September 2008 Archives

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I just got word that the US House of Representatives voted down the $700 billion USD Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Bill. I'm glad to see that it was defeated. There is simply no proper substitute for allowing the credit market to correct itself, by working the bad debt out of the system. Propping up the system would have made the eventual reckoning day even worse. There will probably be some substitute or "bipartisan compromise" legislation offered, but don't fall for it. If it extracts money from your wallet to bail out the banks from Credit Default Swap derivatives and other toxic debt, then it is bad legislation. Please contact your congresscritters to let them know your position on the legislation.

On news of the defeat of the TARP bill, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 555 points (more than 5% of its value) in just one day on Monday. I expect further declines in the DJIA this week, perhaps dropping below the psychological 10,000 threshold, regardless of the political posturing and promises on Capitol Hill. I hope that SurvivalBlog readers took my advice and long ago got out of stocks and other US Dollar-denominated investments. Buy productive farm land (that can double as a retreat), guns, tools, and other tangibles.

Our special thanks to Mike in Malaysia, who sent us a very generous 10 Cent Challenge subscription contribution via PayPal, with the note: "Thanks for your great service. This is a prepayment for the next four years and for the last year of knowledge!"

Hi Jim,
we wanted to share our story with your readers who may not have been able to acquire their retreats yet, and worry they never will. We hope our story will inspire them....

We sold our home in record time recently (big shock) and then went on a major hunt to find our "perfect spot"...we have been preparing and stocking up and looking to find the area we wanted to buy retreat in and start in earnest to live self-sufficiently, hoping and praying when the time came it would all come together.

We had very specific parameters: minimum of 40 acres, very private and secluded but yet close to a small community, a year round creek or spring fed pond was of high importance, and of course our house had to sell in this terrible market and for a good price to reduce debts and leave enough money for a new location...not too much to ask for eh?
well, this is what we wanted to share: We found a place that had been in a farmers family for multiple generations, had numerous barns, fencing, a well, and a year round creek, everything we were looking for already there and in great working order! It was off the beaten path by about seven miles, but visible from the country road that led to it. Still a beautiful property and reasonably priced for the 40 acres.

We made an offer on it and since I felt very uneasy with the level of exposure from the road (probably wouldn't bother most folks, but I am extremely private.) I went and sat on the porch and prayed, asking God that if this was not where we were supposed to be to please, please, let me know quick and give me a big sign my husband will recognize, LOL, he loved the property as it met all our parameters, (except my extreme privacy need) and would be upset to know I was still shopping in my mind.

Well, the phone rang shortly thereafter and our offer was being hijacked by a family member [of the seller] who knew we just sold a home in a desirable area, so the price that they gave us was now a lot higher, among other demands and (this in a major "buyers market"!). We were running out of options and needed to move asap so I worried we may have to end up taking the offer if nothing else came along very quickly.

the next morning a cousin called at 6 a.m. and said that she had woke up for no reason at 4 a.m. and had [remembered] the perfect place for us, though it wasn't on the market and it was only a rundown house on three acres, but tucked away perfectly. He made a couple phone calls on our behalf and later that afternoon we went to view and talk to the owners...just so happened that they had just talked of selling to move closer to a city due to high fuel costs of commuting, we made a deal with them on the spot and closed a few days later!....well....we knew that even with just a few well set up acres we could do just fine when the SHTF. The second phone call on our behalf was to the owner of 80+ acres adjoining our 'new' place. These are multigenerational family properties and rarely get sold outside of family....the timing was perfect...she also had just decided to sell off those acres....she told us she knew it was God's will for us to buy it when the phone rang that morning with a request to buy "a couple extra acres" to go with the old farm house adjoining her property. That was the second sign from God. Then we went to view her acres which has a very old falling apart barn on it and as we walked inside there were numerous cans of storage food (from a company often mentioned in SurvivalBlog, in great shape) laying around. We were told there is a "whole gully full of the stuff, cause the old guy thought the world was gonna come to an end every morning." How wild is that? Sign #3 that we were definitely in the right place!

We met with owner and her attorney and although were hoping for extra five acres but walked out with an agreement on 80 acres and an option for more. We are grateful and amazed. We wanted to share our good fortune so that others know it can happen for them, even with odds against them. You gotta have faith!

We relish the idea of putting together a wonderful place to live for the rest of our lives and to be able to offer sanctuary for our family and select friends in good times and bad, and and hope we have enough time to teach our grown children and grandchildren self-sufficiency of a different sort in this unstable world. Thank you for all the work you do and the information you share with the rest of us! God Bless, - KW

Thanks for your warnings and all the help your novel and blog are to us.

In reference to the recent mention of Dr. Bronner's soaps, I just wanted to pass along some tips on Kirk's Castile coconut soap. It doesn't have a lot of added chemicals. I can purchase it at Woodman's for 79 cents a bar.[JWR Adds: It is also available at reasonable prices from several Internet vendors if bought in full cases.] It can be used as shampoo as well as to brush your teeth. People don't believe me when I tell them it's been my shampoo for years. It's better for your teeth than any toothpaste that has glycerin. It can be used as dish soap also. Why buy many products to store when this one is inexpensive and has many uses? Staying clean is so important to our health. Praying for God's mercy, - Deb in Wisconsin

Dear Mr. Rawles,
All the stories recently about power failure and storing water in bathtubs have encouraged me to write to you about the WaterBOB. It's a heavy duty plastic bladder that you put in your bathtub and then fill with clean water from the tap. It comes with a siphon so that removing the water is easy. IMO, The greatest advantage of this product is that the water remains potable, even though a bathtub is generally not suitable for storing drinking water. The WaterBOB holds 100 gallons.

Prices have increased substantially since I first bought mine a year or so ago, but if purchased in quantities of 20+, the price drops significantly and shipping is minimal. A group could order together, or someone might want extras for gifts.

I recently ordered a quantity shipment for family birthdays, Christmas gifts, some upcoming anniversaries, and wedding/housewarming gifts. It's a pretty sure thing that most folks don't already have one!

Thanks so much for all you do. And our prayers continue for your Memsahib's complete recovery. Sincerely, - SaddleTramp

If Michael A. in Seattle was surprised by his little run-in with the FDIC, I urge him and others to research what happened in Texas during the S&L crisis. That's within fairly recent memory, just about 20 years ago, not like the Great Depression [which has faded from memory. And this was when the entire rest of the nation's banking system was largely intact but the S&Ls in Texas (and a few surrounding states) caused all the fuss.
Common problems included:
1. Inability to get at checking or savings accounts for months at a time.
2. Inability to get employers to immediately turn off Direct Deposit, resulting in some paychecks simply vanishing forever.
3. Inability to pay bills even though technically you had money, at least according to the FDIC. (This caused numerous foreclosures despite the person never having missed a payment before and having the cash but unable to access it.)
One common result of #2 above in Texas is a higher than usual refusals to take Direct Deposit. I don't take it because of what I saw happen then. Recently on a trip to my local bank, a manager walked by as the teller was servicing my request and saw that it was a real check. She immediately suggested I get Direct Deposit. I replied "The S&L debacle left many scars." She looked at me then smiled, nodded, and went on her way. She knew that arguing with me about it was pointless.
On another point, a fellow I know was recently cleaning out his grandmother's house after her death. Everywhere they looked they found cash ranging from ones to fives to tens to twenties. It was in drawers, hidden in seat cushions, etc. He knew she did this and he always thought she was off her rocker but in the last year he's changed his attitude. Now he says "I think I understand why she didn't trust the banks."
There's a sea change coming in American attitudes. That sea change is going to worsen the economy as people decide spending is not the sole purpose in life. And no bailout is going to change this. Life in these United States is about to become far more frugal, one way or another. - Dave R.

Hi Jim,
I'm a long time reader of the blog and I liked your novel. I have been amazed at your ability to acutely foresee coming events. More and more yours is the first site that I read every day. I noticed your article on glow sticks and I have an excellent upgrade for your readers.

Forget using glow sticks and graduate to Krill lights. Now glow sticks still have their place, but 98% of the time this will be a better item to use. I have purchased several of these over the years and have always been impressed. They work like giant [electro-luminescent] Indiglo watches. They run for what seems like forever on AA batteries, comes in different colors including infrared (IR), they have 360 and 180 degree models, flashing models are available, all at greatly reduced cost verses equivalent glow sticks. I am rough on equipment and have yet to destroy one of these tough little lights. Your friend, - Kevin S.

Some more newspaper gleanings, most coming from our Economic editor: Citigroup to buy Wachovia banking operations -- Bailout Failure Will Cause US To Crash (For full disclosure, I would append the headline with: "But Bailout Success Will Cause Dollar to Crash") -- UK Banker Leaps To Death In Front Of Express Train -- Fed Pumps Further $630 Billion Into Financial System -- House defeats $700 Billion financial markets bailout

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Hawaiian K. suggested an article over at Treehugger on aquaponics

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Reader FFF spotted this: How China has created a new slave empire

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Mister DC sent this: What if disaster struck? Counties, schools update responses. ("How many corpses can fit in your local ice rink?")

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Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the BBC reports: Bradford & Bingley bank facing nationalisation

"Mostly the thing I see is the pure lack of planning -- people feel secure in their homes and think that it will never happen to them, and then it does". Tom Hazelwood, quoted by Laura Rowley in Flirting with Disaster: Preparation is Key for Potential Catastrophes

Monday, September 29, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 18 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article in the next 60 days will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 18 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries--either for this round or for the next. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

What Will You Do When Your Stored Food Runs Out?, by Woodsman

Among the multitude of preparations conducted by would-be survivalists, gardening is often minimized in value compared to the physical purchases of beans, bullets, and band-aids. However, in any long-term TEOTWAWKI event, gardening would probably become nearly the sole means of subsistence for your family and as such, it is critical that you make the efforts now to learn the ins and outs of how to produce a year's worth of fruit and vegetables from your own land.
Prior to moving to our retreat, my family lived in a moderate-sized city and neither of my parents grew up with any genuine country-life experience, be it with gardening or anything else to do with growing your own food. Due to God's providence, we fell into company with a master gardener, himself concerned about world events, and over the first winter after we moved to our retreat we jointly plotted how the first garden would be planted. Since then, we have learned how to consistently produce enough vegetables to carry us through a year, and many lessons were learned the hard way. The following article sums up many of those lessons as well as other important principles. It is my hope that you would carefully consider them in regards to your own garden.

First, A Word on the Importance Of Gardening
Gardening ought to become a priority for everyone. No matter how many buckets of grain you have stored away, no matter how many cans of freeze-dried food are in your closet, you can count on running out eventually, and the food supply grid may not yet be restored. A large garden, plus orchards of fruits like raspberries, strawberries, and apples, and hopefully a few chickens, pigs, goats, and cows, will supply you with a large portion of the food necessary to survive.
Those of you who are, like us, preparing on a shoestring budget, can go a long way in stocking up by growing your own vegetables and canning, dehydrating, or otherwise storing them for future use. It will be much cheaper and in many cases, healthier as well (and WTSHTF, you'll need all the health you can get!). This year we put a lot of effort into the garden, and by the end of this season we will have two years of canned vegetables and fruits stored away. Not only will this leave us with our current goal of a complete, well rounded, one extra year's food supply, but it will also safeguard us in case next year's garden does not produce as well. Two years ago, we canned two year's worth of carrots, and last year, we hardly harvested any. That extra year of canned carrots saw us through that lean year until now, when we once again have a large quantity of carrots that we will be soon canning in massive quantities.
Even if a major TEOTWAWKI event never occurs in our lifetimes, we can all clearly see the faltering economy and the skyrocketing prices of food. We can begin combating inflation right now by taking control over what we eat and growing it ourselves. My family of six lives on a food budget of less than $200/month, and we eat heartily with no lack of good tasting, nutritional food.

Garden Location
Your garden should be located where it will obtain full sunshine. It should not be in a low area with poor water drainage, or on a relatively steep slope, and should be convenient for frequent access.

Summer Fallowing
After the initial confusion and frustration over when to plant seeds, how many to plant, and how far apart to place them, the main lesson we learned the first year was the value of consistently summer fallowing a new piece of ground. Throughout our first garden season, we battled quack grass and numerous other weeds that filled our entire plot. Looking back, I remember that we did a very poor job of weeding and the amount of vegetables obtained suffered greatly because of being choked out by weeds. During that season, however, we used a garden tractor pulling a small disc to regularly run over a larger garden plot that we planned to use the next season. Every time the weeds began to show above the surface, we took the disc over them. Of course, it wasn't until the next year that we truly realized the benefits of this technique. When the next season rolled around and several weeks had passed since the first seeds were planted, my family was delighted to discover that there was almost no quack grass in the entire garden, and the only weeds to deal with were less noxious ones like pigweed, lamb's quarters, and shepherd's purse. Those were easy to chop off with a hoe several times per week.
A year ago, we took a shortcut and planted quite a few fruit trees into an area that we had not kept well fallowed, and within a month or two we were once again reminded of the value of keeping the weeds tilled down for a season previous to planting. Grass and thistles sprang up everywhere and even now we are forced to work hard to keep on top of everything. Please, if you're going to garden in a new plot, fallow it regularly for a year before planting there. If you have to, do like we did and plant in one (albeit weedy) spot while you prepare another section for next season.

Extend the Season
Unless you live far enough south that you can garden practically the entire year round, it is important to take certain steps to extend your season, allowing a head start on planting to ensure a virtual guarantee of a harvest—prior to the frost! There are many varied ways of doing this, but most methods involve some form of greenhouse and starting seeds early indoors. If your house has plenty of windows on the southern side, and plenty of ledges for trays of seeds to sit on, it is a great way to extend the season all the way back to February for the longer-season transplantable plants like tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and the like. An attached greenhouse is convenient and will have much more space.

When the ground is beginning to thaw but the weather is still cold, a hoop house works well. Ours consists of a framed 12'x8' wall and rebar extending out behind that in multiple half circles, connected by horizontal pieces of rebar. Six mil plastic is placed over the rebar and nailed down with slats to 2x8s running the length of the structure. A barrel wood stove is used to keep it warm on the cold nights. Once the temperature is warm enough, we remove the plastic. In the fall, we often decide to reinstall the plastic as a temporary shelter for tools and implements that we're using, and to allow more time for any vegetables that are not fully ripe.

Stagger Production
A key to not becoming overwhelmed by all the produce is to stagger production. Corn can be planted in one-week intervals; beans can be staggered by at least a couple weeks, and peas can be planted very early so as to ensure their harvest prior to the larger crops. Root crops, such as onions, carrots, and potatoes can wait until the very end of the garden season to be harvested.

Mulch is important in a garden for several reasons. Number one, it retains moisture in the ground so any rain you do receive is used for maximum benefit, and it is not necessary to personally water as frequently. Second, mulch will help keep soil compaction down to a minimum. Third, it will add organic matter to your soil to help replace the nutrients that are drawn out over the years of leaving the soil bare to the elements and harvesting plants from it. To a certain extent, mulching also keeps weed levels reduced but you need to make sure you use a thick enough layer or else you will regret it later. When hay or straw mulch is put on too thinly, the weeds will come up as numerous as ever and it is much more difficult to hoe and nearly impossible to roto-till without clogging the tines on the tiller.

Watering Your Garden
As I mentioned above, your garden will hopefully be located near a water source. This can be your well, but in our case we have been told that our well water is not good for the soil as it will leach nutrients out from it. Thankfully we have a good-sized body of water a couple hundred yards from the garden. It's not ideal to have the garden located that far away, but it frosts much earlier down in the valley so we are safer to do it on top of the hill. However, we do plan on plowing up a smaller plot next to the water and planting the shorter-season vegetables and root crops down there. If electricity failed and we couldn't operate our pump system, at least we wouldn't have to carry buckets as far. (By the way, stock up on as many 5 gallon pails as you can afford, it seems there is a use for them all the time and you will never have too many.)

Currently, we have a two horsepower electric pump at the water, and a two inch black poly pipe running from there up the hill. Various smaller pipes extend from that central pipe into different areas of the garden, with fittings that allow one-inch hoses to be inserted for further reach. Of course, our system isn't exactly a self sufficient setup unless it was run by solar or wind power. That is certainly possible, but with electricity currently remaining cheap and in abundant supply you will still be able to beat the effects of inflation by a long shot.

Lots of Water!
Everything should be kept well watered. Don't allow anything to become really dry, especially the peppers and tomatoes. If they begin to wither, it's too late for them or at least your harvest will be significantly delayed. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about from experience! Just stick your finger in the dirt and if it doesn't feel moist. You know what to do. When you do water, it's not necessary to do it every day unless it is extremely hot and the soil dries out rapidly. You need to water the plants heavily, so that it soaks down for at least three or four inches. That means probably an inch of water or more at a time. Don't worry about it puddling. You'll figure it out after you do it a few times and keep checking the moisture level with your finger. Water is the life-giver, and without it, your garden will be slowed, yield will decrease, and your plants may even die. Don't hesitate to use a lot! Like our master-gardening friend said, you'll be sick of watering long before you put enough water on to drown the plant. Of course, you must be careful with smaller plants but the larger ones tend to be plenty hardy.

Storing Food
You will need between 150 and 200 canning jars per person to store a year's worth of vegetables and other food items. In addition, you should stock up on as many canning lids as possible because it is much more difficult to preserve large quantities of vegetables without them. It is possible to reuse them but they tend to not seal consistently, so it is best to use new ones. Make sure you have a wood stove handy to be able to can on if the power is out.
Of course, the other methods of sustainable food storage include using a root cellar and dehydration. The short bibliography at the end of this article gives references to detailed books on these subjects, which are beyond the scope of this paper.

Seed Saving
The only sustainable way to garden is to save your own seeds every year. Although seed saving is relatively basic, it does involve some forethought and planning on your part. First, you must plant only open-pollinated seeds. The hybrids that most stores carry will not stay true to their kind. There are many sources of open pollinated “heirloom” seeds, but our favorite is currently Baker Creek, found on the web at While you're at it, get an extra two or three years worth of seed in case your garden doesn't do well, or for bartering purposes.
It is easiest to plant only one variety of each vegetable to prevent cross-pollination, but you will probably want to hedge your bets by planting more than that. It is much more labor-intensive to do so, but possible. I highly recommend Suzanne Ashworth's book, “Seed to Seed,” for detailed information on preventing cross-pollination, harvesting, and seed storage. Depending on what plant it is, you will use hand pollination, time distancing (such as planting an early variety of corn, and then a week or two later longer season variety), and physical distancing although most plants require such far separation that it is impractical for the homesteader.
Seeds, once dried, are best stored in air-tight glass containers in a cool, dark area. As long as the electricity still functions, this means a freezer or refrigerator. Prior to planting, you can test the germination rate of your seeds by placing a small amount in a moist paper towel that is placed inside a plastic bag and set in a warm portion of your house—in our case that means near the wood stove Wait a few days and check it to see how many seeds successfully germinated. If only half of them did, and you are not able to purchase new seeds, you will have to plant twice as many.

It may seem obvious, but plain-old diligence is the key to raising your food supply. Observe the “windows of opportunity” and take advantage of them accordingly. You need to research ahead about how to do it, order your seeds in plenty of time, plant the seeds as soon as it is the right “window of opportunity” for planting, and then weed your garden daily. No, daily weeding isn't a chore when you keep up with it, but it definitely becomes a pain when you leave it for very much longer. Just run through with a hoe for a half hour or so a day and you will go a long ways in keeping a well-maintained, eye-pleasing vegetable garden.
Don't put anything off until later, because with most garden-related duties they must be done as soon as you discover it is necessary. There is a certain period of time within which you must plant. There is a certain time wherein you need to harvest the corn. Beans will be too big if you leave them too long. Potato bugs will kill your plants if you don't pick them off right away and keep them off. Carrots won't grow very large if you don't thin them while they're small. For everything, there is a time and a season and life runs a lot smoother when you stick within the parameter of those windows.

My family uses a simple technique to stay oriented and getting everything accomplished on time, and it's something that I recommend to everybody I talk to. Keep a running list of everything that needs to be done. One column on the page could list longer-term projects like “build chicken coop,” or “dig root cellar,” and the other side will be filled with smaller items such as “pick beans,” “weed strawberries,” “give goats water,” or “put away the pitchfork.” Even the smallest item is placed on the list and then crossed off as someone completes the task. In the mornings, I'll often look at the list and place a little star beside the items that are most critical to get done that day, and we will focus our energy on those. The younger boys will be assigned a few of the easier projects, and the rest of us will tackle the difficult or otherwise labor intensive ones. It's rewarding to come in at night and review the list and see all the rows crossed off. The next day, we might take a new sheet of paper and write down a few new things we just thought of and also include the projects we did not complete the day before. List keeping is simple, takes a small amount of time, and does wonders in keeping everyone productive all day long.

How Do You Get It All Done?
It may seem overwhelming trying to keep up with a garden large enough to supply your family with a year's worth of food, but as long as you tend to it each day, it isn't as difficult as one might think. If you have children who are old enough to understand instructions, you can put them to work doing some of the more mundane tasks while you take on the more advanced projects that require precision. I'm 17 years old, and my 14 year old brother and I actually do most of the garden maintenance (although Dad helps a lot with watering frequently in the mornings while we do chores). The two younger boys help with various projects that need more help, such as picking and snapping beans or cutting up apples in preparation for making applesauce. Mom mostly handles the indoor work; primarily cooking the meals to keep us going, canning the thousand or more jars we do each year, and processing other foods in preparation for freezing.
Of course, if you are serious about survival, it is important to actually live the self-sufficient life. This means severely reducing trips to town, for both shopping and various extraneous events. Get rid of the television, and minimize time spent on non-productive entertainment. We are a homeschooling family, and that gives us a flexible schedule with plenty of time to focus on what is important to us.
If you live in town and can't do everything you would like to, you can still eliminate wasteful uses of time, plant every spare space you have, and read many good how-to books. You can visit the country to practice outdoor skills, and help out a farmer to get some good exercise.

In conclusion, I want to encourage everyone to begin gardening on their own, regardless of location or how much land they own. Even if you are in an apartment, you can grow plants on a balcony and begin to learn the techniques of growing food.
Food is necessary for our survival, and nothing makes more sense than controlling your own food—because when you control your own food, you are free from the chaos that most of the country may soon face. You will not only be able to continue to live relatively comfortably long after your stored food runs out; you will become part of the solution to the crisis. You will be there to show other people how to provide for their own families.
Now is the time to learn how to garden, not after TEOTWAWKI. Go out in your backyard, till out a plot, and get busy!
Reference Books
-Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew/ (for smaller gardens)
-Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth and Kent Wheely
-Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning, by the Gardeners and Farmers of Centre Terre Vivante
-Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery/ (The best general reference we've found, on gardening but also on everything else related to homesteading)
-Root Cellaring, by Mike and Nancy Bubel

Today the dollar posted its largest one-day decline against the euro since that currency was created.

I am rebalancing my investment portfolio to account for the market’s recent gyrations – and the fact that our government is attempting to make the dollar even more worthless than it currently is. Several years ago I was in a similar mood and found EverBank, a bank that issues a number of CD products tied to foreign currencies (effectively getting your saving out of dollars into something that’s not dollar-denominated).

I am not preparing for a complete meltdown or the end of civilization: I am preparing for a prolonged economic depression. My main goal is to preserve the value of my capital while earning at least some return on my investments. My investment portfolio is modest, but large enough that I can’t practically or safely (from a diversification standpoint) convert it into tangible assets. I have as much gold and equities as I’m comfortable holding, so I am looking for safe places to spread my remaining cash. At least to some extent, I’m going to use world currencies to do this. They could very well get dragged down in a global depression but in any event would probably fare better and recover faster than the dollar.

EverBank’s site for the CD products offers both single-currency and multi-currency CDs. Any readers with investment portfolios large enough to truly diversify should take a close look at one or more of these products.

One more thing… When choosing to deal with an unknown bank, make sure they are FDIC insured by using the FDIC’s bank finder: Whether the FDIC will even exist in coming years is debatable, but at least if an institution is FDIC insured, you know it’s not a bunch of Nigerian “419” scammers with a fake bank-like web site. The FDIC does insure CDs denominated in other currencies, but does not protect against a rise in the value of the dollar against your chosen currencies. That is, much like SIPC [Securities Investor Protection Corporation] insurance, the FDIC protects you against malfeasance on the part of the bank but not against investment risk. Best, - Matt R.

JWR Replies: Although I advocate in investing tangible barterable first, I do recommend diversifying out of US dollar-denominated investments. Everbank has a good reputation but keep in mind that there is risk when investing with any fiat currency. (In our generation the national currencies are all unredeemable for precious metals and they all suffer, from one degree to another to the gradual gnawings of inflation.) The best time to transition from dollars to another currency is naturally when the dollar has a short term spurt of strength. Watch the US Dollar Index (USDI) closely, and dump your dollars during a good week. (The recent dollar bounce, for example, was a good opportunity. There will likely be others, but in my estimation the USDI is headed south of 72 soon, and the dollar might remain relatively weak for many years.

I'd like to add one piece of advice to the "Greenhorn" reader who hasn't gotten started, but knows he must. After getting the basics you listed, he should start on a food preparedness action plan to feed his family in a crisis. The blueprint for all that is in the great preparedness course you created. I know it's not cheap, but the mistakes it helps you avoid will more than offset the cost, even for someone on a tight budget. And for that reader who wrote in to share his story, it's free. Just send me his address, Jim, and we'll immediately send him a complete Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course with our compliments. Best, - Jake Stafford, Arbogast Publishing

"BeePrepared" wrote us to recommend the Hippo Roller as a method to transport large amounts of water without a vehicle.

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Cheryl (our Economic Editor) sent us this raft of news and commentary. The first item should not come as a surprise to you, since I've been warning about the derivatives threat for years: Bailout Secret: To Prevent $68 Trillion Derivatives Collapse -- Financial TEOTWAWKI: LIBOR TED Spread Flashes Trouble. ("I don't want to name names, ... but there is a silent bank run going on. There are no lines in the street, but it is a run nevertheless. It is large investment funds and corporations quietly pulling their money from some of the best banks in the country.") -- Credit Markets Hit By Cat 5 Financial Hurricane -- Greenspan Calls For Action On Financial Crisis -- The Real Reason Behind The Rush (The Fed is close to illiquidity) -- This "Greater Depression" Could Last A Decade -- Markets Face Major Crash If Bailout Fails -- Economists Against The Paulson Plan -- Wachovia Explores Sale With Wells Fargo, Banco Santender & Citi

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Eric sent this from The Telegraph: Bailout failure 'will cause US crash'

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Jack B. sent us this news story from Nanny State Britannia: Residents could be hit with £5,000 rubbish collection fine for leaving bin out. It is high time to take the hint and Take The Gap!

"Bureaucracy is the epoxy that greases the wheels of progress." - James H. Boren, political science professor at Northeastern State University

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do you have any idea where I can get a 50 gallon fuel drum with a manual pump like the one that your previous writer discussed? - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: You should first consult your local fire code, for capacity limits. This is generally not a problem outside of city limits, but laws vary widely. Needless to say, you should store any fuel cans or drums in a detached storage shed that is away from your house, not in an attached garage!

In North America, the fuel drums that the reader mentioned are usually made in 55 gallon capacity. Your local fuel distributor should have new ones, or you can scrounge used clean ones locally if you post a query on Craig's List. The fuel-rated pumps are often D-handle design, like these. Again, used ones are less expensive.

Or, of course you could also use a 12 VDC electric fuel transfer pump, like the ones that I make. (OBTW, every family should keep one of these pumps handy.)

Unless you are certain that you will be using the fuel within a few weeks, be sure to se stabilizer, such as Pri-G.

It is best to buy winter-formulated gas, and rotate it annually. (Also in winter.) This is because winter gas has extra butane added, o aid cold weather starting. This formulation extends the storage life of gasoline.

Drums that are 20 gallons or smaller can be moved with a standard dolly and lifted off a pickup tailgate by two men. But moving anything larger requires special handling equipment, and is a back ache waiting to happen. Filling (or re-filling) a large drum that is kept at home can best be accomplished discreetly by using your vehicle's fuel tank and a 12 VDC fuel transfer pump. Just make several trips over the period of a week, and it won't be noticeable.

Buy the materials for camouflaging your fuel drum(s) in advance. I generally recommend scrounging an appliance box (such as a small refrigerator box) so that the drum won't be noticed by visiting workmen or meter readers. Or you could build a false wall at the end of a long shed. One other alternative is to use a "hide in plain sight" (HIPS) approach. This might be to re-paint the drum white, with herbicide markings. This won't look too out of place for drum up to 30 gallon capacity stored in the corner of a gardening shed. You can also leave a full two-gallon lawnmower gas can in the same shed, as "bait" for burglars, to distract their attention. Re-painting a fuel drum is a fun and creative family stencil cutting and painting project.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
Thanks for a wonderful book and blog site. They are very, very helpful. I also wanted to thank you for a posting I saw last spring on your web site about the Medical Corps class led by Chuck Fenwick, called Field Medicine in a Hostile Environment. Because of that posting, I took Chuck's course in Ohio in May and found it to be invaluable. I couldn't believe all the techniques and information imparted in such a short period of time. Although not on the curriculum, when I asked if he'd show us how to give injections, he added that to the curriculum. Chuck is extremely knowledgeable and you know he's experienced it all. His workshop was life-changing for me and the 40 + attendees. I feel like I'm ready to be of assistance to anyone who may experience injuries of almost any sort. I can imagine nothing worse than seeing a loved one hurt and not know what to do to help them. Now I've got peace of mind in that area thanks to you and Chuck.

The reason I'm writing today is because I've noticed he's bringing his class to Texas, just outside the Austin area, in December. This may be the last time this course may be offered if TSHTF soon, and I think that if many Texans knew about the class, they'd be forever grateful. There are a lot of us down here in this great state who feel that readiness for the schumer is very important. I recommend this class to anyone and everyone. No one can afford not to have these skills.

Thanks again, Mr. Rawles, for letting your readers know about this life-changing and life-enhancing workshop. Blessings, - Mary C

You are "spot on" with your comments regarding "Saving Your Life and Saving Your Relationships--Don't Drive Your Loved Ones Away."

We are in our early sixties, married for 20+ years, and retired for several years. I'm the "captain," and handle our finances (with the Admiral's advice and consent...).

That said, the fact is we see the World differently. I am for the most part externally oriented. The Admiral is mostly internally oriented with regard to our home and events, but she indulges me to a certain degree as I wander around studying the situations and circumstances. Often these situations and events seem pretty remote from our lives, from her perspective. Figuratively speaking, her version of a threat is someone one banging on the front door. My version of a threat is someone casing the neighborhood.

A few years ago I earnestly began my study of American economics and culture, and came to some pretty unpleasant assessments. In fact, it was pretty grim. When I began sharing this information with the Admiral I was disappointed with her less-than-enthusiastic responses. I learned (pretty quickly) that she just didn't want to hear this stuff and it dumbfounded me how she could "ignore" such vital information! We chose to discuss our difference in perspectives and agreed to honor one another's position(s). I was certainly able to continue my observation and assessment efforts, as long as I didn't go overboard and begin cutting gun ports in the walls. (My little joke.) She indicated that she is interested in what I learn, but she just wasn't emotionally equipped to handle the rather constant barrage of data that I was laying on her.

Recognizing these differences we've come to a comfortable understanding. She knows a lot more about what I think and why, and she's helped keep me from going too far around the bend. I feel we're pulling our wagon together; and sharing Life's load and challenges. Married Life is not about doing it all your way, and compromises are often necessary. (I know something about that too - but that's another story.)

To wrap this up, what I learned is to identify what information you want to convey, distill it, and find an appropriate time to transmit the information (probably not at bedtime or during cocktails with friends!). What the Admiral was recoiling to was the constant bombardment of stuff she basically didn't want to hear to begin with.

One more comparison. During many years in the military I was often tasked to brief flag officers. These folks don't usually time or inclination for all the detailed information and data behind an analysis (that's why it's called is a briefing ). Generals (...and my Admiral) expect their personnel to have reviewed all the information available and arrive at an assessment in often competing situations. And it requires a lot of work to determine what needs to be said if you only have three or thirty minutes before the General.

There are times and situations where a bombardment of information is appropriate; but there are more occasions when a carefully chosen information shot will work better.
Thanks for a well done and very informational web site. Best, - Captain

Some Treehuggers concede that we may be right, after all, even if we do use Excessive and Gratuitous Acronym Diversions (EGADs).

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From our Economic Editor, starting with the most disturbing news: Bloomberg Analyst Marc Faber: $700 Billion Bailout Could Balloon To $5 Trillion -- WaMu Is Gone, But Trouble Spots Remain (The banks to watch: Wachovia, Comerica, Marshall & Ilsley) -- Wachovia, Citi In Merger Talks -- Stocks Rebound On Renewed Bailout Hopes -- The US Banking Collapse Was A Controlled Demolition Let's Play Wall Street Bailout (Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio rants well) -- They Want Mama To Make It All Better

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Even the oh-so conservative Wall Street Journal is starting to take on an alarmist tone: Few Good Scenarios in View as Crisis Spreads. Buckle up!

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Kevin A. recommended some commetary by Jim Willie, over at The Silver Bear Cafe: Corruption, Whispers & Receivership

"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them." - Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 (KJV)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am writing to ask for your advice and for your charity, and also because I think this subject may be of interest to many of your readers. I discovered your web site a week ago and have found it to be both very informative and also very alarming! It was major wake-up call for me.

In my opinion, I am not at all prepared for the upheavals that are already underway and that lie ahead of us.

I would very much like to change that situation, but it all (considered as a whole) seems so overwhelming. I don't know what to do, where to start and how to go about it. Also, I don't feel that I have the same resources and freedom as some of your other readers.

I also have the feeling that many, perhaps most, of your readers may be in exactly the same situation as me:

I am a 50 year old average guy with a wife and two young children to support. I work in a medium sized metropolitan area and live in an average house in the suburbs, about 10 miles out of town, on a 1/5th acre lot. My kids go to public school, my wife works part-time and I work full-time. We depend on the income from my job to support the family. It is not the kind of job that allows me to just uproot myself and live out in the sticks. My wife and I make just enough to pay the bills and set aside a little bit for my 401(k) [retirement savings account]and my kids' college education. We do not own any real estate aside from our home. We have about $50,000 in savings, $90,000 in home equity and about $190,000 in my 401(k) .

In my opinion, we are not prepared at all for any sort of natural, economic, social or political upheaval or disaster:
- We don't own a ranch or farm or remote property of any kind.
- We don't own gold or silver.
- We don't own any weapons and don't know how to use them.
- We don't have any food or emergency supplies stored up.
- Our house is not "hardened" or "secure".
- We don't have a generator, etc.
- We are not EMTs and don't know how to grow crops or butcher a hog.
- We don't have a G.O.O.D. plan or vehicle or provisions.

In short, we are probably just like most of the other average families in the USA (and perhaps like most of your readers) except for our awareness of the problems that may be coming and our desire to be prepared.

My wife and I both believe in being "prepared" but my idea and hers are different. My wife things that the problems we are facing are temporary, so she would like to be prepared too, but she doesn't want to rock the boat or uproot our family to do it. I am alarmed and would like to be very well prepared, but I don't want to wreck my marriage and family in the process.

Mr. Rawles, please tell us what we can do given the situation I've described. What specific steps should we take and in what order? What would you do if you were me in my shoes?

I know you get a lot of letters, but I sure hope you answer this one on your web site. For my sake, for my family's sake and for the sake of what may be hundreds or thousands of people just like me that read your web site and want to do something but don't know what to do, how to do it, where to start and what's most important to do first, second, third etc.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration. - Mike H.


Hello Jim,
I've been reading your blog off and on for several months, but I've yet to see anything substantial for us poorer citizens. When it comes to TEOTWAWKI, then it's all well and good if you were wealthy enough to be able to afford a nice out-of-the-way location to save yourself, but what of us who are stuck in an apartment in the city, like Denver? Or worse, people in metropolises like Chicago and New York? Where could millions of people all possibly go to get away from it all? All we can do is to arm ourselves to the teeth and wait it out? We'd like to get out of the city too, but we aren't able to buy property, which is why we're stuck in apartments, rather than homes. I'm afraid that if such a disaster should come our way, then we will be on our own. Even if we have a network of people, they are often driving distances that are impractical in a time of extreme crisis. Do you have any suggestions for those of us with extremely limited incomes? I've searched your site, but if you did have something, I may have missed it.
Thanks, - Ken R.

JWR Replies: I realize that buying a rural retreat is not within the means of most SurvivalBlog readers. There have been quite a few articles on both urban survival and budget conscious survival, and they are available in the archives, all of course free of charge. OBTW, a brief description of how to search the archives can be found here. Here are a few SurvivalBlog letters and articles that I found in just a few minutes of searches, using "urban" and "budget" in my search phrases. (There are many more available.):

Budget Preparedness--Survival Isn't About Stuff, It is About Skills

Letter Re: Hunkering Down in an Urban Apartment in a Worst Case Societal Collapse

Letter Re: An Urban/Suburban "Stay Put" Survival Strategy

Ten Things That Will Get You Killed While Bugging In, by Paul C.

