1980s; 5) 1970s (stagflation); 6) WWII -- goods were rationed and quality went down (read historic newspapers -- you have to help educate yourself); 7) the Great Depression -- shortages of food supplies (people hungry in some areas while farmers burned potatoes in other areas; droughts so bad that dust clouds rolled from Kansas all the way to Washington DC); 8) The Panic of 1907. Crawl out of under the rock and spend some time reading! - Cynthia W.


Dear Jim:
Reader Robert C. wrote: “There have been depressions before, and the fall of civilizations, but as far as I can tell, nothing on the scale of what you seem to talk about. Do you have any good historical examples I could look into?”

Well, we have been very fortunate in the US to have only experienced one “Great” Depression, and have kept all our recent wars overseas, but you don’t have to look too far abroad for examples of depressions and war that put the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse back in the saddle.

Just a few highlights:
Try living in Germany 1914 to 1945: war, famine, hyperinflation, depression, Nazi takeover, war, concentration camps, urban saturation bombing… The Russians’ 20th century looks even worse… war, Communist coup, farm “collectivization”, the forced starvation of millions, Stalin’s purges/mass murder, war, German invasion… China 1920 to 1970: civil war, Japanese invasion, Communist takeover, starvation, Mao’s purges/mass murder…

Legendary Wall Street investor Barton Biggs has a new book Wealth, War and Wisdom that reviews the horrific 20th Century and recommends that wealthy folks put perhaps 5% of their net worth in a self-sufficient farm, and stock up.

To quote “The trigger event could be a massive terrorist or nuclear attack that disrupts the economy for months and maybe for years. A power failure that lasted not a day but a month would paralyze a modern economy. Or it could be a plague, a massive SARS-like epidemic, in with hundreds of millions die, or an electronic explosion that cascades into a complete breakdown of the world’s financial accounting systems. Whatever happens, it most likely will be an event that is both unexpected and we will not be prepared for. The world is very good at locking the barn door after the horses have been stolen.”
Biggs left out EMP terrorist strikes! (By the way, read the e-novel "Lights Out" for a very entertaining and educational portrayal an EMP strike on the US.)

Dr Gary North’s "favorite" TEOTWAWKI disaster would be an NBC attack on banking centers designed to bring down our inherently unstable fractional reserve banking system, which would then shutdown the payment system for the division of labor that keeps us all fed. (Of course the way things are going, the terrorists might just decide that this is not really necessary, now that our political and financial elites have done such a good job of wrecking the economy...)

What are the odds? For any individual scenario, low. But as Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues persuasively, low probability statistical outlier events - “Black Swans” - are a lot more common than we think, as we are prone just extrapolate current trends ad infinitum.

Put it this way - if you were going to jump out of an airplane with just one parachute - what kind of reliability odds do you want? Is a 1% chance of a catastrophic failure
Okay? How many jumps would you make with a 1% chance of having a non-functioning parachute? None, for me! Metaphorically that’s what we do every day. or every year, our parachute being the complicated, interdependent, and fragile systems that keep us alive… until an unforeseen Black Swan event comes up.

My intuition tells me the ongoing increase in government taxation and regulation, the decline of moral standards, educational standards, and the increasing complexity and interdependency of the economy makes it even more likely that a disaster would cascade into chaos. Even “just” a rerun of the Great Depression would be likely to turn into something much more horrible with our current society…. Noted investor Doug Casey forecasts what he calls a “Greater Depression”.

It’s seems very prudent to me to have some catastrophe insurance. Don’t spend your whole life, or all your money on it. But do get some, because our Black Swan event is out there - we just don’t know when it’s going to show up. Regards, - OSOM

I'm still predicting a dramatically weaker US Dollar in foreign exchange in the months to come. As I've mentioned before, you should watch the US Dollar Index (USDX) closely. If and when it dips decisively below 72, watch out. From there, we might see a precipitous drop! (Back in August of 2007, I first mentioned the "magic number " 72. It is a sort of "line in the sand" number for currency traders in their assessment of the US Dollar. Anywhere south of 72 lies extreme peril--and below 55 perhaps the traders will start to question the very existence of the US Dollar as a viable currency unit. It is notable that the USDX has been bouncing off the new-found "floor" of 72 for the past three months. Continue to watch the USDX closely. It is an important barometer that may provide a brief warning of of a Dollar Collapse.

   o o o

Speaking of weaker currencies, Paul from Kentucky sent us this: Zimbabwe to remove [more] 'zeros' from currency.

   o o o

Jack B. mentioned this: Inflation dogs Russia's booming economy. When inflation worsens, move even more of your assets to tangibles.

   o o o

Thanks to Cheryl N. for this article link: Costco to Raise Prices as much as 15%. If you haven't done so already, it is time to implement an Alpha Strategy, in anticipation of mass inflation. The spiraling price of fuel, just by itself, is making significant inflation inevitable. If you need to exactly what to stock up on, see my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. It is geared toward stocking up at "Big Box" stores such as Costco and Sam's Club.

   o o o

It has been announced that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (TSCC) will return to the small screen on September 8th. IMHO, it is the best quasi-survivalist show on television. (But I'm probably not the best judge of that, since I don't get the chance to see much television. We don't own a television set. The few shows that we do watch are either on DVD or via Internet streaming.) OBTW, this reminds me: One of the stars of TSCC is Summer Glau, who played River Tam in the outstanding television series Firefly, and in the subsequent Hollywood movie Serenity. A new Collector's Edition of Serenity was recently released. Great stuff!

"One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain." - Thomas Sowell

Monday, July 28, 2008

I was quoted in a recent Alternet piece by Scott Thill: Massive Economic Disaster Seems Possible -- Will Survivalists Get the Last Laugh? Some of my comments were taken slightly out of context and in one instance mischaracterized, so it might be better for you to read my entire set of responses to Mr. Thill's interview questions. I should mention that if they were alive today, my great-great grandparents--that came out west via covered wagon in the 1850s--might be miffed to hear that they were branded as part of a "genocidal" movement. They didn't come out west looking to slaughter Indians. In fact, some of their sons married into a tribe. I have some cousins that are bona fide ("tribally enrolled") Native Americans.

I grew up in the1960s glued to the television, like most other suburban kids. One of the shows that I enjoyed watching was Wild Kingdom, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha. The wise old narrator, Marlin Perkins, went way out in the hinterboonies of South America and Africa to film his documentaries. But I noticed that he was almost always a detached observer. It was usually his young, muscular assistants that were put in harm's way, but not Perkins himself, who was safe and sound. He often made comments such as: "'I'll watch from the safety of the Land Rover, while Jim wrestles the massive Anaconda. Ouch! Be careful, Jim!"

The Wild Kingdom documentary television show makes a nice analogy for the current banking crisis. (And, coincidentally, it was Mutual of Omaha that last week came to the rescue of two failed banks.) The recent news of numerous bank failures makes it clear that it is now coming down to survival of the fittest, in the banking world. Welcome to another episode of Wild Kingdom, folks. There are a lot of banks that are unfit creatures. The pools of credit have dried up, and these creatures are dying of thirst, and starting to stagger. The vultures are beginning to circle. Its a dangerous world out there, and if you are wise, you won't be in the thick of it, exposed to risk. Instead, you will find yourself a safe vantage point and simply observe, nod, sip a Mint Julep, and make sagacious comments like: "I told you so", and "Those poor, deluded souls."

So where will you find your safe vantage point, from which you can observe the dramatic unraveling of the banking system? What will be your "Land Rover" equivalent? I've said it many times before: tangibles. You should shelter the majority of your assets in either productive rural farming or ranching land (that can double as a retreat), or in tangible, easily barterable assets that will hold their value. For the latter, I prefer practical tools, rather than baubles. You can't eat Krugerrands! In the real world, Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids are much more practical.

In the next few weeks, as the nascent wave of bank failures accelerates, you will likely be hearing a lot about the"Texas Ratio" of any given bank. This is the ratio of a bank's assets and reserves to its non-performing loans, based upon its financial data. Conduct due diligence on your bank, and cover your assets! It is best to have accounts with several institutions rather than just one.

Start your research by reading this article: Calculating Your Bank's Health. Also, don't miss this piece by Mish Shedlock. Based on Mish's warning, it is clear that you should not depend on Bankrate.com, since their evaluations are glaringly inaccurate. Instead, I recommended Weiss Ratings (now part of TheStreet.com) as a more objective judge of the the safety of banks and insurers. I have recommended Marty Weiss to my consulting clients for many years. Marty and his staff do excellent research and, unlike many of their competitors, they are truly independent and objective.

Hi James:
Thanks for publishing my past essay and thanks again for what you do on your SurvivalBlog. Your web site and the consequent path I've traveled since I began reading here has put me in contact with many folks who are pursuing similar courses of action; to take personal action to be prepared, and when possible to discuss and work with others to secure a survivable future.

Please advise me on some of the best and up to date books you've found on food storage. Being new to this line of endeavor, I feel our family needs some better ideas on organizing food and storage methods.

My apologies if you've already covered this topic or already made such recommendations on your site. All Our Best, - Jon F. in New York

JWR Replies: Don't worry about redundancy, Joe. The importance of food storage cannot be overemphasized. Most of what you'll need to know about food storage is available in Alan T. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ, which available for free download. I may be biased, but I also recommend my own "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, available from Arbogast Publishing. It is geared toward stocking up with little more than what you can find at your local "Big Box" store or supermarket. It includes some extensive tables on the shelf lives of various foods.

One often overlooked aspect of food storage is how to cook and bake with the foods that you've stored. Three books on this subject that I strongly recommend buying are:

Cookin' With Home Storage


Making the Best of Basics. OBTW, if you use this link to Lehmans.com, we will get a credit from Lehman's when you place an order for any of their products.


The Encyclopedia of Country Living. (I've heard that the new 10th Edition of Carla Emery's book has just been released. Reader Jeff F., mentioned that his local Costco (in Woodinville,Washington) had the latest edition on sale for $17.99. (The list price $29.95). So check your local Costco.

My husband and I think you are smart and I was hoping for a few words about cigarette dependency (and perhaps alcohol as well).

We are fairly prepared and often strategize on making our plan better. I see cigarette smoking as a weak link. Just when I am going to need his help the most, he will be in the fetal position with withdrawals from the inability to smoke. Or perhaps I will have to deal with lung disease when there are no doctors available. A person can't successfully hide while smoking. There is extra tension and confusion from quitting cold turkey and that will come when a clear head is most needed.

This is an addiction issue rather than an intellectual one, but if you have advice (either how to get him to quit, or how I can plan around it), I would be very appreciative. Thanks, - Anna

JWR Replies: Thanks for raising this issue! The expense and health issues are tremendous. But even more overwhelming--as you pointed out--is the prospect of going Cold Turkey, starting on TEOTWAWKI+1. In the event of a catastrophe, our stress levels will already be critical, and adding one more major stress could be enough to push some folks to the point of a nervous breakdown.

There are umpteen methods for quitting smoking. I recommend that my readers try as many of them as necessary until you finally quit the habit. Since I've never smoked, I'm hardly the one to opine about the "best" method to quit. Perhaps this article is a good starting place. The only advice that I can offer comes to you from my perspective as a Christian: I believe that prayer is very helpful in breaking the bonds of any addiction. Just ashamedly admit your bad habits as the sins that they are, and repentantly ask God to free you from them. Prayer works!

Reader Gary J. asks: "So, you say you don't have any room to garden where you live? Maybe you actually have a lot! You might like to do a web search on "vertical gardens" and check out this site: GardensUp.com

   o o o

Several readers mentioned a recent blog entry by Charles Hugh Smith: Yes, There Will Be Armageddon: Government Goes Bankrupt

   o o o

I spotted this linked at Drudge: U.S. Foreclosures Double as House Prices Decline. I strongly recommend that anyone looking for a rural retreat property should studiously monitor the foreclosure listings, via a service such as Foreclosures.com. There will be some genuine bargains in the next few years.

   o o o

Reader Ken R. recommended a "must read" piece by James Turk, posted over at DollarCollapse.com: Last Plane Account. Ken notes: "This article clearly outlines that tangibles including a ranch or farm are the best investment of all when TEOTWAWKI arrives. Your thesis is correct!"

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." - Thomas Paine

Sunday, July 27, 2008

By now, most of you have read read that following the spectacular failure of IndyMac Bank, two (effectively, three) more US banks have failed. Clearly, the dominoes are staring to fall, just as I presaged.

The pace at which the wave of bank failures continues is difficult to predict. It depends on a lot of things including public sentiment, which is largely influenced by mass media spin. This could get very ugly, very quickly, so be ready. If you didn't take my advice months ago, I most strongly suggest that you set aside a reserve of two months worth of greenback cash to cover your regular expenses, post haste! Your banks doors could soon be locked, ATMs shut down, and your online banking services "temporarily suspended." OBTW, to keep track of subsequent bank failures, see this FDIC web page. And our friend Todd sent us a link to a web site that is already familiar to many SurvivalBlog readers: Implode-o-Meter. It lists all the US banks that have failed since 2006 and has a list of "ailing banks".

This afternoon, The National Australia Bank (biggest in Australia, by assets) let the cat out of the bag: They have decided to just fess up and mark down every US mortgage CDO, SIV, and so forth in their portfolio by 90%.

What that means is they are coming flat out and saying that all this re-bundled, repackaged, looks like a bond but it ain't, US real estate paper that was being carried "Off Balance Sheet" and gumming up the works in banks around the world is worthless and they are making it official. (The loans that they represent will not, in their estimation, ever be repaid, hence, loan paper = worthless.)

The world has been tip-toeing around this for the better part of a year. (Off Balance Sheet is bank speak I believe for "It's here, we paid for it/lent it out, but it's not really here so don't count it on our financial statement." You try that with your friendly IRS guy! Ha! Funny, though, how they magically appeared when the Fed said they would take it as collateral for loans...) That means that all these "Write-downs" we've been seeing (i.e; saying that the paper certificate you bought at $10 is now worth $8, $7, $6, $5...etc) the banks have been slowly dribbling out have been understated.

I don't know if Wall Street will simply ignore this and dish out spin, but I can bet you that the international banks holding large quantities of this stuff denominated in US dollars will not. I'd also bet that large entities overseas who don't hold this stuff will take it as writing on the wall for other entities that do...and they'll sell to save their own skins.

That could quite possibly touch off a selling-storm in US dollar denominated assets or firms they fell are at risk from either their own holdings or their vulnerability to downside economic risk come monday, at least in the Asia Pacific markets, if not before.

A wave of bank bankruptcies or "failed banks" could get thrown into the mix as well. This is because these paper "things" being declared more or less worthless effects the overall value of a bank--i.e. the ratio of it's "Assets" against the amount of debt it is carrying. (leverage) Banks are already leveraged up to their eyeballs, way beyond what Joe citizen would be allowed to do. (which they've been trying to delay the inevitable news that this stuff is not an asset any longer.)

I do not know precisely what effect this will have, but I believe it could spark a sell off in US denominated securities and other assets, which will flood the market with US Dollar stuff and the dollar will be in very deep trouble as far as a piece of paper that has value.

Real things of value, like metal and other tangible goods (as opposed to imaginary IOU paper, which is what most securities are) will take on a whole new life. In addition to what I have already done, I am going to endeavor to get my hands on more, soonest. (Not like it will go down in price anyway, no matter what happens.)

I hope that whoever is in charge at the top can keep this under control. I'd say we'll have a clearer picture by mid-next week where this may be going. - Jim D.

Greetings, Jim,
I looked at your research list under “Investing”. I have read much of it, and it doesn’t help me in my immediate concern. The sites on this list are good either for big-time or experienced investors, or they deal with specifics such as buying gold.

Where can I get overall, what-to-do-immediately-today, type of advice for the small guy. Say someone has one or two small businesses with maybe $20,000 in checking and another $2,000 in Savings (all in a bank). What to do? Where to keep the money? Is offshore a possibility? Recommended? Anyplace where I can still get a couple of percentage points of interest? Or put 100% in gold? (then how do I eat?).

I’m looking for the quick ‘n dirty answer such as your one-liner: "...get your beans, bullets and band-aids organized before investing...”

I’m getting real nervous, Jim. Thanks, - A.N.

JWR Replies:
Keeping in mind my proviso about getting your beans, bullets and band-aids organized before investing anything extra, you might consider
If you need interest income, put your available cash in a relatively safe, inflation-indexed investment vehicle such as US Treasury TIPS.


If you don't need to rely on interest income, your money is far safer in tangible silver bullion. (Such as pre-1965 mint date non-numismatic ("junk") circulated US silver dimes, quarters, or half dollars. Readers in other countries should buy the equivalent (such as pre-1953 Australian silver coins, in Australia), or perhaps generic one-ounce .999 fine silver "rounds".

The recent price correction in silver represents a great buying opportunity, before the bull market resumes its charge.

OSOM mentioned some advice that will be familiar to SurvivalBlog Blog readers, from the Von Mises Institute, in an audio clip: What To Do in the Depression

.   o o o

Thanks to KAF for sending this: Five Tick Diseases You Should Know About

   o o o

Cheryl N. flagged this: Investors Question Financial Sector Rebound. Here is a key quote: "...and several regional banks also posted losses Tuesday or said their profits fell." But the author neglected to name those banks. Cheryl also found this gem: Death Spiral Financing at Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, WaMu...

   o o o

Eric spotted a Bloomberg article that quoted the Federal Reserve that all 12 of its regional bank districts reported "elevated or increasing'' price pressures during June and July amid slower economic growth.

   o o o

Jack B. sent this link to an article at WorldNetDaily: Report: Surviving EMP to depend on preparation

"He created all men to be equal, and endowed them with 'certain unalienable rights,' among them 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' These words, in our Declaration of Independence, also convey the absolute conviction that without God and collective faith in His provision, human beings have no claim to this unprecedented freedom – that they might dream of it, long for it, try to accomplish some of it, but with no authority for it whatsoever." - Pat Boone

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In a recent e-mail, reader Andrew D. noted that I post precious little "good news" or lighthearted news in SurvivalBlog. I plead guilty! So I will henceforth do my best to counterbalance some of the vast volume of my Gloom und Doom. Here is a start: A good wheat harvest is expected this year in Ohio. And my sister suggested this bit of humorous news: Japanese chimp runs wild, steals tranquilizer gun. A Drudge reader notes: "He subsequently sold his freedom for a banana."

Hi James,
I'm new to reading SurvivalBlog and pages like it. A year ago, I wrote off survivalists, thinking there was no real chance of any kind of collapse. I've been changing my mind, though, and would like to know more about why you think such a thing is likely enough to prepare for. I haven't read "Patriots", but I've added it to my list.

I don't want to believe in a coming collapse. There have been depressions before, and the fall of civilizations, but as far as I can tell, nothing on the scale of what you seem to talk about. Do you have any good historical examples I could look into? Has this sort of thing happened before?

Also, I think that you believe in this because it suits you. I know you don't like the kind of power the government has over people, and it seems to me to be wishful thinking that things would happen in a way that makes that government unable to exercise that kind of power anymore. Or maybe it suits your because a collapse would be concrete proof that big government really is unsustainable. Believing in a coming collapse doesn't suit me, though. I kind of like having my garbage picked up, and police and fire service.

Even though I don't want to believe it, I'm starting to. Peak Oil seems real, and so much relies on oil. The economy and the currency do seem to be a house of cards after all. But I'm not quite convinced. I still think the odds are overwhelming that we'll come out okay.

So what should I do? Just read your book? Your blog talks a lot about what to do, but seems fuzzy on why it should be done. Once I really do think there's a chance of a collapse, I'm sure I can find a lot of information on your blog on how to prepare. I'm just not quite convinced yet. - Robert C.

JWR Replies: Societal collapse is captivating to write about and to discuss, but keep in mind that there is just a very small chance of it occurring in our lifetimes. An economic depression (a la the 1930s) is far more likely--and in fact at present seems almost imminent. This highlights what makes SurvivalBlog such a crucial resource and such a great gathering place for passionate yet polite discussion: By preparing for a "worst case", SurvivalBlog readers can take anything lesser in stride. It is no wonder that SurvivalBlog has become the Internet's most popular blog on survival and preparedness topics.

Economic collapses do indeed have historical precedents. Just listen to this audio clip by archaeologist Dr. Joseph A. Tainter on the history of economic collapses. At one time shepherds grazed their flocks in the ruined streets of Rome. That qualifies as genuine TEOTWAWKI, and the same could happen again.

I hope that you enjoy reading my novel. Just keep in mind that it portrays circumstances that are far worse than I actually anticipate (at least with any with likelihood). This was done in part to make the story more dramatic, and as an excuse to educate my readers about a variety of key technologies, techniques, and tactics.

I think Brian raises a good question and your suggestion about using manual typewriters and mimeograph machines is a great idea. Here's another one. While watching the the first season of Jericho DVDs, I noticed that in an episode titled "Black Jack" some of the characters went to a barter fair called Black Jack. They had to travel 200 miles to get to this town. The town's fairgrounds were used as a barter fair location and in the middle (I assume the middle) was a tall board with a platform and a big roll of newspaper on the top. A writer standing on the platform would receive news from various sources and pull down the paper and write the news on it so everyone could see. I was thinking if rolls of paper are not available one could use black boards screwed together. If "black board paint" is available they could paint some 4' x 8' sheets of plywood. A place like this could become a very important gathering place for the local community to exchange news, barter for goods and bring some level of normal life back to folks post TEOTWAWKI. Just My Humble Opinion. - Larry in Kansas


Dear Jim;
As a former offset press operator with an interest in Christian missions and the underground Church, I've spent considerable time in researching simple printing methods. There are multiple methods that are suitable for short-run print production, though many take a degree of skill and a bit of patience to produce.

An excellent reference book for those interested in the manual printing arts is "The Alternative Printing Handbook," (ISBN 014046509X), published by Penguin, but now out of print. Used copies are available on Amazon, though it's listed there as "The Art of Printing by Hand." It covers multiple printing methods for the do-it-yourself, small-scale printer. I'd like to touch on methods that require no power and are accessible to anyone with a little time, patience and a desire to get the word out.

You've already mentioned stencil duplicating, which I have used in the past. The Wikipedia article you linked to is an excellent introduction to the theory and history, but doesn't contain much on actual process. For someone dealing with printed matter containing great quantities of text, this is one of the easiest methods to use. One of the commercial machines would be handy to have, but not required, as a simple flatbed duplicator can be constructed out of basic materials found in most homes. One benefit of many commercial units is that they are hand-cranked, ideal for a grid-down situation. Some electric units also have a hand-crank option as well, giving the best of both worlds. If you go this route, you will need a supply of blank stencils and the thick stencil ink, as well as a typewriter.

Another method, commonly used today for signs and fabric, is screen printing. Again, simple screen printing equipment can be made at home from readily-available materials and the process is not complicated. However, due to the screens used, it is not suitable for small type, but it is a great choice for handbills and posters. See some samples of DIY screen printing at this Instructables page and at this ThreadBanger page. Of course, you don't have to build it all yourself if you don't want to. Many art supply and craft stores offer screen printing kits for beginners at very reasonable prices.
Relief printing uses involves carving a reverse image into a wooden block, linoleum, or other substance that can be carved, inking the block and pressing paper into the wet ink. Though a time-tested method that requires little in the way of specialized tools, it has many limitations. It is time-consuming to create the block and takes a steady hand. Small type is difficult, if not impossible. Plus, the difficulty of working in reverse is quite challenging.

A form of relief printing that is within reach of the average person and allows for legible text is rubber stamping. Several manufacturers produce "make your own text" rubber stamp kits that will allow you to produce small blocks of text. It's similar to the moveable type pioneered by Gutenberg centuries ago, using rubber instead of metal type. The biggest drawback is that producing anything more than a few sentences involves setting the type in a small block, stamping out however many copies you need, removing the type, setting the next block, stamping that, and then repeating... again. It's time-consuming and tedious work, but for the patient person, it's better than nothing, cheap to acquire and requires no skills to use. The drudgery involved is also likely to do much to make your writing concise and to the point! Interestingly, the large kits that I would recommend seem to only be offered in the UK. However, eBay is your friend to obtain them.

[Traditional ] letterpress is also an option, but as an older technology, the equipment is hard to come by, and much in demand by artisans who use it for printing and embossing.

Spirit duplication ("ditto" machines) use a dye sheet as a master, which can be typed or hand-written. The dye is released by a solvent and transferred to a sheet of paper. If you recall duplicated sheets in purple ink from your school days, those sheets were made with a spirit duplicator. Used machines can be found on eBay or from time to time on Craig's List. Look for a hand-cranked model. If you choose this method, you'll need to lay in a supply of the master dye sheets, as well as the liquid "spirits."

There are other methods that might be investigated by the curious:
History of Duplication Machines

The biggest drawback to most of these print methods is that the ones that are best for text tend to require consumables that will be difficult or impossible to replace in a long-term disruption. Since some are older, near-obsolete methods, local sources of supplies are unlikely and may be pricey via mail-order. Even if you have a functioning print method, the availability of paper may also become an issue. Despite these challenges, familiarity with printing methods opens the door to improvisation at a later date: knowledge is power! As inspiration, consider Khristianin, an underground publisher in Soviet-era Russia, which created their first hand-operated offset printing press with gears from a bicycle and motorcycle and rollers taken from a washing machine. Ink was derived from burnt rubber boots and boiled moss, yet their first publication was of the entire New Testament. If such a work could be done in secret under one of the most oppressive modern regimes, there is no reason that it could not be repeated should the need arise.

Remember: "Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one."

For the Kingdom, - Jason R.

Our friends Cheryl N. and Commander Zero both sent a link to an interesting article encapsulating the hows and whys (or at least one interpretation of them) of the current economic situation: Uncomfortable Answers to Questions on the Economy.

   o o o

Cheryl N. also found this: US Food Groups Plan Hefty Price Raises

   o o o

Bloomberg reports: GM, Ford 'On the Verge of Bankruptcy,' Altman Says. (A hat tip to Dan B. for the link.)

   o o o

Frequent content contributor Kevin A. sent this: "Is America ready for (true) foreign ownership of major financial institutions? And do we have a choice?" asks Nouriel Roubini, economics professor at NYU's Stern School. 'They're All Toast'

   o o o

The Daily Reckoning reports that with its currency hyperinflation rate at a nearly incalculable level, the Zimbabwean government has introduced a Z$100 Billion bank note. As my friend "Kevin Lendel" would say: Twice nothing is still nothing.

"He who goes about unarmed in Paradise, had better be sure that is where he is." - James Thurber

Friday, July 25, 2008

I heard from a dozen readers that I was recently quoted by WorldNetDaily, in an article about food shortages. (The article misidentifies the location of the Rawles Ranch, but I don't mind keeping people guessing.) Food price jumps and food shortages have a tendency to get into a self-amplifying cycle, during times of crisis. Floods, droughts, and crop failures started the most recent cycle. But in my estimation it will be sharply higher prices for fertilizer and fuel that will exacerbate the problem. The bottom line: Be prepared for considerably higher prices and continued shortages in the next few years. And, as I've previously noted, we can also expect many more civil wars and regional wars in the Third World, where higher food prices have a tremendous impact on the poor. (Since food costs account for the majority of the average annual income there.)

Here is request that I got from a journalist: Details magazine (men.style.com) is looking to interview "men under 45 who live in urban or suburban areas who consider themselves survivalists and have begun stockpiling goods and preparing escape plans." Please contact the writer Kayleen Schaefer via e-mail or phone: (212) 630-3869. The deadline is Friday, August 1. All of the usual OPSEC considerations apply.

I just finished your novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". Thanks so much for writing it! I just wish I had found it sooner. I've always had a survival bent; I guess it started when I was in the Navy going through aircrew training. However in retrospect I realize now that it was kind of how I was brought up. I feel that I'm pretty squared away on the firearms battery , stored ammunition and communications gear. I hunt, fish and camp with my family often and am an avid shooter. Other that these things my wife and I definitely feel that we have to make some huge lifestyle changes for our family to prepare. We ’ ve been feeling this for the last few years but have just put it off and I don't really think we knew how to direct our efforts. We've wanted to move west for some time but just haven ’ t made the leap. With the collapse appearing to be coming sooner as opposed to later I have two questions for you.

1) Now that the bank runs have started, how long do you think we have before things really start to fall apart? I realize this is just speculation but you r analysis has been pretty spot on so far.

2) If you were in my situation where it appears time is of essence where would you concentrate your efforts on preparation? I was just wondering if you had any prioritized kind of list, etc. for people coming to this realization in what appears to be the final hour?

Thanks so much for your book and all that you are doing with SurvivalBlog.com. You truly are a Patriot.
God Bless, - Chad in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

JWR Replies: Thanks for your e-mail. I don't have a crystal ball, but things seem to be coming to a head, economically. Some of he most recent evidence of this: Cryptogon reports 8,500 U.S. Banks; Many Will Die Soon. And meanwhile, we read: Wachovia loses $8.9B, cuts 6,350 workers, dividend, and that WaMu isn't trusting cashier's checks from IndyMac Bank.

The credit collapse is only going to get worse, and l believe that here in the US it will eventually destroy the residential and commercial real estate markets, the stock market, the "Big Three" automobile manufacturers, the municipal bond market, and many banks. I just can't with certainty say when.

