November 2008 Archives

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear JWR
The article by Carolyn W. on gardening and seed saving was fantastic. Having gardened all my life (60+) and converted to open pollinated seed at the urging of the Holy Spirit in 1992 I know that she has covered this subject very, very well. The one problem for most just now starting is that it will take time to learn all that is necessary to put food on the table. When I first started to grow tomatoes from seed it took me three years to be successful. I pray that others learning curve will be much shorter. Get and read the books and seed catalogs she has recommended. I have used the same sources and can tell you the info is priceless. I will add a book that will help on companion planting called "Carrots Love Tomatoes" is top of the line. It will also help when you plant properly to help keep bugs away from some plants, therefore less need to have supplies to spray or dust plants with. The only other book that I recommend on savings seed is called "Saving Seeds" by Marc Rodgers. One thing to also remember is that if you have to bug out say in September it will be almost a full year before you will have crops to store for the next winter, depending on your location. One other item that could be of interest to some is that Lehman's has pressure canners that don't require a rubber gasket. We have used ours for years and have never had a problem with it.

As to gun and magazine storage a friend of mine has suggested that after normal cleaning you could vacuum pack with a packet of silica gel desiccant. This works well for food so will it also work well for guns, etc? Because you can get the rolls and make the bags to any length this will also work for long guns. - John M. in Ohio

JWR Replies: To prevent rust in a high-humidity climate, applying a vacuum isn't necessary, but the silica gel and a good seal are necessary. The silica gel will almost immediately absorb any air moisture inside a well-sealed container. It doesn't hurt to vacuum pack most firearms items, with the with the notable exception of ammunition, because it can actually unseat bullets with a strong vacuum! And, BTW, vacuum packing is a bad idea for storing gardening seed, which needs oxygen to survive.


A couple of additions to the article on Gardening and Seed Saving: At one time I had the largest organic produce gardens in N. Ohio. I grew hundreds of varieties of vegetables. I also grew specifically for commercial seed production and sale.

Concerning soil preparation: If you are creating a new garden, I recommend you first carefully observe the strength, color, type and vitality of the existing ground cover. If the grass or "weeds" are doing poorly, or if they are of poor varieties, you will almost certainly need to do quite a bit of soil amendment to produce a fit garden in the same spot. If the existing cover is healthy, the soil is in better condition and your garden will likely also do better. Being a careful observer of everything you do, can make life much easier.

For gardening in hilly country, if you have a choice, always try to choose a south facing hill side or slope. By planting your garden facing south, you can extend the growing season significantly. Planting on a north hill will shorten it. ...Actually this holds true for your whole farm. It is much better to spend a bit more money to buy a farm that is on the south side of a ridge than if it is on the north. With the increase in the sun that a south slope gathers, your crops will likely be much better than your neighbors. Even your winter heating bills will be reduced. Also, when planting your garden, try to plant the rows on a east/west axis. That way, the plants won't shade each other so much, and they will each catch more sun.

When it comes to tillage, the "traditional", and often used, mold board plow was originally developed to "bust " the very heavy grasses of the western plains. A major problem with using one for "everyday" plowing, is that the bottom of the plow is flat. Every time you use that type of plow, it packs the soil beneath it tighter and tighter. Eventually, you will create a hard packed wall, or hard pan, that plant roots and water will have a hard time penetrating. Unfortunately, using a rototiller has much the same effect. Unless you yearly adjust and change the depth that the rotating blades dig, you will again create a hard pan.

It you are going to mechanically till your soil, a simple solution, that I highly recommend, is to use a subsoiler. It is essentially a long stake or bar that digs straight down into the ground, 12 to 24 inches. It is either wheel mounted or attaches to the rear of your tractor by 3-point hitch. It doesn't turn over the soil. It just loosens the ground down deep as you pull it along, so roots can go deeper seeking water and nutrients. You can find a great deal of info., and pictures, about subsoilers by simply searching with a search engine for "subsoiler".

Concerning choosing seeds: It has been my experience that you should never buy hybrids if you want to save seed. It's just too chancy. I suppose a hybrid could come back true the next year, but I've never had it happen. One experiment I did was to save the seeds from a lovely big red tomato. The next year, those seeds produced a red cherry tomato. The third year, the "cherry" seeds produced a yellow cherry tomato. I had finally grown the seed back to it's original seed stock. --A yellow cherry tomato is good, but it's not the same as a big red "beefsteak". Another problem with hybrid seeds is that some companies are producing seed that will grow a plant, but will not produce any viable seeds at all. (If you can't save their seed, you have to buy from them, and they keep their profit.) I suggest you always start with heritage seeds, then you'll know what you will get.

Another concern with seed saving is that if you plant two or more types of a given vegetable within a 1/4 mile of each other, they may cross. Your heritage seeds just became a hybrid. And, at the least, you've lost a different flavor in your diet. A simple solution is to keep at least three varieties of each vegetable. Then plant just one every year. Most seed will stay viable for three years, so by rotating your crops, you don't have to worry about crossing your seeds. Another way to safe guard your diversity, is to choose plants with markedly different maturity times, so that they are never flowering at the same time. Also, remember, storing seeds isn't just for gardens. You may also want seed for planting field corn, oats, wheat and soy beans, if things get really interesting in the world.

Good Luck with your gardens. And don't wait for Spring. Winter is one of the busiest times of the garden year. You have lots of books and knowledge to gather, catalogs to ponder and seed to order. If you wait for April, you're already too late. - Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment

I am an environmental engineer. You posted a letter that inquired as to whether a ceramic water filter was capable of removing chemicals that leach from plastic containers. The answer is no, a ceramic microfilter will not remove the chemicals. Aside from reverse osmosis, which requires pressures that are too high [for treating large volumes of water] in a survival situation, the best choice for treating water with chemical contaminants is to use activated carbon. Activated carbon is very cheap, widely used by municipal water treatment plants, and is highly effective at removing many organic contaminants (through adsorption). I am not sue about the specific compounds leached from plastic containers, as some compounds are not removed well by activated carbon. In general though I would highly recommend it. A simple web search for activated carbon will yield some suppliers. Please note that the starting material the activated carbon is made from will effect its properties, such as pore size. A good water purification strategy is to chlorinate the water, filter through the microfilter, and then filter it through activated carbon. If the water is very dirty I suggest chlorinating after microfiltration but before activated carbon filtration, as the chlorine can react with compounds in the water forming harmful disinfection byproducts. The activated carbon will remove the chlorine also. I have a Katadyn hand held ceramic microfilter that also has an activated carbon cartridge accessory, but it is a bit expensive. - Jorge

Glenn in Arizona mentioned that Bill Ray of The Register, draws some good practical conclusions after watching the remake of the British television series Survivors.

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The Chartist Gnome mentioned that he expects a breakdown in the current strength of the USD Index in the next few months. He wrote in a recent e-mail: "The [US] Dollar strength we saw was based on the relative weakness of the Euro, not any inherent strength in the Dollar. (Because here [in Europe] funds managers use more leverage than [is] used in the States, the [banking] crisis has hit Europe harder than it has the US.) In summary, I expect the USDI to plunge back to the low 70s, shortly. Sell Dollars, and buy gold."

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Walter C. mentioned a thought-provoking article over at Daily Kos: The Famine of 2009

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For those of you that have "data of value" on their laptops and jump drives, download this freeware: Flash Purge

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The folks at Everlasting Seeds are offering a couple of great specials for Crops in a Can and VegiMax products.

"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran, 1790

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Today we present a guest article from Charles Hugh Smith, the editor of the popular Of Two Minds blog. While Charles and I have divergent views on many issues, I have never been disappointed by his insightful commentaries.

I have been asked to address the coming Great Depression which is slowly but surely enveloping the globe. The irony of doing so in Thanksgiving week is not lost on me, and I want to preface my commentaries by saying that I do not tackle the subject cavalierly. There will be great suffering, on many levels, and the entire point of analyzing the situation is to lay the groundwork for alleviating the suffering by getting to the root causes of the financial, social and environmental disasters which are unfolding globally.

Let's start with the view of the U.S. from orbit. The first thing you notice from actual orbit (as opposed to "the long view" metaphor) at night is all the bright lights. In the daytime, you would see thousands of contrails from all the commercial airliners in the air.

The one key fact about all this energy usage is that about half comes from overseas; it is purchased from other nations and shipped great distances. This energy comes in the form of liquid petroleum, a highly energetic and easily transportable form of energy of which the "cheap and easy to get" kinds are now in permanent decline.

To those who don't believe in "Peak Oil," please note that regardless of all other conditions, estimates, theories, etc., the cheap-and-easy-to-get oil will soon be consumed. Every other form of fossil fuel will be costly to extract and refine.

Switching to a metaphorical "view from orbit," we see the primary fact of the U.S. economy is that it no longer produces a surplus. The nation consumes more than it produces, and has borrowed the difference for the past 27 years--more or less the time period of "The Great Bull Market" from 1982 through 2007.

These two facts are not unrelated; it was not mere coincidence that borrowing at every level of the U.S. economy increased in that time frame until it reached unimaginable quantities (and velocities) in the 2002-2007 timeframe.

From time immemorial, civilization has required a surplus to be earned from the labor and harvest of a tribe or people. If you consume the entire fruits of your collective labor, you have no surplus to trade with other peoples, no surplus to invest in roads, ships, additional fields, waterworks, armies, permanent structures (religious, communal or private), no "savings" for lean times, and certainly no surplus to pay anyone in the tribe to practice art or music.

An economy which creates no surplus cannot save any surplus to invest ("money" is nothing but a means of exchange and a store of surplus labor/energy). That economy is doomed to eating its seed corn, after which it collapses. Throughout history, ecological/environmental changes (unremitting years of poor rainfall and harvests) and/or regional conflict (unending wars which consume whatever surplus remained) have led to the downfall of great civilizations.

Now an empire has certain advantages over a tribe or city-state or even a nation. Through its power, both "hard" (military) and "soft" (financial, cultural influence, diplomacy, threats, etc.), the empire can coerce vassal states to sell their surplus goods and services at immense discounts to the empire, which then consumes the goods or re-sells them at enormous profits.

The empire can also create and sustain markets in vassal states for its goods and services, which it sells at a premium either directly or via the legerdemain of currency manipulation/control.

But when the empire consumes more than it gathers in surplus, then it too declines. It can mask the decline by stripping assets and surpluses from vassal states for a time, but eventually this exploitation reaches extremes which power revolutions and rebellions. With its surpluses gone and its populace weakened by decades or centuries of living off the fat of the land, the empire loses its military grip over the vassal states.

Once it has lost its ability to extract resources and goods at a discount and its markets for its own overpriced goods, the empire declines to mere nationhood or implodes into various political pieces (nation-states, client states, federations, etc.)

At home, the empire's populace has grown accustomed to consuming the surpluses of others. Creating surplus has been replaced with an obsession with consuming surplus, in ever more extreme and outlandish fashions. Both the refinement and brutality of human nature reach apogees in this blow-off of others' surplus; violent bloodsport games are enacted (in stadiums or via computer screens), absurd costuming and spectacles become commonplace, rare and exquisite foodstuffs are imported, prepared and squandered, and every excess in religion, art and sport is surpassed by an ever more outrageous waste of surplus.

Borrowing, either outright loans or via the legerdemain of depreciating currency, grows to the point where everyone is indebted to someone somewhere. Entire governments balance precariously on the high taxes extracted from the few remaining productive enterprises in the home empire, and on funds borrowed to pay the interest due on previous gargantuan loans. (See French and Spanish empires for examples.)

"Rights" abound in the empire doomed to implosion/decline: not just the right to free speech and the right not to be unduly harassed by authority, but the "right" to bread, shelter, entertainment, etc. When the bread runs short, the ugly mobs demand their "rights;" ironically, when bread becomes a "right" (a.k.a. an unearned entitlement), then it suddenly becomes scarce.

And when it becomes scarce, then the quality plummets, and those demanding their "rights to decent bread" ate issued weevil-riddled biscuits. And since there is no surplus, and no incentive to create surplus (whatever surplus is created is quickly appropriated by the debt-burdened government), then those lined up for their "rights" have to take the weevil-riddled bread and like it. Or not.

And then the mobs have to be controlled with a "whiff of grapeshot" (Napoleon) or they consume the crumbling bones of the empire piece by piece until nothing remains except resentments, unanswered demands, and eventually, either ruin or nostalgia.

That's how you get a global Depression.

Two totalitarian empires were attempted in the 20th century, both based on an unparalleled propaganda machine, unparalleled state control of every aspect of the economy and society, and the coercion offered by great military and secret-police organizations.

Both empires failed. Complete expropriation of rights and property is exploitation to such an extreme degree that it sparked resistance, and the old model of empire, i.e. one built on and sustained by wealth creation via trade and "soft power", had a great defender (the U.S.) Blessed with immense resources, a large and active populace and popular political principles, the U.S. created a "win-win" alliance which destroyed the Nazi empire militarily, and ground down the Soviet empire, which was doomed from the moment it failed to create any surplus on its own.

Now the U.S. empire faces unprecedented challenges, just at the point in time it has succumbed to all the temptations of debt and consumption of others' surpluses which brought down previous empires. The home populace of the empire is restive with demands for "rights" even as its own productivity (as measured by the surplus of production over consumption) has declined into deficits which require stupendous borrowing just to sustain current spending on "bread and circuses."
Even worse, an illusion of "growth" and "wealth" has been created by the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) economy in which shuffling paper and bits of data pass for actual productive activities when in fact they created nothing.

The cost structures of the unproductive parts of the economy (government, medical care, etc.) have skyrocketed at rates double or even triple the growth of the economy as a whole; the total tax burden (property taxes, payroll taxes, junk fees, permits, income taxes, business taxes, phone taxes, fuel taxes, sales taxes, etc.) have outraced both income and the overall economy, channeling whatever surpluses have been created into unproductive bureaucracies consumed with paper shuffling.

Like the frog being boiled alive, we do not seem to be aware of the heat rising. To take but one example: it now costs at least four year's pay to go to a hospital in the U.S. and have a medium-scale operation. The numbers are less important than the ratio, but those of you "in the business" know that if we take the median wage in the U.S. as $40,000, then a few days in the hospital is one year's pay (not intensive care, mind you, just a "regular" stay), the operation a year or two's pay, and another year for post-op care and medications. Intensive operations cost ten year's pay, of course, if not more. Did an operation and a few days in a hospital cost four year's pay in 1970 (the last gasp of the 25-year postwar Bull market)? No.

Now that we all have the "right" to operations which cost 4 to 5 or even 10 years' pay, where are all those decades of pay going to come from? The math is painfully simple. If we all get to have medical care which consumes (costs) 5 year's pay, then collectively we each need to save $200,000 or pay "medical care" taxes equivalent to $200,000 in order to pay for that consumption.
And if we also have the "right" to consume medications which cost another year's pay or two, then we better make it $300,000 each, or maybe $500,000 because we also have the "right" to unlimited MRI tests, etc.

But we as an empire have chosen the "easy way out" just as previous empires did: borrow the surpluses of others to consume, either directly via selling Treasury bonds, state and local government bonds, mortgage-backed securities, etc., or the appropriation of their wealth via management of our currency which they are forced to use.
Ironically (or not), once this care becomes a "right" (i.e. nearly "free" to consumers) it suddenly becomes scarce (expensive) and the quality goes down. Any system set up on this model eventually implodes under its own weight: cost structures with essentially no limit (no worker can be fired, no test denied payment, etc.) skyrocket, demands for "rights" increase, and the system collapses when there is no longer enough surplus wealth appropriated from abroad to pay the rising costs.

That collapse of high cost structures no longer supported by surplus wealth appropriated from trading partners is the essential cause of the coming Great Depression. Once the U.S. has to face its vast deficit between its saved/invested productive labor and its consumption, then the high cost structures will topple one after the other: first the auto makers, and eventually the entire Medicare/Medicaid industry.

The math is painfully simple: no cost structure can grow at two or three times the rate of the overall economy forever. We're about to experience the breaking point, and whether we in the home empire state like it or not, consumption will have to realign to match production minus savings for investment. Borrowing to fill the difference has worked for a long time, but it never works forever.

Hello Jim,
First let me say how much I appreciate your site and how much I've learned from it. I visit it usually a couple times a day as I'm trying to fill in gaps in my preparedness plan. I thought I'd share a few tips.

Over the past couple years, I've bought about a dozen Nesco American Harvester food dehydrators and have set up an assembly line to dehydrate several cases of fruits, vegetables and meats every week. In the off-season when fresh produce is relatively expensive, I switch gears and buy cases of canned vegetables and proceed to dehydrate the contents, then put the dehydrated product in Mason jars with oxygen absorbers. As one example of the space efficiency of this, eight 29-oz. cans of diced tomatoes fit into a one-quart mason jar after dehydration--a great way to go if you don't have much storage space. (I save the vegetable juices in ice cube trays and use the juices in broths later, so nothing is wasted.)

I've got a couple hundred quart-size mason jars of various vegetables, plus several hundred pounds of rice and varieties of beans that I toss together as a soup mix and put about 20 lbs. worth in a 2-gallon-sized Mylar food storage bag and keep it in my bug-out bag so that if I have to hit the road on short notice (flash-flooding in my region this summer was one such instance), I have food to last me for quite a while--compact and nutritionally complete. I hope this idea might benefit some of your readers as well. Keep up the great work! - Chad S.

Reader James M. sent us this safety note: If making a smoker conversion to a discarded refrigerator (as described in a recent posted link), "make sure to use only chrome-plated racks. The-zinc plated racks will react with the acids in the food and toxify the food being smoked."

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I found this at Fleet Street Daily: Introducing Gideon Gono, a Proven Deflation Fighter ("Zimbabwe's inflation estimated at 89.7 sextillion percent".) And now, from Cheryl, our volunteer Economic Editor: Black Friday Shoppers Out in Force, But Cautious -- Wal-Mart Employee Dies as Shoppers Stampede (A Wal-Mart employee died as Long Island bargain-hunters stormed the doors as he was opening them. A witness said that the shoppers "were savages." Imagine what will happen with the grits really start hitting the fan.) -- RBS to be Taken Over by British Government -- Spain Injects €11 Billion into Sagging Economy -- California Has Higher Bankruptcy Risk than Slovakia -- Japan Factory Output Points to Deep Recession -- First Credit Crunch Traced Back to Rome in 66 BC -- Gold Doubling if COMEX Defaults -- Pension Agency Sounding Alarm on Big Three Automakers (The Big Three plan to use pension funds to "restructure" businesses -- October Durable Orders Down 6.2%, Transportation Orders Fall -- Meltdown Far from Over, New (Commercial) Mortgage Crisis Looms

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Reader K.L.D. recommended this article over at Survivalism: for Peak Oilers and Ecotopians Too?

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I just heard that Safecastle now has some Celox wound coagulant back in stock and ready for immediate shipment.

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Mike Williamson sent us a link to a fascinating photo retrospective of America in the 1930s, in some early color photographs.

"The simple truth is that cheap and easy oil is gone. This is one emergency we can't drill our way out of." - T. Boone Pickens

Friday, November 28, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry for Round 20. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I see some people making choices that concern me because these choices may cause them problems if they really have to survive on the food supplies that they have stored for TEOTWAWKI. I am no great expert, but my husband and I have been concerned about the possibilities of having an economic disruption since the early 1970s when a friend let us borrow some tapes by Robert Preston. We have learned quite a bit, but still have a long way to go. If this article can at least encourage people to actually try to grow a garden and save seeds from one or two plant varieties this summer then I will feel that the time spent writing this article will be well spent.

I see some people writing to this blog saying that they have their MREs stored and it sounds like they figure the food supply is taken care of. Please look at the MRE packages and notice the sodium content. It is usually fairly high. Eating several meals per day with a high sodium content may not be good for your health. Also the day will come when the last MRE has been eaten and another food source will need to be found.

I also see people buy a #10 can of seeds for their survival storage program. They may even have had these cans since the Y2K scare so that the seeds are nine or ten years old. Onion and parsnip seeds are only good for about two years. After that their germination rate declines rapidly. Many other seeds will be viable for 4-6 years depending on how they are stored and the type of seed. Yes, I know Egyptian wheat grows after hundreds of years in storage, but I do not have their storage methods. Potatoes and garlic need to be grown each year. A few other considerations to think about would be: are the seeds in the can right for your soil and length of growing season where they will be grown? Will the seeds grow foods that you are used to eating? Will your growing season be long enough for the plant to mature not just to produce food but go on to produce ripened seed? Have enough seeds been stored to grow gardens for several years in case of crop failure?

Finally I wonder if lack of experience will be a problem when it comes to growing a garden for food and seed. I have been growing a garden for close to 35 years that is large enough to put potatoes, beets, carrots, and cabbage in the root cellar and canned vegetables in the pantry. I have saved seed from lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes, parsnips, beets, and squash, but even with this experience I am not sure I would be ready to survive without the ability to purchase items from outside sources. Let me encourage you to try following some of the procedures I outline in the rest of this article and learn some new skills that may be useful to you and your family in the future.
Gardening is a skill that is best learned by doing it.

Soil and Growing Conditions
Different areas of the country have very different growing conditions. When we lived near Los Angeles I had a small backyard garden all year long. Tomatoes and zucchini grew in the summer, while broccoli and onions were grown during the winter. The length of our growing season changed dramatically when we moved to a northern state. In this location our frost free time period is from the beginning of June to the middle of September. The winter temperatures can get to -35 degrees which puts us in a zone 4 for hardiness. This is important to know because it tells me that I need to order seeds with a shorter growing season, onions that like longer hours of daylight which occur in the northern areas of the USA, and fruit trees that can withstand - 35 degrees during the winters. Most seed catalogues have maps of the USA with colors that show the hardiness in each zone.

I have had soil tests done through the local Agriculture Extension Agent. I know that the soil is some what base rather than acid, it has a bit if a salt content, and tends to be more clay rather than sand. With this information I know that I do not want to add wood ashes to the soil which would make it even more base. Instead I add manure, gypsum, sulphur, grass clippings, leaves and as much garden wastes as I have. I do not have time for the cute little composting devices. I do what is called sheet composting which means spread it over the garden area and let it rot over the winter then till it in when spring comes. This has the added benefit of holding the soil in place over the winter. Since I plan to eat what I grow I do try to grow as organic as I can, but I do use commercial fertilizer and a few other products to help me get a crop worth all of my time and effort. During the first few years of gardening in a new area the preparation of the soil will be most critical. Through improving the soil a better crops will result. If you are planning to garden in a very large area you need a way to till up the soil. Spring can be a very busy time so digging up the soil by hand would not be a very good choice. We have a four foot rototiller on the back of our 20 horsepower garden tractor. I also have a small Mantis tiller to help with smaller areas and weeding between the rows.

Choosing Seeds
Saving seeds from every variety grown in the garden each year may not be a realistic goal for a beginning seed saver. Most seeds will be viable for several years. A better goal might to choose a few varieties of seed to save successfully, thus gaining experience and confidence as the years of gardening go along. If open pollinated seeds, which are sometimes referred to as Heirloom seeds, are chosen as part of a storage program they will breed true to the parents. In most seed catalogues the hybrids will usually have an F1 after the name of the plant indicating that they are hybrid. Being a hybrid does not make the seeds bad, it is just means that two different varieties were crossed to create the hybrid seed. This is often done to create a plant that will grow more vigorously. When seeds from the hybrids are grown in later years the offspring will have some variations, but they will grow plants. For some crops that are prone to inbreeding depression a few different traits may even be a good thing. This is a topic that might be worth some study.

Some of the time I choose seeds that I know will produce plants with specific characteristics such as store for a long time. Some onions taste great because they are sweet and mild, but they do not store well and I want to have food to eat after the long winter and into the next spring. Therefore I choose onion seed that says that it is for a storage onion. Seeds of Change sells seed for Nutri-Bud Broccoli that was bred to have a higher nutrient content which may make this variety worth choosing. Lutz Green Leaf beets are an old time variety that grow very large red table beets and as an added bonus the leaves are as good to eat as Swiss chard. These beets also keep in my root cellar until early March. Seeds that mature quickly in the cool spring temperatures are also desirable. Seeds of this type would be spinach and Hakurei Turnips which take 38 days to mature.

I have grown cabbage for enough years to know that the early varieties will not last in the garden until the end of the growing season, so I only grow enough to eat right away in the summer or use for making sauerkraut. Many of the large late green varieties seem to attract pests such as aphids and green cabbage worms. In my garden the later types of Red cabbage grow without much trouble and store very well in my root cellar. A good book that may help you decide which variety of vegetable to grow for winter storage is Mike and Nancy Bubel’s Root Cellaring Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables. Get several seed catalogues and read up on what the different varieties have to offer. I often order from the following companies: R.H Shumway, Vessey's, and Johnny Seeds. These companies seem to carry varieties that grow well in my shorter season.

Starting Seedlings
Some seeds need to be started indoors before the ground is warm enough for them to grow, or because their growing season is too long for my climate. One of the first things that I plant is onions seeds in a container. They can be planted where I live in early March. By March the days are starting to get longer, and we usually are finished with the bitter below zero cold weather. I have an unheated greenhouse that gives some protection to the plants. I will start enough seed to have about 40 onions that will be saved to produce seed and more onions to eat over the coming winter. About 2 months before I plant the garden I start the peppers and tomatoes. Since I can eat the vegetables that they produce and save seeds from the same plant I do not need to grow many extra plants for seed saving.