Letter Re: Advice on a Budget Water Filter

Selecting a Rifle for a Budget-Constrained Prepper

Letter Re: Preparedness on a Very Tight Budget (Also see: Follow-up letter from J.F., and Follow-up letter from R.L.)

Letter Re: Advice for a Canadian with a "Just One Gun" Budget

Letter Re: Will Peasant Farmers Fare Better than the Rich in TEOTWAWKI?

SurvivalBlog is intended for people from all walks of life. One point of clarification: My own income is quite modest. In fact, if I still lived in a high cost region, then I wouldn't be able to afford a mortgage payment on a three bedroom house. It is only because I've been preparing very gradually and systematically for 30 years that I now have a squared-away retreat here in The Unnamed Western State. And it is only by God's grace that I have a wife that is agreeable to living in the boonies, and that I'm able to work from home.

Regardless of your income level, start with a list of lists. Tailor your procurement plan based on your personal circumstances and to match what you see as the most likely chain of events. Just be systematic, and set your priorities carefully. The smaller your budget, then the more important this is.

In answer to the question on 401(k) accounts: Many 401(k) accounts can be rolled over into IRAs. If that is the case, then I recommend doing a rollover into a Gold IRA, available through Swiss America Trading Company. I have had a gold coin IRA since 1998. Once established, these accounts are measured in an "ounce" value with a "Beginning Cost Basis" noted for when your dollars were first converted into U.S. Gold Eagles. In my case, most of the one ounce Gold Eagle bullion coins they put in storage for me cost $315 each (IIRC, this was when spot gold was $298 per ounce). Gold has nearly tripled since then. The coins are physically stored by Goldstar Trust, a bonded vault company in Texas. The annual storage and administration fee is now $90 per year, but in my opinion that is a small price to pay for knowing that when I eventually cash out my IRA it will be in tangible form, rather than an investment vehicle denominated in dollars. I have no way of knowing how much the US Dollar will depreciate in the next 15 years, but it is pretty safe to say that gold will still have the same--or nearly the same--buying power that it does today. I strongly recommend that if you have an IRA or 401(k) account that you conduct a fund rollover into a Gold IRA.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First off, I just want to say that I really appreciate what you're doing with your blog site. I've learned so many useful things and feel that I am beginning to have a basic understanding of how to prepare for and live in and a survival situation.

Second, I'd like to give you a quick bit of background about myself so you can hopefully help me with my dilemma/question...

I am a young adult working on the 9th floor of a large building in Manhattan [on Long Island, New York City, New York]. I do not own a car and so I use public transportation, typically the subway. My apartment is about a 30 minute walk from work. In my apt I have started building up my survival gear, food, Bug Out Bag, etc...But I realize that I spend most of my days not in my apt but in my office, working. So I've decided to start planning my office survival gear because if Manhattan was ever attacked with some form of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, and I'm still alive, I don't believe there would be time for me to get back to my apt before being affected (as subways, buses, and foot traffic will be clogged and slow). I figure my best bet for survival would be to hunker down for the first 48-to-72 hours in my building probably the library.

What are your thoughts/advice on staying in the building??
Also what kind of survival gear can I bring to work that would be discreet but really help me in my first 48 hours of survival?

This is what I have so far, which my employer has provided in a fanny pack for everyone:

[Mylar] bags of water. (We also have water coolers)
flashlight and batteries
emergency blanket
small first aid kit

Any advice would be appreciated and thank you for your time. Regards, - Flora in New York City


JWR Replies: Hunkering down in an urban environment can be difficult. We've addressed that before in SurvivalBlog.

Your office or cubicle probably has a locking desk, file cabinet, and/or a credenza. Typically, with the high turn-over rate in most corporations, keys for furniture gets lost. Ask your facilities department to either re-key your locks, or have them cut new keys for them, based of their manufacturer's code numbers. (Typically stamped in small digits next to the lock key way.) With this semi-secure storage space available, there is no reason why you cannot gradually build up a substantial supply of food, and have a place store items such as a flashlight, sleeping bag, foam mattress pad, and so forth. Even the interior of modular cubicle walls have a remarkable amount of space for items up to two inches thick. (One advantage of being an over-worked technical writer for many years was that it gave me a lot of late night hours to explore such possibilities. You would not believe what I stored inside my cubicle walls!)

Keep in mind that in a blackout, your building will be quite cold, at least for half of each year So be sure to store an insulated pad, down jacket, a pile cap, and gloves in your office.

Buy a USGI protective mask (preferably an M40 or a recent USAF MCU series) and at least four spare filter canisters, from a reliable vendor such as JRH Enterprises. Since these only filter the available air, they are not nearly as capable as a compressed air system like firefighters typically use. The latter will operate even in oxygen-deprived environments, but a mask will at least increase your chance of getting out of a high-rise building alive, in the event of a fire. One trick, BTW, is attaching two filters simultaneously (on both sides of the mask), to increase the available air flow during heavy exertion.

Find out where any extra bottled water for your building is stored. There, or near there, is the logical place to find your "hunker down" room.

Scout out your building thoroughly. It might be worthwhile getting to know someone on your building Facilities Department staff. Buy him lunch, and have a chat. Find out where the roof accesses are, and if they are kept locked. See if there are any back rooms, machinery rooms, or passageways that are not well known. These rooms are often kept locked. One little-known method if gaining access to such spaces is to climb up through a suspended (or "drop") acoustic panel ceiling, go over a partition, and climb back down into the locked room. You might even keep a small folding ladder such as a QuikStep ladder handy for just this purpose. (Tres Batman.) For some ideas on discovering unused spaces in buildings, see the Web Urbanist site, and related "urban exploration" web sites and their forums. (Of course, all the usual legal disclaimers apply.)

Weapons that are legal to possess in New York City have been discussed previously in SurvivalBlog. If nothing else, you should keep a cane or stout full-size umbrella in your office at all times. BTW, it is also wise to carry either of these whenever you are on city sidewalks or on the subway. They will look quite innocuous, but with the right training will give you a great advantage in a brute force fighting situation. For training, start with the Gordon Oster DVD, and the book "Raising Cane" by Octavio Ramos. Then take a FMA cane fighting class. Those would all be money well spent!

Cheryl, our Economic Editor, sent us these: Congress Restarts Troubled Bailout Talks -- Stocks Mostly Decline As Investors Remain Tense Over Bailout -- WaMu Becomes Biggest Bank To Fail In US History -- Wachovia In Huge Mortgage Mess -- UK Banks May Get $180bn From US Bailout -- Wachovia Shares Begin Dive After WaMu Death -- JPMorgan Buys WaMu For A Mere $1.9 Billion ("To put the size of WaMu in context, its assets are equal to about two-thirds of the combined book value assets of all 747 failed thrifts that were sold off by the Resolution Trust Corp. - the former government body that handled the S&L crisis from 1989 through 1995.") -- Wall Street Should Be Looking For Bail, Not A Bailout -- Risk Of Paulson Failing Has Markets Frozen In Fear -- Money Market Conditions Deteriorate Further -- Central Banks Take Action. -- Withdrawals by customers ultimately sank WaMu . And here is one more from Jonathan Prynn, of England's Evening Standard, courtesy of Dan S.: Stand by for Black Monday

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Et tu, WaMu? WaMu Failed, Seized By FDIC, Bought By JPMorgan."The Army Aviator" notes: "That was a good call that Jim Sinclair made as to how it's amazing that the largest bank failure (WaMu) [occurred on a Thursday] just when they are trying to get that bailout Schumer passed--instead of announcing it at the usual Friday after the market closings. Gosh, the crooks aren't even good crooks. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy."

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Budget crunch: Palm Bay, Florida Police May Stop Responding To Some Crimes. (A hat tip to Eric for the link.)

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More about the gasoline shortage in the southeast: Tempers flare at pumps and Gas Shortage In the South Creates Panic, Long Lines

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Katya was the first of several readers that sent us this: Gold coin sales halted after retail rush

"Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." - Frederic Bastiat, Essays on Political Economy, 1872

Friday, September 26, 2008

Based on the tone of many recent e-mails, I can see that the anxiety level of SurvivalBlog readers has definitely gone up a notch. With headlines like these, it is no wonder.

Again, the present circumstances do not dictate doing anything drastic. Wait, watch, and above all be ready. This would be a good time to top off your storage food and fuel reserves. Don't quit your day job!

We received the following sad letter from an anonymous SurvivalBlog reader that illustrates how women can be driven away by men that are insensitive to the emotional differences between men and women.

Hello Jim,
I especially enjoyed The Memsahib's article directed towards single people needing to get out there and volunteer / network, and the article regarding balancing prepping with continuing to enjoy life. I think it's a good idea to pay especially close attention to the articles she writes as I find that I've not had balance over the last few years as I've become more aware of the need to become self sufficient and the challenges that goal presents for a city slicker. I've managed to get caught up in scurrying around to prepare and cutting corners on all types of expenses (vacations, toys, fancy dinners, and even cable television) and I've managed to row myself right up "single creek" and lose a good fiance by forgetting to enjoy life in the here and now. Looking back, with a little balance, and teamwork things might have been different, but in my rush to prepare I lost track of everything else. That may sound extreme, but it's easy to do with the current state of affairs. To many of us reading SurvivalBlog preparing is a means to a self-evident end and it inherently makes sense given the hard facts, but a touch of balance is also equally as important.

With the torrent of bad economic news being shouted from the headlines, many SurvivalBlog readers have consciously or subconsciously increased their state of readiness. I'm writing this as a reminder. Husbands, please be aware that your wives might be having difficulty dealing with your ratcheting-up of readiness. When you mention a news item, you will likely hear your wife saying "I don't want to hear about this!", or "I can't handle hearing about that right now", especially if she has other pressing concerns such as pregnancy, aged parents to care for, health issues, or stress at her work. If she is able to communicate this to you, then you need to respect her boundaries. Hopefully you are a united team and you can explain to her that you will continue to prepare but spare her all the incessant doom and gloom talk . Husbands who have blown the budget with survival gear in the past are going have a much more difficult time in this situation. Your wife might have difficulty trusting you. We know a husband who spent thousands of dollars (all their savings) on preps pre-Y2K without saying anything to his wife. If his wife had not been a Christian who believed divorce is never an option, the marriage would have been over.

For many years, Jim and I have had the "No Gloom and Doom Talk After 8 p.m." rule. We all need a good night's sleep, and having conversations about TEOTWAWKI close to bedtime can be troubling. This rule helps me sleep better because there is then plenty of time before bed to focus on our blessings.

If you want to better understand this psychology, then refer to these archived SurvivalBlog articles:

Letter Re: Help With a Non-Preparedness Minded Spouse

Ten Letters Re: Help With a Non-Preparedness Minded Spouse (follow-up e-mails)

Letter Re: My Wife Ignores My Preparedness Goals

Hello Mr. Rawles!
I love your blog, and visit at least weekly, more often daily.
The current economic situation is sickening. I mean, actually making my stomach hurt, as I am not prepared. I just recently was hit on the head with the motivation to get prepared. The only problem with that is that I don't even know where to start. Food? Weapons and Ammunition? Medical supplies? I am the patriarch of a family of 4. My wife and I, and our two children, both 10 and under. What I could use your advice on is just what I mentioned before, where does someone like me start. We have very little money, we live in the city, and we have no supplies except a Remington 870 Express [12 gauge shotgun] with a couple boxes of ammunition and food from the grocery store for a couple weeks and our camping supplies which amount to a couple days in the woods. I'm extremely worried that I simply won't be able to help my family survive the coming collapse. I want to be prepared, and I'm motivated.
Thank you for any time you could donate with your advice! - MWS

JWR Replies: Start out by getting a good quality water filter such as the Katadyn VARIO currently on sale at Ready Made Resources and stocking up on canned foods.
If you don't yet already have one, buy a spare riot "Police" length 20" barrel with rifle-type iron sights for your Model 870, with "IC" (improved cylinder) choke, or better yet the "Rem Choke" removable choke tubes. These barrels are available with a durable finish to match your "Express" variant.

Buy at least 200 rounds of #4 buckshot, 25 rounds (five boxes of 5) of rifled slugs, and when you can budget for it, a case of #6 birdshot shells for bird hunting and small game hunting

Since your resources are limited, your greatest opportunity to increase your chances of survival will be teaming up with like-minded folks in your area. For some suggestions, see my static page on Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area.

Be sure to take advantage of low cost training through the American Red Cross, the Appleseed Program, and the WRSA.

Pray hard, study hard, and train hard.

Hi Jim,
I just read your novel "Patriots" and studied the Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, and both are excellent. [In them,] you talk about chem lights (otherwise known as glow sticks) for in your car for changing tires, handy around campsites, and what not. The shelf life on these, as you mentioned, is very short (couple of months in a car [in a hot climate]) and they are not cheap (or maybe just I am cheap). I found this video on making an LED version of them that is reusable.

Seems to me like a good idea for recycling the older ones that are now dead. You can buy LED glow sticks as well which may be cheaper and easier from places like this. I have no affiliation with them and have never bought from them, but just wanted to show an example.
Thanks, - Rutger (Temporarily in Costa Rica)

JWR Replies: Perhaps the easiest method for creating a glowing wand was suggested by The Gun Plumber over at The FALFiles: "After the light stick is expended, cut the end off, dump the liquid and glass ampoule [and discard safely], then tape the plastic tube to your Mini MagLite flashlight to make an IR wand--the plastic tube is the IR filter! As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, there are some huge tactical advantages to using infrared light sticks if you own any Starlight-type (light amplification) night vision gear.

The Boy Scouts of America have an Emergency Preparedness merit badge that hits a lot of good points. There is a lot of redundancy on the web concerning this merit badge, but it does broach some basic concepts aimed at a youth’s perspective. Sincerely, - Bill in Austin, Texas

"During the hyperinflation in post WWI Germany, what used to be a comfortable nest egg was suddenly the value of a postage stamp. If one held just a portion of their savings in precious metals, the crisis was greatly softened. Gold will never be worth nothing, even if the exact price fluctuates. There is a famous photograph, however, of a German woman during this time period burning piles of tightly bound banknotes to keep warm." - Congressman Ron Paul

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some of us may be stuck within the city limits until 'the last possible moment' before an event such as WTSHTF. Can you suggest a day-to-day procedure or strategy to now follow for monitoring specific and reliable news outlets or information sources in determining when our G.O.O.D. action plan should be initiated? . Obviously, many people such as myself, have all the 'other' recommended Rawles preparations in place but are still at a disadvantage from those that were able to set up their retreat ahead of time and to have evacuated from a city. It's the best that I can do, at this point.

Additionally, the economic news events these days are so wild and crazy that it's hard to discern what main event, 'red flag' or 'markers' should precipitate an exit out of the city without further doubt or hesitation. Brushing up on 'common sense and logic' doesn't hurt here, but it's the expectation that some specific chain-of-events will take place that categorically shout now that I'm speaking of. Can you give us your personal view on what these catalyst events could be? Thank you, - Ken R. (A 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

JWR Replies: There are far too many variables in the current situation for me to be able point to just one key "trigger" or "gating" indicator.

Be ready, but don't panic. I must caution SurvivalBlog readers: "Don't give up your day job." Unless you are retired, or have a stable and substantial secondary cash flow from investments or a home-based business, it would be highly imprudent to quit your job (or start burning vacation hours) and move to your retreat. My advice: Watch the news carefully and be ready to leave on short notice. As I've previously mentioned, it is very important to pre-position the vast majority of your key logistics at your retreat, under the watchful eye of a caretaker or a trusted neighbor. When the time comes, you may only have the opportunity to make one trip to your retreat before highways become impassable.

Here are some important indicators to watch for, in my humble estimation. (Witnessing just one of these won't be surely indicative, but if we see several of these...) :

A sharp spike in the Federal Funds Rate
News of a failed Treasury auction, or news that Treasury rates have spiked
Overt talk of a US default by Asian or European bankers
Multiple (8+) simultaneous US bank failures on one Friday
Any large Northern Rock style bank runs in the US (with customers lined up on the streets)
A stock market drop of more than 1,200 points in one day
A large and sudden spike in inflation
Any suspension of US stock trading
Draconian new stock trading limits (for example any new "circuit breaker" rules, followed by news that the trading was halted because of the limits)
New restrictions on precious metals purchasing or new reporting requirements
New limits on moving funds outside the US
Any large derivatives trading collapses.(Because of disappearing counterparties or illiquidity.)
News that hundreds of hedge funds are suspending redemptions
News that many Money Market funds are dropping below $1.00 Net Asset Value (NAV)
The US Dollar Index (USDI) dropping below 68 for more than one full week of trading.
Any sudden large interest rate moves by the FOMC. (Up or down.)
Rioting in several metropolitan centers simultaneously.
Gold spiking past $1,500 per ounce
News that any major western power is no longer accepting US Dollars in payment for key commodities
News that any major trading partners are no longer rolling over the majority of their US Treasury paper
A closed session of the full congress that lasts a full day or longer.
The Treasury starts to extensively monetize debt.
The resignation of either the Treasury Secretary or the Federal Reserve Chairman.
Mel Gibson moves to Fiji ;-)

Mr. Rawles;

Thanks for the time and effort you put into It is a truly valuable and unique resource.

Working on my lists of supplies and equipment, I’m wondering about Yoder’s canned bacon and other canned meats, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, sausage, etc. They advertise [an up to] 10 year shelf life (depending on storage conditions of course) and the price isn’t unreasonable. Too heavy for much mobility but for home base they appear to me to be an attractive way to store some meat products without refrigeration. Any info or thoughts on this? Thanks, - Gatekeeper

JWR Replies: The Yoder's canned cooked bacon product is a new offering, but it is actually an old concept. Given the time and energy required to cook and can it, the price per can is fairly reasonable. OBTW, canned bacon, butter, and cheese are also sold by a number of Internet vendors, including several of our advertisers: Safecastle, Best Prices Storable Foods, and Ready Made Resources. These canned foods make good supplements to round out a diet and break up the monotony of eating bland storage foods such as wheat, rice, and beans.

I wrote you a month or two ago regarding a post of yours that was concerned about failing banks. I commented that I thought the worries were overblown - there was no reason to think that FDIC wouldn't pay off the claims, just as FSLIC paid off the claims in the 1980s. I still think that's true, but I have had a personal cautionary experience that has moved me much closer to your way of thinking.

I had a brokered Certificate of Deposit (CD) issued by IndyMac. (In case you post this, for readers unfamiliar with the term, "brokered" mean I bought it through a broker, like a bond or stock. Banks that want to raise a lot of money aggressively issue brokered CDs to attract "hot" money, money that flows in quickly and can flow out just as quickly; FDIC doesn't much like such CDs, for obvious reasons.) It had a few months to go when IndyMac failed. FDIC announced that they would honor the terms and rates for non-brokered CDs, but would simply terminate brokered CDs and return principal and interest up to the day the bank failed to the owners.

So that's problem #1: FDIC just made up the rules as it went along. Why was my CD different from others? Because they said so, pure and simple. They would claim it's for the overall good, because it discourages brokered CDs, which can make banks more prone to runs, but that doesn't help me, does it? And it's not like they had announced this ahead of time. So I lose money, and there's no way I could have known to avoid it. (IndyMac wasn't on their trouble list when I bought the CD.)

Problem #2: not only didn't the money show up in my brokerage account right away, I couldn't even find out when it would show up. It was more than two weeks before it appeared, and I got no interest for that time.

Neither problem was significant in this instance; it wasn't a big CD and it didn't have much longer to maturity, and the delay wasn't very long. But it was a powerful experience in terms of opening my eyes to what might happen under greater financial stress. If FDIC can delay returning the money for two weeks with no interest, they can do it for two months, or however long they need to. Clearly, beyond the basic insurance act of eventually returning money earned up to the date of bank failure, everything else is up to the FDIC's whim. That doesn't give me a good feeling.

The best way to avoid this is to choose strong banks. One resource I've found useful in the past is ratings. This used to be called Weiss Research, and they are clearly an independent source of analysis of bank strength and safety. Their home page says: "We don't accept compensation from the companies we rate for issuing the rating. Nor do we give the companies an opportunity to preview the ratings or suppress their publication if they're unfavorable. We are totally independent and unbiased because our loyalty is to you -- the customer."

If you go to The's Rating Page and select Banks and Thrifts, you can then type in the name of a bank you want to check, and click Go. They will list the matches, with letter grades from A+ on down. You can then click on a bank name and download a more detailed report, but for my purposes the letter grade has been enough to tell me whether I'm about to make a mistake. Keep up the good work! - Michael A. in Seattle

“How fabulous,” writes Brian Reade in the British tabloid The Mirror. “Thanks to the way it props up the USA’s two biggest mortgage firms, more than half of American homes are now effectively owned by the state... Who’d have imagined that when the most right-wing of neo-cons leaves office 50% of the Land of the Free will effectively be [public housing]”? - Bill Bonner

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mr Rawles
You mentioned the current gasoline shortage in the southeast. The local news media reported that 70% of the gas stations are empty and have been for three days. To me it seems closer to 95%. Here is example: In south Nashville, there is a major road called Nolensville Road. In a five mile mile stretch from Thompson Lane to Old Hickory Boulevard there are 26 gas stations. Not one of them has had gas for several days. Within a two mile radius of that stretch of road there are 55,000 residents. That is a lot of people without gas. There have been fistfights at some of the gas stations that have gas, but that is not being reported on the local news.

As an enthusiastic SurvivalBlog reader for the past two years, I am not worried because I am very prepared. For example, I keep 100 gallons as my bug out supply to reach my retreat. In fact, I only need 10 gallons to get both of my cars to the retreat. I think my wife finally seen the light about being prepared. She had always looked a little strange at me when I would rotate my gas supply every six months. There have been times that she thought I was a little nuts. But there was a big smile on her face when I drug out those 5 gallon cans to filled her tank up yesterday. I was also able to give 10 gallons to my neighbor--who is a single mother and a school teacher--so she could go to work. Thank You, - Mike M. in Tennessee

Dear Sir,
I would like to thank you for your time and effort in providing a “one stop shop” for such a large volume of information.

Principally due to your site, my family and I have begun to increase the size of our pantry with both purchased food/supplies and other materials as well as increase the amount of food we are home canning. One observation I have made in all our preparations is the amount of food (from local gardens, backyard fruit trees, farmyard orchards) that goes to waste in our area. It is amazing the amount of produce on local backyard fruit trees and in gardens that either because of a lack of time or lack of knowledge, people allow to spoil. We have “put the word out” that we are interested in any fresh fruit/vegetables that people have and due to that, we now have more fruit and vegetables than we have canning jars and freezer space.

We have begun to shop around at local farm auctions and garage sales for canning jars and have enlisted several other family members in our endeavor. My father-in-law is preparing his garden ~ 2 acres, for the addition of our own fruit trees, berry bushes, asparagus and other vegetables. We have also begun to make contacts with others who are interested in bartering for materials. This has greatly increased the number of relationships with other folks in our area and has resulted in a much closer feeling of community between us and our neighbors. We live on the edge of a fairly small agricultural town in southeast Nebraska .

The biggest potential downfall is we do not have a retreat in the boonies. We do have a fairly close neighborhood that “could” be isolated (bridges over a creek and river) from some traffic. In the mean time, we continue to stock food and other materials you have suggested and prepare our property in the event of a meltdown.

Again, thank you for your time. - Brad E.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First of all, my heart goes out to all those who truly suffered with loss of life or property as a result of Hurricane Ike. I only had the minor inconvenience of being without electricity in Houston for five days. (There are still over one million in Houston and the surrounding area without power.) So I had a taste of what it is like to be off-grid and learned a few things to share with your readers. It seems a lot of people here had generators which burn lots of precious gasoline. But after a few days the gasoline runs out. We toughed it out. I did have small camping-type battery powered fans and several flashlights but can't imagine what we'd do in a situation without power for the long term. You can have only so many batteries and then what? We had water drawn in bath tub to use for flushing toilet, as water plants use electricity to pump water. Also had many frozen plastic milk jugs in freezer and big igloo to keep some things cold for a couple of days. Ice was very hard to come by. Grocery stores were closed for a couple of days and there were lines just to get into the stores when they did open. They let in a few people at a time for crowd control. I was lucky to have my nonperishable food stockpile. Remember to have extras for relatives. Gas stations were slow to reopen and had hours to wait when they did open. (Many buying gas for their generators). We had full tanks in advance of the storm. One important item we used was the car charger for the cell phone. Be sure to have one that fits your current phone model. Also, many don't realize that cordless land line phones use electricity so you need to have a standard corded phone (which I had) if you want to even find out if your land-line works. To heat water for coffee we used sterno called Canned Heat and it worked very well. I know this is merely a temporary solution to heating. I told my husband recently that I wanted to buy a camp stove and now he may agree with me. And of course no television or computer which is really tough. I used my television band radio a lot to get information.

I am now more afraid than ever of what it is going to be like if the power goes off frequently or stays off in a worse-case scenario. Luckily I didn't see civil unrest, but what if power stayed off longer? If there was any way, I would move out of the city. Since I can't leave, I will continue to prepare the best I can. Please continue to remember the trapped-in-the-city dwellers when you post ideas for survival. I think we need the most help. Thanks for all you do, - Nancy B.

We recently got an e-mail from a Girl Scout troop leader, describing how she wants to start a project making 72-hour "bug out" bags for the troop members. Her goal is to get her troop members better prepared, yet not tip-off their parents to her own level of preparedness. She wants to avoid making herself look like some sort of "preparedness nut" or "whacko".

The important thing to keep in mind is that terminology and phrasing are crucial to how people form opinions. Do not use terms such as "Bug Out Bag" or "Get Out of Dodge Kit" or "Survival Kit." It is much better to use the term Disaster Preparedness Kit, or even better yet to phrase the title to match the locally expected disaster. (Such as "Earthquake preparedness kit" or "Hurricane preparedness kit". You get the idea....Our scouting friends in California made earthquake kits for their cars which they keep in a large Tupperware bin in the trunk. They contain bottled water, canned tuna, a can opener, granola bars, space blankets, knit hats, matches, and so forth. Suggested packing lists are available in PDF from the FEMA web site.


Thank you for all of the work that you put into your web site. I have been reading your site and preparing for the last couple of years. I thought you might be interested in the Bibliography to my [retreat] group’s operations guide.


Adams, John Joseph. Wastelands. San Francisco : Night Shade Books, 2008.
Alten, Steve. The Shell Game. Springville , Utah : Sweetwater Books, 2007.
Brin, David. The Postman. New York : Bantam Books, 1985.
Budrys, Algis. Some Will Not Die. New York : Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1961.
Card, Orson Scott. The Folk of the Fringe. New York : Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1989.
Carlson, Jeff. Plague War. New York : The Penguin Group, 2008.
Frank, Pat. Alas, Babylon . New York : Harper Perennial, 1959.
Heinlein, Robert A. Farmer in the Sky. New York : Ballantine Books, 1950.
________. Time Enough For Love. New York : The Berkley Publishing Group, 1973.
________. Tunnel In The Sky. New York : Ballantine Books, 1955.
Ing, Dean. Pulling Through. New York : Charter Communications, Inc., 1983.
Kunstler, James Howard. World Made By Hand. New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008.
McDevitt, Jack. Eternity Road. New York : Harper Collins Publishers, 1997.
Niven, Larry and Jerry Pournelle. Lucifer’s Hammer. New York : The Random House Publishing Group, 1977.
Party, Boston T. Molon Labé! Ignacio , Colorado : Javelin Press, 2004.
Rawles, James Wesley. Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. The Clearwater Press, 2006.
Sheffield, Charles. Aftermath. New York : Bantam Books, 1998.
Stewart, George R. Earth Abides. New York : Del Rey Books, 1949.
Stirling , S.M. Dies The Fire. New York : New American Library, 2004.
________. The Protector’s War. New York : New American Library, 2005.
________. A Meeting at Corvallis . New York : New American Library, 2006.

Food Storage
Layton, Peggy. Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook. New York : Three Rivers Press, 2002.
Stafford , Jake and Jim Rawles. Rawles Gets You Ready: The Ultimate Emergency Preparedness Course. Genoa , NV : Arbogast
Publishing, LLC, 2006.
Boy Scouts of America , Fieldbook, 4th Edition. Irving , TX : Boy Scouts of America , 2004.
Clayton, Bruce D. Life After Terrorism. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 2002.
Deyo, Holly Drennan. Dare to Prepare, 2nd Edition. Pueblo West, Colorado : Deyo Enterprises LLC, 2004
Diamond, Jared. Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York : Penguin Books, 2005.
________. Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 1997.
Emery, Carla. The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 9th Edition. Seattle : Sasquatch Books, 2003.
Kelly, Kate. Living Safe in an Unsafe World. New York : New American Library, 2000.
Kunstler, James Howard. The Geography of Nowhere. New York : Simon & Schuster, 1994.
________. The Long Emergency. New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005.
McGlashan, Charles F. History of the Donner Party. Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc., 2004.
Party, Boston T. Boston on Surviving Y2K and Other Lovely Disasters. Ignacio , CO : Javelin Press, 1998.
Rawles, James Wesley. Rawles on Retreats and Relocations. The Clearwater Press, 2007.
________. SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog Volume 1. Clearwater Press, 2007.
Ruff, Howard J. How To Prosper During The Coming Bad Years In The 21st Century. New York : The Penguin Group, 2008.
Starke, Linda. State of the World 2004. New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.
United States Air Force. Search and Rescue Survival Training. New York : Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc., 2003.
United States Army , US Army Survival Manual. New York : Dorset Press, 2001.
United States Marine Corps. Guidebook For Marines, 14th Revised Edition. Quantico , VA : The Marine Corps Association, 1982.

Global Warming
Gore, Al. An Inconvenient Truth. New York : Rodale, 2006.
Knauer, Kelly. Global Warming. New York : Time Books, 2007.
Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees, Our Future on a Hotter Planet. London : Harper Perennial, 2007.
JWR Adds: For a contrapuntal viewpoint, see: Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media, by Patrick J. Michaels

Bealer, Alex W. The Art of Blacksmithing. Edison , NJ : Castle Books, 1995.
Burbank , Nelson L. et al. House Construction Details, 7th Edition. New York : McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986.
Davis , Thomas Bieber and Carl A. Nelson Sr. Audel Mechanical Trades Pocket Manual, 4th Edition. Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004.
Finch, Richard. Welder’s Handbook, revised edition. New York : The Berkley Publishing Group, 1997.
Hauser, Walter. Introduction to the Principles of Mechanics. Reading , MA : Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1965.
Graf, Rudolf F. The Modern Power Supply and Battery Charger Circuit. New York : TAB Books, 1992.
Harper, Gavin D.J. Solar Energy Projects for the Evil Genius. New York : McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007.
Hornung, William J. Builders Vest Pocket Reference Book. New York : Prentice Hall Press, 1955.
Macauly, David. The Way Things Work. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988.
Oberg, Erik et al. 27th Edition Machinery’s Handbook. New York : Industrial Press, Inc., 2004.
Parmley, Robert O., P.E. Field Engineer’s Manual. New York : McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981.
Peters, Rick. Plumbing Basics. New York : Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2000.
Proulx, Danny. The Pocket Hole Drilling Jig Project Book. Cincinnati , OH : Popular Woodworking Books, 2004.
Richter, H.P. et al. Wiring Simplified. Minneapolis : Park Publishing, Inc., 2002.
Schwarz, Max. Basic Engineering For Builders. Carlsbad , CA : Craftsman Book Company, 1993.
United States Navy. Basic Machines and How They Work. New York : Dover Publications, Inc., 1971.
Wing, Charlie. How Your House Works. Kingston , MA : Reed Construction Data, Inc., 2007.

Burns, A. August et al. Where Women Have No Doctor. Berkeley , CA : Hesperian, 1997.
Carline, Jan D., Ph.D. et al. Mountaineering First Aid, 4th Edition. Seattle , WA : The Mountaineers, 1996.
Dickson, Murray. Where There Is No Dentist. Berkeley , CA : Hesperian, 1983.
Forgey, William W., M.D. Wilderness Medicine, 5th Edition. Guilford , CT : The Globe Pequot Press, 2000.
Nato Handbook. Emergency War Surgery. El Dorado , AR : Desert Publications, 1988.
Werner, David et al. Where There Is No Doctor, revised edition. Berkeley , CA : Hesperian, 1992.

Peak Oil
Simmons, Matthew R. Twilight in the Desert. Hoboken , NJ : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
Tertzakian, Peter. A Thousand Barrels A Second. New York : McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Weapons and Combat
Ayoob, Massad. The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery 6th Edition. Iola , WI : F + W Publications, 2007.
Clausewitz, Carl Von. On War. London : Penguin Books, 1968.
Cooper, Jeff. Principles of Personal Defense. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 2006.
________. To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 1998.
Party, Boston T. Boston’s Gun Bible. Ignacio , CO : Javelin Press, 2002.
Perkins, John et al. Attack Proof. Champaign , IL : Human Kinetics, 2000.
Plaster, Maj. John L., USAR (Ret.). The Ultimate Sniper. Boulder , CO : Paladin Press, 2006.
United States Marine Corps. Essential Subjects. Arlington , VA : Marine Corps Institute, 1986.

Norman in England suggested a piece of commentary about the Mother of All Bailouts: The Rescue of the Wealthy

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Brad E. and Kevin A. both forwarded some bad news from Forbes, that confirms what the Peak Oil crowd has been telling us: Here comes $500 oil. The law of supply and demand is inescapable. I do, however, have my doubts about the supply side of the equation. (See, for example, the arguments presented by the Abiotic Oil proponents.)

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More Odds 'n Sods gathered by Cheryl N., our Economic Editor: Dow Down 373 Points On Spiking Oil Price, Investor Unease Over Bailout -- Morgan Stanley To Sell 20% to Mitsubishi UFJ -- G7 Declines US Bailout Scheme -- Dollar May Be 'Crushed" As Investors Weigh Bailout -- WaMu Under Pressure -- Dire Warnings Fail To Sway Senators On Big Bailout; Dow Down Another 161 -- Holiday Sales Expected To Be Weak -- Morgan, Goldman Seek Deposits; Regional Banks To Become 'Lunch' For Larger Banks -- US Dollar Set To Be Major Casualty of Bailout -- Credit Crisis Analysis and Conclusion -- Berkshire (Warren Buffet) To Invest $5bn In Goldman, Sachs -- Funds Get Freer Hand In Buying Bank Stakes "The Federal Reserve, unleashing its latest attempt to inject more cash into the nation's ailing banks, loosened longstanding rules that had limited the ability of buyout firms and private investors to take big stakes in banks." [Cheryl's Comment: Loosening rules adopted after the Great Depression is what caused can loosening more rules be good?] -- Hedge Fund Paulson Discloses Short Sales On UK Banks -- and, Baby Boomers Delay Retirement.

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Flora recommended a TED Video: Irwin Redlener: How to survive a nuclear attack

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Eric flagged this: Housing crisis has spread to well-to-do

Every economy in the world has experienced booms and busts, but somewhere along the line someone came up with the bright idea of eliminating the busts. Throughout the 1990s the world experienced a series of economic crisis in Asia, Mexico, Russia, and even in the US markets that would have been enough to cleanse the system and restore equilibrium. On each and every occasion the Fed met the problem head on with the printing press, so a full blown reaction was avoided thereby creating what I call a “distortion” in the financial system that would eventually have to be sanitized. What any normal country would have done after a capital injection is withdraw that capital once things got better, but the US never did that. They just kept right on printing much like a drug addict keeps increasing the dosage because the old amount has less and less affect. Unfortunately, like a drug addict the economy eventually dies from an overdose, and that’s where we are today. - Enrico Orlandini

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back in March, I coined the acronym MOAB (for Mother Of All Bailouts), to describe the Federal government's continuously-expanding response to the global credit collapse. My family has been getting great chuckles mentioning each time that commentators and legislators start using the term. These have included Michelle Malkin, Congressman Ron Paul, Senator Richard Shelby, and Joel Skousen. So now we are waiting for a pronouncement for Al Gore, that he invented both the term and the acronym.

The government's virtually uncontrolled bailout spree has now expanded to more than 1.5 trillion dollars, and there is no end in sight. At best, this "buy your way out of the problem" approach--via government spending--will result in a decade or more of economic stagnation. This is what has happened in Japan for 15+ years. But at worst, the MOAB will result in the utter destruction of the US Dollar, through hyperinflation. Unless our trading partners continue to go along with the convenient fiction that the US Dollar has meaningful substance, then it is all over. I predict that within the next year, the US Treasury auctions will turn into a farcical comedy . Foreign investors will start to demand higher and higher yields in order to buy any US Treasury paper. Once that cycle begins, the handwriting will be on the wall for the US Dollar.