As for "final hour" priority purchases, see my background article: The Desperation Shopping List: The Seven Critical Items that are Guaranteed to be Stripped From Store Shelves When You Need Them Most in a Crisis. This article is available free of charge from Arbogast Publishing, the folks that publish my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

At this point in your provisioning process, you should be concentrating on food and fuel storage. (Both fuel for vehicles and fuel for heating your home and retreat--firewood, home heating oil, propane, or low-smoke anthracite coal.) Be ready to hunker down and survive the loss of your job. Minimize your debts.

Odds are there won't be a full-scale collapse. More likely, we will probably witness a deep, long depression. Think through the implications of being unemployed or under-employed for a full decade. Consider starting a home-based business with a "depression proof" product or service. As I've stated in the blog before, even in times of double digit inflation, you will still need some cash income to pay your bills.

Thanks for the response! I didn't expect my letter to hit the web page. I agree about the belt and my wonderful wife just got me a new black dress belt from Mitch Rosen gun leather (a bit over a hundred bucks but well worth it) as my original one was looking worn and (her word) 'ugly'.

I always carried a Surefire [flashlight]- I've still got my original [Surefire Model] 6P from when they first came out. I'm [working] in an office (where guns are banned) now but always have the 6P on my belt next to my cell phone. In a pinch it can work as an improvised impact tool [employed much like a Kubotan,] too. (Been there, done that.)

A reload is vital to any basic carry set-up too and I've got a magazine carrier with a space for my [Surefire] 6P in it as well as a Mitch Rosen carrier just for the 6P when I'm not carrying my sidearm. If I had to pick two mags and no flashlight or the flashlight and a single reload - I'm going with the flashlight every time.

I'm lucky in that I'm friends with the local range owner so on a slow day he will shut the lights off on one side of the double range and let some of us do low light (flashlight) shooting. That's something that also is never emphasized enough - most shooting incidents are at night in lousy lighting. If you are planning and thinking ahead you've turned out all the lights in your home/business and (without a gun) done search drills - use the flashlight, learn the 'dark' spots around your place and where you know ahead you will need extra light.

More than once in the middle of the day, someplace inside is still dark and a flashlight can be a life saver. Enough for now, thanks again and keep up the excellent work.

JWR Replies: It is notable that in many localities and situations where it is illegal to carry a firearm, a knife, or an impact weapon, it is perfectly legal to carry a walking stick, an umbrella, a flashlight, a stiff pocket comb, or a roll of coins. (Some of these can even be carried in the most restrictive environments, like commercial air travel.) All of these mundane objects can be easily explained to authorities. (OBTW, for some details on using an innocuous-looking pocket comb for self defense, see the Split Second Survival DVD, produced by Larry Wick.)

In essence, unarmed individuals are at the mercy or their environments, whereas armed individuals at least have the option of defending themselves. I hereby challenge all SurvivalBlog readers to make a solemn commitment to themselves: Never travel anywhere unarmed. Empty-hand martial arts are fine for someone that has years of training. But for the rest of us, the quickest and surest way to stop an assailant is with an effective weapon kept close at hand, following the requisite training. But even just taking rudimentary training and getting into the habit of constantly being armed will put you miles ahead of 90% of the sheeple.

To be fully and properly prepared, I strongly recommend that you get the very best firearms and street survival training available, from one of the major training organizations like Front Sight, Gunsite, or Thunder Ranch. Another key factor is situational awareness. Learn the Color Codes of Mental Awareness and consistently apply them to your everyday life.


If you don't want to mess with mixing gas and oil in a 2-stroke bike engine, try the 4-stroke engine at BikeEngines.com. I've got one and it runs like a champ, at a couple of hundred miles per gallon! Regards, - Hawaiian K.

The 2-cycle bicycle motorizing company mentioned also has a 4-cycle gasoline version. With those, of course no fuel mixing oil required. - SF in Hawaii


Dear Jim and Family,
Dunno if you're aware, but methanol required for a mimeograph is a normal fraction from the alcohol still process, usually the upper third of the distillate. As its poisonous to drink, you boil it off first to remove it from your ethanol and keep it separately. Its a good fuel and has other uses, just don't get it on your skin as its very toxic.

On a side note, methanol is a critical part of the biodiesel chemical process, so you really do want to save it for that purpose, for trading if nothing else. It's probably on the same order of value as .22LR ammo or cured meat for general trade value as a good. I'd even say its as good as currency if you've got a good container and a silicone packet to absorb water and keep it from spoiling the purity of the chemical.

So having an alcohol still for fuel and chemical processing is a really good idea for any self sufficient inclinations. Hopefully, once this terrible war in Iraq comes to a close and the majority of US troops come home Hayes Diesel Technology (HDT) will release their civilian version of their super-small and super-high-mileage diesel engine will become available. I'm also hoping their bikes will sell for around $8,000 instead of the current $19,000 for their tactical diesel scout bike based on the Kawasaki KLR. If they do, I'll be getting one. Sustainable transportation you don't have to pedal is a wonderful thing to have. Especially if it will run on Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO). Imagine buying a gallon of soybean oil at the local supermarket and running the next two weeks on that. Downside? Your bike smells like stir fry. Upside? No funding terrorists just to get to work. That's the pretty big upside. I hope HDT is sensible about their engine setup and goes with SVO compatibility. Best, - InyoKern

Hey Jim:
I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber with an idea: How about a place for everyone to show their Bug out Vehicle? Might be fun and give folks some ideas as well as show the innovation of SurvivalBlog readers. "Don't tell them what to do, tell them what you want and they will surprise you with their ingenuity" - American Army General.

I rode my KLR 650 (with home made saddlebags) from Tucson to Yosemite, then San Francisco and back. That was 2,200 miles in six days. I calculated that the bike got 58 miles per gallon. - James C.

JWR Replies: Since a fair portion of my readership with mobile devices insists on a "text only" blog, I don't post photos. But I'd gladly accept descriptions of your "G.O.O.D." vehicles. Just e-mail them to me. (And feel free to include links to photos that are posted off-site.) Consider this survey now open for entries!

Frequent content contributor Cheryl N. flagged an article at WorldNetDaily: 1930s Bank Runs Are Back. Speaking of banks, a recent Market Oracle article notes that Wachovia will soon close its wholesale lending unit and henceforth will lend only to bank customers, not brokers. Meanwhile, Bank of America's purchase of Countrywide that supposed to close this quarter may not happen after all. B of A says it will not guarantee the Countrywide debt.

   o o o

The latest from Ultra Nanny State Britannia: Now there are 1,000 laws that will let the state into your home

   o o o

Matt in Tennessee recommends checking out this energy plan from a Big Oil Baron, T. Boone Pickens. As has been the case, irony aside, the oil people have been the first in the renewables market. Anyway, this plan is most revealing and is on a huge or macro scale what you propose and promote on an individual or micro scale. Good stuff!

   o o o

In his most recent e-letter, veteran economist Howard J. Ruff recommends divesting from precious metals exchange traded fund (ETF) investments and substituting physical metals that are held in your personal possession. He cites some shady business practices by Barclays, the owners of the Silver ETF (SLV), in particular, as cause for concern. It seems that there is not nearly 1-for-1 equivalent storage of physical ounces of silver versus electronic shares. I strongly concur that there is no substitute for having tangible precious metals stored securely at home, preferably in a hidden wall or door cache. (Such as a Rawles "Through the Looking Glass" cache.) OBTW, in anticipation of the unlikely event of a home invasion burglary, you should store a smaller quantity of silver coins in a separate cache, so that you can "toss a bone" if the bad guys hold a gun to your head.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Many thanks for your continuing prayers for The Memsahib. We are praying for a quick and full recovery. The bills for her hospitalization are piling up rapidly, so we'd appreciate your prayers that those needs will be met, as well.

In my reading about water purification one of the things that I read about was ultraviolet (UV) light purification. I discarded it because I live at a fairly high northern latitude (lower intensity light) and it is fairly cold here most of the year. I just noticed something though. Sitting next to me I have a "halogen gooseneck desk lamp" with a 20 Watt halogen JCD bulb in it. While looking at the glass piece that sits between the light and outside world I noticed that it says "UV Filter 001". This got me to wondering how much UV light this bulb is throwing off, and if it could be used for water purification (assuming power is present and water is down or contaminated). I wasn't able to find much info on UV output of halogen bulbs, other then G.E. claims that their bulbs put out very low amounts of UV.

Near the bottom of this page I did find a nice set of tables talking about how much UV is needed to kill various micro-organisms. - Ben

JWR Replies: To sterilize water, it is best to use a light bulb that is optimized for transmitting the UV portion of the light spectrum. As koi fish fanciers discovered a decade ago, UV light does a great job of sterilizing water.It actually does not kill all the bacteria, but it renders them harmless by making them incapable of reproduction. (Typically, folks with koi ponds use a water pump to circulate water in conjunction with a UV light that shines on a clear plexiglas section of water pipe, gradually treating all of the water in the pond.

On a smaller scale, the same technology is used with the SteriPen device made for backpackers. (SteriPens are available from SafeCastle, Ready Made Resources, and many other Internet vendors.)

As always I love your site (that's why I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber), I am so sorry to hear of your wife's accident and hope and pray she returns to her normal routine quickly.

Taking your inspiration (and some info from others) my wife and I have expanded upon a concept called "365 meals". My original idea (after reading your info on "Dispensing charity from a safe distance" was to use our impulse sealer to make "quick meals" of some rice, bullion cubes and TVP to distribute in the event that we needed to dispense charitable food stuffs to others. It was also a great way to allow us to have home-made "MREs" that could be easily made by our children.

My good wife then said "Yuck, we can do better than that" and found/made several recipes that only require adding water and heat. We used our sizable stores of dehydrated vegetables, legumes and seasonings and TVP. We were originally going to make 365 (one for every day), but after testing, (and discovering that a little went a long way) we calculated that we only needed half as many. These meals are delicious, satisfying, and nutritionally balanced.

The great solace of this endeavor is that we now know for a certainty that we have at least one meal per day for our family, for an entire year. This is not our only supply of food, but an important part of it. We have made a four part, video presentation of a lecture we gave on the subject, at a recent Emergency Preparation seminar that I teach once a month. These can be seen on YouTube.
Thank you for all that you do. - Kory

Mr. Rawles,
As you may remember from our profile we recently moved to new residence in luxury community in South Texas because of a job loss in the Pacific Northwest. Last week my wife and I learned of the tropical wave that ultimately created this storm, immediately we stocked up on gas and purchased some cheap extra batteries. (The pantry is still full). We also threw some clothes together and pre-positioned those in the car. We withdrew some extra money and got ready to board up (Our G.O.O.D. bags were already prepped and a once over was sufficient to add to and update them).
I mention this because all the Government officials, locals and people who have lived here for quite a while were doing nothing until the 21st. (Per the evening news reporting of this.)

This storm developed rather quickly enough to catch all the local government off guard and they quickly put together some meetings, et cetera.

Afterwards they were basically notifying the public that the storm had developed too quickly for a mandatory evacuation of the scope required and you're on your own (YOYO--something I’m sure all your readers already know). In their defense it looks like at the time of this writing that the storm will hit much lower than this area maybe even Mexico. That said, I had a flashback to video from Hurricane Katrina and those school busses sitting there empty. We also watched the evening newscast at 10 PM Monday night that was live at the big grocery chain and there were people interviewed that 'thought it was a good idea to stop and get some extra food and batteries'. On another newscast one vacationer to the coastal area of South Texas from San Antonio (also considered South Texas) exclaimed 'this is exciting”.

There are no absolutes when it comes to the path prediction of hurricanes and this couple of examples are pretty much the norm around my community. This has convinced me that we were wrong in coming here and I am resolute that we will get back to the Pacific Northwest at all costs to get back to a culture of preparedness and self sufficiency. IMHO, if and when TEOTWAWKI hits only the prepared few here in South Texas will survive and those that do will most probably be swallowed up by those that stopped by the grocer for some extra batteries or the Golden Horde from Mexico (the Alamo comes to mind) and I pray for the sake of my neighbors and friends that I’m wrong.

Keep up the work. And again our prayers are with Memsahib, - Mr. Foxtrot

P.S. I've decided that I sure get my money's worth on your site which is up until today I hadn't supported (except for purchasing your books and making purchases from your advertisers), but I'm sending snail mail cash for the 10 Cent Challenge

Courtesy of Eric B.: World warned over killer flu pandemic

   o o o

Reader Bill N. suggests checking out what Schmidt & Bender (a European rifle scope maker) has to say about their pricing and the declining value of the Once-Almighty US Dollar

   o o o

Eric B. and Brian H. both sent us this: Saving rainwater: Does it belong to the state?

   o o o

Regional Banks in Fear of Cash Calls. (A tip of the hat to Cheryl N. for sending that link.) JWR's comment: The credit crisis is far from over, and we are just starting to see the effects at consumer banks. It is noteworthy that the failure of IndyMac will deplete a one-tenth of the $53 billion reserve of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC has a list of some 90 "troubled" lenders, and IndyMac wasn't even on the list at the time that it failed. Buckle up for an bumpy ride in the very near future, folks!

   o o o

Hawaiian K. sent us this one: Gold to $1,200?

"We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it." - William Faulkner

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I haven't seen much information about this, so I ask you: How do you plan on "Getting the word out"? Once the ink/toner runs out of your printer, what will a survivalist group do? We've nearly lost the ability, and knowledge, to operate hand-presses. Moveable type suppliers are long gone, and there's precious little available on eBay. Certainly not an entire printing press. You might find some blocks of moveable type, but not enough to actually make an entire flyer, book, or other piece of information, such as a book or even a Bible.

And we can't rely on the Internet running after a crash, right?

So I pose the question to you, Sir. Have you considered this aspect of post-crash survivalism? The printing press, and the ability to print, is a key technology that I don't think we can afford to lose. - Brian in Austin, Texas

JWR Replies: As I described in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", I advocate acquiring a couple of used manual typewriters and a used hand-crank mimeograph (stencil duplicator) machine. This is tried-and-true 1880s technology. Because they are considered largely obsolete, mimeographs are incredibly cheap (in fact usually free, if you place a "wanted" ad at Craig's List). Surprisingly, the supplies to operate them are still available.


I just wanted to forward some info re: motorcycle purchase and operation. I’ve been riding since ’85, have owned four motorcycles (two Suzuki and two Harley Davidson), and keep up with current trends/technology of motorcycles. Here are some fast facts to consider prior to buying:
1. The highest statistic for motorcycle fatalities is individuals operating borrowed motorcycles. Do yourself a favor and be familiar with the bike you ride. Completing a motorcycle training course could be a lifesaver.
2. Both my large displacement Harley Davidson get approximately. 45 MPG each. One operates on premium [gasoline]. The other is carbureted and uses 87 [octane regular] grade. If fuel savings is the most significant factor, you can do a lot better than a large Harley. However, 45 MPG isn’t bad. Furthermore, consider the types of errands you can (or are willing) to do with a bike. For example, I can get four bags of groceries inside of my Harley hard bags.
3. Having a larger / heavier bike will not get blown over a lane when riding alongside large trucks. The key here is to pick your route carefully if you are traveling on a route that has lots of traffic and you are on a smaller bike. If the author of that letter knows he has to get onto a busy highway for ‘x’ miles, ask yourself how soon you will get tired of operating a light 400 pound bike on such roads.
4. My personal opinion is to buy a used motorcycle. You will save a bundle. Just look in the ads and you will find dozens of bikes of all sorts with only 5k on the odometer. Why? I guess people like the idea of riding but the bike just sits in the garage.
5. If your budget is tight, factor in your safety gear (helmet, cool/cold weather jacket, gloves warm and cold weather, chaps, goggles/glasses, tank bag), it adds up. The difference between getting up and driving home versus going the hospital some times comes down to your gear.
6. A personal observation of motorcyclists’ is that the more you ride, the more you wish you had some sort of windshield or fairing in front of your face.
7. If you are considering an Enduro (on/off road legal) consider a KTM, especially the Adventure model, if you can afford it.
8. There is an old saying amongst bikers, ‘there are those who have been down and those who are going down’. Obviously, the point is that biking is dangerous and you can’t be too careful. See #5 again if it went in one ear, and out the other.- Flhspete


Posted on your web site, 22 July 2008, a reader was asking about motorcycles. I have recently purchased a 250cc Enduro (street legal dirt bike) from a company in Oklahoma City. This is an air-cooled, wet clutch, 4 stroke, 5-speed motorbike. The down side is that the bike is made in China. They call it the Hi-Bird. They are very similar to the old Honda XL series. Full purchase price was just $1,200 and shipping was free. The bike required some set up at delivery such as installing the bolt that holds the rear monoshock to the lower A-arm, putting on the front wheel and the handle bars and some the trim and the fenders. Pretty simple work if you can read around the errors in the Instruction/Assembly manual.

The bike is electric start but still has a kick starter. It is not a speed demon, probably wouldn't survive too many back flips but all-in-all it is of good quality. I don't ride it too fast, hardly ever over 55 MPH but I do ride trails in the hills and it is light and stable with good low RPM torque. My worst complaint is that there is a lot of vibration (buzz) at speeds of 60 and over. So far the economy has out paced my expectations averaging between 73 and 81 MPG depending on speed and usage. You know I thought long and hard before buying a bike made in China, but how many of us absolutely hated SKS rifles before we tried one for fun? If you should choose to share this with your readers they can get more info at chinariders.net. Thank you for your time and best wishes to you and yours. - Walt in Idaho

Hi Jim,
About motorcycles. We believe the Honda Trail 90 is a practical choice and will acquire our sixth one in a trade for a spare utility trailer. There are frequent new listings on Craig's List in the $800 to $1,500 range in our area. The Trail 90 is rugged, reliable, easily repaired and gets about 80 to 100 MPG. Cruising speed is about 45 MPH. These are often low mileage, but one should expect that some work would be required. Usually little goes wrong. A battery and a carburetor rebuild kit are often all that's needed to bring them back to life. Other spare parts are inexpensive and plentiful. Replacing the decades old tires is a good idea. Choose one that runs and has the hi/low sub-transmission. These bikes comfortably pull a lightweight trailer and several hundred pounds and do well in the woods. Much like the hi/low range of a 4WD, the low range feature is a big advantage. The hefty and large rack on the back allows a large box to be mounted. A [hard plastic] milk crate is ideal. The spare one gallon can latched to side gives one an extra 90 miles of range.

The low cost of ownership means one can justify storing it [just] for fair weather use. It's overall design seem ideal for the survivalist. There is a reason the Trail 90 remains popular today. These are tough and useful bikes.

BTW, recently ordered your novel "Patriots" and can't wait for it's arrival. - E.L.

JWR Replies: There is certainly no "one size fits all" solution when buying a motorcycle. An Enduro type design (trail/street capable) is a compromise, but they are probably best for those of us that can only afford to buy just one motorcycle. There are some that argue that bigger is safer (on pavement), while others assert that dropping a big bike is sure trip to the hospital. But regardless of what you decide on, be sure to get plenty of training, and of course wear a helmet and all the safety gear. (If anything, err on the side of caution!)

On a related note, SF in Hawaii, mentioned two-cycle motorizing kits for bicycles. They get phenomenal mileage, but you will need to carry mixed gasoline. (Just like with a typical chainsaw engine.) And for nearly silent operation, reader Paul D. mentioned a maker of electric motorcycles. These use the new lithium ion battery technology. They have a range of 40 miles with a 2 KWH battery pack.


This is a note to follow up on the envelope that I mailed you last week, for my first year of 10 Cent Challenge subscription. (I'm the guy that sent you a stack of 'bout $70 worth of Liberty [Bell "Forever" US] postage stamps and the newspaper clipping on the IndyMac bank run. You were right in your prediction about bank runs!) I just want to let you know how much your blog means to me. I read it almost every day. It is amazing how much practical knowledge you have passed on to us readers. I am very grateful! You've raised my awareness by a mile, and what I've read [in SurvivalBlog] has saved me from making some mega-costly mistakes in my preparedness. Those two things by themselves are more than enough justification for pitching in my ten cents a day.

Your economic predictions have been spot on--almost eerie! I like your blog so much that I put a graphical link to SurvivalBlog down at the bottom of my e-mail template, so I can be an Ambassador for SurvivalBlog. I think that your blog is "just right"as a mix of education, motivation, practical and old-time skills, tactical goodies, news summaries, and inspiration. Don't change a thing sir, just keep it coming!

Please let the Memsahib know--she is in our prayers for a quick and complete recovery. I know that hospital bills can be insane these days. I hope my subscription helps a bit.- T.G., in northwestern Nevada

Cheryl N. sent us a link to an article over at Stan Deyo's web site that indicates that the freeze-dried storage food shortage is now even more severe than was previously reported: Mountain House Out of #10 Cans Through 2009. Most Mountain House dealers have sold completely out, and a are refusing to take back orders for # 10 cans. Meanwhile, Walton Feed has temporarily suspended taking new Internet orders, presumably so they can catch up on their order backlog. OBTW, the folks at Ready Made Resources tell me that they still have a few #10 cans of Mountain House freeze dried foods "in captivity." Call them immediately, if you want any of the following: Instant White Rice, Beef Teriyaki with Rice, Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice, Oriental Style Chicken, Mac and Cheese, Sliced Strawberries, Eggs with Real Bacon, Sweet Peas, Green Beans, or Super Sweet Corn. Their quantities still on hand are extremely limited, so don't hesitate!

   o o o

SF in Hawaii forwarded a good background piece on adenovirus: Emerging Killer Virus Starts Like a Cold, But Kills Many

   o o o

The every cheery Ambrose Evans-Pritchard offers this economic analysis: The global economy is at the point of maximum danger. (Thanks to Trent C. and "Wolf" for the link.) And speaking of bad news, don't miss this commentary by Jim Jubak: The huge threat to the US economy. (Thanks to Micah for finding the latter.)

   o o o

For the next couple of weeks, the folks at SurvivalRing are offering an expanded set of their reference CDs, which includes two extra CDs, and a DVD data disk of their entire file sets. Enter the password "patriot" to get the special discount price. The regular price for their two CD set was $40. For this special, they've knocked off $5 off the price, and they have almost quadrupled the data of PDF and HTML documents. I highly recommend getting a set for your reference library. And even if you decide not to get a set of their CDs, you should still check out their large library of free manuals and other resources.

"People kill people for Air Jordan tennis shoes. What do you think they will do for food if they are starving?" - SurvivalBlog Reader DK in Texas

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good Morning:
What's your opinion about motorcycles for personal transportation in the tough times ahead? Obviously much better on gas but I wonder if I would be more vulnerable to public disturbances? I live in a very rural area but have to commute into the city for my job. Would you spend the money to get one or would that money be better spent on eliminating debt? Thanks in advance for your thoughts. - Dave P. in South Carolina

JWR Replies: In a "slow slide" situation where the power grid stays up ("Grid Up") and law and order are maintained, a motorcycle could have great utility. The current high gasoline prices are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, so owning a fuel-efficient motorcycle makes sense for day-to-day commuting and for other purposes. My general preference is for air-cooled medium-displacement engine motorcycles with off road suspensions (a.k.a. "dirt bikes") that have the features to qualify them as "street legal." About 350CC is ideal, but sadly that engine class is no longer available in the US market. (There are, however, lots of used 350 dirt bikes on the market.) Heavier bikes with large displacement engines (500CC, or larger) have inferior fue economy and more importantly are very difficult to get back to an upright position following a mishap in which you "dump" your bike. (The weight limit might be as little as 300CC for someone of small stature with limited upper body strength.)

Perhaps the ultimate for preppers would be a Kawasaki KLR 650 diesel/JP8 bike, which is the 611CC civilian equivalent of the M1030 tactical motorcycle.now fielded by the US Army, USMC, and US Air Force, in small numbers. They are a bit heavy (see my preceding proviso), but they are quite sturdy.

If you plan to use a motorcycle as a last-ditch "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) vehicle, then I recommend that you conceal any spare fuel cans inside panniers, to reduce the likelihood of being targeted by looters. (Auxiliary cargo racks for dirt bikes are made by ProMoto and are available from CycleBuy.com. Both hard and soft dirt bike cargo panniers are available from Moto-Sport Panniers.)

A motorcycle has great mobility advantages to most other vehicles--especially in stalled traffic situations, or for off-road trail riding--but keep in mind that you will also be far more vulnerable to attack than when riding in an enclosed vehicle. (So they'd be a poor choice for a "Grid Down" situation when things get Schumeresque.) As with any other preparedness measure, there are trade-offs.

I don't recommend going into debt to buy a motorcycle unless you live in a dry climate and are certain that you will ride it almost daily, commuting. (In that case, the motorcycle will pay for itself in a few years, through gas cost savings.) If you aren't sure that you will end up riding regularly, it is best to borrow of lease a motorcycle for a few months, just to see if you will stick with it.

Rather than taking on any new installment debt, I believe that is far better to sell off some non-essentials to finance a dirt/street bike purchase. Do you really need a big screen plasma high definition television, or a Hummel collection, or a Jet-Ski? Re-think your priorities and get practical.

Just as with buying a car, it best buy a used motorcycle, to get the most for your money. Just be sure to have it inspected by a qualified motorcycle mechanic before you make a purchase.

Greetings! I'm a long time reader, first time writer. I have been interested in "off-grid" photovoltaic power systems as a way to generate power should the grid go down. I'm pretty well versed on electricity and concepts, but what name brands would you recommend for the main components (panels, charge controller, batteries and inverter)? Though I have heard of things like Trace, Xantrex, gel battery and pure sine wave, my practical knowledge is limited. I apologize if this has been covered before - point me in the right direction and I'll check the archives. Also, have you ever heard of a dual setup where one could run their house the standard, "on-grid" way and then flip a switch near the breaker box to have all the outlets in the home powered by solar? Keep up the good work! - Josh in Illinois

JWR Replies: All of the major brands of monocrystaline weatherproof photovoltaic (PV) panels are essentially comparable in terms of their rated output, service life, glazing strength (impact resistance), and ability to withstand the weather. Most have similar warranties (although some are slightly better). For these reasons, PV panels should be considered a commodity, and as such, the price per watt should be the main determining factor in picking a brand. (Although if you are like me, you might prefer to buy an American-made product.)

Batteries are another commodity, at least if buy traditional lead-acid deep cycle ("golf cart" type) batteries. Because of their high shipping weight, I strongly recommend that you buy the batteries for your system from a local dealer, such as your local Interstate Batteries dealer. Be sure to do some comparison pricing before you buy. If the dealer offers a "core" credit and you are buying an entirely new system, be advised that dealers are often not particular about what you provide them for your trade in. (They are essentially just looking for a source of lead plates for recycling.) If their core refund terms are based strictly on battery weight or the combined number of Amp hours capacity, one trick is to ask around locally at venues such as Craig's List, for free used car, truck, and tractor batteries. (Batteries that are so old and sulfated that they will no longer hold a charge.) Part-time mechanics often have a dozen or more such batteries available, free for the taking. Depending on the size of your system, if you have a strong back and aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, this can save you several hundred dollars.

As for inverters: Inverter technology varies considerably, depending on maker. The Trace brand inverters are now sold under the Xantrex Technology name, and they still control a large portion of the market. Their major competitor in the US is Outback Power Systems, an up-and-coming company that was started by a group of former Xantrex engineers, following some serious disagreements with the Xantrex corporate management. The Outback brand holds a slight margin in inverter technology.

Charge controller technology is still advancing, but all of the major brands are roughly comparable. Just be sure to get a controller that can handle your anticipated needs, even if you eventually add a few panels. Also keep in mind that the more "bells and whistles" on a charge controller equals greater vulnerability to EMP. (They are fairly inexpensive, so it is wise to keep a spare, stored in a Faraday cage enclosure, such as a a steel ammo can.)

Ready Made Resources (one of our most loyal advertisers) offers free consulting on alternate power system system siting, load requirements/system sizing, and so forth. Be sure to take advantage of this very generous free service. They can design true "turn key" system for you that will require no upkeep other than periodic battery maintenance. A grid-tied system can be set up to provide "automatic failover""--meaning that there will be no interruption of power to your home or retreat more than at most a few moments, in the event of a power failure.You can also design a system that will allow you to sell power back to your power utility--the much-touted "meter running backwards"--depending on your local laws and power company policies.

I 'lurk' a lot and by doing so, learn a bunch but a discussion came up in another environment and made me think and I wanted some feedback so here goes...
In responding to someone who planned on getting a hand gun as a part of their survival planning and was seeking advice I said this:
This topic however hits home as I've been in training over 20 years and am still a certified 'pistol' instructor. I spent a lot of time doing law enforcement, corrections officer and even civilian hand gun / shotgun training. With that said, getting a hand gun is a big step and will require a lot of time and effort to truly make it worthwhile.

So, get the weapon and supporting materials (ammo, cleaning stuff etc.) and very important, the training. Then practice - lots. A .22 [rimfire] conversion kit with what ever you get, while extra expense will be well worth the investment. A good holster, belt (and mag pouch if you go auto) are also necessary - don't skimp on the holster/belt. Many cops and civilians training with the 'off duty' gun or weekend carry civilian style try to get by with an inexpensive holster on the belt they got at Macy's in men's clothing. I've got a holster, belt and mag pouch that set me back $300 made by a pro and custom cut - but the gun always fits, always comes out when I draw, never shifts all day long, and is very secure. You may be betting your life on your gear so get the best you can for your situation.