About four weeks before the planting of the garden I start seeds for cabbage and broccoli. If I plan to save seeds from cabbage I need to know that it is a biennial like the onions it will not produce seed until the second year. The cabbage will need to grow this year, be dug up roots and all, stored in the root cellar at about 40 degrees where the roots can be kept damp. Next spring I will plant the cabbages in the garden again. An X will be cut in the top of each head of cabbage to allow the three to five foot stalk to emerge and produce seed. I also need to know that it can be cross pollinated by other members of the cabbage family which include broccoli and cauliflower. Another small bit of information that might be helpful is that you may need to grow 20 to 40 plants for the seed to maintain genetic diversity and avoid inbreeding depression. Some good books on this subject are Suzanne Ashworth’s Seed to Seed which is very readable for the person who is beginning to learn about saving seed. Another resource is Carol Deppe’s Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties which has more technical information. The cabbage that is grown for seed will not be available for food therefore I need a few more plants to eat this year. So lets say that I grow a minimum of 30 plants and hope that they all survive and mature. Each plant will require about a square yard of garden space. Thirty square yards of land just for cabbage. The books say that you need to grow 100 to 200 corn plants to maintain genetic diversity plus the corn that I plan to eat. This is getting to be a really big garden to weed and care for!

Now that I have decided how many seedlings I need to grow of each vegetable I can start to think about the soil, water, and sunlight that the seedlings will require to mature into healthy plants. I have found that regular garden soil is too heavy for the seeds to be started in. Regular soil may also have damp off disease which will kill the young sprouts. Some years I have tried to save money by using less expensive potting soil, but the young plants did not grow as well. Now I buy large bags of Miracle Gro potting soil at Costco in the spring and life is good. What I will do when I can no longer get this potting soil will be a future learning experience.

I start my tomatoes and peppers in trays on my kitchen table because the greenhouse is still cold at night in April. As soon as the little sprouts are up I take then outside during the day to get sunlight so that they will be strong enough to be planted outside when the time comes. As the little plants grow I often repot them to larger containers so that they do not become root bound and stunted. Each time that the plants are repotted they take up more space. Thirty cabbage plants, the trays of onions, along with the broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and peppers take up a lot of space. As the weather becomes warmer at night I move the seedlings out to the greenhouse permanently. Shane Smith’s book Greenhouse Companion is a good resource for more information on using greenhouses. I have purchased greenhouse supplies from and

Season Extending Techniques
Over the years that I have gardened in my short season location I have actively experimented with various methods that would extent the length of my 3-1/2 month growing season. One of my favorite season extenders is a cold frame. It is a box with hinged lids and has an open bottom. The cold frame is set on top of well prepared garden soil and anchored down so that the wind does not blow it away. Can you tell that the last advice is the voice of experience speaking? I usually set my cold frame out in the garden by mid-March and let it warm the soil for a couple of weeks. When my soil thermometer reads 45-50 degrees in the morning I plant cool weather crops. By cool weather crops I mean leaf lettuce, spinach, onions, beets, carrots, radishes, Swiss chard, turnips, peas, and a few others. A word of caution: even though the outside temperature may still feel chilly heat can build up in the cold frame on a sunny day to the point of cooking the young plants. A cold frame needs to have one of the lids opened a bit to vent the heat and closed again as the day cools. I am not always home to do this. Therefore I found a solution which is the Univent Controller. It is a solar powered unit that will automatically open a cold frame lid when the temperature reaches between 60 and 70 degrees and close the lid as temperatures cool. I have seen the Univent Controllers for sale by and Both companies also have cold frames for sale with aluminum frames and twin wall polycarbonate glazing.

A cold frame can also be used to extend the growing season into the fall. Often the carrots I grow during the summer are not very sweet and mature too early to store in the root cellar. As a result, I have been marking off a patch of the garden that is the same size as my cold frame. I make sure this is in an area with deep, well dug, weed free soil, and plant carrots in the middle of July. When the cold weather arrives in September I put the cold frame over the carrots and they continue to grow until mid-November. By then the cooler weather conditions have made the carrots noticeably sweeter and the root cellar is cool enough to store the carrots for several months.
In Spring I have used the Agribon garden cloths over curved wire supports to form mini greenhouses, These can be used to harden off young plants before they are planted in the garden or protect early plantings. Agribon comes in several weights. The heavier weights can be used for frost protection, and light weights can be used for insect control as floating row covers.

I have found some pup tent shaped cold frames made by that are self supporting with net covered vents. I have used mine for four years and so far it is still in very good condition. These structures are tall enough to be put over Brussels sprouts in the fall and keep them growing until Thanksgiving.
Even things like placing bales of straw on the north side of plants allows warmth to build up in the soil faster. After I have planted the young plants that I have started from seed I usually cover them with empty plastic gallon milk jugs that have had the bottom cut away and the lid removed. The milk jug can be placed over the young plant and dirt scraped up against the sides of the milk jug to keep it from blowing away. The soil also provides more insulation. By the time that the plant grows to fill the milk jug the weather has warmed up. I try to remove the milk jugs on a day that is a bit cloudy to give the plants a day to adapt. The milk jugs can have a string threaded through their handles and hung out of the sunlight for use next year.

A couple of books that I have found useful are Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower and The New Organic Grower’s Four-Season Harvest. Lewis Hill’s book Cold-Climate Gardening is also very useful.

Planting the Garden
Every seed packet and most gardening books tell you how to plant the garden so I will merely make a few comments about things that have been helpful to me. I do keep a spiral notebook journal to record information about the garden. I draw a simple map of where I plant each vegetable so I can rotate crops in a progression that takes three or four years to complete. I also record the dates that I start seeds indoors and plant seeds in the garden. I also notice and record whether these dates should be moved for better results. After a few years there is no need to guess when to plant each crop. I have learned that even with my short growing season I can plant one block consisting of three rows of corn by the end of May and plant another block of the same variety three weeks later. This extends the length of time I have fresh corn on the cob and I do not have to can all of the corn in a short period of time.

When I am planting the seeds I have learned to leave more space between rows than I think is needed. One yard of space between rows of corn, potatoes and at least a yard between tomato plants will be filled up by the end of the summer. After the plants come up do not be timid about thinning the plants to the proper spacing. If this task is neglected plants will not mature to the proper size. Dropping a few radish seeds in the row when planting carrots or Swiss chard will help mark the location of the row for weeding purposes. Both carrots and chard are slow to sprout. This is a form of companion planting which is discussed in greater detail in the Rodale Publishing book Successful Organic Gardening.

Gardening Companion Crop Planting
When the potatoes are 6-8”tall I hoe the weeds one last time and cover the whole area where they are being grown with a thick covering of old alfalfa hay. The hay mulch will deter the weeds for the rest of the summer, and it keeps the potatoes that grow near the surface from turning green. The green parts of potatoes have the same chemicals that are in the plant’s stems and leaves. These chemicals are not good for people to eat. After the potatoes are dug up at the end of the summer the hay mulch is tilled into the soil. One of the things that I still need to learn is how to grow new seed potatoes. I have planted potatoes that grew in my garden for several years, but after 2-4 years they do not sprout or produce as well as they should.

The first year that a garden is grown in a new location the crops may be hard hit by the local insects until a way to control them is found. I have trouble with a few bugs on a yearly basis. I try to deal with them in an organic way because I know that I will be eating what is grown in my garden. I use Bull’s-Eye Bioinsecticide form for cabbage worms and a Rotenone/Pyrethrins spray for Colorado Potato Beetles. Both products are organic and can be used with in a day of harvest. For aphids I use Concern Multi-Purpose Insect Killer with Pyrethrins as the main ingredient. This is ordered from Woodstream company at 1-800-800-1819. I am very satisfied with the results from these products. Depending on where a garden is located plans may need to be made to keep animals out. A tall fence will hold some animals out. We also use an electric fence around the sweet corn to discourage raccoons.

Storing the Vegetable Harvest
By late summer all of the hard work and planning have paid off producing a lush garden with a bountiful harvest which needs to be preserved in some way for the coming winter. There are many ways of doing this such as freezing, canning, pickling, dehydrating, and root cellaring. All of these methods have advantages and disadvantages, but most of them require some kind of equipment and as always practiced skill.

Freezing is quick and easy. Peppers can be frozen after they have had the stem and seeds removed. I chop peppers up either by hand or using a food processor and put them in zip lock bags before freezing. Other vegetables should be blanched which means cooked in a basket over boiling water for 5-8 minutes depending on the type of vegetable. Freezing depends on a steady supply of electricity. Food stored in this manner should be eaten with in a year or at most two. Having enough freezer space for a whole garden might be costly.

Canned vegetables will store longer that frozen ones. A kettle for hot water bath canning of high acid foods such as fruit and pickles is needed. A pressure canner is a requirement for canning low acid foods such as corn, beans, peas, beets, pumpkin, some tomatoes, and meat. Using a pressure canner is the best way to eliminate most of the chance of food poisoning. Having to deal with Botulism poisoning is not something to risk. When a pressure canner is purchased there should be a booklet giving instructions on how to use it. Ball and Kerr canning lid companies sell booklets with detailed directions for canning foods safely. I have seen these books for sale on Amazon. After a few years of use a pressure canner will need a new rubber gasket that fits in the rim of the lid. Sometimes these need to be ordered from the manufacturer a few weeks ahead of time. Canning lids have become harder to find and more expensive with fewer people involved in home canning. The best price I could find this past summer was $1.41 for a dozen regular size lids at Wal-Mart. They did not have wide mouth lids at the store where I shop. Stores usually only carry canning supplies from mid-summer through early fall. Real canning jars are safer to use than empty glass mayonnaise jars which are not made as heavy and now often are plastic. Sometimes canning jars are sold at yard sales. Be sure to check the rim around the opening of the jar. Chips out of the glass rim will prevent the lid from forming a vacuum seal. My voice of experience wants to say that glass top cooking stoves may not be built to hold the weight of a loaded pressure canner. The glass cooking surface can crack and are expensive to replace. Some of the modern electric burners on stoves do not heat up as hot or as quickly as needed for an efficient canning process. An older second hand stove can be wired to operate in the garage just outside of the kitchen door. This has the added benefit of keeping the heat out of the hot summer kitchen. With 30-40 minutes for a canner filled with seven quart jars of corn to heat up, 85 minutes processing time, and 30-40 minutes cool down time that is a lot of heat in the kitchen.

Dehydrating can be used for some foods such as herbs, jerky, and fruit leather. Other foods that are dehydrated will be changed by the process and will be best used in soups and casseroles. Plans for building your own dehydrator are available in many books. There are also commercial units available.

Many bulky foods such as potatoes, beets, carrots, and cabbage will store for quite a period of time if they can be kept a little cool. This is why a root cellar can be a good choice. Onions, garlic, and winter squash like temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees. A cool basement pantry where canned food is stored would be a good choice for them. Check them on a regular basis for spoilage. The saying “One bad apple spoils the barrel,” is true for all root cellared vegetables. There are many plans for all sorts of root cellars available in books. About eight years ago we decided that it was time to build a legitimate root cellar that had most of the qualities my husband and I had read about. A 12 x 12 foot hole was dug 8 feet deep. The forms for pouring the cement were prefabricated from Styrofoam and reinforcing materials. They were called Logix Blocks which are commonly used for home construction in our area. These Styrofoam forms are left in place after the cement has been poured. The advantage of this type of material is that cold from the surrounding soil will not be transmitted through the cement into the root cellar. A small well insulated steel building was constructed above the foundation. We even glued a layer of [foam] insulation to the inside of the door.

The floor of the root cellar is dirt covered with gravel which allows humidity to be higher and keeps the vegetables edible for a longer time. A large vent was placed in the roof to allow the rising heat to escape. The vent can be plugged up during very cold below zero weather. In the west wall a hole was drilled for a four inch plastic pipe which makes a 90 degree turn inside the root cellar and continues down almost to the floor where a second 90 degree turn is made. This lets cold air into the root cellar since cold air sinks. We had the root cellar wired for electricity. My husband bought two thermostats from Charley’s Greenhouse and wired them in series. The first thermostat, which is an Easy Heat Model SL1 made in Ontario Canada, measures the temperature outdoors. When the temperature is below 40 degrees it supplies power to the second thermostat. The second thermostat which is a Charley’s Greenhouse Weatherproof Thermostat, measures the temperature inside the root cellar. When the temperature is above 40 degrees it allows power to continue on to a muffin fan located in front of the 4 inch pipe opening near the floor. The fan pulls more cold air into the root cellar when it is needed. During extended periods of below zero weather we unplug the thermostats and plug in a small space heater set to maintain the temperature at 40 degrees. I still have potatoes that have not sprouted or withered by the following May.

Like art and cooking, the way a person goes about gardening is developed with practice and becomes a personal style. All of the skills and materials needed take time to acquire. It is my hope that the information in this article will help people move more quickly along the learning curve. Skills need to be practiced. The worst thing that will result from growing a garden next summer is that better food will be available, exercise provided, and peace of mind resulting from experience gained.

Mr. Rawles,
I have taken your good advice and purchase a few rifles and a number of full capacity magazines as an investment,. Now how do I store them for the long term? Should I spray them with something first? Please continue to help. - James B. (a "Ten Cent Challenge" participant)

JWR Replies: The precautions that you need to take depend a lot on where you live. If you live in a high humidity climate, then you need to be particularly vigilant with your guns, magazines, and other tools. In essence: the higher the humidity, the greater the degree of protection required, and the greater the frequency of inspection for rust.

I generally recommend wearing lightweight cotton gloves when you do your gun maintenance. This is particularly important if you have sweaty hands. My college roommate was notorious for inducing rust on guns because of this, and he has always had to take special precautions.

A light coat of gun oil such as Rem Oil will suffice in dry climate. Although exotic lubricants such as Break Free CLP are great for lubricating, in my experience, they leave so little residue that they are actually inferior to traditional gun oils for preventing rust. In damp climates, I recommend Birchwood Casey Barricade (formerly sold under the product name "Sheath".) Rem Oil and Barricade are both available from a number of Internet vendors including Brownell's. And even now sells Barricade.

For long term storage all metal parts (inside and out) especially the bore, chamber, and breech face should get a coating of grease. There is always the tried-and-true USGI "Grease, Rifle". (This product name was humorously spoken "Grease Comma Rifle" by American soldiers for many years, before the advent of the M16). While it will suffice, I prefer Rust Inhibitive Grease (RIG), which is available from a number of Internet vendors including Brownell's. Even though you will know how the gun was treated before storage, someone else in your family might not. I therefore strongly recommend attaching a special warning note: "Warning: grease coating--bore, chamber and bolt face! Remove grease before firing!!!"

Small quantities of magazines stored inside a humidity-controlled gun vault (with a Golden Rod or similar de-humidifier) or stored in sealed ammo cans with a large packet of silica gel desiccant probably won't need more than light coat of oil and annual inspection. Any larger quantities of magazines that are stored outside of your vault in non-airtight containers should probably be rubbed down with RIG. In most cases this requires disassembling magazines, to get at their innards. OBTW, even if a magazine is made of polymer and has a plastic follower and floorplate, don't forget that its spring needs rust protection!

Tim in Baltimore found a great web site that shows how easy it is to make a variety of cheeses, as well as your buttermilk and yogurt.

   o o o

Experts call for global network to prevent asteroid disasters

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From the Economatrix comes some post-Thanksgiving reading to digest: For Stores, the Holiday Season May Already be Over -- China's Banks to Pump Billions into Economy -- Torrent of Gloomy News Gives US Little to be Thankful For -- Europe Needs Big Bailout to Put Economy Back on Track -- UK Car Industry Chiefs Beg Gov't for Help -- UK Chain Stores Crash Threaten 31,000 Jobs -- Citigroup Says Gold Could Rise Above $2,000 Next Year as World Unravels

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Reader Ron H. suggested this piece by James H. Kunstler: Zombie Economics: Super-inflation snap-back will occur six to eighteen months from now

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Rob at MURS Radios mentioned that he was able to acquire a number of the Dakota Alert MURS Motion Alert Transmitters (MATs) at a discount. Instead of the usual price of $99, he now has them at $89 each (plus shipping.) If you already have MURS capable radios (even from other manufacturers) or a scanner you can still receive the voice alerts from these security devices. If the MAT detects motion across its path it transmits a voice alert (such as "Alert Zone One") on a specific MURS frequency. These devices make great driveway, footpath, gate, or game trail alarms and can help to secure your property by alerting you to intruders.

"By using gravity as your tow line, you can sidle up to an asteroid. Maintain it for a year and that should give it enough nudge to miss the earth 20 years later." - Stanley Love

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Today's first post comes from SurvivalBlog reader Michael Z. Williamson, who is well-known in science fiction circles.

I recently tested the Ultramag .50, manufactured by Safety Harbor Firearms (SHF) of Florida.The Ultramag .50 is a bolt action, side-fed magazine, .50 BMG upper that uses the AR-15 lower and trigger group. The two big advantages to this setup are that [in the US,] the Ultramag .50 [barreled upper receiver] requires no paperwork to purchase, and is not on record as a large caliber weapon, since it is bought strictly as "replacement parts." As far as anyone is concerned, you own an AR-15, which can be more discreet if either purchased privately, or by using a forging such as this and drilling the five holes required to legally manufacture your own "single shot" lower (though the Ultramag is magazine fed).

The lower need not have a bolt catch, disconnector or buffer assembly. It only needs the hammer, trigger and fire selector. A magazine release is not needed, but I believe a flush fit 10 round magazine body filled with lead would help reduce recoil, though I have not tried this yet. I did equip the lower with a MagPul PRS adjustable stock in lieu of the factory stock. The kit as tested included: 29" barrel with fluting, 5 round magazine upgrade from 3 round, an extra 5 round magazine, back up iron sights (BUIS) and carrying handle. I opted to use an adjustable Harris bipod, not the fixed length bipod from Safety Harbor, though this was for personal preference. I'm sure their factory bipod is quite sturdy. Safety Harbor Firearms includes a heavier hammer and spring and an anti-walk hammer pin with the kit. List price for this kit is $2,595. It's possible to save quite a bit with less options. While they do offer 18" and 22" barrels, those have always seemed too short for .50 BMG to me, since it was designed originally for a 36-40" barrel. They told me delivery would be 8-10 weeks, and it arrived right at 9 weeks, in a professionally fitted cardboard box within a box, instructions for changing the trigger group, a contact number for support and a catalog for accessories.

Fit, finish and operation of the Ultramag .50 can be described as flawless. One of the magazines had a very minor ding, possibly from shipping, that made it a bit sticky. SHF said to send it back and they'd replace it at once, no questions asked.

I mounted a Smith & Wesson 4-12 X 40 scope on the integral rail. This was previously on a different rifle and rail, and my first shots were about 12" low at 100 yards. Shooting was very consistent, and once I got zeroed the bullets went exactly where the crosshairs were, every time. This was only a warm up, and I didn't get to shoot to any longer ranges to do a full shooting report. One of the disadvantages of flat Eastern states is finding a rifle range that will allow a weapon this powerful. I have to drive almost two hours to reach one. Recoil with the 8-chambered muzzle brake is comparable to a 12 gauge shotgun. I do recommend a recoil pad and a good shoulder seat with the stock. Seating it a little high can sting. I recommend Loctite for the scope mount—every two rounds was enough to loosen the mounting screws to where the mount would wobble. This is a problem with the scope rings that I acquired separately, which were not part of the Ultramag kit.

The .50 BMG round holds the record for sniping at 2,430 meters, and at ranges not much less can easily disable an engine or other heavy equipment. At $3.50-$7 per round and 20+ pounds, it's certainly not a close in or primary survival weapon. However, for defending the approach to a remote retreat it's just about the most accurate and powerful round available to civilians in the US. - Michael Z. Williamson

Hi Mr. Rawles,
Thanks for SurvivalBlog and for your novel "Patriots". Both have been real eye-openers.

I have several nieces & nephews that I (like many people, I'm sure) take care of on birthdays (and sometimes Christmas) with a card and some money enclosed. This year I thought it might be fun to send them 100 billion dollars along with the card and note. I looked around, and lo and behold, several people are selling Zimbabwean currency on eBay. Prices and denominations vary, and of course it costs millions (trillions?) percent more than it's actually worth, but we're still talking a couple of bucks for a note. The novelty value alone is worth that, and it just might be a subtle way of giving them a glimpse of currencies and inflation, and a gentle way of giving them some perspective on how good we have it in America (and how bad things could become). And I'll probably still throw in a twenty-dollar bill. Thanks, - Dave W.

Mr. Editor:

I have been a reader of this blog for a little while now and one of the earlier postings I read caught my eye: In regards to a vehicle “bug out” kit. That list was certainly a good place to start, but it was missing a few items, so I thought I would put my “two cents” worth in.

To give you a little bit of background, I would describe myself as essentially being a realist. I watch the news, I read the papers. I know what is going on around me. I am aware of today’s political and economic climate, and I understand what that does (and can) mean; not only for today but for tomorrow as well. In my opinion preparation and knowledge are the keys to not only surviving, but for nearly anything in life.

I have worked both white-collar and blue collar jobs. I have been a soldier (an NCO – I worked for a living), and I have been what I term a “survivalist” for a little over a decade now. Along the way I have managed to learn some of the lessons the easy way; reading books, talking to people, experimenting, and practice, practice, practice. While other lessons were learned at the school of “hard-knocks”; try sitting on the side of the road in the middle of a blizzard for six hours on Christmas Day with three children praying for someone else to come along to help (I’m not kidding about that one) – all because you thought “it could never happen to you”. I am an active outdoorsman; camping, fishing, hiking, small game, etc. To date I have been lucky enough to live through them all. Sometimes with a few bumps and scrapes along the way, and sometimes with little more than a bruised ego; but I have survived nonetheless. Not surprisingly on my journey I have picked up a few things: “must have” items, advice, knowledge, and most of all experience.

As for geography I have lived in the cold and wet of Washington state; the extreme cold of Colorado; the hot and dry of West Texas; and now the hot, wet and hurricane-prone area of East Texas; and this list contains items that have literally saved my life on more than one occasion, while making crisis situations a whole lot easier to deal with in others.

While I am not going to lay claim at being an expert on the subject of survival or preparations; I have seen a done things that may genuinely surprise some people (while possibly boring others) and could probably go on for hours on end; but that is not my point here today. I now possess [what I feel] is enough knowledge that I can speak with at least some authority. My point in this is to allow others to learn from my own mistakes in the hopes that they don’t find themselves forced to repeat the same errors that I have made. Learn from others – that is the point in all of this.

As I write this I am proud to say that none of my vehicles are ever without the bare essentials. In my opinion it is one of the things that everyone should do, survivalist or not. I rank properly equipping my vehicles right up there with having them registered, insured, and inspected, to me it is simply a necessity, a requirement. In an attempt to make sense of this I broken the lists down into four basic areas:

Vehicle Supplies
Personal Supplies
Glove-Box Miscellaneous (loose throughout the vehicle)
General Miscellaneous

While there is some repetition between the 4 areas, this is done so for a reason – it is always a good idea to have a backup.