Dear Memsahib:
I'd like to suggest exploring the Wear Your Baby site There are free directions for making your own baby wearing wraps and free videos demonstrating different wrapping/carrying styles. The free printable items have good clear photographs to help in choosing the right fabric for the job. Now that slings have become poplar and trendy the prices have become rather expensive. There is nothing like spending $30+ dollars to find that baby doesn't like that carrying style or is wrong for momma's back. I'd rather buy fabric and try different styles (more comfy). If it is a total washout at least the fabric can be used for other projects. Another benefit is the cost is low enough a spare can be handy for those oops that come with babies. HTH, - Stephanie in Arkansas

These folks may want to find a way to store and dose antibiotics. Kids develop infections of all kinds from strep to severe ear infections. In a post-collapse environment this may be very hazardous health wise. Buying clothes that are several sizes bigger for the child to grow into is another thought. - Scott S.


Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rawles,
I love your site. I have been reading for a few months now and hope to get my act here. I am slowly but surely getting prepared (my Dear Husband thinks I am crazy, but I tell him he will thank me one day.) I am starting a homemaker's preparedness section on my site. You know, what if you have no washer, have to make your own laundry detergent, cleaning supplies. That kind of thing. So this was right up my alley :)
I have two Babies and I can offer this advice.
1. Lots of pure water for Mom who is nursing. I have a water filter pitcher that I got on sale and am saving for an emergency.
2. The Nojo Sling is great for Mom who has to nurse/keep baby quiet/put baby to sleep on the go or in emergency situation. [JWR Adds: The Nojo brand slings are quite expensive if bought new. But if you shop around, they can be found in "gently used" condition on eBay or even Craig's List.] They can double as blankets and changing pads.
3. Lansinoh Lanolin cream is food rated and is not only good for Mom, but cures diaper rash and chapped skin.
4. Acidophilus will stop some diarrheas. Garlic for a natural antibiotic (honey to make it go down for Mom but of course no honey for Baby. Baby will get garlic in breast milk), ascorbic acid (buffered Vitamin C) to cure just about everything.
5. Coconut oil. Not only can you cook with it, you can use it to moisturize sensitive baby skin, it is a natural sun screen, has anti bacterial and anti viral properties, works on diaper rash and can help keep away bugs.
6. Bulb syringes. I just got two at Walgreen's [pharmacy store] for about $2 each. They suction noses and [can be used very cautiously to] clean ears. Invaluable for when baby is stuffy and can't nurse.
7. Saline nose drops for same thing. I am "thinking" correct me if I am wrong, that these could double to clean out wounds.
8. Cloth diapers. I don't use them, but have some to use as light weight blankets, wipe up clothes and for putting in the crook of your arm when you nurses so baby's face doesn't stick to your arm.
9. Boppy [style sling baby carriers]. Great for nursing anywhere. (The "Breast Friend" works well for on the go because you can strap it on and walk if you have to, otherwise use sling) and can support baby upward if baby is sick and can help baby sleep.
10. Oatmeal. Great nutrition, easily transported and stored, good for both Mom and Baby to eat and increases breast milk production
11. Dr. Bronner's soaps are great, multipurpose soaps the whole family can use. I use the Peppermint to clean (it deters pests) and brush teeth, wash baby with Baby soap. Can also use to clean dishes, as a shampoo and to wash clothes. [JWR Adds: I have used a 4 ounce squeeze bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap for many years, mostly on backpacking trips. A little bit goes a long way!]
12. Rubbing alcohol to cheaply and effectively disinfect everything.

Hope any of this helps. I tried to think in terms of compact and multipurpose. We are in a crowded town, in a small apartment and I am doing what I can and asking God to help me (and trusting him) with the rest. Keep up the good work! Many Blessings - Ace

Jim and Memsahib:
As a mother of 13 children, I am very familiar with prepping for newborns, toddlers, children and teens :-).
Our children range in age from 19 years old to 10 months old, (and one on the way)

Here is what I have stocked up on for the little ones:

==Acetaminophen suppositories (I buy the baby, junior and adult doses).
They are wonderful for when a fussy baby or child will not swallow medicine. A real life saver that has helped me keep my sanity.

==Children's Motrin and Tylenol liquid. When my babies reached 20 pounds, my doctor said that they could receive a 3/4 dose of liquid Children's Motrin if the fever was not coming down. I recently had to do this and thank goodness it worked! Keep plenty of both liquids on goes fast.

==Pacifiers. If your child likes a pacifier, you don't want to be without one in the middle of the night or during an emergency. I once had a child scream for seven hours until I gave in and went to the store. I have gotten smarter with age and now I have stocked up (I have several dozen in my storage).

==Bottle Liners, extra Nipples, extra holders. If you use a bottle for breast milk or formula, you'll need these. You can never have to many. Any baby items are good for barter.

==Humidifiers. I always have at least 6 new humidifiers in storage. A baby can be miserable with a cold.

==Baby Food. I try to give the baby what we are eating..but if we are on the road or are eating something the baby probably can't handle (chili, etc), I whip out the baby food. I keep a years worth on hand.

==Suppositories (Glycerin). Babies do get constipated on occasion. I also keep "Baby Lax" on hand (a liquid).

==Pedialyte [oral rehydration solution]. A must! Keep plenty of it on hand. It could be a life saving item!

==Extra blankets, crib sheets, etc.

==Baby shampoo. I prefer not to use adult shampoo on the younger children as it will eventually get in their eyes and they'll pitch a fit that'll raise the hair on a bald man.

==Toothbrushes and special Toothpaste (non-fluoride as they will swallow it!) I have them for the babies as soon as they get their first tooth. I get extra for all age groups.

==Next size up in clothing. They grow fast! Thank goodness we have hand me downs as all my children (except one) are boys!

==Books. Babies love books. Get them now as you'll be surprised at how young an age they will enjoy listening to you read!

==Toys. Age appropriate toys. The more simple, the better (blocks are a favorite around here).

I'm sure I have more items I could add to this list as we follow the "Alpha Strategy"...but it's time to make lunch.

God bless all of you! You are an inspiration! In God's Love, - Walt and Wendy, and our 12 (soon to be 13) blessings from God


First, for those who have children, blessings.

Second, in addition to diapers, do not forget more blankets, bedding, a good crib and a safely portable car set/trailer system / transport system depending on your transportation options.

Stock up on supplies for milk, baby food and Pedialyte. (Gatorade is not for small children). Contact your medical provider about infant medical supplies, study and train up for infant CPR. What ever supplies you have on hand, add to them and remember rotate, rotate rotate. Formula is not cheap, and does not have a long shelf life. As to diapers, well that is up to you to choose, but A supply of disposables and cotton washables would be a good idea. The disposables are not cheap.

Adult health products are not for children, including pain relievers and the like, so please consult your pediatrician and your pharmacist. Also review your home for hazards, like exposed electrical sockets and the like. - TFB

JWR Adds: As mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, there are recipes available for make-it-yourself Oral Rehydration Solution. (ORS). Be sure to print out a hard copy for your file. It could be a lifesaver!

Eric sent a link to a London Telegraph article: Financial crisis: Default by the US government is no longer unthinkable.

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Wayne S. suggested this article: Great Myths of the Great Depression. Wayne's comment: "I found it to be a great educational primer on the Great Depression. It is interesting to draw parallels with today’s tumultuous times and MOAB with the government policies of the 1929-to-1941 Depression years."

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Eric also found this important tidbit in The Des Moines Register: Brasher: Corn, soybean supply on brink of shortages. Stock up!

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Laura C. flagged this: What Would Ayn Rand Have Done?

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I've been getting first hand and press reports from the southeastern US of gas stations running out of gas. In some locales the little gas that is available selling for $5+ per gallon. It is a good thing that most SurvivalBlog readers have a reserve on hand. Use it wisely.

"When we add an additional trillion dollars to the debt, the burden of the taxpayer, sooner or later there's got to be a reckoning... This is the mother of all bailouts." - Sen. Richard Shelby, R.-Alabama, ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, Sept 21, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $770. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combo (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) The auction ends on Monday October 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

A front page headline in The New York Times on Friday shouted: Congressional Leaders Stunned by Warnings. The article began: "It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first." Later in the piece, it mentions: "...the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.'"

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, of New York) gave his impression of the meeting with Bernanke: “When you listened to him describe it, you gulped." In a another interview with NPR, Schumer said of the unfolding credit crisis: "If we wait too long, the floor could come out and everything could crash down. " It was Schumer, BTW, that first proposed creating a new agency that would be analogous to the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), during the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late 1980s. Parenthetically, you will also remember Schumer as the inspiration for a couple of my pet expressions ("Deep Schumer", and "When The Schumer Hits The Fan"), that I coined back in the early 1990s, to avoid making crude scatological references. Given Senator Schumer's horribly leftist and gun-grabbing voting record, I make no apologies for enshrining "Schumer" and "WTSHTF" in the SurvivalBlog Glossary.

Clearly, we are living in perilous times. I predict that the markets will be in rollercoaster mode for the foreseeable future, with news stories and government pronouncements precipitating some huge swings. At this juncture I think that I should repeat some thoughts that I posted back in March of this year, since our newest readers probably missed it. This was posted back when I first started warning in earnest about the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB). As you'll see, most of my predictions were correct:

Last week, the mainstream media described the latest expansion of the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB), but they politely refrained from calling this what it is: socialism, plain and simple. The grand plan, as it stands now, is to bail out not just consumer banks, but also investment banks, with taxpayer dollars. They are effectively making our life savings and our future earnings surety for a bunch of idiotic contrapreneurs' loans on everything from flat top duplexes to McMansions. These were houses that the contrapreneurs bought, that they could never really afford unless the market continued to rise at an artificial rate. They bought these houses with the intention of "flipping" them, but then the market topped out, and the "easy money" party ended.

At least those hated fascist dictators like Mussolini had the common sense to nationalize viable, productive companies. But now Ben Bernanke is busy nationalizing a slew of corporations with negative net worth. This is absolute lunacy!

[Some deleted, for brevity.]

All of these calls for regulation, new government agencies, and greater scrutiny might outwardly sound well-reasoned, but they ignore some inescapable underlying problems: We have a fiat currency that is based on debt, we have a banking system with fictional fractional reserves, we have a derivatives market that is a $500 trillion casino, and we have a national treasury that is backed by wishful thinking--certainly not by anything tangible.

The other key point that seems to have escaped the mainstream media is that this new regulatory power is being handed to the Federal Reserve, which is a private banking cartel, not a government agency. They are no more "Federal" than the Federal Express parcel courier company. So this isn't just socialism. This is nothing short of corporate-controlled socialism--where a handful of banking corporations are given access to the Federal tax coffers to bail out other institutions and then, even further, they are given sweeping regulatory powers. This power grab is deemed "necessary" by circumstances that the Federal Reserve itself created! Somewhere, somehow, somebody stands to make a lot of money in this process. Cui bono? I'll wager that it won't be the American taxpayers that benefit. As economist Mish Shedlock observes, this is like putting the Fox in Charge of the Henhouse. Mish summed up the current mess succinctly: "The biggest, most reckless credit experiment in history has started to implode. It's far too late to stop a complete systemic collapse now. Granting new powers to the agency most responsible for the mess simply does not make any sense."

Secrecy is another concern. In a recent e-mail, SurvivalBlog reader KAF commented: "We should be greatly concerned about the fact that the Federal Reserve has provided public release anonymity to the institutions who are taking '30 day' never ending loans. We'll now never know if the institutions we deal with are truly solvent and credible, This new"confidentiality" allows the Fed. to manipulate reserves on a routine basis. We'll never know if this country's Federal Reserve is or is not heading for bankruptcy unless we use the tests of consumer spending and commodity pricing as indicators." She hit the nail on the head. At the same time that the press is howling for "greater transparency" in banking, and writing exposes of "predatory lending practices", the Powers That Be are drawing the veil of secrecy over lending institutions. They'd rather treat us like mushrooms--keeping us in the dark and feeding us barn waste--than risk a panic by letting the public know the real depth of the liquidity crisis and its collateral effects.

Instead of government platitudes, do you want some figures to chew on? Look at this Federal Reserve web page. The negative numbers at the bottom of the "Non-loaned Reserves" column speak volumes. Without the newly-created Federal Reserve "emergency lending mechanisms", many banks would be absolutely bankrupt. As you can see, the bankers are swimming in red ink. There is now a huge risk of bank runs, but this threat is being ignored by the mainstream media. Mark my words: There are bank runs coming.

The fact is that the global lending system is essentially broken. Artificially lowering interest rates won't fix it, when bankers are afraid to lend. As I've previously noted, the bankers are afraid to lend because so much re-packaging and reshuffling of debt has gone on in the past seven years that nobody knows who owes what to whom, and precisely what assets are underlying these exotic debt "packages." Meanwhile, the bankers have learned that the big insurance firms like Fitch, Moody's and S&P were in on the swindle. We now know that they colluded with their mortgage firm buddies to inflate assets and deflate risks in a masterpiece of legerdemain that would make Enron's accountants proud.

The bottom line is the the entire world economy is is in deep, deep trouble. Without financing, the Big Machine is grinding to a halt. The next few years will probably see the economy plunge into a deep recession, if not a full blown depression. The current headlines are just a foreshadowing of the real crisis to come. The MOAB will grow and grow, eventually bailing out far more than just banks. There will be brokerage houses, insurance firms, S&Ls, credit unions, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, and possibly even muni bonds and pension funds are all lined up, ready to reach into our wallets. Once the government starts down the slippery slope of bailout-socialism schemes, they will perforce spread to more and more institutions. And, as I've previously noted, the public coffers will be insufficient to cover the inestimable costs of the MOAB. So this mean that Uncle Sam will monetize the difference. They'll just create the needed "dollars" out of thin air. This will be outrageously inflationary, at all levels.

[More deleted, for brevity.]

All of these macro-level implications might seem fairly abstract, so let me put them in real world terms and take the risk of extrapolating on some trends that I've observed: There will be a recession, and it will be deep, and long-lasting. A recession will mean that there will be some big corporate layoffs. Be ready. There will be bank runs and banking "holidays". Be ready. There will be huge flows of "bailout" funds that will effectively nationalize many industries. Be ready. There will probably be a stock market collapse. Be ready. There will be a further collapse in residential real estate that will make the recent declines seem small, by comparison. Be ready. Credit delinquencies and foreclosures (on car loans, home loans, credit card bills, etc.) will dramatically increase. Be ready. There will be a collapse of the commercial real estate market. Be ready. Even though the credit available for IPOs and private mergers and acquisitions has dried up, there will be news of some large and seemingly inexplicable acquisitions in the near future, all sanctioned by and in some cases, underwritten by, and even funded by, the Federal government. Be ready. There will be shortages of key commodities including fuel and food. Be ready. Strapped for cash, America's highway, rail, water, sewer, telecommunications, and power infrastructures will degenerate. Be ready. There will be mass inflation of the US Dollar that will devalue any dollar denominated investments. Be ready.

And now, to further extrapolate, (with a lower level of confidence): All of the aforementioned economic dislocation and surging inflation might trigger mass protests, riots, looting, and arson in the cities. Be ready. There may then be massive out-migration from the cities. Be ready. Wars have been known to follow close on the heels of depressions and financial crises, so there may be a war, possibly big enough to require another draft. Be ready.

As I've written many times before, the real lynchpin to worry about is the power grid. If the grid goes down, then all bets are off. Be vigilant, be well-stocked with a deep larder, and be self-sufficient. Store extra for charity. If you can afford to, establish a survival retreat in a lightly-populated region, and if possible, live there year-round.

I still stand by those recommendations. The time to get ready was yesterday.

[In a recent letter to SurvivalBlog,] Jeff in Ohio mentioned filling the toilet tank with water in order to flush it, however, this is not necessary. You can flush by pouring about a gallon directly into the bowl. (Don't dribble it in, but also don't get carried away and slosh it in at once . . . unless you really want to use more water to mop the floor.) I learned this from my military service in Okinawa in the late 70s where we had water rationing with running water only every other day. On water days we filled 55-gallon drums with water and then used one-gallon coffee cans to flush the rest of the time. (If you live in an area that tends to lose power, you do fill your bathtubs with water prior to storm onsets, right?)

Give it a try today, for the sake of familiarity. There's nothing like indoor plumbing, until you lose it. - Home's Cool Mom

I think that your "Mineshaft or a Gemeinschaft" article was especially true and timely. However, there are some problems [with living in a community]. Even given how imminent I personally fear financial Armageddon is, there is still time that it might be a nuclear event or a disease pandemic, etc., all of which demand slightly different responses. There is no possible way one or even five individuals can be totally self-sufficient. Even the hermits come out once a year or so to trade for things like salt or ammo, or whatever. Personally, I think a small community of up to 300 varied skills, pooling their resources and pulling together towards a common goal, is ideal. Still small enough that everyone knows everyone else, and has their own estimate of the reliability of every other person, so a community can be totally and realistically democratic.

However, I do think that the more remote the better, and the less known publicly about it the better. In my studies of the downfall of empires, it is clear that officialdom is the greatest thief of all. Anything they can find, either through records or investigation is subject to their attention. In my own case, no one, even me, knows where I will land. (Although I do have a variety of potential areas in mind.) In terms of being found, all are very remote. Your comment about a road or trail being a roadmap to your retreat is very accurate. I am having a problem directing attention away from my trail in for moving in equipment and supplies. Given my bush experience, if I get a few weeks before someone comes looking, I think I can cover that base using game trails. Satellite [image]s are definitely a problem. But hopefully, a little smudge that is difficult to get to will either not be noticed, or deemed not worth the effort. Hopefully, during the first year, there won’t be even much of a footprint.

My greater fear is that if someone knows I am preparing, and where, then the story is sure to be embellished, and suddenly I become a worthwhile target. If I have the very basics underway, surely people (who have survived) will see the benefits and be anxious to join. My theory is that most people will stick to the roads in the early stages at least. I intend to be remote and difficult to get to, and I hope to look like something else, not worth bothering about.

The few [that find us] that are experienced woodsmen will likely be great community member. Otherwise, I can hand pick my community members before they even know they are being considered, or any other details or hints. By that time, if my assessment of the civil distress to come is somewhere near target, I am sure that the survivors will have the most crucial element of being good community members, [namely that] they are survivors, not theorists. They will likely have some other warts that are difficult to deal with, but a common interest will hopefully smooth that path somewhat.

I do have many problems with my scenario and plans, but depending on the start date, I think the first 18 months will be the worst. If I/we survive that length of time, we will probably survive much longer. - Allen C.

Nanny State Britannia run amok: YouTube bans knife and gun videos in England. I suppose that this ban will also include instructional and safety videos, but worry not: They tell us that it is all for the public good! (Tut, tut! We mustn't "glamorise!") OBTW, I think that using a third party web browsing portal such as Anonymizer will probably remove any do-gooder impediments. (And, BTW, it is wise for everyone to use  Anonymizer, just on general principle, to prevent leaving an audit trail of your web browsing. Think OPSEC!)

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From Cheryl, our Economic Editor: Bush, Congress Working on $700 Billion Bailout -- 12th Bank Failure of the Year (AmeriBank Inc.) -- Paulson Commits Trillions of Dollars to the MOAB ("The global mass exodus from the U.S. dollar and Treasury debt is about to begin: Do not get caught in the stampede.") -- US Gov't Disaster Fix-it Plan Send Stock Markets Soaring -- US Economy Stares Into The Abyss -- Money Market Accounts Shaken ("This week, shareholders pulled more than 60 percent of the assets from Reserve Primary Fund, which on Wednesday became the first money-market fund in 14 years to expose investors to losses.") -- GM Tapping Remainder $3.5 Billion Credit Line ("Everyone is running to cash, hoarding it, and we're not out of the woods yet,'' Mikelic said. ``There's a little less pressure with the government stepping in. But the government needs to keep printing money, printing securities, even if there is negative yield.'')

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I spotted this linked at Drudge: Almost Armageddon: Markets Were 500 Trades From A Meltdown. The $1.00 Net Asset Value (NAV) barrier for money market funds is practically sacrosanct. The Fed has promised to continue to step in whenever a $1.00 NAV is in danger. But given the sheer scale of money market investing, I wonder how long that this can go on. I therefore urge SurvivalBlog readers to divest from any uninsured money market accounts, ASAP. Reinvest those funds in tangibles and perhaps some Treasury Inflation-Protected Security (TIPS). Most other US Treasury paper is risky, since US Dollar inflation is very likely to accelerate radically in the next few years, threatening the real value of any investment that is denominated in dollars.

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Several readers mentioned this Politico piece by Mike Allen: Foreign banks may get help. I must ask: How big can the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) get if it also includes foreign entities?

"I didn't know how long we'd have together... Who does?" - Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, in Blade Runner (1982). Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I've observed that survivalists tend to fall into two schools of thought: those that are loners and those that are community-minded. The loners would prefer to disappear into the wilds and essentially find a mineshaft to crawl into--somewhere they can lay low, whilst things sort themselves out, back in civilization. That is both a naive and selfish starting point for preparedness. Short of moving to the roadless interior of Alaska, it is not realistic to expect that you can find a remote rural property where you'd have no contact with outsiders for an extended period of time. We live in the era of Google Earth, where there few truly secret hideaways. I recently read that Mel Gibson couldn't buy total privacy. Even if you live off-grid, if there is a road leading to your house, eventually someone will find you.

I have only seen a handful properties in the lower 48 States that I consider truly isolated. One of them was a ranch in the Basin and Range country, about 50 miles out Lovelock, Nevada. (It was actually 15 miles east of the tiny hamlet of Unionville, Nevada, (which is a 37 mile drive out of Lovelock) but I doubt that many people have heard of it). This was a 200 acre parcel that I evaluated as a potential retreat purchase for one of my consulting clients. (Note: I can describe it here, because the client eventually selected a different ranch in another county.) The road leading into the property traversed a dry lake bed, then went through a full section BLM land on a very dusty lame excuse for a road. Then, as the road started up into the hills it would appear to a casual observer to just become a rocky trail. But in fact it was in fact drivable in a 4WD vehicle, and the condition of the road actually improved, farther up the canyon. The upper end of the property had a surprising number of trees (including some pretty cottonwoods) and a large creek. But that property was a genuine rarity. There, if they were careful about noise and light discipline, someone could conceivably build a retreat and have it go entirely un-noticed indefinitely for anyone approaching by road. (And, BTW, it would have been a terribly long way to drive into town, especially in these days of high gas prices.) But even with a retreat that is out of line of sight from any road, it would still still be visible from the air, and from Google Earth. There is no such thing as total privacy.

I can safely say that 99% of SurvivalBlog readers will never own a truly remote retreat. For the rest of us, we will be on a recognizable road, and we will have neighbors. And we will have the occasional Jehovah's Witnesses come wandering by to hand us copies of The Watchtower and extol their bad doctrine. Resign yourself to that fact. Having neighbors generally necessitates being neighborly. More about that, follows.

The German word for community is Gemeinschaft. This word describes both a community of people and their collective will. From the perspective of disaster preparedness, one of the positive aspects of community-mindedness is what the Germans call Kampfgeist (fighting spirit), or what the Boers call laager spirit. I've alluded to this before in SurvivalBlog, as a component of the "We/They Paradigm." The downside of this is the risk of developing xenophobia and racial bigotry--which I, along with most SurvivalBlog readers, abhor. But the desirable side of Kampfgeist is that unifies a community in defending itself against outside foes. Kampfgeist is most often seen in small communities, but on rare occasions it can even be seen on the scale of a metropolis, where every able-bodied citizen pitched in. This was best illustrated in the defense of Stalingrad, in World War II. The city was defended by a large portion of the local Russian citizenry. (There, there were some phenomenal manifestations of Kampfgeist. The one there that comes immediately to mind is the perhaps apocryphal creation of propagandists: As the German army advanced on the city, the employees of the local tank factory personally manned and went into battle with the very last T-34 tanks that came off the assembly line.

I have long been an advocate of setting up small covenant communities, inhabited by like-minded people. Consider my vote for Gemeinschaft, not a mineshaft. The "mineshaft" is essentially a myth. I'll have more comments on covenant communities in an upcoming article.

Hi Jim,
This [current economic news] is nauseating. Now, not only are we in the insurance business, but we the taxpayer are going to be forced to purchase all of the bad and recklessly created debt generated over the last eight years. We know it's bad, it's even been called "toxic debt". We're not going to be given a choice on whether or not we want to purchase it. It's being purchased in our name and we have no say about it. I can think of no better definition of socialism.

If this is not the end of the world as we know it, it certainly is the end of our once great country as we knew it.

Seeing all of the pundits saying that this is a wonderful idea, I am reminded of a quote from Star Wars III, Revenge of the Sith, when Padmé Amidala says, "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause." Regards, - Rod

Mr. & Mrs. Rawles,
I hope you and the family are doing well. I have been reading your blog for over a year now and it has been quite helpful. We are making our way slowly in our preps but now I have a new issue. My wife has blessed our home with a child. We had been trying for 12 years with no luck, I guess God decided it was time! My daughter is now two weeks old and with all the excitement I hadn't put any thought into preps for a new born. Maybe the Memsahib could give me some direction. Thanks so much for what you do! Also I'm a 10 cent challenge subscriber and it's time for me to renew. I'll be getting that done soon! - Jason in Missouri

The Memsahib Replies: Congratulations! The most important thing is that your wife breast feeds your baby! I hope that she is doing so. The first week or so is the hardest. If she is having difficulties do let her know it will get better. The La Leche League is the best resource for help with breast feeding difficulties.

If you hope God will bless you with more babies, you ought to be prepared! You can order home birth childbirth kits from a number of vendors in the US, and in the UK.

Your biggest concern will be diapers. Depending on circumstances (availability of spring or well water and grid, generator, or photovoltaic power to run a washing machine) you will have to decide between cloth diapers or disposable diapers. When I nursed my newborns, I often changed diapers more than 10 times per day, to prevent diaper rash! (My family has fair, sensitive skin.) Untreated, diaper rash can lead to serious infections. Proper hygiene is crucial.) Choose you diapering method and then stock up, in quantity!

The very most useful items in my experience are:

For childbirth:

Sterilized cord clamp

Betadine solution

A bulb syringe

Bed liners (like those made for the disabled, available at medical supply houses)

For your newborn:

Plan on breast feeding, but as a back up consider stocking up on canned infant formula

Lanolin cream for your nursing wife

Petroleum jelly ad zinc ointment as diaper rash preventatives

Diapers and diaper covers,

Multiple"onesees", sleepers, or saque gowns would be a real blessing. They can be found at yard sales for maybe 25 cents per outfit.or less if you don't care about stains. As you have already discovered babies spit up a lot and diapers leak. In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, when washing and drying baby clothes won't be so easy, then having multiple changes in every size would make daily life easier.

I also would never be without a front pack infant carrier.

I'd appreciate other SurvivalBlog readers chiming in (via e-mail) with childbirth and infant care suggestions, including recommend brand names of useful products.

I should also mention that I highly recommend the childbirth book "Heart and Hands". And, although not from a Christian perspective (It has Hippie/Flower Child perspective!), the book "Spiritual Midwifery" presents childbirth as a natural process--not just as a medical condition.

From the folks over at The Oil Drum: How Much Will Gustav and Ike Affect Gas Supplies? An Update

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More on the MOAB, from The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Bailout Plan Calms Markets, But Struggle Looms Over Details

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Another slug of cheer from SurvivalBlog's Economic Editor: Stocks Soar As Investors Look To Gov't Rescue Plan -- Current List of Failed Banks (another bank failure was announced on Friday) -- Wall Street Dumps Mortgage Corruption on Taxpayers -- New Wall Street Crisis Will Create a New Financial World Order -- Forecast: US Dollar Could Plunge 90%.

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Kevin A,. recommended this piece of commentary from Charles Hugh Smith: Restoring the Con in Confidence

"Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!" - George C. Scott as Gen. 'Buck' Turgidson , in Dr. Strangelove, 1964. (Screenplay by by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern and Peter George.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I am assuming that no matter who wins the presidency, we are probably looking at the next assault weapons ban in about a year (if TEOTWAWKI doesn't happen first). I don't recall exactly what the effect of the last ban was on pre-ban guns, but I assume the prices of pre-ban AR-15s rose dramatically? If that is the case, would it be wise to purchase several AR-15 lower receivers now, with the possibility of selling them at a profit after the ban is in place (since they will then be pre-ban)? The relatively low price of a stripped AR-15 lower [receiver] [around $120, or less, in quantity] seems to offer an interesting opportunity, since I could buy 10 lowers for only $1,000, and I'm assuming this is the part that would really increase in value.

I already have a number of ARs and other guns for personal use, so I'm considering this mainly as a potential investment.

Also, as a side note, what is your opinion in investing in foreign currency? In particular, I see Everbank has a CD which lets you purchase Australian, New Zealand, South African, and Canadian dollars (currencies dependant on commodities). Obviously such an investment would be useless after a complete collapse... but if we just had severe inflation?

I've been prepping for survival situations for a while now, just recently started thinking about these other scenarios as well (extreme inflation, etc). Thanks, - Dylan

JWR Replies: When the US Congress passed the so-called "assault weapon" ban (circa 1994-to-2004), the BATF came out with an edict that stripped receivers that had been made before the ban, but that were assembled into completed rifles after the ban would not be legal build in a pre-ban configuration. So that nixes your low-cost "hedging on potential legislation" investment idea. If you are worried about a Democrat in the White House and the advent of a new ban, then I think that investing in full capacity magazines is a far better investment. You will probably triple or quadruple your money. See this piece in the SurvivalBlog archives for my detailed recommendations: The Falling Dollar--Sheltering Your Assets in Steel and Alloy Tangibles.

As for foreign currencies, since virtually all national currencies are now issued by fiat (un-backed by metallic specie), they are all doomed to inflation. The only question is, which currencies will suffer the least from inflation? With that in mind, I can only reiterate my long-standing recommendation: tangibles, tangibles, tangibles. Buy your practical tangibles first (such as productive farm land, common caliber ammunition, and full capacity magazines), and then, as your budget permits, follow that up with some barterable precious metals (such as pre-1965 US "junk" silver coinage). And if you are wealthy, then move on to buying gold bullion, such as Krugerrands, Canadian Maple Leafs, or American Eagles.

Hello -
Survival Blog readers might be interested in the Cool Tools web site and e-mail newsletter. The site was originated by Kevin Kelly, who edited Whole Earth Review in the 1980s and also put together several versions of The Whole Earth Catalog, Cool Tools offers one new "Cool Tool" per day.
Far from just being gadgets, a Cool Tool "can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or web site that is tried and true." All submissions are reader reviewed, they are not just regurgitations of product literature.
There are good recommendations in many categories that might be of interest to Survival Blog readers. For example, backpacking (improvised shelters, stoves, maps), dwellings (building underground homes, yurts, building your home yourself), homesteading, edibles, vehicles (like the Kawasaki KLR 650) and more. A recent entry was from a reader who has been experimenting with alcohol stoves.

Thanks for your work on SurvivalBlog! - John in Michigan

Hello Jim,
This note is in reference to the letter from Melanie and Rick in Columbus about the woman who never thought of using the grill to cook. I had a similar experience with my mother-in-law. While we had power and water, she had lost hers. I offered to bring buckets of water to her house so she could manually refill the toilet tank to flush with(she has septic).
Not only did she not think of that, she couldn't understand the concept. She ended up going to a hotel for a couple of days. People like this will not last long in a prolonged crisis. Just goes to show the most critical piece of gear is your brain and knowledge. Take care, - Jeff in Ohio

Hi Jim,
I just finished reading Melanie and Rick's letter and what they faced during their 'hurricane' event in Columbus. The conditions they experienced sound very similar to what I related to you was occurring in Cincinnati a few days ago. I just wanted to make a few comments regarding the need for self-defense and owning a gun to do so. Rick was concerned about someone who was driving by coming back to 'liberate' his generator. That would concern me too, so here are a couple of my thoughts on the situation. First, it is a good idea to conceal the fact that you have power when the rest of your neighbors don't and it's pretty obvious at night. So close the blinds, black out the windows and do what you can to conceal the fact that you have power. Second, do what you can to muffle the sound of your generator with sound baffles or a soundproof enclosure. Third, "nail it down" and secure it as Rick did with chains and locks.

Now to the more important issue, protecting the generator using deadly force. A couple of years ago when concealed carry was first permitted in Ohio, I completed the required course to get my permit. While not a lawyer, I do remember the most important lesson taught regarding the law in Ohio is this; you can use a firearm to protect human life, but you may not use a firearm to protect private property. So to Rick's point, if he did have a gun and used it to protect his generator from a would be thief and actually injured or killed them during the event, he could be prosecuted should he cause injury or death to the intruder. It does go without saying however, if Rick was threatened and feared for his life or the life of someone in his family while and intruder was trying to steal the generator, he could defend his or their life with deadly force. Personally, I always feel my life is in immediate danger anytime someone invades my home, regardless of their intentions, but simply threatening someone with bodily harm using a firearm is also currently illegal and depending upon the circumstances and the court and lawyers involved, one could potentially face some time in state provided accommodations. There have been a few cases reported where people defended their property by shooting a fleeing intruder in the back while trying to escape and were found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. For someone to be attacking you they must be facing you. However, one could certainly detain the intruder for the police if the police could be successfully contacted (communications/availability might be an issue) and would actually show up to make an arrest.

With this said, I believe everyone should own and trained to safely use a firearm(s). When the defecation impacts the rotating oscillator the laws may not change, but the circumstances will definitely change for the when you have only seconds to make that life-or-death decision you will be more likely to successfully do so while waiting for the cops are just minutes, hours or even days away!

It is essential to be prepared for the worst, but hope - and more importantly, pray for the best. - Larry in Cincinnati


I am an ex-cop, who served in St. Tammany Parish, just above New Orleans. (On the other side of Lake Pontchartrain). I was there during [Hurricane] Katrina. Believe me when I say I have many stories to tell, and I am sure I will, eventually.

However, I have been lurking on your web site for a while, and I had to comment in a recent post.
The people in Ohio who almost had their generator stolen made me remember a looter we had in Post-Katrina St. Tammany Parish. He would bring a lawn mower in the middle of the night, turned on and throttled down, to your house. He would put it near the generator, and over the course of 10 or so minutes, throttle it up. Then he would simply turn off the generator and trundle away with it, leaving a similar noise behind. The cold air from air conditioning would last long enough for his get-away. If I remember correctly, he stole about 36 generators before being caught.
We even had a gennie stolen from the Sheriff's LEC (Law Enforcement Complex), three nights after Katrina. And one of the jail's large generators was given to the hospital when theirs died. Essentially, hide them, do not use them at night if you can avoid it, and think about putting a muffler on it to hide the sound. And buy a gun.
Any questions? Thanks, - Joshua

Our Economic Editor sent us another huge batch of news and commentary--plenty for you to digest over the weekend: But I'll focus on perhaps the most important article, that confirms my prediction of a gargantuan Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB): Paulson plan could cost $1 trillion. And now for the rest: Treasury pulls out stops to support money markets -- Fed, Central Banks Move to Boost Global Confidence ("Wall Street's biggest crisis since the Great Depression forced the Federal Reserve and central banks in other countries to pump billions of dollars into the world's banking system in an urgent bid to stop further damage.") -- Fed Quadruples Money Central Banks Can Auction -- Drowning Fed Swims Against Credit Crisis Tide -- Gold Largest One-Day Price Rise In History -- AIG Collapse: Too Awful To Contemplate -- America Will Need Trillion Dollar Bail-Out -- Russia Injects $19.6bn To Restore Markets -- Central Banks Pump $180bn To Ease Strain -- Global Credit System Suffers Cardiac Arrest on US Crash -- Winter to Bring Avalanche of Job Losses -- More Banks to Die -- Investors Rush Into Gold and Bonds -- Bright Side of a Total Financial Collapse -- Morgan Stanley, Sachs Goldman Shares Sink: Fear Spreads -- Crash: The World As We Know It Is Going Under -- After Lehman, Banks Jettison Commercial-Property Debt -- 3-Month T-Bill Rates Lowest Since WWII -- Treasury to Sell $100 Billion in Bills to Help Fed Balance Sheet -- SEC Bans Naked Shorting For All Securities -- FDIC Heading For Failure -- Morgan, Goldman, HBOS Crashing (WaMu Too) -- Barclays Buys Lehmans for $1.75bn -- Feds Shopping For WaMu Buyer -- Bank of Scotland Faces Its End -- Economist Recounts Talk With Fed Chairman -- Panic Grips Credit Markets -- Federal Bank Insurance Fund Dwindling -- WaMu Next To Fail? -- It's The Derivatives, Stupid! -- Hedge Funds Crash Halifax, HBOS Rescued By Lloyd's TSB -- Credit Crisis Darkens US Outlook -- Crisis Seeps Into Everyday Life.