To wrap up: If you do this, you must commit to training and continued practice with re-training for as long as you carry a sidearm. That's at least monthly and not a simple box of shells once or twice a year. That means time, money and serious (very serious) mental and physical effort on your part. Good luck and stay safe.

So, am I 'on target' with this or am I missing something? I know it always pays to have a second set of eyes look over anything critical going out and something like this I think is very important to get right. The other point is that I see all over the place information on this or that gun, this or that cleaning stuff and lots and lots about ammo but almost never anything about a carry system (holster for sidearm) and that concerns me as stuffing a .45 in my back pocket or waistband may work but it's not safe, good or effective. Comments? Thanks! - Paul

JWR Replies: I agree wholeheartedly. I have often met consulting clients that invest $170+ in custom holsters from a fine holster maker like Milt Sparks, yet they expect a lightweight"dress" suit belt to suffice. The belt is almost as important as the holster. In general, the stiffer and wider, the better. In most cases you will want a sturdy belt to provide support and to insure that the holster, spare magazine pouch, and flashlight pouch stay securely in place. Parenthetically, I'm a believer in carrying a small tactical flashlight (such as a Surefire) at all times. They are useful for shooting situations and more mundane things like car maintenance, and finding a key slot in a dark hallway. Also, in these days when windowless "tilt-up" slab architecture has become the norm, when visiting an office building or a "big box" store, you might find yourself very much in the dark, in the event of a mid-day power failure.

SF in Hawaii sent this: Top 25 things vanishing from America: #1 -- The family farm

   o o o

SF in Hawaii also found this interesting product with a novel design: The WASP Knife. I haven't had the chance to try one of these, so I'll reserve judgment. The concept certainly seems novel. Note that if you use a compressed air knife in a self-defense situation in which your opponent meets his maker, and if you subsequently meet his heirs in court, then you can expect to have your motives questioned.

   o o o

Kevin A. sent us an AP news article: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Paulson Warns Of More Tough Times, but Paulson also sought to reassure an "anxious public" that the banking system is sound. he said: "...our economy has got very strong long-term fundamentals, solid fundamentals. And you know, your policy-makers here, regulators, we're being very vigilant." Upon reading that, Kevin's wife suggested Paulson sounded like the politicians during the Great Depression. And she was right. Here are some similar-sounding quotes from the Great Depression.

   o o o

KT recommended Mayberry's Keep It Simple Survival! blog.

“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” - Benjamin Franklin

Monday, July 21, 2008

I am putting together food stores, and collecting food grade buckets for bulk storage (local store lets them go for 60 cents each), but I had a question come across as I was planning this out.
Based on my own sense of charity, as well as your comments, I thought about a self-contained package that could be handed out, some rice, wheat, dried veggies and more, all sealed with a gamma lid using your dry ice method. Not only would this be good to avoid having multiple bulk cans open at once, but also as I said if people in need come asking, you can hand of 3-to-5 days food in one package.

Then I started thinking about comfort foods, pretzels, chips, candy bars and the like, and I wondered if you can actually put all of these different food products in the same can, separated into baggies, and if so, can you keep some foods like pretzels/chips or candy in their original packaging or repackage them in baggies? - Geoff in North Dakota

JWR Replies:

Using separate clear plastic baggies--or better yet mylar bags--within a sealed container is a practicable solution.

Distributing whole wheat is only marginally workable, since most folks are used to baking with wheat flour. But this raises two issues: If distributing flour, does the recipient have access to a working baking oven or Dutch Oven? In most disaster situations, that would be a rarity. And, if distributing while wheat, does the recipient have a access to a wheat grinder. Of course you could instruct them to make wheat berries (soaked wheat to eat as hot or cold cereal). But then they must have water available and at least 10 hours to soak the wheat. Because of the much shorter shelf life of flour (versus whole wheat), you might consider packaging the wheat in the form of freshly-ground flour, only on an "as-needed" basis, after the onset of an emergency.

Hi James,
While they are still available, now might be a good time to use one of the satellite image sites (like Google Earth) to download and print out detailed satellite images of planned bug-out routes. Having those images with you during a bug-out strikes me as a great way save time and energy by knowing exactly where important survival-related features are located. For example, my own route includes a stretch of rather barren territory with no lakes or streams shown on the topo map, but the satellite images show ponds and small reservoirs too small for inclusion by the map makers. As they may only be seasonal irrigation ponds I wouldn't want to depend on them, but at least I would know where to start looking, if it became necessary. The images also show features that flat maps only approximate. And, while nothing takes the place of actually checking the route personally before it is needed, one could take a "virtual walk" of their route to get an idea of what they might encounter, and adjust their plans accordingly.

My prayers are with your wife for a speedy and full recovery. My best, - John in Colorado

I wanted to thank you for the great web site! It's fantastic!
I was on the Springfield Armory web site yesterday, and noticed that they are having a 20% off sale on all accessories, including XD magazines, through July 31st. I picked up four more, and thought I'd pass the info along.

Keep up the great work, and I pray for a healthy recovery for your wife. - Kristopher in Afghanistan

JWR Replies: Thanks for your prayers for The Memsahib. We are now hopeful that she will make a complete recovery.

I am enthusiastic about the XD pistols. Now that spare parts for the XD pistols are available, they are my top pick for self defense pistols.

An important reminder to all SurvivalBlog readers in North America: Front Sight's Gun + Gear + Training special offer (that includes a free XD pistol in your choice of calibers) will be ending soon, so don't hesitate!

I was recently doing a web search on "Asymmetric Warfare" and I came across this interesting article (in PDF) from Military Review magazine in 2001: America's Frontier wars: Lessons for Asymmetric Conflicts.

   o o o

Reader Michael H. suggested this article from Bob Chapman's The International Forecaster: The Formula For Hyperstagflation

   o o o

Trent H. sent us a link to an article summarizing a recent speech by Congressman Ron Paul: "Some Big Events Are About To Occur"

   o o o

Pyotr in the Czech Republic wrote me to mention that he was researching custom-built intrusion detection systems for rural retreats, and he found this interesting reference: Perimeter Security Sensor Technologies Handbook.

"If ... ...Fannie and Freddie are flat-out taken over entirely by the US government (and remember the Federal Reserve is not the government), then the national debt will roughly double overnight -- which will pound the US dollar down a rat-hole." - James Howard Kunstler

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hey Jim,
I used to make my living as a construction electrician and had several big steel Greenlee brand tool boxes with my tools. There is usually one in the back of my
truck all the time.

Price of gun safes has continued to rise, so I took one of my boxes and cut out a plywood rack for my guns, then filled in around the rack with polyurethane foam. After it was set and cured, I painted the urethane foam flat black.

The fit and finish on my Greenlee tool box/gun safe is good enough to protect my weapons, keep them locked and secure. It also has the advantage of handles and skids so it can be loaded into a pickup or bug out trailer to get to the remote retreat in a hurry. If necessary, I can load it with a forklift, or a chain hoist, or muscle it on with three other men.
Anyway, I thought you might be interested in my improvised gun safe.

The steel tool boxes can still be bought from Lowe's [hardware store] for $199. Regards, - Lawrence, editor of SurvivingTheDayAfter@yahoogroups.com

JWR Replies: Thanks for that cost-saving suggestion. Just keep in mind that "portability" works both ways. It is essential that you secure your vault, box, or chest to a floor or a very sturdy wall, to prevent burglars from hauling off "The Whole Shebang." Be sure to use heavy duty lag bolts!

I think that the author of "Letter Re: A Reminder to Readers About Botulism" [posted on July 18th] is a little mistaken about the deadliness of "even a single small whiff of Botulinum toxin." The video in the link he provided is a discussion of the effects of weaponized botulism toxin. In the video, it's stated that botulism doesn't make a very good open-air weapon, although it may have potential as a weapon in enclosed areas or by infecting food.

According to the Botulism Handbook for Epidemiologists, Clinicians, and Laboratory Workers:

...botulism can be picked up by (a) eating contaminated food, (b) through intestinal colonisation in infants fed contaminated-honey (though apparently not in adults fed the same honey), and (c) through open wound contamination when cleaning up contaminated surfaces or substances. In a later section, it states that "Botulinum toxins are extremely poisonous for humans. Minute quantities acquired by ingestion, inhalation, or by absorption through the eye or a break in the skin can cause profound intoxication and death;" however, I believe that in this section, they are referring to refined botulism toxin in a laboratory environment.

On the CDC "Botulism > Botulism Associated with Canned Chili Sauce, July 2007 > Questions and Answers" page, they describe the cleanup procedure for suspected or known-contaminated canned food as follows:

Do not open or puncture any unopened can of the recalled product.
Dispose of food that may be contaminated by placing in a sealable bag, wrapping another plastic bag around the sealable bag, and then taping tightly. Place bags in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash outside the home and out of reach of humans and pets. Do not discard the food in a sink, garbage disposal, or toilet. Avoid splashing and contact with the skin. Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling open containers of food that you think may be contaminated. Wash hands with soap and running water for at least 2 minutes after handling food or containers that may be contaminated.
Wipe up spills using a bleach solution (use 1⁄4 cup bleach for each 2 cups of water). Completely cover the spill with the bleach solution. Place a layer of paper towels, 5 to 10 towels thick, on top of the bleach. Let the towels sit for at least 15 minutes, then put the paper towels in the trash. Wipe up any remaining liquid with new paper towels. Clean the area with liquid soap and water to remove the bleach. Wash hands with soap and running water for at least 2 minutes. Sponges, cloths, rags and gloves that may have come into contact with contaminated food or containers should be discarded with the food.

While extreme care should be taken to limit exposure to contaminated food, including immediate disposal, wearing rubber gloves, and surface cleanup with bleach, again, the CDC doesn't seem to be advocating the use of a respirator or warning to avoid breathing in "even a single small whiff" of the air from the can. Botulism is dangerous, but a botulism-contaminated food source is unlikely to kill you unless you touch it with an open wound or ingest some of the food. That said, I probably wouldn't try and sniff around a bulging can of bad food; but if I did, and later suspected botulism, I wouldn't be terrified I might die, either. - M.C.P.

Thanks to Eric B. for potting this: Study shows fuel cell cars still 15 years away at best

   o o o

SF in Hawaii forwarded this video link: Jim Rogers Speaks the Truth about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

   o o o

Wolf sent us this: Merrill Drops After $4.65 Billion Second-Quarter Loss, the same day that Cheryl sent us this: Citigroup posts $2.5B loss, but beats expectations. It seems neither the brokers nor the banksters are faring well in this credit-starved environment.

   o o o

JT flagged this one from The Daily Telegraph: Africa's Oil Boom Shifts Balance of Power

"We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn." - Mary Catherine Bateson

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I'm posting things early today, since we are going in to town where The Memsahib will be seeing the doctors. Thanks for your many e-mails of support and your continuing prayers.

After reading the recent letter by Thomas G, I felt compelled to offer a response to demystify some of the technologies he talked about. First, I am a tool and die maker for an ammunition manufacturer. If it's broken, I fix it, if we need it, but can't buy it, I design and make it.

From reloading dies, case feeders, powder measures, primer feeders, cold header press parts, I have done a lot. So I feel somewhat qualified to shed some light onto how things are done. I'll start basic, and then work up to complex.

Aside from the technology of making metal, the most basic component is arguably the screw, or the nut and bolt. While these can be made on a lathe, that's simply not practical in the world of mass production. Since at least the turn of the previous century (1800-1900) bolts have been made using machines called headers and rollers. Headers come in two forms, cold and hot. A cold header is typically used for making bolts, these take wire (and by wire, I mean form, not size) the wire is then cut, and pushed into a die. A forming die will then come down and crush the wire that sticks outside the base die, this forms the bolt head, this can also be done for nails, rivets, screws etc. In the case of bolts and screws they are then dropped into a thread rolling machine. This is a device which has two panels which have flattened threads cut onto them, the bolt rolls between the two panels and is threaded.

Nuts are made by hot-heading. A slug of wire is heated until it's pliable, and is then smashed into a form. When it's cooled it's then threaded using a tap.

Gears are made on machines called hobbers, but can be made on a horizontal mill, or a shaper with an indexing head. The hobber works by holding a gear blank between centers, and then has a cutter that rotates above the gear. Once a gear is made, it can be used as a template for casting more, either die cast, or sand cast, depends on size and material.

A lathe is a fairly basic machine, if anyone has ever seen a wood lathe, a metal lathe works on the same principle. If you can build a wood lathe, you can build a metal lathe in a number of iterations. Given the scrap available from even a post-collapse society cobbling a functional lathe together should be fairly easy. The same applies to a mill.

For those who have interest, I suggest checking out the gingery machines web site, and perhaps even buying the book set. While a long time ago I decided it was easier to buy and rehab an old lathe than to build a new one, the books will give even the novice user a good idea about how machines are made.

It is important to note that most machine tools were conceived back in the 1800s. With a few decent measuring tools, almost anything can be made. The greatest thing about the age we live in currently is our ability to measure. If you have a few decent sets of dial calipers, a few dial indicators, a pyrometer (for heat treating) and a stop watch, you can produce just about anything you need.

At times after reading "Patriots" I laugh at the [refugee] character who was the machinist, (Lon Porter) since he carried his tools around in a bicycle trailer. While one tool box may satisfy the storage space required for some measuring tools, it would take a truck to move all of the various tools (tool bits, drill bits, mills, punches, indicators, angle finders,
etc) that I would consider ideal for a post-apocalyptic machine shop.- AVL

Hi Jim,
I figured I’d better write about my experience with PetroMax (BriteLyt) Kerosene lanterns.
I’ve had their 150CP (Candle Power) (100 watts of light) for a couple years now and really like it.
BriteLyt is now providing their 500CP (400 watts of light ) to the US Government as Model MR-2 with a federal stock number.
BTW they also make a nice 11,000 BTU kerosene stove which they are also making for the government.
So I got two of the new USG MR-2s and tried them out. Right away I had a problem!

As you know, I’m [living and own a retreat at] at 6,600 feet MSL and 9,800 feet MSL. (I should have picked up on this earlier. Altitude! Lack of air! Ha!) Okay, sometimes I can be slow witted.

Anyway, I had a miserable time of it with these two lamps. If I’d have been at sea level, I wouldn’t have had any problems.
Working with BriteLyt, I used the jets for their 150CP lamp and now the MR-2s series work great at my altitude. I’m going to try their 350CP jets (a little bigger gas flow) and see how they work. More light should be the result. Actually, I like the way the 150CP jets work.

How great are these lamps? Really great.
Nice light! Absolutely. [Because of the intense glare,] I highly recommend the lampshade style reflector.
Burn anything. Gasoline, Paint thinner, kerosene, diesel, JP-8. What do you have, I’d probably try it in these lamps.

The word I’ve got from my research worldwide is “If you have a PetroMax that works well, it’ll be a thing of joy for a lifetime.”
BTW, repair parts are really inexpensive and worth putting in a supply if you get these lamps. As you know, the [US] military has geared up for exclusively JP-8 and done away with gasoline, except for those darned never-worked-right gasoline lamps. Now one more thing is JP-8 capable. A lantern that burns JP-8 diesel.

I heard we had some boys freeze to death in Afghanistan last year and the inclusion of the kerosene stove will make sure that doesn’t happen again. With the kerosene stove in a pit under a tent or tarp, you’re not gonna freeze.

All in all, for a good prep, I recommend these lamps. However, as with all technology, toy with them and learn the little quirks that they have. Overall, I’m well pleased especially with the [large quantity of] diesel I have put away.

I’ll update you when I get the 350CP jets and also when I can get one of their stoves. - The Army Aviator

Thanks to Cheryl for sending a link to an article that describes how more banks are in trouble. These include: Wachovia (downgraded on the 15th), WaMu, National City Corp., and U.S. Bancorp

   o o o

Eric sent a link to an editorial from The Des Moines Register: Help farmers, consumers: Revive grain reserve

   o o o

KMA spotted an article in The Economist titled Peak Oil, The Only Way is Down.

  o o o

John T. sent us a link to an article that is a sign of the times: Pakistani Investors Stone Exchange as Stocks Plunge

"If you ever hear a government official come out and say that an institution is fine, you know it's time to get your money out because history shows they're likely lying. Look what happened with Fannie and Freddie. The government said everything was fine right up to the day the US Treasury dropped the biggest government bailout of all time on the American taxpayer. The bill for Fannie, Freddie and the bank failures could cost the taxpayer over $400 billion. (That's your money, of course.)". - Richard Benson in: Is Your Money Safe?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is $500. This auction is for a big mixed lot: a NukAlert radiation detector, donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value), and the following package of survival gear all kindly donated by CampingSurvival.com: One case of MREs, one pack of water purifications tablets, a bottle of colloidal silver, a fire starter, a bottle of potassium iodate tablets, an emergency dental kit, a pack of "Shower in a bag" bath wipes, and one messenger bag to pack it in.

Feel free to post the following if you think it would be of help and interest.

Bulging cans with botulism are worse than most think. While bulging cans of food are relatively rare and most everybody knows that any bulging can should be discarded, few know just how seriously dangerous they can become if opened or accidentally ruptured. Botulism is so extremely deadly, it must be suspect in all bulging cans and they must not only be discarded, but put away from anyone else. Botulinum toxin is one of the most lethal substances known to man, as seen in this CDC article. When food is in short supply some will begin buying and using whatever old cans they can find and be eager not to waste anything too, thus many will also be tempted to open suspect bulging cans to better inspect the contents, before just rejecting it, and usually by smelling it.

People need to know that even a single small whiff of Botulinum toxin, especially when concentrated and released from a pressurized bulging can, can kill you stone dead in a few paralyzing hours, it's truly that deadly. Please warn people at every opportunity to never fool with any suspect cans and to dispose of them as if a live grenade, where no one will come across them either. - Shane Connor, www.ki4u.com

We are in a simultaneously deflationary and inflationary situation.
The deflationary forces are:
1) We've been a credit based society and with less credit available, less purchasing will happen driving down prices.
2) Most people have most of their wealth in their home, their stocks and their banks (Indy Mac anyone?), all decreasing in value thus putting the brakes on discretionary purchasing driving down prices.

The inflationary forces are:
1) The rising price of oil raises transportation and manufacturing costs for everything.
2) The increasing population and decreasing supply of commodities (food, metals etc.) increases prices.
3) The Fed cannot raise the interest rate and slow down inflation without causing an even worse housing collapse.

With two opposite forces pulling on the economy, for a time we have had a dynamic stasis as the forces balanced each other. Now these two forces are literally tearing the fabric of the economy asunder.

On one side, anything available that is sold in the international marketplace or has intrinsic value will increase in price.
This means food, oil, ammo, metals, commodities. This is due to the loss of the value of the dollar and the fact that the demand for these items is less negotiable. On the continuum, you must have food, and you'd really like not to freeze this winter due to lack of heating oil.

You, along with six billion other people will do what you have to, in order to continue to eat but do you really need that 40" television, a dinner out or a vacation or...
Anything that is sold exclusively locally (not including commodities), and is discretionary will begin to decrease in price.
Expect deep discounts as stores that do not have international presences liquidate inventory to cover expenses. Have you been to [shop at] The Sharper Image lately?
This includes anything that people own and don't really need such as: Trucks, cars, boats, electronics etc...

Consider what you do for a living. If you have hard skills (plumbing, gardening, medical), your skills are non-discretionary. You will be needed and your prices can rise with the prices of commodities.

If you are a consultant, artist, analyst, if you have a store that sells non-essentials, you're vocation is discretionary. Your prices will likely go down if you want to attract work.- SF in Hawaii


I recently purchased Backwoods Home's "The Affordable Whole Shebang" offer which includes printed anthologies of Backwoods Home starting from year one to the present (13 years) as well as 11 CD-ROMs packed full of information: recipes, alternative energy, firearms info, preparedness guide, etc. The CD-ROMs include a partial electronic anthology of the magazine (years 7-14) for easy portability.

I was very impressed by the sheer volume of reading material for only $257! I am a voracious reader and it will take quite a while for me to consume it all. I highly recommend this fantastic offer and feel that not only is it entertaining to read, it is very informative as well. This is an important addition to the preparedness library. I'm not associated with the magazine--just a satisfied reader. - Rob M.

Downturn gains steam as inflation roars ahead

   o o o

Cheryl N. sent us this: Fears Over Safety in Savings Triggers Panic in US

   o o o

Jason M. flagged this: ‘Flying IEDs’ Pose New Iraq Threat. (OBTW, I've had the acronym "UAVIED" in the SurvivalBlog Glossary since August of 2005. Terrorists may soon use radio-controlled planes--from the size of light model planes, on up--packed with explosives.)

   o o o

The International Forecaster anticipates "A Complete and Systemic Breakdown" of the US and world financial systems and economies. (Kudos to Kevin A. for finding that item.)

"Today is the day you swore was going to be different - yesterday." - Nick Murray

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is $390. This auction is for a big mixed lot: a NukAlert radiation detector, donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value), and the following package of survival gear all kindly donated by CampingSurvival.com: One case of MREs, one pack of water purifications tablets, a bottle of colloidal silver, a fire starter, a bottle of potassium iodate tablets, an emergency dental kit, a pack of "Shower in a bag" bath wipes, and one messenger bag to pack it in.

The following is a transcript of an interview that will soon be run at the popular left-of-center AlterNet web site:

AlterNet: Is survivalism a failure of community? A celebration of it?

JWR: I'd say that survivalism is indeed a celebration of community. It is the embodiment of America's traditional "can do" spirit of self-reliance that settled the frontier.

AlterNet: Is it engineered by personal issues? Is it a racial, or economic phenomenon, in your opinion? Or both?

JWR: Survivalism [is a movement that] crosses all racial and religious lines. It is essentially color blind. For 99% of us, we could care less about the color of someone's skin, but we care a lot about about including people with valuable skill sets. The preparedness movement is simply a rational quest for family and community level self-sufficiency in an increasingly dangerous world. There is unfortunately a very small but very vocal minority that are disgustingly racist idiots. I'm sad to say that they also call themselves survivalists. They get an inordinate amount of press coverage, making that 1% look much larger than it really is. In my opinion they should be ignored and shunned, and I certainly don't give them a platform on SurvivalBlog.

The economic cross section of SurvivalBlog readers is also amazing. We have working class readers that a worried about how they are going to make their next car payment posting alongside surgeons and entrepreneurs. We have both starving students and Little Old Lady pensioners. The readership is also global. We have regular readers in more than 90 countries. But even with this diversity, we all get along. [I didn't mention that I also edit out a lot of rants and foul language from the readers' letters that I post.] Part of this is the realization that the next Great Depression will be a tremendous "leveler".

AlterNet: Do you think survivalism is a rational response to our current crises?

JWR: Absolutely.

AlterNet: After all, we have an administration with minority support that is ruining the economy and world without a care for what its majority thinks. Do you think the unilateral policies of America over the last several years has contributed to the mindset? Or is it just gun nuts going too far?

JWR: There is greater interest in preparedness these days because the fragility of our economy, the lengthening chains of supply, and the complexity of the technological infrastructure have become apparent to a broader cross-section of the populous. All parties concerned may not realize it, but the left-of-center Greens that are calling for "local economy" and encouraging farmer's markets actually have a tremendous amount in common with John Birchers that are decrying globalist bankers, and likewise with gun owners that complain about their constitutional rights being trampled. At the core, for all of them, is the recognition that big, entrenched, centralized power structures are not the answer. They are, in fact, the problem.

AlterNet: What do survivalists get right?

JWR: They recognize that smaller scale economies and older technologies are appropriate. They also recognize that meaningful solutions are found at the community level--not from top-down, command-driven bureaucracies.

AlterNet: What do they get wrong?

JWR: A minority of SurvivalBlog readers are over-enamored with gadgets. I call these folks "Mall Ninjas." They live in a fantasy world. In the real world, skills beat gadgets every time. But in our "big box" consumerist economy, some people mistakenly think that they can buy happiness, or--in this case--buy preparedness. A big, expensive pile of "tacticool" gear without the hard-earned skills to know how to use it is essentially useless. It takes time and a requisite expenditure of sweat to really know how to tend a garden, hang a gate, cut a cord of firewood, or field dress a deer. Some people have simply never done something so basic as digging a post hole in rocky ground, and they will break down in tears if they ever have to. Their fancy gear can't do everything for them.

AlterNet: Do you think Peak Oil and climate crisis will team up to smack the American Dream down?

JWR: I think that Peak Oil is already upon us, but I'm reserving my opinion on climate change, since there is so much conflicting evidence.

AlterNet: Do you think technology can save us?

JWR: I don't think that technology--in and of itself--can save us. Again, it is practical skills, not gadgets that will help us to pull through tough times. This not to say that I don't recommend some high tech items like photovoltaic panels. Life without them in a "grid down" situation would be very uncomfortable. I'm also a great fan of hydrogen fuel cell, alcohol gas, and biodigester technologies. But those will likely be a case of "too little, too late." If anything, life in the 22nd Century will more closely resemble the 19th Century than it will the 20th Century. I predict that it will be a century of steam and horse power. And between now and then? Sadly, the 21st Century will probably be remembered as the time of the Great Die-Off.

AlterNet: Are Americans too spoiled to change their ways before it is too late?

JWR: For some Americans, yes. But others are clearly showing the wisdom to "Get Out of Dodge" while the getting is good, by moving to lightly-populated "retreat" regions to genuinely pursue self-sufficiency. Again, these people come from all across the political spectrum. I think that in the the next couple of decades we will witness the formation of some remarkable intentional communities (a.k.a "gulches") that will feature some unlikely bedfellows: Anarchists and Ayn Rand readers, Mennonites and gun enthusiasts, Luddites and techno-geeks, fundamentalist Christians and Gaia worshippers, tree huggers and horse wranglers. We welcome them all. I have been pleasantly surprised to see SurvivalBlog readers set aside some very sharp differences for the sake of a common goal. That consensus is one of the things that gives me the most pride about SurvivalBlog. I'm a conservative Christian but that doesn't mean that I'm not willing to listen to a leftist agnostic, if he has something useful and productive to say about practical preparedness and self-sufficiency.

AlterNet: And what do you see as the chief threats legitimizing a survivalist defense?

JWR: The threats are clearly manifold: Peak Oil, a derivatives meltdown, pandemics, economic instability, food shortages, stock market and currency collapses, terrorism, bank runs, state sponsored global war, rationing, and more. In a situation this precarious I believe that it is remarkably naive to think that mere geographical isolation will be sufficient to shelter communities from the predation of evildoers. I strongly believe in turning the other cheek, but as a realist, I also believe in Rule 308. (See the SurvivalBlog Glossary.)

AlterNet: What are you [personally] preparing for?

JWR: All of the above. I read Psalm 91 regularly. I encourage AlterNet readers to take a look at the SurvivalBlog "Precepts" page for the details of my philosophy and envisioned scenarios. Again, I believe that we have more in common than we have differences.

I have been buying flour and corn meal in five pound bags and placing in the freezer for a couple of weeks to destroy any "nits" still in them, and after that putting them in plastic bins. I really have no idea if this works long term, but would appreciate any suggestions on whether or not there is any method to preserve these items other than this. I have a Porkett hand grinder, but to grind wheat fine enough for bread flour is difficult. Thanks, - Charlie P.

JWR Replies:
Just freezing the grain doesn't kill all the insect eggs, which can hatch later. You need to use either dry ice (CO2) or oxygen absorbing packets, (the latter available from Nitro-Pak and several other Internet vendors), to get a 100% kill of adult bugs, larvae, and eggs. I've posted details of the dry ice method a few time in SurvivalBlog. It is also described at in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and in Alan T. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ.

You also asked about wheat grinders. To grind fine flour, I recommend the Country Living grain mill, available from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. It is an excellent mill, designed for a lifetime of use. We have one here at the ranch. It is a hand mill, but because its driving wheel has a V-belt ("fan belt") slot, it can be easily converted to be powered by an electric motor, a bicycle, or even a water wheel or windmill.

Reader Robert V. mentioned a news service report on the recent bank run in California.

   o o o

From Yahoo! Finance, What if my bank fails? Some questions and answers. (A hat tip to Kevin A.)

   o o o

Outfitters Supply (one of our advertisers) is offering SurvivalBlog readers free freight on all wall tents and wall tent frames, which is a savings of at least $29 and up to $240 for a full tent package. Mention that you are a SurvivalBlog reader and they will deduct the freight charges.

   o o o

Paul B. sent a Bloomberg article quoting investment guru Jim Rogers. Paul's comment: "I'm amazed at how many of your observations seem to dovetail into 'professional' investors' take on the economy. Jim Rogers, one of the most successful investors in the last 20 years, outlines in clear terms what is happening in the current financial world."

"It only took a sinking dollar, US$4 gas, sky-rocketing food inflation, pathetic employment numbers, a limping stock market, and a housing crash for the mainstream to start to question our dominance. But apparently, we're there." - Kathlyn Von Rohr, writing in the Sovereign Society's Offshore A-Letter, July, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Congrats to JJW, the high bidder in the recent SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. Today we begin a new SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. This one is for a big mixed lot that includes: a NukAlert radiation detector, donated by KI4U--a $160 value, a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value), and the following package of survival gear all kindly donated by CampingSurvival.com: One case of MREs, one pack of water purifications tablets, a bottle of colloidal silver, a fire starter, a bottle of potassium iodate tablets, an emergency dental kit, a pack of "Shower in a bag" bath wipes, and one messenger bag to pack it in. The opening bid for this combined lot is just $70.