1. Vehicle supplies (most will fit in a small “duffle” or reasonably sized “tool bag”, kept in trunk, cargo area, or under the seat)
Jumper Cables (get the good ones)
Tow Rope (at least 1)
2 cans of “fix-a-flat”
Air compressor (cigarette lighter plug in)
Roll of Duct Tape (if you can’t fix it, duck it)
100ft of parachute cord (550 cord)
X style lug-wrench (more torque, safer, and more versatile than the ones that come with cars today)
2 1⁄2 ton bottle jack (again safer, and more versatile than the ones that come with cars today)
Roadside Flares (3 minimum)
Hand-held spotlight, plug in type is fine
Electrical Kit with:
Spare Fuses – vehicle specific
Spare Bulbs – vehicle specific
Small roll of Red Wire (14-16 GA)
Small roll of Green Wire (14-16 GA)
Small Assortment of Butt Splices
Circuit tester (Screwdriver type)
Electrical tape
Spare belts – vehicle specific
Spare hoses – vehicle specific
Spare thermostat – vehicle specific
Assortment of hose clamps, at least two large enough for your coolant hoses
Flashlight (2 minimum – generator type are best, LED Generator types are better)
Spare batteries – 1 set for each flashlight in the vehicle (if needed)
Tarp (8 x 10’ is usually sufficient)
Hand Tools:
Screwdrivers (4 minimum, 2 standard 2 Phillips-head)
Crescent Wrenches (2 minimum, 6” and 12”)
Slip-Joint Pliers
Needle-Nose Pliers
Wire Cutters
Channel-Locks (12”)
Socket set (basics only, 3/8” drive, SAE and Metric)
Combination Wrench set ((basics only, SAE and Metric)
Allen Wrench set
Small Hammer
Hatchet (axe)
Folding Shovel
Plastic Trash bags (2 minimum)
Coffee Can full of Cat litter (with lid)
Basic First Aid Kit, with the following additions:
Antacid Tablets
Water purification tablets
Small tube of Neosporin
Additional alcohol pads
Additional band-aids (common sizes)
Razor blade
Can of Sterno (large)
Wire coat hanger
Roll of bailing wire
Box of matches (at least 1 box)
Cigarette lighter (disposable, spend the buck and a half and get the Bic brand, you can’t beat them)
Water bottle
Small notepad
A small stash of cash ($50 to $100)
Spare compass
Rain poncho – 2
Emergency Blanket (foil type) – 2
Candles – 6
Basic Fishing kit:
Fishing Line

2. Personal Supplies (with a little patience and forethought, this will all fit inside of and/or attached to a medium sized book-bag, i.e. backpack)
Basic First Aid Kit – duplicate of the aforementioned kit
1 pair of socks
Flannel shirt
Baseball cap
“Swiss Army” knife
Fixed blade knife
Basic Camping Mess Kit
Travel Toothbrush
Toilet paper
Flashlights (2 minimum)
50 ft of parachute cord (550 cord)
Can of Sterno (small)
SPAM – 1 can
Tuna fish – 1 can
Rice – 1⁄2 lb
Lintels – 1⁄2 lb
“Gorp” (Trail mix) – 1⁄2 lb
Packet of powdered Gatorade
Zip-lock bag with:
Sugar packets
Salt Packets
35mm film canisters full of All-spice
Tea bags
Bullion Cubes
Vitamin Pills
Energy bars (3 minimum)
P-38 can opener
Rain poncho
Poncho Liner
Tarp – 5 x 8” is usually sufficient
Candles – 3
Cigarette lighter
Emergency blanket (Mylar foil type) – 2
Signaling mirror
Basic Fishing kit:
Fishing Line
Small Hikers Trowel
Plastic trash bag (2 minimum)
A small stash of cash ($40 to $50) [JWR Adds: I recommend that be in rolls of Quarters, so you can also use pay phones.]
Water purification tablets
Canteen cup
Web Belt

3. Glove-Box Miscellaneous (kept loose in the glove box, in the vehicles console, or in door pockets)
Package of Tissues
Cigarette Lighter
Small Multi-tool
“Button” or other small compass
Map of local city you are in, and the state(s) you are traveling – or expect to travel.
Small tube with a mix of aspirin, Motrin, and Tylenol.
Small notepad
A small, durable pocket-knife
Small Flashlight
One $20 bill

4. General Miscellaneous
Fuel can – store empty; you never know when you will run out of fuel two miles form the nearest gas station. If you are evacuating, fill up as you leave – this will reduce your risk of fumes/explosion.
One gallon of potable water
1 Qt Engine Oil (minimum)
1 Qt Transmission Fluid (minimum)
1 Pt Power Steering Fluid (minimum)
Assortment of “bungee” cords

Now I am sure that I have probably missed a few items here, but this list is fairly comprehensive. Please feel free to add items to it – I am always eager to learn more.
If you look through it, you should be able to think of one (and most of the time multiple) uses for each and every item on this list. With this setup you basically have what you need whether you are accompanied or alone and whether you stay with the vehicle, leave the vehicle, or are for some reason forced to separate your party (never a good idea – remember there is always strength in numbers). But you get the point.

In colder climates, add more food, and more warmth items (sleeping bag, snow boots, candles, or a heavy coat?). In warmer climates add more fluids and more shade (bottled water, additional hats, or maybe an umbrella?).

On to the next topic – How much does all of this cost? Well that can vary widely. Many of these items can be had at the local dollar store, while other may take a little bit of searching. Check Wal-Mart, your local Military surplus dealer, the flea markets, and pawn shops. You might be surprised just how far you can make your dollars go. Plus don’t try to do it all in one shopping trip – you will just frustrate yourself. Keep your eyes open when you are at the grocery store or out doing your normal shopping; pick up a few items here and there, and just slowly equip your vehicle. Within a month or two you will suddenly find your vehicle is much better equipped than it ever was before.

As to the vehicle preparation mentioned in the earlier post, this is all good advice. But again I would add to it. Create yourself a short checklist of items that you check weekly and monthly. Follow the owners manual that came with the vehicle, they tend to be fairly comprehensive.

Some tricks I have learned include:

Remember to check the air pressure in your spare tire regularly. A spare doesn’t do any good if it is flat too.
Don’t forget to check the brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid too, these are often over looked.
Never, ever overfill any of your vehicle’s fluids.
Keep all of your lights clean, headlights, brake lights etc. The better they work, the better you see, and are seen.
Whenever adding accessories to your vehicle: make additions that work, and that matter before you worry about “pretty”. Think of it this way - which is more important (and useful) on a full-size truck – a good trailer hitch, or a pair of fancy mud flaps? You get my point.
When adding electrical accessories, always use the next heavier gauge wire, it will handle to load better, last longer, and prevent not only short circuits, but fires as well.
A good CB is always a wise investment, but make sure that it is installed properly.
Engine and Transmission oil cooler can extend the life of your vehicle – and mean the difference between getting there and getting stuck – especially in hot weather and heavy traffic. They are definitely worth the money.
Own a truck, van or SUV? Look into an oversized fuel tank and/or a spare fuel tank with a transfer pump. It may be expensive, but it will pay for itself over time; between having the ability to fuel up for a cheaper price per gallon, combined with the extended range the vehicle will now have – it is definitely worth at least considering.
Consider installing an aftermarket, oversized fuel filter. Cleaner fuel means longer engine life. Plus some of the newer vehicles don’t even have an inline fuel filter – they are mounted inside the tank itself. Who was the genius that came up with this gem anyway?
If your vehicle doesn’t have them, install tow hooks both front and rear. They do not have to be conspicuous, but they need to be there.
Don’t skimp on wiper blades, buy the good ones and replace them often. If you can’t see, you can’t drive.
Keep the engine bay clean – it makes finding a leak a whole lot easier, and makes life a whole lot more pleasant when making repairs.

It also it isn’t a bad idea to add seasonal items to your kits. For example if you live in area prone to snow, you should probably have a set of tire chains/cables with you in the colder months, but then why would you want to carry them in July?

Lastly a few words of advice:

First: know how to use everything you put in your kit. Practice with it before you put it in the vehicle – few tools are as dangerous as the ones in the hands of the uninformed.

Second: check your local laws on exactly what is considered a weapon, and what is considered concealed. You may want to think twice before you run out and buy that shiny Rambo knife with the 12 inch blade and have it strapped to the outside of your back pack sitting under your seat.

Third: in regards to knives, multi-tools, hand tools and the like – you generally get what you pay for. That cheap knife at the flea market is normally just that – cheap. It may be better than nothing at all, and the truth is that if that is all you can afford – then fine. But understand that up front.

Fourth: when choosing the storage bags to put these items in – think about the size, shape, and color of the bag you buy. There is not a right or wrong here, get what fits your situation. And think about the straps. There may be a situation where you find yourself forced to carry these bags, so good shoulder strap are important. And just as with knives and hand tools – you generally get what you pay for.

Lastly, a word about any and all foodstuffs you keep in your kit: remember that all food expires sooner or later – a even water can only sit for so long before it is no longer fit to consume. Trust me when I tell you that yes, even SPAM can and will go bad with time (you really, really don’t want to know how I know that). So rotate your foodstuffs regularly.

The long and the short of it is that some sort of vehicle kit really should be in each and every car, truck, SUV, or van on the road. With a little bit of thought and not a whole lot of money we can all prepare ourselves better. No traveler should be without what they consider to be the basics. - David H. in Southeast Texas

[JWR Adds: Thanks for those great lists! The only additions that I'd make to your lists are a fire extinguisher, and depending on whether off-road travel is anticipated, more robust pioneer tools. These should include an ax, pick, shovel, and if space permits, a Hi-Lift jack.]

Hugh D. sent in a good letter about using his trailer as a large bug-out kit. The concept isn't bad (as long as he's on the road and off again before the masses figure out something is wrong) but then he said this:

"This has been overcome with careful planning on our part. First, we have mapped out likely hide spots for ourselves and the trailer – mostly campgrounds on National Forest lands," and then regarding some cabins near the campground, "...we can move into a nice, if rustic, survival retreat."

No offense, but I wouldn't exactly consider this careful planning. If Hugh doesn't think that for every marked camping site in America there aren't 100 guys (who also own guns) already thinking about that same site, he's crazy. Worse, he has no claim of "right" when it comes to those cabins. He is no more entitled to a cabin there than the next guy that comes along and wants to evict him and take it for himself. Furthermore, he's got kids in diapers (I do too) - he isn't going to be able to defend both his family and his "stuff" in a public campground whose location is published on every map and travel guide in America.

I'd suggest that Hugh reconsider his plans. The trailer is good but find somewhere else to go. As an example, I live in the Dallas area and have friends who own a ranch about three hours away in central Texas and can be reached using a number of combinations of country roads and state highways. It's on 500 hilly acres twenty miles from the closest town, whose population is a couple thousand people. You can't see a single building on the ranch from the state highway - you have to drive a winding county dirt road a few miles to get to the houses and barns. My friends who own the ranch think I'm nuts (they aren't survivalists by any means, but retired city folk who wanted to run a peach orchard in retirement). Nonetheless, they have agreed that if I need to get out of town I can come down there with no prior notice. - Matt R.

A brief update on magazine prices that I've observed in gun shops and at recent gun shows: M16 (AR-15) magazines have jumped from around $17 in October to close to $40 each. The hot seller in that category, BTW, seems to be MagPul PMAGs. The once cheap and plentiful US M1 Carbine 15 round magazines were under $3 each in the early 1990s. After the 1994-2004 Federal ban expired, they were around $8. But in just the past two weeks they've catapulted to $25. The so-called "SWAT" factory original 20 round SIG P226 magazines went from $36 to $60. "Glockamole" original 33 round Glock 9mm magazines went from $28 to $59 each. Needless to say, these are substantial jumps, and I expect much larger price increases, as BHO's inauguration date closer. There is intense speculation on the chances of a "high capacity" magazine import ban via executive order. Absent a ban, new production will catch up with demand and prices will normalize, but before that happens I suspect that BHO will unleash a flurry of executive orders in his first few weeks in office. One of those decrees will very likely be a magazine import ban. In my estimation there is 90% chance of an import ban from the executive branch, and a better than 50% chance of a renewed domestic production ban, through an act of congress. My advice: Buy any top quality magazines that you can find at reasonable prices. Presently, they are better than money in the bank.

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We've received another flurry of news and commentary from The Economatrix. At the top of the list is a "must read" piece by Marty Weiss; Citigroup collapses! Banking Shutdown Possible -- Financial Crisis Thanksgiving in America -- Gold Set to Explode Higher on Inflation -- Investors Dump Dollars, Fiat Paper for Gold -- Banks Still Refusing to Lend -- China Cuts Interest Rates as Panic Spreads -- Toyota Woes Deepen, Ratings Downgraded -- GM Goes Begging in Europe -- Goldman's US Gov't-Backed Bond Opens the Way for Others -- Fed "Spitting in the Wind" with New $800 Billion Gambit? -- Food Prices Will Rise Next Year Causing Export Bans, Riots

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Robert at JRH Enterprises mentioned that they are having their third annual "Black Friday" sale. Dozens of items have been considerably marked down, including several that are downright "loss leaders." The sale will be extended to Sunday, this year. Don't miss teh TRC3A Wireless Seismic Intrusion Detector sets!

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The Werewolf (our correspondent in Brazil) recommended the novel Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America. The novel is available in paperback. Probably not of much value to buy as a reference, but you might see if your local library has a copy.

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David V. tipped us to a great piece by Mish Shedlock about the New Jersey State Pension Fund fiasco. This is starting to play out just like I have been warning since March of 2008.

"Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, in Mapp v. Ohio, 1961

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Looking at the escalating global credit collapse it now appears to be precipitating global economic depression. I can foresee conditions in the United States getting far worse in the months to come. There is now a fairly high likelihood of a general banking panic, with a large number of bank failures.

The next few years will most likely be marked by significant deflation, followed by a tremendous surge of consumer price inflation. (Much of the $7.7 Trillion in bailout money that Uncle Sugar has promised will be created via highly inflationary monetization.) As the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) grows, so does the risk of inflation. In the immediate future, the US Federal Reserve is likely to lower interest rates to absurdly low levels, in an attempt to re-ignite the sputtering economy. This probably won't work any better here than it did when the Bank of Japan tried it a decade ago. Since interest rates will probably remain low, the profit you would make by leaving funds in passbook savings accounts is pitiful. Returns on stock have been negative for many months, and will likely continue to be. So you won't be losing much by setting aside cash.

My specific recommendations:

1.) If possible, set aside the equivalent of up to one-half of one year's income in greenback cash or cash equivalents (including silver and gold coins). If this means divesting more of your dollar-denominated investments, then so be it. You should be getting out of those, anyway. As I mentioned before, under the current economic conditions, they wouldn't be gaining that much, anyway. A fireproof hidden wall or door cache would be best, but there is little muss and fuss in burying some cash. Perhaps you could use one of those wide-mouthed Nalgene water bottles that are no longer consider safe for use with drinking water. Of course make sure that you aren't the only family member that knows the location of the cache-- just in case for some reason you assume room temperature.

2.) Top off your fuel tanks--gas, diesel, and propane. This is a good time to do so, for two reasons: The recent slump in crude oil prices to around $50 per barrel has made most petroleum-based fuels and lubricants less expensive. Take advantage of this dip! Secondly, if you buy in the next few months, you will be buying winter-formulated gasoline. Of course take the normal precautions with PRI-G or STA-BIL type fuel stabilizer. If you heat your home with coal, then fill your coal bin to the brim.

3.) Catch up on any deferred yet nagging projects at your home and/or retreat. The time for procrastination is over. This means everything from dental appointments and car repairs to having your septic tank pumped.

4.) Take another look at your "list of lists" and see if you've overlooked any crucial tasks or acquisitions.

5.) As I've mentioned recently, one of your top priorities between now and January 20th (when BHO will be sworn in) should be purchasing semi-automatic firearms in common military calibers, and a large supply of top quality full-capacity magazines. After those are in hand, concentrate on buying bulk ammunition.

I stumbled over this, earlier this week, and I feel it may be of interest to you and your readers. Certainly, this warning needs to be passed around to as many as possible, here in the US.
Many retail stores are planning on declaring bankruptcy after the holiday buying season is over. Many more are planning on closing down stores, once the holiday sales have emptied inventory.
This means trouble for one of our newest 'gift choices', the Gift Card.
Gift cards are not actual money. They are treated as "Unsecured Loans" from the purchaser, to the company who issued the gift card. Unsecured loans are the last to be paid off in a Bankruptcy situation, and are usually just written off the books. Gift cards from a Bankrupt/closed company will rarely be honored or transferred. They become useless pieces of plastic.
Additionally, should you give a Gift Card to someone, they could find that all the branches of the Company/Store in their area are closed. And you usually can't use a Gift Card on their web site!
So, to be prepared this year, please try and avoid Gift Cards. But if you must, then use these guidelines:
1.) Purchase Visa or Mastercard Pre-paid cards. Target and Wal-Mart gift cards are also probably safe, as these companies have not announced major store closings.
2.) If you must buy a gift card, please check the Snopes link for a list of stores that are closing down or declaring bankruptcy:

This list is semi-regularly updated. Also, putting the name of the store/chain into "Google News" ( will give up-to-date information.
Remember, restaurant gift cards are included! Bennigans declared bankruptcy and folded hundreds of locations a few months ago. - Brian, in Austin, Texas


There was some interesting commentary posted to your blog about a vehicle bug out kit and how to keep your vehicle running during a time of troubles.

Most of us concentrate on using the vehicle for a short period of time to get out of Dodge and then [if need be] plan on walking from there.

I would suggest that we also look at using the vehicle as our bug out kit. At least at first when we have to get out quickly, and if we don’t have a longer term farm/ranch that we are planning on going to.

We have a number of children we are responsible for and the thought of walking with a backpack miles and miles through hostile territory with children does not sit well.

Besides, the number of diapers we would need to carry, let alone the children, makes a bug out from a vehicle impossible. And no, we won’t leave the kids behind.

We have also practiced our bug out several times over the years (lets go camping to the kids or lets go to grandma’s for my wife …) and it is painfully obvious that without a full day’s preparation we can not get the whole family ready and on the road. So we have modified our camping trailer to act as our bug out kit. That’s right, the whole trailer. This can be done with RVs of any sort as well as with large SUVs and trucks. In these cases simply pre-pack a large duffel bag or Rubbermaid containers with supplies that can be loaded quickly.

In the trailer we have placed tools, supplies, and all the other items for an extended disaster stay that would force us out of our house. Figure six months to one year minus the food supplies (I’ll talk about that below) and guns. The trailer has been modified to have a PV panel on top to charge the batteries and we have a generator that we can take with us and power up the trailer with. The water tank is full and again has been modified to filter water coming into it (while I will take clean looking water from an unknown source, I won’t try to filter pond water etc. into the tank). Plus we have several bottles of bleach in the trailer to put into the water tank to kill off any unwanted bacteria.

Guns and ammo are set up pre-packaged anyway so that if we had to walk out (doubtful) we just need to grab a rifle and pistol and their accompanying go-packs (pre-loaded magazines in carriers such as the Eagle shoulder bandolier that holds nine AR-15 magazines). Hence we have about five minutes worth of work to load firearms and their supplies.

In the event of a major disaster we would also need to load additional food into the trailer. We figure that this would take us about two hours maximum as the one bay in our garage has been converted to storage duties. Hence back the trailer up and start to shovel cases of food into it. In theory we would be ready to ride out a six month disaster that forces us from our home with about four hours of effort on our part.

This leaves us with two critical items that can not be readily carried – water and fuel. This has been overcome with careful planning on our part. First, we have mapped out likely hide spots for ourselves and the trailer – mostly campgrounds on National Forest lands. Using these campgrounds does two things. First, they normally have pit toilets already in place. Second, many of them have water sources that are gravity fed from streams and the like or have a well/pump pre-installed that can easily be run off of the generator we have. We make it a point to talk to the campground hosts to find out the location of the wells or water supplies when we camp there over the summer.

To overcome the fuel issue (and bulk ammunition storage, and additional supplies that we might not have time to toss in) we have managed to find a couple of deserted, roofless cabins in the woods near the campgrounds. The Forest Service used to maintain (and still does in places like Alaska and along the Appalachian Trail) cabins for hikers. In many places these are still marked on maps. But over the years of neglect many of the cabins have fallen apart and only the walls and fireplace/chimney remain. Close to two of these cabins which are to of our two primary bug out spots. We have managed to cache additional supplies near the cabins. In one case it was inside an abandoned mine not more than 100 yards from a Forest Service cabin which was only about 1⁄2 mile from the campground we have decided on.

What this does is also set us up for a longer term survival situation as well. During the initial days of chaos after a major, societal collapsing event, nobody is going to look for abandoned cabins without roofs. During this time we will be snug, if more than a little cramped, in our camping trailer. When the situation looks like it will not stabilize anytime soon, then as the weather gets nicer, we have the tools (already in the trailer) to replace the roof on one of these cabins in short order. Strip the trailer of items such as the propane stove, etc. and we can move into a nice, if rustic, survival retreat.

I will add that since many of these cabins were built in the 1930s they have rock solid walls made of large logs and cement. Almost like the walls that bunkers are built out of . . .

With the two caches we have, and with the trailer in tow, we figure we can ride out a year or two in the woods in relative comfort. And if we are forced to displace we can do so relatively quickly even with the kids. - Hugh D.


Mr Rawles.
I just read the letter from the gentleman in Central America regarding bug out vehicles. He advises replacing a the starter battery of an auto-transmission vehicle with a deep cycle battery. I think that’s not ideal for anyone further north than Florida. Good quality deep cycle batteries are not very good at giving up lots of current in a short time, e.g., starting an engine. Under good circumstances (oversized battery, warm ambient temps, fuel injected engine in good tune, etc), they will act as a starting battery. But in challenging conditions, particularly cold weather, they can struggle to provide the amps a starter demands to crank a stubborn engine.

Best bet for that role is a compromise battery: Deep cycle/starting. These batteries are more durable than a starter battery when repeatedly drained for powering electrical devices. They are not as durable as a true deep cycle. But they also have some of the cranking “oomph” to provide lots of amps quickly, for starting a motor.

A great bug-out 12VDC battery is an deep cycle/starting combination of absorbed glass mat (AGM) construction, because of the flexibility it offers. They are pricey and don’t hold as many amps, pound for pound, as a good quality flooded battery, but they are very durable, lose their charge slowly when unattended, requiring less care. They can safely be pressed into service for many indoor duties because they don’t vent hydrogen when charged, and they can’t leak acid. I’ve got a deep cycle/starting combo AGM that I keep around the house. It started life as a trolling motor battery about eight years ago. Since then, it’s been used to jump start cars, as a starter for a generator, as a battery backup for a personal computer, and to run an inverter during an extended power outage. It’s sitting under my desk right now. If the power goes out, my PC, monitor and Internet connection will keep running for five or six hours. In a pinch, if I need it, I can disconnect it and use it to jump start a car, run a fridge on an inverter, etc. Very handy to have one of these around. Regards, - Rich S.

Montana real estate agent Viola Moss sent us an interesting snippet from The Christian Science Monitor, that illustrates that while most residential real estate is going down in value, some agricultural rural real estate is going up: "Farmland is hot property these days. Nationwide, it is up nearly 9 percent from a year ago. Iowa farmland has increased in value 18 percent. South Dakota’s value has risen 21 percent. The rise reflects rising profits from agriculture. The use of corn to create ethanol has driven up the price of corn and beef cattle that feed on corn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that farmers will earn a record $95.7 billion this year, 10.3 percent more than last year and 57 percent more than the 10- year average of $61.1 billion. While some wealthy landowners celebrate this, average farmers and young people who want to own their farms are shut out. "There are a whole lot of young people wanting to farm – both children of farm families and young people from cities and suburban towns who want to farm," says Teresa Opheim, executive director of Practical Farmers of Iowa. "The price of land is making it very, very difficult for them to get started, even to come up with a business plan that's viable."

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The DFer mentioned that The Wall Street Journal recently ran another fairly informative article about EMP.

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"Nines" flagged this: Five injured during protest in Iceland over economic meltdown., and Jack B. sent us this piece on the same topic: A near-riot and parliament besieged: Iceland boiling mad at credit crunch. As a whole, Icelanders are fairly peaceable people, so it takes extraordinary times to elicit such an uproar. And here is the latest news, courtesy of Cheryl: Dow Extends Rally, Broader Indices Close Mixed -- FDIC's List of "Problem" Banks Swells to 171 -- US Economy Fall Worse than Expected -- UK to Suffer Severe Recession -- Pre-Budget Report (UK): World Economies Taking Radical Steps Over Threat of Recession -- UK Middle Class Tax Hikes Fund Bailouts -- Is Britain Going Bankrupt? (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard) -- UK: New Mortgage Lending Predicted to Fall Below Zero, Report Warns -- Fed Throws New Lifeline to Stressed Households -- US Home Prices Continue to Dive -- Germany Facing Worst Slump Since 1949 -- Russian Analyst Predicts Break-Up of U.S. -- Barron's: Has the Fed Mortgaged its Own Future? -- After CitiGroup, is BoA Next? -- More Customers Resume Using Old-Fashioned Cash

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Justin suggested this interesting article in this month's edition of Vanity Fair magazine: "Wall Street Lays Another Egg"

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KAF sent us a link to a set of plans for converting a refrigerator into a meat smoker.

"The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be either good or evil." - Hannah Arendt

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,050. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, so most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

Dear Sir,
Thank you so much for your insightful and educational blog. I highly respect your opinion and I am e-mailing you today to ask for your advice.
My husband and I are both conservative Christians who are totally committed to being prepared. Our problem is that we have encountered other conservative Christians who believe that manna will literally fall from Heaven if famine comes upon the land. I was personally told by my former pastor that I was "stupid" for storing food and owning guns. He also told me that by being prepared I was demonstrating a "lack of faith in God". He told me that God would provide for me in the form of manna falling from Heaven if disaster ever struck. This story, unfortunately, is extremely common within the conservative Christian church. My husband and I have come across people like this over and over again. Other than telling these people that manna falling from Heaven was a one time event, quoting Scripture like Proverbs14:8, and reminding them that even Noah prepared for disaster by building the ark - how do my husband and I deal with people like this from a Christian perspective? Prayer seems to be the only answer. Can you recommend any other solutions in addition to prayer? Thank you for your time and attention. In Christ, - Heather M.

JWR Replies: I often get e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers, asking about how I can justify active preparedness in light of my Christian faith. Some cite the "Lilies of the Field" passage in Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof."

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

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain [persons is] void of understanding.. Proverbs 12:11, KJV

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips [tendeth] only to penury.(Poverty.) Proverbs 14:23, KJV

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. Proverbs 21:25, KJV

The thoughts of the diligent [tend] only to plenteousness; but of every one [that is] hasty only to want. Proverbs 21:5, KJV

Food Storage

The Bible encourages storing food. Look at Gen. 41:47-49 (KJV): "And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.Gen 41:48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which [was] round about every city, laid he up in the same.And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for [it was] without number." And then see Gen. 41:53-57: "And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy [corn]; because that the famine was [so] sore in all lands."

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

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

The lessons from scripture are clear: Don't be lazy and lax. Store up in good times for future lean times. Consider this: "[There is] treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up." - Prov. 21:20 (KJV)

And ponder this Old Testament passage: Psalm 34:9-10 (KJV): "O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for [there is] no want to them that fear him.Psa 34:10 (KJV) "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good [thing]." And then look at this New Testament passage:, from 1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV): "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

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

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

Exodus 22:2 provides Biblical justification for killing someone if he intends to forcibly rob or kill another man: " If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, [there shall] no blood [be shed] for him." Exodus 22:2 (KJV)

And Jesus teaches that it is wise to be armed, in Luke 22:35-36 (KJV): "And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed [be] the LORD my strength,
which teacheth my hands to war,
[and] my fingers to fight:

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


Charity--both in time of plenty and in times of disaster--is a Christian responsibility with its roots in the Old Testament tradition of Tzedaka. This responsibility--particularly for the support of widows and orphans--was repeated in the New Testament, such as in Acts 11:27-30: "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."