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Anyone with a Saiga 12 gauge shotgun should check out the new drum magazines from MDArms. They reportedly work very well, and require less fitting than the Wraithmaker drums that I mentioned in blog previously. They are also less expensive.

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Welcome to sunspot minimum: NASA to hold press conference on the state of the sun. (A hat tip to KAF for the link.)

"If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs." - Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, September 19, 2008

With [hurricanes] Gustav and Ike paying us a visit, I thought I would send you a note regarding the importance of self reliance versus shelter life. Living in the Gulf South, hurricanes are something you have to prepare for. Government support and shelter will not be there for you in the way you might think. Your lack of supplies or resources when you most need them, depending on the emergency, could mean a thoroughly miserable experience for you and your family at best; or [something far] worse if the emergency is wider and deeper in scope. Start making your preparations now, when they’re not needed immediately and are readily available. When the time to act arrives, don’t hesitate, and you will find yourself in safer territory long before the rest of the unprepared and sometimes frantic crowd.

Hurricanes are simply a part of life in the Gulf South. Out West there are earthquakes, wildfires and even volcanic activity. Elsewhere in the US we have to prepare for tornados, blizzards, nor’easters, floods, et cetera. And these are just what nature can throw at us and often does. Barely a day goes by where we are not reading about some unfortunate people caught short in an unexpected event, and unprepared for [the] emergency. In addition, in today’s world there are legitimate man-made concerns, such as terrorist activity, industrial accidents and the threat of economic collapse as highlighted in your most entertaining and informative novel; "Patriots". In short, I don’t think anybody; anywhere is 100% immune from some sort of emergency or cataclysmic event. The time to start preparing was yesterday. The time to stop, is never. Always look to improve and renew your preparations.

Before Hurricane Katrina, I thought that I had my act together. My wife laughed at how prepared I always was. I took great pride in her labeling me as her little Boy Scout. But I soon found that I wasn’t. After the storm passed I discovered that the recoil [starter] spring on the generator was broken. (I hadn’t checked it for the last couple of years). And although I found a way around that, I only had enough gas to run it for a few days. I figured it would all be over quickly as had been the case with so many other storms that merely brushed by and brought little more than an inconvenience. My easily prepared food was also limited to a few days, maybe a week at best. Water I had enough of for a week or two. I soon realized that I was little better prepared, if at all, than anyone else on my street. Sure, I was the first one with boards on my windows, and I had a generator; but that was about it.

Taking it a step further, I had these preparations for myself. My wife and family had evacuated. In the event there was an emergency where they wouldn’t be able to evacuate, with generator power for a few days, food and water maybe the same, we would have found ourselves in dire straights all too quickly with little or no choice other than to rely on charity. If we were creative, we might have been able to stretch it out for almost two week, at best. Cleaning up after a storm and trying to put your life back together requires a lot of extra calories and is certainly not the time to scrimp together a minimal diet.

We were lucky, however, in that we had saved money for a grand family vacation the following year, so there were funds available to take care of everyone for three weeks while they were evacuated. Fortunately for me, I am a police officer, so decent hot food and support was available to me. Not to mention being able to take home a few gallons of gas each day for my generator. Had I of been Mr. John Q. Public given the same set of circumstances, I would have been in line for Red Cross meals twice a day before long, and totally without power unless I went from 8-to-12 hours per day to 2 or 3.

Again, taking it a step further, if my family needed shelter, given either a lack of funds or the opportunity to evacuate, and unable to stay in my house due to storm damage, we would have wound up in line for food and spending the night in the corridors of a local school which is used for [a public] shelter. I have worked as security at those shelters. Believe me, they are not places you want to spend time in, filled with the homeless, near homeless, mentally ill, infirm and a rough assortment of folks with near nothing to their name.

During [Hurricane] Gustav our city had several shelters, and by design, they are not comfortable. One shelter where you could bring your pet (in a crate & with food & supplies only!) had a huge generator. All of the pets enjoyed air conditioning. The people, housed in a separate area, did not. The other shelters where pets were strictly not allowed also had no air conditioning. When asking the Red Cross officials about this, they stated that their rules demanded air conditioning and 20 square feet of space per pet. For people, no air conditioning was required and only 15 square feet of space was deemed necessary. They said they didn’t want the people to be too comfortable where they wouldn’t want to leave. They achieved this goal ‘handsomely’. The walls of the school corridors were soon sweating profusely from condensation and pools of water covered the floor. Anything like sleeping bags, or bags of clothing left on the floor soon began to absorb water. Even after 24 hours, the smell began to set in. No one hung around any longer than they absolutely had to. Mission accomplished. Given different circumstances and recourses, I’m sure they would have been more accommodating, but I never want to find out first hand.

The local school board was also what I would describe as less than considerate. At the shelter I worked at, the folks from the Red Cross were told by the principal that they were limited to the hallways, cafeteria and gym; that the people requiring shelter could only be from that area – no evacuees from further afield; and that 12 hours after the storm passed, everyone had to be out. In short, evacuees found themselves in miserable conditions, and felt unwanted all round. The Lord should smile on the Red Cross volunteers who actually manned the shelter as they worked themselves silly to do all they could for the inhabitants, but try as they might, they simply could not do much to alleviate the miserable conditions. I never want to find myself there, and refuse to let my family go through anything remotely like that.

Today I am far more prepared in every respect, and continuing to improve on my preparations all around. When I first started getting truly prepared, my family thought I was a little ‘nutty’. Now, in many ways they see the need, but still see a somewhat eccentric side to me. They were all born in a time of plenty. A time where we are accustomed to having what we want and when we want it. Increasingly, the finer things in life are taken for granted and many segments of society even demand not only their necessities, but the luxuries of life to be handed to them, gratis. In time of need, the more sudden, the deeper and prolonged the emergency, the more severe their reaction to take what they don’t have and we do have, by any means necessary.

Hurricanes are relatively small emergencies. Given the scope of [hurricanes such as] Ike, Gustav, Katrina, or Andrew, for example, some may say they were anything but small. To many, they lost everything. But on the whole, hurricanes produce short lived, localized emergency conditions which the rest of the country responds to. Given a far wider reaching event, such as a [large scale] EMP attack, economic collapse, pandemic etc, the effects could be very widespread over a far longer period. It wouldn’t take long for people to realize that no one would be coming to help. The 911 telephone system wouldn’t work, or would work less effectively. Shelters, if available, would be hell, but for those of us unprepared, we would have little else to fall back on. This, in large part, is why I prepare. It is why we all should. - DZ in Louisiana

To follow-up on the last two e-mails that you posted from me, here are some random thoughts that I'd like to share on preparedness for when the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF):

Use an eyeglasses "leash" (lanyard) to prevent the loss of glasses and reduce the risk of damage.

Buy janitorial-size rolls os toilet paper, without perforations. Each roll is 1,000 feet long, and a box of 12 rolls measures about two feet square. These take up just a fraction of the room required to store the same length of toilet paper in standard household rolls.

Use a kiddie-type pool to collect water from rainwater downspouts. The pools with hard-plastic sides and vinyl bottoms are fairly durable. A six foot diameter pool that is 15 inches deep holds 211 gallons of water.

Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are superior to traditional [filament] bulb designs. They last much longer and are much more resistant to impact. When used LEDs, batteries last much longer. LED headlights are close to ideal for doing chores, since they keep your hands free. Tactical use requires a hand-held or weapon-mounted light [with an intermittent switch.]

Krazy Glue [cyanoacrylate adhesive] is great for closing small cuts [after they have been properly cleaned.] Steri-strips are the next step up in holding ability.

Water Filters - Culligan's new EZ-change Level 4 [under-sink] filter [cartridge] is rated to treat 500 gallons. That is five time the volume of most compact backpacking filters. With a self-contained design, it would be easy to attach a pump. The are available for $38 through Most [other] under-sink filters could be used the same way, but the Culligan design is preferable because it is fairly compact.

For "ready made" backpacking filters, I prefer the First Need brand filters. These are rated to remove viruses and radioisotopes.

Ball-shaped pin on magnetic compasses are compact, but they are more fragile that the type designed to clip on to a watch band, such as the Brunton and Suunto brand compasses.

Dental health is very important for long-term survival. Wal-Mart now sells a dental kit including a mirror with scaling tool and pick, from Dentek. They also sell Temparin temporary filling repair kits. These come in three-application containers. Temparin is far superior to the old standby of packing a lost filling void with zinc oxide.

A big part of survival is preventing injury. In a post collapse word, an injury will reduce available manpower, and something that would be considered just relatively minor in the present day could prove fatal. Proper safety equipment and training in the safe use of hand tools is crucial. Gloves, eye protection, preventing falls, fire safety, and so forth should be stressed. Hygiene and proper sanitation are equally important.

I believe that a good foundation for long-term family preparedness is learning the basics of wilderness survival. Having a solid understanding of the first four critical basics--water, food heat and shelter--helps set priorities in developing a larger plan for long-term preparation. It is also the final "fall back" position [in the event that you are forced to abandon your retreat or in case you never make it there]. These basics are also foundational in making important decisions.

I hope that readers took my advice and bought precious metals during the recent dip. The bank credit crisis seems to have woken the gold bull from his short nap. (Gold had one of its best one day gains ever, on Wednesday.) I believe that the bull's charge will resume, shortly. Because the consumer economy now looks weak, I predict that gold will probably outperform silver in the next run-up. (Since silver is more of an industrial metal, whereas gold as seen as a safe haven when currencies are in turmoil.)

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Tim T. mentioned that any SurvivalBlog readers with an interest in farming with draft horses should check out The Small Farmer's Journal. BTW, they also have a great book catalog,

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Bill N. recommended a blog piece by Bayou Renaissance Man about his local Neighborhood Watch on Steroids.

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A puzzling article from Der Spiegel was flagged by reader Jack B.: 'Certain Mistakes Just Can't Be Allowed to Happen'--"Hundreds of millions of euros from a German government-owned bank went down the drain with Lehman Brothers on Monday after a strange deal that has left many people scratching their heads. Why would a German bank transfer €300 million to an American Wall Street firm after it filed for bankruptcy?" JWR's comment: I suspect that they were hoping to limit some massive outstanding counterparty risk from derivatives contracts with Lehman Brothers. If they can help keep them afloat by chipping in €300 million, then they might avoid the far bigger risk of a disappearing derivatives contract counterparty. The stakes in the global derivatives casino are almost too huge to imagine.

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The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) grows a bit more: Fed announces $180 billion cash flood to fight crisis. Eric (a frequent SurvivalBlog content contributor) alerted me that as of Thursday, $105 billion had already rolled out the door of the Fed (electronically). Meanwhile, we read: Morgan Stanley Said to Be in Talks With China's CIC. The global credit collapse is completely out of control, folks. Be ready to hunker down, if and when things get ugly.

"A billion here, and billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money." - Senator Everett Dirksen

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It seems that we are now all in the insurance business. For a mere $85+ billion "loan", the Federal Reserve--backed by the full faith and credit of the US Treasury--just became a 80% stakeholder in AIG, the nation's largest insurance company. Hmmmm... Just as I warned, the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) has grown again. Methinks this is going to get a lot worse, before it gets better. Who will we bail out next? Chase Manhattan Bank? General Motors? United Airlines? Chuck E. Cheese? Hey, no prob, we've got a big checkbook. The sky's the limit. We'll just create the money out of thin air, and "owe it to ourselves." Let's face it: The nation is already functionally bankrupt. And as the MOAB continues to grow, we can expect that foreigners will one sad day declare our once-proud nation literally bankrupt, and refuse to take our paper. At that point the game will be over. Move over, Comrade Mugabe. There'll be a new inflationary wizard in town.

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $750. The auction for a large mixed lot that includes: A Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combo (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods. An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at A NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value), donated by at And, a Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.) The auction ends on Monday October 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

I’m getting ready to add to my collection of gold and silver coins and wanted to bring up a perhaps significant point: American Silver Eagles have a face value of $1, whereas the equivalent Canadian coin (the 1 ounce Maple Leaf) has a face value of $5 Canadian – about $4.65 USD at the current exchange rate. The face value represents a built-in stop-loss should silver prices fall through the floor for any reason. At current prices, the face value of the Canadian caps your potential loss at slightly higher than 50% whereas with the U.S. coin you could potentially lose more than 90% of your investment. Granted, a fall to such low prices is extremely unlikely; nonetheless, a stop-loss is an important component of any investment position and should be carefully considered when buying coins.

And, patriotism aside, I think the Canadian coin is prettier [than the U.S. Silver Eagle] :-)

Best, - Matt R.

JWR Replies:
Your point is well taken. Although the chances of a collapse in the price of silver below $5 per ounce is quite small, it doesn't hurt to hedge your bets. Another "stop-loss" approach like yours is buying US silver half dollars that were minted between 1965 and 1970. Unlike the pre-1965 US coins (that were 90% silver), these later half dollars were minted with just 40% silver content. The beauty of investing in these is that if the price of silver were ever to collapse, you could simply spend them. The only downside is that because they are only 40% silver, they are a much bulkier and heavier way to invest in barterable silver. The 40% silver half dollars are available in $500 and $1,000 face value bags, from coin dealers. Here is some data that you should jot down, for calculating the bullion value of circulated US coins:

1964 or earlier 90% dime, quarter or half-dollar bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 715 ounces of silver
1965-to-1970 40% half dollar bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 296 ounces of silver

So, for example, to determine the bullion value of $1,000 face value in 40% silver quarters, simply multiply the current day's spot price of silver ($10.85, as of this writing) x 296. Thus, $10.85 x 296 = $3,211.60 per bag. Based on that you can estimate that these coins are presently worth 3.21 times their face value. (A 40% silver 50 cent piece is worth $1.60 in FRNs. Meanwhile a 90% silver 50 cent piece is worth $3.88 in FRNs.) Silver would have to collapse to below $3 per ounce before it would make sense to spend 40% silver half dollars as regular pocket change. But, even then, given the long term trends for the value of the US Dollar, it would be crazy to do so.

I’ve been a reader of your site for only about a year and consider myself a beginner-level survivalist. I’ve got the mindset and start of some basic short-term survival gear and knowledge, but haven’t been able to convince the wife to go all out yet. A few months ago, you had posted an article about keeping your level of preparedness secret from neighbors and I wasn’t sure why until recently. I live in Middle Tennessee, and although we are hundreds of miles away from Hurricane Ike, we experienced a short run on gas and spike in prices. Probably close to a quarter of the gas stations in the city simply ran out. From past experience, I had already purchased a 50-gallon drum with manual pump (which I had filled in July), and I had three 5-gallon jugs that I used to fill up the day before [the hurricane's] landfall. I could easily make that last for a month even without changing my driving habits as long as there is electricity and I don’t have to generate. Plenty of time for capacity to return to normal.

Not only did I get some evil looks while filling up at the pump [in July], but I was also scrutinized at work by a few people that I had told about my “cache.” Most seemed to think I was the reason for the shortage (or a part of it.) And while I agree that a hype can fuel a shortage, a shortage is still a shortage. My personal preparedness plays such a miniscule role in the big picture. But the comments are enough to have made me learn my lesson. If 65 gallons of gas is enough for people to question my intentions, then what would they say if they discovered a much larger level or preparedness and the problem was much worse? Suddenly I’m not the guy trying to survive -- I’m the stingy hoarder who won’t share with people in need and in some way contributed to the shortage. Thanks for all you do. - Wes B.

JWR Replies: In my opinion, the modern American citizenry has been badly misinformed by the mass media about what constitutes "hoarding." By filling your gas drum and cans several months ago, you did not contribute to a shortage of fuel in the present day. In normal times, chains of supply are continuously replenished. By buying and storing supplies well in advance, you actually helped to alleviate the current short-term supply disruption. By having a pre-existing stockpile, you represent one less motorist queuing up at the gas station. The same logic applies to any other shortage. It is only people that attempt to buy a disproportionately large supply during a crisis that could legitimately be called "hoarders." But people in your category--that bought far in advance--are not part of the problem. In fact, by having extra on hand, you can dispense charity, which makes you part of the solution.

Maintaining a low profile is just common sense. The "need to know" rule-- that was constantly drummed into me when I was in the intelligence community--is time-proven. There are great advantages in being circumspect.

I enjoy giving charitably. But there is no reason why it has to be done with a high profile in the midst of a natural disaster or other crisis. By anonymously leaving parcels on doorsteps or by using an intermediary--such as your local church--you are far less likely to attract unwanted attention from either government officials or members of your community with a twisted sense of ethics.

The other reason for being secretive about charity is Biblical: In Matthew 6:3 (King James Version) we are taught: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." Essentially, this means that when giving charitably, we should do it without any fanfare, lest it be a source of pride. Give generously, but do so very quietly.

Hi Jim,
We live in Columbus, Ohio and had 76 m.p.h. winds on Sunday. We have been without power until late today. Our neighborhood looks like a war zone. Many trees on homes and in yards. There is some good news in that we shared our generator with neighbors. Others in the neighborhood were doing the same. Some of the kids set up a barbeque stand and were selling hot dogs and hamburgers for cost. This helped many to have meals. Everyone helped to clear trees and limbs from the roads and yards. Schools are still closed for Wednesday and many intersections still have no signals. The majority of people are using common sense. In general the west side of Columbus seemed to get hit the worse.

Let me say that we rode this out without much trouble. We had plenty of gas for the generator and batteries for all of the flashlights and push on lights. We had water stored but it was not needed. We had the right tools such as pots and pans etc. that could be used on outside fires.

This was not the case for many. I went shopping for a few things and while at the store a family was there buying emergency supplies. The mother commented to me that she didn't know what she was going to fix to eat since she had no power. I asked if they had a grill and she said yes. I told her to either buy or use some cheap pots and pans and use the grill to cook. She looked at me and was so surprised and said she would not have thought to use the grill. I could have told her a few other ways to make meals but she moved on. I saw so many people trying to find ice as well as generators. Camping items such as lanterns were all sold out in stores. I did notice that several stores had raised prices on these items but most were sold out.

I have never been one, however, to own guns and always felt that I would not need one. Well that has all changed as of last night. We had the generator chained to the deck with heavy chains and locks and thought it was safe. We had been watching television using rabbit ears and I got up to go to the other room. When I returned I saw a car pull up in front of the house. We were the only house [in the neighborhood] to have lights and it could be seen from the road. You could also hear the generator from the road. The car moved on when the driver saw me standing and looking out the window.

We decided we needed something in case they came back trying to take the generator. The only thing we found was a length of heavy pipe. We got it and then did not sleep for fear of losing the generator. I will be getting a gun and taking safety classes to ensure proper use so that our property will be defended if needed.

We thought we were prepared but now have found a few items we still need to get to be better prepared for next time. We have you to thank for helping us to prepare as well as we did. Sincerely, - Melanie & Rick

Krys in Idaho flagged this one: Ike Holdouts To Be Forced From Home. Some comments from Krys: "This story shows the importance of two things: 1) Proper retreat location and2) Having multiple plans in place for multiple scenarios WTSHTF. Just because you plan to stay in place, doesn't mean you'll be able to.How many of these folks were perfectly able to weather the storm in place, but are being forced to move anyway, possibly at gun point? Food for thought."

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Reader "M" sent us this: Money Market Fund Says Customers Could Lose Money. Money market accounts have long considered "ultra safe. But when even these are in peril, you know that something is horribly wrong with the financial markets. My advice: If you have any deposits in accounts that are not FDIC insured then shift them elsewhere, even if it means earning substantially less interest. In today's economy you should be focused on safety, rather than maximizing your returns. (You should worry "not so much about return on investment as return of investment.")

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Any SurvivalBlog readers that own a M1919 belt-fed (semi-auto or full-auto) have probably been feeling the pinch from the sharply higher ammo prices in recent months. It is well-known that you can convert these guns (originally designed to fire .30-06) to shoot 7.62mm NATO, .303 British, or 8mm Mauser (a.k.a. 8x57). But as I was wandering the Web today, I found a company called BarrelXChange. They now offer M1919 conversions to the Russian 7.62x39 and 7.62.54(r) chamberings! BTW, they also offer Uzi SMG conversions in some unusual calibers. Their Model 1919 conversion kits ar available via mail order, but to save on shipping, they'll also be available at the Knob Creek Machinegun Shooting Event (October 10th 11th & 12th, 2008), at Dolf Goldsmith's table. (Dolf is the gent that wrote the three volume book on Browning machineguns.)

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The crisis on Wall Street is now being felt all around the world: These four articles are just a brief sampling: China paper urges new currency order after "financial tsunami", ECB doyen Otmar Issing calls crisis "extremely dangerous", Panic as Russian market suspended , and Panic grips credit markets.

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Eric sent us several interesting economic news links: House prices to fall on liquidity concerns--U.S. Mortgage Rates May Wreak Havoc After Libor Gain--Pimco real estate fund tanks, and Americans Should Worry About Bank Deposits. Meanwhile Cheryl (our Economic Editor) sent us these links: Will AIG File $1 Trillion Bankruptcy?--AIG Death Would Be Far Worse Than Lehmans--A Global Fight Over Pieces of Lehman Bros.--FDIC Says Banking System "Safe and Sound"--Greenberg-Led AIG Investors Consider Taking Control, and Why the Fed Didn't Cut the Funds Rate.

"It's easy to find a trend and ride the train. The problem is, managers don't know when to get off it.'' - Peter Rup, discussing the collapse of Ospraie Management LLC's commodities hedge fund.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Prompted by the clamorous economic headlines in the mainstream media, I've had numerous e-mails and phone calls from relatives and consulting clients, asking me "Is this it, Jim?" Please keep in mind that I'm not a prophet. I'm just a former spook that makes some empirical observations and draws some logical conclusions. But I can safely say that "it" appears to be a lot closer than it ever has been in my adult life. Be ready.

Thanks to the generous folks at, the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction package in the auction that just started this week has been expanded, to include a NukAlert radiation detector (a $160 value). The high bid is now at $150. See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction Page for a full list of what is included. Our thanks to the many generous vendors that donated merchandise!

Our special thanks to Melanie S., Mike M., and "Secret Squirrel" for their very generous donations toward The Memsahib's recent huge medical bills. She is now out of the hospital and doing better but still needs your prayers for miraculous healing. She is greatly uplifted by your prayers!

I have a question about cars: In making your G.O.O.D. vehicle, which would be considered safer, a modern car with front and side airbags, a modern car with airbags and a roll cage, a modern car with airbags disabled/removed and a roll cage, or an old muscle car without airbags but with roll cage? - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: To begin, from what I've read, most of the professional drivers in the executive protection business drive with only the driver's side airbags disabled.

Based on what I've heard regarding what models are driven by the winners at demolition derbies, a late 1960s to very early 1970s station wagon with a big block engine would be ideal. They get pitifully low gas mileage, but they have lots of cargo room, and they have clearance for a roll bar behind the bench-type front seat. You can also add a roof rack for relatively lightweight items such as spare tires,.tentage, and camouflage nets.

To my mind, perfection in a G.O.O.D. station wagon would be a flat brown-painted 1970 Buick Estate with a 455 cubic inch four-barrel V8 engine. What a ride: Plenty of power, very tough in collisions, easy to maintain, EMP protection even when near ground zero, and even a touch of class. (They are starting to be considered classics, so your neighbors probably wouldn't object to one in your driveway.) But I'm not sure how many rust-free 38-year-old vehicles are still available in the tropical climate of Hawaii. ;-) I suppose that you could find one in Arizona or New Mexico through the ads in Hemming's Motor News, but then subsequently transporting it to Hawaii would probably be prohibitively expensive.

To follow-up on my last e-mail, here are some random thoughts that I'd like to share on fuel conservation, for when the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF):

Water Pasteurization Indicators (WAPIs) - Often used in the Third World to save fuel and time when treating drinking water. Water that is heated to 149 degrees for a short time is free from living microbes. Water does not have to be boiled for 10 minutes. A WAPI is a simple, small and low cost tube with a special soy wax that can show that water has reached a safe Pasteurization temperature. These are available from (By the way, they also several nice solar oven designs.)

Solar ovens and Solar Showers - For cooking, water Pasteurization, and hot water for hygiene needs. There is also a "solar puddle" design available on the Internet for large scale water Pasteurization.

Oven and Meat Thermometers - Prevents waste of fuel [and nutritive value] by cooking foods to higher temperatures than necessary.

Pot Cozys - These are insulated wraps for cooking pots. You heat the pot and contents to a desired temperature and then set the pot off to the side, wrapped in a pot cozy. Thus insulated, the food continues to cook until done. [JWR Adds: For more on this topic, see KBF's article in SurvivalBlog on Thermos cooking.]

Reflective Wind Shields - When used for cooking on a stove indoors or outdoors, these will shorten the time [and hence reduce fuel use] required to reach the desired temperature. - Doc Anonymous

Good Morning, Jim,
And yes it is a good morning at that. I'm here in the suburbs of Ohio between Dayton and Cincinnati. Our power has returned. I read Larry in Cincinnati's post this morning, and I know his thoughts and feelings all too well. Like him, we had the preparedness mind set already in place, and fared a bit better than some of our neighbors. I only caught the tail end of your interview on AM 700 WLW in Cincinnati in my truck as I was heading to work ( the company I work for is on a different power grid and was up and running) Monday, and I could not help but think of some of the posts since I have been coming to SurvivalBlog, and some of the things that you have discussed on the site.

Like Larry, I hope this will be a wake up call to folks, but sadly, I know that only a small portion of them will get it. One of the things that I found to be spot on, was the part about the things that were stripped from the shelves of the few stores that were open. I did not see them first hand, but a few of my neighbors had gone to them, and they were an exact carbon copy of the list. One even told of folks heading to the toy department, to snap up all the Hannah Montana kids' flashlights. Yep, batteries, camping stoves, lanterns, canned goods, candles, etc; Like I said, the list was so dead on it gave me a shiver. As I stated earlier, we were a bit better prepared, so we had no need of anything to get us through this minor inconvenience left over by the storm.

Folks down in Texas are going to be without power, water, food, and other needed supplies in some areas for many weeks to come, so our prayers go out to them more than the folks down the block who lost a small bit of food in their refrigerator because the power has been off for a little less than 48 hours. There was some talk of the possibility that it could have been out for a whole week, and this would have been a pretty bad thing for sure, but the thing that I voiced the most concern to my neighbors about, and the one that none of them had thought of was, that if it did take that long, there was a good possibility that the water tower that sits on the hill above our house would run dry, and without power to run the pumps to refill the tank. But, we were okay here, because we had filled half of our five gallon water cooler jugs a few days before this happened, and I had gone to the grocery on Friday, and had bought a case of 20 oz. bottles for my son to take in his school lunches. Cooking was not a problem, we have a charcoal grill,and I have a Coleman white gas fuel stove and a good supply of fuel for emergencies such as this. Plenty of flashlights, a battery powered lantern, spare batteries, oil lamps and oil, and candles with good sturdy candle holders for light, and a couple very good multi-band radios, and plenty of batteries for them as well.

I hope that others here in our tri-state area that were affected by this will see the need to prepare for things like this. I know that a few of my neighbors will be a bit better prepared for things by talking to me, and seeing how we were set up at my house for this. Now this is not to say that I was totally prepared. I saw a few "flaws in the slaw ", but preparing for these types of things is a constant and on-going process, and we do the best we can with the hand we have been dealt. The rest, we can adapt if we put our minds to the problems and keep a cool head. - Dim Tim

If you feel like you've waited too long to Get Out of Dodge, and you need to buy a complete, turn-key retreat, then listen to this: I've personally visited a northern Idaho retreat that just went on the market, through our spin-off site: This retreat has some very special features (most of which I've seen) that will be revealed only to qualified buyers.

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Eric sent us this: Japan Stocks Dive to 3-Year Low on Lehman, AIG Capital Concern. "[The] Nikkei closed early as the volume was approaching their load limits..."

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A bunch more more economic gloomage gleaned by Cheryl, our Economic Editor: How the [Financial] Masters of the Universe Ran Amok and Cost Us the Earth--Card Debt Up 8.5%; Delinquencies Rise--HP To Cut 24,600 Jobs in EDS Integration--No Jobs Make Mean Streets--More Financial Turmoil to Come--The Social Imperative of Sound Money--The Final Destruction of the Middle Class--The Danger Is Not Fully Appreciated (US Under Financial Attack?)--Stocks End Higher After Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged--Barclays Agrees To Acquire Lehman Assets--Money as Debt--Money-Market Rates Double Amid Global Credit Seizure--Report on AIG Rescue Boosts Wall Street--AIG Shares Swing Amid Crisis--Goldman Sachs Down 70% in 3Q--Fed to give AIG $85 billion loan and take 80% stake--and, Is the US in Recession? (You think?)

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And for a little levity on the ever-encroaching Nanny State: City uses DNA to fight dog poop

"Lehman Brothers Holdings has gone bankrupt. Here is a firm that was founded in 1850. It survived the Civil War and the Great Depression. It did not survive the current breakdown. Anyone who thinks this crisis is some minor affair is not paying attention." - Dr. Gary North

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Warning: Today's blog posts will exceed the Recommended Daily Allowance of Gloom and Doom.

Congrats to Tom H., the high bidder in our recent SurvivalBlog benefit auction. Today we begin a new auction, for a mixed lot that includes:

Special Mixed Vegetable Case-Six #10 Dehydrated Food Cans (Retail Price $105.95) This special Mixed Vegetable Case contains six #10 (96-ounce) cans--one can of each of the following: Mixed Vegetable Blend, Green Beans, Sweet Garden Peas, Mixed Peppers, Potato Dices, and Sweet Potatoes and a EZ-Towels 10 Pack Combo (10 bags of 50 towels. Retail value: $99.95). These items were donated by Jan at Healthy Harvest Foods.

An assortment of world class loose leaf teas, and a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), with a combined value of approximately $100. These items were courtesy of Charlie at

A Katadyn VARIO water filter, donated by Ready Made Resources. (An $89 retail value.)

The auction ends on October 15, 2008. The opening bid is just $50. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments.

Today, we present a guest article by Michael Pento, Senior Market Strategist with Delta Global Advisors. With more than 16 years of industry experience, Michael Pento acts as senior market strategist for Delta Global Advisors and is a contributing writer for He is a well-established specialist in the Austrian School of economic theory and a regular guest on CNBC and other national media outlets. Mr. Pento has worked on the floor of the NYSE as well as serving as vice president of investments for GunnAllen Financial immediately prior to joining Delta Global.

But first, here is my commentary on the recent "tectonic shifts" on Wall Street:

The recent news headlines about the investment banking crisis have answered the question that I often get from readers: "Why do you spend so much time talking about economics?" In my estimation, an economic crisis is the most likely trigger for a societal collapse, in the short term. The Lehman Brothers debacle is just a microcosmic preview of the global credit collapse. It is also a good illustration of the derivatives risk that I've been warning about for many years. How many times do I have to say this? The entire credit system is broken and it will be a full decade or more before the markets recover. In the interim, we will witness some horrendous turmoil and some potentially huge losses with derivatives, hedge funds, equities and equities aggregations (mutual funds, 401(k)s, and IRAs), banks, credit unions, municipal bonds, insurers, real estate, pension funds, and much more. With shares of the once iron-clad Lehman Brothers now selling at 21 cents each, (down 94%) it is clear that we are undoubtedly entering uncharted waters. The company had a market capitalization of $47 billion last year. But when I last looked, it's cap was down to a miniscule $144.6 million. Somebody needs to call Richard Fuld and tell him that it is time to cue up the R.E.M. music.

For some details on this recent economic chaos, see the many links in today's SurvivalBlog Odds 'n Sods section (below.)

Wall Street is in utter disarray. This past weekend was as painfully traumatic as October, 1929. In today's economic environment, nobody can accurately predict what will happen. So anyone that claims to be able to accurately predict market moves in this environment is a liar. All that I can safely suggest is that you get out of US dollar-denominated investments and do your best to make substantive preparations for your family. If you have been dawdling in getting storage food, then get on the phone with a reputable dealer, pronto. (There are several trustworthy storage food firms that advertise on SurvivalBlog. I would appreciate it if you would reward them for their loyal support of SurvivalBlog by giving them your business first. And, BTW, please mention SurvivalBlog, when you do.

Why did I make reference to the song "It's The End of the World As We Know It"? Because of the second key line in the lyrics: "And I feel fine." Most of SurvivalBlog's readers are in a tiny minority of the populous. We are the people that woke up this morning, read the newspaper headlines, and yet we felt fine. We have minimal exposure to stocks and the banking system, and we have our Schumer together. We have our Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids squared away, and even some extra to dispense as charity. Pardon me for feeling smug, but, A.) I told you so, and B.) We are ready. I pray that your family is ready, too.

Unfortunately, we Americans now realize that the decision by Ben Bernanke to slash the Fed Funds rate to 2% (a three hundred twenty five basis point reduction) was just the opening act in this Republican administration's socialism play. At the time some wondered why the government didn't just allow home prices fall to historical averages rather than seeking to lower the value of the U.S. dollar and send inflation to a 17-year high. Now we have learned just this past weekend that the Department of the Treasury has come up with a plan for conservatorship of the GSEs, enacting the largest bailout in the history of the United States.

What does the conservatorship plan mean? It means the government will take over the GSEs for the purpose of continuing their operation rather than putting them into receivership, which would seek to sell off their assets and shut down future business. In contrast, the Paulson plan will actually increase the holdings of FNM ["Fannie Mae"] and FRE ["Freddie Mac"] by $144 billion. The total of mortgage backed securities held by the GSEs will be allowed to increase to $850 billion each by December 2009.

My Libertarian heart sank when I witnessed Republicans and Democrats slap each other on the back as they congratulated themselves from saving us from the natural workings of the free market. The Republicans reek of hypocrisy, claiming the bailout of FNM and FRE was necessary for the health of the real estate market and the economy. I guess government intervention in the free market is only mandatory if you're a bank, insurance company, foreign government or a pension fund that owns GSE debt.

It was especially telling when Hank Paulson's was asked in a CNBC interview how much his bailout plan will cost taxpayers. He responded that he "did not use a calculator" when putting together this scheme. The essence of his response was that he did not care what the bill to taxpayers would be, his main concern was to recapitalize banks and stop home prices from falling.

The big problem with this plan is that the government does not have a plausible exit strategy. After Treasury has taken the companies into conservatorship and then expands their operations, it will not be easy to reduce the size of the GSEs. Their intention is to wind down the agencies balance sheets beginning in 2010 at a rate of 10% per annum until they reach just $250 billion each. So let me get this straight, after the real estate market has become more reliant on FNM and FRE to securitize the mortgage market, we will then be able to allow market forces to take hold? That view becomes especially dubious in light of the fact that we will have a new administration in charge when this scale-down is supposed to be taking place.

Just as the U.S. has become addicted to artificially low interest rates--unable to raise them without seriously hurting the economy-- we now have most likely permanently socialized a good portion of the real estate market and the economy. Does the administration really believe that it is better to debase our currency and greatly expand the obligations of our government rather than letting home prices fall to a level that can be supported by the market? This move has long-term ramifications on the dollar and the national debt. Thanks to a stimulus package and reckless spending from the administration, annual deficits are already skyrocketing to nearly $500 billion. Now with the Paulson bailout plan, debt could increase even faster. This may torpedo the recent move higher in the dollar and makes its long-term picture even more bearish.

Perhaps it will first fall even further in coming weeks, but the need to own honest money (gold) never been more apparent. - Michael Pento, Senior Market Strategist, Delta Global Advisors

JWR Adds: Be sure to check out Michael's podcast, The Mid-Week Reality Check.

Hi James!
I heard you this morning on WLW [in Cincinnati, Ohio] radio when you did your quick interview. Nice job.

It is amazing here in Cincinnati the level of chaos that exists. The power is still out to over half a million people. My power just came back on about 10 minutes ago, but I'm waiting until it stabilizes before shutting down my emergency power system.

We had quite a mess with lots of downed trees and power lines, but overall it wasn't as bad as Houston - thank God! There has been quite a run on gasoline, and a bit of gouging here. About 50% of the grocery stores are down without power. [The] Krogers [grocery store chain in the region] has over 50% of their stores closed and are predicting quite a loss in frozen/fresh foods at those locations.

I've been well prepared for quite a while, so no long gas lines for me, plenty to eat, power and we've enjoyed a couple of days Internet free, which I might add hasn't really been that bad! Maybe this will be a wake up call to more people locally to get prepared. One can only hope. God bless you and yours! - Larry in Cincinnati, Ohio

Mr. Rawles,
I worked for Loomis/Fargo as an armed security technician. That means I was a member of an armored car crew. We serviced nearly the whole quarter of a certain state [un-named--not my current state of residence]. This included a major US Air Force base.

Once a week we made runs to the area banks to deliver cash. Usually our load [included] 1 to 2 tons of coins.
Cold cash totals were in the 1 to 3 million area each week and sometimes up to 5M seasonally.