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.

Have you ever really thought about your food? The intricate system that conveys it to your fingertips, and often to your mouth directly? The complicated processes and machinery that make everything run so smooth? You mat be amazed at the phenomenally complicated process involved in bringing that jug of milk, candy bar, or perhaps a simple tomato to your feast. This is an abbreviated sequence with the express purpose of shedding light on a dwindling craft: Machine work. While this trade is flourishing around the world, we here at home have swept it under the rug in favor of cheap imports and strip malls. This may soon come back to bite us. And it will be hard.

Try this illustration. After wandering about the store, pick up a tomato. Average sized, normal red, no cuts no bruises, Nothing special right? Wrong. Start hefting the tomato, looking at it from all sides, studying it with more fascination than could possibly be warranted for "just a tomato". After a while start thinking... How did this get here? And why is it so similar to all the rest, sitting here in a box along with hundreds of brothers neatly packed inside?

Well, never rejecting the oddball challenges, lets begin to think backwards through the process. The last thing that was done was a store clerk rolled it out there on a pallet jack with twenty other boxes. Hmmm... pallet jack. A small hydraulic jack whose piston and cylinder have been turned on a lathe to an exact specified size, then precision ground to within a couple of ten thousandth parts of an inch. Take your average sized hair, divide it up long ways thirty equal times, that is near .0001" or one ten thousandth part of an inch. The valve housing was drilled and tapped and cut to size in a fixture on a milling machine. The whole pallet jack was fabricated and welded up by skilled craftsmen. Wow, that is intense, and its just the tip of the iceberg! What else is not as simple as it seems? Lets keep going.

Well, it got here in a big semi truck. The trailer may have been built from extruded aluminum. The extrusion dies having been cut on a Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) milling machine, The pistons of the large diesel have been precision turned on a lathe to about plus or minus .0005 inches. Then placed in a mill and given its flat sides, and the precision bored hole for the wrist pin. The dashboard of the truck was made by the injection molding of plastic.) The mold being cut from a large chunk, or billet, of high grade tool steel on a CNC machine cutting in three axis simultaneously, (X, Y and Z) The entire truck is assembled with nuts, bolts screws and rivets, Every one of these came off a screw turning lathe, most likely somewhere in Taiwan or Mainland China. Each one of the 18 wheels was cut from a big billet of forged aluminum on a large CNC lathe. The gears, the axles, the bearings, everything goes back to a machine tool at some point.

So, at the plant, these tomatoes ran through the gauntlet of an enormous system of computerized cameras to check for color, size, blemishes and sugar content, along with washing waxing and labeling machines. All this is achieved on miles of conveyor belts running on thousands upon thousands of rollers axles, gears, bearings, mechanical fingers and arms, motors, and actuators. Every gear was cut on a lathe for its outside diameter, and later to a four axis (X Y Z and A) indexing mill to cut each tooth. Every one of these parts had to be machined on a machine tool directly or molded from a machine tool cut mold.

Need I even mention the intricacies of a modern combine harvester being a combination of a tractor, harvester, conveyor and loading system, and sometimes even packaging plant?
The manufacturing world is based completely on the interchangeability or parts derived from the accuracies of modern metalworking machinery, and their machinists.
One of Man's claim for dominance in this world, besides being Children of God, is the use of tools. The machine tool is the pinnacle. These tools solve innumerable problems, such as building the machines to process tomatoes, looms to make cloth, printing presses for publications, molds for cups... The list goes on almost without end. But unlike power looms, printing presses or tomato processing machinery, the machine tool is self replicating. Meaning that if you have a lathe and a milling machine, you can build yourself another lathe and milling machine to continue solving more problems and conceivably create more machine tools. Can a loom build another loom?

So, TEOTWAWKI, Now what?
Remember how machine work and most other skilled work like it have been pushed aside by cheap imports? Here comes the big bite. The inability of the US to import enough basic "stuff." Oil, machine tools, computers, medical equipment, sponges, toothpicks etc... combined with our lack of an industrial infrastructure to take up the slack will result in, well, nothing. And that will last for a long time, until we re-build that infrastructure.

Modern US manufacturing is dependent on CNC machines. In a grid down/EMP situation, all this incredibly productive machinery will be completely 100% worthless, except as scrap. Although scrap is very valuable, it is not directly valuable as a machine tool. Without their computers, stepper and servo motors, glass scales (for precise measurement), and especially without tons of power, these amazing machines can not function. You can't even take the motors off the axis and put hand wheels in their place because all the measurement is digital.

China, India, and other developing nations will not fall as far back as we will during a global crisis. They're not nearly as dependent on others for their basic commodities. For example they make their own basic fasteners, their own hand tools, and basic human necessities, nearly everything. Including and especially machine tools. Also, they do more work by hand, scraping, honing, lapping, and filing. These are basic metalworking operations that can be key in machine tool fabrication. The US has lost most of the people who know these skills. These I can think of only three machine tool makers who still construct machines here. HAAS, Hardinge, and Moore. Probably a couple more, but not many. In the US this is becoming a lost art.

Third world countries rely more heavily on manual machine tools, which have integral mechanical position indicators. This is key for our infrastructure to be rebuilt, the manual machine tool. As stated earlier, most CNC machines will become boat anchors without their multitude of motors, computers, hydraulics, pneumatics. Oh, did I mention the tons of electricity to run it all? Not so with manual machine tools. The vast majority of manual machine tools have their position displayed on or near the hand wheels that power their feed and position axis. Notice the words hand wheel. Generally these machines rely on a motor to turn the spindle only. Other functions, many times, are powered off the spindle. This gives much more ready access to their belts, gears and motors, and it can conceivably only take one belt to power the whole setup. This makes these machines much more inclined to operate on alternative energy sources, such as hand cranks, leather belts and steam (or Lister) engines, bicycle chain and pedals, foot treadle, windmill, waterwheel, etc... Most can live without compressed air, hydraulics and digital readout displays. As an example, I have recently cut special round and buttress formed threads while pushing the lathe spindle around by hand.

These threads were not your ordinary 1/4-20 from your local Ace Hardware. I had to grind the shape into the high speed steel (HSS) tool bit by hand. The tools simply did not exist in any metalworking catalogs. This is the next key. The fundamental most basic cutting tool is a hard flat rock. Something to sharpen and form cutting tools and others. In its basic form it is a flat rock. In an advanced form it is a pedestal grinder. We won't discuss the more advanced types. Since there will be conceivably very few to nobody selling cutting tools, and postal services not likely, these will need to be fabricated in-house. Find an antique hand crank grinder at an antique shop or on eBay. Many still have years of life left. Many have no life left. It is a crap shoot. I've purchased two, one old and one brand new. The brand new one from India was worse than the old worn out one which I had already disposed of. Possibly a better solution, and much less of a gamble, will be to modify our existing pedestal grinders. This is quite simple, as they have standard sized shafts, and they have bearings inside. (Good grinders spin for minutes after power is removed.) Simply buy a small pulley the same size as your grinder spindle from mcmaster.com for about $4, and replace one grinding wheel with it. This can be hooked up to a big pulley with a hand wheel and any number of other alternate energy sources. Try and get a 6-to-1 ratio or more. The pulley can be put in place when the Schumer hits the fan and the grinder is still serviceable in our modern world. Very useful machine tool - Done.

Now that we've got a grinder, what are we going to grind with it? Well, to make the best tools, obviously tungsten carbide is ideal. This offers incredible rates of metal removal and lasts much longer than HSS, so it is truly the best. Oh wait, hold on, our machines may have trouble reaching the thousands of revolutions per minute necessary for tungsten carbide to cut properly without chipping and breaking. Carbide is brittle and hard, it chips and shatters at the slightest mistake. Carbide is also very difficult to re-sharpen, partially due to the fact that it needs special green silicon carbide grinding wheels that last 1/3 as long as your standard gray aluminum oxide wheels. Also, that most is in the form of disposable inserts means they wont be available anywhere. [JWR Adds: So stock up!)

High speed steel will be king in these days. The benefits of HSS for survival are; It is cheap, HSS is 5 to 50 times less than carbide. I just priced HSS blanks at kbctools.com from $0.90 to $10. People tend to think of them as strictly for a lathe. Not so, as we shall see. They are re-sharpenable with the ubiquitous gray aluminum oxide wheel. Depending on how dull they have become, smooth rocks like a whetstone or sandpaper, may work. They can be re-sharpened for more than 2/3rds their entire length! As long as you can get a bite on them with your tool holder, it is long enough. It also uses slower speeds than tungsten carbide. Its called "High speed steel" because back near the early part of the 20th Century when it was developed it was a huge advance over what people were then using - high carbon steel. This is the steel used for files, chisels, punches, and other heavy duty uses. This is the next option when the High speed steel is all depleted. It just needs slower speeds and feeds.

Much of the above pertains to both the basic lathe and milling machine. Now specifically though for the milling machines. A milling machine normally uses what is called an end mill. An end mill looks similar to a drill bit but cuts not just at its point, but on its sides as well. These kinds of cutters will be great to have, but they will run out eventually too. The great difficulty in the manufacture of these cutting tools is prohibitive to reproduce in hard times. It takes a highly complex system of grinders, usually CNC, and we all know how useful those will be after these huge solar flares coming in 2011-to-2013. Manual re-sharpening is very complex, and still involves a complex machine tool with air bearing helical indexing fixtures and grinding wheels. For example, a cheap end mill sharpener costs $4,000. Luckily all is not lost with the mill. It is possible to use a milling machine with cutters ground out of the same HSS blanks used primarily for the lathe. (Or, when push comes to shove, hardened high carbon steel) All they need is to be mounted in special holder called a fly cutter.

A much more survival style machine than the milling machine is the obsolete and no-longer produced metal shaper.
This is not like a modern woodworking shaper. This machine can make flat surfaces, grooves, T-slots, and internal and external key ways. (Internal is near impossible with a mill.) This tool pushes a cutter across the surface of the workpiece much like a wood plane cuts. No rotation of the tool or workpiece. It makes incremental steps across or down the workpiece for flats, grooves, etc. The great benefit is that it uses the same HSS blanks as your lathe turning tool and mill fly-cutter. This machine can use very simple cutters to make very complex details and shapes.

More extremely basic tools necessary for survival metalworking are files. These tools have been around since 1200 B.C. in Egypt. Their manufacture is difficult when not mechanized. Its manufacture was even shrouded in secrecy by the file-makers guilds for hundreds of years because they were such a valuable tool. Just think, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, clock makers, and locksmiths have made guns, locks clocks and precision movements for centuries with the most rudimentary of metalworking tools; a forge, and a file. With enough practice and knowledge, even making taps and dies is possible by filing.

Hacksaw blades are not necessarily super old tech, but they are just about the only hand powered way to cut thick sections of metal. These will cut through most materials, but they take time, which there ought to be plenty of again.

Taps, dies and drill bits are all going to be worth their weight in gold. Consider "roll form" taps. They don't cut the metal, they push the metal around and make the threads. They are all the rage in machine shops for a reason - they last a long time and seem to never wear out.

Find yourself an old fashioned egg beater style drill. It's mighty hard to turn a drill bit by hand through any material, even plastic and wood. Again, I haven't found any new[ly manufactured] ones that are worth considering.

Buy reprints of out-of-print books on old time skills from Lindsay Books. These classic books teach old fashioned basic skills from homesteading, blacksmithing, metal casting, steel making, boiler making and producer gas (extensively used back in the thirties to power automobiles, now usually called syn-gas or underground coal gasification) all the way to machining, wind generators, electronics, and backyard ballistics. Incredible resource at decent prices. You'll love them. Get your own copies.

If your budget permits and all your other supplies are already together, consider a small lathe and mill from kbctools.com or grizzly.com. Both companies send out free toy, ahem, tool catalogs. Also, most used machine tools are still very serviceable, and in larger metropolitan areas there are machine tool re-builders. They can make a machine like new again. They posses many of the useful skills to restart the precision metalworking economy.

If you have interest in learning the machining trade, even as a hobby, you might consider a junior college class in machine tools. The machines are not self explanatory. Most levers and handles are not labeled and you will really hurt yourself without proper training. Encourage your kids to at least give machine shop a try. We need them.
I recently heard a machinist of 30 years explain this to his co-workers. This is an example of how we are losing our manufacturing knowledge base, and how not to encourage your kids to try machining.

"I put a bottle of beer and a set of micrometers [a precision measuring instrument representing machining] in front of my son. I told him to pick one, but if he takes the micrometers, I would hit him over the head with the beer" This stems from direct competition from overseas and the accompanying shrinking profit margins. All the pressure goes straight to the shoulders of the machinist. Lower wages and lots of "Hurry up!"

In an economic depression, my reasoning tells me that people won't buy new. But they will need the old repaired, and that takes replacement parts. Cuba, because of the trade embargo, has a fleet of 1950s-vintage cars looking fine and running well because they make all their own replacement parts. This is done with machine tools and skills. In a total rebuild, we'll need everything again.

Those who are knowledgeable and posses those tangibles, HSS blanks, lathes, mills drills, taps, dies, files, hacksaws, shapers (if you can find one) and non-digital precision measuring equipment are possibly set to become wealthy. If nobody else can do it, and it doesn't come from China anymore, then where will it come from? Machine shops, machinists, welders, and blacksmiths.

In summary:
-- Our modern society rests upon machinists and their tools. Everything traces back to a machine tool.
-- CNC machines are worthless without huge amounts of energy (50 to hundreds of Amps at 220-440 VAC)
-- Manual machine tools will be our best shot because of integral measuring and ease of using alternate energy. They often have one motor and will be easier to use leather belts et cetera.

Dear Jim:
Recently, I purchased a .22 conversion kit for my SIG P226 .40 S&W pistol. I was not aware that SIG was making such a unit until I saw it in the gun shop. Although pricey, ($369 factory price, $315 store price, [and I] managed to get one for $295) I went ahead and bought it.

I can happily report that this conversion worked flawlessly out of the box. While I did not have the opportunity to really test it for accuracy, I was able to bounce a pop can around at fifty yards. The three kinds of ammo used were CCI Stinger, Remington Golden hollow point, and Remington Thunderbolt with the angular bullet. In firing approximately 90 rounds (all there was time for), there were no malfunctions.

The conversions are made for the P220, P226, P229R, and P228/229. I tried to put the unit on my [SIG Model] and [Model] 229, but it wouldn't fit, (darn!). My employer is looking at purchasing the 229 kits training. We were using a K22 for shooters that were having problems. With the price of ammo, it makes no sense to keep throwing expensive ammo into the backstop, when you can drop back to a .22, work through a problem, and move back to the larger caliber.

With this unit, you keep the trigger pull of the original pistol, unlike the SIG Mosquito [,22 LR], which has a horrible DA trigger. I was told at an armorer's class in November of 2007 that the trigger was mandated by California law. Further, I was told that SIG had no plans to bring out a conversion. I guess they changed their minds.

JWR Replies: With the current high cost of centerfire ammunition, I highly recommend getting one .22 rimfire conversion kits for each model of your rifle and pistol in your primary firearms battery. Because these conversion kits are not classified as "firearms" in most jurisdictions, they can usually be bought without any paper trail. There are a few countries that are exceptions, such as South Africa, where barrels are a restricted (registerable) part of a firearm.

Eric mentioned this article from The Guardian newspaper, in England: Honey, they shrank the packets of food. Eric's comment: All the more reason to purchase whole foods in bulk, learn how to process it into edibles, store it, etc. They cannot shrink the size of a 50 pound bag of red hard winter wheat.

   o o o

Eric also spotted this: Mother' s Solar Heat Grabber

   o o o

Kevin A. flagged this: The US Housing Bubble's Pop Could Doom Boomers by Lauren Tara LaCapra. It begins: "The collapse of the housing bubble will likely wipe away most - if not all - of the wealth families have accumulated over the last two decades, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research."

   o o o

Wolf sent us a link to a useful list of troubled banks, compiled ABC News.

"The mistakes made with excessive credit at artificially low rates are huge, and the market is demanding a correction. This involves excessive debt, misdirected investments, over-investments, and all the other problems caused by the government when spending the money they should never have had. Foreign militarism, welfare handouts and $80 trillion entitlement promises are all coming to an end. We don't have the money or the wealth-creating capacity to catch up and care for all the needs that now exist because we rejected the market economy, sound money, self reliance and the principles of liberty." - Congressman Ron Paul

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Memsahib had a serious mishap here at the Rawles Ranch and will require surgery. We've chalked it up to being part of life, living and working with horses. We would appreciate your prayers. OBTW, because of her surgery I may be a bit sporadic about making SurvivalBlog posts for a few days, starting either Friday or Saturday. Thanks for your patience.

Will there be more bank failures and bank runs? You betcha. IndyMac was just the first big one. (And it was, in fact, the second largest bank failure in US history.) I have been warning about the threat of bank runs in SurvivalBlog for nearly a year. As I've said before, the FDIC--backed by the "full faith and credit..." will make good on their promises, but it may take up to six months before all of the depositors of the failed banks get their insurance checks.

Today is the last day in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. The high bid is now at $535. 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 and 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 bid, ASAP. The auction ends at midnight eastern time tonight (July 15, 2008).

Dear Jim,
According to the Federal government, the consumer price index (all items less food and energy) rose just 2.4% since May, 2007.

If that's the case, then I wonder why the [modular steel] cattle panels down at the local farm supply went from $12.99 on May 20, to $18.99 on June 12, and are priced at $27.99 today. That's a whopping 125% price increase in just 60 days. Call me curious, - Dutch in Wyoming

JWR Replies: I hope that SurvivalBlog readers took the advice that I posted back on May 19th. It bears repeating:

"Of immediate concern is that the increased wholesale price of steel will soon work its way down to the consumer level. So if you are certain about any fencing projects at your retreat in the next two or three years, then buy the materials in advance. (Rolls of woven wire, rolls of barbed wire, smooth wire, T-posts, staples, et cetera.) Consider it part of your Alpha Strategy."

How many times do I need to say this? Tangibles, tangibles, tangibles! Investing in non-perishable tangibles is the key to sheltering yourself from the ravages of inflation.

One more word of warning that relates to the price of steel: If you plan to buy a gun vault or any other heavy steel manufactured item, then buy it immediately. The increased cost of diesel fuel for trucking and galloping steel prices may soon work together to double or triple the retail price of items like gun vaults. If you find that you have "missed the boat" on vault price increases in your local area, then shop for a used vault, by placing a newspaper or Craigslist want ad. I suspect that it will be a while before the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) catches on, and ups their prices to match the manufacturers and retailers. Ditto for other manufactured heavy steel items such as bench vises, anvils, tractor implements, farm gates, stock panels, and so forth. The clock is ticking.

If you ever wanted graphic proof of the lethal supremacy of the 7.62mm NATO round over the 5.56mm, a recent thread from M4Carbine.net is the argument stopper! (Be forewarned, these documents have graphic pictures of the wounds to the deceased Bad Guy taken at the Coroner’s.) This FBI study of a police and SWAT shooting incident shows in graphic clarity why training (shot placement under stress) and superior ballistics are so important in a fire fight, especially a fight where your aggressor is determined and motivated for the fight. The subject (a determined street thug) took more than 17 direct body hits, with several broken bones as a result, before the LEOs were able to wrestle him into cuffs and restraints! All of these hits were from the respected .40 S&W pistol round and several from 5.56mm Hornady TAP rounds (both 55 gr. and 75 gr.), supposedly the “Holy Grail” cartridge of AR-15 defensive ammo, for some. One could only wonder what a TAP round (Nosler Ballistic Tip-type) in .308 would have done to stop the fight?

Sadly, the key [factor identified by this study] is shot placement. None of the over 100 ROUNDS FIRED were hits to the body into vital organs. If they were, I bet even the 5.56mm TAP rounds would have put the aggressor down, but not as quickly as a powerful, higher mass, .308 round would, I’m sure.

Also, keep in mind that the man was shot several times while laying on the ground (continuing to fight, I might add), so the 1” penetration claims of the .40 S&W round could be due to the round traveling under the skin, as the study is not clear in this area. They are clear about the impossibility of only a 1” penetration with mushrooming when directed into body mass, however. Here is the direct link to the PDF: Regards, - Rmplstlskn

Mr. Rawles,
I have read your novel Patriots and passed it along to several people that I know. Most of them now own their own copy as well and it has been a big boost in helping them see the need for making preparations for the times ahead.

It is with great interest that I have read the recent discussions about solar flares on the blog. The novel that first piqued my interest in survival and preparedness was the book Solar Flare by Strategic Air Command veteran and former NASA employee Larry Burkett. The premise of the novel is an eruption of solar flares that destroys much of the technology in the modern world, and how people begin to cope and adapt. Certainly not as comprehensive as your novel but it is an interesting read nonetheless. Before his death in 2003, Mr. Burkett was also a well known Christian financial advisor and wrote other books such as What Ever Happened to the American Dream?, The Coming Economic Earthquake, and Your Finances in Changing Times.

Thanks again for your work on the blog, and God Bless! - Bryan S.

JWR Replies: The majority of opinion is that the likelihood of a truly massive solar flare event (i.e. a huge coronal mass ejection (CME) with an accompanying X-ray flare burst) is extremely low. Ian O'Neill, one of the chief debunkers of solar flares and similar threats posts at the Universe Today web site. I generally agree with him, but I don't completely rule out the chance of a massive flare that could have EMP-like effects. Just like the often over-emphasized "magnetic pole shift." and sudden-onset climate change threats, I personally place the CME threat way over at the far end of the threat matrix. It is the corner of the chart that I label "Extremely low likelihood in our lifetimes, but devastating if it were to occur." My viewpoint on preparedness for a massive CME event is this: As long as we are preparing for nuclear fallout and EMP as every family should, then we are also preparing for solar flare shielding--since those preparations are nearly identical.

KAF sent us this follow-up article about the recent IndyMac bank run and closure: Chuck Schumer, bank killer. OBTW, I stand by my prediction (since 2007) that there will soon be widespread bank failures and runs. The global credit collapse has made them inevitable. JWR's recommendation: Check up on your bank's safety rating. Spread out your risk between institutions by opening numerous smaller accounts, and keep extra cash on hand! 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. Meanwhile, we read: Fannie Mae, Freddie Rescue a `Unmitigated Disaster'

   o o o

Thanks to Paul B. for this link: Why Wall Street Is in the Midst of Its Worst Round of Layoffs in Decades

   o o o

Reader Norman in England sent us this from The Times of London: Britain is creating youths who have nothing to lose by crime.

   o o o

Northerners Flee Rising Heating Oil Costs. (A hat tip to Luke N.)

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” - Philip K. Dick

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wow! We are rapidly approaching the milestone of four million unique visits to SurvivalBlog. Not bad for a "niche" blog. Thanks for helping to make SurvivalBlog such a success. Please continue to spread the word.

There is just one day left in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. The high bid is now 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 bid, ASAP. The auction ends at midnight (eastern time) on July 15, 2008.

Hi Jim,
I recently bought a Glock 21 (.45 ACP). Although the pistol works great, it did not fit my hand well and it tended to point to the right as I brought it up to fire. I have large hands so it was not a "large gun, small hand" problem. I love my Glock 19 and Glock 27 so there is no anti-Glock bias here.

For comparison, I bit the bullet and bought a [Springfield Armory] XD Tactical in 45 ACP. Renting a gun is not an option where I live, so if you do not know someone with an particular model, you are out of luck in the testing department. Anyhow, I can not be more happy with my choice of the XD. The pistol is about as [Model] 1911 feeling as you can get in a plastic frame firearm. I believe it is the steel magazine used in the XD that allows for the much thinner and more ergonomic grip design. I was also pleasantly surprised by the ambidextrous safety that works like a 1911. No more weak finger magazine changes for me.

I would wholeheartedly recommend the XD to anyone looking for a reliable pistol and would point to my $600 Glock 21 mistake as evidence.
Kind regards, - Bill A.

JWR Replies: I've heard from many SurvivalBlog readers that they love the ergonomics of the XD grip angle. They are fantastic pistols. And now that spare parts for the XD pistols are becoming available, they are my top pick for self defense pistols. (And this comes from someone that was heretofore a dyed-in-the-wool M1911 dinosaur!)

A reminder to all SurvivalBlog readers in North America: Front Sight's Gun + Gear + Training special offer (that includes a free XD pistol in your choice of calibers) will be ending soon. My advice is: go for it, or you will kick yourself later! It is a great bargain and it would be a shame to miss out. The Front Sight gray course certificates are transferable (they can be used by anyone that hasn't trained at Front Sight before), so the deal is worthwhile even if you end up giving your course certificate to a relative or a friend that has the time to train. They also have no expiration date, so there are no worries if there is a delay in scheduling your classes. (OBTW, with the hot climate in southern Nevada, I recommend scheduling classes between mid-October and early April.)

Regarding your Glock 21, don't consider it a "mistake" and a loss, just because it doesn't fit your hand. As I've mentioned in SurvivalBlog before, there is an option for you: Both Robar and Arizona Response Systems do very nice machined grip reduction gunsmithing on Glocks. In his excellent book "Boston's Gun Bible", author Boston T. Party mentions that a large frame (G20/G21) Glock with a grip reduction feels a lot like holding a Browning Hi-Power. Boston highly recommends frame reductions. Although I haven't personally had any Glock work done by them, I have done business with both Robar and Arizona Response Systems for more than a decade on other gunsmithing projects. Both firms are very competent and reputable. The last I heard, Robar had higher gunsmithing rates and a deeper backlog of orders. So you should probably go with T. Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems. OBTW, if your budget allows it, have tritium sights installed at the same time as the grip reduction job.

Hi James,
My name is Heather. My husband and a couple of friends started discussing your novel "Patriots" and that they wanted to be prepared. I began reading the book to get an idea what my husband was talking about. I found it very interesting and informative, however, being the more logistical minded of us I am at a loss as to where to start. We have four children under the age of 11 and live in downtown Salem, Oregon. We both work so we have some money to begin preparing with, but what do we start with? And if preparing for a scenario as described in the book, is there a formula or guesstimate on what each person will need for a year of food, clothing etc? I have been looking through books and web sites but I haven't found anything like that. My husband and his friend are reviewing the weapons and such but is there a general guide to how much to stock up? I apologize in advance if this information was in the book or your web site and I missed it. Thank you very much for your book, your knowledge, and your enthusiasm! - Heather

JWR Replies: My oft-cited "Lists of Lists" post is a good starting point in prioritizing what you need. However, quantities can be very subjective. They are dependent on how long you think a crisis will last, and how many "strap hangers" will show up on your doorstep the day after the Schumer Hits the Fan (SHTF). Those siblings and cousins that incessantly teased you about being a "paranoid preparedness nut" (and that did nothing to provide for themselves) will be standing there, looking very sheepish.

As for determining quantities for food storage, see the calculator at the LDS Provident Living web site, which I linked to in this November, 2007 SurvivalBlog post.

Maybe Chris S. misunderstood the AR reference chart that you referenced. I just wanted to defend the comparison link on ARs you posted. It is accurate on the quality. Remember, this list is only for specific models from a particular manufacturer, but is also overall a good gauge of how that manufacturer makes things. If xyz manufacturer properly stakes the carrier key sometimes (as Chris pointed out, his was better than the Bushmaster listed), and not all the time, they aren't going to get the "X." This is because they do not consistently or reliably produce quality. I can tell you from my firearms teaching experience, that the little things do add up or are by themselves critical. Lack of quality can get you killed. In particular, on an AR type weapon the most important thing to make sure that it is done properly is the bolt carrier group. The gas key screws must be staked or they risk backing out during firing, which can result in a major breakage/malfunction or even risks danger to the user. I've seen this happen. Also make sure the extractor spring has the black plastic insert (to boost extractor tension) or you might experience extraction issues. I've seen a lot of ARs malfunction (type 3/double feed) because some company saved themselves 25 cents in manufacturing and skipped inserting that black insert on a $1,200 rifle! That kinda makes me wonder what other corners they cut. Honestly, things like parkerizing under the front sight base that are on that chart, aren't critical, but they can potentially extend the service life of the rifle and are an overall indicator of the attention the company pay to the manufacturing process. Like Chris S., I own a Bushmaster. But I have upgraded and fixed some of those more critical things on it (I swapped to an LMT bolt carrier group, and I staked the castle nuts), so that it is TEOTWAWKI-worthy.