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

In closing, I'll leave you with a key verse: "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." - Proverbs 22:3 (KJV)

Note: I've updated my original response to include all cites from the KJV translation.

Mr. Rawles,
I was able to buy 20 acres in Montana, and wanted to get your advice on a sidearm to carry while out on the property. I have a S&W K19 .357 Magnum revolver, SIG Sauer P220 in .400 Cor-bon, and a Beretta 96 in .40 S&W. I am sure that the .40 S&W is not enough to stop any large animal unless the shot is perfect. The same probably goes for both other rounds. I would prefer a semi-auto over a revolver, and wanted to get your thoughts on a Glock 20 with a barrel in 9 x 25 Dillon. I am thinking that this is clearly the better stopper, but am not sure about the bullets feeding correctly. Perhaps I would be better getting something like a Kimber in .45 ACP and buying the better springs for .45 Super or .460 Rowland. Any help you can give would be appreciated. Regards, - J.M.R

JWR Replies: I frankly think that you'd be better off with either a Glock 21 or a Springfield Armory XD chambered in .45 ACP. This is because .45 ammo is ubiquitous compared to the non-standard and downright exotic calibers that you mentioned (10mm, 9x25 Dillon, .45 Super and .460 Rowland). Yes, there are a few cartridges like those that are marginally better than .45 ACP ballistically, but I like the wide availability and relatively low cost of .45 ACP. Less expensive ammo allows more frequent practice. And, of course, .45 ACP is also far more likely to be available When The Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF). FWIW, I also live in bear country (mostly black bear, but some grizzlies), and The Memsahib and I both carry stainless Colt M1911s in .45 ACP, normally loaded with 230 grain Federal Hydra Shok ammo.

Shot placement is more crucial than foot pounds of stopping power. With a double stack autoloader you'd have a few more rounds to depend on than my wife and I have. (Although we do carry 10 round magazines when out hiking or trail riding). Those last few rounds might be fired with muzzle shoved inside Mr. Bear's mouth.

OBTW, our standard joke when out huckleberry picking is that when folks find our bodies, they'll at least see a lot of brass scattered around and know that we put up a good fight.

My spouse and I lived in South Dakota for about 18 months in the Sioux Falls area. People might be interested to know that there is only one place other than New York City where the United Nations flag flies on US soil and that is at the EROS Data Center just outside of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They might also like to know that not everyone in South Dakota welcomes "outsiders" as folks are called who are not of pioneering stock to the area -- of either Norwegian or German ancestry. Once when I was in the checkout line at the local grocery store and minding my own business, a woman two persons behind me observed that I had an out-of-state driver's license. She snipped something about "... if all these outsiders would stopping moving in...". Around our farm land, however, the neighbors were very nice. Not everyone adjusts well to the frequent tornado sirens that would go off. One of our friends moved in from Colorado (he had been an unemployed programmer and got a job in South Dakota) -- his wife couldn't handle the stress. The marriage fell apart she was so terrified of tornados and she returned to Colorado with their children.
The climate was extremely cold, short growing season, and humid. Lots of bugs and more ticks than I have ever encountered in my life. In less than three months time we removed 190 ticks from our pets and those that just seemed to blow into the house. Tick control treatments made our cats very sick. Also there are major problems with a lack of building codes/standards.

Additionally, farming can be difficult in the Dakotas because genetically-modified (GM) crops seem to get special treatments in the courts there. If the GM seeds land on within your crops -- the GM growers apparently gets to block you from selling your entire harvest. - A Former South Dakota Resident

Sean M. spotted a New York Times article on the recent theft of solar panels. Sean's comment: "With the economy the way it is, crime will increase." JWR Adds: If your retreat is unoccupied for long stretches of time then your photovoltaic (PV) panels should be dismounted and either locked up securely or hidden in a secret room or cache. If your panels are roof mounted, then I should mention a clever option that was revealed to me by one of my consulting clients in Arizona: camouflaging PV panels underneath well-aged black plastic pipe solar hot water panels. The latter are often available free for the asking, if you call around to solar hot water and spa vendors. Just tell them that you want "some old leaker tube panels". No self-respecting burglar would give these panels a second glance, but beneath them could be thousands of dollars worth of PV panels. If your PV panels are mounted on a tracker stand (where camouflaging is not much of an option), then at least upgrade their hardware to tamper proof 6mm stainless nuts and bolts. These require a special socket head for removal.

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Reader OTG mentioned that the movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's acclaimed novel The Road is scheduled for release tomorrow. Ah yes, the ubiquitous two-wheeled garden cart. Seeing that should evoke a few images for those of you that have read my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

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The latest economic news and commentary gathered by our volunteer Economic Editor. But the first item was suggested by both her and by seven other SurvivalBlog readers: US Pledges Up to $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit -- Stocks Jump on Government Bailout of Citibank -- Bailout for Bank of Ireland -- GM Weighing Bankruptcy Option -- Only Drastic Action Now Will Save Us, Says Gordon Brown -- lastly, from economic guru Jim Sinclair: What Must Be Done to Avoid Financial Destruction. In this piece, Sinclair warns: "This is it, and it is now. Now it is out of control. Now we enter the Collapse of Confidence period. Then we begin the Weimar Experience. It has all hit the fan, and still the absolute majority have no clue."

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Jean in England mentioned this Daily Mail article: Regular Blackouts to hit Britain within three years because there is a shortage of new power stations, study claims

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Robert S., Steve D., and Todd S. all mentioned this article about an unexpectedly huge turnout when a Colorado farmer made an announcement about gleanings available at his farm.

"Our currency’s fiat status is old news; it’s been completely unfettered from the discipline of the gold standard for nearly forty years. A gold standard is one of the things that keep governments in check. Without it, governments tend to do really evil and stupid things…like setting up a central bank that creates “money” at will, simultaneously destroying the savings of the citizenry and subsidizing unproductive businesses, practices and people. Okay, now this really is starting to sound familiar

The bad news: Our currency is probably going to collapse completely and we are probably seeing the very first days of a very long, very severe economic depression. These things happen. They happen because people think that there is something magical about voting, that it can repeal the laws of physics and that despite the old adage, one really can get something for nothing. Or at least one can simply vote what’s in a neighbor’s pocket into one’s own. It’s like magic.

Before you know it, every humble republic gives way to a society of freeloaders, nannies, connivers and bums. One set of folks makes lifelong careers out of telling independent adults what to do with the fruits of their labor. And each person in the populace expects to get at least a few things at the expense of some other portion of the populace: Housing, healthcare, food… And they don’t stop at trying to pick each other’s pockets either. At fairly regular intervals a nation will cast a covetous eye abroad at another nation’s bounty.

It’s entirely natural for people to want more than they currently have...but actually believing one can have as much as one wants is a fantasy for children…actually trying to take as much as one wants is the province of criminals. Governments by their nature result from and promote this sort of infantile banditry.That’s why we love gold so much…and why we hate taxes. Gold enforces a rigorous standard. Gold keeps governments from quietly stealing from individuals through inflation…and what they can’t steal they can’t use to finance invasions and land grabs. And what they don’t tax they can’t idiotically redistribute." - Gary Gibson, writing in a recent issue of the highly-recommended Whiskey & Gunpowder e-newsletter.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One thing that I have not seen properly addressed anywhere online is an appropriate kit for the bug out vehicle.
You folks in snow country can reply to this with some recommendations for that scenario. Please do.
I survived five hurricanes , one of them in the Virgin Islands, over the years so I consider myself an advanced student of the Bug Out Vehicle.

First and foremost.
Cars are useless without fuel. They make a decent shelter but they're tough to carry with you. I haven't seen a backpack that would hold one.
Get yourself as many large cans as you can fit reasonably in (or on) the vehicle and keep them full at all times. [Because of fire hazard in the event of a collision, if your car has a gas engine, these cans should normally kept at home, in an outbuilding. Consult your local fire code.] Rotate your fuel. Fill the car and cans one week and the next time you need gas, then empty some of the cans (say 2 out of 4 six gallon cans) and refill them immediately. My kit includes 5, six-gallon cans of diesel and one full of water in case of radiator problems and to provide drinking water. I have a roof rack so they're a non-issue.

Cars are very hard to drive on flat tires. I recall after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 the chaos at any store that had anything in stock. There was no electricity for weeks so no gas available, for the most part...or much else.Oh, and remember that no electricity = no credit cards. Got your cash stashed ?
Having all of my supplies already (always have-always will) only saw a need for one very important thing that I had overlooked.
Nobody else saw it since they were focusing on food, water, plywood,Coleman goodies etc. They looked at me like I was nuts when I got to the checkout.
What was the one thing ? Tire repair equipment ! Yep. I bought two cases of Fix-a-Flat, a radial plug kit and about 50 plugs.
Glass, metal, roofing nails, wood, you name it was everywhere on the roadways. I used that all up and more over the following month. Get some!

Cars with automatic transmissions can not be push-started. Even if your battery is fairly new, go buy yourself a top notch, deep cycle battery and install it. The other one will make a good spare.You can also carry it with you and use the deep cycle battery [at home] at night, running an inverter, to watch a television, use a computer or whatever. One of my cabins runs all night (8-10 hours) with television, VCR, and 3-to-4 Compact fluorescent bulbs on a deep cycle battery that is solar-charged.

Belts. Repeat the above scenario and make sure you have tools in the car at all times to change belts. If you don't know how and what tools you need , then hire a mechanic to teach you. Don't forget the jumper cables .

These are the basics. My kit is more extensive but I live in the middle of nowhere in Central America (I've already bugged out) so I cant raid a junkyard in case of an "event". Oh, and don't forget the guns. Pura Vida! - Mr. Tico in Costa Rica

I read your statistics. They are pretty accurate for West River (west of the Missouri), but not so accurate for East River. East River has a steady population growth, especially south of Sioux Falls. This is mostly due to the explosive growth of the medical industry. Much of it is zone 5 for growing, with some zone 6 (and zone 4) microclimates. They have excellent rainfall, lesser amounts of snow and more moderate seasons. Winter nights rarely reach -20 F. There is a cold period usually in January that lasts about three weeks. At this time, temps can reach the -20 F range for a few days, and highs can be 0 to 10 above. This is usually mitigated quickly by southern air flow. Some of the smaller, family-held farms grow peaches and even a cold-hardy variety of almonds. There is abundant game, due in part to the large tracts of corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

East River has more tornadoes than West River, on average, but all South Dakota tornadoes tend to be smaller (EF3 or less) and shorter-lived than those further south in Tornado Alley. As a storm chaser myself, South Dakota is rarely in my prime target area during chase season.

West River is quite a bit drier and has a much lower water table. However, south central South Dakota is on the northern edge of the Oglala Aquifer, which has excellent water at around 180 feet (or less, depending on the lay of the land). Again, smaller ranches have grown and managed tree rows, not only for protection from winter winds but also as a continual source of firewood.

Game is abundant in West River areas, too. Turkey, mule deer, whitetail deer, pheasants, and even elk are found on the plains. There are cougars, coyotes and lynx too, so it is prudent to guard livestock.

There is a big difference in various areas of South Dakota, and it is worth checking out places south of I-90 and west of the Missouri River. North of I-90 is cold and dry, and some areas have problems with shifting topsoil, especially around the Pierre area. However, a well-managed retreat could easily and comfortably farm small areas to produce enough food for their group and still have leftovers to barter. Numerous windmills make irrigation of small areas simple. The water does contain a lot of minerals, but this is a plus. It dramatically reduces the mineral requirements (vitamin supplements) for livestock and humans. And the extremely low human population makes it very attractive.

There are numerous small “canyons” and buttes in which to create housing that commands a view of the area, but is hidden to all but the most astute observers. People are courteous and helpful to their neighbors, but will close ranks on obnoxious “outsiders” and tourists. Most are competent with firearms, many are veterans, and virtually all ascribe to basic Christian values. There is also a huge homeschooling base and an availability of competent midwives (although their practice is still illegal in the state).

I’d say South Dakota should be a tad higher on the list. - Bobbi from South Dakota

JWR Replies: Thanks for those observations. I will append them to the state-level description at my "Recommended Retreat Areas" web page. OBTW, similar comments from residents of other states are welcome. I'll be happy to post them.

In regards to reader Erik's setup of his "trap" gun: This setup is very very risky business [and an invitation] for a lot of very bad litigation. I am a law student at a top ten law school (yes, there are some of us who are not so elitist to think government will solve everything!) and know for a fact that trap setups are highly illegal [in most jurisdictions] and will subject you to 100% liability even if the injured of deceased trespasser was in the process of committing a felony--even murder! Traps cannot be used as recourse for a self-defense argument in any court in this country! Criminally, you can be charged with a multitude of very serious crimes--and as an afterthought, I really believe all of us "preppers" have a responsibility to not give our mentality of preparation a bad rap. I realize that in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation courts may not matter much. That being said, only utilize any trap setup when not a court exists in the land! Just thought I'd add that caveat to the letter. Thanks for your site! - J.B.

JWR Replies: I wholeheartedly agree. This bears re-emphasizing: The fact that a gun is remotely fired rather than set as a "trap gun" won't mean much in the eyes of a jury. (Since Erik is in in Nevada, see: Nevada Statute NRS 202.255 "Setting spring gun or other deadly weapon:") Most states have similar laws.

The average American jury will see it as vile, despicable, and perhaps nothing short of pre-meditated murder. Someone that lived through Rhodesia's Bush War in the 1970s would probably consider a remotely-fired gun "clever", and "a prudent precaution." So would an Army or Marine Corps veteran that has recently returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. But unfortunately, your neighbors (and future jury members) will probably not be Rhodesian ex-pats, or prior service grunts that had an 11-series MOS. They'll probably be just run-of-the-mill 21st Century American civilian suburbanites. These are people that have always led pampered if not downright sheltered lives. Most Americans have never been the victim of a truly violent crime nor have they ever seen combat. Many have never even seen a dead body, much less handled one, or God forbid created one. Oh, but they've seen thousands of actors "killed" on television, all very neatly killed, with hardly any blood or feces splattered about, no agonized screaming, no ringing ears,. (Some of of you are nodding your heads--you've been there and seen death and smelled it. I worked at a hospital emergency room and I can testify--violent death is remembered not just by sight of it, but also by sounds and smells. Have you ever smelled death in a nightmare? I have.) Some of you have probably just been offended by my words. See the difference? Keep this dichotomy in mind when making your preparations. The bottom line: Don't break out the razor wire and tear gas grenades until times get really, really bad, and such defensive measures have become the norm. We live in an incredibly litigious society. Don't do anything that will prompt someone to sue you. The last thing that you want to see is a plaintiff in a wheelchair, eyeballing you from the other side of the courtroom aisle. Living in these times in this country, such a lawsuit could leave you absolutely penniless. My readers in the suburbs of Mexico City who have presently have razor wire and rows of broken bottles jutting from the tops of their masonry courtyard walls are probably laughing at this discourse. But let me assure you: Things are different up here. You can get successfully sued for millions, for nothing more than having a slippery sidewalk.

Inyokern flagged this: Pandemic Planning Reveals 30-Day Power Plant Coal Supply

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I recently updated our Affiliate Advertisers page. Please shop with our our paid advertisers first. (See the scrolling ads in the right hand bar of the main blog page.) But if they don't have what you are looking for, then please shop with our affiliate advertisers here in the U.S. as well as in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the UK. (When you shop with our affiliate advertisers, SurvivalBlog will receive a small commission on each purchase.)

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Mike McD. was the first of several readers to send us the link to this article: Perth Mint suspends orders amid rush to buy bullion

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Charley S. recommended this dissection of Wall Street's demise: The End by Michael Lewis

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I found this linked over a Matt Drudge's site: Worst of financial crisis yet to come: IMF chief economist

"People who object to [privately-owned] weapons aren't abolishing violence, they're begging for rule by brute force, when the biggest, strongest animals among men were always automatically 'right.' Guns ended that, and social democracy is a hollow farce without an armed populace to make it work." - L. Neil Smith

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Home schooling teaches kids an important virtue, intellectual self-reliance. Home schooling, well done, permits a child to “learn to learn” as well as learn to learn … by himself. A home schooled child, for example, does not learn in peer groups, a common practice in schools today. Rather, by himself, the home school child reads a text, sorts through conflicting facts and information, and makes judgments that ring true to his experience and understanding. A home schooled child struggles intellectually without turning to peers, teachers or authority figures. In short, he thinks for himself.

Critics of home schooling often claim that home schooled children are less socially adept than kids in same-age classrooms. This may be true. But social suspiciousness and reticence to engage in typical kid behavior, verbiage and antics should be seen as a strength, not a weakness. For when home schooled kids don’t think like the herd, they’re intellectually self-reliant.

As an Ivy-educated professor as well as a mother of three home-schooled kids, I’d like to share some observations and offer some practical advice to home schooling parents who want their children to attend good colleges and universities.
Primary school goals and methods are different than that of older children so I’ll discuss home schooling younger children first.
Primary school kids have one overwhelming goal – to read. Once he’s reading, you need to introduce your child to increasingly interesting (and difficult) books. This is a natural trajectory. Your child will want to read more interesting books because the simple ones are boring. During these young years, roughly to age thirteen, here is some unvarnished advice on reading:

1. Make home schooling fit into your schedule and life -- do not make home schooling your life. Teaching your child to read is not difficult and can be done whenever convenient for you. When you take a break from your daily grind, pull your child in your lap and read together while sipping tea. Home schooling can be seamlessly sewn into the fabric of daily life. Make it so.
2. There are oodles of books on teaching reading. Ignore them. In them, you’ll discover a pedagogical war between supporters of phonics and those of “look-say.” Do both! As you read with your child, sound out the words and point out other words that act the same. That’s phonics. Remember, though, that about sixty percent of words in English do not follow spelling and sounding rules. Memorizing, then, must happen. As your child reads, he will become familiar with new, odd words and eventually remember them.
3. Put books on end tables, next to beds, in shelves and, of course, in the bathroom. Make books visible, like art. Books should be seen, not heard, that is, you shouldn’t talk about reading, but do it.

The other major goal for a primary child is math. Unfortunately, teaching math isn’t as intuitive as reading. Flash cards are a good way to start. After the facts are learned, buy or make sheets of problems and get a timer. By eight to ten years of age, a child should be able to do 100 math problems in five, three and finally two minutes. Some advice:

1. Math will not fit into your schedule as easily as reading. You’ll have to make time for it.
2. The grand pedagogical debate in math, which parallels that of reading, is whether math should be taught as facts or as theory. The trend, today, is to teach your child how to think about math, and only afterward, to actually do math. Teachers and curricula spoon-feed the thinking behind the problems. In contrast, in the past, the goal of math was solving problems. The child was expected to figure out the patterns and connections in these problems by herself. In my opinion, the old ways of teaching math are better. As your child learns how to do math, she will see the wonderful way math works. That “aha moment” should be discovered, not taught. Please don’t take away that glorious moment when the logic of math becomes clear. Math trains the mind to be orderly and systematic. So let your child think. Don’t think for her. This fosters intellectual self-reliance.
3. Regarding curriculum: I’ve used Saxon in the past, and eventually ditched it. Curriculum does, though, offer a structure if needed. Again, be flexible. There are times in your life when you’ll need structure and other times when your child zooms along without it. Go with the flow.
4. Here’s a simple ordering of the math your younger child needs to learn:
Counting to twenty, then one hundred
Counting backward from twenty
Addition facts to 12
Subtraction facts to 12
Adding two, then many digit numbers
Subtracting two, then many digit numbers
Multiplication facts to 12
Division facts
Multiplication of many digit numbers
Long division.
Fundamental idea of fractions
Adding and subtracting fractions
Multiplying and dividing fractions
Fractions as decimals
Adding and subtracting decimals
Multiplying and dividing decimals
Fractions to decimals to percentages
Negative numbers
Adding and subtracting negative numbers
Multiplying and dividing negative numbers
Negative decimals, fractions and percentages

5. When your child understands the above, he is ready for algebra and will need a more structured environment. I recommend this textbook: Algebra 1 by Ron Larson, Laurie Boswell, Timothy Kanold and Lee Stiff; written in 2004 and published by McDougal Littell. The Geometry and Algebra 2 books in this series are also good.

With teens, home schooling becomes more challenging … and fun.
As a professor, I’ve seen many public and private schooled students woefully unable to think, write and study. Though your home schooled child will be far better prepared than most students, don’t expect college admissions staffers to understand intellectual self-reliance. Admissions staffers need a bit of hand-holding and appeasing. This is your responsibility, not your child’s. You are responsible for getting your child into college: your child is responsible for learning.
So, starting from around age fourteen, you’ve need to think ahead. These are crucial years. You must assume that admissions staffers will judge home educated kids harshly. Thus, you’ll need to be wise and clever to combat their bias and bigotry.
Now that he’s a teen, your child should have one goal – getting into college. Though it is your responsibility to get him into college, it is still his goal. He needs to understand that the days of leisurely learning, sadly, are over.
During the early teen years, you’ll have many, heart-to-heart talks with your teen about her goals, interests and expectations. Even teens unsure of what they want to do with their life understand that, at some point, they’ll need to make a choice. At least, come up with a short list. With her, imagine life as a teacher, business owner, homemaker, farmer, lawyer … whatever. Realistically discuss what it takes to achieve that life.
Take a four-pronged approach to getting into college: taking community college classes; scoring high on an ACT or SAT; finding compelling references; writing great essays. Here’s some advice:

1. Don’t even bother to come up with a transcript or grades. Admissions won’t believe your grades anyway, so why bother? In lieu of grades, I suggest keeping a list of books read including completed textbooks.
2. As soon as your children are ready, enroll them in a community college distance learning class, around age 15 or 16. These are graded classes, taken for credit. But before your daughter takes college classes, you must sit her down and read her the riot act. Tell her that from now on, there is neither mercy nor second chances. Tell her that every grade goes on a permanent transcript that will follow her for the rest of her academic career. Tell her that learning has to be purposeful and grade oriented. In short, tell her she needs to strive for “A’s.” Holding her to this standard doesn’t make you a slave driver but a truth-teller – so feel guiltless. The reason you enroll your child in a distance learning class is so you can help. This is a huge step for your child. Be there.
3. The sad truth is that learning, suddenly, is not the goal. Grades are the goal. He needs good grades. Part of preparing your child for self-sufficiency is showing him the bar that he needs to get over. At this point, the bar is a high GPA. Your son, then, needs to find his own way to reach that bar. This is a worthy lesson in itself for life has hurdles that must be overcome even when he finds them distasteful or unimportant. To put it bluntly, there are times when he’s got to suck up to reach his goals.
4. College testing, even if not required, will be important as a marker of accomplishment and potential. Take this seriously. I do not think expensive classes are worth the cost because relatively cheap software is almost as effective. Note: It is easier to raise a math score than a verbal score. The verbal score is more of a proxy of intelligence as well as a marker of an avid reader, which is why it is so important to instill a passion for reading in young children.
5. References are tricky. You have to find referees who the admissions staff will respect. This isn’t about you and your values but rather about the college and its expectations. If your daughter wants to be an engineer, for example, a reference from an engineering professor or successful engineer (on letterhead) will go a long way. Unless your child is going to a Christian college, avoid references from pastors and youth leaders. If your child volunteered, try to get a reference from the leader of that organization. Remember, assume that admissions staffers are secular and biased against home schooling, and choose your references accordingly. Another helpful reference could come from the community college that your child attends. Working as a Teacher's Assistant (TA) or lab assistant is good both as experience and as a source for references. Try to get academic references.
6. Essays, the final step, can make or break an application. I’ve heard that admissions staffers are finding more and more ghost-written essays. Thus, to make your child’s essay believable, he’s got to include personal, anecdotal information. Here is where a savvy applicant can sneak in information about home schooling. Home schooling obviously sets an applicant apart from the crowd. If made to sound exciting, then the admissions counselor will think your kid is eccentric and interesting. My kids emphasized their travel (which was a big part of their home schooling experience) and the bizarre places and things in their past. It worked. They disguised their faith in the application, choosing to emphasize other aspects of their upbringing that the admissions counselor would be expected to appreciate. In short, give them what they want to hear and set your child apart from the herd.

As parents, we’re raising the best kids in the nation. Our kids are self-reliant and grounded in positive, moral values. For some, Christian faith undergirds morality – it does for me. But as Christians or seculars, it is incredibly important that the best kids are trained to survive and succeed. The two-to-three percent of the nation’s kids who are home schooled will lead tomorrow’s nation, and perhaps save it. Thus, getting those paper credentials from name-brand colleges and universities is a small step toward returning our country from a culture of dependence and weakness to that of individualism and self-reliance.