Very often we would arrive at a bank and the tellers would say to us, "thank God" you are here! We are down to the last $1,500 or $3,000 in cash. Very frequently the banks on the days of our runs were nearly out of [Federal Reserve Note] bills to service customers.

Just in Time (JIT) inventory systems for WalMart and big box stores are well known. Less known are the JIT deliveries of cash to banks.

The bottom line is that they will run out of cash in a flash if events happen that put people into a panic mode. The Loomis/Fargo company runs regional [statewide] mini Federal Reserve depositories of coins and cash. I have seen bundles of cash in one that would require a U-haul truck to handle.

So, if elements of chaos spread across an area and the natives get to taking charge, then what do you think Loomis/Fargo is going to do about their armored truck runs? Yes, they will cancel them in a hurry.

Fact: Banks do not keep much cash on hand. Projection: The banks will run out of cash in a crisis, so get your cash stash established now.

Personally, I think that if paper money tanks because so much of it is in existence or on a ledger/computer; that eventually coins will have an enhanced value. The government is not mass producing new coins. So include in your stash a substantial amount of quarters and half-dollars.

Potentially, how much money can you put into an automated teller machine (ATM)?: I have put $250,000 a week into an ATM in a large mall in the state where I worked.

On another note: Gas here in western Oklahoma yesterday was still $3.69 in my town and $3.47 on I-40 and Saturday in Oklahoma City it was $3.439. - J. in Oklahoma

From Naish Piazza's blog: I Love This Little Girl… and So Will You. OBTW, speaking of Front Sight, don't miss out on their "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer. This offer will probably end soon, so don't hesitate any longer!

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Our hard working Economic Editor Cheryl N. sent us an enormous batch of news and commentary. Note, BTW, how many of these highlight the derivatives market: Meltdown Shakes Up Wall Street Workers--Wall Street Crisis Could Put Fed Rate Cut Into Play--Stocks Tumble Amid New Wall Street Landscape--Obama, McCain Blame Economic Woes on Greed, Policy--Greenspan: US In "Once-In-A-Century" Financial Crisis--Tectonic Shift As Lehmans Fails and Merrill Sold--AIG Allowed To Borrow Money From Subsidiaries (Portfolio Plummets)--Black Monday: FTSE Plunges 212 Points As Global Markets Tumble After Lehman Collapse/BofE Injects 5 billion pounds into money markets--Frantic Day On Wall Street As Banks Fall--Wilbur Ross: Possibly 1,000 Banks Will Fail In Coming Months--Dangerous "Lehmers"--The Rise and Fall of Lehman Bros--Doomed Lehmans Now Bros. Grimm--Derivatives Market Traded On Sunday To Cut Lehman Risks--Silences Say It All--Implications of a 10-Day Refinery Outage--Stocks Plunge 500 Points; $700 billion in Wealth Erased--AIG Workers On Edge At Once-Safe Company--Is This The Death Knell Of Derivatives?--UK Bank Customers Urged Not To Panic--The Death of Wall Street, Part 1--Stocks Get Pummeled--Bush: Markets Are Resilient and Flexible (bwahahahahaha!)--Pimco, Vanguard Are Biggest Lehman Bond Fund Losers--AIG's Reported Sales Likely To Draw Many Bidders--Fed Injects $70 billion in Banking System--Americans Should Worry About Bank Deposits--Lehmans Is Dead: Where's The Crime Scene Tape?--The Other Gulf Surge Tide--Deleveraging Not Deflation Resulting in Commodities Temporary Violent Correction--Lehman's Bankruptcy: The Ultimate Wall Street Derivatives Defaults Nightmare (this one is a must read!)--AIG, Lehman Shock Hits World Markets--AIG Seeks HUGE Loans As Stocks Dive 61%--and, last but not least (and as partial confirmation of what I predicted): Merrill Bailout Disguised As Buyout.

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Justin B in Phoenix recommended reading a post over at the Tom Bowers Subguns Forum: My Houston Hurricane Story or “How BCR’s Roll" (This post actually dates back to Hurricane Rita, but it is a useful illustration of the value of well-orchestrated family preparedness.)

"In financial crises, your actual capital adequacy and liquidity does not matter. Both Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns — and Lehman particularly — were felt to be adequately capitalized only days before their fall. But once people thought that the end was near, the trading stopped, liquidity dried up, and the capital fled." - Steven M. Davidoff

Monday, September 15, 2008

I was saddened to hear that Chuck Karwan passed away last week, following open heart surgery. He was an exemplary American, a USMA West Point graduate (1969) that served in Vietnam and elsewhere (1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and the 5th and 10th Special Forces Groups), and was a noted writer on knives and military firearms. He will be missed, especially by his friends in Oregon.

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends tonight (Monday, September 15th) at midnight, eastern time. The high bid is now at $580. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). Please e-mail us your bid, ASAP.

Here are some random thoughts that I'd like to share on water conservation, for when the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF):

Latex or nitrile gloves - Minimizes the use of water for cleaning up after a dirty chore. The nitrile gloves sold by Costco seem to be the strongest and do not oxidize like latex. [JWR Adds: The cost of nitrile gloves bought in bulk is so low, that they are well worth using. They are particularly important to use when handling dyes, paint, strong acids (such as during battery maintenance), strong bases (such as when making soap or when putting lime in an outhouse pit or a carcass pit), pesticides, herbicides, fuel (filling kerosene lamps or transferring gas to or from cans), or motor oil. (Used crank case oil is of particular concern, since it has been identified as a carcinogen.)

Reynold's Oven Bags - Use inside a cooking pot to minimize clean-up. They can also be used outside a solar cooking to to retain moisture and heat. These shorten the cooking time for both solar and conventional ovens. hey are strong and thin. They can also serve as an impromptu canteen. (Put a couple of them in each outdoor survival kit.)

A small rubber primer bulb for out bard motors - Use as a foot pump for tubing from a water source to a water basin.This provides controlled"one person" water delivery. I use vinyl tubing connected to piece of 1/4" diameter copper tubing that was bent nearly 90 degrees for the "faucet." This uses just a small fraction of the water that is normally expended with a traditionally-plumbed sink.

Funnels. - Buy several of these of various shapes and sizes, to reduce spills.

Garden pressure sprayer - Buy a new, clean one (not contaminated with chemicals) to rinse kitchenware. BTW, we found that they had too fine a spray for use as a bathing shower.

Clothes wringer - Efficiently wrings gray water out for wet clothes. This water can be re-used for toilet flushing.

Basins - Use plastic basins to wash and rinse dishes or to hand-wash small batches of laundry .This again saves gray water for re-use.

Whitewater Rafting Dry Bags - Can be used to prevent items from getting wet, or can be used as a "clothes washer." Add hot water and powdered laundry detergent and agitate.
- Doc Anonymous

Howdy, I haven't been able to write or e-mail much these last few months as I have just moved from Detroit, Michigan, to Montana. Having just completed this relocation, and unfortunately not having been able to complete my prep for the move as well as I would have liked, I was wondering if you had any info on banks here? I am living about 70 miles west of Missoula, Montana.
Thanks in advance. - Warhawke

JWR Replies: Well, congratulations on your move and cue the Merle Haggard music!

I don't know much specifically about the state-chartered banks up in Montana. The good news is that Montana was not a housing bubble mania state like California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida, so most Montana banks should still be safe. (Anyone living in the housing bubble states should be quite concerned about bank failures.) But, regardless, I strongly recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers in the US follow the link to Weiss Research, in this recent SurvivalBlog article. They can give you an honest appraisal of the relative safety of most banks.

Dear Sir,
It was James Howard Kunstler who alerted me to the problems that has caught so many other people unawares in early 2002. Alas, although we're light years ahead of our fellow citizens in terms of preparedness, we're many parsecs behind the majority of your readers! We do have about six months of food on hand (which keeps growing each day), plus containers for water storage and filters for water purification. We have some basic medical supplies. Our "battery" has been augmented including the storage of several hundreds (although not thousands yet) of rounds of ammunition. Soon, I'll have a basic reloading set up. I've been buying whatever high-quality tools I can find, whether it's a 1930s #8 Stanley plane or a King of Spades shovel. Our organic garden is growing each year. We're not squeamish so we'll probably be gray-watering and humanuring as soon as it is feasible. My wife is a green thumb and is becoming an expert on foraging: she knows every edible plant/mushroom in Kansas!

So all hope isn't lost but there is so much to be done. Which brings me to my point: thanks ever so much for this incredible resource!
But I have one question: knowing the little that you do about us (family of four, in rural Kansas, slightly-prepared but not much) what would you recommend as being our first priority? What products/skills should I spend the next year focusing upon? Thanks again, - SF, DDS, in Kansas

JWR Replies: My recommendation, particularly for anyone living in the Plains States and most of the western US is that water should be your top priority, including roof downspout rain barrel conversions, and locating any nearby creeks or reservoirs where you can collect water, and the means to transport and treat it, even if you are ling "Grid Down" and don't have gasoline available to operate motor vehicles for hauling water..

In the next year, take advantage of as much free and low cost training as your schedule permits. (Red Cross, WRSA, et cetera.) Next, move on to more sophisticated training, as your budget permits. (Medical Corps, Front Sight, OnPoint Tactical, et cetera.)

Since you are a dentist, you might think in terms of operating a minimalist general dentistry and dental surgery practice without grid power. Stock up on expendable supplies. Search for old-fashioned/alternative equipment. Buy a full-up photovoltaic power system if you can afford it. You might even be able to find a foot-powered dental drill. These are now considered museum pieces, except in the Third World, where they are still in limited use.

As I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I have some very strong reservations about the humanure approach. To be done safely, it takes very close temperature monitoring, and that might prove difficult in a grid-down post-collapse environment. I also consider it unfeasible for handing waste at a remote retreat that is only occupied for part of each year. (Ideally, it would best done at a rural farm or ranch that has at least five residents that are living there year-round.) In my opinion the risks far outweigh the rewards for most of us.

Craig R. Smith of Swiss America asks: Will government bailouts spell end of dollar? (A hat tip to Jack in Texas for the link)

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TheOtherRyan over at TSLRF (one of the eight-or-so blogs that I read frequently) posted a succinct and commonsense list: 10 commandments for buying gold and silver

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One of my "Secret Squirrel" contributors mentioned that because the price of 128 MB and 256 MB USB memory sticks (aka "jump drives" or "USB thumb drives") has dropped to less than $2 each, readers that want to contribute any articles or lengthy letters to SurvivalBlog can now do so more anonymously, by simply snail mailing them in MS-Word format or RTF loaded on a "stick". Just tape them onto folded a piece of stiff cardboard and use a standard size envelope. This way there will be no e-mail trail. It will also save me many hours of laboriously keying-in hard copy articles, and eliminate the risk of transcription errors. My only special request is that because of software compatibility issues, please be sure to send multiple copies of the files on the stick in various formats, including plain text ("TXT"), Rich Text Format (".RTF"), and Microsoft Word (".MSW"). Once I've copied and then deleted the files, I will pass those sticks along to soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. (I'll pack them in my regular Any Soldier program gift boxes.) Our current mail forwarding address is: Jim Rawles, P.O. Box 303, Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845. Thanks!

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Eric mentioned this piece in The Toronto Sun: Head for the hills--U.S. economy collapsing under debt

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Cheryl N. (SurvivalBlog's Economic Editor) sent us some more news and commentary that she gleaned from her web research: Gov't, Wall Street Race To Save Lehmans--Bailout for Lehman Not Likely--Warning: 30 Airlines Will Go Bust This Year--August Foreclosures: Another Record High--US Housing Bear Market Nowhere Near Bottom--Lehman Brothers teeters on verge of collapse as Barclays pulls out

"...we have yet to see a genuine effort by our national security leaders to engage the public to frankly and openly inform them on where we face major threats, how best the community should better protect itself and improve risk reduction measures. In fact the reverse is true: a range of government reports relating to Australia's ability to respond to large-scale emergencies have been embargoed on the grounds that to share that information with the public would only serve to frighten people." - Australian Strategic Policy Institute Strategic Insights Newsletter # 39 - Taking a punch: Building a more resilient Australia

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our prayers go out for the citizens of Texas. Hurricane Ike made landfall with quite a wallop. More than four million people are expected to be without utility power for days or perhaps weeks. Thankfully, it has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but as of this writing it is still doing damage as it makes its way through Texas.

It is gratifying to see how much the SurvivalBlog readership has grown, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, and Indonesia. Welcome aboard! BTW, we are actively looking for correspondent in Australia and Indonesia, to keep us up to date on political, economic, and social issues related to preparedness. Like our other correspondents, you'd only be in it for the glory, plus the occasional free book or sample product.

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends tomorrow night at midnight, eastern time. The high bid is now at $570. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). Please e-mail us your bid soon.

I agree completely with your comment that [photovoltaic] solar systems should not be grid-tied to run the meter backward [to isolate the photovoltaic system from potentially devastating coupled electromagnetic pulse (EMP).]

When the grid is available to home or retreat, I believe it is worth connecting. It is the easiest way to deal with barns, 220 volt tools and wells, but some thought to solar wiring can go a long way. Many custom homes and retreats were built with home-run wiring before the price of wire jumped so high. A number of these homes and retreats can be solar-controlled simply by DPDT switching circuit wiring at the fuse box.

Think of two modes – solar when the grid is up and solar when the grid is down. The thing many people have not thought through is how to utilize their solar power when the grid is up and they make the lazy choice to grid-tie to realize the value from their solar system. Grid-up, I run a server and a large desktop computer from solar. Grid-down, I only run my laptop and have to control my well (dual 110 volt inverters) versus my refrigerator and chest freezer so they do not run at the same time. Grid-up, all my barns, refrigeration and 220 VAC is on the grid and most other 110 VAC is off-grid. When I leave the property, the grid tie is broken (I don’t need the well then.) and all phantom loads, lighting and refrigeration are solar run.

All my computers are hooked to my computer network by wireless cards. My television is wireless as well. This was very difficult to do because I have Charter [Communications, Inc.] high-definition cable [television service.] It took a broad-band wireless repeater between the converter box and the television. My solar system utilizes all available solar power and protects me fairly well from EMP. My home/retreat has well-insulated metal siding and metal roof for some added fire and EMP protection. - SAR

I came across this web site and thought I'd send you the link to a page at Make Your Own Gear! I can't even sew my shirt buttons back on, but maybe it would be of use to other readers. [JWR Adds: Don't miss the individual plans in the left hand bar.]

By the way, I gave your novel a good review on Most everybody did. But I included a motivational quote in it that really means a lot to me. I heard it from an Amway tape many years ago:
"I will do today what others will not do, so I can do tomorrow what others cannot do". I think it really speaks the survival mindset.

Have a great day, - Rod McG.

SurvivalBlog reader "Cyberiot" mentioned that readers with concerns about pandemic flu may be interested in a new and growing online storybook sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Pandemic Influenza Storybook: Personal Recollections from Survivors, Families, and Friends" includes first-person accounts of the 1918 and 1957 flu pandemics. Readers are encouraged to contribute their own recollections. Speaking of flu pandemics, earlier this year, New Scientist magazine published a detailed analysis of how a 1918-scale influenza pandemic would affect the US economy.

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I've heard from a reader that he plans to attend the ASPO Peak Oil Conference in Sacramento, California, later this month. When you attend events like these, please wear a SurvivalBlog t-shirt or hat, or carry one of our tote bags or messenger bags. You may be surprised who you bump into! (And we need all the publicity we can get.)

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Range Rat sent us this article: Survey finds holes in US disaster preparedness. Range Rat's comment: I think they are trying to go against basic human nature trying to get parents to evacuate without their children. No wonder 63% won't go along with the plan. I'm shocked that 37% said that they would!

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Our Economic Editor sent us another raft of news and commentary: The Feds Are Running Scared, Feds Considering Bringing Fannie, Freddie On To Budget, "Let Them Eat Cake", Pareto's Bazooka, Calling US Bonds Home, Deployed to the Dole Line (The Mogambo Guru), Stop the Bailout, Bailouts Will Push US Into Depression, WaMu Downgraded to D+, and BofA Says Losses Have Shifted to Commercial Loans.

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John Embry comments on the coming bounce in precious metals prices: When gold is gone, market will go nuts. I concur that the price of gold is currently undervalued. It is a good time to buy physical gold! (Buying junior gold mining shares is much more risky, but the potential profits are larger.)

"He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" - Matthew 16:2-3

Note from JWR:

I was saddened to hear that Chuck Karwan passed away last week, following open heart surgery. He was an exemplary American, a USMA West Point graduate (1969) that served in Vietnam and elsewhere (1st Calvary Division (Airmobile), 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and the 5th and 10th Special Forces Groups), and was a noted writer on knives and military firearms. He will be missed, especially by his friends in Oregon.

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends tonight (September 15th) at midnight, eastern time. The high bid is now at $580. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). Please e-mail us your bid, ASAP.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A SurvivalBlog reader in northwestern Alabama wrote me to mention that he witnessed the local price of gasoline jump $.70 per gallon overnight (to $5.35 per gallon.) This presumably, was in anticipation of a disruption in supply because of Hurricane Ike. It bears mentioning that many SurvivalBlog readers wisely have at-home underground gas and diesel tanks. Among other benefits, these allows them to ride out the ravages of occasional price spikes like this one, in which even wholesale gasoline jumped to over $5 per gallon! It is starting to look pretty C.C.R.-ish out there. (As the song goes: "Hope you have got your things together." and "Looks like we're in for nasty weather.")

You probably saw yesterday's headline in The Wall Street Journal: Lehman Races to Find a Buyer. Well, well. The once mighty Lehman Brothers Holdings firm had a market capitalization of $47 Billion last year. But when I last looked, it was down to a paltry $2.58 billion. The company is now definitely on the ropes. It is likely that the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) is going to grow even larger. There will probably be an announcement made this weekend of a "private" takeover of Lehman--possibly including an overseas "white knight"--but down in the fine print we will learn that the deal will all be guaranteed (directly or more likely indirectly) with funds from either the Federal Reserve or the U.S. Treasury. (For now, Federal officials assert that they are merely "helping" to arrange a private sale.) Does this sound reminiscent of the Goldman Sachs bailout, around this time last year? Methinks they'll use the same mechanism.

Stepping back a bit, it is apparent that the Lehman Brothers debacle is merely symptomatic of a global credit market that is badly broken. Liquidity has dried up more than at any time in living memory, and companies are desperate for working capital. The Lehman failure will not be the last collapse of an investment bank, nor the largest. In my estimation, the liquidity collapse will continue, taking down some of the titans of Wall Street, in the process. As assets collapse in value, creditworthiness shrinks, and margin calls are made, in a widening death spiral. I believe that it is very likely that in the months to come, you will hear of huge derivatives failures, with vanishing counterparties leaving the other half of the "perfectly balanced risk sharing" model twisting in the breeze. There will be huge hedge funds that go belly-up, leaving their investors with little or nothing. First will come word of hedge fund redemption suspensions, followed by news of fund collapses, followed by news of pennies on the dollar settlements, or perhaps no pay-outs whatsoever. Keep in mind that these funds are not FDIC insured, so hedge fund investors could lose everything.

Watching this slow-moving avalanche will be agonizing, and last for years. As I've written before, it will be impossible to predict when it will end, because nobody can gauge where the "bottom" is, as entire asset classes lose more and more value. Up until now, most of the media attention has been focused on residential real estate. But for more than a year, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop: commercial real estate. As the recession continues and companies tighten their belts and begin laying off employees in earnest, a drop in commercial real estate is inevitable. Next we'll hear of stock market declines, and perhaps a full scale collapse of share prices. Then will come municipal bond failures, and both private and public pension fund failures.

Depending on how long the downward cycle continues, this could make the Great Depression of the 1930s seem mild, by comparison.

Be ready. Be prepared to lose your job. Now might be the time to think in terms of secondary streams of income. Build up a home-based business so that you will be able to meet your basic needs and pay your property taxes. If you haven't done so already, then get out of debt. Free up as much cash as possible by selling your collectibles, your vacation property, and your "Big Boy Toys". (What is more important: to you? Your neighbors admiring a fancy Jet Ski in your carport, or feeding your family?) Sell your sports car, and buy a beat-up ut mechanically sound Saturn or Toyota Corolla. Cash out of most of your US dollar-denominated investments. After paying down your debts, put the cash that is generated into a one year storage food supply and some practical, liquid tangibles. It is essential that you do not hesitate. If you wait another few months, the prices of "fru-fru" collectibles will plummet. Sell them now, while they are still worth something. Prepare and stand ready to provide for your family, regardless of what happens beyond your control. It is your responsibility to prepare.

The Memsahib Adds: In the context of all this talk of gloom and doom, I must add that it is important to maintain balance, perspective, and a positive Christ-centered outlook. Take time daily to enjoy the blessings of your family and friends. Don't obsess on the darker aspect of the "what if?" future to the point that you stop enjoying life and make those around you miserable. Husbands in particular, take note: Prepare so that you can provide for your families, but don't forget to enjoy the blessings that we enjoy in the present day. Keep in mind Ecclesiastes 9:7-9:
"Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.
Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head.
Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun."

Dear Mr. Editor:

Just a quick note to tell you how people that read your blog are preparing for Ike. Thanks for all the great information.

I live near Houston in the suburbs, about 60 miles north of Galveston. Most of the stores are open and have plenty of water, drinks, bread, tuna and other canned foods. The stores have done a much better job this time of keeping needed items in stock than they did when Katrina was headed this way a couple years ago. The gas is going fast, and many stations are closed. I filled both my vehicles Thursday morning in preparation for the storm, even though I am not leaving. I expect a lot of rain and wind, but little rising water this far inland. Thanks to you, I am prepared. I have all my bottled water, food, flashlights, batteries, generator, extra fuel, tools and tarps, first aid kit, my bug out bag and firearms ready. We have copies of all our important papers and photo’s on DVD, along with extra cash and computer backup’s in the gun safe. We have secured our home as best we can and picked up anything outside that could be blown by the wind. I understand from other people that if someone wants your generator they just come and take it even at gun point. That will not happen here. I am a Life member of the NRA if that tells you something. Thanks again. Best Regards, - A Loyal Reader in Texas

Here's a link to the September 2008 National Geographic cover story about the world's fragile soils and their diminishing capacity to feed 6.5 billion+ people as well as cautionary examples of places where the soils can no longer support the existing population due to poor stewardship in the past.

Pages 92-93 of the hardcopy edition have a great fold out map showing soil fertility areas around the world -- a good retreats and relocation general shopping reference (although certainly not detailed enough for researching specific properties). My Best, - Lee in Hurricane Alley

I would like to sign up to get your blogs [via e-mail]; but I can't see where I do that; Could you please help me. Thanks, - Dianne M.

JWR Replies: For the privacy of my readers, I don't have a digest of my blog that is e-mailed. (I don't like to keep lists. I don't even keep records of anyone that makes a voluntary subscription donation.) Just direct your web browser whenever you'd like to read SurvivalBlog. It is updated daily (and I haven't missed a day since the blog was started three years ago), so you might want to make it your browser's "home" page, so that you'll be able to read all of the useful articles, letters, and quotes.

U.K. state memo warns of "anarchy" in the city streets. (Thanks to Florida Guy for the link.)

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Yishai flagged this for us, from The Morning Brief: "This could be the mother of year-ends," Brian Sack, of Macroeconomic Advisers and a former Federal Reserve chief market analyst, tells Bloomberg, which says the Fed may have to increase the cash it provides to banks and brokers beyond already-record levels to help them balance their books at the end of the year in the wake of six bank failures in the past two months and rising concern about Lehman's capital levels. Lenders' borrowing costs may climb further as companies rush for cash to settle trades and buttress their balance sheets at year-end, Bloomberg says. Meanwhile,

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Reader John S. mentioned that Interordnance currently has a couple of bargains for folks that like to stock up on barter items in quantity: HK G3 (HK91) alloy magazines for $1 each if you buy 1,000 or more, and crates of 20 re-arsenalized Mosin Nagant 91/30 bolt action 7.62x54r rifles for $1,100 per crate. John notes: "This might be a good deal for a group that wanted to have extra inexpensive bolt action rifles on hand to pass out to others for defense purposes." An FFL is required for ordering the rifles. BTW, anyone looking for pre-1899 bolt actions that do not require an FFL should contact The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our loyal advertisers) or Empire Arms.

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Eric spotted this one from MarketWatch: Reports More Than 100,000 Homeowners Lost Homes in August; One Million Foreclosures Expected in 2008

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Thanks to EMBW for the link to a Popular Mechanics article on hidden spaces.

'What's good for the goose is good for the gander.' So, if government financial 'favors' are granted to reckless investment firms (Bear Stearns) and now mortgage borrowers, what about other economically vital 'multiplier' industries like: automakers, airlines, credit card and insurance companies and even corporate real estate lenders? The logical conclusion for this current drift is hyperinflation. In order to make good on its promises the Federal Government will have to resort to the printing press...with a vengeance. - John Browne

Friday, September 12, 2008

I have some proverbial "good news and bad news" about the upcoming re-publishing of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". First the bad news: Because the publisher's schedule is packed, the book won't be available for ordering until March of 2009. The good news: It will probably include both a glossary and an index! Both are quite unusual for a novel, but if J.R.R. Tolkien's publisher could do it, then so can mine. Perhaps I need to put a map in the frontispiece, with The Rocky Mountains in the place of The Misty Mountains.;-). More details will follow, as the book gets closer to publication.

Today we present another entry for Round 18 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article in the next 60 days will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 18 ends on September 30th, 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.

“Oil is the world’s most critical resource”, and “without it, nothing works in an industrialized civilization as currently configured”1.“The issue is not whether DoD will be able to obtain the oil it needs to provide for our national defense, because it will”, but “trends in global supply and consumption patterns” serve to further “complicate…the challenge of providing fuel to DoD’s far-flung operations as well as affecting the price DoD must pay for fuel”2.

“Historically, no other energy source equals oil’s intrinsic qualities of extractability, transportability, versatility, and cost”3. The qualities that enabled oil to take over from coal as the front-line energy source for the industrialized world in the middle of the 20th century are as relevant today as they were then”4. Accordingly, and despite the best efforts of countless scientists in virtually all developed economies, “there is no (currently) viable substitute for petroleum”5. Oil is the very substance that provides not only for the global economy, but also for the continued American dominance on the world’s geopolitical stage. American power projection, both in terms of a diplomatic goal, but also military enforcement is totally reliant on petroleum and oil products. America’s relatively remote location to the global hot-spots of the Middle East and Eurasia is bridged by its navy and air forces – propelled by oil. Sustained land operations can not be currently fueled by any other means. Oil – or the dependence on it as the primary means of supplying energy – is becoming the key determinant for current and future national security policy. Accordingly, unless the United States fully recognizes this dependence, understands the threat to the American supply of oil from foreign suppliers and international competitors, and undertakes active measures to reduce the dependence on foreign oil, America will cease to be a global superpower.

The United States economy, and accordingly its current way of life, is virtually entirely dependent on foreign oil and the mercy of the suppliers. “The United States possesses 3 percent of the world’s remaining oil reserves but uses 25 percent of world daily oil production”6. “America imports almost 60% of its oil today” and, at current rates, will import “70% by 2025”7. For example, “well over half of the oil and petroleum products consumed in America—approximately 12 million barrels per day, or more than 600 gallons for every man, woman, and child each year—now come from abroad8. And, the U.S. government projects that the level of imports will only continue to rise, reaching between 16 and 21 million barrels per day by 20259. As a result, the United States has little choice but to continue its involvement in foreign conflicts directly tied to seeking and securing a steady supply of oil based energy. The greater America’s “dependence on oil, the greater the pressure to protect and control that oil”10.

“The use of military power to protect the flow of oil has been a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy since 1945”, the year that President Franklin D. Roosevelt “promised King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia that the United States would protect the kingdom in return for special access to Saudi oil”11. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter “announced that the secure flow of oil from the Persian Gulf was in ‘the vital interests of the United States of America’ and that America would use ‘any means necessary, including military force’ to protect those interests from outside forces”12. There is little doubt that the 1991 conflict in Iraq was tied to America’s requirement for a stable supply of oil, and it is arguable that the current conflict in that same country has as much to do with oil as it does the Global War on Terror.
It is no wonder that the United States is so deeply invested in the Middle East, as two-thirds of the world’s oil is located there. However, that is not to say that America couldn’t find adequate short term supplies elsewhere, especially while alternative energy strategies are pursued. The first problem is that these “other oil suppliers, such as Venezuela, Russia, and West Africa, are also politically unstable and hold no significant long-term oil reserves compared to those in the Middle East”13. While the “intractable conflict with insurgent militant Islam has occupied center stage of the geopolitical scene for several years” other regional and global security issues are far from resolved14. Military actions in the former Soviet republic of Georgia reminds the world that Russia is far from ready to relinquish its former position on the world stage. Oil prices continue to sway as global security is further jeopardized, and consequently American diplomatic and military efforts see no respite in sight. Conflict in the Middle-East, and the neighboring Eurasian provinces, is not the only factor that could directly affect the flow of oil resources to the United States. The second takes the form of America’s emerging global energy competitor.

“With over one billion people, China is second only to the U.S. in oil consumption—and gaining fast”15. Furthermore, “China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and an energy demand that is projected to grow by 150% by 2020”16. “China has little petroleum of its own, and it has been explored relentlessly, acre by acre, as a purely government enterprise unhampered by normal cost considerations”17. “China currently imports half of its oil, and like the United States, China will become increasingly dependent on oil from the Middle East”18.

As a result, “access to Middle East oil will over time become a key issue in relations between the two nations”19. “The more U.S. actions in the Middle East are perceived as an effort to dominate oil resources there, the more China will consider the United States a threat to its interests, and visa-versa”20. “In the current context of stagnating supply, this kind of demand competition is very destabilizing”21. As China is recognized not only for its energy requirements, the true gravity of the threat to America’s primacy becomes clearer.

When placed in context with America’s presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, a conflict less and less (if ever) palatable to Saudi Arabia and her Islamic neighbors, a continued economic and security relationship with the West could be threatened. China’s centrally managed and exploding economy, fueled largely through foreign oil, could easily supply the Middle Eastern oil producing nations with their much needed revenue. Furthermore, China’s peerless military can certainly provide the regional security those nations require. “China is a nuclear power with a nuclear ‘umbrella’ that it can spread out to shelter client nations”22. “China is geographically closer to the Middle East than America” and could comfortably protect the region at least as acceptably as America23. More threatening to America’s current security relationship is that “China could enter into a protective relationship with any number of nations from Central Asia to the Middle East, including an Arabia run by a militant Islamic theocracy”, and do so without the West’s burdensome “religious encumbrances”24. America must address this plausible threat, in hopes of “defusing a potential U.S.-Chinese rivalry over global oil supplies” and seek ways to not only partner with China in the long-term while reducing foreign oil dependency beginning in the short-term25.

Even once recognizing America’s dependence on foreign oil, the U.S. is virtually powerless to anything about it. America is held hostage to the shifting global markets, and the political views, perceptions, and instabilities of the oil producing nations. As such, despite the fact that energy dependence is likely never to cease, America must at least seek viable strategies to reduce or mitigate that dependence. America is at least beginning to take notice.

According to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, “The real lesson here [is that] it only requires a relatively small amount of oil to be taken out of the system to have huge economic and security implications”26. However, recognition of that fact does not immediately translate to a shift in policy.

Understandably, the military end-item acquisition process places “the highest priority on performance”27. It is, after all, performance that insures America its air, land and sea supremacy. However, performance comes at a cost, a cost that is not always identified or considered during procurement. In FY99, “it cost the Air Force over $2.5 billion to deliver 130 million gallons of fuel”28. More specifically, “the Air Force spent 84 percent of its fuel delivery budget to deliver 6 percent of its fuel in FY99”29. Furthermore, “to deliver a gallon of fuel through a tanker in-flight costs $17.50 per gallon”, to (ground) “deliver a gallon of fuel to the forward edge of a battle area (FEBA) costs about $15.00”, while delivering a gallon of fuel far beyond the FEBA costs hundreds of dollars per gallon”30.
These unintended, or overlooked, costs not only exemplify America’s reliance on fuel to fight, but also how greater efficiency could save the taxpayers billions of dollars – dollars that could be spent on other defense technologies and support materials, or even to explore alternative means to reduce foreign energy dependence. But, conventional “operational and logistics wargaming focuses on mission execution, considering fuel as a fixed demand to be satisfied”, whose availability is a “given”31. However, due in large part to the rapidly rising costs of energy and the recognition of greater uncertainty with respect to long-term oil supplies, the DoD has begun to examine the energy dependence problem.

In the summer of 2005, select members gathered to conduct a combination wargame and economic simulation centered on energy and national policy, known as ‘Oil Shockwave’. “In a scenario confronted by the bipartisan panel of intelligence, military, and energy experts, a series of events over several months - unrest in Nigeria, an attack on an Alaskan oil facility, and the emergency evacuation of foreign nationals from Saudi Arabia - drives the price of oil to over $150 per barrel”32. “These events lower expected employment levels by more than 2 million jobs, embolden countries that are major oil producers and consumers to pressure the U.S. on key foreign policy concerns, and cause a variety of other significant economic and security challenges”33. It is not the plausibility of the scenario that merits attention, but simply the fact that foreign energy dependence is beginning to be actively recognized as directly related to U.S. national security.

Until the global economy no longer needs oil, America’s future shall remain so yoked. However, through recognition – exemplified by policy statements and exercises like “Oil Shockwave” – America can strengthen her national security by increasing fuel efficiency. In other words, America may still need foreign oil, but not so much. Not only will increased efficiency save the taxpayers money, but it could also serve to temper the possibility of conflict (with nations like China) over oil.

Increased military fuel efficiency may become a requirement, regardless of global supply. With U.S. federal spending tipping the scales at over $2.6 trillion annually, it is likely that the American people could tire of large defense budgets ($521.8 billion in 2006) when faced with rising fuel costs and the strain of more palatable domestic spending34. As it stands today, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security account for 39.9 percent of the federal budget, or $1.05 trillion35. Finally, interest on national debt and other non-defense discretionary spending account for 40.4 percent of the federal budget, or $1.57 trillion36. While the American populace ages, thus requiring consistent and even increasing domestic spending to fund the aforementioned programs, the people grow war weary. The direct costs, in the form of monetary spending, and indirect costs, in the form of the American casualties, have adversely shifted popular opinion with respect to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. When faced with making choices between domestic programs and spending blood and treasure overseas, the electorate may choose to reduce defense spending by way of the ballot box. However, Americans understandably require a strong military to defend them, even if they don’t want to pay for it. Also, greater fuel costs could effectively slow, or halt, defense acquisitions due to fewer available purchasing dollars. If future administrations are forced to adjust defense spending – be it through a shift in the defense paradigm or because of greater fuel costs – efficiency is one solution.

Recent government studies have both addressed the need for greater defense related fuel efficiencies, but also identified that increased efficiency does not have to mean a loss in warfighting capabilities – quite the opposite. Published in 2005, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, titled Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations, first recognized that “energy consumption is indispensable to our standard of living and a necessity for the (U.S. military) to carry out its mission…, and that current trends are not sustainable”37. “The impact of excessive, unsustainable energy consumption may undermine the very culture and activities it supports”38. The report methodically details the challenges the nation faces with respect to energy assurance, and the related impacts. The report concludes with the following;

“The national and world energy situation mandates strategic planning and action by the Army. The pending challenges of meeting the Army’s ongoing energy requirements in a reliable, affordable, sustainable, and secure fashion demand thoughtful and comprehensive approaches. A deliberate careful review of energy source options and resulting tradeoffs is necessary. The informed and disciplined management of consumption is imperative.”39.

A 2001 report, chartered by the Under-Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology, and Logistics, titled “More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden”, concluded that it is possible to “strengthen the linkage between warfighting capabilities and fuel…requirements through wargaming and new analytical tools” that examine fuel costs and efficiencies40. Furthermore, greater efficiencies can aid specific warfighting capabilities such as maneuver, security, and simplicity, to name a few. Maneuver is aided through efficiency by platforms being able to “travel faster and farther with reduced weight and smaller logistics tails that improve platform agility, loiter and flexibility”41. Security is enhanced by decreasing “platform vulnerability to attacks on supply lines, and reduces demand for strategic reserves”42. Finally, simplicity is realized through decreasing the “complexity and frequency of refueling operations and logistics planning, while reducing vulnerability to the ‘Fog of War’”43. Through such creative approaches, it is possible to maintain the performance that the services require while reducing fuel related costs.

There is no doubt that America can not maintain her global primacy without oil. Oil continues to drive national security policy, as revealed through America’s continued involvement in Middle Eastern affairs and conflicts. The United States has long known the importance of foreign oil, and her continued dependence on it. However, stagnating supplies as well as China’s emergence as a global competitor – both economically and militarily as well as a voracious oil consumer – has forced the United States to re-examine its energy dependence situation. The U.S. must accept that fact that through either open competition or economic pressures, America may not always enjoy such a free-flow of Arabian oil, thus placing its global primacy and national security in jeopardy. Accordingly, America’s only choice is to both embrace its competitors – in this case China – while seeking ways to mitigate the dependence on foreign oil and its impact on defense spending. Strategies such as more realistic operational wargaming and actively seeking efficiency solutions both reduce uncertainty while aiding America’s warfighting effectiveness. If such strategies are adopted, then America may very well retain its global primacy.