Chris is right that you have to be careful when buying an AR-type rifle from a private party because many sellers will tell you (either by honest mistake or dishonestly) that "this is an xyz brand AR." I got suckered a couple times when I was more inexperienced and didn't know what I was looking at. Know your stuff, or bring along someone who does. Despite the paper trail, often buying directly from reputable [manufacturing] companies like Noveske or LMT, is the way to go. I strongly suggest SurvivalBlog readers who own or are thinking of owning an AR platform weapon to read that link you posted again, and in particular, the explanations below the chart that discuss why those things can be critical. Oh, and don't forget, the AR-series rifles and carbines run best when well-lubricated. - PPPP

Krys in Idaho spotted this: World Bank's Zoellick: Food prices high until 2012

   o o o

Cheryl sent us this troubling article over at The Market Oracle: Fannie and Freddie Credit Implosions Are Too Big to Bail Out

   o o o

Anyone that owns both an AR-15 and an FN 5.7mm pistol might be interested in the new 5.7 AR upper receiver groups made by FN. Apparently FN is finally now shipping them --unless this seller is marketing vaporware.

   o o o

Some Deep Schumer: IndyMac ‘Bank run caused by Senator comments’

"Hopefully the FDIC insurance will take care of it. I'm also kind of kicking myself for not taking care of this sooner, sooner as in the last couple of days." - Alan Sands, a former IndyMac Bank customer; quoted on Friday, July 11, 2008, commenting on how he was unable to draw funds after his bank was closed by Federal regulators in the midst of a bank run.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Today, with permission, we present a guest article by economist Richard Daughty (a.k.a. "The Mogambo Guru"). I have been a fan of his columns for many years. He has a hilarious writing style, with articles that are often peppered with The Mogambo Guru's Gloriously Insightful and Articulate Whilst Jovial Acronyms De Jour (TMGGIAAWJADJ). I should also mention that I unashamedly filched one of his acronyms for my own use, changing it slightly to: Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR).

The first half of the year is over, and now all those brokerage accounts and retirement accounts will be sending out statements to hapless account holders, and it is bad news in spades. This is why (I assume) the Plunge Protection Team (composed of the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and bank insiders) tried to drive the stock markets up on Monday, June 30 - to make those account statements look not quite as bad, and, hopefully, prevent people from dumping all of their stock and bond holdings in a desperate attempt to save something before the whole idiotic, fiat-currency, unlimited-fractional-banking thing just collapses.

Perhaps this drop in the market averages (as demand overwhelms supply) is what prompted John Williams at Shadowstats.com to write, "Overhanging the markets for a number of years has been the question as to when the major holders of excess U.S. dollars in the global financial system might look to dump those holdings. An opportunity for that dumping is at hand."

The reason is that "Most central banks know that their unwanted dollar hoards are going to generate long-term losses, but the oil markets have opened up an opportunity to mitigate some of those losses. For the rest of the world, dollar dumping now would reduce inflation risks outside the United States."

This means that "Over the longer term, U.S. equities, bonds and the greenback should suffer terribly, while gold and silver prices should boom."
And it is not just him and me that are so gloomy, but a new study from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) noted that a plunge in the dollar "may happen", as the dollar has slid 14% against the euro (EUR) in the past year, handing foreign investors in U.S. dollar assets "big losses measured in dollars, and still bigger ones measured in their own currency", and which is making people so nervous that "a sudden rush for the exits cannot be ruled out completely."

Bob Janjuah, analyst at the Royal Bank of Scotland, has also advised clients that "A very nasty period is soon to be upon us - be prepared," which goes along with that bank's warning that inflation has paralyzed the world's central banks, and that of a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months looks more and more likely.

And the stupid banks (always the cause of all of economic troubles) are suffering from their own stupidity, and Bill Buckler of The-Privateer.com newsletter notes that "US Banks have suffered $US 391 billion of losses and write-downs from mortgage- related securities since the start of 2007, according to the data compiled by Bloomberg. US banks could lose another $US 300 billion on real estate loans during the year ahead."

What makes this $691 billion loss so special is that "such losses could jeopardize balance sheets because the US banking system had only $US 1,350 billion of equity capital". Hahaha! They've lost two-thirds of the banks capital! Hahaha! Morons!

Since all things are connected to all things, he says, "the sum of it all is that the entire US banking and financial system is so threadbare, fragile and short of capital that a collapse or crash in one place could knock the underpinnings out from under several other US financial sectors which would take even more down with them. A systemic crash - at any time - is today a distinct possibility."

This is all in addition to the fact that morons who have kept investing in the American stock market are suffering losses, proving once again that the majority of investors must lose money over the long term. Spengler at atimes.com notes that when he says, "American equity markets show no real capital gains since 1997. That is, an American who bought the equivalent of the Standard and Poor's 500 Index at $954 in January 1997 and sold today at $1,278 would have exactly the same number of inflation-adjusted dollars."
Mr. Spengler concludes, "My advice to individual investors? Invest in some popcorn, because the next six months will be something to watch."

Jim Sinclair of jsmineset.com is more humorously laconic when he says, "You can be sure something really stupid is about to happen." He might have been referring to me, but I am usually stupid to start with, and so why would he just be mentioning it now? So, I think he means something more sinister. Much more sinister. And ugly. - July 7, 2008

Editor's Note: Richard Daughty is general partner and COO for Smith Consultant Group, serving the financial and medical communities, and the editor of The Mogambo Guru economic newsletter - "an avocational exercise to heap disrespect on those who desperately deserve it." The Mogambo Guru is quoted frequently in Barron's, The Daily Reckoning and other fine publications. Click here to visit the Mogambo archive page.

Mr. Rawles:
I'm a single mother of an 11-year-old living in rural Colorado, with good food and supply stores. I share a house with another single woman who owns it, in a duplex apartment. We have wood heat and national forest out back. We have no firearms. I have no family and I'm on disability, but I have a registered nurse license and keep it up. I honestly do have a very hard time working a job, but would if I had to and realize it may come to that. I have been disabled since a car accident in 2004.
My question is related to race. I'm black. I feel horribly isolated out here and sad all the time. Even church people are cold and distant. I'm afraid to go out and take a walk with my child as people have screamed and thrown things at us. And Colorado isn't even as bad some other areas. If something happens fast versus a slow emergency and people panic, I think these people would easily seek to hurt my daughter unless we keep hidden.

I want to move to Atlanta (my child was born there and her father is there who would help also), where I could make friends, have Christian fellowship with real Christians, and have some support (emotional) from others and have a chance of doing normal things such as dating.

The problem with Atlanta, is not a worry about gang members, who are actually people too--and in a minority, they would be quickly put down by people such as the Muslims and regular folk if they decide to be aggressive to their own (unlikely other than to other criminals and drug users, and even more unlikely that they'd travel)--but if it is a SHTF situation I worry that areas such as that would simply be cordoned off without supplies and the people within them left to die. I see the average Americans quite capable of this sort of evil (I equate them to Germans in the 1930s and early 1940s) because they don't seem to think of us as truly :"people" unless we are "exceptions" in their eyes. As a Christian, I think these very prideful, affluent and braggart-type people are the sorts who will be destroyed by the Lord, no matter where they live and how safe they've tried to make themselves, not the majority in the inner city as their wisdom has it. The meek will inherit the earth.

My question is whether I should trust in the Lord and move to Atlanta or stick it out in what is an adequate retreat in rural Colorado given my circumstances? Ideally, I would prefer to leave the country, but don't have the resources to do that.

JWR Replies: Colorado probably won't be good for you, unless you can join an established "retreat" group there. I am sorry to read that even church people you know are cold and distant. (I would pray that most Christian retreat groups are essentially color blind. They'd be happy to have a member that was of any race if they had years of practical experience as a nurse.)

The Memsahib Adds: Your neighborhood sounds horrible! Is it just one horrible person who screams and throws things? Or are most of your neighbors awful? Whether you stay or move, as a single person without family, black or white, you ought to have as your highest preparedness priority to develop a support group. This may not be a full blown survival group. But it could be people who you could count on if you got snowed in, or your car broke down, or you ran out of firewood. I think that rural people expect mutual aid in times of trouble. Although because of your accident you are not able to work full-time as a nurse, can you volunteer part time as a ministry? For instance could you volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, at a Vacation Bible School or Camp, or part time at a Christian school or daycare, as a nurse? This would be a way to serve the Lord and let the local community see your value as a nurse. If people in your community are made aware of your skills and training, race might become less of an issue. As for the ugly, ugly, ugly, individuals who don't think of blacks as truly people, as you say, unless you are "exceptions" in their eyes, maybe they will see you as the exception, which will make you and your daughter safer. Perhaps in the course of volunteering you will develop friendships with the other volunteers. Helping others will help you with feelings of isolation and sadness. (But I have to say, I do think the church today is really failing in hospitality. For example, we have had people in our church say to us that they "would love to have over for a visit", yet more than a full year has gone by before they set an actual date for the visit!) Another thought is: attend the Bible studies your church offers. When people get to know you as a person, maybe they will not see the color of your skin. It is really a shame that you have to work so hard just because your race. That isn't the way it ought to be! But, I think this advice applies to any single person. The single person must work extra hard to immerse themselves into the community. You must go out of your way to attend all the community activities and do works of service for your neighbors and church members. Eventually they will start reciprocating. And maybe they will even come to rely on you for certain things. Bit by bit, you will become a part of their social network. And when things go bad they will feel compelled, out of their reciprocal relationship with you, to aid you in your time of trouble. God bless you and your daughter in your upcoming decision on relocation.

JWR Continues: If you do decide to move out of Colorado, then I'd recommend that you move to a more rural portion of the southeastern US than Atlanta! The city of Atlanta and its suburbs will likely be a war zone if and when bad times come. North Georgia is rural and has a lower population density than the communities around Atlanta, but it is already so impoverished that it might not do well in an economic depression. Rather, you should pick a more prosperous yet still agricultural area (preferably with mostly "truck farming") and with a low population density, that is well away from urban sprawl. It should be well inland to be safe from hurricanes, but no in the primary Tornado Belt. (For example, western Tennessee would be a bad choice.) Just as important is finding a good church home--somewhere that you can be with like-minded folks, of any race.

One clue: Look for small towns (250 to 3,000 population) with one or more church that has a mixed race congregation. Those are the places where people will likely work together rather than divide along racial lines, in the event of a disaster.

Another clue: Look for churches with "Reformed" in their church name. They tend to have a high ratio of preparedness-minded individuals. (And usually sound doctrine, too!)

If you would consider relocating to join an existing retreat group that would value your skills as a nurse, then see the "Finding Others" static page at my site:

With current high food prices, truck farming areas are likely to do well in the next few years. You might consider some of the more rural counties in eastern Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, or perhaps north Alabama.

In your situation, since you are unarmed, you are probably best off joining a group where you can benefit from mutual security, and where you can put your medical skills good use with folks that will appreciate them and benefit from your knowledge and experience. Proceed with prayer!

Eric flagged this one: Britain urging return to wartime food frugality

   o o o

In doing research on dry climate gardening, Eric also came across a fascinating gardening technique called "Keyhole Gardening"

   o o o

SurvivalBlog warned you that this was coming: Fannie, Freddie shares in meltdown on insolvency fears

   o o o

Nate sent us the link to some commentary by Mark Gilbert at Bloomberg: Granddad, Tell How Capitalism Committed Suicide

"My people perish for lack of knowledge." - Hosea 4:6

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I first learned of your blog site through a New York Times article that ran back in April. Since then, I have spent a lot of time on your excellent site, and have followed many of your suggestions. I think the best you've made so far is that people read the book "Boston's Gun Bible". Mine is now a well thumbed rag doll, but the amount of knowledge contained within is impressive. My larder and defensive cache are coming along nicely.

I want to point out another New York Times article to you: Are You Ready for the Next Disaster? What's most disturbing [about this article] is that there are actually people out there willing to admit that they are less prepared now then they were before 9/11! That really crystallizes the sort of folks I would include in the term "Golden Horde"--or as we call them in my house, "the zombies".

Keep up the good work, and thanks for all of your efforts! - Archimedes

A few pieces of additional information about antennas: Quarter wave antennas are traditionally used for portable radios as they match the radio's output impedance of 50 Ohms. By matching this impedance with an antenna of 50 Ohms you get maximum energy transfer. A 1/2 wavelength long antenna (twice as long as a 1/4 wave) has an impedance of several thousand Ohms and is not a suitable radiator unless you add some sort of impedance matching between the radio or the antenna. This can be in the form of a coil and capacitor or an antenna tuner. One advantage a 1/2 wave antenna (with a matching section) has is that it is less reliant upon a metal ground plane to function efficiently. VHF marine antennas are almost always 1/2 wave antennas.
Now, this is not to be confused with a 1/2 wave dipole which is really two 1/4 wave elements attached to each side of the coax (impedance = 75 Ohms and usually close enough to 50 Ohm to not create a problem). If mounted vertically, the lower element attached to the shield of the coax acts as the ground plane portion of the antenna. In fact, by adding a couple of additional elements to the shield side and positioning them at a 45 degree angle, this creates a 1/4 wave ground plane that has an impedance of 50 Ohms.
Sometimes you can get over an impedance mismatch by simply using a longer antenna with more capture area thereby delivering better reception. When transmitting though you should keep the antenna close to 50 Ohms to avoid damage to the radio's transistor final amplifiers.
For more information that you could digest at one sitting, see the links at this site. -- Rob at MURS radios


Concerning the letter from "SF in Hawaii" on the topic of "Some Transceiver Antenna Questions": Another factor in antenna selection is the impedance of the antenna at it's resonate frequency. Almost all 2-way radios are designed for use with a 50-Ohm antenna system. Select the correct 50-Ohm impedance coaxial cable to connect your radio to an external antenna. Typical 50-Ohm coaxial cables are RG-58, RG-8, and RG-213. Do not use 75-Ohm coaxial cables designed for regular TV or cable television (CATV) systems! Typical 75-Ohm coaxial cables to avoid for 2-way radio use are RG-59 and RG-6. Special co-phasing harnesses made with RG-59 coaxial cable are used in special applications, such as dual CB antennas on a tractor-trailer truck, so that the resulting impedance between the two antennas is 50-Ohms at the connection to the CB radio. But for a single CB antenna, you need to stick with 50-Ohm coaxial cable.

Then there is the antenna itself. The 5/8-wavelength, 1/2-wavelength, and 1/4-wavelength antenna design tends to have an impedance close to 50-Ohms. A full-wavelength or other fraction thereof antenna is no where near 50-Ohms. That is why you never hear any other type of antenna mentioned. Because the radio is designed for a 50-Ohm antenna system, 50-Ohm coaxial cable is used along with either a 5/8, 1/2, or 1/4-wavelength antenna. For the maximum radiated signal, all three components (radio, coaxial cable, and antenna) must be near the same 50-Ohms of impedance. An impedance miss-match results in wasted power and possible damage to the transmitter section of the 2-way radio due to reflected transmitter power coming back down the coax from the antenna and going back into the radio.
Your correspondent in Israel may not be familiar with the American Citizen's Band (CB) radio service. Various countries have created similar "CB" radio services, but the allocated frequencies can vary depending on each country. The CB radio band in the US is a range of High Frequency (HF) radio frequencies that lie between one of the shortwave broadcast bands and the Amateur Radio Service 10-Meter band. These frequencies are divided into 40 channels, separated by 10 kHz steps, from 26.965 to 27.405 MHz. The term "Meters" is a measurement of the wavelength of a radio signal at a given frequency. The 27 MHz CB band is 11-meters. The 28 MHz Amateur Radio Service (ham) band is 10-meters.

The length of an antenna is directly proportional to the radio wavelength used. The shorter the wavelength, the shorter the antenna. Convert 11-meters to feet and you end up with one wavelength being about 36-feet long at the 27 MHz CB frequencies. This is why a 1⁄2-wave CB base station antenna is typically 18-feet long, and a 1⁄4-wave mobile whip antenna is 9-feet long. The measurements of frequency, wavelength, and antenna length are all interrelated.

A general rule of thumb for mobile 2-Way radios is not to use ridiculously short antennas and not to mount them right next to the car body! A transmitting antenna needs to be free and clear of obstructions in order to radiate a signal effectively. As previously mentioned, a traditional 1⁄4-wave whip antenna for the CB band is 9-feet long (102-inches, plus a 6-inch shock spring). It is naturally resonant on the 27 MHz frequencies used by CB radios and contains no loading coils. But at highway speeds the long whip antenna tends to lean far back due to wind resistance, reducing the effective range of the signal being transmitted. Various CB antenna designs utilize "loading coils" to reduce the physical length of the antenna, while maintaining the equivalent electrical length of the 1/4-wave 9-foot whip. These designs are a compromise, since it is the whip portion of the antenna that radiates most of the signal - not the loading coil. The shorter antennas do a better job of staying vertically upright at highway speeds. The performance of a 60-inch CB antenna with a base loading coil is usually an acceptable compromise from the far more awkward 9-foot whip antenna. A variety of 4 to 7-foot long 5/8-wave fiberglass antennas with a wire "wrap" are also available and provide another good compromise over the full size whip antenna. Their thick fiberglass core does a better job of keeping the antenna vertical at highway speeds. The better ones have a "tunable tip" feature that allows the antenna to be fine tuned without having to use a hacksaw to cut off excess length. (Plus, once you cut it off - you can't put it back!)

Whatever you do, don't buy a cheap 19-inch long magnetic-mount CB antenna and expect it to equal the performance of the full size 9-foot whip! Those antennas have so much of the antenna length replaced by a loading coil that their effective range is usually measured in yards instead of miles. Those who prefer the performance of the 9-foot whip antenna for CB radio sometimes use fishing line tied between the antenna and the vehicle body to hold the antenna in the vertical position when driving down the highway. The appropriate strength or "test" of fishing line will keep the whip upright while going down the road, but still break if the antenna strikes an overhead obstruction such as a low tree branch. Quality CB antenna brands include K-40, Wilson, and Firestik.

A base station directional antenna (or "beam" antenna) such as the Yagi or the Log Periodic design not only needs to be correctly mounted with the correct polarization - it also has to be pointed at the direction you want to talk. This requires an electric antenna rotator with sufficient rating to handle the size of your antenna (TV antenna rotators are usually unable to handle a large directional "beam" antenna). If you only need to communicate between two specific locations, a properly oriented (polarized) beam antenna will be very effective. But for general purpose use, an omni-directional antenna, such as a 1/2-wave [vertical] base station antenna would be your best choice. - Sarge

Jesse and Eric both sent us this link to a WorldNetDaily article: Congress warned: U.S. risks 'catastrophe' in EMP attack. Eric asks: "Is your vehicle EMP safe? Do you have spare solid state bits stored in a Faraday Cage that is properly grounded? If you don't then you could find yourself walking or pedaling. "

   o o o

The folks at CGW (one of our loyal advertisers) just launched a new updated web site, with more than 300 new products added to their already large inventory of gun parts, optics, knives, and tactical field gear. Some of the new items include Bushnell Elite Scopes and Red Dots, Glock Barrels, Leupold Mark2 & VX-L scopes, Maxpedition Versipaks, and AR-15 products from ARMS, Troy Industries, and Daniel Defense. I can vouch that CGW also does amazing gunsmithing. (We have three L1A1 rifles that were custom built by them, here at the ranch.) Check them out, and please mention SurvivalBlog when you place and order.

   o o o

Ben M. mentioned this article that refutes a recent assertion by sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg, over at Asimov's: Analysis: recent panics over rare metal scarcity overblown

   o o o

Rob A. and Rick D. flagged this article: IndyMac Seized by U.S. Regulators Amid Cash Crunch. The piece begins: "IndyMac Bancorp Inc. became the second-biggest federally insured financial company to fail today after a run by depositors left the California mortgage lender short on cash.” As I've said before: The ongoing global credit collapse will lead to lots of bank runs. Be ready.

"And did they get you to trade
your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?" - Roger Waters, lyrics to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (1975)

Friday, July 11, 2008

There are just four days left in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. The high bid is now 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 soon, in $10 increments. The auction ends on July 15, 2008.

Several SurvivalBlog readers recently sent me a link to an article that ran in Britain's The Independent newspaper: Britain declares war on food waste. So it seems that The Powers That Be have figured out a way to ration food under a novel pretense--the wastefulness of bulk packaging. (I guess they've never heard of freezers, dehydrators, and vacuum packing machines. We hardly waste a morsel, here at the ranch. The subtle subtext to this new "war on waste" article ties in to the Fabian Socialist mindset that is so pervasive in England. (And sadly, here in America, as well.) They want to control the masses. The very thought of self-sufficiency offends them. After all, they statist model thrives on the dependency of the electorate.

This discussion naturally leads a larger issue for those of us that are well-prepared. It is the issue of the haves and the have-nots, when times get tough. I'm a big advocate of charity. I stress charity in all of my writings, and I have stocked extra food here at the ranch just to dispense as charity. I have a "give until it hurts" attitude toward charity. But I'll fight to my last breath deterring anyone that attempts to rob my family's sustenance by force. That includes both lawless looters, and bureaucrats who might choose to illegally loot under color of law. Both sorts of looters have a common bankruptcy of morals and ethics. And, to my mind, both deserve the same reaction from those that they attempt to rob: the force that looters apply should be immediately met with proportional force.

With that said at the intellectual level, there comes the practical aspects of defending your property from looters. Obviously, there is a continuum of force and resultant continuum of fear. Force can be applied by either party. To use force righteously, you must not be the one who initiates the use of force. If someone breaks into your home and you genuinely fear that they have intent to do you harm, then you have the the right and responsibility to defend your life. In some jurisdictions, this right extends to the right to defend your property, and often there is no requirement to give ground to an intruder. Part of this is the much-debated "Castle Doctrine", which is in effect in some of the United States. (One caveat: These laws vary considerably, so take the time research the peculiarities of the law and its application in your own jurisdiction. Do not consider anything I'm presenting here legal advice!)

Let's face it, no matter what the law says, some people in positions of authority may misuse their authority and deprive other people of their rights and property, under color of law. This happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it could happen again, regardless of legal protections under the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006 (and other laws.) History has shown that in extreme situations, laws are simply ignored and rights get trampled. How you will react in this event is up to you. Just don't do anything that you would be embarrassed to stand up and testify to in court, later. (And keep in mind that it might come down to that!) I recommend that you prepare yourself, prayerfully, about how far you are willing to go to stand up for what is right and lawful.

BTW, speaking of legalized looting, I heard that Ayn Rand's monumental novel Atlas Shrugged is finally being made into a movie, scheduled for release in 2009. Somehow, I have my doubts that Angelina Jolie can handle the role of Dagny Taggart. But who knows? She may surprise us with a stellar performance. If it results in more people "Gulching", then I'll consider the movie a success.

Hi Jim,
A while back on the blog you had a letter from a reader regarding the price increases that are coming down the pike (pun intended) for tuna. I was in a Wal-Mart the other day, and it looks like those increases are coming sooner rather than later.

Two weeks ago, I purchased a bunch of Wal-Mart house brand tuna packed in oil, 6 ounce cans, for $0.53 per can. Yesterday, I was in Wal-Mart again, and the same product is now $0.74 per can. That is a price increase of 39% in a fortnight! I’m happy to say that I laid in my three year supply (over 300 cans, mostly from Costco) before the price jump. Thanks for your counsel on this.

I have been stocking up on everything, because I figure it’s not going to get any cheaper. I have amassed in two months, starting from no food storage, a 1-year supply of “regular” rotatable food, and a three year supply of 30-year storable food. It wasn’t easy or cheap, the time required was like having a half-time job for the last two months) but I did it. I strongly encourage everyone to stock up now, while there is still food to be had. All of the major [long term storage food] canneries are running on 8 to 12 week backlogs. And I think those will only get worse as the number of people who decide to start preparing increases. Best, - A.L.

We have, just in the past six months, transitioned from a seller's market to a buyer's market in northwestern Montana. Much of this is due to the impact of stricter bank mortgage lending requirements. Many [previously commonplace ] investors and types of loans are now nowhere to be seen. I heard just this week that the lenders are requiring the appraisers to go back only two months (instead of six months) for comparatives. This is nearly impossible with the sales spiraling downward. This is quite a reversal from just two years ago, when we didn't have comps because the prices were going up so fast due to demand and lack of inventory!

Also contributing to the "Buyer's Market" transition is that many buyers have to sell their home from whence they are coming as their market has long become stagnant.
Those who can afford it and have been "shopping" for a retreat the past two years have been way too picky in their expectations for their money and privacy. Many have been shopping for several years and now realize the pickings are few, especially for properties without restrictive covenants to raise animals and have a little farmstead. We have a lot more inventory but only about 5% is covenant free for such use.

The other thing is that those who want waterfront or surface water will pay more as it is primo and getting more scarce, especially without restrictive covenants. Maybe one would want to address having a well with a hand pump and consider that the water is more easily protected from contaminants (but I will leave this recommendation to Mr. Rawles). Many good properties at dropping prices are passed up for this one reason.

Those who are demanding total privacy and can't afford a lot of land to allow such need to understand that only about 8% of our land is privately owned. (The good news to this is that the wildlife is abundant and one could easily bug out to the woods.) Therefore, parcels are usually grouped together for private purchase and use. So if you can get a property with a forest boundary or near bigger parcels for privacy that is as realistic as one will get. There may be a very few rare finds of "totally surrounded by forest" properties; but, then they are not accessible year round and may have to deal with US Forest Service road agreements. Would this cause one to be blocked in or out in the near future? I think looking for a good sustainable neighborhood could be of benefit if lieu of that perfect private piece, especially for those who can't afford a lot of acreage.

Also, larger parcels, even if you could afford them are getting fewer and fewer because they have been subdivided for more affordable land for buyers. These usually come with the new restrictive covenants and have caused the off balance of covenanted lands versus non-covenant.

Don't be fooled by the pictures on the MLS. There is nothing like actually looking at a piece and seeing how the "lay of the land" is. One could get 47 acres with creeks at the end of the road but it may not be always accessible or where you would want to build is on the corner of the property right next to the abutting owners summer cabin! The terrain and lay out can make all the difference in what you think you might want or not want.

Another warning: If a property is priced really well, then there is usually a reason. Yes, sometimes a seller actually prices something to sell. But be sure to know what the well depths are and especially, in this country, find out how much the normal the spring water run-off/melt will be and affect the property. Your 20 acres may only have 5 acres of useable land year round.

Many have not made the moves and changes in location and lifestyle needed for what's coming and are finding it is now "almost too late." They wanted their cake and ice cream too. One foot in both sides of reality and disillusionment. I envision that many will bail out of their current places and take what monetary resources they can squeeze out of to get to refuge areas, like here [in northwestern Montana]. They will abandon what they have in the cities and coastal areas when they realize it is too late; but, maybe think they can get out by a hair's breadth. Hopefully, they can settle for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th best before disaster strikes!

Another problem we see are buyers and their significant others not agreeing that something has to be done! One will know and want to move now or acquire a bug out retreat; yet, the spouse or children or parents don't! I implore those who can foresee what is coming, to go ahead and do what they know is needed. Otherwise, your loved ones will have nowhere to run to. They will be grateful. The worst that could happen, is that everything turns around and you live a more crime free, pollution free, healthier lifestyle and environment for you and your family. You can always go back to Egypt -- wherever that may be for you. Yes, you may sense a bit of personal prejudice towards this part of the country. I left my comfortable "Egypt" in 2004. <grin>

For others, they have actually lost almost everything due to job loss, natural disasters, et cetera. They had a boat come by to rescue them and said, "God will send me help." They finally realized they don't need a helicopter to get them out and they need to move now! They know they need to move in faith regardless of the obstacles now: though with much less than they had anticipated but thank goodness they are here or on their way.

Again, this is a prime location for people to nestled into and hunker down for the days to come. Even if you have to have a neighbor or community, you will find that the majority of these mountain people are prepared much more so than other locations in the United States. Viola Moss. E-mail: mtnmama@vmre.net Web site: www.vmre.net

JWR Adds: Be sure to take a look at the growing list of properties and agents available at SurvivalBlog's spin-off web site: www.SurvivalRealty.com.

Charles V. recommended this editorial by Craig R. Smith, the CEO of Swiss America: In the eye of an economic storm

   o o o

Readers Jerry S., OSOM, Korey, Nick, and Rob A. all sent us this: The Fannie and Freddie doomsday scenario--It's time to wonder what would happen if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed. Here is a telling quote: "'If Fannie or Freddie failed, it would be far worse than the fall of [investment bank] Bear Stearns,' says Sean Egan, head of credit ratings firm Egan Jones. 'It could throw the economy into depression or something close to it.'"

   o o o

Brent F. suggest this article from The Age, down in Oz: $8 a litre tipped for 2018

   o o o

Frequent content contributor Hawaiian K. recommended a PDF of a good, basic primer on responding to NBC incidents, available from Richard Fleetwood's outstanding SurvivalRing site.

"We are thus in the position of having to borrow from Europe to defend Europe, of having to borrow from China and Japan to defend Chinese and Japanese access to [Persian] Gulf oil, and of having to borrow from Arab emirs, sultans and monarchs to make Iraq safe for democracy. We borrow from the nations we defend so that we may continue to defend them. To question this is an unpardonable heresy called 'isolationism’." - Patrick J. Buchanan

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Special thanks to Bruce C., a US Air Force officer that kindly volunteered some if his spare time to re-edit the SurvivalBlog Glossary. He helped flesh out a number of entries, and made some corrections, particularly for some radio and aviation terms. Gracias!

Dear Jim:
I enjoy and appreciate your site. I am concerned about the gentlemen [TRK, who stated in a recently-posted e-mail that he is] amassing tons of copper pennies. I understand his desire to hedge against inflation, but it seems risky to do so with a $60,000 investment in copper pennies. I didn't want to see your readers get wiped out by following his bad advice.