First let me say that I agree with the sentiments of D.O.’s reply to the original post.
However; In a situation even less drastic than another depression, I believe there will be ‘abandoned’ properties everywhere you look due to foreclosures and displaced persons that can no longer find viable employment and have moved in with family or on to ‘greener’ pastures. The homeowners that lived in them, built them, and called them home, will not own them anymore. These homes will still have an owner, that would be the ‘bank’ that held the note, and also in some cases, additionally the tax authority of record that has not been paid by the previous owner nor the bank. But that ‘owner’ will not have any idea what the disposition of most of these properties are. The financial institutions of today are usually far from the local scene and as is evidenced even as of late, they have internal problems of keeping their own doors open and not getting swallowed up by a larger entity. At some point it will become impossible to monitor the homes held on their balance sheets. Municipalities are already starting to experience difficulties in staffing and finances due to property tax payment incomes dropping from peoples inability to keep up with it all and decreasing building permit fees, so this will make it hard for them to police who is living where. Police have bigger fish to fry and that work load will only become worse if we continue to descend into economic chaos.

If we do continue the slide, there will be plenty of empty homes. If things get that tough, who knows when a recovery to ‘normal’ times will happen. One has to mainly look toward surviving at that point. There is a small part of the population that has prepared for these coming times, but even some of these will find themselves separated from their preps due to matters beyond their control. If your retreat is not paid for in full and you have not made provisions to in some way pay property taxes ahead, (and for a lot of people, even the ‘informed’, this will not be possible) all your preparations are in jeopardy and may be forfeit. Secondly, if you do own outright but are met with a force larger and more equipped than you can repel, and you have to ‘abandon ship’ you are now adrift with those that did not prepare. Granted, you will undoubtedly have at least some pre-positioned gear in an offsite cache, but how long will that last? You must have shelter. Especially in more severe climates. Maybe you can re-take ‘your’ residence later and maybe not.

Reading any of the post- apocalyptic novels, one always encounters transients scavenging abandoned houses for whatever might have been left by those that came before. At some point, this becomes survival not looting. Looting would be the taking of someone’s property without their permission (Larceny), and I do not condone this, but that assumes the property owners will at some time return. This is not the case in most [truly] abandoned homes. In Michigan I know of someone who has a business at present, going into foreclosed homes and emptying all the possessions left behind by the previous homeowners who basically loaded up a car with what they could carry and left everything else. Everything is loaded into dumpsters; from big screen televisions and kitchenware to a child’s favorite teddy, and baby clothes. The homes look like aliens had abducted the residents in the middle of the night.

It is heart wrenching, and is a reminder of depression/dust bowl times where you saw transient families carting their ‘worldly’ possessions strapped to the ol’ family sedan, looking for work. If the trend continues, at some point the banks won’t have the revenue to clean out an abandoned home to prepare it for re-sale when no one is buying them. Unfortunately, we may be headed for just those kind of times.

As has been mentioned in your blog and some others; the next depression will not be as ‘peaceful’ as the last one. People are not as close to the land and are more morally ‘disadvantaged’.

I just read novel "Patriots". Thank you for your wisdom and fortitude Mr. Rawles. It is a help to all that visit your e-institute. - G. P

I just got a very sick feeling reading the last e-mail posted by D.O.. You know, I've been prepping for 8 years and have never gotten to "that place" that many on survival sites I visit seem to live in. The "kill everyone syndrome, because all that matters is me!" I read the news and see many new stories about how there are tent cities going up everywhere. Now, being a Christian I cannot bring myself to want to kill just because someone is homeless. This is the mentality I see from gangs in the news. You do realize that many people had 20% down and have now lost their jobs? And there will be many many more very soon as I am not near as optimistic as JWR is. Shall we kill them all? What kind of nonsense is this? We are headed in a very scary place to say the least. These people will have no where to go and tent cities are on land owned by someone (I'm assuming public land which is another "forbidden" according to many survival sites.) Therefore when you lose your property it is an instant death sentence? Frankly it sickens me to hear this. No, I don't expect people to hand over everything they've worked for but boy, oh boy, wait until those who think they have covered their backside find themselves in the same scary situation as many of these folks. Lets see, there are people who have worked for many years and saved by putting money in their 401(k)s. Just because the government will seize (that's what I call it) this savings and spend it just like they have the Social Security money, you believe that this person, responsible or not, should be shot when he finds he can no longer pay the mortgage? Whether he's paid one payment past his 20% down or 10 years worth, he can still lose his home. And I would like to remind you people that think that you have some great secret to life, the tax man may come knocking and your gold may just be worthless. Read Ezekiel 7:19 "They shall cast their silver in the streets , and their gold shall be removed : their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumbling block of their iniquity."

Yep, I will protect my family and would kill if I saw a true threat to one of them (as the Bible allows), but I'm so very tired of the macho "survivalist" that I see on forums and their most sickening lack of thought to human life. If the building is truly abandoned then kudos to 100 moving in! Get over yourself, let others know that your place is not welcoming to them. But please stop lending no hope to people that while in need today may be your savior tomorrow. Realize that you can prep all you want but the Big Guy upstairs is watching and He is the Judge! - Stephanie B.

Chris S. sent us this frightening glimpse of how a post-TEOTWAWKI society might operate: Somali towns run on pirates' treasure. It sounds like they are in need of a Barbary solution.

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Matt mentioned that South Carolina has enacted (over their Governor's veto) a 2nd Amendment Recognition Act that creates a two day 'sales tax free' holiday on firearms following Thanksgiving 2008. I hope that this catches on in other states

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Alaskaman flagged this: There is No Secret Sauce: The Truth About ‘Deflation’

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David B. pointed out that three more US banks failed Friday, and the three had a combined total of more then 214 branches. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. We can expect more and more of these Friday evening pronouncements every Friday for the foreseeable future.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." - 1 Thessalonians 4:12

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,050. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

I've put together a few ideas on retreat security that I haven't seen on your great site. I may have missed them but I think they would bear repeating. I presently live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but will soon be moving to my 280 acre ranch in central Nevada. What got me to write this was a realization during my semiannual chore of servicing the emergency generator. Changing out the gas (It is also set up to run it on propane) changing the oil, and testing the circuitry, I realized that what I thought was a good setup was actually lacking. I have always made the preparedness of our home priority. If a storm knocks out the power, I go start the generator and switch the control box. My "Ah-ha" moment came with the realization that if the power were ever cut intentionally, all security would be off until after I'd expose myself to go start the generator. Needless to say corrective action projects (remote start, auto control panels, and UPS battery backup for the security system) are now underway.

Education has been mentioned but I realized that I hadn't seen much about basic electronics. Learning how to make small circuit boards is really rather simple, and allows you to make a lot of toys (equipment) for the homestead. A simple IR detection circuit to let you know if someone is coming in under cover of night. A display can show which sensors are being activated. This way you have a choice, whether or not to let someone know you are alert to their presence. Pressure [sensing] pads you can make yourself to show if someone is standing behind that large boulder, by the barn, or shed. [JWR Adds: Commercially-made pressure sensing pads are far more reliable weather-resistant. Used ones are sometimes sold as surplus by alarm companies.] How about a simple circuit that is connected to motion/heat sensors in the house that light an LED array that not only shows someone is in your house but on which floor or in which room. There are electronics parts vendor sites like Jameco and DigiKey and web sites like, Makezine and similar hobby and hacking sites that show all sorts of projects and skills.

When I get my next batch of wire I am setting small speakers to exploit a bit of human nature by creating a brief sound to get intruders to look in a particular direction and then two seconds later turn on concealed 500 Watt floodlights for a blinding effect. These floodlights will be good for general use as well. I mentioned pressure pads for detection earlier. One of the ideas at the ranch was to place large cover objects at strategic points to funnel a potential intruder to a place he could hide and I could remote view the opposition at the same time. Mini cams and mikes and alarm pressure pads will give you a heads up.

Since my ranch a long way from law enforcement protection, a remote defense is also installed. Behind two of the boulders I had moved with the rented dozer, I placed a small outcropping of rock in the ground so as to leave nothing to hide behind but left a cavity in front to set plastic bagged SKS rifles (sans stocks) [in mounting frames with solenoid-actuated triggers and] cameras at the scope (which by the way is a great way to aim around corners) and the aiming is done by remote control units from the hobby shop (or eBay). Solar power and small batteries keep things operational. (I am sure the liabilities and legalities will be questioned, so let's say the property is set up for installation after TSHTF). Safety is important so the units are double switched, one to turn on the power and the other to control and fire. The third unit is similar but I made a small bracket on the tree behind the third cover position, laid in my controls, made a cloth skirt at the base to allow movement and then used the foam insulation in a spray can and made a foam cover to look like a branch and spray painted with a couple of colors . This made it so invisible that a visiting friend couldn't detect it even after I told him where it was. The cost for cameras, microphones, controllers, and sensors is really small--from under $2 for sensors to perhaps $25 for the others. What you pay big bucks for is the labor and knowledge. But you you get that by turning off the television and exercising your brain.

[JWR Adds: Consult your state and local laws on "trap guns" before considering any such installation. Also keep in mind that any semi-auto firearm that is triggered via solenoid might be construed to be a " machinegun" if there is any way whatsoever that more than one cartridge could be fired by a single press of the remote "trigger". Also, keep in mind that in the US, Federal law that restricts not only barrel length but also overall length for a firearm. (Rifles and shotguns must have a minimum overall length of 26 inches.) Multiply-redundant safeties should be designed, as a well as a safe backstop for any bullets fired. In my opinion, installation of a remotely-fired gun should only be considered in absolute "worst case" situations. Their use in any lesser situation might very well land your in court, on trial either criminally and/or civilly, in a very bad light that would doubtless be exploited by hostile attorneys.]

Before I leave this topic I would add that on the previous mentioned web sites and and Google video you can learn how to pick locks, scavenge old camera parts, make and run a forge, start fires, throw flame, make thermite, generate smoke and just about anything else you can think of. Its like having a couple hundred mischievous people in your R&D department.

How about remote cameras? There are gadget sites, military and defense corporations, and especially university sites have many ideas, for free, such as GizMag, DARPA, and MIT. One topic of interest is remote viewing. You can launch a hand held and nearly silent electronic plane and view all points of the ranch in very short amount of time without exposing yourself. It could also be used to find wild game. [This is called "First Person View (FPV) piloting.] Try a web search on "remote FPV flying" and watch a couple of videos. The aforementioned hobby web sites are also a resource on model aircraft information. [JWR Adds: Radio control aircraft servos have numerous uses for folks with creative minds.] Prices range from $300-to-$400 to as much as $1,500 This can be applied to rc cars adding remote microphone and speaker, and rc helicopters as well. It only took a couple of hours to get a real good feel for it,. But I should add that I haven't yet flown it in high wind.

To set up [for security at] the ranch property I mapped out GPS way points and used a range finder for all the prominent features. I would also suggest a picture of the property and the surrounding properties from Google maps . At several strategic spots I planted some damaged concrete sewer pipes on end--I had obtained these free for the asking--and made large lids for them with a plastic base and the aforementioned spray can foam to look like the landscape, with a hollow center so you could look out small holes without moving the lid. Inside is water and there are a couple of ammo cans for food, and a small seat and space blanket, iron oxide hand warmers which are also good for emergency in your car and coat pocket or keeping vigil at a remote hide--[a small heat source] can be the difference between bearable, frostbitten, or dead. I've requested more of the free concrete pipes be saved so that I can bury them between the house and the barn and run a little shuttle between the two buildings. Why not,? The price is right.

For structure fire suppression and prevention, I'll just mention these two products as a one-time fire insurance policy: ThemoGel and Barricade. Perhaps at some point this could also be made a remotely-triggered function. I hope you find some of this useful. - Erik

Mr. Rawles;

The Old Yooper's statistics on range brass may be somewhat skewed in favor of automatic pistol cartridges because revolvers do not [involuntarily] eject spent rounds. Few cops are 'gun guys' but anyone who reloads saves their brass. This is easier to do if you don't have to chase them, so a higher percentage of auto pistol cartridges are left behind. This having been said, I don't think anyone will go far wrong stockpiling 9mm, . 40 S&W, and .45 ACP--both live rounds and spent brass. The pocket pistol cartridges are less attractive to reloaders, but I would not overlook .38 Special and .357 Magnum.

JWR Adds: And some revolver calibers that are favorites of handloaders, such as .41 Magnum, probably won't be found at all, unless someone accidentally drops a piece! Nor can I imagine anyone that owns a .454 Casull or one of the new .500 S&W revolvers just walking away from their brass.

Government warns of "catastrophic" U.S. quake in New Madrid Seismic Zone

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David V. sent this: Argentine Stocks Threatened as Biggest Holders Seized.

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There is an old saying on Wall Street: "Nobody beats the bear." That was recently proven out by Warren Buffett, the legendary manager of Berkshire Hathaway. Because of some bad trading decisions, the company's share value has declined $23 billion since September 17th. Buffett's company had a value over $55 billion, but now they're down to just over $32 billion. That is still quite a nest egg, and they've still made a pile of money for their stockholders in the past 42 years. OBTW, stocks may be down, but it looks like the gold bull may be resuming his charge. The analysts quoted by Bloomberg seem to agree: Gold Surges Amid Deflation Concern; Silver, Platinum Rebound

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Reader B.H. mentioned that the USDA now has a rural loan program for middle to low income families that offers "zero down" or "low down" loans. The goal of the program is to get people to move to rural areas. The loans can be for new construction, remodels and even manufactured homes or multi-family units. I'm adverse to debt, but if you must get a mortgage, then get a low interest one, and pay it off as quickly as possible!

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Another Day of Dollar-based Dreariness from The Economatrix: Citigroup's Troubles Will Not Sleep -- EU's Superbank EIB in Perilous Waters -- Brutal US Share Sell-Off as Oil Drops -- How the Oil Collapse Changes Everything -- Freddie Suspends Foreclosure Sales Temporarily -- The Global Financial System is Coming to an End Here are a couple of quotes: "There are going to be stock market rallies within this bear market, and that will be the time for those still holding and hoping to get out before the bear really begins to claw in 2009." And, "Before this secular Bear Market is over, we are going to new lows in all indices, more than 3,500 banks will close, unemployment will surge, there will be violence in the streets and people will kill you to get what you have." -- Silver in Crisis -- How Low Can the Dow Go? -- Stocks Rally as Obama Picks Geithner to Head Treasury -- 'Unprecedented" Biotech Bankruptcies Erupt as Global Crisis Curbs Funding -- GMAC Applies For Bank Status, TARP Funds -- Traditional Pensions: Are They At Risk?

"No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words ‘no’ and ‘not’ employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights." - Edmund A. Opitz

Friday, November 21, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $960. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Goats are one of the most versatile animals of all livestock. With hard times poised on the horizon, they'll greatly improve your quality of life. They provide us with milk, meat, leather, weed/undergrowth clearing, environmentally friendly to the earth, non-toxic garden fertilizer, horse companionship, 4H or FFA projects and as pack animals to carry their own “Bug Out Bags”. My husband and I have been breeding and raising goats for over fifteen years. This article is presented as basic information for anyone thinking about adding these wonderful animals into their lives.

What is a Mini? There are two recognized breeds of miniature dairy goats. One is the Nigerian Dwarf. A small (21 to 22 inches at the withers) friendly, colorful, easy going goat who with minimal or no assistance can deliver kids easily . The second is a hybrid goat derived from the crossing of a Nigerian Buck and standard dairy Doe. The standard dairy breeds are: Alpine, Nubian, LaMancha, Oberhaslis, Saanen, and Toggenburg. The product of this cross breeding is called a Mini. To further differentiate between the breeds, they are identified as Mini Alpine, Mini Nubian, Mini Mancha, etc. They are a medium size goat larger than the Nigerian Dwarf and smaller than the standards. Both breeds are easier to maintain, feed, shelter, and transport.

Why Would I Want a Mini? The miniature goats are ideal for small homesteads/farms/retreats. A person could easily raise two Minis or three Nigerian Dwarf to one standard. They are adaptable in all climates and are found in all 50 States, Canada, and Mexico. Their feed to milk production ratio is more efficient than the standard size dairy goats. Since they are smaller, their housing needs are simple. We have made 3-sided shelters using wooden pallets and recycled plywood for the roof. Goats do not like rain or windy conditions and enjoy snuggling down inside a small retreat. In general they are more resistance to parasites if left to browse on, and in, native terrain. They will starve in a field of green grass, but will survive readily on weedy woody plants. Countless plants are natural herbs with properties that build immune systems, maintain or correct mineral deficiencies, and serve as natural antibiotics when necessary. Minis can be less aggressive than their larger cousins so children can handle them easily. Numerous people, myself included, do not have the energy or strength anymore to physically maintain a herd of standard size goats.
Even though these are small breeds, the extra kids born that are not used to increase your herd milkers or sold, can be raised for butchering. Goat meat has a wonderful flavor. The meat can be smoked, ground, and even stuffed like a turkey. Meat and milk could also be handy items for barter.

Got Milk? One will soon tire of beans and rice. However a little cheese added to provisions will certainly make mealtime more pleasurable. Having fresh milk from your backyard would certainly lower the grocery bill too. Cheesemaking is not all that difficult. You can make soft cream cheese, semi hard mozzarella, hard cheeses such as brick, colby and cheddar to name a few. The soft and semi hard cheese can be consumed immediately or frozen and after hard cheese has aged for sixty to ninety days, it can be frozen and used as needed. I have to be careful opening the door on my freezer, as multiple packages of cheese are stacked and could be dangerous to my feet below!

Nigerian Dwarf milk has one of the highest butterfat content of all the dairy goat breeds, 5.6% to 10%. It is that butterfat that produces a higher yield of cheese, as well as providing the prospect of making your own fresh butter. The breed averages between 2 to 4 lbs (4 lbs equal 1 quart) of milk from two milkings per day. Minis will give more milk, (1⁄2 gal) less butterfat, (3 to 5%) however the butterfat content is still higher than most standard dairy goats because of the genetic influence from the Nigerian Dwarf.

Raw milk versus pasteurizing is a question that has no correct answer. We drink raw milk with no adverse problems, however others may feel more comfortable with pasteurized milk. Everyone has their own opinion on this topic and it is best left to each individual to decide for themselves. See:

One additional point I would like to make, is that a good milk goat can be milked for years before having to be bred again, especially if you do not have a market for the kids or you do not want to butcher them. It is actually harder on their bodies to deliver kids, milk for a few months, dry up and then breed again, year after year. They will be far more productive and have less health problems if you can milk them for 2 to 5 years before you breed them again. Plus you will continue to have a constant milk supply during winter months. Yes, the milk production will go down a bit in the fall, however it will resume again in the spring.

How Do I Acquire Some Minis? Here are some suggestions based on my own experiences. You can Google Nigerian goats, Mini goats or use the member directories from reputable goat registries. See: The American Goat Society, the Nigerian Dairy Goat Association, and The Miniature Goat Registry. Read books specifically written about caring for and raising goats. However, remember the goats haven’t read the books and therefore are not going to act exactly the way you think they are!

All things being equal, purchase a registered/papered goat. The breeder is showing responsibility by utilizing selective genetics to produce a hardy and healthy animal. You will feed the same amount of food to a registered goat as you would an unregistered one, so you might as well have the paperwork on them. 4H and FFA members need registered animals for their projects and they are a good source of potential buyers for your goats. Prices will vary depending on supply and demand, as well as the geographic area of the country. You may find quality animals for as little as $100 up to $300 or $400. There are some very nice breeders who will work with you, educate, explain, and make sure you acquire the right animals for your situation. However, you may also encounter those who use deceptive practices to sell their animals. Use common sense and go with your “gut feelings”.

Dos and Don'ts As with all things Do your homework. You wouldn’t go out and purchase a car, a gun, a home without researching, right? Do contact breeders, as many as you can, and tell them what you are looking for. Do ask them if they milk their goats. You would be surprised as to how many breeders promote and sell their goats as milkers but don’t milk them! Do ask if you can visit their farm/ranch to view available animals for sale. You will learn much by observing their herd management. Do ask them if they test their goats for any type of disease. If you purchase goats from them, ask if you can have a copy of the test report for those animals. Do ask if they will give you a “care package” for the animals you have purchased. This simply consists of a small amount of food the goats are use to eating so you can mix it with your own. This small step allows the animal to make an easier transition to their new home. Do remember when telephoning or e-mailing, that many goat breeders have outside jobs, children, chores and other responsibilities that may delay replying to your emails or phone calls.

Please don't acquire goats at sale barns or auctions and expect them to perform the way you think they should. There is a reason breeders send their animals to these places. They may be diseased, old, or problematic and in the long run you may spend more money on them than they are worth. Don't purchase just one goat. Goats are herd animals and they need a “buddy”. A good breeder would never sell just one goat unless you were adding to an existing herd. Don't purchase the first goat you see. Make sure you have talked to several breeders before proceeding with your purchase.

In conclusion, I hope this information is helpful if you are interested in goats as a survival animal for your homestead. It does not matter whether you decide on the standard or mini dairy goats. With an uncertain future looming ahead, the more information we pass along to each other, the better prepared we will be--and so will the goats!

With an economic depression looming just in front of the world and post-Peak Oil price shocks on it’s heals (according to Mat Simmons peak oil is history, it happened in May 2005, check his web site out) it would be good to have something for barter better then that green toilet paper we haul around for the same purpose. I think firearms ammunition would be an ideal selection. It is relatively compact, portable and usable. But what calibers to stock pile. Up until the commodity boom hit I was buying fired brass cases by the pound from a shooting range down in Kentucky, and having them shipped up to me in Michigan. Unfortunately about 2007 scrap brass started paying better and the range then starting selling it to the Chinese, thank you free trade.

The brass was swept up off the floor of there outdoor range and put into boxes and shipped up to me. There was no sorting of anything, it’s called range brass and I got what was fired that day, both pistol and rifle. I performed a statistical analysis on the type and quantity of the different brass I received for the last three shipments in the summer of 2006, the last time I got any brass. It’s nice to know what you’re getting for your money and it’s a lot of fun to do the study, although, when I’ve told people about things like this they look at me like I was from Mars. You need to understand that this type of study is a snapshot in time of what was being shot over three different times in the summer. I have performed these studies for both years I received brass from them.

It would be a waste of resources to have something that there is little or no market for. Therefore, if you’re going to store ammunition for trade what is the most common?

The top 10 brass types were, in descending order, as follow,,
9mm Parabellum (Luger) 38.9%
40 S&W 22.3%
45 ACP (45 Auto) 18.8%
38 Special 4.6%
380 Auto 4.5%
223 Rem. (5.56x45mm) 3.8%
357 SIG 1.8% - This one may be an anomaly, it was <.1% i n the last study.
32 Auto 1.5%
357 Mag. 1.4%
44 Mag. 0.4%

The remainder of the brass total 2% for all types combined. In the study before this one, 40 S&W and 45 ACP were flipped in order, this tells me, that the 40 S&W is gaining in popularity over the 45 ACP, at least with law enforcement.

A total of 36 different cartridge types were in my 2006 summer shipments. As you can see most of the brass was for pistols. Do not be confused about the results, people go to the range too site in there rifles and stop, more or less. Also this range was very popular with law enforcement.

This study should be considered valid only for the most common pistol cartridges shot. Rifle cartridges are totally another matter. However for barter purposes the top three or four are a good bet. This may seem intuitive but as an engineer I deal in factual information, not conjecture. Well, unless of course, conjecture is all I have to go on that is. If anyone has information on this subject, I would like to see it. Thank you, - The Old Yooper

Dear Mr. Rawles,
This letter is in reference to the reader who had the idea of squatting in abandoned homes. I would advise he seriously rethink that idea. If law has broken down enough that he could acquire someone else's dwelling without raising any eyebrows then there is enough of a breakdown for the owners to show up and use lethal force whether warranted or not. In that type of TEOTWAWKI, we may see a return to the days of: Horse theft = shot or hung, accosting a lady in the street = shot or hung, Claim (Homestead) jumping = shot or hung, etc.

Since he mentioned Western Maryland, he is most likely referring to the vacation homes and cabins such as those surrounding Deep Creek Lake in Garret County. It's a beautiful area, my wife's Aunt has a vacation house on the lake and we vacation there as often as possible - who needs a time share or resort hotel when you have the perfect cabin in the woods on the shore of a huge lake (Sadly, there are less and less homes on the lake and more and more condos). The cabin was originally built by my wife's great-grandfather and grandfather when the lake was first created by the Army Corps [of Engineers] and has stayed in the family ever since. The surrounding homes have much the same story. Friends routinely bought land and built next to friends. This cabin is our third line bug out location and would be 1st except for its distance. If we arrived, we know who is supposed to be there, we know all the neighbors along that street, and if they aren't there and some stranger is living there, than something reaaalllly bad happened to my wife's aunt or the neighbors, so he better do some fast talking. We're a close knit bunch as are most of the "neighborhoods" in that area. We will all defend each other and each other's property as if it were our own life and property. He would be a stranger who committed a felony (breaking and entering) and there is clearly a lack of law enforcement. I hope his foolishness doesn't result in a widow raising children on her own. There is a difference between asking for aid and theft. After effectively claim jumping he would have no credibility and would receive no charity. The same could be said if we bugged out and later returned home to help rebuild our home and community.

The notion that a man would "claim" someone else's property, vacant or not, gets me a little riled. Unless he's referring to vacant condos (why??) a lot of work, love and memories are tied up in those "vacant properties." In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, honesty and integrity will be the most valuable assets. I prepare to provide for my family, and provide for those in need. However, people who lack honor will be turned away.

In closing, what he suggests is stealing. The rightful owners, their family and friends would be likely to assume the worst and could end up shooting first and throwing his body in the middle of a very large and very deep lake. If this argument doesn't dissuade him, then let me just say that I would be one to shoot first and ask questions later. And since I hike those mountains and boat/swim the lake regularly, I know all the nooks and crannies and deep sections of the lake. I'm also originally from Chicagoland, so I know to stuff the body in a body bag and place the cinder blocks inside the body bag. (LOL). Thanks, - D.O.