1) Kunstler, James Howard. The Long Emergency, New York: Grove Press, 2005. 64
2) Schneider, William. More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden. 7
3) Fenderson, Adam and Anderson, Bart. US Army: Peak Oil and the Army's future
4) Ibid
5) Ibid
6) Kunstler, 66
7) Collina, Tom Z. Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Real Dangers, Realistic Solutions. 2
8) Duffield, John S. Over a Barrel: The Costs of U.S. Foreign Oil Dependence
9) Ibid
10) Collina, 2
11) Ibid, 3
12) Ibid
13) Ibid, 2
14) Kunstler, 62
15) Collina, 4
16) Ibid
17) Kunstler, 83
18) Collina, 4
19) Ibid
20) Ibid
21) Ibid
22) Kunstler, 84
23) Ibid
24) Ibid
25) Collina, 4
26) Ibid, 5
27) Schneider, 65
28) Ibid, 18
29) Ibid
30) Ibid, 67
31) Ibid, 70
32) National Commission on Energy Policy. Oil Dependence Creates Severe National Security and Economic Risks
33) Ibid
34) Bittle, Scott and Johnson, Jean. Where Does the Money Go?, New York: Harper Collins, 2008. 83
35) Ibid
36) Ibid
37) Fournier, Donald F. and Westervelt, Eileen T. Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations; available from: p. xi
38) Ibid
39) Ibid, 59
40) Schneider, 75
41) Ibid, 10
42) Ibid
43) Ibid

1) Bittle, Scott and Johnson, Jean. Where Does the Money Go?, New York: Harper Collins, 2008.
2) Collina, Tom Z. Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Real Dangers, Realistic Solutions
3) Duffield, John S. Over a Barrel: The Costs of U.S. Foreign Oil Dependence
4) Fenderson, Adam and Anderson, Bart. US Army: Peak Oil and the Army's future
5) Fournier, Donald F. and Westervelt, Eileen T. Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations
6) Kunstler, James Howard. The Long Emergency, New York: Grove Press, 2005.
7) National Commission on Energy Policy. Oil Dependence Creates Severe National Security and Economic Risks
8) Schneider, William. More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden

Mr Rawles
While looking for plans and ideas for a new outbuilding for my home. I found this little gem solid information buried deep in the web site. It has probably has around 150 plans to build everything from a Turret Lathe and Mill to Cement Mixers and Tractor Scoop Loaders. This stuff is in PDF format, download able and free. The plans are reprints from old do it yourself magazines and are past copyright so there isn't any legal issues with the downloads

Now a lot of these equipment plans would not pass the government's current nurf world standards for safety so use them at your risk. Anyone who has ever work around farm equipment knows to keep on their toes or you might end up with a interesting new nickname. Glad to hear the Memsahib is back in charge, our prayers are with you and yours. - Henry S.

With a web search, I came across a couple of Tsunami e-mail alert pages. One for coastal Alaska, coastal Canada, and coastal United States, and one for the entire Pacific Ocean. Speaking of alert e-mails, provides free regional e-mail/cell phone severe weather alerts. And, as I've mentioned in SurvivalBlog before, anyone interested in radio propagation can get free solar flare alerts. (The latter is also useful for those of use that enjoy watching auroral displays.) But presently, of course, we are at a sunspot minimum.

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David F.sent us a link to an article that confirms my prediction for a recovery in the price of nickel: Poseidon's Singleton Says Nickel Price at `Bottom of Curve'

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The recent discussion of night vision prompted reader Bill N. to send us a link to a useful article on night adaptation and off-center viewing.

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Foreign Bondholders - and not the U.S. Mortgage Market - Drove the Fannie/Freddie Bailout

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Paul from Kentucky and Rourke both sent us this: Miraculous survivors: Why they live while others die

While bankers do control the issuance of credit, they cannot control themselves. Bankers are the fatal flaw in their deviously opaque system that has substituted credit for money and debt for savings. The bankers have spread their credit-based system across the world by catering to basic human needs and ambition and greed; and while human needs can be satisfied, ambition and greed cannot-and the bankers’ least of all. - Darryl Schoon

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It has now been seven years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I give thanks to our servicemen who have helped stop additional attacks here in the States. Please support our troops, not with just lip service and a yellow ribbon magnet on the back of your car, but tangibly, and with consistent regularity. And if you are an employer, then please consider hiring a returning veteran.

Is Hurricane Ike headed toward Galveston, Texas? Batten down the hatches, folks. I'm sure that by now, the well-read SurvivalBlog readers on the Gulf Coast have a Plan B and a Plan C, and they have thoroughly studied alternate evacuation routes on minor roads.

Hi Jim:
I understand about an EMP attack and it's possibilities to wreak havoc. But I can't help but wonder when I hear about a possible future EMP attack if we are trying to convince the terrorists through disinformation to detonate their nuclear weapons at a safe altitude instead of over the capitol during the state of the union speech.
I am thinking that for an EMP attack to be effective they would need at least 4 or 5 high yield nuclear weapons of at least 1 megaton each . These would have to be evenly spread over the US relative to population density. Russia could pull it off, and I am sure they would begin a nuclear attack an EMP. But I think the EMP effects of one 15 kiloton range weapon a terrorist would have would be isolated.
I could be wrong, but I can't help but wonder. - David

That EMP report is good news.It shows that an EMP attack would cause significant but not catastrophic disruptions in our critical national infrastructure, and only scattered failures of cars, computers, and other electronic devices. These facts are even more favorable than I wrote in my e-mail to you in March of 2007. As I suspected, but couldn't prove at the time, the anti-ESD structures in modern semiconductors are very effective against EMP.

The report shows, for example, that there is no longer any strong reason to avoid modern cars. Of 37 modern cars tested in the report, only three were temporarily stopped when exposed to EMP while running, and all could be restarted. Only one car experienced permanent damage, but that was to some unidentified electronics in the dashboard apparently not affecting drivability.
From my experience in the electronics industry, I believe that the most modern, most expensive cars-- the ones intended to last a long time-- are the most survivable because they are more likely to incorporate better-designed, better-protected and thus more-expensive electronics.

As another hard data point, modern radios are basically immune to EMP. The report states "none of the radios tested showed any damage with EMP fields up to 50 kV/m." The same circuits that protect radios from ESD to antennas and controls protect them from EMP.

The report is quite definite: EMP is a serious threat to anything with long wires, but not so much to anything small, portable, or mobile.

An EMP attack from a fission weapon would be harmful, especially to our power and telecommunications systems, but the effect would be local and temporary-- not really very different from that of a hurricane or powerful earthquake. You owe it to your readers to set the record straight on this topic - PNG

JWR Replies: Yes, that report is good news for automobiles and mobile, battery-operated electronic devices with short antennas. However, the huge, almost incalculable problem is that railroad networks, power grids, and to a lesser extent telephone systems serve as enormous antennas for EMP that can carry EMP for very long distances. In the event of a high altitude megaton-range hydrogen bomb blast, this linear coupling will carry EMP for hundreds of miles beyond line of sight (BLOS). Within that extended footprint it could potentially fry the microcircuits of any device that is plugged in to a utility power wall socket. There could be hundreds of billions of dollars worth of short term damage and a multiple of that in long term damage (loss of productivity) and along with it the risk of a societal collapse and an enormous die-off due to dislocation, exposure, and disrupted chains of supply.

Linear coupling of EMP is one of the reasons that I discourage people from installing "grid-tied" photovoltaic power systems. Sure, it is great fun watching a power meter run backwards and getting a check in the mail from your utility instead of a bill for eight months of each year. But the EMP risk outweighs the benefits. If you go solar, then make it a stand-alone system! Linear coupling is also the reason that I advocate keeping all of your spare radios and computers disconnected and stored in Faraday-shielded containers whenever they are not being used.

What I took away from the report is confirmation of what I had concluded years ago: That for next 10 to 30 years, the EMP threat posed by terrorists will be localized, since they will most likely have access to low-yield fission bombs and will be most likely to employ them in ground bursts with small "footprints". In ground bursts or in low-altitude air bursts, the line of sight is limited, minimizing the EMP effect. But in any case the linear coupling through the power grid could magnify the EMP damage.

I concur with the report's finding that there is a the possibility of a massive population loss in the event of a well-coordinated EMP attack by a major power such as Russia or China. That scenario is a "time on target" attack with multiple simultaneous high altitude air bursts of multi-megaton hydrogen bombs. Such an attack would blanket the entire continental United States with high field strength EMP. The word "devastating" doesn't begin to convey the long term effects. We'd find ourselves back to both 19th Century technology and 19th Century population levels. And, BTW, much of the most heavily populated portions of Canada and Mexico would receive extensive collateral EMP damage.

I write to you again as I pull another EMS duty shift. So far tonight I have had one EMS call and it was a "difficulty breathing" call. Our local law enforcement officers (LEOs) already had the patient on 15LPM. of 02 via non-rebreather mask (NRBM) before we got on scene. The LEOs tend to over inflate, so I titrated the flow down to 8LPM., which worked for the patient's breathing pattern. I'm glad our LEOs are proactive, but this means that I don't get a baseline Room Air (RA) 02 saturation for comparison and it does waste some O2 until I get there.

Hint: We use NRBMs on the rig because from this one type of mask you can make the other types simply by removing the circular rubber flap valves. The NRBM has one inspiration valve at the top of the bag inside the mask; and two other expiration valves outside the mask on each side of the nose. When you exhale, the side expiration valves open allowing exhaled air and CO2 to escape outside the mask. But when you inhale, these same valves close, and the inspiration valve opens, allowing 100% O2 to enter the mask from the inflated bag. Hence the name non-rebreather mask because the patient is not re-breathing his own exhaled air. There is no outside air entrainment (provided the mask has a good seal).

1) If you take the same NRBM mask and remove one or both of the expiration valves from the side of the nose, you now have a partial rebreather mask, since when the patient inhales, 100% O2 from the bag is mixed with room air from the removed side valve port.

2) If you take both side valves off, and replace the bag O2 port with the straight line O2 port (that is included in the NRBM package), you now have a simple mask.

3) Here's another trick, if you take the straight line O2 port off the mask, and replace it with the bottom medicine cup of a nebulizer, you have a aerosol mask for administering nebulized medications like albuterol sulfate.

As more air entrainment is allowed, the overall O2 percentage decreases from the 100% @ 8LPM. - 10LPM. of the NRBM to approximately 28% @ 2LPM. O2 of the nasal cannula. It doesn't mean your wasting O2 by using a nasal cannula, (since it uses a lower flow rate) your just choosing the best modality to meet the patients need. Some chronic Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients breathing drive can actually be suppressed with too much O2 over a period of time.

(I've got to go, just got paged for an "Alcohol Overdose").

Now I'm back again. The overdose call went okay. But I'm reminded that masks are also good for combative, spitting, or TB patients (Mask the patient and yourself) But on a sad note I found out that the patient I transported three hours ago with difficulty breathing died of respiratory arrest in the ER. She didn't seem that bad, but she had a DNR order and the family requested she not be intubated. I volunteer for this.

Regarding O2 itself. Almost all O2 manufacturers use the Air Liquefaction method to make compressed O2 gas. The method is written on the side of the cylinder. This is why you will see large stand tanks of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) at the gas vendors' sites. The oxygen that boils off the LOX is piped through a manifold system to fill the cylinders usually on a cascade system. So although O2 USP has the same basic source as industrial gases, it's specified., handled, distributed and tracked differently. O2 USP has FDA mandated lot numbers to facilitate product recalls. These lot numbers are tracked all the way to the patient.

During the day I'm a Home Medical Equipment Technician in the respiratory department of a major hospital. We jokingly call the hospital room console the "magic" wall since compressed air, power, suction, O2, etc. is right there. But the fact that O2 is flowing through a humidifier bottle doesn't instantly change it to medical O2 as the previous supplier quote asserts. It just adds humidity, and then really only at flow rates over 3LPM. Water bottles are mandated in the hospital setting, but not in the home setting. Oxygen is a natural drying agent. We do however use extra dry grades of O2 USP 99.995% and Nitrogen to calibrate our O2 analyzers.

A note on carbon monoxide poisoning. If the patient presents with the classic cherry red complexion, they are too far gone for any O2 to do much good. The carbon monoxide molecule binds something like 600 times more readily to the hemoglobin in the blood than O2, and has to be forced out by O2 in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Under double atmospheric pressure even the plasma in the blood carries oxygen. (Which might be one reason our Pre-Flood forefathers could run so far and not become weary.) - Steve P., EMT in Wisconsin


Mr. Rawles:
This is in regard to the oxygen discussion. I don't know the slightest thing about the sources of oxygen, but as a nurse, I thought I would share a little bit about administration of oxygen. The following is straight from my Medical-Surgical Nursing textbook

" Indications for use: ...Oxygen is usually administered to treat hypoxemia (decreased oxygen levels in blood) caused by respiratory disorders such as COPD, pulmonary hypertension, cor pulmonale, pneumonia, atelectasis (lung collapse), lung cancer, and pulmonary emboli; cardiovascular disorders such as myocardial infarction, dysrhythmias, angina pectoris, and cardiogenic shock; central nervous system disorders such as overdose of opioids, head injury, and sleep apnea. .....
-Oxygen toxicity- may result from prolonged exposure to a high level of oxygen. High levels of oxygen.....can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome....All levels above 50% and used for longer than 24 hours should be considered potentially toxic. Levels of 40% and below may be regarded as relatively nontoxic and may not result in development of significant oxygen toxicity if exposure period is short."

In other words, high levels of oxygen (100% via rebreather/non-rebreather mask) is ideal for emergency situations, but not more than 24 hours!! After stabilization of initial symptoms, it is best to go to a lower oxygen percent, usually 2-3 LPM (for a delivery of 21 to 30 percent oxygen). Of course, these guidelines are designed for medical professionals who can monitor the PaO2 and SpO2 so unless you have a pulse ox[imeter] at home, you're going to be going with best guess. Watch for breathing difficulties such as trouble breathing, rapid breathing, cough, restlessness.
So, in summary, high oxygen to deal with the immediate emergency, then switch to low oxygen after stabilization or before 24 hours pass. I am a recent graduate, so anybody with more experience please feel free to jump in with any corrections.

C.S.D. mentioned an interesting product with several survival application: Gloshade. Note that these reflectors will also work with infrared chemical light sticks.

   o o o

More economic news and commentary, courtesy of SurvivalBlog's Economic Editor: Fannie & Freddie: Buying Friends in D.C., Fannie & Freddie Bailout Destined to Fail as US Debt Doubles, Mortgage Giant Overstated Its Capital Base, Fannie and Freddie: Just the Beginning of the Derivatives Deleveraging Bailout, Lehman Bros. Worth a Big FAT Zero?, Fannie Mae Faces Investor Lawsuit, Berkshire, in Blow to Banks, Reins in its Deposit Insurer, Wall Street Trading Gets Zero Value from Lehman, Merrill Owners, WaMu Removes CEO, and Paulson's Actions Herald the Financial Collapse of the US Economy.

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The Rude Awakening's Chris Mayer notes: "Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System (all government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs) have become giants in the mortgage markets. The Big Three have grown at such a rapid rate over recent years that at the end of 2000, they collectively held $2.9 trillion of mortgage debt, which was equivalent to nearly 56 percent of all US household mortgage debt." That is a mountain of debt, and the American taxpayers are the inevitable surety for it. Most of it is good debt, some of it is so-so debt, and some of it absolute garbage debt held by NINJAs, The mainstream press has tossed around the figure of $200 billion USD to bail out Fannie and Freddie, but the truth is that the final price tag is imponderable. It is impossible to predict, since the credit market and the housing market are both still in collapse, and we don't yet know where the "bottom" is. As I've previously mentioned, these bailouts are just part of the collective Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) that has a good chance of bankrupting America.

"In matters of style, swim with the current;
In matters of principle, stand like a rock " - Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hey! I just noticed that we've surpassed 4.5 million unique visits. Thanks for spreading the word about SurvivalBlog!

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $550. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). The auction ends on Monday September 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

I currently live in a crowded subdivision in a moderately nice house that is worth $240,000. We owe approximately $120,000 on it, and have $120,000 in equity. Based on much of what I read here, we were looking for a house with some land, and recently found one for $370,000 (it's only 2.5 acres, but that's much more than we have now). If we buy it we will owe $370,000 -120,000 = $250,000). I currently make around $120,000 per year, in a job in the medical field that should not be too hard hit by financial crises.

So what do I do? Buy the country house and assume a larger mortgage (but have some space, and a water well, plenty of room for a garden, and less crowding)? Or do I forego that plan and just stay where I am, even though it's crowded, because it's cheaper, and I can get it paid off in 2-to-4 years?

The economy has me worried, so this decision has been a difficult one for me. Your site and its links makes a lot of sense to me, but when I read other things online (i.e. the main headlines) it all seems to say that "Everything will be okay, just give it time, you're in good hands..." When can we expect the major crisis/crises to hit?
Praying for your wife, thanks for all you do, - Perplexed in the Midwest

JWR Replies: If your job is truly stable, then it might be safe making that move. Just by itself, having well water is a huge plus. (I've described numerous hand pump and solar well pump alternatives in the blog.) But with the economy presently looking the way it is, having that level of debt should be reason to give you pause.

One alternative to consider is instead of the "halfway measure" of moving to a house on a bigger lot--but still in a relatively high density area--is the concept of buying a dedicated retreat with a house on much more acreage (10+ acres) that is way out in the country, preferably in one of my recommended retreat regions. You could simply tell your family and friends that it is a "vacation cabin."

My general advice to my consulting clients is to buy their retreat properties with cash, and leave their primary residences mortgaged. That way, if the economy totally tanks and you lose your job you can move to your retreat and essentially abandon your house to the bankers. (The phenomenon they now call "jingle mail".) At your retreat you will then only have to worry about paying your property taxes.

In answer to your other question: I don't give "timing" predictions. All that I can say with certainty is the the current economic instability is the worst that I've see in my lifetime. So just be ready.

Hi Jim,
Yesterday I made my monthly or thereabouts pilgrimage to Costco to buy bulk items for our pantry and other needs. I immediately noticed that prices had gone up on just about everything. The 40 pound bags of Kirkland brand dog food (re-labeled Iams brand) had gone up from $19.90 to $23.64 which is about a 16% increase in price. The 25 pound bags of Indian long grain rice went for $20.00 to $24.00 - a 20% increase and other items here and there had gone up a dollar or two or three.

While Costco continues to be a great value - when compared to other retail outlets - it too is getting hit with rising commodity prices. Mind you I think they do a standard 14% profit on stuff - meaning they negotiate a price then tack on 14% for operating costs and profit, their average markup is about 10% - that should tell you what's going on.

Anyway, this Fall, if you trawl the Internet at all, is supposed to be a time of great upheaval - different folks have different pet theories about what may occur - mine is economic - this might be a good time to stock up for the winter - it's harvest time anyway - might be good to remind folks to stock those pantries (while they still can).- Eric

Mr. Rawles,
I am an over the road truck driver and happen to be in Louisiana today. I have been to several stores in the southern part of the state and took note of what was in short supply. The shelves in the camping section were empty, they were out of water, generators, gas cans, coolers and frozen dinners. The frozen dinner thing I didn't get, I figured they'd be short on canned or boxed food. Just stuff I noticed and thought I'd share. God Bless and I've been praying for your wife.- Vincent from Portland

JWR Replies: Part of the reason that the camping supplies were low is that September 1st has traditionally marked the end of the camping season. Many stores that have limited shelf space intentionally let these items run out, to make space available for seasonal items such as Halloween candy.

Your observation on frozen dinners was interesting. Human behavior can often be irrational. Part of this is based on ignorance and lack of common sense. In my estimation, the same people that eat frozen dinners on regular basis simply thought "emergency" and bought far more dinners than usual. They did this without thinking through the chain of events that are coincident with a major tropical storm, including power failures. The scary thing is that there are a lot of truly ignorant people out there that lack common sense. In my experience, the same ignorant irrationality displayed in times of emergency is an "equal opportunity" phenomenon--among people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Reader I.T.N. wrote me to ask: "I noticed that [the base metal value of] a nickel is [down to] now 4.9 cents. (due to a sharp decline in nickel as of late) Do you think this is temporary, or should I begin to spend the milk jugs full of nickels I acquired." I expect that spot price of nickel will rebound in coming months, as the US Dollar resumes its decline. With more rapid inflation looking likely, I expect that a US five cent piece will have a base metal value of 10 cents (twice its face value) within two years. And in the long run, as I've predicted previously, nickels will begin to be worth 3X to 4X their face value. Once that happens, speculators will begin to acquire $100 (or larger) face value bags, as a speculative hedge against inflation. Hang on to those nickels! Someday you'll be very glad that you did.

   o o o

Eric sent us a link with some more about making newspaper logs.

   o o o

The new Katadyn VARIO water filter has a unique design that allows it to be adjusted, depending on the input water quality. I recommend it. OBTW, SurvivalBlog readers will get free shipping on a VARIO filter if they call Ready Made Resources at: 1(800) 627-3809.

   o o o

Readers PNG, Niall, and Michael Z. Williamson all mentioned this new product development, perhaps as a starting point for designing a vehicular Get Out of Dodge kit: The Shelter Box. PNF notes: "Not available for retail sale, but an interesting point of comparison."

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's Economic Editor Cheryl N. sent us this gem: SF Wachovia Bank Under Siege By People Facing Foreclosure. File this under "A" for Audacity. OBTW, I think that the leftist ACORN group made an appropriate choice for the color of their t-shirts. True to form, Cheryl also sent us several pieces of news and commentary: US Deficit Nears $407 Billion, Government Takes Control of Fannie & Freddie, Bush: I Wouldn't Call it a Bailout, World Stocks Soar on US Mortgage Bailout, Fannie/Freddie Bailout Offer Banks Stock Reprieve, Mexico Stocks Gain After US Bailout; Peso Slips, Taxpayer's Might Make Money on Fannie/Freddie Grab, China Frets at US Risk After Fannie/Freddie Bailout, A $75 Trillion Fright Fest: 8 Megahorror Debts Chilling The US, Why the US Moved on Mortgage Giants, Best Financial Quotes of August 2008, Ten Worst Insurance Companies (PDF), GMAC May File For Bankruptcy as Early as Tomorrow, and, Treason at the US Treasury. This last piece includes this: "I will tell you openly, the rule of economic law has ended in the USA. Say what you will, the open seizure of Fannie and Freddie by the US government, without cause or recourse, and the destruction of private equity is the Rubicon. We shall not go back from this point. It is kaput."

“…we have the phenomenon called inflation which is the appearance of rising prices. I emphasis the word ‘appearance’ because in reality prices are not rising at all. What we’re seeing is that the value of the dollar is going down, that’s the real side of the equation. If we had real money based on gold or silver or anything tangible that couldn’t just be created out of thin air, it could be based on microphones, that they couldn’t just create with the stroke of a pen, you would see then that prices would remain stable over a long period of time.” - G. Edward Griffin, author of “The Creature from Jekyll Island

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $550. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). The auction ends on September 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today's posts include an article cross-posted with permission from the new Everyday Prepper Blog. It is an interesting blog that is worth reading.

Mr Rawles,
Your readers may benefit from the following current links regarding the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat:

Full report of the EMP Commission to the House Armed Services Committee (July 10, 2008)

This link has a concise summary of key points from the above report:

I also recommend an interview with the Chairman of the EMP Commission.

The interview includes the following statements that are very important:

Asked just how many Americans would die if Iran were to launch the EMP attack it appears to be preparing, Graham gave a chilling reply: "You have to go back into the 1800s to look at the size of population' that could survive in a nation deprived of mechanized agriculture, transportation, power, water, and communication.
“I’d have to say that 70 to 90 percent of the population would not be sustainable after this kind of attack,” he said. [Emphasis added.]

America would be reduced to a core of around 30 million people — about the number that existed in the decades after America’s independence from Great Britain."

270 million deaths! That puts one EMP strike on a par with a full pre-emptive nuclear strike for the number of deaths inflicted. That's why I took care of securing food and water before any other preparations. - ALG

To start off let me say I'm in no way affiliated Advantage Arms or Glock. I don't get paid to advertise or test their products and I definitely don't get paid to write reviews.

I took the Glock out today with the Advantage Arms conversion kit installed. I wasn't exactly skeptical of the kit after reading about it online but I was expecting to have some sort of break in period. I opened the kit up and out fell an orange piece of paper that instructed me to put some oil on the parts in the picture. I grabbed the oil they shipped with the kit, put the drops on the slide where they wanted me to and rubbed the oil with my finger to spread it around some.

I took a piece of standard 8.5"x11" sheet of printer paper and hung it up. Next I paced off 10 meters and turned to fire. The magazine seated perfectly just like my original Glock magazines. I chambered the first round took aim and pulled the trigger. Bang! Nice, I thought. There was almost no recoil and the gun hit pretty close to where I was aiming. I went ahead and fired a few more at a slow and controlled speed then I just let the last six or so speed their way to the target as fast as I could reasonably regain my sight picture. At the end of those 10, I went up to the piece of paper and measured the spread of hits and they all fell within a three inch circle, save one. (Though I think that one was me getting a little trigger happy.)

I finished the day by placing 10 to 20 targets out and running training drills to help with quicker target acquisition and movement. I fired in the neighborhood of 120 rounds (give or take five rounds) and never had a jam or malfunction of any kind.

It wasn't an intense break-in but I was impressed at the quality, feel and accuracy of the kit.

If Advantage Arms wouldn't have stamped their name on the slide you wouldn't even know it was a company other than Glock that created the kit. With the market for these kits (I waited eight weeks while they caught up on back orders) I'm surprised Glock hasn't jumped on this boat and started creating their own.

I'm not a professional instructor but I think the advantages to this kit are obvious. While I'm not shooting my standard caliber with its standard recoil I'm getting much more training time in and it's much cheaper. I can practice every drill and training exercise I know for five times as long thanks to the cost savings. If you are worried about the recoil and muscle memory issues you can always finish your shooting day with your original caliber by removing the kit (as simple as field stripping the Glock) and putting your original hardware back in place.- Everyday Prepper

JWR Adds: Advantage Arms also makes .22 LR conversion kits for Model 1911 pistols, with an equally good reputation. Both of these conversion kits are available via mail order to US customers with no FFL paperwork, since they do not include a pistol frame.

- Everyday Prepper.

Just a quick note, never ever use oxygen under pressure near oil! Never use oil on the thread's or fittings! The high pressure will cause the oil to detonate,similar to a diesel ignition! If you must,and probably should never need to, use a teflon tape seal!And if you have an acetylene bottle, let it stand for 24 hours as it may have been laid on it's side before using it, separating the acetone from the gas. - Dean


The letter in response to welding oxygen versus medical oxygen was interesting. Unfortunately [that readers} was wrong on one point. Oil is never used around oxygen, period. Quoting from a Compressed Gas Association safety alert "Liquid oxygen containers must be properly cleaned for oxygen service and must be kept clean and free of grease, oil, or other hydrocarbon materials, which can combine with oxygen with explosive violence."

The other danger is that the manufacturer does not know what the end use of the gas will be. If they allow any impurities in it, they could be liable for contaminating an end product of causing a substandard weld. I can assure you that virtually all oxygen is safe for human use. - Docliberty


If you go to a local oxygen supplier and ask, (and they are being honest) they will tell you that they fill the welding oxygen, the aviators oxygen and the medical grade oxygen tanks from the exact same bulk tank, which is to say, they are all medical grade.
The previous e-mail is correct in that it is important to know that if you are using a compressor for breathable air, it should be medical grade, preferably an oil-less compressor.
His/her reasoning is correct but in the oxygen industry, no one I know makes their own oxygen with compressors on premises any more. Rather, they buy in bulk from dealers (You can make oxygen yourself with an oxygen concentrator but then you are back to needing electricity.) and the dealers only make one grade: medical grade.

The difference is not in the quality of the oxygen but the chain of custody of the tanks. If you bring an oxygen tank in to get refilled, they will give you another refilled oxygen tank of the same category (i.e. welding, aviators or medical) that you gave them but not likely the exact one you brought in. Here's the issue: If a welding tank is used, you don't know where it's been and if it has been left open, contaminants may have gotten in at some work site that used it previously.

If you want to save money or avoid a prescription and use welding oxygen (which I have personally done) then here's the solution: Buy a new welding tank and spray paint your name on it. When you get it filled/refilled, demand your personal tank back. Now you have chain of custody. The oxygen will be medical grade and since you started with a clean tank there will be no contaminants. Make sure that you don't tell the refill station why you really want it or they may not refill it for you. If they ask, have your cover story, like welding...

Also, you will want a regulator that has a range of about 5 to 15 liters per minute. The oxygen that comes out will need to be controlled so you don't waste it. Get one that has both liter-per-minute (LPM) and pressure gauges so you know both how fast you are using it and how much you have left. For medical applications, you don't need 100% oxygen unless you are dealing with something like smoke inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning. Raising the inhaled oxygen content from 21% (normal) to say, 50% will be a boon for your injured mates and make your limited supply of this valuable resource last longer. I would use oxygen with lung injuries or loss of blood, but this is a topic better answered by others.

You will also need to get/make an adaptor with the appropriate male nipple size to fit on the end of the regulator that will attach to the female end of the plastic hose that goes to the mask you will be using.

Welding regulators are not set up to go directly to a mask and medical grade oxygen regulators (which will go right to a mask hose) will not fit on a welding tank (by design to thwart this very thing).
Masks are inexpensive, but medical supply houses can be sticklers for requiring a prescription for them. Online purchases rarely require them. You will want what is called a rebreather mask. They look the the ones you see fall from the airplane ceilings in movies.

If you want to give 100% oxygen and not waste any, look at the rebreather bag attached to the mask. Decrease the LPM of oxygen until you see it deflate with each inhalation but not all the way. If it stays fully inflated at all times you are wasting O2, if it goes empty/flat on inhalations, you are dropping below 100% oxygen and forcing the patient to pull in extra air from outside the mask which not only decreases the oxygen level but may be difficult for the injured. If you want to go below 100% oxygen, then make sure that the mask has valves or ports on it to allow air to be breathed in from outside or loosen the mask a bit so air can get in from the sides. Test this by making a tight seal with the mask on your face, plug up the hose and breath in. If you can do this without effort, you're set up is good. Don't go with nasal cannulas as they waste 50% of the oxygen and you're not likely to get a refill anytime soon.SF in Hawaii


Despite the dire warnings, there is no difference in oxygen purity or suitability for breathing among the four “grades.”

From a major supplier's web site:

‘There are four kinds of oxygen that are merchandised or sold to users; Aviation, Medical, Welding and Research. There is a ongoing controversy if there is any difference between the different types. Oxygen gas is produced from the boiling off of liquid oxygen. It would appear that the oxygen is therefore the same. Where we obtain oxygen, all the different types of oxygen are supplied from the same manifold system. Then someone says that medical oxygen has more moisture in it. That is partly true. The oxygen going to a hospital bed is plain oxygen that comes from liquid oxygen. At the bed location, there is a unit on the wall that adds moisture. At this moment we now have medical oxygen. If the oxygen is in a pressure vessel or in a manifold system (like inside a hospital) then it is regular oxygen. The cost of medical or welding oxygen is normally much less than the oxygen you get at an airport.
”Also of interest, we have been told by the suppliers of welding oxygen, the purity level required for welding and cutting purposes is more critical than for breathing.
”The bottom line about the different types of oxygen is in the insurance liability of the oxygen supplier. The gas is the same but the insurance liability is different.”

All oxygen is generated from oil-free compressors/liquefiers because any oil (of whatever nature) is highly flammable in 100% oxygen

The bottom line is safety – oxygen makes things burn, even people. Safe use requires scrupulous attention to cleanliness and detail. Don’t do it if you don’t know if it is safe or not. - JB, MD


I sent in a letter about using aviation or welding oxygen instead of medical oxygen and another reader replied, objecting that compressor oil could compromise the safety of the oxygen. I don’t want to get into a tit-for-tat over the subject, but I think it’s important to address the reader’s concerns because the lack of a prescription may keep people from obtaining oxygen that could later save a life.

Unlike SCUBA air, oxygen is not pumped with a compressor at the point of bottle filling. It is dispensed from a large tank that has been provided by a supplier like Air Products or Praxair. Oil, whether petroleum based or vegetable based, is not present in the compressed oxygen. Oil and grease can burn spontaneously when exposed to pure oxygen – especially under pressure – so the suppliers take care to remove such impurities before bottling.

When I said that medical, aviation and welding oxygen are all clean, pure and dry, I meant exactly that. They come from the same source! ABO, medical and welding oxygen are all U.S.P. grade oxygen and all are safe to breathe. The only differences among them are that ABO has had an additional drying step to prevent ice formation at altitude and there are slight differences in filling methods (evacuate first or not) and paperwork, all inconsequential when we’re talking about supplemental oxygen delivered through a mask or cannula.

Private pilots have been using welding oxygen for years with no ill effects. If welding oxygen somehow scares you then by all means, buy ABO: We know that’s safe to breathe. My main point was that there is a no-prescription option available.

I just Googled a good resource. This guy is an expert on the subject and perhaps his paper will clarify things and end further debate on this subject. - Matt S.

In reference to the post on September 9th concerning the Mossberg Riotgun--as far as I know the only Mossberg available with the steel safety switch (as well as steel receiver, steel trigger guard, bayonet lug and heavier/thick walled barrel) is the Mossberg 590A1. For a few dollars more it is, IMHO a better choice. They can still be had for around $500--steel trigger assemblies et cetera are available for upgrading the plastic parts but they are pricey, and the trigger assembly has to be shipped to an FFL. Once [all of this is] done it may in fact be more expensive than simply buying the Model 590A1. Best Regards, - Jason in North Idaho

Universal flu vaccine tests start in the UK

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We can now chalk up another $200 Billion in the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB). It's now official: U.S. Seizes Fannie and Freddie. This confirms my suspicion that there is no such thing as "too big to bail out", but the dictum of "too big to fail" is in full force. I predict that these bailouts will continue in both the public and private sectors, in a "widening gyre." The bailouts won't end until the US dollar is destroyed as a currency unit. Get out of any dollar-denominated investments, as soon as possible.

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Kevin A. sent us a link that illustrates the pernicious effects of inflation: The 99 Cents Only store chain gets ready to break dollar barrier. Of course I can remember the late 1960s when the Motel 6 chain raised their rates above $6 per night for a single room. Few folks now remember what the "6" in Motel 6 stood for. But even though that happened when I was a child, that dates me. As I've written before:Currency inflation is little more than robbery in slow motion. You are being robbed of your buying power. Sadly, because inflation is so gradual in the First World countries that few people raise much of a fuss.

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Ken McC. sent us an article about Veggie Garden Thefts in England.

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I spotted an article linked over at the Coinflation site that made me chuckle: Razor wire stolen by metal thieves

"The game of chicken that foreigners have been playing with their $[US Dollar] reserves will come to an end. Someone will flinch. The world's banking system primarily uses Dollars for its reserves. The other currencies used as reserves, Yen, Pounds, Euros, etc. also use Dollars as reserves. Countries are using each other as reserves in a never ending circle of falsely created values. Think of it this way, it is like two people trying to hold each other up off the ground at the same time without either touching the ground. There is no backing or foundation to any currency nor to any banking system worldwide. The last semblance of support was knocked out from under the system back in August, 1971 when Nixon closed the Gold window. Who will be first to sell Dollars? Who will be next? Who will be the first to flinch in this game of chicken? I have no idea, but when the $[US Dollar] selling starts it will snowball. It will probably destroy the entire worldwide banking in less than two weeks time once it begins. Markets will close for unspecified amounts of time, distribution, trade, travel, will all cease for unspecified amounts of time. Foodstocks will be wiped out in a week or less. This will change the world as we know it." - Bill Holter, Fannie and Freddie in the Lap of the U.S. Treasury

Monday, September 8, 2008

The U.S. economy is showing clear signs of disintegration, as the global credit collapse continues to take its toll. The once bountiful Lake of Liquidity has dried up to now resemble the Owens Valley. Corporations are screaming for cash, banks are failing, the real estate market is in freefall, and hedge funds are desperately clinging to the edge of the abyss. The proposed "solution"--The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB)-- keeps growing, with no end in sight. It is actually part of the problem rather than the solution. If you haven't done so already, prepare yourself for a long term layoff, loss of equity in your home, and and possible relocation under duress. A major depression now looks very likely.