Let's remember, you can't fill your belly with pennies, nor can you bandage your wounds with them. While pennies are certainly tangible, preparedness is all about useful tangibles. Beans, bullets, Band-Aids. Preparedness is first about having the immediate means of [preserving] life on hand, second about having the knowledge and means to adapt to changes, and third, about protecting what you have. (Which might include your monetary wealth, including protecting it from inflation).

First lesson: What this gentleman is doing is last priority. You can do without money, you can't do without food for your family or the means to provide it in the future. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he has his priorities already squared away.

The Problems With Pennies

The Government has made bulk melting down coins illegal [, per] 31 USC 5111 allows the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit melting of coins (which he has). The penalty for violation of it is five years in federal prison. I realize that the prepper, TRK, said nothing about melting them down, but, see my next point:

Which is more likely?: The entire US will come to a rapid, screeching halt, or the prepper will have an unexpected event happen in his life: the loss of a job, an illness, et cetera.

If something happened (which it always does), and he needed the to cash out his notional gains into real cash, the only place he could really do it would be a scrap metal shop - and they're not going to buy his pennies if the penalty is 5 years in the clink.

So, if he needs the money, he's going to have to cash the coins in at face value. Actually, probably a discount to face value, because no bank is going to accept tons of pennies, he'll have to find some way to get paper money.

If he was able to cash out, he'd wouldn't be "assured" of getting what he paid for them as he suggests. He'd take a full body punch of inflation. If, as he says, inflation runs at 20% a year, and he has to cash out after five years, he would have lost 80% of his "face value". His $60,000 would only purchase $12,000 worth of goods [in real terms].

Okay, you say, I'll melt it myself and deliver the melted down metal to a scrap metal shop. No good. Copper melts at 1,984 degrees F. No big deal if you're melting one or one hundred pennies, but if your melting over 14 million pennies, like someone who has 40 tons of pennies would have to, it's gonna take quite a bit of time and energy, as well as specialized equipment.

Miscalculation of Future Value

The prepper in question may assume that, in the future "after the collapse," copper will be worth more than it is now. Is that necessarily true? In the event of a wholesale collapse, who exactly, will be buying copper? Further, he assumes a global market. But, in a collapse, he will only be able to sell to buyers near where he lives, and they will determine the value of his copper. Since copper can't be eaten, and, as a soft metal, it isn't good for machining or armoring or the like, he'd be damned lucky to be able to sell it at any price.

While copper isn't an unlimited resource, it is fairly abundant and is easily recycled. In a collapse, it will have near zero value. Long term, it's value is still likely to be lower than it is today, a time when China's overheated economy is driving up prices from equilibrium.

The uncertainty of the future value of copper puts this prepper and his family in significant jeopardy. He can't count on his copper to provide for his family in a crisis.

The Bartering Boondoggle

Again, in a collapse situation, copper is also worthless for bartering. First, it will be difficult to convince people that your pennies are 95% copper. Yes, the date indicates that, but they only have your word to take. There is no Internet that they can consult to ascertain the veracity of your story. So, your probably out of luck. People have jars of pennies lying around their houses.

More importantly, copper isn't gold or silver. I might very well sell you a dozen head of cattle for such and such amount of silver (or gold), but not for copper. The reason is familiarity. People are familiar with silver and gold as money. They know it's worth. They know that they will be able to trade it to someone else for what they need. It has a deeply-ingrained cultural acceptance, even in this age of credit cards and toilet-paper money.

Not so with copper. People are familiar with it (if at all) as plumbing and wiring. There's no impression of worth, no trust that it can be exchanged for other goods and services. Further, people have no way to value copper, absent a global market, and, as as the dozen head of cattle example suggests, even if they would accept copper, it's far to bulky for large-value transactions.

So, as we've seen,
1. Copper is not a survival prep
2. It is far more likely that you'll need access to your money than it is that the country will quickly and immediately collapse
3. Copper will be [in a collapse] probably worth pennies on the dollar. (Heh, heh)
4. Copper doesn't have barter value

I'm sorry to have to tear apart this scheme so thoroughly, but people could get hurt by following TRK's example. I envy the author's creativity and zeal for fighting back against the evils of inflation, but this is not the way to do it.

[As you've stressed in SurvivalBlog many times:] Beans, bullets, band aids first, then tools and knowledge for future employment. Last priority is protecting your assets. Readers should remember that you may need your money sooner rather than later, so it's not wise to lock up all you have in "survival" assets. You still need cash, money in the bank, T-bills, even stocks. Land is a great investment, but only at a good price and only if it's only a relatively small percentage of your wealth.

If there's an overall lesson here, it may be that we must prepare for the absence of collapse, just as we prepare for other eventualities.

Miscellaneous errata from the author's letter:

His math assumes that all 20 tons is copper. 5% is zinc which is worth only $.78 per pound. The real problem would be separating the zinc from the copper if you had to melt it down yourself. Also, I don't know if scrap metal shops might refuse pennies for similar reasons (in addition to the illegality).

A semi-truck load is 40 tons, not 20 tons. That is gross weight, so total payload capacity is less. Also this is a DOT rule, and carriers obviously load whatever they want.

Note: 20 tons is about 14.5 million pennies. That is an amazing figure. - Tom A


See this law reference: Five Cent and One Cent Coin Regulations
[The current Federal law states:]

"Except as specifically authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury (or designee) or as otherwise provided in this part, no person shall export, melt, or treat:
(a) Any 5-cent coin of the United States; or
(b) Any one-cent coin of the United States."

Regards, - PNG

JWR Replies: Your concerns are well-founded. In my piece about saving nickels, I make the same point: The U.S. Treasury ban on melting 1-cent and 5-cent coins went into effect in April of 2007. So it is indeed currently illegal for any "person" in the US to melt penny and nickel coins. It is also illegal to export more than $100 face value of pennies of nickels. (This intended to thwart salvage coin melting overseas, outside of US jurisdiction.) There is, however, a bill before the US Congress that would mandate the issuance of copper-plated steel pennies and that will likely result in the eventual rescission of the the penny and nickel melting ban. The bill, H.R. 5512, was authored by Congressman Zack Space, of Ohio. Space's bill has already passed in in the House, and will most likely pass in the Senate and be enacted, but there are no guarantees.

At this juncture, I should repeat a couple of important provisos: Any speculative investing should be seen as a potential total loss, and hence should never account for more than 5% of one's net worth. And, as I've stated dozens of times, any such investing should be pursued only after getting your key logistics, tools, training, and retreat property squared away, and only after eliminating all of your debts. These constraints put this sort of investing outside the reach of 95% of the SurvivalBlog readers. Sure, I advise going ahead and collecting a few rolls of nickels, but don't go hog wild in amassing copper pennies and nickels as a primary hedge against inflation. That would be a foolish venture.

I imagine you are going to get a lot of e-mails stating the chart [posted on an Internet Forum] that you cited is inaccurate. At least in the case of the all-factory Bushmaster, I own I can say there were at least a couple of missing "X"'s [in the chart]. Likewise, I question who exactly was the metallurgist who placed a "1" in the barrel steel column.

Also, Bushmaster has a lifetime warranty. It's right on their web site and I can assure you they honor it. When I had a parts breakage issue after thousands of rounds put through the rifle, I received prompt, courteous no-hassle service.

Internet commando reports need to be taken with a pound of salt. It's hard to tell how many so-called "factory" rifles discussed in online forums are little more than parts kit guns [that were] assembled at home [that started out] with no more than the stripped lower receiver being the only real factory part.

I have run into this a lot at gun shows with even FFL dealers selling complete guns as "Bushmaster brand" and quickly finding that the rifles did not even have chrome-lined barrels (this is standard in their mil-style civilian knock-offs) and/or had the stamps of brands from the parts kits seller right on them.

I'd like to note that many of the parts dealers here in the midwest do not even sell chrome-lined barrels for the most part because the home [AR] builders are more
interested in saving $35. At the last large show I attended there were only two complete [barreled] upper [receiver]s out of 40 [seen there] which had chrome-lined barrels. The parts dealers were at least honest about which were which, even if the re-sellers were not always honest. Buyer Beware! - Chris S.

The rifles from Colt's Manufacturing have some undesirable features like pinned, non-retractable stock and are lacking a muzzle device and bayonet lug. Colts Manufacturing is the same operation that makes the M1911-style pistols and single action revolvers.

The rifles from Colt Defense have all the desired features (except of course no [full auto] "fun switch" for civilians.) Colt Defense has the M4 contract for the military and also make the "Law Enforcement" rifles which may also be purchased by civilians.

I'm not sure but I don't think either segment of the business (and both sell [indirectly] to civilians) uses the old screw-type front receiver (pivot) pin at this point.

The Colt Defense Model 6920 is the carbine that is closest to the military M4. Using a 16" (versus 14.5" for [government contract] M4) chrome-lined government profile barrel with M203 cuts, bayonet lug, flash suppressor, removable carry handle, railed flat top upper, fully shrouded bolt carrier and collapsible stock. It is the weapon most likely to be chosen by someone wanting an all around, lightweight accurate AR-style carbine from Colt.

I have recently purchased several Colt Model 6721 carbines (similar to the Model 6920 but with a heavier barrel) and both came with the fully shrouded bolt carrier. See this post for details. Neither of these carbines have the "now perennial two screws-in-place-of-a-front-pivot-pin design" [you mentioned] although they do have the oversized [hammer and trigger] pins.

Although I am more of a FAL 7.62 mm NATO guy, I have owned a number of AR-15s including ArmaLite, CMMG and Stag Arms. I find the Colt carbines, which I regularly use for three-gun competitions and occasionally for tactical training, are fine weapons and if needed I would certainly trust my life to them. In addition, I had no problem finding guns available for purchase (I'm neither a LEO or in the military) and contact with Colt has been excellent in regard to questions.

Keep up the good work with your informative and enjoyable blog. There wouldn't be enough intelligent info across the spectrum relating to preparedness without your remarkable web site. - John E.

Readers Josh W. and John M. both sent us this article link: Black Box Warning for Antibiotic

   o o o

Eric found this: As food costs soar, it's back to basics for meal planners. Eric's comment: "What a wonderful chance for folks to start learning about eating their food storage foods and saving money! I think about my friends who have hundreds of pounds of red winter wheat put up and no idea what to do with it - they have no [grain] mill and don't eat whole wheat bread or whole wheat anything. As someone who has been eating commercially available whole wheat products for decades it took my metabolism a while to become accustomed to 100% whole wheat bread made from our storage wheat - and I'm better for it. Now store bought bread tastes fake to me - it lacks flavor."

   o o o

Kevin A. flagged this piece over art The Silver Bear Cafe: Understanding Bernanke, by Rolfe Winkler.

   o o o

RJ spotted this news article from England's Financial Times: Widespread alarm is rattling at castle gates. The current real estate collapse is hitting the entire English-speaking world, and beyond. This is all tied to the global credit collapse that I've been shouting about since the summer of Aught Seven. And this collapse is nowhere near over. Methinks things will get a lot worse before they get better.

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on... or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Please mention SurvivalBlog whenever you phone into a talk radio show or podcast where the discussion touches on preparedness. Thanks!

Hi Jim,
Several years ago I was hunting black bear in the boonies of Canada. As I came out of the bush I could see a native cutting fire wood. As I walked towards him I watched him at work and he did something completely out of my experience. He had what I thought was a hay hook which he proceeded to snap into a cut piece of birch. He then turned towards his pickup and carried the piece of firewood stuck onto the end of the hook. He got to the pickup, swung the piece of firewood onto the truck, pulled his wrist back and the piece of wood landed in the back of the pickup.

What I have not mentioned is that the fellow was 74 years old at the time and he did not stoop over as he picked up the piece of firewood from the ground. He did not stoop over to pick up the piece of firewood. If you have cut much firewood at all that will make your ears perk up and your back stop aching.

Naturally I stopped to find out what this tool was. He had not spoken English in 18 years and I speak no French but we got things worked out. His tool is called a pulp hook. It does not have a straight point like a hay hook but is more wedged shaped with a small tip on the inside portion of the tip. You don’t have to bury the point in the fire wood 3⁄4” to 1” will pick up almost any wood. Pretty clever.

I purchased the type of pulp hook with a replaceable tip. There is a learning curve to using these, but let me tell you, it is well worth the time. Also when unloading the pickup you can almost clean off the pickup with out getting into the bed by using the pulp hook to pull the wood to the tail gate. Some hard woods like hickory sneer at the pulp hook as it bounces off but most other woods it will handle with ease. Whether SHTF or day-to-day, any tool that saves the back needs to be looked at.

Abigail and I heat the house and our hot water primarily with wood. I am in my 50s, and did I mention that using the pulp hook you did not have to bend over to pick up a piece of firewood from the ground? Yours truly, - John and Abigail Adams

Jim:Regarding your recent interview on Fox Business about the significance of 2012: When I was a teenager, it was the Mayan 2012 [calendar] event that got me interested in preparedness. I ran with a bit of an impromptu Boy Scout like crowd (we weren't Boy Scouts but our parents encouraged us to hunt, fish and camp). It was fun imaginary scenario when we were kids. I grew out of my Mayan 2012 phase. As an adult, I am preparing for a solar 2012 event. Essentially, a couple of years ago, I came across some research by a guy who was a major solar flare event about 2012 (plus or minus a year).

I did some digging, and found that he is predicting a "one every 250 years" event. These are solar flares big enough to terminate every [unprotected] electronic device on earth instantly. The researchers do not doubt it is coming, only that there is a 50% chance it is nullified by the earth's magnetic field (depends on the polarity of each). If it is not nullified, all [unprotected] electronic equipment that is powered on will be neutralized. (This will include power relay stations.)

I'm a little vague on the exact numbers. What I do know is pretty simple, but clear. Between 2011 and 2013 the event will occur. When it happens, there is a 50% chance that all electronic devices [that have sub-micron gate dimension microcircuits] that are on, will stop working permanently.
Here is a link to an article regarding the research on NASA's web site. (Dikpati's forecast puts Solar Max at 2012. Hathaway believes it will arrive sooner, in 2010 or 2011.) - Jeff C. in Canada

I read a recent blog of yours that was posted on "Gold is Money" regarding hoarding of 5 cent "nickels". The penny is a much better deal (currently at just about 2.5 times their face value) and [as you've mentioned in SurvivalBlog, Ryedale has developed and sells a machine for under $500 that sorts by metal composition. [It sorts] 300 coins per minute.
I have been amassing copper pennies for a little over one year now. Here is a summary of my plan that I've posted on the"Gold is Money" forums:

I've got five tons of 95% copper and counting. I'm now adding another ton every four months. My goal is to amassing 20 tons on e. (That is one full semi-truck load (by weight). I expect to get 85% of spot [when I eventually sell it. I anticipate] when spot is well over $10/lb. This will likely happen inside of five years. Here is the math: 40,000 lbs x $10/lb x 85% = $340,000 on an initial investment of $60,000.

Copper is currently near $4/lb. Assume constant 15% to 20% inflation and it should easily more than double inside of five years. So, I think that $10/lb is on the low side.

This hobby/investment requires about 8 hours per week. 5 years x 52 weeks/yr x 8hrs/wk = 2,080 hours of labor. That is the same as one year of a typical full time job. So, $340,000 profit / 2080 hours = $163/ per hour. Even in a world of 15% - 20% inflation, that is outstanding pay. I also have a 100% guarantee [of my amassed pennies always] being worth face value.

Since everyone asks: One ton will fill an oil drum. So, storage space is not a big issue. Regards, - T.R.K

Hawaiian K. pointed us to an article by Robert Silverberg, over at Asimov's: The Death of Gallium. The Peak Oil crowd may be interested to hear about disappearing elements. The crux of the problem: Infinite demand, and finite supply. Reading this makes me want to go out and invest in Gallium, Hafnium, and Indium--the elements themselves, or mining companies.) Or perhaps I should go for the speculative gusto and invest in a deep sea vent mining company.

   o o o

Tim P. mentioned this piece over at WorldNetDaily: Congress examines EMP threat--Iran believed to test missiles for attack on U.S.

   o o o

Arlyn sent us this article (also linked at The Drudge Report): With resources tight, Californians take on wildfires themselves. These folks sound a lot like SurvivalBlog readers! Arlyn's comment: "Here is a story about rural California towns pulling together to fight the wildfires when the state government is out of resources to help them. I think this story shows that prepared Americans can fend for themselves when their government fails to help them. Improving one's skills in self-sufficiency, fire fighting in this case, pays off when things get tough."

   o o o

This Washington Times article describes something so ludicrous that only a bureaucrat could have seriously considered it: Want Some Torture with Your Peanuts? (A hat tip to KAF for sending the link.) OBTW, if this is such a great idea, then why not take it a step further and give each passenger a Running Man-type decapitation collar, so stewardesses can get prompt 100% compliance when they order "seat backs and tray table to their full upright positions."

"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger, speaking at a Bilderberg Group meeting in Evian, France, May 21, 1992.

Tuesday, July 8, 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. The auction ends on July 15, 2008.

By purchasing a 60-inch collapsible antenna, I was able to get a lot more range out of my hand-held transceivers, but that's all I know. Can you give a short tutorial on antennas? What is a ground plane, when is it necessary? Would full wavelength be better than 1/4 wavelength? For a base system, would you recommend Yagi or something else? Thanks, - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies (Updated): To begin, one-half wave antennas are theoretically the most efficient. Shorter fractional wavelength antennas (quarter-wave, 1/8th-wave, et cetera) are used primarily for compactness and lower cost. I was told by our correspondent David in Israel (an experienced ham operator) that a full wave antenna actually cancels out signals on its resonant frequency--the peak and trough energy is 1+(-1) = 0. To illustrate some practical aspects of wavelength: CB radio frequencies have a wavelength of around 10 meters (about 33 feet). It is possible to use a 1/2-wavelength CB antenna at a home or at a retreat, but not mounted on a vehicle. (On a vehicle, even a 1/2 wavelength antenna is often too tall.) The MURS Band (my favorite for short range communications) has a wavelength of around 2 meters, so using a half-wavelength antenna is much more practical. See this index page from the ARRL for a good basic understanding of how both transmitting and receiving antennas work.

A ground plane is a reflective flat surface that limits the downward radiation of an antenna. When operating a transceiver with an antenna mounted on a vehicle with typical steel body panels, the vehicle itself forms a ground plane. This is why the most efficient antenna mounting location is at the top-center of a vehicle. But, unfortunately, this also places an antenna at the greatest risk of impact damage. This explains why bumper-mounted antennas are more popular, despite their distorted transmission characteristics and inefficiency.

A log periodic antenna (LPA) or Yagi-type antenna can be very effective, but keep in mind that like other antennas, they need to be properly polarized. Most mobile two-way radios use vertical polarization. Hence, your LPA or Yagi will not have the traditional horizontal "TV antenna" appearance--rather, it will be flipped on its side, for vertical polarization.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I live near the town of Cheyenne, in Roger Mills County, which is in western Oklahoma.
For your information:
Roger Mills County has a population density of just .75 people per square mile.
Not a single stop light in the county.
Not a single major franchise business in the county.
Local pharmacy, bank, motels and restaurants.
A very high percentage of the county are what you call "millionaires" because of the production of natural gas wells.
We have a very low crime rate.
There are people in this area who have not locked a door nor removed keys from an automobile in 30 or 40 years.
An agriculture area of mostly grassland with some alfalfa, wheat and sorghum production.
We have a problem with methamphetamine, the major drug of choice (depending on how you define alcohol).
Cheyenne does not have police department because the sheriff's night patrol covers the town.
It is considered part of the Bible Belt
A homogeneous population, with a small number of minorities.
Lots of water, although in places much of it is hard water.
Excellent hunting with some thousands of acres of public hunting (Black Kettle National Grasslands)
The only county in Oklahoma with a National Park.
Lots of timber with ranchers begging people to cut down the trees for firewood.
It is a rolling up and down topography.
We have mountain lions and porcupines just like New Mexico and Colorado.

Our family is not originally from this area. We came from a less civilized part of America: New Mexico. We bailed out of that place.
Roger Mills County was in the past a hotbed of the Ku Klux Klan and elected the only Socialist legislator to ever serve in the Oklahoma legislature. Well, do tell.

I found this place in the early 1970s during my work with the USDA, Soil Conservation Service.

All in all it is a good place to retire to and to develop a "retreat".

A factor that I do not see people considering when thinking "retreat area" is the accessibility.
My thinking is that any area that is does not have a grid of roads in the Township/Range fashion would be low on the list.
Furthermore any area that is not cut through by a major river(s) is low on the list.
The road grid is just too hard to control by the Powers That Be.
Yes, it does give the vandals and rapists the opportunity to expend their gasoline and come to your area.
But it is also easy to block roads with a line of steel posts driven into the roadway and a tangle of wire spread across them.
Contrary to [what is depicted in] movies, even a fast moving vehicle will not penetrate this kind of set up and if it does it could have the undercarriage ripped [fuel lines, brakes lines] or hung up on it.
The rivers are natural barriers and in Roger Mills County there are only four bridges crossing the Canadian River to our north. One of these is a private bridge for the oil companies and most civilians do not even know of its existence nor its location. This bridge is not on road maps.
Rivers are barriers...just block the bridge and burn the vehicles. All traffic stops. The 4x4s will get stuck in the sandy bottoms of the river and become monuments of stupidity for years to come as they rust away.

Selecting a retreat is difficult. But south of any major snow line in a longer growing season area is best.

I have written some 10 years ago about the flood of what I called "gypfugees".
I said, "you will see them in the future", people moving across the land looking for a safe place away from danger.
That's them, the gypsies and the refugees. Hence, the term "gypfugees'. We are seeing the first of them living in their cars in places [around the US]

You have a wonderful site. Thanks, - J.W., Cheyenne, Oklahoma

JWR Replies: Thanks for that recommendation. Several times in the blog I've mentioned the advantages in living in a natural gas-producing region, like yours. Most cars and trucks will run on natural gas condensate (commonly called "Drip Oil", or just "Drip".) For some details on the availability of Drip, see my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation".

A consulting client asked me what brand of AR-15 or M4gery that I'd recommend he buy as a secondary weapon. By coincidence, I had earlier that same day received a link from reader Bill N. that features a chart that shows which AR makers use full mil-spec parts. Before seeing that chart, I would have recommended Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT), but now it looks like Noveske Rifleworks has the edge. You may ask: Why not Colt ARs? I despise their concessions to political correctness--namely their over-grown lower receiver pins, weak chopped-out (half circle) bolt carriers, and their now perennial two screws-in-place-of-a-front-pivot-pin design. What a monstrosity!

   o o o

Reader "Panda", suggested building an Alvin Vacuum Sealer, as shown over at the Instructables web site. This is a very simple hand pump design (using an automotive brake bleeder) that makes a great backup system for extended power blackouts.

   o o o

SF in Hawaii recommended listening to an audio clip by archaeologist Dr. Joseph A. Tainter on the history of economic collapses.

   o o o

Thanks to JT for this one, from The Jerusalem Post: Emirates calls on GCC countries to de-peg currencies from US dollar

"What is worse? Thinking that you are paranoid, or knowing that you should be?" - Shane Carruth, from the screenplay of his science fiction movie Primer (2004)

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm scheduled to be interviewed this evening on the Fox News network, at around 5:40 p.m., eastern time. The subject will be the 2012 preparedness movement.

Kathy McMahon (aka "PeakShrink") penned an excellent piece over at The Energy Bulletin web site that summarizes the varieties of Doomer psychological types: Three types of doomers and fantasy collapse. In the article, she gently pokes fun at my novel "Patriots" and at those of us that fall into what she calls the "Do-More" preparedness mindset.

Mr Rawles,
Before I start, I must congratulate you on your remarkable and down to earth approach to informing your audience of both the practical ins-and-outs and theory of preparedness. I'm a mid-20s town planner with a minor in building design, living in Western Australia. I share many of the same concerns regarding the status and direction of society as your audience. I came across your site in the last four months, and have then spent a great deal of time searching your archives. I recently ordered your "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" book, and await it eagerly. My town planning occupation has granted me various edges on location viability, design versus aspect, map interpretation, cut and fill techniques, earth engineering standards and natural hazard assessment - which I might add is imperative in initial design (landslide, flooding and bushfire hazard) and maintenance (also very importantly for bushfire hazard).

Being a city dweller, I'm at the initial stages of designing our rural retreat, and am meticulously working on the best design for retreat ballistic protection (small arms) and safe and strategic return of fire in the event of TEOTWAWKI against unwelcome and potentially harmful trespassers. I will be implementing the Vauban principles through corner build-outs [a.k.a. corner bastions or "Cooper Corners"] to allow observation of all lengths and aspects of the retreat. However I'm eagerly seeking your opinion on the design of the openings or 'ports' in which to station arms, observe and return fire where necessary. The retreat walls will be steel reinforced Besser Block (cinder block) concrete filled (although I did watch your referenced video on urban warfare and the effects of arms on standard building materials - and was quite concerned), I feel concrete filled Besser block is probably the safest option available to me in terms of funding at this point. I have over a thousand sand bags to implement in the event of a worst case and consistent/prolonged attack. So, I have a 200 mm thick wall, with an opening of any size I design. The weapons for these build outs will be SMLEs and other bolt action high-power rifles. I believe it is bad habit to have a barrel extend out of an opening for various reasons, primaries being visual detection of the defender's location, weapon damage probability factor, and manipulation by undetected enemy at close quarters (although retreat's [avenues of approach] observation design will nullify the later's impacts), so therefore the weapon will be positioned back just behind the wall, however this will limit the portal of observation given the opening would be small to restrict incoming fire. I believe half inch steel reinforcement 'around' these gun ports would be ideal given the position of these ports, in an unpleasant scenario, would probably sustain significant ballistic hits in comparison to other non-strategic defense positions. I do plan to have half inch steel slide shutters for these openings when not in use, and for a myriad of other reasons, however I am struggling with the setup of weapon position versus wall opening size versus wall opening shape/design for observation and for safe return fire.

This also leaves my current design issue of 'standard window' design - for habitable room ventilation, access to daylight and sunlight and for a 'taste of the norm' feel. I envision half inch steel sturdy shutters welded to deliberately exposed reinforcement of the retreat walls (as I have for the primary 'airlock' style entry door hinges and lock studs to the retreat) is the finest option given a SHTF scenario, but openable on days of 'no threat'. I do however, believe it is an important element to ensure the retreat does not feel like a jail which, as in the event of TEOTWAWKI, would adversely impact on the retreater's morale given the world/nation status and general situation. If you have any information on 'standard window' design also sir, I would be most appreciative.

In terms of retreat security, I have designed this retreat in response to the ideals of two mindsets, 1.) myself as a defending retreat owner and 2.) myself as an marauding woodsman intent on conquering that retreat. The latter may sound odd to some. However, to catch a thief, many say, is to think like a thief. How would I disable my own retreat? Would I, if I were the rogue woodsman, position myself in a temporary camouflaged OP and snipe on the retreat from 300 meters at vital retreat hardware, such as downpipes to rainwater tanks, or solar panels? Perhaps my response to that would be - by location, design and security mechanisms, not allow the woodsman into those positions in the first place, however you cannot stop all contact, as if you can view a landscape from your retreat, someone can view your retreat from a landscape. I believe that is how one must design a retreat or harden an existing one. The solutions for these examples are many (internally fed downpipes, or clever roof design and visually 'hidden' solar panels), however I believe it will come down to thinking like the 'woodsman' to mitigate the majority of the adverse conflict situations that may reduce the lifestyle and longevity of you and your family.

I leave you now in peace and gratitude with a many and true thanks for your significant efforts in the survival niche, and am only certain you will have guided many thousands to a better standard of preparedness and significant increase in their survivability. Thanks, - Shamus

JWR Replies: Retreat architecture and self-sufficient retreat design involve a number of tradeoffs, including:

Security and ballistic protection versus construction expense.

Unobtrusive siting (such as behind a screen of trees) versus clear fields of fire

Permanent security features versus aesthetic design and resale value of your house

Ballistic protection versus visibility of potential attacker's approaches

Ballistic protection versus ventilation and solar exposure (windows and PV panels)

Self-sufficiency versus security. (For example, livestock and their associated outbuildings are needed, yet they add complexity and some risk to defensive arrangements--most importantly by blocking line of sight. Tending to livestock will necessitate greater exposure for retreat residents. The same applies to gardening. A stove chimney is necessary, yet it represents an exploitable weakness.)

Convenience versus security (A single, very stout "castle door" is great for security, but inconvenient in normal times. Ditto for sharp s-turns in your lane.)

Security features versus "blending in" with the more mundane neighboring homes

How you rectify these tradeoffs depends on a number of factors, including your retreat locale (and the ambient population density/proximity to major cities), how heavily manned your retreat will be, and your most likely envisioned scenario.

I agree with your approach of laying in a large supply of sandbags. These can be filled and set up in a variety of configurations after times get hostile, yet can be unobtrusively stored in the interim. (Ditto for rolls of razor wire or Concertina-type defensive wire.) Buy plenty of extras. The excess will be ideal items for barter and charity.

While setback from a shooting port is normally desirable, it requires a much larger shooting port, to avoid accidental near-muzzle bullet impacts and ricochets, in the stress of defensive shooting situations. My approach is to place muzzles nearly flush with the armor plate. I've also laid in supplies of some "junk" barrels, including some de-militarized scrap M16 barrels (complete with flash hiders) that I plan to employ sticking out of false shooting positions, with the intent of having them draw fire.