Signs of the (Los Angeles) Times: Adult children moving back home with parents. (A hat tip to Erik for the link.)

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Jim H. sent us a link to an interesting Business Spectator (of Australia) article about CDS-based CDO paper (so-called "synthetic CDOs"): A tsunami of hope or terror?

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The latest economic news and commentary from Cheryl: Stocks Plunge Anew, Led by Financials; Dow Down 873 in Two Days -- Stocks Plunge To 5-Year Lows As Hopes Fade For Auto Bailout -- Fears Over US Economy Weaken World Markets -- Panicked Investors Send Gold Demand Up 56% -- Markets Wary of Irish Debt as Fresh Rescue Looms -- Six Japanese Banks Announce Heavy Profit Fall -- CitiGroup's Downward Spiral Continues, Shares Fall 12% -- Fed Says Economy to Get Worse -- China Plans to Buy GM and Chrysler -- Worldwide Rout Hits Asian Markets -- World Freight Prices Collapse Amid Financial Crisis -- Phase IV of The Global System Crisis: Breakdown of the Global Money System by Summer 2009 -- CitiGroup Liquidates Hedge Fund that Fell 53% in One Month -- Farmers in US Face Up to Credit Squeeze -- When Inflation Comes A-Knockin' (The Mogambo Guru) -- Bush Hands Over Reigns of US Economy to EU

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Frequent contributor (and fellow novelist) Michael Z. Williamson sent us this link that proves that there is a sucker born every minute: Mike's comment: "[People are paying] $11 per pound for $1.63 worth of copper. And the concept of 'Fine brass' bullion is just amusing." JWR Adds: Perhaps the buyers are the same people that buy those absurdly overpriced"commemorative" coins.

"Nothing is ever what it seems, but everything is exactly what its is." - Buckaroo Banzai (as quoted in Pinky Carruthers' Unknown Facts)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A special note of thanks to the anonymous pharmacist on the East Coast that has set up a very generous 10 Cent Challenge subscription via an automated weekly payment. These voluntary subscriptions are greatly appreciated, especially now that our hosting and bandwidth expenses exceed $450 per month. (Daily downloads from our site now regularly exceed 20 Gigabytes per day. Last month alone, we burned through a whopping 660GB!)

Hello Mr. Rawles:
Seeing that houses are pretty much dirt cheap right now, would it be a good decision to buy one? what would happen to our debts (including the mortgage) when/if the Amero comes? would they disappear like they claim the American debt will? I hear radio advertisements about the IRS giving you up to [a] $7,500 [interest-free loan] on your 2008 taxes if you buy a house in 2008. So, again, would it be a good idea? would the Dollar amount be converted into Ameros?

Thanks in advance for your response. As always, congratulations on and thank you for your blog, simply the best. - Luis S.

JWR Replies: The $7,500 incentive offered by the IRS must be paid back over the next 15 years. It is an interest-free loan, not a tax credit. People who claim this "credit" must pay it back at $500 per year for the next 15 years.

In my estimation, suburban houses have another 25% to fall nationwide, and another 40% to fall in the over-bought markets. I recommend that you wait for at least two years, until the market is closer to the bottom. And FWIW, according to The Chartist Gnome, the absolute bottom may not be until around 2016. There will be plenty of pain and angst ahead!

The widely-rumored advent of the Amero is far from a sure thing. I recommend diversifying out of dollar-denominated assets and into practical tangibles. At present, my favorites are alloy, steel, and polymer, and hold lots of cartridges. With well-chosen tangibles, you will shelter yourself from the worst effects of any currency swap or formalized devaluation. Yes, land is a tangible too, but the only real estate that I would consider buying these days is productive farm or ranch land. This should be land that could double as a survival retreat, and that is located in a region that was not part of the Big Bubble.

Greetings Jim,
With [the] November 4th [US presidential and congressional election] behind us, many of us are wondering how to proceed with our preps. With regard to the bullets in the "Three B's" consider this; your firearm will function with one magazine, most with even no magazine, but they all require ammunition. As a prep (as opposed to investment), I put forth that a good supply of ammunition is a higher priority than spare magazines, after purchasing the firearm, of course! In selecting a firearms battery, ammunition availability is a common selection criteria. You should own firearms that ammunition can be purchased readily at any country store in the middle of nowhere. Good choices are .308,.223, .30-06, 12 gauge, 9mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, .22 LR, and possibly 7.62x39. A post-November 4th trip to our local Wal-Mart found them cleaned out of the Federal brand 100 round white boxes of both .223 and 9mm.

Esoteric calibers should play only a limited role in the defensive battery and be supported by more common calibers. A couple of notable exceptions are .50 BMG, and .338 Lapua Magnum. These calibers are in limited use by various military units for very-long range engagement of medium and hard targets. If you own weapons chambered in these cartridges then be sure to obtain a large supply ASAP. These weapons can be very useful for special purposes, and typically represent large financial investments, but are useless without ammunition. If ammunition is hard to find now, it will only be more difficult and expensive later. From that point consider purchasing a quantity of ammunition, in each caliber, that you maintain a commitment to not to use any of it. It's reasonable to start with calibers that you or your group have the most firearms for, and work down from there. After reserves in each caliber are built up, purchase ammunition for training, target practice, or barter, using the same (most guns to least guns) philosophy. Some people may choose to start with rifle ammunition and work towards pistol ammo. As my favorite Front Sight instructor says, "Your pistol is only to fight your way to a rifle!" A thousand rounds in backstock, of each caliber, is a good place to start (case lots are psychologically harder for me to break open). One needs only to hear of the purported attempt to ban imports of 7.62x39, or the ammunition "registration" bill being pushed in Arizona to realize that there are many magazines, etc. available on the market, but ammunition is a one-time use product. Bans, taxes, or "registration" of loaded ammunition, or components would eventually make gun control a moot point! So stock up now.

With regard to the band-aids in the "Three B's", on another blog I happened onto a discussion of first aid kit components. The pre-hospital care giver was advocating obtaining all sorts of advanced tools like IV fluid and sutures. As Josh (hat-tip to my fellow Montanan) pointed in an earlier SurvivalBlog letter ,there are many training, and medical-legal issues with having/using this type of equipment. And as many sources like Ragnar Benson, and Where There is No Doctor point out, these interventions have only a limited role in all but a full of TEOTWAWKI situation. One excellent product that everyone should have in their medical bag that requires no prescription or specific training is a hemostatic agent like Quickclot. Here is a YouTube link to the military report on Quickclot (one specific brand, there are other good ones also) should demonstrate it's effectiveness. The 6th edition of the NAEMT's Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) textbook identifies hemostatic agents as most useful in a "delayed transport" scenario, that is, typically greater than one hour to definitive medical care, like what you would find in a wilderness or"grid down" type emergency.

Having the equipment without the proficient skill in its use is exactly like having a firearm in the nightstand and thinking you are good to go. Here are some ideas on medical training in addition to the WRSA, and Medical Corps suggestions that you've made. Start out with an American Heart Association (AHA) CPR Healthcare Provider class (Healthcare Provider is the prerequisite for most other training, and much more detailed than the AHA's Friends and Family CPR class.) The AHA offers other basic medical training as well. Many community colleges offer excellent Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes, they last about one semester, and may equal up to four college credits). If you are currently enrolled in college this is a great class that offers immediate job opportunities with varied schedules, and may expose you to a career track that you hadn't considered. Many volunteer fire and ambulance services provide this same training for free with a time commitment to the service after course completion.

Wilderness Medical Associates, and NOLS offer a variety of non-urban setting EMS classes. One of the best educational opportunities that is often overlooked is the National Ski Patrol's Outdoor Emergency Care Technician program. It closely mirrors the EMT curriculum but emphasizes care in the outdoor setting, and improvisation. Think about this; take the class, learn important skills, and then ski for free! Lastly, as Ragnar Benson points out in some of his books, even doctors use reference materials. In addition to the well known titles like Emergency War Surgery, and Where There is No Doctor, some people may consider purchasing EMT, Paramedic, or the OEC textbook. Gray's Anatomy or other texts on anatomy/physiology, and pathophysiology are also important references . The key is not just to have the texts, but to learn them as well. Some people may try a self-study program of these resources. This last route is the least desirable, because so many skills like assessment, splinting, etc. require significant practice and experience. As a side note, the first aid kit in your latest auction from Cajun Safety and Survival certainly seems to be well equipped to deal with a variety of emergencies.

Thanks for all you do. Keep up the great work. - J. in Montana (A 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

I've been following the letters about living in Michigan;'s Upper Peninsula (UP) with interest. For those that aren't familiar with Michigan geography, there are two peninsulas. For the most part, most consider Michigan the 'mitten' [landmass], and that's all. The rest forget that there is still more to the state, and that's okay with me! The UP is 1/3 the land mass of the state, with only 1% of the total population. There are more people in Detroit, than there are in all of the UP. another very nice statistic!

Personally, I was born and raised in Detroit (please don't hold that against me), moved to the outer 'burbs for several years, and moved to the UP 14 years ago. I will never go back. Never. Here, the water is clean (I get my drinking water from a free-flowing artesian well, with no filtering whatsoever), the air is clean and the crime is minimal. There is so little air pollution that on a moonless night (preferably in August) you can sit on any number of beaches along Lake Superior, and see the curvature of the distinct edge of the Milky Way galaxy. The stars are uncountable. Many find upon moving here that their respiratory allergies disappear--discovering that they were allergic to the smog of the cities.

Sounds like heaven? it is. Are there drawbacks? of course, but there are downsides to every location. I feel the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. I might have to drive 30 miles to get to a sizeable town to shop, but along the way, I might see deer, coyote, and an occasional other vehicle :) When I do go to town, I will shop extensively for my preps, and then not drive that direction again, sometimes for weeks.

Five years ago I purchased my current retreat. Ten acres that backs up to hundreds of acres of logging land, large parcels on either side of me. I have a small house, barn, two wells and a creek. I paid $45,000 for it. Cash. My taxes every year are just $750, in total. I'm off the main road (those prices are higher), but my road still gets plowed if there's over 6" of snowfall. It's incredibly private, the neighbors know each other, but don't interfere with anything. I even set up my own shooting range, no one cares. Some of the best fishing is within a ten minute drive, and the hunting is great.

One other letter mentioned the bugs. Yep, they sure are annoying. Ticks, blackflies, mosquitoes, beach flies, they all bite. Fox, raccoon, pine marten, fishers, even coyotes will get into the chickens. So I take precautions, what's the big deal? Some of these nuisances are what keeps the riffraff away! They don't want to deal with them. they're soft, pampered, and want everything either handed to them or ready for them to take. The UP is not for the soft or pampered--at least not the woods of the UP, where I live.

It's said that there really are four seasons here:" June, July, August and Winter." Spring is typically two weeks of meltdown followed by two weeks of mud, then it's summer. And those summers can be glorious! With the exception of this past year, we have consistently hit over 100 degrees in late July. Great for the gardens, because, yes, the growing season is short, so I adjust what I grow to fit that. Fall is breathtaking!

The worst winter I've experienced, was in 2002, where in the woods, I got thirty feet of snow. It was the only time that I had 6 feet of snow on the ground at one time. It was a tough winter, but, I never had to worry about those 'roving hordes' trying to take my supplies! They couldn't get there! and I think that's one of the biggest draws of the UP: It's lack of accessibility, it's anonymity, and it's isolation. - Deborah in the UP

The Chinese say that if proficiency is desired a skill must be repeated "10,000 times." Well, if you don your concealment rig and practice weapon presentation and dry firing 30 times, every day, you will have done it over 10,000 times in just one year. Repetition builds muscle memory and with muscle memory comes speed. Speed is not a matter of quick reflexes. It comes from eliminating extraneous motion. It doesn't matter how "fast" you practice. If done right, every time, even in slow motion, when needed in reality you will be amazed at the effortless speed that results. My twenty bucks (two cents ---adjusted for inflation) worth. - Doug R.

Michael G. sent this great link: The The King of Scrounge and His Castle

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Erik mentioned that US military personnel with proper identification can shop at Sam’s Club without a membership for two days in December. The company will also waive its 10 percent non-member service fee. The military open houses will be held Monday, Dec. 1 and Monday, Dec. 15 at 598 Sam’s Club locations in the U.S., during regular club hours. This is a good opportunity to stock up! BTW, if you need to know exactly what food products, hygiene items and sundries to buy at a "Big Box" store and details on their shelf lives, then study my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

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Eric also this: 30 reasons for Great Depression II by 2011

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Doc Gary sent us a tip that Alamo Tactical still has a few MagPul brand "MagLevel" (cartridge counter window) polymer magazines ("PMAGs") for AR-15s still in stock (in just one remaining color--"Foliage Green") for under $18 each. Well, that is until today, when the readers of SurvivalBlog will undoubtedly clean them out.

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The latest news and commentary from The Economatrix: Dow Falls 430 on Economic Bad News -- Senate Cancels Vote on Doomed Auto Bailout -- Dow Slips Below 8,000 on Growing Fear of Deflation -- Asian Shares Fall as Recession Sets In -- Heading for Recession and the Crime Wave that Goes Along with It --A Sea of Unwanted Auto Imports

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." - Nahum 1:7

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We are pleased to welcome two new advertisers: Special Arms and Munitions and and Be sure to visit their web sites.

Last Winter, when I first started writing about the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB), I predicted that the cost of the bailout would grow inexorably. Sadly, I was all too right. In fact, the scope of the MOAB is now much larger than I had predicted, early in 2008. The latest tally thusfar is an almost incomprehensible $4.28 trillion US Dollars.

But wait, it gets worse. In addition to bailing out bankers and insurance companies, more and more entities from outside the financial sector are lining up to the Federal trough. The TARP bailout set a dangerous precedent. There is now a big queue forming. It is the "economic victims" queue. It is a growing line of highly-paid whiners with sob stories. Here are some examples:

Lets start with the "Big Three" Detroit automobile manufacturers (Chrysler, Ford, and GM.) Consider these three articles: Detroit automakers are begging for a big chunk and What Will Happen if the US Auto Industry Fails? and GM Bailout Will Be Agony for Taxpayers.

Now, on to the airlines. We've already been warned that as many as 30 Airlines will go broke this year. I predict that passenger airlines in the US will be next to get a big bailout. And if the Pentagon gets its way, many of those carriers deemed "too big to fail" will be those that have a large number of planes in the US Air Force CRAF fleet. Nearly everyone, it seems, has a vested interest of some sort in the MOAB.

Insurance giant AIG is getting not one but two bailouts. The latest increment announced will be $40 billion. When will this end? I suspect that lots of other big insurance firms will be lining up for their "fair share" of the dough.

Here is a real stinker: Billions of US taxpayer dollars will probably be used to bail out foreign investors. Uncle Ben Bernanke must have warned: "We mustn't offend our creditors..."

The States - Some 29 of the 50 states are reporting budget crises. Lo an behold, most of the hardest hit states are those with bloated Nanny State bureaucracies. No surprise there. The states that had the worst fiscal management, of course, will get the biggest share of the taxpayer funds. Those that were fiscally conservative will get nothing.

Municipalities - The Wall Street Journal reports: Cash Strapped U.S. Cities Seek Emergency Bailouts

What will be "the next shoe to drop"? I suspect that it will be some of the the larger public employee pension funds, such as CalPERS. Not only have they made some spectacularly bad stock investments, but many of them have also been playing contrapreneur in real estate investments (such as REITs) and have even dabbled in derivatives, such as CDO paper. Here, perhaps, is an early warning flag: Florida pension fund loses a quarter its value.

Another likely recipient of a reserved spot at the feeding trough will be "critical industries" in defense, bulk fuel, transportation, and telecommunications. If any of these approach a crisis; we'll surely be warned, "there could be dire consequences..." Can you see how far this slippery slope extends, folks?

The Growing Queue of Beggars

Mark my words: The queue of banking, corporate, and government beggars will continue to grow. Once organizations see how easy it is to get dump truck loads of cash from Uncle Hank, many more sectors will join the queue. The American taxpayers will be thoroughly fleeced.

As I've noted before, these trillions of dollars must come from somewhere. Clearly, revenue from taxes, tariffs, and borrowing will not be sufficient. This leaves only monetization--the magical creation dollars out of thin air--as a solution. Experience has shown that monetization is highly inflationary.

The bottom line: Be prepared for a MOAB that will balloon, and then amazingly balloon still larger, in an orgy of bailout beneficence that is unprecedented in human history. Following on its heels will surely come consumer price inflation. The coming decade of economic depression will be marked by inflation will make the stagflation of the 1970s seem mild, by comparison. What I've outlined here is just about inevitable. William H. Macy, as "The Shoveler" in the movie Mystery Men said it nicely: "We've got a blind date with Destiny -- and it looks like she's ordered the lobster."

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I recently became a fan of your blog and wanted to commend you for your work in educating the masses. While I don't have a retreat, I'm using a different strategy and hope for your input. I live in western Maryland. Historically we are fairly disaster-proof from natural disasters enjoy all four seasons. My plan is to prepare (as best we can here) and after a disaster, claim a better vacant property.

Two other thoughts: I recently purchased David Blume's book "Alcohol Can Be a Gas" and intend to fuel my own flex fuel vehicles and have a barter tool. Secondly, I'm trying to rig some way to attach a bicycle to a generator and store energy and provide exercise for my family - Thanks, Mark W.

JWR Replies: I regularly get e-mails like yours, mostly from preppers on tight budgets that have hopes of finding "abandoned" properties. It would take an incredible "worst case" situation with massive de-population before properties would be totally abandoned. A vacant property still has an owner--or at least has heirs of a deceased owner. And unless government totally disappears in some anarchic spasm (which is highly unlikely outside the Horn of Africa), there would still be due process and the normal legalities of properties being seized for property tax delinquency, and then being sold at auction to the highest bidder. Science fiction novelist Robert A. Heinlein said it best: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL).

I recommend that you plan more realistically. You can prepare on a modest budget by teaming up with like-minded people in your area and buying contiguous parcels in a covenant community to provide a local bartering base and mutual security. Abandoned properties are more the stuff of daydreams than reality. But given the continuing collapse of the United States real estate market, who knows? There may be some very inexpensive foreclosed or even tax delinquent parcels available at auction in rural areas in just a couple of years.

There are several brand of bike generator stands on the market, including the U-Gen.

Hi Jim,
I'm responding to Tuesday's article Letter Re: UCLA's Eye-Opening Colloquium on the Worldwide Financial and Economic Crisis in which the general cause of the crisis was ascribed to too much economic freedom. The following articles make the opposite case, that it was actually caused by government interference in the markets:

The Government Did It

The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Financial Crisis

Alan Greenspan vs. Ayn Rand and Freedom

Stable Money is the Key to Recovery

As pointed out in the article Stable Money is the Key to Recovery, "...some three-quarters of the massive derivatives market, which has wreaked the most havoc across global financial markets, derives its investment allure from the capricious monetary policies of central banks and the chaotic movements of currencies."
Best Regards, - Tim L

More than 20 readers sent us links to various articles about Gerald Celente's recently very gloomy predictions, including this one: Celente Predicts Revolution, Food Riots, Tax Rebellions By 2012

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Eric flagged this one: Root cellars thrive as food prices rise. Oh, and BTW, count this as yet another greenie that doesn't mind giving an exact location to reporters. How incredibly naive! ("Don't forget to mention the nearest cross-street!")

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From Cheryl, our Economic Editor, comes another big batch of news and commentary. It is noteworthy that the most incisive reporting on the US economy now comes from UK newspapers. The US mainstream media is treating Americans like mushrooms (to wit: keeping us in the dark and feeding us manure). Wall Street Finishes Lower on Recession Worries, CitiGroup Layoffs -- Aid Prospects Darken for Desperate US Carmakers -- Collapse of the Real Economy -- Paulson Blunders as Debt Market Remains Frozen -- The G20's Secret Debt Solution -- Japan Slides Into Recession as Exports Dive -- 50,000 UK Realtors Gone in Nine Months -- Crisis is Beyond the Reach of Traditional Solutions -- Fears Drive Gun Buyers to Stock Up -- S&P: 85 Companies Default on Debt in 2008 -- CitiGroup's Survival in Doubt -- Automakers Beg for Aid as Bailout Bill Stalls -- EU, Asia Stocks Decline, Led By Banks -- October Producer Prices Fall Record 2.8% -- Volcker Issues Dire Warning on Slump -- The Global Dow -- Roubini's Latest List of "Why Things Are Hopeless" Contains Record 20 Items -- Experts Warn of Security Risks in Economic Downturn

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David V. sent us this article that shows that even the mainstream media is catching on to the COMEX gold spot price farce: Why Gold Is Down, But You Can't Get Your Hands on Any. There is a growing realization that the "gold as a commodity" market is quite different than the "gold as a currency" market. Although industrial demand will continue to wane in the recession, even the talking heads at CNBC recognize that the price of gold is primed to zoom upward, as currencies crumble. Gold is the ultimate safe harbor when the economic seas get stormy.

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David V. also sent us this: Depression 2009: What would it look like?

"No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy." - Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $710. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

Yesterday [Friday. November 14, 2008] I attended the Marschak Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA {University of California, Los Angeles] . This thing is attended by lots of UCLA and USC [University of Southern California] economics professors, including many retired faculty members and other local luminaries. (Two seats to my right was author Alvin Toffler of "Future Shock" fame.) The main speakers presented for an hour, and then the whole group asked questions and discussed the topic. Here is the brief abstract that announced the talk: "The current worldwide financial and economic crisis is the greatest economic challenge we have faced since the Great Depression. The two speakers will treat the crisis in the light of historical experience, will identify some of its causes, and will consider possible policy initiatives at the national and international level to treat it."

The topic was "The Current Worldwide Financial and Economic Crisis." I expected it to be an interesting, balanced, reasoned and academic view of the current bumps in the road, with some modest suggestions for improving matters. Wow! It was all very reasoned, and there was even a little bit of mathematical modeling, but these people are very very concerned! The immense set of interlocking derivative bets made by the big banks is now acknowledged as a complete house of cards, and one that is currently collapsing! (The second speaker made suggestions about policy moves that could be taken "if officials somehow miraculously stop the process in mid-collapse.")

The whole two hours was fascinating, but here are a few of the ideas and comments that I came away with:
• This is the first global crisis of the globalized world. Likely every country will be affected and all at about the same time. (Very different from [the economic crisis of] 1929-1937.)
• The causes were many: lax regulation, lax credit reviews by rating agencies, securitization of mortgages, insane(!) investment leverage, pressure for continuously increasing financial profits, herd behavior, deregulation, ....
Many financial institutions would be immediately bankrupt if the were forced to value assets at current market prices. (Instead, everyone has agreed to claim that "certain markets are frozen." The regulators wink.)
• Deleveraging is essential to the survival of these institutions. But most deleveraging actions actually lower all institutions' capital bases. So it's a self-reinforcing positive feedback cycle. Serious deflation is a genuinely possible outcome. For the first time in our lives, money could become more valuable over time, rather than less.
• On the other hand, most Latin American currency crises began as fiscal crises. Government frantically created money to prevent deflation, and eventually they got hyperinflation. This, too, could happen here.
A former vice president of Citicorp was in the audience. He said that the explosion in derivative instruments ran far ahead of infrastructure (markets for trading them, etc.) and far ahead of legal frameworks. He said we haven't even seen the beginning of the counterparty problem.
• An economist from USC in the audience said that we will soon have huge, massive unemployment in the U.S.
• What will happen next (even what could happen next) is unknown. A Swedish economist in attendance said: "Dispense with the illusion that you understand what is happening."

It was a very interesting couple of hours. - M.D.I. (by way of SurvivalBlog readers Bill and Charley.)

Dear Jim,
So many people are struggling to find ways to make ends meet, much less have any extra money to make purchases for their preparedness plan.
There are a lot of things people can do within their own means.

1. Make a budget. Income minus expenses. Is there anything left over? You are ahead of the game. If not, now is the time to:
2. Trim the budget. Distinguish needs versus wants. Eliminate anything that is not needed.
3. If after trimming the budget, you still cannot find extra money, get a second job, have a yard sale, etc. is a great site for
learning how to eliminate debt.

Some things that have worked for us:
We turned up the thermostat in the summer and used a fan to circulate the air, started hanging clothes out instead of using the dryer, unplugged all electrical cords that were not in use, [each of us] used the same drinking glass instead of getting another, and shortened our allowed shower time. (With three teenagers in the house, we struck gold with that one.) We turned all computers off at night. Our power bill was reduced just over $100 per month by making these changes.

We eliminated the cable television. That saved $70.

We started clipping coupons again. I have saved nearly $200 a month on our grocery bill. is an awesome site.

I also milk our goats. I will not pay $4.00 a gallon per day at the store.

Instead of spending a lot on pre-packed snacks for the kids, I am baking a lot more.

We cook outside a lot. On Sunday, we grill and smoke chicken, sausage, hamburgers, hot dogs and goat meat. We then use this meat in whatever recipe we want to use for the week. Some of it is then frozen for the latter part of the week.

I make up a few batches of goat cheese to go with my husband's homemade pita bread.

We have a garden in the summer and we can what isn't eaten fresh . Even if you live in the city, you can still have a tomato plant or a bell pepper plant etc. You can purchase a grow light at Wal-Mart.