I used to think of myself as "Mr. Preparedness." I read the blogs and often went shopping for preparedness supplies. Then tropical storm Hanna came to the Carolina coast and I realized just how ill prepared I really was.

I didn't even have my medicines in order. Also, I had no reserve of cash in small bills ready to go. Nothing was packed. It took some time to get all my things together. Had this been a real emergency, I would have been in trouble.

Sir, you mentioned in a previous blog the importance of having that bag already packed, by the door, and ready to carry to the car. I am now taking this instruction literally. I spent most of Saturday repacking. Where I focused most of my attention on was my medicines and toiletries. During evacuations I volunteer for a non-profit where they provide cooked food, have plenty of water, and have a reliable generator for the whole building. They even and a shower. I now have packed clothes for three days including a towel and shower shoes, a spare of all of my toiletries, spare medicines for a week, and what will soon be a hundred dollars in cash in small bills, all in two lightweight, easy to carry bags.

Another thing I am going to start doing is fueling up the car to "full" a little more often. And any other steps to shorten the time before I get "the call" and I am move out.
Hopefully with these preps I will be better ready the next time a disaster happens. Thanks - Wes

Mr. Rawles,

Thanks for all of the informative posts at SurvivalBlog. Based on your recommendations, I've put together the following list of firearms (all I currently own is a 38 year old .22 rifle):

  • Springfield XD .45 ACP ($568) -- for concealed carry, self defense
  • Mossberg Model 500 Special Purpose Mariner 12 gauge Shotgun 9 Shot ($423) -- for home defense, hunting
  • Remington Model 700 Varmint Tactical Rifle .308 Winchester, 22 in with Muzzle Brake, Bolt Action ($643) -- for hunting, possible tactical/precision use in TEOTWAWKI scenarios
  • Rock River Arms LAR-8 .308 Caliber Standard A2/A4 Rifle ($1,170) -- for tactical use in TEOTWAWKI scenarios

I wanted to only have to stock one rifle ammo so I tried to choose a hunting/precision rifle and an AR rifle that could use the same cartridges.

What is your assessment of the selections I made? I would really appreciate any suggestions before I make the purchases.
I never served in the military and have no experience with hunting rifles or ARs, so after I make the purchases I plan to get some training from a good local instructor. However, I wanted to get trained on my own firearms so I can become familiar with them.
So, I need advice about the following related items so that I make wise purchases that all work well together since this is an area in which I have no experience:

1. Sight recommendations for both rifles (I live on 10+ heavily-wooded acres in the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains)
2. Recommendations for LAR-8 magazines (exactly what to buy, recommended web sites)
3. Ammo sources/recommendations. I was considering .308 Win (7.62x51mm) 145 grain Prvi Partizan .
I wanted to lay in a large stock of ammo that I could use in either of the two rifles and didn't know if this was a good selection or not. I don't want to buy good guns and bad ammo. I need recommendations and sources that a newbie can follow without getting ripped off.
4. Ammo recommendations for the handgun and shotgun. There are so many choices, it's hard to decide. (manufacturer, cartridge and shell recommendations)
5. I would also appreciate a concise list of minimum spare parts / accessories I should consider for the firearms I purchase and supplier recommendations.

Thanks again for all of your help.- ALG

JWR Replies: That would make an excellent, quite versatile battery.

IMO, the Remington 700 is a bit over-priced, compared to the Savage Model 10 series, which is functionally identical (every bit as accurate), and costs about $250 less.
Since you live in a heavily-wooded area, you probably won't need a long-range rifle, but it might come in handy. Consider it your lowest priority purchase.

In answer to your questions:
1.Since you are in heavily-wooded country, leave the LAR-8 set up with iron sights. A scope on a battle rifle only makes sense in open country. However, you might want to get a low-power starlight scope for night security. I recommend the Trijicon 3-9x40mm Trophy Point scope for your bolt action. With a tritium-lit reticle, it will give you better night shooting capability than a traditional scope. Trijicon scopes are available from CGW one of our loyal advertisers.)

2. Buy either standard military surplus 20 round metric FN-FAL magazines, or inch pattern L1A1 magazines. The Israeli metric magazines were made on Belgian (FN) tooling and are some of the best metric magazines. You can get these from several vendors including Inch magazines are more scarce, but they are a bit more sturdy than the metric magazines. If you can find them for under $16 each, then buy inch (L1A1) magazines. Otherwise buy metric. (Which can be had for as little as $8 each, in quantity.) You can often find inch magazines on The FAL Files Marketplace Forum, or on Buddy's Board.

3. The Prvi ammo has had mixed reviews, possibly because of un-even quality control, so I don't recommend it. A good factory load that can be used in both your rifles is the ubiquitous white box Winchester "USA" 150 grain full metal jacket 7.62mm NATO. (Although it won't have quite the peak accuracy of 168 grain match grade, in your bolt action. But that isn't a big issue unless you are shooting more than 400 yards.)

For all of your ammo purchases, shop around for the best prices. It is best to buy each caliber all at once, so that the ammo will come from the same manufacturer's lot. (for consistent accuracy.) For recommendations on discount ammo vendors, see this SurvivalBlog post. Once you've identified the best prices by mail order,do some comparison pricing at a major gun show. Bring cash so that you don't leave a paper trail.

4. For the XD-45: Federal HydraShok .45 ACP, 230 grain
For the riotgun: Winchester or Remington #4 Buckshot 12 gauge, and a much smaller supply of 12 gauge Brenneke Rifled Slugs

5. A spare firing pin, extractor, and ejector for each gun is a good starting point. OBTW, if your Mossberg comes with a plastic safety switch, then upgrade it to a sturdier aftermarket steel switch.

For a source for spare parts for Springfield Armory XD pistols, see this SurvivalBlog post.

Buy the LAR-8 parts directly from Rock River Arms.
For the LAR-8 rifle, in addition to the aforementioned spare firing pin, extractor, and ejector, you should also buy:
1- firing pin retaining pin
1- extractor retaining pin
1- ejector retaining pin
1- buffer retaining pin
1 pr.- handguards (the most fragile part of the rifle, in my experience)

To get your XD .45 pistol free with some top-notch training, highly I recommend that you take advantage of Front Sight's "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer. It is worth flying across the country to take Front Sight's Four Day Defensive Handgun course. The Memsahib and I have both taken it, and it outstanding.

In one of the letters about acquiring oxygen, the following statement was made by a SurvivalBlog reader: “Aviation, medical and welder’s oxygen are all pure, dry and inexpensive. There is a deadly difference between oxygen made for use by a machine and oxygen made for use by people. Compressors, like any other machine, must be lubricated. Air compressors used in a dive shop [or a medical supply company] will use a natural oil, like peanut oil. Compressors used to inflate a car tire, or produce air and oxygen for welding and manufacturing processes, generally use a light machine oil. Breathing air containing trace amounts of machine oil can cause serious health problems or even death. Leaking oxygen can also cause normal chemical process to become explosive.

We all need to keep in mind that some things, like oxygen, explosives, and chemical storage are best left to experts. If someone is dead set on doing something, then they should spend the time and take the training to become an expert.

Just as I predicted a more than a year ago, and again more explicitly in October of 2007, the hedge fund failure rate is about ready to turn into an avalanche, in agonizing quarterly installments: Hedge funds ready to blow as positions liquidated. (A hat tip to Mike McD. for for finding that link.)

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For all of you that have been waiting, after many months of shortages, Mountain House has finally resumed selling their freeze dried foods in #10 (one gallon) vacuum-packed cans on the civilian market. My advice: Get them while you can. When the next disaster comes along, the thin available supply will be quickly exhausted, and Mountain House will probably shut off the tap. (Just like this last time, so they can divert production to the more profitable small serving mylar-foil packs, and for government orders.) The larger #10 cans have a 25+ year shelf life are now available from Ready Made Resources and from Safecastle. (Both are very reputable dealers that have continuously been SurvivalBlog advertisers since our early days.)

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A helpful reader alerted me to a useful article over at the Section Hiker blog: The Limitations of Water Filters and Water Purification. There are plenty of other useful articles there, including Seam Sealing a Tent or Tarp and Sleep System Tactics for Staying Warm.

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The latest flurry of economic news and commentary, courtesy of Cheryl N., our Economic Editor: UK Reporting Huge Rise in Food Costs, Take a Load Off Fannie: Bailout or Nationalization for the Mortgage Giants?, Next Hot Zone: Home Equity Delinquencies, Merrill Shares Rated "Sell" By Goldman Sachs, Gold Demand Soars. Prices Fall. What's Going Wrong?, World Markets Reel on Recession Fears, Russian Central Bank Pays $4bn to Prop Up Ruble, and Main Bank of China In Need of Capital.

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Hurricane Ike blasts Turks and Caicos as Category 4 storm


"[John Connor is] 'the leader of the resistance, fighting artificially intelligent machines determined to annihilate the human race' Did he strike you that way? Leader of a scrappy band of rebels? Luke Skywalker type?" - Richard T. Jones as FBI Agent James Ellison in the pilot episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. (Script by Josh Friedman)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I just wanted to get your thoughts on West Virginia. I live in Huntington which is at the conjunction of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. My family lives in a valley where we are related to nearly everyone there [by blood or by marriage]. We have industrial equipment in our business in the valley. Also a US Corps of Engineers lake covers one end of our road. This leaves just one roadway in or out. The only other approaches are to cross the heavily wooded hills. - Doug in West Virginia

JWR: Replies: As I've often written in my blog, you can't put a price tag on having deep roots in a small rural community. I strongly recommend that you stay right there, and encourage your relatives, friends, and neighbors to get squared away, logistically. Also encourage each family to buy a couple of rifles in a common caliber, such as .308 Winchester. Even though you are fairly close to a high population density region, in the event of a sudden-onset "worst case" you will have the the opportunity to block that road (perhaps by positioning a piece of heavy equipment as a mobile road block) and setting up a Neighborhood Watch on Steroids. The looters will then most likely go elsewhere, in search of easier pickings.

Bill from Ohio has a number of great observations about carry issues for females. Among the issues he mentions about hip holsters built for men:
1) Because of a woman's hips they tend to cause the butt of the weapon to dig-in to a woman's waist
2) Because women have hips, upon which they wear their belt they have less room to lift the weapon before it impinges into their armpit.
3) Because of factors 1 and 2 the FBI cant further complicates a natural draw for women.
I'd like to mention a holster made by Blade-Tech that addresses all three of these issues.

The offset allows for a normal vertical weapon carry by offsetting the distance from waist to hip. The drop isn't a dramatic drop like a thigh rig -- it just gives the woman a holster to armpit distance more comparable to what a man experiences. Finally the cant is fully adjustable to include straight drop, FBI, and even muzzle forward.
I have no financial relationship (other than being a customer) with Blade Tech. Just wanted to point out this groundbreaking product. - Keith in the Inland Northwest


As a follow-on to Pistol Holsters for Women, my wife had good luck with a Galco Lady Gunsite for a full-size 1911. This holster has an angled belt attachment, holding the gun vertical with the grip away from the body. This is not an effective concealment rig, as the gun sticks out from the body. It can get in the way until you get used to it. And of course, they don't make 'em anymore. - Simple Country Doctor.


In the recent letter regarding Holster Recommendations for Women, I found that I could understand that there is a problem, but was having a hard time visualizing it. A quick Google turned up an article on the subject. It does not offer the exact same solutions to the problem, but it does have diagrams.

As a guy, I found this very useful to understanding the problem. It is probably a lot safer than harassing the next female police officer I see with endless questions about her firearm. Somehow I doubt the officer--or my wife--would appreciate me pointing/shifting/tugging on the officer's gear and person just to satisfy my curiosity about this problem. - Jeff


Bill in Ohio brings up nearly everything I was going to write about yesterday (but killing blackberries and renovating the spring got in the way). His descriptions of the various holsters and how they fit on women is spot on and I doubt I could have described them as well. Everyone needs to read them very carefully, and learn!

Unfortunately, I learned all that the hard way. For over 30 years, I have carried a pistol when horseback riding, and I can assure you that as a 5'3" woman, with hips and breasts, it is no easy thing. And over the years I have come to the conclusion that the traditional thigh-tiedown type holster works best. The cowboys had that one right!

There are a couple of reasons why I use this set up. First off, it's easy and comfortable, even if you carry a good-sized pistol (in this case, a Dan Wesson .357 with a 6.5-inch barrel.) The only problem I ever had with it was that the Pachmayr grip rubbed a hole through the lining of my long riding coat. So I covered that place with Cordura.

The second reason is that while I was trying out various ways of packing that pistol, I had that big pistol at the small of my back. That worked okay, once I worked out how to get rid of the "bounce" when going faster than a walk. (I had to wear the belt so tight it was uncomfortable) But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was taking a bad fall one day, and landing on the damn thing! Ouch!

So, I nixed the belt/small of the back idea, and went back to the thigh holster.

I do sometimes carry a smaller pistol (9mm Ruger with a 2-inch barrel) at the small of my back. I rigged a fanny pack with a synthetic holster, and that works well.

I have often wondered if anyone has tried to modify (or if someone already makes) a holster integrated with one of those neoprene back support belts. It would seem to me that this would work very well. Something like a pancake holster sewn onto the belt at the small of the back. It would be comfy, wouldn't bounce, and if done right shouldn't be too difficult to draw. So, unless someone comes up with a better idea, I'm sticking with my thigh tie-down.

Oh, something else in regards to packing a weapon when riding. You should always keep your weapon on your person! If you get dumped (or your horse takes off while you are taking a leak.) you do not want to be without your defense. I also carry water, a couple power bars, a small first aid kit, and a Leatherman in my fanny pack as well.

Many of my riding friends have made fun of me over the years because of all the stuff I carry with me. I have big saddlebags, stuffed with everything I might need. But all that teasing sure stops in a big hurry when someone needs something that I happen to have! ( Like toilet paper, a tampon, a shovel, or even my gold pan!) I also take a lot of flak for usually riding the smallest horse with the most gear.

Take care, and my thoughts are with your family. I hope Memsahib is on the mend! - Mrs. JD

JWR Replies: Like you, I am not an advocate of "small of back" (SOB) holsters. They are particularly risky when riding a bicycle, motorcycle, ATV, or horse! You are fortunate that you didn't take a harder fall, or you might have suffered a spinal injury. I have read accounts of a few law enforcement officers that had severe injuries because of SOB holsters. I'm not willing to take that risk.

We saw this one coming: U.S. Rescue Seen at Hand for Two Mortgage Giants. The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) continues to grow!

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Season 2 of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (TSCC) begins tomorrow (September 8, 2008). In agreement with the fans at The Sarah Connor Society, I consider it is the best quasi-survivalist show on television. Don't look for many useful preparedness tips, but at least it is entertaining and motivational for those of us with the preparedness mindset. Meanwhile, the fourth feature film in the Terminator movie franchise ("Terminator: Salvation")--starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington--is now in production and is scheduled for release on Memorial Day weekend, 2009. This new movie is set almost entirely in a post-nuke future, as the human race battles Skynet and its Terminators. It should be good.

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Eric sent us some more "punch to the gut" economic news: U.S. House Price Decline Could Be Worse than Great Depression, Credit Crunch: The Sequel, Banks: Dominoes Ready to Fall, Banks borrow more from Fed; Wall Street takes pass, and FDIC chief is facing exceptional challenges. Somehow, the premise of my novel is starting seems less fictional, with each passing day.

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Blazer sent us this: Another Friday, Another Bank Collapse. Nevada is one of the states suffering the most from the housing market collapse, so this comes as no surprise.

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” - John Wesley

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 18 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article in the next 60 days will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 18 ends on September 30th, 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.

Hurricane Iniki, which struck the island of Kauai on September 11, 1992, was the third-most damaging hurricane in U.S. history and provides some valuable insights into how people react when an entire self-contained community loses most of their creature comforts. By way of background, Kauai is the fourth largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. It, along with a small, privately-owned island off its western coast make up the County of Kauai. The population in 1992 was about 50,000.
On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki made a direct hit on the island with winds upward of 150 miles per hour. Approximately 70 percent of the buildings on Kauai were destroyed or damaged. Telecommunications and electricity were lost and not entirely restored to all areas for six months. Due to early warning and good Civil Defense planning, there were only a handful of deaths attributed to the hurricane. The hurricane missed the rest of the state except for brushing the leeward coast of Oahu.
National Guard troops from other islands were on Kauai eight hours after the hurricane had passed. Within three days, there were approximately 1,000 National Guard personnel on the island. The command and control element reported directly to the mayor of Kauai County and to the Governor. These lessons learned are from the personal recollections of a member of the command and control element.

Most striking was the number of relief agencies that arrived on-island within a week to two weeks after the storm. At one point there were 5,000 relief workers representing 80 different governmental agencies and private organizations supporting a population of 50,000. The 1:10 ratio of relief workers to residents was one reason that there was almost no looting or lawlessness in the aftermath of the storm. This ratio of 1:10 would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in more densely populated areas or disasters that affect larger geographical regions (as we saw following Hurricane Katrina) . In New Orleans, the military response was initially focused on rescue or recovery and not on law enforcement.

Military planning is built around “operating systems” i.e. maneuver, communications, etc. To facilitate planning, the operating systems inherent in all civilian communities were identified, assessed and tracked to determine their current status to coordinate support and to help estimate how long before each system would be brought back on-line.
These systems were:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Communications and electricity
  • Sewage treatment and waste disposal
  • Traffic control and public safety
  • Medical Services

Each of these operating systems presented unique challenges and insights as they relate to disaster planning.
Water - There are few private wells on the island. The County owns the water system, which consists of reservoirs in the mountains and some wells that service the drier parts of the island. The first priority for Civil Defense was to install generators at all pumping stations. In most areas water was back on-line within 3-to-4 days.
Food - MREs, supplied by the Federal government, were available within a few days after the storm. They became the main source of calories for most people. However, the novelty of eating MREs quickly wore off and distributing food became a high priority. Feeding stations serving a hot lunch were set up at various locations around the island using military cooks and idle chefs from the various resort hotels. However, headcounts changed daily and it was difficult to ensure that sufficient food was available at each location.

Communications and electricity - In 1992, there were few cellular phones. Nearly everyone relied on land lines for their telephone service. The hurricane downed perhaps a third of telephone/electrical poles on the island. Crews were flown in from as far away as the east coast and worked months to repair the damage. Replacement poles were obtained from the mainland and shipped to Kauai. Reportedly, the base yards in several western states were emptied of poles to support the recovery operation for a community of 50,000. It should be noted that Hurricane Andrew had hit Florida three week before Iniki and the two areas were competing for some high priority items like telephone poles and the, much prized, blue plastic tarps used as temporary patches for leaking roofs. There were microwave relay sites on the island to transmit communications signals from Kauai to the other islands and, then, worldwide. Some of these sites had only minor damage and were quickly repaired. Others were destroyed and replacement equipment was flown in from Oahu or the mainland. Within a week. telephone service was available to the public via mobile phone trailers that were set up around the island. However, telephone service to individual homes, like electricity, was delayed for up to six months as crews replaced downed poles.

Sewage treatment and waste disposal - Kauai is a mix of public sewer systems and [private] septic systems. FEMA provided generator support to the Kauai County sewage treatment facilities and sewage never became a major health issue. Waste disposal was more challenging. The hurricane created a lot of destruction and debris. County sanitation workers had been furloughed to take care of their families. The County landfills were initially closed. People began to dump trash along side the roads. About three weeks after the storm over 1,500 active duty soldiers were brought to the island with their equipment and went door-to-door cleaning up yards and hauling away debris. A new landfill with an expected life of ten years that had been opened shortly before the storm was completely filled within a couple of months.

Traffic control and public safety - It became apparent within the first few days that the Kauai Police Department was overwhelmed. A decision was made to free-up police officers whenever feasible to take care of their own families. Restoration of electricity to key intersection was given high priority so that traffic signals would be operational. Interestingly, there was little civilian traffic for the first week since few businesses were operating and most of the roads were blocked by downed poles. A military police unit was flown in to provide traffic control as needed. However, as conditions improved, people adapted to driving without traffic lights and were generally courteous to other drivers when arriving simultaneously at intersections. Few accidents were reported. Looting was minimal due to the large presence of the military. The Honolulu SWAT deployed to Kauai and operated at night in high priority areas such as near jewelry stores, banks, etc. Two looters were arrested within the first week following the storm. In what amounted to lighting justice, they were charged, tried and convicted, and incarcerated within a week. The case was widely publicized and served as a great deterrent. The fact that access to the island was tightly controlled for the first month also stopped any outsiders from taking advantage of the situation. The lesson learned is that highly visible military and police presence coupled with quick convictions served to keep criminal activity at a manageable level. However, the local police department, as we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is probably incapable of maintaining law and order.

Medical - All medical personal who live on Kauai were affected by the hurricane and, with the exception of emergency rooms, normal medical support ceased. State and County Civil Defense had air evacuated most expectant mothers and dialysis patients to Oahu a few hours before the hurricane struck. Interviews with doctors from the various relief organizations uncovered a pattern of medical emergencies. The first few days saw broken bones from falling off roofs, nail punctures and similar wounds. After about a week, diabetics and people on mood altering prescription drugs started to show up at the clinics looking for medication. These were followed by people who had ran out of medicine for chronic maladies like high blood pressure and epilepsy.

Drug addicts presented a special problem in that their regular supply was disrupted. No illegal drugs were getting on the island because the airfields and seaports were controlled by the military. Initially, addicts turned to known drug dealers and, if necessary, broke into the dealers’ homes looking for drugs. As a last resort, they started to appear at medical aid stations. Typically this occurred 7-10 days after the storm.

Medical challenges provide some of the most relevant lessons learned for people interested in preparing for a breakdown in local, regional or national government. As any infantryman will tell you, the welfare and location of the unit medic is always on your mind. If you don’t believe you have any skills to offer a group, you should develop your first aid and medical skills. There will always be a need for a “doc” to take care of group members. Research and build your own medical kit. Talk to emergency room workers and find out how they triage incoming patients. Research and memorize the checklists that first responders use as they assess patient needs and prioritize casualties. Research the process doctors use to diagnose patient complaints and symptoms. Medical equipment and a confident air could be your passport to safety. One of the most prized items turned out to be generators. Without the immediate influx of generators from FEMA and the military, life of Kauai after the hurricane would have been much tougher. Generators pumped water, cleaned sewage, provided electricity to medical facilities, and refrigerated perishable food that had been barged and flown to the island. In many instances, relatives of Kauai resident living on the other islands or the mainland bought generators and have them shipped to the Kauai. Military and civilian generators arriving at the port on Kauai were occasionally stolen by enterprising homeowners who simply backed their trucks up and drove off with a generator that had been off-loaded and staged for pickup by the legal owner. Apparently some local residents felt that it was worth the risk to provide refrigeration and lights to their families. The willingness to risk jail to obtain a generator can likely be traced to the desire to eat fresh food. MREs quickly lost their savor, especially for children.

Kauai residents would tell you that the most stressful time came immediately after the hurricane when all communication was lost and people were restricted to their immediate neighborhoods by the downed poles and trees. They simply did not know if they were going to get any help because they did not know whether the other islands had been hit by the storm. A communication plan that is well thought-out ahead of time would be a great psychological boost following a catastrophe. In addition to a good electronics, something as simple as a bulletin board that is updated every few hours would help the cohesiveness and bonding of the group.

Finally, I need to say something about the way people reacted and adjusted following the storm. In 1992, people in their 70s and 80s had lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They proved to be tougher than one would expect . They usually had a better attitude and often adapted better to living without television, electrical light and refrigeration than did many younger people. Military people found the duty easier than most field training exercises. Military veterans had often endured tougher times and also quickly adapted. In general, the more outdoor oriented people were, the easier their transition and recovery. Some folks could not cope with the dramatic changes in their routine and committed suicide. Others left the island; never to return.

Gidday Mr Rawles,
I was just wondering whether or not it would be wise for me to join a tactical Airsoft club in the future. Due to the current political climate in New Zealand training with live firearms, and so forth is frowned upon and could get you labelled as a "terrorist".
However there are a lot of Tactical Airsoft/Paintball groups throughout the country and I was wondering whether it would be a wise move for me to join one of these clubs to gain some tactical skills/experience? Or is it better to avoid groups all together? - S.S. in New Zealand

JWR Replies: I can't speak to the potential OPSEC or legal issues, but I can talk about the value of the training. In my experience Airsoft and paintball are fine for learning some aspects of camouflage and small team tactics. The fatal flaws of both, however, are that:
1.) Since paint balls and Airsoft pellets have hardly any penetration beyond five yards, people start to subconsciously equate concealment with cover.
2.) Because paint balls only have limited range, people start to subconsciously think of anything beyond that range as "safely out of range" (for maneuver in the open.)
If you can regularly remind yourself about those shortcomings and adjust your training regimen accordingly, then you'll find that they provide somewhat worthwhile training. But it is essential that you integrate high velocity ballistic realism. This means declaring anyone that blatantly stands up in the open at 50+ yards "dead meat." Ditto for anyone that mistakenly takes "cover" behind bushes. Again, concealment is not cover!

Bill N. recommended bookmarking the National Weather Service Doppler Radar Maps Page.

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The latest big dose of Gloom-und-Doom from SurvivalBlog's Economic Editor: House Price Crash Goes Global, In the Eye of the Credit Crisis Hurricane, GM, Ford, Chrysler on Sales Collapse Risk Bankruptcy, Purge the [Financial] System of its Failures, Two Wall St. Brokers Accused of $1Bn Subprime Fraud, GMAC To Cut Staff, Close Mortgage Operations to Cut Costs, I Want To Scare The H*ll Out Of You, Tice: Huge Stock Decline Ahead, Lightening The Mood With A Deflator (The Mogambo Guru), Pick-A-Payment Loans Turn Poisonous, and The Stagflation Squeeze.

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And if all the preceding cheery news and commentary wasn't enough for you, Krys in Idaho found this British article that illustrates that the stock market problems go far beyond our shores: Wall Street open: Share rout continues as jobless figures disappoint. Krys also found this piece to ponder: Volcker Says Finance System `Broken,' Losses May Rise

"Anybody moves, and they're dead meat! (Pause, as he hears many vehicle engines approaching.) Oh, no, I think we're all dead meat!" - Adam Cockburn as Jedediah Jr., in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (Screenplay by Terry Hayes and George Miller)

Friday, September 5, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $400. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). The auction ends on September 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

Hello Jim,

Like many readers I have always been somewhat of a gun nut. Back when I was young and single I spent a lot of money on guns and ammo including items I didn't really need that have since accumulated over time. I was single and had money to spend. Fast forward to the present with wife and kids and money is tight. There is not much left for prepping. So I decided to take stock of what I really need for my core battery of weapons/ammo and sell the rest and use the proceeds for prepping. Here are some lessons learned:

It's important to have balance in your preparations between weapons and everything else. An M1A battle rifle is no more important than a Troy-Bilt tiller or a good pair of Danner boots. Ammunition has appreciated greatly in value and been an excellent investment (although [that was] not my original intent). My stocks of 7.62x54r, 7.62x39 and .303 British have at least doubled or tripled in value. A friend recently stated that Portuguese 7.62 NATO [ammunition in sealed battle packs] would have been a much better investment than gold. It would be nice to hold onto this ammunition longer and allow it to appreciate some more but there are other critical supplies that take precedence. You are correct when you state "tangibles, tangibles, tangibles" as a store of value. Hope this provokes some thought. - Jeff in Ohio

JWR Replies: Your observations are spot on. Prioritizing and logistical balance are crucial.

I can personally attest that Portuguese 7.62 NATO battle packs were indeed a great investment. Because of the Memsahib's recent large hospitalization expenses, I've been forced to liquidate many of my tangibles. For example, I recently sold two cases of "Port". (Each wooden case has 1,000 rounds, packed in 200 round battle packs. Each case weighs about 65 pounds.) These cases cost me $180 each in 2001. I just sold them for $475 each, and I've seen them recently sell for as much as $500 each. It is notable that there are very few bonds, stocks, or other investments that have appreciated so well in four years. My only regret is that I couldn't afford to buy 30 or 40 cases at $180 each! As some of the characters in my novel often lament: "Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20."

Dear James,
The recently given today about pistol holsters is fine....fine for men! And this is in no way criticizing the author - I just wanted to make a few continuation points on this subject that I think need to be addressed, in order for your readers to develop more well rounded preparations.

What often gets neglected in the firearms world is the plight of women. Women, in general, are not taken in to consideration when it comes to weapon and equipment design, and are usually talked down to by many in the industry, especially counter persons in gun shops.

Granted, some steps are being taken to correct this - I think the S&W M&P [semi-auto] pistol is a step in the right direction, with its various sizes of replaceable grips, and its torque absorbing design (in regard to shooting the .40S&W round.) But this is just start, and is by far not the norm in the industry.

In my opinion, nowhere are women more ignored than with proper pistol holsters. What works for men rarely works with any comfort or ease for the majority of women, and there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration when the women readers of SurvivalBlog choose their gear (or a well meaning significant other does it for them.)

First - Women's waists are approximately 2"-to-4" higher than men's. You can take a man and woman of the same height, stand them next to each other, and note where the belt line is. You'll see it immediately once you know to look. This creates your first problem with any kind of 3-o'clock carry position. What ends up happening is that when the lady attempts to draw the pistol, she ends up drawing it into her armpit. It's slow and uncomfortable for her. Look close at the next female police officer you see who's department requires her to carry a standard issue holster in the 3 or 6-o'clock position. You'll note how much higher the stocks of the weapon are in regard to her armpit, and how cumbersome that would be if you had to carry that way.

Second - Women have hips, and women have rear ends that curve outwards. And isn't that why most men like them? We can't deny that we know this, it's what us men are always getting backhanded for staring at, so no excuses! Where this effects holsters is: a) 3-o'clock carry, because of the hips, ends up flaring the barrel of the pistol out, and causing the stocks to dig into her side - and it just gets worse when she sits down. b) Attempting to move the holster to some sort of kidney carry or small of the back is right out to to the curves on her rear end. c) Trying to carry IWB holsters just exaggerates the problem, regardless of clock position.

Third - Most holsters set up for strong side carry have what's called an 'FBI Cant.' All this does is create even more problems on the draw stroke. What you usually end up seeing women do is roll their shoulder forward as they draw in order to compensate for the odd angle. Another discomfort factor. And lest not forget that some women have breasts (no really, it's true), and that cant and carry method can be very uncomfortable.

So, the question now is: what do we do about all of this?

Here's a base point: The only flat spot on most women's waists (note that I said most - some women have flat rear ends and flat hips, but it's far from the norm) is the inguinal channel. That's the spot right where the leg meets the torso, and is commonly referred to in the gun world as the appendix carry position.

Many women find this the most comfortable place to wear a holster, both standing and sitting, should they choose to carry on their belt. One issue when choosing a holster is the proper cant angle, as the FBI cant will not work with this method of carry. One hint is to look for a cross draw holster set up for left-side carry (for the right-handed shooter), and [then instead] wear it on the right side of the body [, just to the right of the belt buckle].

There are a few companies I know of that will make such holsters in polymer, at the customer's request:

And there are a couple of leather holster makers that will custom make them, as well:
Milt Sparks
C. Rusty Sherrick

Expect to pay, and expect to special order. And in the case of leather makers, expect to wait a long time. As I said in the beginning of this, the industry is not catering to the needs of women.

Next option, shoulder holsters. I'm not a fan of them for a number of reasons, but for some women it really is their best option.

Now, why is all of this such a big deal? For starters, all of us should care about the women in our lives, and women should care about their own lives. Seems pretty much like common sense, but my observation over the years when it comes to women allowing their men to buy their guns and holsters for them is this: It's much like allowing your man to buy your underwear for you. He'll buy what he thinks you look good in, not what functions for you in a practical manner. Many women will also go with what their father, brother, husband, boyfriend, or stranger at the gun shop recommends, because most women simply aren't as experienced with such things, and will trust who they think knows more about it.

But the problem comes in when they try to train with ill-fitting gear, or to use it on a day-to-day basis. They end up fighting it the whole way, and many eventually give up on it. This doesn't serve any of us well! If things ever get as bad as well think they might, we will need very set of hands available, to do as many jobs as they can. Your wife, grandmother, girlfriend, sister, daughter, etc., may be the only other adult on the spot that you trust. She may be who you rely on to defend you, or defend your children, or defend herself. And it probably won't be during open warfare! It will probably be during the next extreme batch of weather or economic conditions, or when some evildoer decides to target you. She will probably have to carry a pistol concealed, everyday, all day. And she will need to do so as comfortably as possible, and with as much practice as possible beforehand. It will need to be on her person, and ready to go at all times. And if she can't do so practically, she may just opt out of it all together in order to function, and that opens you, your family and her up to all kinds of potential risk.

Get the right gear for the right application! Yes, sometimes we all need to make due, and obviously lack of a proper holster should not be used as an excuse to loose a fight. But we should be getting proper gear now, while we can, and while we need to fire a few thousands rounds in training. And knowing what "proper" is....well, that's half the battle! - Bill from Ohio

JWR Replies: Thanks for those comments. Just one proviso: Positioning a holster or magazine pouches forward of the hips makes crawling when prone very difficult. Plan accordingly. For post-TEOTWAWKI tactical carry, consider wearing a Y-harness or a load bearing vest. Not only will it distribute the weight of the belt more evenly, but you can also un-buckle your pistol belt when you need to low crawl, and not lose it.

Dave S. flagged this: Greek youths rob supermarket, hand out food

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More economic cheer, gleaned by SurvivalBlog's Economic Editor, Cheryl N.: Fed Imposes Financial Sector Imperialism Over US, HSBC Super-Rich Clients Moving Into Cash, No Credit For Central Bankers by The Mogambo Guru, Ponzi Dynamics Still At Play, Gustav Hits US Economy, More Impact Due to Weaker Economy, and Intaxicating Rebate Checks--The Mogambo Guru.

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I generally agree with Bill Gross, but his recent suggestion smacks of socialism to me: U.S. Must Buy Assets to Prevent `Tsunami,' Gross Says. (A hat tip to Krys in Idaho for the link.)

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The recent mention of newspaper fire log rolling machines prompted Eric to mention this one from Taylor Gifts, and this one from Lehman's. OBTW, if you ever order anything from Lehman's since they are one of our Affiliate Advertisers, we a get a teensy piece of the action, but only if you order using this link. Thanks!

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A reminder that the WRSA has another "Grid-Down Medical Course" scheduled in Everett, Washington, September 12th to 14th. Their training is inexpensive, and highly recommended.

"Committee: The unwilling, selected from the unfit, to do the unnecessary." - Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $370. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). The auction ends on September 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

Howdy Mr. Rawles!
Before I begin, I’d like to offer my congratulations on your fine novel being republished. I’ve read it once myself, then again to my family (I hate television, reading is good family entertainment) which should be considered high accolades in itself. Currently my copy is in the Pacific Northwest, bound for the midwest next, as it continues to travel the country within my circle of friends.

I read the posted letter by R.P. on 26 August, and associated recommendations on holsters, slings, and web gear, and thought I’d offer some discussion on the matter:

The main reason pistols are currently worn on thigh rigs has less to do with ‘CDI’ [“Chicks Dig It”] factor and more to do with accessibility. When one wears a vest festooned with pouches, the bulk of these tend to hinder proper presentation of the pistol when the holster is worn conventionally on the pants belt. That is, if the pants belt can even be seen, as most wear their vests low enough to preclude such. The addition of body armor only exacerbates the situation. The pistol, therefore, is typically moved elsewhere – mostly onto a thigh rig or integrated into the vest itself. This is far from a new style though – the old leather 1911 holsters hung down from the frog clip to accomplish the same purpose.

As you noted, thigh holsters typically aren’t comfortable while ‘on the move’ . They are good for one thing though, and that’s an assault. Thus the reason that laden troops are often seen with them – those troops are equipped for an assault. Additionally, a conventionally mounted holster will typically interfere with a ruck waist belt. If not precluding ruck use entirely, at a minimum compromising comfort.

I’ve been working through these issues for years, and have come to some conclusions:

No one rig will ‘do it all’. Compromises abound and are mandatory. For the vast majority of time (as it applies to me) a light vest, at the
most, is all that is called for.

I am not personally a fan of the heritage [LC-1/LC-2 series] deuce gear. Not that the concept is wrong, bad, or anything else – but the ALICE clips (or as my associates and I came to call them, “meat hooks”) really did need to be jettisoned. They rub body parts raw, blistered, and cause other similar problems when used for any significant length of time. As well, the magazine pouches were designed more for extreme magazine retention and protection (security) than allowing a speedy reload, and the closure hardware on them never was very robust. When I had evolved my deuce gear as far as it would go, my pouches were all lashed to the pistol belt with gutted paracord. Using the grommets of the belt and the freshly-emptied ALICE clip slots on the pouches, paracord can be worked tight enough to prevent pouch movement laterally and vertically. Another consideration is that by using paracord, there is less metal to clink against other items. This technique worked well in my opinion, and happened to be identical to the way – in both layout and attaching - one of my closest friends independently evolved his LBE in Ranger school. If one is really attached to that generation of equipment, then I recommend this method of pouch attachment, as it is a quantum step up in comfort! Just make sure that the knots are oriented away from your body and melted somewhat, to prevent them from coming loose and the paracord sheathing from unraveling.