I describe my standard ballistically-reinforced window and door designs in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

Hi Jim,
A recent article in Der Spiegel gives us some real insight into food prices. My guess is that if we continue down this path we will see some important events start taking place in Third World nations that cannot afford high food prices.

Here is how this can effect us here. It takes 400 pounds of corn to make 25 gallons of ethanol. This might be a weeks worth of fuel for a person commuting to work. It could be many months worth of food for that same person. You may say that you don't eat that much corn. Actually you do. Dr. Henry Schwarcz at McMasters University in Canada, studies nitrogen isotopes in human bone and teeth. The average north American diet effectively consists of 47% corn! This is because what you eat, eats corn. Beef, Chicken, Pork, Milk, Ice Cream, Butter, Cheese, Eggs, etc. The figure I have seen for beef is six to seven pounds of corn to make one pound of beef. About 30% of the American corn crop is now going to bio fuels. With the number of people in the world (seven billion by 2012), I don't think that this is sustainable.

Also another note on sustainability: The American Solar Energy Society did a study that showed it takes 10 calories of fossil fuels to put 1 calorie of food on the average American's table. This includes planting, cultivation, harvesting, processing and transportation. Cooking too, I would guess. In looking at what is happening with oil and natural gas prices and their availability, I wonder how long we can sustain this. - PED

Mr. Rawles,
Anyone who is paying attention would have seen the mess that America's "Big Three" auto makers are in. A smart Peak Oil [market] player would have shorted them a while ago. But consider this little fun fact - As of this last Friday, the market capitalization of General Motors (GM) was just over $5 billion. That's all. Toyota has about 25 times that. So are several other healthy auto makers and they all know that times are tough yet GM expects sales to pick up later this year? But consider that $5 billion. It's cheap yet no one is touching GM. No one wants to buy it, even to take it apart and shut it down. Why? Every single asset GM has is pledged multiple times as collateral for loans that it cannot repay while it is losing $41 billion per year.[JWR Adds: No to mention their huge pension fund obligations.]

Here's the final hint for anyone still in denial. As of June 30th, GM slipped beneath $20 billion in remaining cash assets but is burning $17 billion per year. In other words, GM probably has just 9 to15 months of life left, at the most. And if I were one of GM's creditors, I'd prepare to swoop in and call all my loans after Congress goes on holiday break shortly after the election. No one will be able to stop it and GM will be history. And the lenders will still only get pennies on the dollar for each dollar they loaned.
Ford and Chrysler are in similar situations. If the economic system implodes, the Big Three will cease to exist. Sincerely, - Dave R.

I recently had a consulting client ask me if I thought the credit crisis was over. Over? No way. Even after a year of credit contraction, we've only seen the first wave of the credit crisis. The entire global credit market is still spiraling into the abyss. The recent steep downgrades of MBIA and AMBAC (the folks that insure municipal bonds) are the latest red flags, showing another aspect of the problem. MBIA has been downgraded five grades to A2, and they are on "negative watch". That is the term used when a forced liquidation is expected! The bottom line is that world's credit pool has dried up. Mark my words: Many of the same problems that crashed Bear Stearns--and forced a huge taxpayer-funded bailout--will spread to municipal bond issuers, regional banks, and community banks.

   o o o

Eric sent us this bit of news from England: Government asks stores to stockpile food to overcome hauliers strike

   o o o

Reader Ben L. mentioned this humorous piece: The Gospel According to John (Moses Browning)

   o o o

SF in Hawaii recommended Kevin Kelly's Streetuse Blog. SF's comment: " This blog is loaded with clever ideas that will inspire any survivalist." My comment: After reading the Streetuse blog, as well as the Farm Show 30 year compendium book (previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog), you can see how important it is to have your own oxyacetylene welding rig and plenty of stored welding gasses and welding rod. Welding skills will make you the local "go to" guy (or gal) in hard times.

"No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First, I must thank you for the great service that you provide to society. I simply can't tell you how much I have learned since beginning to read SurvivalBlog daily. I've decided that 10 cents per day is not enough, and plan to double it soon. Though I pray that I will die peacefully at the age of 98 without ever having to activate my prep plans, the feeling of security that comes from preparation will make my remaining years much more pleasant!

As a pharmacist, I wanted to make a few additional comments regarding Matt R.'s important suggestions regarding medication procurement. First, he is correct to assume that most manufacturer's expiration dating is very conservative, and is often predicated on the worst possible storage conditions. Like for most other storage items, cool and dry are the most important considerations in extending the shelf life of drugs. As you so correctly point out in my new favorite book, Patriots, very few drugs degrade to toxic compounds; it is usually a matter of loss of potency over time. Since many drugs needed in a post-SHTF world, like antibiotics and vitamins, have high therapeutic indices (the effective dose is far smaller than the toxic dose, leaving you some "wiggle room" in dosing), one could titrate the dose up in an emergency situation if the expiration date has been exceeded by several years. Obviously, this is a "better than nothing" approach, and is not to be advocated while the world is still "normal"!

Interestingly, the U.S. Dept. of Defense has initiated a program throughout the active duty medical services called "SLES" or "Shelf Life Extension System". As I understand it, the DOD, in cooperation with the FDA, conducted their own stability studies for many high volume drugs on their formulary. In order to save money (always a good thing when it's taxpayer dollars that are being saved!) by using their own expiration date rather than the manufacturer's, their "extended" shelf life is being employed. Of course, their findings are closely guarded, and is is prohibited to leak any information to the general public, as it would counter the very conservative expiration dates that cause millions of dollars of waste annually in the private sector. To be fair, the storage conditions can be more carefully controlled in the Defense system that throughout society. Though the true numbers are almost mythical, I did find a transcript of a speech given by a medical officer to a civilian audience. In trying to illustrate how much money the DOD is saving the public through this program, he cited one example: At controlled room temperature, ciprofloxacin (generic) tablets had been found to retain potency for 10 years past printed expiration date - he then said that further testing would probably extend the shelf life even further! Now before we all get excited, please remember that this is a highly anecdotal example, and is meant only to underscore the point that with proper storage, most published expiration dates are loose guidelines. Of course, biological drugs, such as insulin and cell growth factors are inherently less stable, and will present a real problem for those dependent on them during an extended SHTF or TEOTWAWKI occurrence.

With regard to Matt's reference to his dentist writing prescriptions for Tamiflu, don't be surprised if some pharmacists refuse to fill such prescriptions. In all states with which I have any familiarity, it is illegal for a doctor, or dentist to write prescriptions for drugs outside the scope of their practice. Pharmacists are usually held legally responsible for saying "no" in such cases by their State pharmacy practice act, though it usually takes something pretty obvious to trigger a rejection. Matt's dentist may be prepared to argue that it's hard to work on teeth when his patient's nose is running like Niagara Falls, so it is within his scope of practice to treat influenza! Also, if you're using insurance to pay for "stockpile meds", just be aware that the practice may be misinterpreted as fraud by some insurance companies. I'm sure a sudden high volume of claims for unrelated medications would probably prompt an investigation or claim rejection.

Just my two cents worth - I will put more thought and research into specifics, and try to help out more in the future. Best Wishes, and thanks to all who share their knowledge and insight on your terrific blog! - S.H. in Georgia

Hi Jim,
We've been good about our refinancing. As the house appreciated, we took a little here and there on two re-fi[nancing]s, to pay off most of our credit debt, and to start a business. At this time a couple of years ago, the house was worth $440,000, conservatively. In January, $351,000. Just last night, using a very good evaluation tool called Zillow.com, we were surprised to find that in the last six months, the house's value dropped [still further,] to just over $250,000. That was a shock. Almost [a] $190,000 [on-paper loss] in less than two years, in an area where we didn't think that it would go this low. We'll be fine, due to the sale of another house soon, but the feeling is one of being robbed. Eh, what the heck, we were part of the problem with the re-fi, but those were modest compared to the majority of them out there, and we did do well with what we pulled. We trust God to keep telling us what to do. If we'd listened to your advice, we would have sold the house two years ago [at the top of the market] and rented it back. That $190,000 in the bank would have been great. (Sigh.)

We'll get by okay. I hope others are able to find their way out via some means that doesn't include walking away from their homes and their responsibilities. - Randy in the People's Republic of Kalifornia.

Reader KMA found a web site with photos of Antique Farm Tools dating from about 1600 to 1940 (chaff cutters, dibblers, flails, etc.). Though most are from England, Wales and Scotland, others from the USA are also included. Remember: Part of of our future lies in the past. Nineteenth Century technology is appropriate technology.

   o o o

Jack B. sent us this commentary link from The Economist: Bearish battalions. Continue to stay away from equities for the next few years, folks. They are a losing proposition in a credit-starved and slowing economy. As I've often said, if you want safety, then buy tangibles.

   o o o

Here is a "must read" piece in Barron's by Alan Abelson: No Place to Hide. Here is key quote: "Credit for at least two decades has been what made our world go 'round, and suddenly somebody pulled the plug and it was gone. And gone, too, are the fabulous bubbles and booms that it so generously fed, leaving a horrible mess that we're nowhere near mopping up."

   o o o

Chris S. flagged this alarming news article: New West Nile virus strain may worsen epidemic

"From housing to the dollar, banking to commodities, national debt to soaring Medicare and Social Security obligations: it's difficult to see the period since 2002 as anything other than one of profligacy and utter fiscal mismanagement. I am not a bear by nature, but when you consider the average debt of the average household and the concentration of household assets in housing, it's difficult to see happy retirements for many baby boomers." - Brett Steenbarger

Saturday, July 5, 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.

I had been using the PACE system for years, I just didn’t know that is what it was called, or that it even had a formal name. I first read about the PACE acronym over on the Viking Preparedness site, in a post by Joe. Growing up we joked that the system was called one’s good, two’s better, and three is about right. It is the same spirit of "two is one and one is none" that the PACE system stresses.

PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency.
It is a good solid way to break down your preps to make sure that your survivability is high. It doesn’t have to be a long hard plan, it can be very simple. Ask yourself the question for each major category of survival.

What is your primary source of drinking water? If you are like most of us you turn on the faucet. Okay, your primary source is covered. Most likely all of us have the primary items covered by our “normal” living. You throw a light switch for lights, turn up the furnace for heat, and open the fridge for food. We live with our primary supply system.
The first level of survivability is at the Alternate level. When the power goes out-what next? For some it is 12 volt back up, others light candles, and still others fire up the Coleman lanterns. The totally unprepared sit in the dark and grumble. So what do you do when the power goes out and you can’t draw water from the system?
I can tell you my plan. I had to use it about a year ago when I still lived in town and the city put a No Drinking of Water notice on our block. I got the sealed water cooler bottles I had stored and opened one of them for drinking and cooking. The bottles cost under $4 each and hold 5 gallons of pure drinking water. There is no chemicals added and they store well. I checked with the dealer and found out that if I buy the natural water, same price, it will store well over five years as long as it is kept in a cool and dark place. They said it might store forever but they couldn’t tell me that. I keep four of them stored as my Alternate plan for water as well as several camping jugs, one gallon jugs and a couple cases of bottled water.

If we go into a long term situation and I run out of my stored water I have to fall back to my Contingency plan. I have a filter system that will allow me to make lots of drinking water before I have to change the filter. Either rain water or water from a point well can be cleaned and ready as needed. Another layer of my contingency plan is water tabs to us as well.

My emergency water will come from the stream a quarter mile to the west of my farm. I have a Katadyn filter to use to clear it and make it drinkable. We can also boil water to clean it. I can draw the water from my hot water tank if needed. We also have bleach. Our water back ups are more than just [three] PACE levels because water is so important. Besides, it is not that hard to develop a few good purification methods for water.

Without power we lose the furnace and our heat. We heat with propane so I can drop into the Alternate plan easily and turn on the fire place and the stove to heat our “cocoon” room. If needed, we can live in our kitchen/living room for days on end. While not really part of our PACE plan, it is good to know that we can heat a smaller area and stay comfortable during cold weather. Our contingency plan is to bring in the kerosene heater out of the barn and use it to heat the cocoon room. If we are in a long term grid down situation I can pull the fireplace insert and convert it to a wood burning fireplace in a matter of minutes. We consider that our emergency plan.

I will not speak much about food because if you have read any of the survival blogs you know that you need to store food, canned and packaged, grow a garden, store grains, harvest wild edibles, and plan on hunting and trapping.

I am very fortunate to live at my retreat. I moved back to the family farm less than a year ago. My wife and I had already stored a large amount of our preps in the barn and had planned to bug out to here even if the house was not completed. Our plan was to make as much of the house livable as possible if TSHTF. If that was not possible for us than we would build living quarters in the barn. Unable to do that we would put up a tent and camp out. Now that the house is complete and we are living in it we have revamped out plans to stay in the house and moved the living in the barn to our emergency plan.

Life in General
The PACE system is easy to understand and follow, and gets easier as you do more of it. Pick any aspect of survival you want and work out a PACE plan. Say you want to have weapons in your plan. Okay, primary will be your MBR. Your alternate might be your shotgun or bow and arrow. Contingency, sling shot. Emergency, Atlatl and spear.

Back ups to the back ups are a necessary part of life. You already use them and probably never thought about them as an emergency plan. If your car dies what do you do, call a friend for a ride, take the bus or ride a bike? More than likely you are already PACE-ing yourself. Keep that mindset toward the forefront of your thoughts and your prepping should get easier and deeper. - Wolverine

Luke Z. wrote to ask about a source for the bayonet socket light bulb adapters that I mentioned in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" (These adapters allow standard table lamps to be converted to use 12 VDC with either automobile tail lights or bayonet-base halogen lights.) They no longer seem to be stocked by Real Goods, but they are currently available from Kansas Wind Power. (Scroll down to item # L450.)

   o o o

I hope that this article isn't just hype or wishful thinking: Engineer Gets 110 MPG Out Of '87 Mustang. (A hat tip to reader Kevin A.)

   o o o

John S. flagged this article from ABC News: Thousands Worldwide Prepare for the Apocalypse, Expected in 2012. Its because of the "end date" of the Mayan calendar, dontcha know... While their motivation is based on a very dubious premise, I can at least commend them for their preparedness.

   o o o

David in Israel sent us a link to an article with more details on how he "killdozer" attack in Israel was stopped: Men Who Killed Terrorist: Policeman Was in the Way

"I learned from my two year's experiment that it would cost incredibly little trouble to obtain one's necessary food, even in this latitude; that many a man may use as simple a diet as the animals, and yet retain health and strength." - Henry Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day! May God continue to grant his grace on our nation.

An update: Reader KAF sent us a video blog link to a re-up ceremony in Baghdad: How did you spend Independence Day?

Food storage is perhaps the single most important preparedness measure that every family should take. It is insurance against any number of perils, ranging from natural disasters and disruption of transportation to something as mundane as simply being laid off from work. In part because of galloping food and fuel prices and some spot shortages at the wholesale level, demand has recently far exceeded supply for most long term food storage vendors. Many vendors now have orders backed up for as much as three months. I most strongly recommend that you get your family's food storage squared away soon, before the vendor order backlogs stretch out even longer.

If possible, buy locally and haul it yourself. Not only will you save money on shipping, but your will also have the opportunity to keep a lower profile. If you pay in greenback cash, and they ask you for a name, just say "Mr. Cash". For those that value their privacy there are fortunately food storage vendors throughout the United States. As listed below, several of them advertise of SurvivalBlog.

Our paying advertisers that sell storage food include:

APACK - Evansville, Indiana
Freeze Dry Guy - Grass Valley, California
JRH Enterprises - West Green, Georgia
Ready Made Resources - Tellico Plains, Tennessee
Safecastle - Prior Lake, Minnesota
Best Prices Storable Foods - Quinlan, Texas
CampingSurvival.com - Fulton, New York
Healthy Harvest - Vancouver, Washington
American Made Survival - New York State

Our affiliate advertisers that sell storage food include:

Nitro-Pak - Heber City, Utah
eVitamins - Southeastern Michigan

Other reputable vendors that sell storage food include:

Walton Feed - Montpelier, Idaho
Mountain Brook Foods - Chubbuck, Idaho (a former SurvivalBlog advertiser)
EM Gear - Atlanta, Georgia (a former SurvivalBlog advertiser)
Honeyville Food Products - Salt Lake City, Utah; Brigham City, Utah; and Rancho Cucamonga, California

Another high priority for your family's food security should be gardening seed. Long-term self sufficiency is the goal, since your stored food will probably be exhausted in a long-term crisis.

Our paying advertisers that sell non-hybrid ("heirloom variety") garden seed include:

Seed for Security
Best Prices Storable Foods
Ready Made Resources
Healthy Harvest
Everlasting Seeds

I’ve been stockpiling medicine since before it was fashionable. My dad is a physician and gave me an Rx for ciprofloxacin and other antibiotics before 9/11 (in prep for Y2K). That is all refrigerated and despite official expiration dates, probably still fine. More recently, my dentist wrote me an Rx for TamiFlu. I won’t drag on about it, but the bottom line is that virtually anyone with a medical degree who is semi like-minded can give you an Rx for whatever you want. All you have to do is assure them you are only worried about shortages and won’t administer the medicine until a doctor has okayed it. My insurance co-pay: $4.68 for two adult courses of TamiFlu. My insurance is great, YMMV. Regards, - Matt R.

Ironically, just a day after I wrote an e-mail chiding you [for giving too much attention to economic gloom and doom in SurvivalBlog], I had a meeting with one of our clients that has been a very successful Wall Street trader. He gave me a laundry list of banks that he expects to fail before the end of the year and predicted a complete collapse of the financial sector. Worse [for us], since we are in Michigan, he said that some of the Big Three auto makers are in serious trouble.

When I asked him where he saw the financial sector ending up, his response was that he had "never lived through a depression" so he had no real idea. Not exactly the response I was hoping for. - JMM

Jack B. recommended a very interesting series of video clips from a seminar presented by economist Don McAlvany.

   o o o

Today is the last day for BulletProofME.com's special sale on Interceptor Body Armor and Kevlar helmets, just for SurvivalBlog readers.

   o o o

Facing a soaring trade deficit and 25% annual currency inflation, the government of Vietnam has just banned gold imports. I guess that Vietnam's bureaucrats failed Econ 101.The citizenry rushing toward the stability of gold isn't the cause of economic trouble. Rather, it is a symptom of a horribly mismanaged currency. In the absence of national treasury restraint, it doesn't take much for a troubled currency to tip over into something approaching Zimbabwean scale hyperinflation. Our friends at The Daily Reckoning note that at last report, a pound of margarine cost 25 billion Zimbabwean dollars. But don't blink. One rough estimate (based on the Rule of 72) shows that some consumer prices in the former Rhodesia are now doubling every 21 minutes.

   o o o

My recent mention of the possibility of looters using lightly-armored bulldozers prompted three readers to mention the 2004 "Killdozer" incident in Granby, Colorado. A YouTube video clip shows part of what happened. With that much armor, even AP ammo would not be effective. Upon seeing the video clip, our #1 Son commented: "That shows that the Second Amendment has applicability to civilians owning RPGs."

"With respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, et cetera." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dear Jim,
America, and modern industrial democracy, is a reactive culture. We wait for disaster to strike, then we talk about it, vote, and throw money at it until it goes away. That's what we've been doing since the deficit spending initiated by FDR, socialist that he was. Now we've reached the end of deficit spending, having exported our jobs, currency, and control of our economy overseas and become a great big lazy balloon floating over the glass recycling bin at the local dump. Gasoline, food, and other essentials are in a tight 18% inflationary spiral and the public is only just now starting to complain, to shift their behaviors. Carpooling is becoming more common and accepted. Smaller cars are replacing SUVs and large pickups for solo commuting needs.

The trouble is, this is too little, too late. The disaster is already upon us. Oil prices are $140/bbl. Financial opportunists claim "oil price correction next week" then exploit the delusional optimism for profit. Gasoline is $4.50/gal, diesel $5.30/gal. Thieves (most of them methamphetamine junkies) are stealing the copper wiring running irrigation pumps, gutting houses abandoned by foreclosure (an irony if ever there was one), taking the farm diesel from unguarded tanks and equipment. Farmers are angry, but basically helpless to stop this. The Chinese pay top dollar for "salvage copper" and ship it back to mainland China to grow their own economy, meanwhile gutting US infrastructure. And its probably even worse in the Third World. Then again, lose enough infrastructure and the USA will be the Third World (again).

As a Republic, we are ill-positioned to deal with proactive efforts. There's no percentage in the risk associated with planning out a solution you may not be in office to reap the political capital for. Instead, our representatives vote for pork that benefits their constituents and wins votes now or in the next few months. Stuff that people remember at the polling station.

Trouble is, Peak Oil isn't going away. It's getting worse. And solutions need to be developed 5 years ago to have any value today, to help with this situation. What can be done today is grassroots carpooling, use of mass transit (often slow, smelly, and expensive, as well as impractical), and eventually the highly unpopular but inevitable: fuel rationing. I know that's terrible, but that's inevitable too. If you don't ration, you get hoarding and the US economy collapses faster. What's worse, it's terribly unpopular politically and no Rep who wants re-election will vote for a national fuel rationing plan. We, as citizens, are going to have to beg for fuel rationing just to make sure we get some fuel as things get more dire. Even with that, America only produces 7 million barrels per day of oil, and our demand is 21 million barrels. Libya and much of OPEC is responding to the threat to seize assets of terrorist sponsoring nations by cutting production to the world, which then pressures the world to squeeze the USA to back off. So expect trade tariffs, first as warnings, then as punitive measures. That means our inflation rate will worsen.

We've seen protests and riots over fuel prices in Portugal, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the UK over the last few weeks. This is only the beginning of troubles. As the prices rise thanks to production falling, the blame game will continue, and further irrational public behavior will worsen. The public have resolutely refused to grasp that oil is ancient energy and it will run out. Right now, our leaders here in the USA point fingers to delay tactics, like offshore drilling, domestic discoveries (which would have already been exploited if they were remotely as big or easy as these non-geologists like to claim). The oil under the ANWR? That's 45 days of [global] oil supply. That's it. If you saved it for US-only consumption, you can stretch it to around 6 months of oil supply. Better than nothing--only it takes five years to reach the marketplace. All those pipelines and wells and sideways drilling takes time, and by five years from now, the price of oil will be around $500/bbl. and gasoline something like $20/gal, well beyond the means of humble lower and middle class users to buy. Only the rich will be burning $500 per barrel oil.

And at some point, your fuel ration and carpool won't get you to work, or it won't get most of your co-workers to work so your operation/job ends. It doesn't have to be your fault, it just happens. Some few businesses will relocate, but they may leave your area and offer you a job if you follow--if you can sell your house and convince your family to join a company town somewhere in the Midwest (assuming that's where they go, not overseas). Rinse and repeat and the conservative estimate for job loss due to Peak Oil is around 20%. Public works programs, hiring the unemployed on contract for physical labor is very likely, a return of the WPA. Roads must be maintained. Railroads need to be rebuilt, with spurs reaching every town in the USA (and other nations would be wise to do this too). That's a high demand for steel, so all those useless SUVs can be turned into 3 feet of heavy rail apiece. Rail is cheap transportation, very cheap with energy. Frugal. We like that.

Smarter and wealthier towns will also install streetcar railing and overhead wiring for electric operation. And then police that wiring for thieves looking to steal it or the power generated. That returns mobility to the local population so they can get to school, get to work, get from their neighborhood to the job on the other side of town instead of bicycling. But it may take 5 or 10 years before the economy can support that. It's cheap to do it now, but nobody cares enough to make it happen while they can still afford it on Chinese-supported bonds. And that's the real tragedy of Democracy.

None of this happens until after the disaster, after people can't buy gasoline, after they've lost their jobs and the unemployment rate jumps 20% in a week. Only after disaster will things change. And when you proactively Hurry Up And Wait and Just In Time, you get slow improvements, shortages of critical infrastructure supplies so you can't rebuild fast enough to save all those businesses. Unlike the Great Depression, your gasoline, the fuel that runs the recovery, isn't going to cost four cents a gallon. Its going to be "out of reach", "can't buy it here", and "sorry Mister, we're out." With no interim solution, those jobs are going away for good. And the general public is going to shift from Middle Class to Poverty with no way around it.

Both candidates for US President are funding a contest to invent a new car battery for all electric cars. Good move. Doubt we'll see it anytime soon, as the laws of physics and chemistry are laws for a reason, but maybe we'll get lucky. It would be nice. Even with a crash program like the Manhattan Project, you're still looking at years before a product hits the shelf, years with a collapsed economy is decades of Greater Depression and generations of mistrust and sore memories of our suffering. You don't recover from that easily or quickly. Children today are going to have to grow up in a time that's worse than the Great Depression was, and it will last longer, too.

We still need to face facts that the Saudis have promised us $200 oil this year, and that's $6.30/gal. gasoline. Think about how you're going to operate your life on $6 gasoline. My commute is now two miles. I could walk if I had to. How many people can do this? Not many. If you own a house, or are leasing one from a bank, you probably don't have the option to just move closer to work. If you take a job you hate or aren't suited for to have a commute, your pay will decline and your job security too. Not a good move for most people. And businesses won't move to keep their employees until after they stop showing up for work and they realize they have to close their doors. It only pays to be Proactive if you're smart enough to look ahead. The fact that you're here reading this means you're smart enough. But are your neighbors? Your coworkers? Your boss? Your congressional representative? Probably not. And we get to live with their mistakes and ignorance as a consequence. Best, - InyoKern

Your reader TheOtherRyan wrote asking about how to get started in precious metals investing, especially the challenge of purchasing only a small amount each month. First, Ryan is wise to realize that you want to buy in small amounts, and not wait until a big “buy,” which might be at an unlucky price spike. Investors call the process of buying a little each month with a disciplined approach “averaging in.” It means you’re buying more on the months when the price is low than when the price is high, lowering your average total cost. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to do this economically. Many good mail order sites have significant minimums of thousands of dollars per transaction or more. Or the shipping costs kill you for small orders. Some states actually charge sales tax as you turn paper money into “real money” (silver or gold bullion) so retail shops are out of the question. Gun show sellers may offer some, but it will be hit or miss, unless you are looking for very popular items like 1-ounce gold bullion coins.

But there are some easy solutions. One is to open an ordinary brokerage account at any service like Fidelity, and use this to buy the funds that precisely track the price of your commodity. SLV tracks silver, and GLD tracks gold, each fund actually holding the commodity. The transaction costs are low, and it allows you to put in a small amount at a time, until you have accumulated enough to make a mail-order purchase from a reputable dealer. Meanwhile, you are secure against future price increases, and are averaging out the spikes and dips. It also lets you wait until the moment you choose to “buy on the dips.” However, this is harder than it sounds, because while a dip on a chart shows up as a drop followed by a rise, all you get to see in the real world is the drop, and you don’t know whether it will drop more, or rise. (Jim, I’d advise telling people to “buy on the drops” as a more helpful guidance). Of course, your stock fund will do no good in a crisis, so you need to cash it out when you have enough to make a mail-order metal buy. Research in advance for how you will make a fast withdrawal and transfer to the bullion supplier, and don’t forget the several day waiting period for liquidating securities. This option can suffer if you monthly investment is small, because the transaction fee to buy may be a large percentage of your cost. But maybe you can deposit $50 each month, then buy SLV when you accumulate $250, then sell and buy bullion when you reach $1,000, for instance.

Another option, especially for small purchases, is to buy on eBay. If you know your prices, and watch for reliable sellers with a track record of selling the kind of product you want, you can buy right about at spot price. (Try searching 90% silver rolls – or “silver dimes” or “silver quarters”). There are lots of choices at or around $100, and the eBay market generally knows the spot price. Be careful not to bid early, because a price drop may mean you overpaid by the end of the auction. Use a “bid-bot” like BidTamer.com to place a bid at the last minute, so your bid does not encourage others to outbid you. Halves and dollars tend to price higher relative to their silver value, so look for dimes and quarters. Liberty dimes can be worn down to reduce their weight, so look at Roosevelt dimes, or at least check the photos for an idea of condition. Know the spot price, and that there is 0.715 ounce of silver per dollar of face value. There are 50 dimes in a standard roll (or 40 quarters). Don’t try to get a screaming deal, because you will always be outbid. Look at completed auctions, and know what things went for relative to spot price at the time. You should be able to buy several rolls of coins shipped for about spot price. Of course, there is a small risk of fraud, so don’t put all your eggs in one eBay transaction, and don’t bite when it’s “too good to be true,” because the savvy bidders probably see the flaw you are missing. Figure 2% lifetime loss to eBay fraud, but you are still getting a good deal.

For comparison, if you were buying $500 face value of junk silver coins ($9,000 cost today) from an established mail order house (like Tulving.com) you’d get free shipping, and be buying pre-1964 coins at $0.10 per ounce under the spot price. Auction sites like eBay can come close to that (sometimes better), so don’t sweat a few percent of the price, because that can paralyze you. Remember that buying the quantity of silver coins you need is like buying beans for your survival storage. You aren’t buying them as an investment to make money, you are buying them as a means to survive. Best Regards, - Ben L.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Read the letter from W.D. in Texas with great interest. I have been a recent visitor to your blog and read the postings on the banking system with great interest - and shared them with immediate family. As a Florida resident, even though in the less vulnerable northeastern part of the state, it is prudent to be ready for adverse weather as the ATMs and banks could be closed in an emergency. Good luck trying to get cash at that point in time.