We have consolidated our trips into town, instead of going whenever we want to. This has saved at least $40 a month.
There are so many ways to stop wasting money.

Okay, some women really will think TEOTWAWKI with this one: Buy your clothes second hand. I am not ashamed to accept hand me downs from friends. My children have all worn clothes given to them from other family members. I also shop at Goodwill [thrift stores] or go to Yard Sales.

Start a business. I am a stay at home Mom with five children. We have nearly four acres that we live on and have access to 20 acres next door and that we run our 40 head of Boer goats on. We have chickens and rabbits. I also breed and train German Shepherds and board dogs. With my husband's income and the extra attention to detail, we do pretty well. The changes that we have made has allowed us to purchase the needed extras.

Thanks for the wealth of knowledge that you share with us every day! - RH in Alabama

I am a daily multi-modal commuter taking an armored bus into Jerusalem and then cycling from the bus station to my kollel. Before my move to Israel, I only drove my 4x4 truck several times a month and did about 50-to-70 miles a week by pedal power. I did once try using Slime in my tubes but this makes for a difficult ride, wasting immense amounts of effort due to the natural imbalance of slimed tires. I also found that it is also impossible to patch slimed tires. My advice is to get a good tire like the Kevlar Schwalbe Marathon tire, although some may not want the reflective paint on this tire for OPSEC, I have also had good use from the Specialized brand CrossRoads mountain/road tire. Unless the cycle rider is planning to go 100% soft road it is better to occasionally walk the bike and gain the efficiency of a smooth roll center strip.

Since most of us are not equestrian experts and since animals can be such a danger especially if regular medical care is unavailable, a bicycle should be part of nearly every persons preparation purchases right after a basic defensive firearm, camping gear, and several months of backup food and a way to cook it. I also suggest every reader find a mechanic that they can trust at a local bicycle shop who can help evaluate any potential purchases so you don't buy used or new junk which will sit in the garage attracting rust and often teach you to fix the problems, he will also help you collect the tools and parts needed to keep it running even if he is not there. Your bicycle is the most efficient form of powered transport known to man so you will easily feel any inefficiencies when pedaling up a big hill, this is probably your future daily means of transport, don't sell yourself short. See also Sheldon Brown for how to work on a bicycle and Crazy Guy on a Bike for cycle camping and long tours. - David in Israel (SurvivalBlog's Correspondent in Israel)

Mr. Rawles -
I noticed your recommendation to use extra-thick inner tubes and Slime for tires on survival bicycles. Excellent advice, but may I suggest an alternative I have used on my bicycles -- air free tires. There are alternative suppliers as well but these have worked well for me. The tires use solid, dense polyurethane and are offered with varying densities/elasticities to match various tire PSI ratings. One caveat is that they are a bear to get on the rim, and you'll likely have to re-true the rim once on.

Since I live in a very cactus-infested part of Arizona, these have been a blessing. I've even picked up nails without any problems (other than having to stop and pull them out with a Leatherman tool .)

I love the blog. I've been a reader of yours for years, in the far distant past from the misc.survivalism [Usenet] newsgroup [in the late 1980s and early 1990s].
Regards, - "Harmless Fuzzy Bunny"

Reader "Arclight" mentioned that here is a DEA newsletter, formerly restricted to Law Enforcement, called "The Microgram." Arclight's comment: While some of it dry and technical, there are some fascinating stories of how drug operations are hidden, items are smuggled through customs, etc. The Microgram and the newsletters also available on the site give a fascinating look into who is running this trade and how. Good intel reading for the good guys."

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I recently updated my M14 / M1A Magazine FAQ, to include a link to the set of excellent Counterfeit USGI M14 Magazine Detecting Flowcharts that are posted over at There now so many fake "GI" M14 magazines on the US market that I recommend printing out a set of these charts to carry with you when attending gun shows.

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Craig R. found a free guide to trapping provided in PDF by Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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Reader Harry L. pointed us to some first-hand some observations on the frenzied battle rifle, magazine, and ammo market in the US, by the owner of Classic Arms, in North Carolina.

"Pets are always a great help in times of stress. And in times of starvation too, o’course." - Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two additional items have been generously added to the already large mixed lot in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction that started yesterday:

A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). and,

A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

The high bid is now at $350. The auction ends on December 15th . Please e-mail us your bid.

Mr. Rawles:
When constructing a rain-catch such as this one, which the good folks at Lowe's [--a major hardware store chain in the US--] suggest for economically watering your garden, is there any instance where it would be okay to use this as a backup for drinking water?

Obviously, one would be foolish to drink directly from containers that are not food-grade or if the water has been sitting for too long a time. But, my question is does that change if you plan on running the water through a purifying process such as through a Berky or this economically priced alternative.

It looks like these filters might not last as long as the Berky filters, but are quite a bit cheaper and have a higher flow rate (this is what I was told - YMMV). A representative of the manufacturer claims to train the "second largest disaster relief organization in the world" who "use this filter exclusively" and that it is used by missionaries in 38 countries around the globe. I was also told that it was nominated for a World Health Humanitarian Award for 2008. Also, it supposedly outperformed the Berky in a trial run by Johns Hopkins University, but I have been unable to verify that claim. I can verify that Johns Hopkins University did give it a passing grade; as did the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) under Standards 42 and 53, AEL Laboratories, Analytical Food Laboratories, British 5750 Quality Standard, and England’s Water Research Council standard.

So, my two questions are:

1.) Is it safe to drink rainwater caught in a non food-grade vessel, provided you filter it through a sub-micron apparatus first?

2.) What are your thoughts on the aforementioned filter? Thanks, - J.S.C.

JWR Replies: In answer to your questions: Rainwater catchment for domestic water is very popular in Hawaii. There, most families do little more than use a sediment filter and bulk chlorination. You should of course never re-use something like a fuel tank or a toxic chemical tank for a water barrel. As I explained previously in SurvivalBlog, the issue with "non-food grade" HDPE plastic buckets and barrels is that some of them are manufactured using toxic injection molding release compounds. Whether or not a ceramic water filter would remove any such trace chemicals goes beyond my expertise. Perhaps a chemist or a water quality specialist amongst the SurvivalBlog readership could enlighten us.

We have a Big Berky here at the ranch, and love it. The two-bucket ceramic filter that you mentioned is remarkably similar to the improvised Berky clone that I detailed in a SurvivalBlog post back in May. Both their design and mine have similar cost, similar do-it-yourself labor requirements, and they will process a comparable volume of water. This isn't like comparing "apples to oranges". It is more like comparing Bartlett Pears to D'Anjou Pears.

Hi Jim,

I do not have a handgun presently but want to get one. If you were only going to buy one handgun for self defense what would it be?
God Bless, - Greg O.

JWR Replies: Presently, I'd recommend getting either a Glock M21-SF .45 ACP or a Springfield Armory XD .45 ACP. Go for a full size model unless you plan to carry your pistol concealed extensively. If that is the case then get a Glock Model 30 (commonly called a "Mini Glock") or an XD Compact .45. Given the currently frantic market for full capacity magazines in the US, be sure to buy at least six spare magazines immediately. (In fact, preferably before you buy the gun itself, just to be sure. Yes, the supplies of magazines are drying up that quickly!)

Some important notes on magazine compatibility: With a few exceptions, magazines are generally brand and model specific. With most brands of handguns, full size magazines will fit in the compact models as spares, but not vice versa. To provide a few extra rounds, I recommend that all of the spares that you carry should be full size magazines.

If you get a "-SF" (Short Frame) variant Glock, they can only accept the more recent production "SF" Glock magazines with the retention notch cut in the front. Older ("pre-SF") Glocks can accept either early or late generation magazines.

BTW, I highly recommend Front Sight's Gun & Gear & Training offer--which includes an essentially free XD pistol, holster, belt, a spare magazine, and a magazine pouch.


Regarding those who gave their street addresses in the Peak Oil article that was recently mentioned: Indeed, it boggles the mind when people appear to have absolutely no concept of OPSEC. It betrays a mind that apparently has little or knowledge of the human animal, which the substitute for which must necessarily be a fantasy of some sort.

If giving your address isn't enough, how about these folks providing a full set of downloadable tactical maps for your retreat?

Understandably they're running an operation that provides for open visitation, for which the cartoon of the hippie village layout would suffice, but the topographical map?! Let's make it real easy for some anti-social element who also happens to be "TEOTWAWKI-aware" to book mark your little world for a later date. (Shakes head in disgust.) - Mosby

Due to a current fad in single-speed bicycles, mountain bikes are re-selling very inexpensively. Used, [15-speed] mountain bikes for around $200 for what had been $1,200 bicycles, on average. With smooth tires, puncture sealing inner-tubes, lights, fenders, and a rack or basket, this can haul groceries or get you to work in the event of a temporary fuel shortage such as we just experienced in the Southeast a month ago. No gas in Nashville, indeed! Not a perfect solution, but better than losing your job for lack of trying. Get into cycling, once a week, so you can learn how to maintain a bike, develop the skill and muscles to do so, and figure out the good accessories versus the trash. Like with camping, there's a lot of useless dross out there, and a fair bit of gold once you figure out what works. $200 + $200 in accessories = commuter bicycle. Or buy one special-made if you prefer. Still, a commuter bike in the garage, ridden weekly, is better than getting on a waiting list when the fuel runs out. Just because its $54 per barrel now doesn't mean it won't zoom back to $145 per barrel once the new President says or does something stupid in the Middle East.

Some background on the one speed fad: I think the single-speed bikes became popular in Portland first, though it might have started in San Francisco with the Bike Messengers 10 years ago, its only just caught on in Pleasanton, California, Davis, California, and the rest of the bike-riding elite-areas. I love my mountain bike, but its so fast on slick tires. Cheap mountain bikes with slick tires are a modification that was inspired by converting dirt bike motorcycles to street racers, called "motards", using slick tires. This works well and has lots of torque. Recommended for users with cruddy roads since they have 6-8 inches of wheel travel for potholes and require less gear shifting than a Ninja 250R or Suzuki TU250. Best, - Inyokern

JWR Replies: That is great advice. OBTW, I recommend retrofitting any "workhorse" type bicycles with extra-thick inner tubes, and then "Sliming" them. This provides tires that are nigh-on impervious to typical puncture flat tires. Used, low-mileage mountain bikes can often be found on Craig's List for a just a fraction of what they sell for in bike shops.

Robert R. recommended this piece over at The Simple Dollar blog: Investing in Skills (or Fear of an Apocalyptic Economy)

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For November and December only, FreezeDryGuy is offering a special sale price for a one year’s supply of 30-year shelf life Mountain House freeze dried fruit plus a free water filter. For just a hair over $500, you'll get one case (six #10 cans) of Freeze Dried Strawberries (132 cup servings), two cases Freeze Dried Banana Slices (240 cup servings), and a bonus Aquamira E&E Military Water Filter. (Normally $20.) Contact FreezeDryGuy for ordering details.

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KAF mentioned a recent Daily KOS article, that echoes our warnings nearly a month ago in SurvivalBlog about the plummeting Baltic Dry Index: Two signs that something is seriously wrong

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John in Colorado sent a link to a useful tool for those considering relocating. It displays the location of reported bad neighbors, sex offenders, and so forth.

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The latest gleanings from The Economatrix: US Store Closings, The Latest Casualties -- US Carmaker Crash Risks Three Million Jobs -- Roubini: The Worst is Not Behind Us -- G20 Put Off Major Decisions Until Next Year -- 110 Banks Asked for $170 Billion From Bailout -- Too Late Now! -- Freddie Mac Says its Worth Less than Zero -- CitiGroup to Cut 10% of Workforce

"I wish I didn't know now, what I didn't know then." - Bob Seger, from "Running Against the Wind"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Congratulations to M.G., the high bidder in the monthly SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction that ended last night. Today we are starting a new auction for a mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460.

B.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

C.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

D.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

E.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. The opening bid is $150. Please e-mail us your bid.

Hello Jim,
I've finished reading your fine novel "Patriots" several weeks ago, and have passed it on to another like-minded individual. I've also been scouring your web site daily for the last several months, and gleaning extremely valuable information not only from you, but the many fine individuals who add excellent links to current events. I have forwarded your link to others, and have it saved as "required reading" daily.

A brief background on our family; I had been one of the Y2K aficionados, and had lived on the Big Island for many years. If it were still just my wife and myself, we would probably still be there. But having children changes everything. I became involved in politics there as a fund raising chairman for a twice successful Republican, who was seated in the State house on Oahu, hoping that we could make a difference. But after 10 years there, (and the birth of our first daughter), I determined it was time to relocate back to the mainland. China had also recently bracketed Taiwan, and expressed they could now hit Los Angeles with their now-successful missile launches. (Thanks to Loral Corporation and Bill Clinton). If the balloon ever goes up, I fear that Hawaii will be in deep kim chi.

I had done extensive research from Kona on the best place to settle on the mainland. We had traveled to the mainland numerous times, and visited all of the locations I deemed appropriate. We looked at Prescott, Arizona in the southern extreme, Grand Junction and Estes Park in Colorado, Mazama, Twisp, and Sequim, Washington (in the rain shadow of the Olympic Peninsula), Driggs, Idaho, Whitefish and Missoula, Montana, along with several others. I had multiple criteria as determining factors, such as growing season/weather, local political mentality, and economic vitality. After visiting everyone of these places, I had decided southern Oregon was an area that could conceivably weather both a nuclear exchange and long term social upheaval. I did not believe it was practical to "bug out" to a retreat locale, but would be "bugging home" from a business trip in any "event". We learned in the restaurant business that there are three things important for a successful endeavor, and those are "location, location, location". I have second -guessed my decision many times, but have sent a tap root down with the kids in school. So I would advise your readers to seriously consider their location, and to relocate to a desirable community, as I feel time is short.

With that segue Jim, I have a question for you, and would seek your council. I have a dreaded sense of foreboding with the recent election results, as I'm sure many of your readers do. After Y2K, my preparations for long term unrest had lapsed, and I feel into a state of complacency. I have slowly accumulated a fair number of firearms to protect my family over the years, and have acquired a couple of thousand rounds for each main battle rifle. The additional magazines have arrived in the mail, (thanks for that great link to CDNN by the way), and I feel I'm somewhat prepared in this regard. If only I could convince my wife to shoot.

At any rate, my question is this: I don't know if I should head to the local gun show today, or to the local store for sustenance for the family. I feel that if we are to buy ammo/firearms, it must be now, as Barack Obama could make us all felons with the stroke of a pen. All he has to do is to sign a treaty with the U.N., or file an Executive Order. So what should we do, buy guns/ammo, or additional food?

BTW, I continue to pray for the swift and complete recovery of The Memsahib. God Bless. - Steve in SW Oregon

JWR Replies: First, do not neglect buying storage food for your family. But in my opinion the outcome of the recent presidential and congressional election dictates putting a higher priority on guns and accessories for the next few months. We are living in exceptional times, and that calls for temporarily re-sequencing our priorities.

If your State law law allows it, then buy your guns from private parties--not Federal Firearms License (FFL) holding dealers. Private party sales of modern (1899 and later) guns across state lines (in "interstate commerce" ) are banned under Federal law, but intrastate sales are still legal in most states. (Be sure to consult your state and local laws!)

Buying a gun through a licensed dealer leaves a prominent and permanent paper trail. Here are some relatively low profile alternatives:

Private party (non-FFL) sellers that are fellow Citizens of your State, at gun shows in your State.

Private party (non-FFL) sellers that are fellow Citizens of your State, advertising in newspaper ads.

Estate sales, garage sales, and farm auctions operated by private party (non-FFL) sellers that are fellow Citizens of your State.

Private party (non-FFL) sellers that are fellow Citizens of your State advertising at (Use the "Smart Search" feature, and select "USA only - State where item is located")

Private party (non-FFL) sellers that are fellow Citizens of your State advertising at (Use the "Advanced Search" feature, and "LIMIT TO STATE". You can also select a check box to exclude guns that were listed by FFL holders.)

Pre-1899-manufactured "antique" guns chambered for modern cartridges, either in-state or out of state. (No FFL is required for Federally-exempt antiques. See my Antique Guns FAQ for details. Again, your State and local laws may vary, so do your homework.)

One of president-almost-elect Obama's publicly stated goals is to "close the gun show loophole." Clearly he wants to end private paperwork-free firearms purchases. This leaves us just a brief window of of opportunity to stock up what may need to be a decades-long supply. Be sure to buy plenty of full capacity magazines, since it is very likely that there will be an import ban (via executive order) soon after BHO comes to office, and a domestic production ban (via an act of Congress), soon after that. These bans will freeze the numbers of "grandfathered" magazines in private hands and will likely triple the market price of all magazines of 11+ round capacity.) Buy plenty of extras for barter--even for models that you don't own, but that will likely be in high demand. There may come a day when owners won't be willing part with magazines for anything but astronomical prices, but they'll probably still be willing to barter on a rational; "value for like value" basis.

Put an emphasis on gun and full capacity magazine purchases for the next three months, followed by some extensive ammunition purchases soon after the presidential inauguration.

Hello James:
A recent letter from a reader mentioned that he was looking for a retreat. If I remember correctly, that person lived in the Washington D.C. area. You had suggested Tennessee and Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP) as retreat possibilities.One disadvantage of Michigan's UP for that particular reader is that to get to the UP, they will have to drive through, or very close to, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, and Saginaw.

The Old Uooper was on-target regarding the challenges of living in many places in the UP both microclimate and soil are key factors. My personal choice would be to live within 20 miles of Lake Michigan or Lake Huron. There, soils are limestone-based and it truly is the Banana Belt. - Joe H.

JWR Replies: Actually, that particular reader lives in New Jersey, and commutes daily to New York City. But the issue that you raise is still quite valid. So much of the eastern US is urbanized that it will make any planned "11th Hour" travel during a crisis a dicey proposition. As I've written many times, I highly recommend permanently relocating to one of the the more fertile regions of the Intermountain West. (See my Recommended Retreat Locales web page for some general recommendations, and my book "Rawles On Retreats and Relocation" for even greater detail, with instructive maps.) I realize that that because of work and family commitments, this is not practical for most preppers that currently live in the east. For those of you that decide to stay where you are, I recommend that you watch the news closely and be ready to bug out on very short notice. You need to be already on the road to your retreat while everyone else is still glued to their televisions, sizing up the situation. This way you can Get Out of Dodge ahead of the Golden Horde. If you hesitate you will end up in a monumental traffic jam. This necessitates having a well-stocked retreat--so that you don't have to waste any time packing. Also, be sure to do a detailed study of secondary road routes to your retreat--avoiding all freeways and most highways. A lot of the old ""farm to market" routes are ideal. Practice driving those routes, both day and night. A well-prepared family always has a Plan B and Plan C. One of these plans should address a situation where you must hunker down at home.

Dear Sir:
Recently I acquired a copy of your novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". I have read a few works of survivalist fiction in my time, your book is one of the few that I could honestly say I would be happy to read again and again. There aren't many books I could say that about

A little background here, I'm a former Royal Marine originally from England and now I live in Northern Ireland. There isn't much of a survivalist movement here in the UK so I consider myself to be in a minority! I also write survival manuals in my spare time (which I don't have much of lately) and I follow the word of the bible regarding preparing for the unforeseen. Far too often I have watched the news of some disaster and seen people stood with their hands out begging for help and expecting it from the government. Last year there was widespread flooding in the South of England, and I recall seeing several people on the news complaining that they had no clean drinking water. If I had been in this situation, I have about 200 gallons of potable water in store, and then I also have something like a years supply of purifying tablets, and a number of filters. When those run out, its the old fashioned way, boiling.

I grew up in an ethnically diverse community, and went to school with Asian, Oriental and Afro-Caribbean kids, so its quite refreshing to see you have added a blend of races in the characters. All too often, survivalists are labeled 'Racist', 'Anti-semitic', or 'White Supremacist'. Your character 'Kevin Lendel' reminded me somewhat of the character Paul Rubenstein in 'The Survivalist' series of novels, [by Jerry Ahern] which were in fact the first survivalist fiction I ever read.

I found the information in the book to be quite useful and it has taken me in new directions with regard to my supplies and techniques. Some of the gear your characters store is however pretty hard to come by in the UK. When reading of the guys using ALICE packs, this brought back memories of the ALICE pack I used to have a few years ago, and I spent most of the next few days on eBay trying to find a large one in a usable condition. Now I've found one, I just need to get the cash together to buy it. Best wishes, - Steve

While surfing around the net looking for ammo suppliers, Tim in Maryland found an ongoing firearms forum thread that tracks .308 prices from all the various online outlets. Tim notes: "It lists the supplier, the country of origin, year of manufacture, whether its sold by the case, battle pack or box, and cost per round. This could save people a lot of time spent comparison shopping."

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In an e-mail to JWR, the editor of mentioned two interesting news articles with repercussions on the value of the US Dollar: China Expected to Shift Reserves to Gold and Commodities, and The Dollar Will be Devalued By A Large Margin.

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Nearly a dozen readers sent us the link to this New York Times article: Spam Turns Serious and Hormel Turns Out More

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As of January 1st, a 30% Federal tax credit for grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) power systems will become available in the US. I predict that this will create a huge surge in home PV system installations and consequently create a painful shortage of PV panels. My advice: Buy your panels now, before the panel shortage develops. (These purchases will still qualify for the tax credit if you install them later.) OBTW, to see the state-level credits and incentives that are also available, visit the DSIRE web page. Although I'm not generally an advocate of grid-tied systems, I think that SurvivalBlog readers in the US should now take full advantage of the new tax credit, and and install a grid-tied system with a substantial battery backup. In the event of a grid-down situation, you can then simply disconnect your system from the grid and operate independently. Stock up on panels, soon! (BTW, please patronize out advertisers, first. Several of them sell PV panels and inverters.)

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From readers KAF: Iran switches reserves to gold

"Something funny is happening down at the bank." - Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life (Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends at midnight (eastern time) tonight! (Saturday, November 15th.) The high bid is now at $750. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. Again, this auction ends at midnight (eastern time) tonight!. Please e-mail us your bid.

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Much has been written on The Blog concerning the 4 G’s, getting right with God, Ground, Grub and Guns. I believe that another “G” exists for most, if not all, of us and that is “Group”. The family unit is the original group and the most basic. This is not to say that individuals cannot go it alone. Man, however, is a social creature and survives best (biology aside) with others.

We have faced the challenge of preparedness as a family. The issues are, of course, the same as for anyone like-minded. Most issues have to do with mind-set, some with tangibles.

For us the challenge is essentially a two-edged sword. On what could be considered the downside, we have to take care of the whole family. There is the added responsibility for the other family members, especially those too young to accept adult responsibilities or too old to accomplish strenuous activities or other challenges. Additional supplies must be laid in to account for all. Ours is a large family, 9 children at home, age 6 to 23 years. All efforts must be multiplied accordingly, then each member’s specific needs considered. Are there individual health problems? Will physical size matter for whatever is at hand? Which of the family members cannot reliably handle such things as weapons, driving, etc? Do some members actually require a significant effort spent on their behalf to survive?

The upside to a (large) family is division of activities. The old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” That is certainly true in our family, where responsibility is met fairly head-on. Because of this division of labor, we can actually accomplish multiple tasks concurrently and fairly efficiently. The head of the household, although ultimately responsible, cannot hope to “do it all” and must depend on others to share the responsibility. This not only unburdens the head, but also furthers maturity in the other family members; it gives them self-worth, for they are depended upon. Even the youngest and the elderly can be given tasks that fall within their capabilities, thus giving them the satisfaction of being a contributing member.

Being a family means that we all are in touch at least daily. Good communication is stressed. We try and avoid emotionally-charged “conversation” and instead share information. The former tends to create division, the latter one-mindedness (togetherness). Anger and hurt feelings can be dealt with in private with one or both parents, instead of being expressed publicly in a relationship-damaging manner. Openness and truthfulness are encouraged and expected. Venues which encourage communication are, for us, meal-times and prayer times. Occasionally, a family meeting is called. Actually, any time throughout the day is considered appropriate depending on the information or need. As both parents work at home, availability is rarely a problem.

Being a functional family doesn’t mean that we exclude others. It actually opens our hearts to include others, integrate them in and help them to feel a “belonging”. We have “adopted” many into our family; they know that they are always welcome. They can call, show up, or even stay any time they want or need. Most will either ask what to do or just chip in and help when they see a need. Others will come and hang around while this one or that one works; when that occurs they are usually handed something to do to allow them to feel needed. They all return to join us again.

We have adopted a simple team approach as our organizational model. The Team is us, or whoever is grouped together for a common goal (the Mission). A Team Leader is recognized and all of the rest are Team Members. The Team Leader is ultimately responsible for the Mission and the Team. The Team Leader is considered the “ultimate servant” for the Team, making certain that all needs are met and that the Mission proceeds. Each Team Member has skills and responsibilities on which the Team is dependent. If, for example, 4 family members go to the store for a particular purpose (mission), then a Team Leader is recognized for that situation and all act accordingly, usually by dividing the activity into manageable parts and accomplishing each. The beauty is that all function together without establishing rank, but still with a functioning head to guide the overall Mission. Each member of the Team is responsible for the other members. Sometimes we use a “buddy” system that pairs the oldest with the youngest, the next oldest with the next youngest, and so forth, to insure that all are accounted for and none left out or behind.