In my opinion the new generation of MOLLE load bearing vest (LBV) is superior to the old deuce gear - of course allowing that everyone is different. Not only are the MOLLE vests superior in comfort, but the modularity offers the capability of repositioning your pouches to find the placement where they feel best for that individual. I personally prefer the slightly older models that use two buckles in the front, as opposed to a zipper. Conveniently, these vests are low enough in cost that purchasing one per rifle, carbine, or shotgun isn’t cost prohibitive.

Like R.P. and yourself, I have attended Front Sight. I’ve also attended other top-notch institutions – I typically attend at least one course per year. As such, it should come as no surprise that after significant attempts at finding “a better way”, I also advocate using a conventionally mounted belt holster. It seems we prefer the same manufacturers as well – Blade-Tech and Milt Sparks specifically. The Milt Sparks folks talked me into trying the Summer Special II and I’ve been happily using that for the last three years or so and actually prefer it to the original Summer Special. I would also add Lou Alessi to the recommended holster-maker list, as I’ve been using his leather belt holsters for the last decade or so and am quite taken by his execution of the old Bruce Nelson design, which Lou calls the DOJ holster. Specifically, I prefer the slightly modified version he made for Dick Heinie. Those can still be ordered as such directly from Lou, as Dick quit carrying them. I’ve used several gun belts over the years, but eventually stuck with the Riggers Belt offered by The Wilderness. I prefer mine with the optional 5-stitch reinforcement, to make the belt less flexible under load.

I have found that the key to proper pistol presentation when wearing a vest is to have the vest ride high enough that it doesn’t interfere with the holstered pistol; not quite as high as a chest rig, but almost. As well, when laying out the pouches for attachment, I leave a open area on my front and both sides; approximately 10:45 to 1:15, 2:00 to 4:30, and 7:30 to 10:00 are all open space. This allows unimpeded access to a properly holstered pistol, as well as the spare pistol magazines and such on the opposite hip. The open area directly to my front is so that I can assume a solid prone position without lying on full magazine pouches; I space the pouches such that they act as wheel chocks when I’m in the prone. With the vest riding at this height, other items can be carried on the belt with decent access – a knife, pistol magazines, flashlight, multi-tool, and compass for example. With all that open area though, the vest really doesn’t carry much. As I’m not employed to assault enemy positions, I don’t need an assault vest. What I do need – and what the vest provides – is water, more ammo for the pistol and carbine, navigation, communications, and a blow-out kit. If called for, a PVS-14 or PVS-7D in rigid case can be quickly and securely attached to the water carrier on the back. As the unofficial motto of my favorite school says, “shoot, move, and communicate”, this vest is geared to meet those needs. What it is not geared to meet is self-sustainability. This vest shouldn’t be confused with a rig meant for patrolling, what one would choose to wear when knowingly venturing into unfriendly areas, or anything to sustain oneself longer than a few hours. Essentially this is a vest to be worn when contact isn’t expected, just something to work ones way back to a nearby resupply.

For the applications where the light vest isn’t sufficient, a ruck is called for, as well as a vest that works well with a ruck but also has the volume capabilities for sustainability. Of course, this is a trade-off, and there are many trade-offs involved in choosing kit. As always, determined by METT-T [Mission,+Enemy,+Terrain,+Troops+Time Available]. At this time, for a patrolling / heavy vest, I’m evaluating the K171 Arktis model. It’s heavier, bulkier, doesn’t allow unimpeded pistol usage (the pistol is stowed in a cross draw integral holster and meant to provide security over speed), and favors security over speed in reloading – but it does carry a patrolling load well.

On the topic of slings, I realize this is personal preference, but I prefer different slings for different applications. On a battle rifle or a precision rifle, I prefer the Quick-Cuff from Tactical Intervention Specialists. I’d been using these slings for years before our military adopted them as part of issue sniper kit - they really are top-drawer quality. I’ve used them on long-range courses and competitions and never regretted it. It doesn’t do anything that a good loop sling doesn’t do – it just does it faster and easier. For shotguns and carbines, it’s difficult to find better than the Giles or Vickers slings, in my opinion. When set-up such that the buttplate is approximately one fist height below the chin, these work very well.

At this point though, I’d like to reiterate your admonition that training must be sought. If a trip into the Arizona or Nevada deserts, the Oregon mountains, the Oklahoma hills, isn’t a viable option at the moment, then I also advocate the Appleseed Program [rifle matches and clinics]. These fine, hospitable folks will get you spooled up on the basics of marksmanship quickly and efficiently – I should know, I’ve been volunteering as an instructor for almost a year now. All the best, and God Bless! - Bravo

Josh’s article [on Survival Medicine and Ditch Medicine] was very good. I wanted to address the fact that a medical oxygen bottle is illegal to possess without a prescription and/or doctor’s care.

Actually, I don’t think the bottle itself is illegal. Just illegal for someone to fill it with medical oxygen without a prescription. But that’s beside the point because there is a simple, legal alternative: Aviation oxygen.

Aviation oxygen tanks and gas are easily obtained and not inordinately expensive ($150-to-$250 depending on size). Aviation, medical and welder’s oxygen are all pure, dry and inexpensive. With the “ABO” (Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen) label the tank can only be filled with aviation oxygen. Remove the ABO label and it can be refilled at an industrial gas supplier that sells welding oxygen. No prescription required in either case.

The same people who sell the tanks also supply disposable nasal cannulas and masks. Best, - Matt S.


I was glad to see Josh in Montana submit his article on basic medical intervention. I just came off my duty shift as an EMT-I crew chief. I wanted to make you aware of a great online resource:

The AAOS EMT Basic 9th Edition is the current curriculum for all Army Combat Medics. My son went through Fort Sam last year and this site proved a good study aid for him and his fellow students. It provides a handy chapter selection tool if you are also using the textbook so you can stay coordinated with class study. But would also be a good overview for anyone.

Some features are:
Interactive Scenarios
Interactive Anatomy
Chapter pre-tests

- Steve P. , EMT in Wisconsin

I'll begin with some positive news from an Australian newspaper, by way of reader Kevin A.: Fifty Reasons To Thank NASA

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FerFAL (SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Argentina) recently posted some quotes and commentary on Gabe Suarez's description of his training trip to Argentina.

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Pamela mentioned a commercially-made fireplace log rolling machine that speeds the newspaper rolling process that was described in a SurvivalBlog article posted earlier this year.

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SurvivalBlog's Economic Editor Cheryl N. sent us another batch of economic news and commentary: Credit Crunch Cancer Metastasizing, US National Debt Clock, World Heads for Deflationary Collapse, Scramble for Cash as Central Banks Dry Up, Lehman Bros. Faces Korean Takeover Bid, and Credit Crisis Financial Armageddon.

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Reader B.P. mentioned that he watched a recent television show about children in Africa being saved from starvation by a new a new product called Plumpy'nut, which requires no refrigeration and that has two year shelf life. B.P. notes: "I was thinking that this product would also be a good [supplementary] food source for infant children in a SHTF scenario." JWR's comments: Since it is a paste, it might also be useful for anyone in rehabilitation from jaw or dental trauma, or for elderly patients that are sans dentures. It is also a captivating possibility for a lightweight, compact food source for G.O.O.D. kits. (Although, to provide nearly complete nutrition it should probably be supplemented with blue-green algae tablets, jerky, honey, some selected vitamins, and a source of dietary fiber.) The only big downside I can see is that it can't be eaten by anyone with a peanut allergy. I predict that if a food packager in the US were to sell it, it would be an ideal candidate for a BOGO arrangement, to support an international charity.

"...anyone who has been dragging his feet and has still got the bulk of his savings in the banking system, particularly the U.S. banking system, it’s getting almost too late to act. You need to move very quickly to get the bulk of your savings out of the weaker should own U.S. Treasuries directly in a money market fund...don’t sit around until it’s too late...finding yourself at the back of the line in front of your bank." - Robert Prechter, quoted in Once in 100 Year Crisis?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Today we are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Hardened Shelters. Be sure to visit their web site and check out their amazing engineering, architectural, and construction management expertise. They design and oversee the construction of blast shelters, fallout shelters, safe rooms, panic rooms, vaults, storm shelters, photovoltaic power systems, shelter ventilation systems, and more.

The Memsahib will be at the hospital again starting this week for further treatment. Please pray for a miracle for her. (She'd appreciate your prayers upon Psalm 20:1-5)

A friend first introduced me to your blog, and I have begun to seriously consider many of the suggestions made by you and others for preparedness. One of the biggest indicators of a person's level of preparedness is an actual or potential disaster event

My wife and I have lived in Northwestern Louisiana for a little over two years. On the eve of Hurricane Gustav, we realized how unprepared we were for lack of power, water, let alone social breakdown. I certainly didn't expect a major disaster, and we didn't have one, but it is better to be prepared and not need it than get caught wanting.

My wife and I were traveling from a camping trip outside of Houston back to our home, and had the chance to learn by watching others. Halfway home, we stopped at a WalMart to gather some needed supplies (batteries, food, water, etc.) which we thought would be exhausted at home. To our surprise, most people had filled their baskets with chips, sodas, and frozen foods. It was Labor Day, but this particular town seemed to be at a heightened sense of alert for the Hurricane, so I didn't think all these people were prepping for a barbeque. Quite a few were stocking up on beer, coleman fuel, and flashlights.

The rice, beans and canned food shelves were full, as were the ammo shelves. Fruits and Vegetables were stocked to the brim, and the entire produce section was deserted.

While in the checkout lane, my wife and I decided that we need to spend a night a week planning and preparing and keeping inventory of our food supplies. My brother and his wife are beginning to understand the ramifications of being unprepared, and also have decided to take stock of their preparedness situation. I have thought long and hard about becoming prepared, but have taken very little action.

This mild scare has motivated me to get it in gear.

Thank you for your dedication to teaching and sharing your knowledge and experience with others. Without your blog, I would have never begun to think about being prepared in bad times. Thanks, - Matt S.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
You are a great man for what you do! You have shaped my life in many ways and most certainly opened my eyes to many things, and for that thank you. I have recently started my own small TEOTWAWKI preparedness group of like-minded Christians.

We have standardized our gear but I have no idea how much ammo we should carry on our web gear, and if we should have a combo of rifle and pistol ammo. We have a lot of ammo stockpiled but we are wondering about patrols and other times when we would need to be away from our retreat location.
Thank you for any help you can offer. - California Guy

JWR Replies: My general guidance for a retreat security "basic load" for truly inimical times is:

.308 semi-auto rifle: Four spare 20 round magazines.

AK-47, AK-74 or .223 semi-auto rifle: Six spare 30 round magazines

Pistol caliber SMG: Eight spare 30 or 32 round magazines .

M1 Garand:10 spare loaded 8-round clips.

.30 caliber bolt action rifle: 80 rounds. (Hopefully, you'll have a rifle with either a detachable magazine or a stripper clip guide, for faster loading.)

SKS: 120 rounds on 10 round stripper clips. (12 full stripper clips.)

Riotgun: 50 buckshot shells, and 7 to 10 rifled slug shells (depending pouch configurations)

Handgun (supplementing a rifle or riotgun): four spare magazines for single stack magazine pistols, or three spare magazines for double stack guns.

Revolver (supplementing a rifle or riotgun): six spare speed loaders or full moon clips.

All of the above noted quantities might vary, depending on the situation. For example, if you are foraging for game you'd surely want to substitute some soft nose ammo, and birdshot. If you are on a preemptive offensive raid (God forbid), you'd probably want to carry much more ammo. Ditto for stocking an LP/OP or what you'd carry in a vehicle, where weight and space are not paramount concerns. If on a long range "avoid all contact" reconnaissance patrol or if you are inside your perimeter doing chores, you'd probably carry much less ammo.

I generally recommend carrying semi-auto rifle magazines loaded with tracers for the last three rounds in each magazine. (In the stress of defensive shooting situations you almost certainly won't be counting rounds, so the flash of tracers will cue you to switch magazines.) Your state/local laws and wildfire conditions, of course might preclude this.

Again, varying circumstances might very likely necessitate some increases or decreases to what I've suggested. And, of course, your physical stature and fitness or mountainous terrain might also dictate some changes.

One closing note for readers in California and other hoplophobic states that have enacted magazine bans: You will likely have to make do with smaller magazines. Make the best of it until you can move to state with greater freedom. At least California's "high capacity" magazine ban has a grandfather clause for any 11+ round magazines that you legally possessed on or before December 31, 1999. New York (state) also grandfathers any 11+ round magazines that were made before September of 1994, regardless of when you acquired them. Consult your state and local laws!

Hi Jim,
Thought you might find this article interesting: Sun Makes History: First Spotless Month in a Century

As a scientist (Oceanography) I have been astounded with scientists who can not see the forest through the trees when it comes to global warming. The ocean temperatures have been dropping over the last 1-to-2 years (as well as the overall temperature on Mars). Correlate the ocean temperature with sun spot activity and you do not need any more “proof” as this will show the direct cause-effect relationship of the sun to the temperature of the oceans.

Note that if we do get a “mini-ice age” in the next 10 years, then there will be a massive shift in demographics as northerners head south! Retreat locale may have to rethought for more northern regions unless you like living in “Siberia”. God Bless, - MRL.

I noticed that the spot price of silver dipped below $12.70 per ounce for the first time in many moons. Given the pitiful intrinsic value of the US Dollar, in my opinion silver priced anywhere south of $13.50 is a bargain. Buy on the dips!

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Reader "MGB" flagged a web site that illustrate which countries to avoid for offshore banking: This US IRS page shows the countries that have "transparency" via tax treaties And MGB recommend the Sovereign Society web site as a resource for comparing banking privacy of various nations.

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Naish Piazza's blog features a link to a great video produced for the US Marine Corps: In the Fight… Even When Shot. OBTW, speaking of Naish Piazza, Front Sight "Get a Gun" training and gear package offer will be ending soon. This is your chance to get five days of awesome training and an XD pistol and a lot of other gear and useful references for less than the normal cost of the training alone. Don't miss out on this deal, or you will regret it later!

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Simon in England sent us some evidence that the public fear of guns in the UK Nanny State has gone absolutely ballistic. Simon writes: "A SNP (Scottish National Party) councillor - Jahangir Hanif - almost got the sack for shooting a gun legally (years before he became a councillor) when on holiday in Pakistan. Instead, he got "a two-month suspension". No, you have not read that wrong. He broke no laws in Pakistan, Scotland, or the UK but there is still a call to sack him." Here are some links to news stories about this man's public humiliation for daring to shooting a gun recreationally: Councillor Kalashnikov, Kalashnikov councillor suspended, SNP refuse to kick out 'Kalashnikov councillor', Kalashnikov councillor escapes SNP expulsion, What has become of Scotland the Brave? William Wallace must be restless in his grave. OBTW, if any politicians from Scotland would like to engage in some similar "foolish and inappropriate conduct", they are welcome to come visit the Rawles Ranch. Perhaps we'll even fire some "evil" tracer ammo or detonate some Tannerite charges with one of my L1A1 ("SLR") rifles. That should send the UK tabloid press into an absolute paroxysm of hoplophobic frenzy.

"The amount of gold in existence is finite. It cannot be increased any faster than by 1.6% per annum (the rate at which mines are producing gold). Whereas the amount of money in circulation is currently expanding at double-digit levels, on a worldwide basis, the U.S. M3 money supply back in 1980 was 1.8 trillion dollars. Today, according to economist John Williams, the U.S. M3 money supply has ballooned to almost 15 trillion dollars. Some of that extra money has the potential to move into gold." - Peter Degraaf, in Is the Price of Gold Artificially Depressed?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $350. The auction for a mixed lot that includes: Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans, (donated by Ready Made Resources--a $320 value), a NukAlert radiation detector, (donated by KI4U--a $160 value), a Wilson Tactical COP tool, (donated by Choate Machine and Tool Company, a $140 value), a DVD of 480 E-books on Alternative Energy (donated by WK Books--a $25 value). The auction ends on September 15, 2008. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today we present another entry for Round 18 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article in the next 60 days will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 18 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

There may come a time when we are no longer afforded the luxury of dialing 911 to receive prompt emergency medical care within minutes. You yourself may be faced with a sick or injured loved one, having nobody to turn to but you and your skills as well as inventory of supplies to provide critical interventions.

My lively hood is emergency pre-hospital medicine. Having earned a degree in Paramedicine in 2002, I have worked and currently still work as a full time paramedic for a department that sees over 4500 runs a year. I myself serve as lead medic or, “team leader” on close to 200 runs or “calls” per year. Over the past six years, I have participated in over 2500 emergencies first hand. I feel obligated to offer this article to those of you who may not have such an exhaustive exposure to injury and illness in the out of hospital setting. I also serve as a local tactical paramedic on the police department SWAT team, where I am affectionately referred to as “Doc”.

I would recommend to any of you interested, in researching your local educational programs or community colleges in search for a Emergency Medical Technician Basic course. This is a short duration and fairly entry level class on basic life support.

Most of us here are familiar with a G.O.O.D. pack. Equally as bulky and most likely as heavy would be a medical bag. Now, any tactical team with a medic is than going to have one guy, the medic, carrying a large medical bag. The one I carry for SWAT is easily over 35 pounds, perhaps 40. In addition, every member of the tactical team should also be personally equipped with a, “blow out kit”. This is a small personal medical bag that is clipped to either a hip or belt rig and part of your web gear. I will provide inventories for all of these items later on.

More important than all the trinkets, goodies, cool stuff and gnarly items you can purchase and put into a pack, is the knowledge of how to use and apply those items to an injured or sick patient. You must educate yourself on the pathophysiological process of the many illnesses and injuries you may encounter. This can be done over time, with the right books and reference materials. I recommend Mosby’s Paramedic Textbook in conjunction with the Merck Manual, Emergency War Surgery, and Where There Is No Doctor. Another book that I value as a paramedic is The Street Medic's Handbook.
Knowing the priorities of the sick or injured patient is broken down into a simple and common pneumonic called. “the ABC’s”. It is the fundamental order in which the caregiver approaches the sick and injured patient. I will try to walk you through the mindset of find and fix patient care that hopefully you can put into your tool box and never have to use.

When first alerted to the fact that you have an ill or wounded individual, you must first take into consideration your own personal safety. You must ask yourself, “Is what happened to them, going to happen to me?” This is critical not only for your safety, but to prevent you from also becoming wounded and no longer being of use to your team or others. After determining or making the scene safe, by either neutralizing the threat or dominating the location with support from other members you can begin to approach your patient. Keep in mind this would be different in an indoor verses outdoor scenario and also different for medical versus trauma.

When approaching the patient, you need to begin to observe them. Look for their movements, obvious injuries that you can see as you approach. Listen for gurgling or difficulty breathing. Talk to them and see if they respond. With this information, as you approach, you can form a general impression of the patient. Are they conscious? Can they move on their own power? What is the nature of the illness or the injury? Can you see any bleeding? Are their eyes open and staring, fixed, gazing, or looking around and able to focus? Are they conscious or not?
Once you are at their side, you begin a rapid assessment of the ABC’s. You find and fix problems as you go. Keep in mind on an emergency scene with a critical patient, we often use up to 3-5 paramedics for a serious patient. Two is the minimum number of caregivers you would want for a patient.

First you assess their level of consciousness. Ask them four simple questions. Who are you? What happened? Where are you? What time/day/month is it? This is referred to as alert to person, place, time and event. Most of us can answer these four questions 100% of the time. Unless severely intoxicated or suffering from a head injury, stroke, or shock, people can answer these questions. This gives you an idea as to the patients mental status and level of consciousness.

Next comes the all important (A) Airway. The airway is key. The airway refers to the nose and passages behind it (nasopharynx), the mouth and the area posterior or behind the tongue (oropharynx). Without an adequate airway, your patient will die and die quickly. The airway must be checked and rechecked on all critical patients. Common problems you will encounter with the airway on the sick or injured will be: fluids such as blood or emesis (vomit), foreign body obstructions (choking), broken teeth, tongue blocking airway, and head positioning. The airway of the patient, if the patient is unable to clear themselves, must be cleared by a caregiver. Depending on the mental status and present condition of your patient, will depend on how involved you will need to be in maintaining the airway. Also I must state that any severely injured patient due to trauma (car accidents, falls, assaults, etc.) must be thought of as having a cervical spine (neck) injury. This makes all care more complicated, as this patient requires cervical spine immobilization as well as full body immobilization to a long back board until cervical and spinal injury have been ruled out. This is a complicated and controversial issue, and different agencies have different protocols on how and when paramedics can rule out a spinal injury with assessments done in the field. Any numbness, tingling, paralysis, “electrical shock” feelings, in the hands or feet or legs must be thought of as indicative of a spinal injury. In that case, God be with you.

When approaching the airway, look inside and only remove items you can see. The fluids can be remedied with a portable hand suction. A patient that continues to actively vomit should be placed on their left side and allowed to expectorate (cough up) the vomit. Assist with suction to remove fluid. The risk of aspiration is increased in the unconscious patient. Aspiration is the act of taking in foreign material into the pulmonary (lungs) space. This can lead to aspirated pneumonia and death. I will not explain the many Basic and advanced procedures for maintaining an airway, as these can be found in further reading. Remember, if you don’t have an airway, soon you won’t have a patient!

(B) Breathing is the next assessment stage. In tactical medicine bleeding comes before breathing. Just remember here, that you should look for and immediately fix any profuse bleeding, especially arterial bleeding. I will address this in the circulation portion next. For breathing, you need to look, listen and feel to see if the patient is breathing adequately to support life. An adult should be breathing 12-20 times per minute. Interventions are required for respirations less than 8 per minute and more than 30. Look for chest rise to see and count if the patient is breathing. Listen for the movement of air at their mouth, as well as listen for adventitious sounds that indicate problems with the airway or lungs. Look to make sure the chest is rising equally on both sides. A stethoscope and the knowledge of what to listen for is critical to understanding the respiratory status of a patient. Wheezes, rales, rhonchi, stridor, silence, all of these represent a variety of different events that may be taking place in a patients pulmonary system. Problems with the breathing must be properly diagnosed or ruled out and fixed as you find them.

(C) Circulation, is as you guessed, the “C” in the ABC’s . Find and fix bleeding. When I say bleeding, I mean the kind of bleeding that is going to kill them today, not the little raspberry on their knee. Here you will ascertain the hemodynamic status of the patient. Feel for a pulse at anterior lateral forearm where the wrist and thumb come together. Right over the joint of your wrist you should feel a pulse, if not you are in the wrong spot. Look it up, this is the radial pulse. With this present you can be pretty certain that the patient has a blood pressure of anywhere from 80-90 systolic. Also count the rate. Count the beats in 15 seconds and multiply by four. That is how many beats they are doing in a minute. The average adult is at 80-100 beats per minute. Without exercise, anything past 100 indicates a fast hear, or tachycardia and can indicate blood loss, shock, illness, sepsis, or a variety of other problems. Other locations to assess a pulse are the neck or carotid, the femoral (over the crease where your upper thigh meets you pelvis).

Controlling bleeding is done by a variety of measures. If one does not suffice, continue to do it while moving on to establish the next treatment. First is direct pressure over the wound with bandage or gloved hand. Next, elevate the wound above the heart. Then there is the pressure point. The pressure point is the major artery that feeds the area you area attempting to control bleeding from. You go above the wound, or between the heart and the wound site and provide direct pressure to the artery. Last and highly controversial, requiring training and experience is the tourniquet. Many new products have arrived due to recent global conflicts. QuickClot is a new product designed to hasten the clotting factors and form a clot over a wound. This can be ordered from numerous Internet vendors.

While assessing circulation after you assess the pulse rate, quality and rhythm, you should look at their skin color. Are they pale? Is there skin dry or sweaty? Are they cool or hot? If you are privileged to have a cardiac monitor, put them on it and see what their heart is doing. You most likely don’t have one, and if you do you most likely know how to look at rhythms, so I don’t need to go into that and you don’t need this article. Circulation is this, pink warm and dry is good skin. Pale, cool and diaphoretic (sweaty) is bad.

Assessment of the skin and circulation will aid you in determining if your patient is suffering from shock. Shock is the lay person word for hypoperfusion or the lack of oxygen carried to cells. Cells start to die and this causes more cells to die. The five types of shock are hypovolemic shock (low blood volume) either due to blood loss or dehydration, Cardiogenic shock (bad heart), neurogenic shock (spinal injury), anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction), and septic shock (severe infection). All of these require rapid and correct interventions within short time frames for patients to survive.
After your initial assessment, you can move on to assess the patients disability and neurological functions. Check their grip strength, sensations in feet and hands being equal, motor skills, etc. For the elderly or any potential stroke patient I perform a Cincinnati stroke scale here or earlier if that is my suspicion. Get a set of vital signs now. Heart rate, Blood pressure and respirations. Splint and stabilize any fractures returning them to the anatomical correct position. Assess the pulses of any fracture before and after adjustment. Administer oxygen if you have not done so already.

Finally if time allows, get a SAMPLE history from the patient. This acronym stands for Signs and Symptoms, allergies, medications, pertinent past medical history, last oral intake and events leading up to event.

Supplies For Medical Kit:
Oxygen Bottle*, Non-rebreather mask, Nasal Cannula, IV supplies*,
Magill Forceps, Leatherman tool, Stethoscope, Blood Pressure Cuff,
Gloves, Face shield, Flashlight, Advanced airways*,
Hand Suction NPA’s OPA’s, CPR Pocket mask, Bag valve mask,
Syringes, #10 Scalpel, Variety of Gauze pads,Stretch bandages,
Trauma pads, QuickClot, Waterproof tape, SAM splints x2,
Trauma Shears, Hemostats, pen-light, Glucometer,
Glucose gel, Occlusive dressings, Transpore tape 3”, Cloth tape,
Advanced Life Support Medications*

*Indicates prescription only and illegal to possess items unless under a doctors care, supervision or operating in the emergency pre-hospital environment.

A "Blow out" kits contain far less items and only essentials for minor wound care.

I hope this helps someday in a time of need, and serves as an introduction into pre-hospital care. Provisos: Do not take this as gospel. Do nothing illegal. Do not perform any of this care based on this article alone. Always use discretion and call 911 immediately in an emergency (while it is still up and running). Educate yourself further and be diligent. Medicine is important and the knowledge you gain may save your life or the life of a loved one. Take care.

Why do the incredibly robust "cheap" imported AKs have chrome lined bores , yet some of the expensive and finicky American-made ARs not chrome lined? Well, if you live in a humid climate, it makes a difference. I made the classic error of storing my guns in gun cases. In fact, that's the worst way to store them as the humidity accumulates inside. One of them had nearly rusted solid in three years.

Thanks to the ministrations of another firearm enthusiast, all my guns are being de-rusted, dipped in preservative oil and mylar bagged along with oxygen absorbents, rust inhibitor tabs and desiccants.
I don't want to talk about what happened to the barrel of my M21 so just don't ask. If you live in a humid climate, then consider the PS90. Mostly plastic, hi capacity, very ergonomic.
I also learned about the weight limitations of gamma seals. I just noticed that when I put ammo in five gallon buckets with Gamma seal ls on them, if I go over three buckets high, the bottom seal breaks and falls into the bucket. Now I limit it to two high and only lightweight buckets on top. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Thanks for being so frank. Perhaps other readers learn from your mistakes and avoid some costly problems.

A humid climate dictates extreme vigilance for gun storage. Here is my general guidance:

1.) Clean thoroughly, lubricate heavily, an a inspect frequently.
2.) If storing guns in a vault or a wall cache, invest in a Golden Rod dehumidifier. But don't expect it to be a miracle panacea. Mark your calendar with reminders for monthly inspections!
3.) Never, ever use a muzzle cap for more than an hour or two. They are for use in the field, not for storage!
4.) R.I.G., silica gel, and and VCI paper are your friends.
5.) If you use grease or a heavy coating of oil in a gun bore and/or its chamber, then be sure to tag the gun with a prominent reminder to yourself to remove the grease it before firing. (Not doing so can be a safety hazard!)
5.) Do NOT use oxygen absorbing packets for gun storage! These are designed specifically to kill insect larvae in stored food. These packets use a chemical reaction of moisture, salt, and ferric oxide (rust!) to consume the oxygen in a confined space. These packets can be bad news for stored guns. Instead, I recommend that you use silica gel to prevent rust. Silica gel packets also have the advantage that they can be re-used many times if you dry them out in an oven or a dehydrator overnight. (Since they employ a chemical reduction process, oxygen absorbing packets can only be used once.)

KAF recommended this: Documentary shows tough reality of doctors in war. (Warning: Not for children or for the squeamish!)

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Cheryl N. sent us yet another raft of economic news and commentary: Stagflation Becoming Economic Reality, FDIC Admits Short-Term Loans Might Be Needed, The Building Storm: Gold, the Dollar and Inflation, WAMU The Killer Bank, US Thrifts Lost $5.4bn in 2Q, Second Largest Ever, Bankruptcy Filings Near 1M in Past 12 Months; Up Almost 30%, Economic Depression: Who Will Suffer Least?,
Credit Crunch: It's Just The Beginning Of The End, Private Foreign Investors Dump US Debt, and Bankruptcies Soar for Senior Citizens. OBTW, in recognition of her many hours of tireless research, I think that it is time that we elevate Cheryl to "Economics Editor", and send her some more free books.

   o o o

An friend that is an American ex-pat wrote to ask about the EcoloBlue water generator. Do any SurvivalBlog readers have first-hand experience with one of these? I'm curious about how much current they draw, and their maintenance requirements. If they are indeed practical and low maintenance, then they might make sense for someone that lives in an area with plentiful sunshine (and excess photovoltaic power capacity) and a shortage of drinking water. Buying one of these is beyond my budget, but perhaps not for some SurvivalBlog readers.

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Hurricane Gustav was downgraded to a Category 2 tropical storm, but it still packed a wallop: Hundreds of thousands lose power as Gustav pounds coast

"Depression, especially in a highly leveraged world that is accustomed to prosperity, would likely result in serious civil strife. Politically, it must be avoided no matter what the economic or financial costs. Despite 'spin-talk' to the effect that the Fed is pursuing a dual mandate to both fight inflation and promote growth, in reality they are simply trying to promote growth pure and simple. This is the reality that few market analysts or journalists dare to mention." - John Browne

Monday, September 1, 2008

It appears that tropical storm Gustav may be gaining force to hurricane strength, and is aimed at the coast of Louisiana. I trust that SurvivalBlog readers are well prepared and will be able to help out any friends or relatives, and even strangers that are displaced. As a Christian, I believe that charity is not just an arbitrary option depending on our moods. It is our duty.

The folks over at The Oil Drum, have posted some speculation: Hurricane Gustav, Energy Infrastructure, and Updated Damage Models. If there is indeed damage to the oil industry, we can expect a spike in oil and gasoline prices. Plan accordingly.

I'm pleased to report that I've signed a contract with Ulysses Press of Berkeley, California, to publish a new edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". It should be available in late 2008 or early 2009. Because of the publisher's quantity discount pricing, the new edition should be much more appealing to retail book dealers. The new edition will be slightly updated, and feature a new cover design. The current edition from XLibris will be available until just before the new edition from Ulysses Press is orderable. (I'll be announcing that in the blog, hopefully in November. Please do not contact the new publisher until then.)

It is gratifying to see that a novel that has been published for 10 years is still selling with such consistency! I wrote the first draft of the novel in the winter of 1990-1991, and that short draft was circulated on the Internet as shareware. I had no idea then that it would have such popularity and longevity!

"Doug Carlton" makes many salient points for those currently searching for retreat locations. Might I add a couple more that helped me in finding our place in southwest Virginia.

For every region of interest to me, I gathered a century worth of census data, available online. If you want to get a good picture of a community, this is an excellent place to start.

Second, I read Mark Monmonier's "Cartographies of Danger." Monmonier is a bit of an odd duck in the professorial geography/mapping community. I have no idea of his world view, but everything he writes is engaging and informative. "Cartographies of Danger" is perhaps unique in the world of scholarship-based publishing in that it a very low political correctness factor. He calls 'em like he sees 'em, including insightful content on social instabilities. Of course, it includes the items you would expect especially the distribution and frequency of natural disaster occurrences that I had not fully appreciated before. All the Best, - Crusher

JWR Replies: Most SurvivalBlog readers are well aware that my view of economics is of the Austrian school. Perhaps less well known is that my view of history is of the geographical determinist school. I've been enthusiastically in that camp for three decades. That viewpoint is part of what has driven my strong emphasis on relocation to lightly-populated regions that are well removed from major population centers and safely away from refugee lines of drift.

Regarding Pete C.'s article on night operations: The great (but now sadly defunct) magazine "Coevolution Quarterly" had a great article about night vision development sometime in the 1980s (I've got a copy of it hanging around here somewhere, if only I was organized enough to lay my hands on it) that gave a brilliant method for training night sight via peripheral vision. The technique involved taking something like a lightweight brazing rod and attaching it [off-center] to the bill of a baseball cap. On the end of the rod, you attached a small white ball or disc, which you focused on as you walked. Finding a clear path on a moonless, lightless night, you put on the cap and focus on the ball/disc and begin walking. I tried this a couple of nights and though it took a while to really get the technique down, when you became adjusted to it, the effect easily rivaled that of artificial night vision devices. Apparently, with a bit of repeated practice, you can do away with the cap and fall right into the "de-focus" that allows or the ready use of peripheral vision for natural, intensified light gathering. Pete C's article reminds me that I need to try this again, and get comfortable enough with it that I can do it at will. Regards, - Hawaiian K.

I have been organic gardening for 50 years. At one time I had the largest organic produce gardens in northern Ohio. I'm good at it.
Some years ago, some people staying with me asked if they could plant a little Amaranth in one of my gardens. They related how Amaranth may be the most consumed food in human history. It is super productive, and very nutritious. I allowed them to plant some. That was a big mistake.

If you are not really careful to harvest every seed, it will spread like wildfire. Within a year or two, it will be all over your property. If you want weed-free gardens, this is not the plant to encourage. It grows tall and thick, and can and will choke out all your other vegetables. It took me a huge amount of work to get rid of it.

Amaranth is good food, but be careful what you ask for. If you must have it, plant it a long, long way from your other gardens. Harvest every bit. And don't let the birds spread it. - Jim in Ohio

Eric sent us this tale of unintended consequences: Wind Energy Bumps Into Power Grid’s Limits

   o o o

Some interesting demographics: The study is a bit dated, but a 2001 survey showed Wyoming as the state with the highest rate of gun ownership: The top three states were Wyoming (59.7%), Alaska (57.8%), and Montana (57.7%). Following close behind---all at around 55%--were Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi and West Virginia. By the way, a neighbor told me that when a gal in Wyoming gets serious about finding a husband, all she has to do is switch her perfume to Hoppes #9, and the bachelors will line up at her door. (For those uninitiated in the shooting fraternity: Hoppes #9 is a rifle bore cleaner with a distinctive smell.)

   o o o

Frequent (and copious) content contributor Cheryl N. sent us another big batch of economic news and commentary: New Credit Hurdle Looms for Banks, World Largest Gold Refiner Runs Out, Is Your Bank About to Implode?, FDIC Will Need Half A Trillion Dollars, Surge in US Foreclosures Surge Past Subprimes, Debt Threatens the Entire System, Use of Food Stamps at Farmers' Markets Rise,
and The US is the Next Argentina.

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Safecastle is offering folks a free hardcover copy of James Kunstler's best selling Peak Oil novel, "World Made By Hand" (retail value of $24) with the purchase of a $19 lifetime Safecastle Royal buyers club membership. Or, for those who are already members, the book is free with any purchase of at least $170 (after the club 20% discount). Speaking of Kunstler, SurvivalBlog reader Scott H. pointed us to a an audio interview with him, over at Financial Sense.

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Rand Refinery Ltd., the world's largest gold refinery, ran out of South African Krugerrands after an ``unusually large'' order from a buyer in Switzerland. Hmmmm... Sounds like the smart money is is taking advantage in the recent dip in precious metals prices. Have you? (A hat tip to Kevin A for the the link.)

Jim's Quote of the Day:

"It's fairly clear to see that the [UK] government's figure for the rate of inflation has nothing at all to do with the real increase in our cost of living. The figure is deliberately manufactured in order to crush benefit payments, pensions and workers' pay rises." John Andrews in The Price of Eggs .

"It's fairly clear to see that the [UK] government's figure for the rate of inflation has nothing at all to do with the real increase in our cost of living. The figure is deliberately manufactured in order to crush benefit payments, pensions and workers' pay rises." John Andrews in The Price of Eggs .

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