I strongly suspect that most people nationwide have about as much cash on hand as they do ammunition - in other words very little. A weather related or other emergency will likely catch most of the sheeple unprepared. The articles in your blog have hit home with me. I visited a branch of my local credit union and withdrew several thousand to supplement cash already on hand. I certainly didn't get the runaround W.D. in Texas got but I did have the senior teller come out to approve the transaction and ask why I wanted so much cash. While tempted to politely reply that it was none of her business, I mentioned coming into a bit of an inheritance (truth) with plans to share (also true but not via this withdrawal).
My credit union hires local off-duty police officers for on-site security. The police officer watched me as I departed - no doubt alerted by the bank staff. Oh, I forgot to mention: I also withdrew $20 in nickels! I'm planning to do that every week or two.

My wife has been very understanding of many of my other preps as well. Thank the Lord for this wonderful woman! I am also very blessed by your advice and that of other contributors to your blog. Sincerely, - Jay in .Northeast Florida


First of all, I would like to thank you Mr. Rawles for all of your hard work to keep those of us who choose not to keep our heads in the sand informed. I work for a medium sized credit union in Maryland. I know first hand what a bank run would do to our office. Our policy is to limit cash withdrawals to $3,000 per day per member. We can on occasion accommodate a member’s request for more, but most of the times we require 24-to-48 hours advance notice for any large withdrawals. Even with a $3,000 limit we could only accommodate 100-125 withdrawals of $3,000 [each] before we would be out of cash. I keep an eye on the dollar index regularly throughout the day and plan to take a long lunch once the run begins. (Since Maryland is a gun-hater state I’m not permitted to protect myself.)

If you keep most of your money in financial institutions, there is a very good possibility that you won’t be able to get it when you most need it. And even if you can there will probably be additional limits set in place. More than likely all financial institutions will be ordered to close. Please don’t be foolish enough to believe that once the banks and credit unions reopen that the nice government men will just let you waltz back in to retrieve your money.
Keep up the good work and many blessings to you and your family. Yours in Christ, - Vernon <><

Russ in Georgia sent an article link from Israel that reminds us that the threat of bulldozers should be considered when planning for defending your retreat. It doesn't take much welding know-how for a miscreant to add a few armoring plates to a Cat. With this in mind, have you laid in a small supply of AP ammo? Let me clarify about the Federal law here in the US: There are no Federal restrictions on most "rifle" AP ammunition, but things get complicated for ammo that can also be fired through some pistols. Pre-ban manufactured AP "pistol" ammo is legal for private parties to buy, possess, and shoot (in most states), but only if it is not newly-loaded, or bought from a FFL holder. That makes the small quantities still available on the secondary (private party) market scarce and expensive.

   o o o

Ready Made Resources now stocks the Technon "Breath of Life" protective mask. I'm planning to pack a couple of these whenever I travel.

   o o o

SF in Hawaii recommended a new book from Hesperian Publishing (the publisher of the "Where There is No .." books). It is titled: "A Community Guide to Environmental Health."

   o o o

Cliff H. mentioned this NPR story from Beirut, Lebanon about hardening houses: Not your average home improvements

"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them." - Barry Goldwater

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dear James,
Just wanted to say thank you for letting your readers know about the Front Sight Gun + Gear + Training special offer. My husband and I attended the four-day defensive handgun and the one-day CCW courses last week, and are expecting delivery of the [Springfield Armory] XD40 [pistol]s we used during the courses, in two days.

Neither of us had any real experience with guns before the course. To be honest, when I read your book and in reading your blog, I always skimmed through or skipped the "gun sections" altogether.

Well, the course was a blast (pun intended). They took us from knowing virtually nothing to being able to hit the "stopping zone" on targets that flipped around in 1.5 seconds. (Okay not every time, but enough that we impressed ourselves!) We learned how to recognize and clear malfunctions in a matter of seconds, and do emergency reloads in the middle of "gun battles." They took us through mazes with pictures of bad guys and good guys and hostages and we had to shoot the bad guys, not shoot the good guys, and rescue the hostages. There was a night shoot, and shooting at close range and while moving. (The close range and moving were part of the CCW class.)

I can't say enough about the caliber of instruction. We had a main instructor and two to three coaches helping 18 students at a time. Each was very patient with this newbie. I felt that when I needed it, I was able to receive one-on-one help. Most of the students were already very experienced (law enforcement, military, and gun enthusiasts), and they also felt they were making valuable progress based on their experience levels.

We are looking forward to our continuing practice and education. And since we have recently moved to "The Wild West" (very rural Mendocino County [,California]) we have a new-found sense of being able to take care of ourselves.

Thanks again, - Pat in Northern California

JWR's Introductory Note: The recent reply to a an e-mail from Trevor by The Memsahib inspired ten replies. Note that many of these were written by wives with non-prepper husbands! The final letter comes from a family that had their house nd barn blown away by a hurricane. Some sobering stuff.

Mr. Rawles,
You are truly blessed with your wife's level of discernment and ability to communicate!. I would like to share our similar situation. Understand that I am an old Girl Scout whose former leaders took us camping from New Mexico to Old Mexico and from the beaches to the mountains. I am also the oldest of ten living children, so my life has been one of survival, therefore this "new" way of living is not unknown to me.

In contrast, my husband was an only child with limited Scouting experience. We joke about "the Boy Scout" way of starting a fire (liquid charcoal starter) versus "the Girl Scout" , "a la natural" way (tinder, kindling, firewood). Nevertheless, we have both read a lot and have felt the pressure of preparing for the future for a very long time. Two of three grown children are immersed in preparing with us, with the third one beginning to unobtrusively tune in to what's going on. They are a blessing to us.

Not long ago, my husband ran into an old buddy who had other buddies moving into survival mode. We have all formed a solid group working together on common goals. However, I am the only wife who relates to this "survival" stuff. The men have been very frustrated with the situation. I have been very lonely for the female companionship. I jokingly told them we needed a "Ladies' Auxiliary". I tried to think of a way to do this at an introductory level that was meaningful and real and the inspiration came. Since we live near a coastal area, I proposed to the men that the ladies get together to create a plan for hurricane preparedness for their families. The men talked to their spouses, who were very receptive, as this is a threat we live with every summer. I am now putting together information for binders I will give them at our first meeting on Sunday, in hopes that this will be a jump off into deeper issues of preparedness for the unknown future.

As a former teacher, I had to find ways to personalize subject matter to reach my students. It could be exhausting, but necessary. The key was making the issues meaningful to the individuals. We still have a long way to go to be completely prepared, but hopefully this might give your male readers some ideas and encouragement. Even though the future looks scary, we live in exciting times! - Charlotte R.

Dear Editor:
I have to completely agree with Memsahib's reply. I never looked at it from that perspective before. For my wife, she knows and understands why we need to prepare (that part has already been taken care of). She, like Trevor's wife, does not want to hear any more about it. I, unlike Trevor, do share these opinions with a few buddies. An older buddy of mine explained it to me like this:

"Women (generally) want to know that they and the kids will be taken care of. They want to feel safe and secure and they want to know that their children will also be safe. By divulging into all of the issues you bring doubts into their minds that you will not be able to handle it."

So basically, you are best off letting your wife know that you are preparing in case something happens in the future so that she and the kids will be safe. If she asks for an explanation then give her one, if not then leave it for the buddies. Most women, like Memsahib's reply stated, just want to feel secure knowing that her man will take care of them.
Take care, - KJP

I'm really glad a thread started on this issue. It is a major issue for many people!

I've been very happily married for 34 years, having lived through three kids, getting through and paying off medical school, many academic job changes before starting a private medical practice, and health issues of various types. My wife has supported me in every thing I've ever done, but when it comes to preparing, she basically says, "don't tell me all the scary stuff, I've got two more kids to raise through high school and college. Just let me know what I need to do when the time comes." Now, that's basically okay, as she does not begrudge me the ammo, storable food, et cetera. She views it as my eccentric hobby. Fortunately, money is not a major issue at this point in our lives, so she doesn't really pay attention to what I buy. But, friends who didn't give up their 20s and 30s for medical school and residency have a different situation; their wives begrudge all extraneous purchases. Also, the nurses at my clinic, without exception, all, actively refuse to discuss any of the Peak Oil or "long emergency" type future scenarios that might require preparation. These are otherwise strong, intelligent, highly organized women who run my medical practice, and run it well. But when it comes to prepping for a scenario of future change (involving less availability of food, fuel shortages, and less availability of other needed things) they do no want to talk about it. When the other doctors and I are discussing prep (whether its in relation to Peak Oil, climate change, the ongoing banking crisis, the food crisis, etc) the nurses will literally leave the room. One recently told me "I can't work and slave, if I think what you guys are talking about might happen. I want my son to go to college, and I want to have grandchildren, you guys are talking about Road Warrior again. That makes my ulcers act up." In reality we were discussing the banking crisis and its likely effects on the US dollar and the spin off effects on oil prices and their spin offs to food availability and costs. Literally every female nurse and doctor I know has the same attitude (as is also the case with far too many male doctors and nurses, but not as many).

Recently, I was reading about the [WWII] German invasion of Poland, and the aftermath, and was surprised to learn that in the early stages, many men wanted to move away but didn't due to their wives' refusal to discuss the issue. Same thing happened when Castro took over Cuba, and the same with many of the Chinese who failed to relocate to Taiwan when Mao took control.

Theory: putting all notions of political correctness on hold (where they belong), women are genetically programmed to give birth and raise and nurture children and families. Their evolutionary role is to nurture, to give hope, and be positive about the future. Talking about prep requires that one face a potential future radically different from the ongoing linear progression from here to a future that is assumed to exactly like things are now. Violating the assumption that things are going to be very similar to now is apparently not fully compatible with being a mother and maintaining a positive focus. Perhaps if we start talking about helping our grandchildren survive and thrive in a very different world (think of the book "World Made By Hand", by Howard Kunstler), then female spouses might be more receptive. My two cents worth, - DW

Dear Memsahib and Jim:
I read the posting from Trevor in regards to his wife and your response back to him. I have empathy for Trevor concerning his wife and trying to prepare. I agree with you, Memsahib, that at least his wife is willing to let Trevor spend money on preparing and that her mind frame is just let me know when it's time to go. That being said, it is too bad that she hasn't come to the reality "yet" that this will happen and will open up to her husband and talk about it and help him with the preparations.

It took me awhile to realize what was going on, I didn't wake up right away. But, when I did, I was onboard. Because, even though it wasn't a pleasant thought and yes, dreams and hopes might be lost, in order to survive what is coming you have to prepare for it.

With everything that is happening now and at the rate that it's happening, I'm hoping that Trevor's wife will realize, hey, things are happening, which aren't good, and I really need to help my husband more with this.

I don't want to categorize all women, because I know that it's not this way, but it is hard to find where both spouses are thinking the same way and are trying to prepare for the future. I only know a couple of women, besides myself, that realize what is going on, and is 100% with their husband and preparing for what is coming and soon to be here.
I too read James's novel ["Patriots"] and I rather enjoyed it. It's one of the things that really helped me open my eyes. I read the first version, many years ago and then also the new version that was released fairly recently. We even bought a "six pack" and loaned them out to friends to read. It's a very useful tool. (Thanks, Jim!)

I just wanted to add my two cents and say that hopefully Trevor's wife's eyes will become fully opened and she'll realize the magnitude of what is coming at us and will talk to her husband about it and will help him prepare. Thanks, - Susan

The Memsahib has spoken the truth as powerfully as the gospel itself it rings as loudly as only the truth could. Thank you from a guy who had the same problem. I’m glad to know the problem was on my side all along, which means I can fix it by keeping my mouth shut and talking doom and gloom with my father and brother who see things from the same perspective as me. What a bonehead I have been to force the issue all this time. I too have been blessed with a wife who puts up with my need to prepare and should have been happy to have that much all along. Thanks - Russ in Oklahoma

James Wesley:
Hmm. Converting the non-survivalist spouse. Difficult, but do-able.
Have you taken her backpacking? Not car-camping. Not RV-parking. Just good, old-fashioned, carry-what-you-need-to-live backpacking. Start with a day hike, then an overnighter, then longer trips. It’ll give her—and you—a chance to see what she’s made of.

Clip stories from the newspaper and off the Internet about Americans who have faced inconvenience—hurricanes, floods, snows, tornadoes, riots, earthquakes, volcanoes, cryptosporidium in the water supply . . . you get the drift. Supplement your clipping service by strewing and viewing a few carefully chosen disaster movies and novels. Remember that attitude change is a process, not an event. Create a climate for consensus.

Make sure your 72-hour preparations are in flawless order. Should you become “inconvenienced,” your preparations will cast you in the role of The Wise and Provident Hero. Explain to your wife that preparation is (a) a form of insurance, (b) one of the many ways you show her how much you love her.

I’m not sure what sorts of folks make up the “we” to whom you refer, but if your survival buddies are wild-eyed fringe-dwellers, you might have some difficulty persuading the Missus that you’re not “a bunch of nuts.” To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Nutty is as nutty does.” Delay exposing her to the more extreme members of your group—the Conspiracy Theorist with a truckload of fertilizer and diesel fuel, the Rambo-Wannabe who bathes once a week whether he needs to or not, etc. Refrain from bringing Weapons of Mass Destruction into the house. Don’t use her nice dishtowels as [firearms] lube rags.

Is your wife an observant Christian or Jew? Perhaps you can reach her via the many Old Testament and New-Testament Biblical prophecies about the immediate future.
I speak as the sole Preparer in my household. I have earned tolerance and respect for behavior that is, quite frankly, outside the mainstream. The fact of the matter is this: Most people do not prepare, and most people are profoundly uncomfortable with the survival mindset. If you truly love your wife, you will bring her along as gently as possible, with hopes that, when your worst nightmares come true, she will regard you with loyalty, understanding and cooperation. - Mrs. Semper Paratus

Mr. Rawles,
Have your wife read any of the books on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita (about the hospitals and lack of supplies at the Superdome), it is scary and it does happen. The plus on some of these books is that they do show some of the good that came out of the hurricanes. So the reading isn't all bad. Plus if she's a health food nut getting her into the herbs and all natural remedies should be easy.

The same can be said for the [recent] levee [break]s in the midwest, no insurance, no real help from our government and a lot of misinformation. Combine that with a very real lack of food and supplies for the general public and you have a recipe for disaster. In a week without supplies people were panicking, how will they be in three weeks?

In Alaska they send home a list of supplies they want you to send to school with your children, just in case they get snowed in for any length of time (even on the military base) and a list of what you should have in your car, just in case. While we were there I read a book called "Death Stalks the Land", it is horrible in parts and it is all about bad judgment, being ill prepared and not knowing your surroundings or the dangers that are inherent.

In most places you will not have to deal with some of the problems I am talking about here. Where you live, what is the worst possible natural disaster that could happen? Here it's easy - hurricanes and floods, we live 50 feet above sea level to well below sea level and in the Gulf [of Mexico]. If your spouse can't see through to TEOTWAWKI then get her started on what happens now and then in your area. Maybe you don't have to go all worst case, but tell her she needs to learn just in case you're not right there when something happens and you want her to be able to get your family to safety or keep them safe.

Right after [Hurricane] Katrina, a 13 year old girl was raped and her mother couldn't help her. Children died as a result of their parents not having a good plan or the wherewithal to follow through. There were regular attacks in one of the New Orleans hotels over food and supplies.

I am like-minded for my children, I want them to be like minded so they can carry on. The survival skills they learn from us make them stronger, more self-sufficient, confident and better people. The same can be said for me, the more I learn the better I feel about my abilities to handle any situation, with my husband or God forbid, without him. Most women don't realize how empowering this knowledge is. I mean, it's a trip knowing I have more skills than most of the men I know.

There are some things I didn't want to learn and my husband found some ways to get me to try them. We traded off - if I wanted to go riding, we would also do something he wanted to do and he would go riding with me and I would freeze while ice fishing. Make what you want her to learn fun or interesting. Encourage her to read some of the posts on SurvivalBlog. Have the kids help get her interested. Don't push her but don't give up on her learning either.

Good luck and have her post on here too, Memsahib can tell you, I haven't stopped since my husband introduced me to the SurvivalBlog site. - Mrs. TD

Dear Jim (and Trevor),
I thought for the longest time that I was in a similar situation, save for the fact that I am the woman, and my husband is the one who never wanted to help with preparedness nor seemed to want to talk about it. For me, it seemed that my preparedness ideals came from a basic nesting instinct, a need to nurture my family in an unseen future. Although, I have to admit, it was mixed with the romantic remembrance of being on my grandfather’s homestead. However, while my husband never spoke about it, I never got the feeling that he resented it, just as Memsahib had written to you that some spouses do. My husband always trusted me in what I was doing, so I never pressed him about it.

Then one day, he nearly blew my mind. He actually mentioned getting a firearm (a real one as opposed to the air rifles we currently own). Then he looked right at me and said, “for the end-of-the-world type situation.” Since that time, he is still somewhat closed mouthed on the situation. He will talk more about the latest technology (it is his field of work) or one day “striking it rich” (yes, I married a dreamer), but at the same time, there is a father inside of him with many old-fashioned ethics and ideals, and every once in a while, he will make a simple statement, such as the one I mentioned, or we might have a simple conversation about future preparedness. Last night, we had our longest conversation about future preparedness while sitting on the porch swing, enjoying the evening air. It entailed gasoline prices, global warming versus a new ice age, and a Mad Max future versus reality.

Take The Memsahib’s wise advice. Allow your beloved spouse to trust your judgment. One day, she might surprise you, too, and make an off-hand comment. The wisest teacher (we all know who He was) never pushed and pressured. He allowed others to come to him of their own free will.

As for preparedness from a female perspective, Sharon Astyk has recently finished writing a book on Peak Oil, “Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front”, [which will be] available Fall, 2008. However, her language can get a bit raunchy at times, so be cautious if you look down upon that. In case you have never heard of Mrs. Astyk, there is an excellent article written by Sharon for women at this web site. I don't know why, but when it comes to preparedness, the Peak Oil movement tends to attract women more than the other sub-sects.

Until then, might I suggest [the novel] “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s a bit more subtle than you might wish, but there is the constant theme running through it of the expectation that the train will come, bringing supplies, but never does. If you have children to read aloud to, so much the better (and less suspicious). The Little House series are excellent books for children, although with sons you may wish to read, or have them read, “Farmer Boy” first. My oldest son thoroughly enjoyed it, and when I started reading the other books aloud to the younger children, he immediately recognized Mrs. Wilder's writing style, and was happy to listen in as well. - Mama Squirrel

Mr. Rawles,
I too have had the experience of attempting to 'bring into the fold' an eye-rolling spouse. She read "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", and felt that she could not identify with a preparedness minded group on the other side of the country. We live in Florida, and have weathered four hurricanes, two going directly overhead. Even after three weeks of no power (two weeks with the first, one week with the second, one day with the third), she still resents my storage of gasoline and propane.

Until recently. I love so-called 'apocalypse' fiction, and a like-minded friend of mine turned me onto a series of books by Terri Blackstock, the first of which is called "Last Light". This four book series follows a group of suburbanites after an EMP-like event cripples the country (not to spoil the story, but the event is actually global). These people were absolutely not prepared at all, and suffered quite a bit. Also, the book is considered Christian Fiction, and focuses on the Blessings of God and faith in His power and love to get the main characters through their various trials.

My wife was only three chapters in when she began to ask "what would we do about water" and "what would we do if this happened while the boys were at school?"
Thankfully, she has began to support my various efforts more (less eye-rolling) and has actually made some great suggestions that I had not thought of. We now have a G.O.O.D. plan, and have laid in more supplies.

Thanks for your SurvivalBlog site. I read it daily and spread the word. - DT in Florida

Dear Jim and Memsahib,
I must agree with you Memsahib that many people are not mentally capable of accepting that things are about to take a turn for the worst.

We live on the Gulf coast and even after living with the devastation that Hurricanes bring, it was extremely difficult when we lost our home and barn to Hurricane Ivan. We had hunkered down next door in my Uncles home to ride out the storm. We never imagined that when the storm had passed that our home would be gone. My husband, myself 7 months pregnant, our 15 year old twin boys, our 12 year old daughter walked over the hill to go home and we were all devastated. We didn’t have a home, or a barn. Our goats and horses were standing there looking at us in a daze. We were homeless. I had read about it, heard about it, and now I was about to live it. And live it we did. We survived the nightmare.

It was quite humbling to turn around and go back to Uncles and ask to stay a little while. After a week, we borrowed my uncle's 1970 something travel trailer that slept two. A neighbor loaned us another travel trailer that slept another two . My daughter slept in the kitchen/dining area on a cot. And, being pregnant, my hormones were not real happy. Bringing another child into this world to nothing. I didn’t want to face it, but I didn’t have a choice.

Now, I am the survivalist [of the family]. I have survived the worst, and if and when I face the next hardship, you can bet your full tank of diesel that I will never ask anyone for help again, I wont have to.

I have to agree that when ones spouse isn’t able to face it, then you must prepare quietly and understand.

My husband just chuckles at me when I bring home 50 pounds of sugar when it is on sale.
Thanks to you Jim for such a wonderful site. I have learned so much. - Roxie

Reader Ben M. recommended a BBC article on the international banking crisis. They talk about UBS, announcing further losses on top of their $37 Billion worth of losses that were already announced. A key quote: "We haven't hit the bottom yet," warned Zhang Xiuqi, from Guotai Junan Securities.

   o o o

Eric found this article: Ethanol-free gas outlets growing daily. Eric's comment: "Having just hoisted six 5-gallon gerry cans into the e-85 vehicle I drive - as I'm rotating my storage fuel - this article is making me concerned. Guess we'll see in the next few days."

   o o o

From the AIDG Blog - Sam Redfield on Pico-hydro at La Florida. (A hat tip to MSJ for spotting the blog piece.)

   o o o

KAF sent this bad news for anyone that plans to park some money offshore: IRS wants millions hidden in Swiss accounts

"There is nothing which doth more agreeably concern the Senses, than in the depth of Winter to behold the Fruits so fair, and so good, yea better, than when you first did gather them.......You will taste your fruit with infinite more gust and contentment, than in the Summer itself, when their great abundance, and variety, rather cloy you than become agreeable. For this reason therefore it is, that we essay to teach you the most expedite, and certain means how to conserve them all the WInter, even so long, as till the New shall incite you to quit the Old." - John Evelyn, The French Gardiner, London 1675

Tuesday, July 1, 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 James,
I was talking to my neighbor today and he showed me his Uniden Bear Tracker 800 scanner, a now discontinued model. That got me to thinking that I probably should get one for emergencies. But the thing is I don't know what you should look for in a police scanner. Also I'm on a budget and I'm not willing to spend more than $100 on a scanner, but most cost quite a bit. That's why I'm looking for a reasonably priced scanner, though I'm having problems finding one. Any recommendations or help would be gladly accepted.
Regards, - MG Mikael

Since you are on a budget, your best bet is to find a used scanner on eBay, hopefully for $80 to $120. (This may take a few diligent weeks of putting low bids on successive auction, to have a winning low bid.)

From the SurvivalBlog archives, here are a couple of useful references with scanner model recommendations:

General advice on communications monitoring.


A "trunked traffic" capable scanner

I appreciate everything that you and your readers are doing to help change the mindset of people around the world.
I was reviewing the May/June issue of a health care trade magazine that contained a report on a simulation carried out in Philadelphia at the start of this year dealing with pandemic influenza. While much of the discussion was relevant only to health insurers, the scenario that served as the simulation is detailed below. Readers can draw their own conclusions of the type of things that they should prepare for.

The following is exerted from: Raymond, A.G. (2008). Pandemic Influenza. AHIP Coverage. 49(3), 18:

A Simulation: Twelve "All-Too-Real" Weeks of Pandemic Influenza

After years of warnings a deadly flu grips the city [Philadelphia]. As the simulation begins, 2,000 suspected cases of pandemic flu have been reported in the Greater Philadelphia area, with at least 13 deaths. State and local health officials are starting to carry out the CDC's recommendation to isolate and treat with antiviral medications anyone with confirmed or suspected pandemic influenza, and encourage people to reduce contacts that might spread the virus. People who are infected can be contagious for a day or more before they develop symptoms, which range from fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, to severe respiratory diseases and other life-threatening complications.

Soon, doctors' offices and hospitals are inundated with the sick and "worried well". Hospitals report ER waiting times as high as 15 hours with few beds available for new admissions. Medical personnel are stretched to the limit, and some are showing signs of infection.

Businesses are experiencing high rates of absenteeism, and schools are closing. Domestic and international travel and shipments are slowed or cease entirely. Groceries and pharmacies are quickly emptied of essential supplies and restaurants and malls are empty.

The medical, economic and social consequences are devastating.

After nine weeks, the number of cases in the Philadelphia area has escalated to more than 100,000, deaths are in the thousands, and the city's hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed as they try to provide adequate care for huge numbers of victims along with their usual patient population. Morgues, hospital mortuaries, and funeral homes are challenged in their ability to care properly for the soaring number of dead.

Public safety and sanitation are major concerns, critical medical and food supplies are running low, and much of the economy has come to a standstill because of high employee absenteeism and a lack of customers. Internet and cell phone service is disrupted as home workers create system overload, and service workers are unavailable to respond. Normal everyday activities end as people avoid shopping, dining out, and social gatherings of all kinds.

The first wave is ending; attention turns to recovery and preparation for a second.

At week 12, the number of new infections is subsiding, but a second wave of pandemic flu is spreading overseas. In the USA, an estimated 40 million people have been infected and nearly one million have died, including 25,000 in the Greater Philadelphia area.

The economy is in free fall. As consumers limited their spending, business have cut back production and laid-off workers, and small businesses are closing altogether. Antivirals and antibiotics are scarce, vaccines for the pandemic strains are still months away, and the medical system is still short on staff, beds and supplies. Fear and isolation have taken a heavy toll on the public, with increasing accounts of depression and other signs of stress. Can the city begin to recover and also prepare for a second-wave pandemic?

For now, this is only a simulation. - Dave in Alabama.

I have a friend wanting my advice. He has a Glock [Model] 22 [.40 S&W] , an AR-15 [5.56mm NATO], a Ruger 10/.22 [rimfire] and a Remington 700 VTR [bolt action .308]. He has 5,000 rounds for the Glock, 10,000 rounds for the AR and 6,000 rounds for the 10/.22.
He has no .308 semi-auto rifle and [says that he has] no plans to acquire one. He wants to lay in a supply of around 2,000 rounds for the Remington 700 VTR. It shoots under 1/2 MOA with 168 grain Federal Gold Medal Match, and around 1 to 1-1/2 MOA with assorted hunting rounds we've tried.

I told him he should have some 168 grain Federal Gold Medal Match for precision work, some hunting ammo and some ball ammo.

In your opinion, what is a good percentage of each to have on hand? Thanks, - Craig W.

JWR Replies: For a precision rifle, I'd recommend this laying in an ammo supply at this ratio:
60% 168 grain Federal Match
20% 165 grain hunting load, such as Winchester silvertip. (Pick a brand/bullet weight with a trajectory that is close to the Federal Match, so they'll be no need to re-zero.)
15% Ball
4% Tracer
1% AP and/or API, if you can find any. A large gun show in an unrestricted state such as Nevada or Kentucky would be your most likely source. Bring a wad of cash, since you can expect to pay $4 to $6 per round!

Note: Keep in mind that the tracer and incendiary bullets will leave a residue that is hygroscopic (and hence corrosive)--so set that ammo aside for just WTSHTF and clean your rifle thoroughlyfor three successive days after shooting any! Just like when shooting corrosively primed ammunition, a rifle's bore and the face of the bolt are at risk of getting pitted if you don't clean it scrupulously and repeatedly.

I recommend that you zero the rifle with the Federal match ammo, and then do bullet drop comparisons with each of the other loads. Work up a bullet drop and wind drift card for each load, all the way out to 1,200 meters. Laminate those cards to make them weather resistant, and keep them with the rifle at all times. (A stock pouch is handy for this purpose.)

Consult your state and local laws before purchasing any tracer, AP, or API ammunition.

OBTW, a good place to watch for ammo on sale is GunDeals.com.

WB in Texas mentioned a book review of the now-classic $50 and Up Underground House Book, written from the perspective of a reviewer that has actually built one of his own.

   o o o

Jack B. flagged this article from Pakistan: Oil-fired budget to skyrocket inflation. Jack's comment: "Economic woes in Pakistan are just another red flag in the soon to be world wide crunch! Like ripples in a global pond, country after country reverberates with like stories."

   o o o

Eric found this article from the UK: It used to be deer poaching, now rural gangs move into the oil business.

   o o o

Eric also found this article at Der Spiegel: The United States Federal Reserve Bank faces a general audit by the International Monetary Fund

“It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company.” - President George Washington

All Content on This Web Site Copyright 2005-2014 All Rights Reserved - James Wesley, Rawles - SurvivalBlog.com

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2008 is the previous archive.

August 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Visitor Map



counter customisable
Unique visits since July 2005. More than 320,000 unique visits per week.