To further this team concept, we have divided areas of preparedness into individual teams. For example, we have a Resources Team that gathers information regarding provisions on hand and those needed. This Team has a Team Leader responsible for keeping the group goal-focused and reporting to the overall (family) Team Leader. Recommendations are made and information shared. We have 6 of these Teams that cover the areas necessary for us to become and remain prepared.

The Team practices Operational Security (OPSEC) at all times. There are neighbors, friends, and even relatives who would not understand what preparedness involves. The Team has no desire to exclude anyone; however, we do recognize that information shared even innocuously can be detrimental to the Mission and the Team. Even the 6 year old is taught to say “Dad is not available”, instead of “Dad is not here”. We try to put feelers out in conversations with others by asking, “Where do you think the country is headed in the next 5 years?” This approach generally reveals who we might discuss things further with and those we cannot.

What counters the effectiveness of the Team is undermining the Mission or the Team Leader, complaining, slacking duties, or avoidance of responsibility. We have found that the tongue is the single worst enemy of the Team. Using words to counter, control, demand, whine, or denigrate defocuses the individual and the group. The Mission has to be set aside to deal with rebellion, passivity, or other manifestations. The ramifications of “one bad apple” are farther reaching than one would suspect. The influence of corrupt speech on Team members is viral. The way we deal with it? First, we as a group recognize it for what it is and then deal with it accordingly. Usually, just bringing it to light is sufficient. Again, good communication is the key.

Likely, this sounds extremely militaristic; however, in the context of a family, it is not. Once we altered our mindset to one of cooperative sharing and recognized the need for a system whereby we could accomplish the most, it was easily the best system. The benefits are that the most is accomplished for the least effort, everyone feels worth-while and has a sense of belonging (even the 6 year old), and we all take care of each other. The foundation for our Team is God. We recognize God is love and we define love as the laying down of self for someone else. Selflessness defines the Team Leader, as well as the Team Members.

What’s next for those who have accomplished group organization (a Team)? All you do from here is buy the right stuff, get the right training, and stick together. Post-TEOTWAWKI, the Team will continue its basic functioning with a revised Mission. Whereas the pre- Mission is preparedness; the post- Mission is survival.


I have one minor correction to Ryan's excellent article. This quote is seriously out of date: "Outlaw motorcycle gangs rule the distribution of meth." I beg to differ: the Mexican cartels now rule the distribution of meth. In the 1980s, the biker gangs employed some of the Mexican gangs to produce meth to avoid the repeated law enforcement arrests of its very visible members. Then in the 1990s the Mexicanns expanded out of the biker's control and the biker gangs bought Meth from the Mexicans to redistribute. Why? Less LEO (law enforcement officer) detection an much less expensive meth. In the 1990s, California saw a massive upsurge in the number of large-scale Mexican meth labs. We saw labs capable of producing up to 800 pounds of Mexican-style meth at a time, and seized several labs a week. The Fresno County area was a hotbed of activity. With the regulation of ephedrine (ephedra), and later, pseudoephedrine (which is the main chemical in meth, called Mua Huang in Chinese, China being the primary supplier of this critical precursor) in California, and then elsewhere, the meth lab crisis moved further east as meth, and crystal meth/ Ice (purified meth, over 80% purity, about 4 lbs of meth required to make 1 lb of Ice, Ice being hugely profitable in Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific), started to supplant cocaine and rolled over communities with its near-instantly addictive nature.

The pendulum has somewhat swung back to California, due to its close proximity to the border and the relative ease of crossing over. Make no mistake, the Mexican cartels make the Outlaw Biker Gangs look like kids playing dress up. The Mexican cartels rob each other, execute home invasions on other drug dealers to steal their product and profits, kidnap drug dealers or family members for debts owed or ransom, rat out their competition (and have signed up as informants to clear out competitors), kill defendant cooperators and their families, and pay cartel members (and their families in Mexico), if arrested, to quietly do their time instead of cooperating with law enforcement. Most Mexican cartel members don't stand out and try to appear to be poor migrant workers, and thus blend into most urban environments, or receive scant notice on the freeways in cheap sedans traveling north with product. Few Mexican cartel drug proceeds are spent in the US or invested in money making/laundering businesses that would cause Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to be filed by banking institutions. No permanently successful cartel members drive fancy cars registered to them, or live in spacious houses they own, or wear colors or tattoos, or dress conspicuously. The higher up in the organization, the less likely that person will ever step foot in the US, running all their operations from Mexico. All trusted members have family or village connections. All narcotics proceeds are shipped out to Mexico via whatever means, reversing the direction the finished product made on its run north. Cartel-run auto body shops make hidden compartments with complicated access switches used to gain access. These compartments can be made airtight, which reduces storage capacity but can often fool narcotics K-9s. These hidden compartments can be easily converted in the most basic vehicle, and are not a bad idea for any prepper wanting hiding some of their more precious TEOTWAWKI supplies. (A note of caution: do this work yourself, don't want to catch the wrong sort of attention, of either law enforcement or home invaders). You can hide hundreds of pounds/kilos of whatever in bigger vehicles in all sorts of places, from the outside roof/ceiling, down to inside the tires, from dashboards to airbags to doors to gas tanks to floorboards to engine compartments to bumpers to seat backs. We have seized hundreds of pounds of narcotics from small sedans. This is what I have seen, in nearly 20 years in aw enforcement.

The Mexican Mafia is a very real, hidden threat, and also viciously, intelligently run. One can only imagine what their structure might look like once TEOTWAWKI hits and the movement away from narcotics occurs. Look for the Golden Horde and its hangers-on to have one more layer behind and interspersed with them.

You are the best resource out there, Jim. Please don't stop posting SurvivalBlog. Sincerely, - D.M.

Paul D. sent us a link to an article that profiles several families that have built extremely energy and water self-sufficient homes. Their elaborate do-it-yourself efforts and expertise are commendable, but: What is it about the Peak Oil crowd that makes them so incredibly naive about present day burglaries, and the potential for future home invasion robberies--to the point that they blithely mention their street addresses to newspaper reporters? My advice is to learn to be circumspect around reporters. Your stock answer should be: "For the privacy of my family, I'm not at liberty to discuss that topic." Most reporters will respect that and not press you further.

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The latest from our Economic Editor: Wall Street Ends Turbulent Week Sharply Lower -- Depression Possible, Says Soros -- If GM Fails, Detroit Would Go Under -- Bretton Woods II, a New Financial Deal -- GM Might Not Be Able to Get the Financing it Needs in Bankruptcy -- Mayor Daley: Prepare for Mass Layoffs -- Meltdown to Agriculture; Food Shortages Loom

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SF in Hawaii mentioned the book "Emergency Sandbag Shelter and Eco-Village".

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Michael H. and Loren both mentioned this Stratfor article: Worrying Signs from Border Raids. I should mention that one of the article's co-authors was Fred Burton, a former State Department counterterrorism agent (with the then-fledgling DSS office.) He a authored the book "Ghost", recently released by Random House. I read a review copy of Burton's book, and found it fascinating--particularly because it was set primarily during the mid- to late-1980s, when Burton started doing CI/HUMINT work. Coincidentally, his organization had some of the same taskings in the HUMINT world that my organization was pursuing in the SIGINT world. Reading his book certainly brought back some memories.

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My Number #1 Son and several readers mentioned a Google Epidemiology Tool and a new Global Health Map. Both are based on news article keyword triggers. Because of their inherent secondary nature, they cannot be relied upon independently, but they do provide useful adjunct intelligence sources when tracking influenza outbreaks.

"Well, I guess we don't get to make fun of Burt's [survivalist] lifestyle anymore." - Fred Ward as Earl Bassett in Tremors, (1990). (Screenplay by S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends Saturday night. The high bid is now at $660. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. Please e-mail us your bid.

I am new to SurvivalBlog and have found it very interesting. I thought I would comment on what it’s like living in the Upper Peninsula ("UP") of Michigan. I built a 1,920 square foot log cabin on 20 acres here, about 30 years ago. I see that you have recommended the UP as a possible retreat location for people in the eastern U.S.

I should give you a little personal background before I get started. I moved to the UP several decades ago from southern Michigan. Most of my children were born here and therefore are native Uoopers [or "Yoopers"] (not some transplant Troll from under The Bridge). That is the Mackinac Bridge, pronounced Mackinaw as if it had a “W” at the end, since the the “C” is silent. Mackinac is a derivation of a Menomini or Ojibwe {Indian] word "Michilimackinac". (A little trivia.)

I will tell you some of the good and the bad things living in the UP. Of course good and bad are both a matter of opinion. I will start with the good things, as I see them.

Living here in many ways is like living in 1958 instead of 2008. There is crime and drugs but nothing like the urban or metropolitan areas of the country. Most crimes are petty in nature. The people here are open and very friendly to almost every one they meet. Most of the small towns like Munising, Manistique, or Norway are all most the way they were in 1958, or for that matter in 1938. You would have to be a native to know that there was any change at all. The bigger towns like Marquette, Escanaba, Sault Ste. Marie and Iron Mountain have shopping malls and all those big city things people like. One can live in dense forests, in farming communities, in small towns (there are no real big cities in the UP) or just in the country as I do. Or one could even live on an island like Sugar Island or Drummond Island, perhaps Mackinac Island [with no motorized vehicles allowed] is more your taste? It is said that the UP is a sportsman’s paradise. There is fishing in the Great Lakes, inland lakes and rivers. Wildlife abounds everywhere: moose, deer, black bear, wolves, coyotes, and even an occasional mountain lion. Hunting, fishing and trapping are popular in the UP and I would estimate that 98% of all adults own at least one firearm and know how to use them. In the winter months there is skiing downhill and cross country, snowmobile trails everywhere (used by ATV riders in the summer), ice fishing, etc. Well you get the idea.

There are wild berries all over the place in the UP. A little anecdote: Back in the 1980s my wife (at the time) and I were picking raspberries on the power line right-of-way near where we lived. I was down in a little ravine and she was up on the top of a hill not far away and we were talking a lot not paying attention too much. I was eating at least a quarter of every thing I picked. My truck was parked on top of the hill near her. She told me not to eat so many berries, that I would get sick. I was ignoring those little criticisms from her, when I smelled something kind of like a skunk but not quite that bad. I asked her if she smelled a skunk. She said no, and said “I told you that you would get sick eating all those berries”. I managed to ignore that also. I moved over a little for more berries. Now these are wiled berry bushes on where they cleared all the trees out to put power polls in and to be able to drive along the line to check for problems. The berry bushes were densely packed on both sides of the right-of-way just at the tree line. I started picking the berries near the top of the bush and just then, a big black head popped up, just on the other side of the bush not more then 6 feet away and looked straight at me. I was told that bears will eat almost anything they can find, nuts, berries, garbage, garbage cans, gas grills, '73 Ford trucks, you name it. And at that moment I believed every word of it. After the Black Bear got bored of scaring the stupid Sugar Beeter, he or she (I wasn’t going to check) turned around and lumbered back into the woods from when’s it came. I thought I could hear it snickering a little as it disappeared in the woods. I composed myself, more or less and went up the hill and told my wife it was time to go home and got in the truck and started it. She got in and told me “I told you that you would get sick didn’t I?”. She never believed me about the bear.

The bad things up here: I will start in the spring. Spring starts about the middle of April at least most of the snow should be gone by then. I can get into the woods and start cutting fire wood. Some time in May the Ticks are out. In June the Mosquito’s and Black Flies and all the other vampire bugs are out. I’m still cutting fire wood. It can start to snow any time after the middle of October but if it snows it normally will not stick. Also starting in October the flies start to congregate on the west side of the cabin sunning themselves and looking for a snug place to get out of the cold. It’s amazing how many of the little annoying things can find there way into my cabin. Some time in November the snow is here for the winter. It depends where one lives in the UP as to how much snow they get a year. About 250 inches give or take each winter (yes that’s over 20 feet of snow). Now the snow does not get that deep on the ground. Where I live it get’s about 3 feet to 4 feet deep, depending on the winter. That is because of compaction and melting from the ground. If you live near Lake Superior more than that. However if you live down in the banana belt along Lake Michigan, it is less than that. It gets very cold in the winter, I’ve seen it get -25 below 0 with highs at -9 or -10 below zero degrees Fahrenheit. and stay their for weeks on end. The UP is the only place I’ve been where you can have a blizzard when there is not a cloud in the sky. That is "lake effect" snow. Lake Superior doesn’t freeze over completely. With a little breeze out of the north, the very cold dry air picks up moisture off the big lake and dumps it on the cold land. The stretch on M-28 between Marquette and Munising gets closed sometimes because of the snow off the big lake. Now combine "lake effect" snow and a true blizzard out of Canada, well I hope you have all your firewood in and the pantry is full.

I have seen lots of people come up here thinking they could move a trailer on to an acre or two and live off the land by hunting. It just doesn’t work, along about January or February the snow gets so heavy the roof caves in on them, some fun. In the winter the snow gets too deep for the deer to forage so they yard up in the cedar swamps in big herds. Wolves and coyotes stalk the cedar swamps for there livelihood.

The growing season is short, that’s not to say you can’t have a nice garden, you can but it’s a lot of work. Cutting firewood for the six months of winter heating is hard work. More than the average neophyte (Sugar Beeter) can put up with. This is a hard place to live. The people that live here have the knowledge and skills needed to survive in this unique part of the United States. A person or family doesn’t just come up here and camp out in the woods and live off the land. If the insects don’t drive them out of there minds, the white death of winter will kill them. I mean that literally, winter is a white death for the unprepared. That is why a meltdown in the big cities is not going to affect the UP with droves of refugees. And everybody in the cities of Wisconsin and Michigan knows that, they're going to head south where the living is easy.

But if you think you're tuff enough, good luck up here. - The Old Uooper

JWR Adds: One of our advertisers is Richard Hendricksen. He is a real estate agent that acts as a Buyer's Agent. He specializes in finding U.P. properties that are suitable for retreats. He knows the region very well and can give advice on everything from microclimates and wild game migration patterns to local politics. I encourage any readers that are considering the U.P. to contact Mr. Hendricksen

It appears [corporate, hedge fund, and bank funds managers] have been playing a modern day Enron game with the OTC (Over The Counter) derivatives market. They have been taking their bad debts, and credit default swaps (CDSs), failed commercial loans, and construction loans and moving them to this unregulated and unlisted market to hide the true size of their toxic debts.
Half of the financial monstrosity is projected to be in this "hide the bad debt" game. The [aggregate notional] number is so surreal, it is mind boggling.

I may have missed you posting the recent article in The International Forecaster, but just in case it did not get mentioned, here it is: The Quadrillion Dollar Powder Keg Waiting to Blow. Regards, - OSR

Here is a very low cost supplier of new-manufacture "poly" sandbags: Regards, - TinCan


Mr. Rawles,
Here in Ohio, (and other places, I suspect), the feed stores formerly bought back used feed bags for 50 cents a piece. They no longer do. (If a used bag got bugs while on the farm, the bugs ended up going back to the mill.) All those good, heavy, plastic weave bags are now being thrown away. For those of us wanting cheap or free sand bags, just ask farms and stables on your area to save them for you. - Jim Fry, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment


I'm a dude who used to live in Hurricane Central, Louisiana: Our city office was one of those sites where whenever tropical trouble or floods threatened, here would come the Public Works Trucks with a whole bunch of sand and the sandbags [to distribute free to local residents]. The funny thing is, they don't make quite the same effort to go around picking up all these perfectly good supplies once the danger was passed.

Those white plastic sandbags do indeed breakdown in sunlight, but if you grab a bunch [before they do degrade] and store them away they will be okay to use at any time. Even filled with sand, and placed in a shed for storage, they will last a long time. How do I know? Did you ever fill sandbags? That is heavy, heavy work!So there is all this stuff that sat in the corner of our parking lot, free for the taking. First I placed a box of empty bags in my trunk to get them out of the sunlight. Then each day after work, I filled about four bags and took them home in the trunk of my car. About 20 sandbags a week.

My former property had a boat storage shed, perfect for lawnmowers & sandbags. Like the little Ant with the Rubber Tree plant, over time I acquired 300 filled sandbags--stored for emergencies.
And indeed these bags were used during the approach of Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, while preparing my house. Damage was averted thanks to having these items on hand and kept ready.

Trust me, if you have to make 100 full load sandbags in a hurry, hen have an ambulance stand by while you are doing it! As with all preparedness, do it now while time is still on your side. - Clyde

"It is tempting to deny the existence of evil since denying it removes the need to fight it." - Alexis Carrel

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $600. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends in two days, on November 15th.. Please e-mail us your bid.


Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

This is a brief introduction to criminal gangs and gang culture. It is important to understand gangs as a potential threat that your retreat group could face. I have not intended this to be comprehensive. It would be a very daunting task to list and detail every gang or disruptive group occurring in the U.S. What I intending to do is make you aware of something you may have overlooked.
I would like to enlighten the blog readers about another aspect of their situational awareness, namely gang recognition. This could be very important information for many people not just in a WTSHTF situation, but in everyday life in normal times. Many people do not live at their retreat, but may live or perhaps work in a gangland area.

I have worked in law enforcement for a state agency for nearly a decade. I have a lot of experience working around gangs and the gang culture.

The first thing we must understand is that there are dangerous and violent gangs in every state in the US. We are fortunate that most gangs are centered around urban areas and usually expend their violence on the members of other gangs

Ii is my belief that in the opening stages of a societal collapse many gang members as well as many erstwhile law-abiding residents of cities will begin with rampant looting. Then, when they have figured out the police are not responding [because of the massive scale of the looting], they will set about settling old scores. Once they've figured out that the supermarkets don't have any more food coming the more coherent members will move on to taking what they want from the shivering masses. And then, when the people leave their broken cities, the predators will follow their prey. You would then have hordes of starving and desperate people migrating from the urban centers. On the fringes will the organized and ad-hoc gangs--preying on whatever happens to cross their path. These gangs would have experience brought from their street wars and honed to a razor edge by robbing the masses of Joe Six Packs. The prospect of a “Golden Horde” [with gangs traveling in their wake] is not a pleasant thought.

Growth Trends
There are some disturbing trends in the currently rapid growth of criminal gangs. Traditionally gangs were a result of conditions encountered by youths within large urban inner cities or of established prison gangs gaining influence on the outside. We cannot discount the proliferation of low-income, fatherless, single parent families as a result of amoral behavior. Some people may take offense to this but it is statistically proven. [JWR Adds: Lest the author be accused of being racist (he is not), readers should recognize that single parent families of all races share many of the same problems, including dependence of welfare, chronic truancy, low graduation rates, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, alcoholism, criminal behavior, gang affiliation, and so forth.]

These influencing factors are all still current, but not exclusive. The current national situation is worse and poised to get even worse. There are a myriad of causes and I will touch on a few that will affect people more acutely, who are located in the western U.S. There are many unique factors associated with the eastern U.S. but my experience is with the west.

Perhaps the worst effect on increasing gang activity throughout the western US is a lack of effective border controls. American's apathy to secure our southern border is allowing Mexican drug cartels free reign to move illicit drugs into the U.S. These guys are bad news! The Mexican government is rife with corruption funded by the cartels. The few officials who dare to make a stand against the cartels either live in constant fear or are gunned down. There have been a number of gruesome assassinations of Mexican government officials, some in broad daylight. We must keep in mind that many US-based gangs have close ties to Mexican cartels, either being supplied by or run behind the scenes by them. This is evidenced by criminal activities related to Mexican cartels across many southern tier states.

We must also examine the effects of popular or “pop” culture. Popular media has turned millions of suburban teenagers [of all races and from middle class backgrounds] into wannabe bang bangers. Popular music, movies and television often portray gang association in positive manner. Another factor to consider is relocation. Often in an effort to remove their children from the influence of gangs, parents of teenage gang members move their families out of cities and into suburbia. There, instead of removing their children from influence, their children find a receptive audience for recruiting new members. Those children will then become a new branch of the same gang or create a new gang.

Structure and Planning
Gang structure is usually well-organized and hierarchical. Many gangs use a rank system similar to the military. The guy at the bottom takes orders from the guy above him and so on. Additionally lower ranks are prohibited from acting without specific orders. Many gangs use a constitution or a set of by-laws, kind of a gang banger S.O.P.

Do not be lulled into thinking that members of gangs are not intelligent. This is simply not the case. It may be true on an individual level but on an organizational level of thinking, that mindset is dangerous. Don't be close minded. A lot of these people are what might be considered “evil geniuses.” Many gangs have required reading for new initiates. Be advised: They read a lot of the same stuff we do. They read “The Art of War,” “The Book of the Five Rings,” and “The Prince.” They study small unit tactics, military field manuals, guerrilla warfare and many other topics that would surprise you. Gangs are not just a bunch of guys sitting around watching the movie “Scarface” over and over again. There are instances of gangs funding the college education of especially bright members. A local law enforcement agency recently discovered a detailed five year plan, similar to a corporate plan, showing the planned expansion of the gang and the very hostile takeover of a rival gang's territory. These were obviously very motivated people and the plan was indicative of an educated leadership.

Most gangs are usually ethnic or racially based. There are exceptions to this but it is usually true. Many gangs will make exceptions. They are completely aware of stereotyping and may accept a member of another ethnicity or race to appear less conspicuous. A notable exception for southern tier states would be a prison gang called “Texas Syndicate.” This gang is comprised mostly of Hispanic members but has a fair number of white members. On occasion gangs will attempt to recruit members from different ethnic backgrounds in order to avoid detection from rival gangs and law enforcement. Keep this in mind.

Another disturbing aspect of gang structure is the inclusion of women and children. many gangs will incorporate a branch of their gang with children. These are usually the children or close relation of current members. Women are usually the companions of members but may incorporate their own structure.

Gangs Common to the Western U.S.

My experience is with gangs common to the western U.S. so that is what I will describe. Perhaps there is a blog reader in the eastern U.S. who can address that region.

Generally most of the gangs common to the west began in California. Either originating in Los Angeles or in the California prison system. They have spread rapidly in the past 15 years. I will give an overview of the more common ones:

White Supremacist Gangs
There are white supremacist gangs throughout the U.S. You could encounter everything from Neo-Nazis to white outlaw bikers. You will need to do some research to see what's going on in your area. Check the Internet to see what's out there. Be warned a lot of what you find in your research will be incredibly ignorant and highly offensive. IMHO, these could be the most commonly encountered gangs in the event of a total collapse. You should also be aware of all the kooks out there that the media loves to glamorize as so called “survivalists” any white supremacist gang has the potential to be extremely violent and unpredictable. You do not want to be around any of these groups when things go sideways. Keep that in mind while making your preparations.
Swastika's (tattoos, flags, pictures, etc.)
Vikings (Pictures, Tattoos)
AB – Aryan Brotherhood (Tattoos, Pictures)
Refer to each other as “comrade”
666- (tattoos, pictures)
1488 – stands for “14 words” associated with white supremacist gangs and “Heil Hitler” (“H” is the 8th letter in the alphabet.) World War II German military SS badge (tattoos, Pictures, Posters)

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
Most outlaw motorcycle gangs began in the late 1940s after WWII and consisted of returning G.I.s. Outlaw gangs are predominantly white. Many outlaw motorcycle gangs have ties to other street or prison gangs, or will follow racial lines. The Mongols motorcycle club has ties to the Mexican Mafia and the Hells Angels has ties to white supremacist groups and does not allow membership of african-americans or hispanics. Outlaw motorcycle gangs rule the distribution of meth. Its big business, the FBI estimates around $2 billion USD a year. Outlaw motorcycle gangs are generally well organized, very well armed [with an emphasis on semi-auto and unregistered full auto carbines], and have a strong command structure.
motorcycles - usually Harley-Davidsons.
“Club colors” usually a jacket or vest with club patch on the back. (This usually consists of a large patch in the center with banners on the top and bottom called “Rockers”)
“Club House”- motorcycle clubs will buy or rent a house or building to use as meeting place. If you have one near your home, then move.
Tattoos- not universal but a good indication. Usually motorcycle topics.

[JWR Adds: I consider white outlaw motorcycle gangs the single greatest threat to rural retreats. Plan accordingly. Not only do motorcycle gangs have great mobility (at 45+ miles per gallon!), but in some circumstances they will also be able to "blend in" with a rural populace better than gangs that are predominantly composed of racial minorities.]

Surenos translated from Spanish is “Southerners.” Generally comprised of Hispanic members. This gang is a conglomeration of Los Angeles street gangs and the California prison gang “Eme” (Spanish for the Letter “M”) or Mexican Mafia became organized in California prisons in the 1960s. Surenos are closely involved with Mexican drug cartels. This is a very motivated, well organized gang. It is expanding rapidly and can be encountered throughout the west as well as nationally. Also has a notable presence within the Federal Prison System.
Identifiers -
Word “Sureno (S)”
Abbreviation “SUR”
Number “13” (M is the 13th letter in the alphabet)
Word “Eme”
Blue colored clothing or bandannas

Nortenos translated from Spanish is “Northerners.” Generally comprised of Hispanic members. Nortenos are traditionally enemies of Sureno's this gang is also a conglomeration of many different gangs. member are usually from areas north of Fresno, California. This gang also became organized within the California prison system. The Nortenos became organized as a result subjugation of rural Hispanics within the prison system by the Mexican Mafia. Generally very well organized, usually encountered within west coast states, but is expanding.
Identifiers -
Word “Norteno(s)
Number “14” ( N is the 14th letter in the alphabet)
Word “Ene”( Spanish for Letter “N”)
Clothing and Bandannas red in color
Five point red star

Began as a Los Angeles street gang in the 1960's. Has since multiplied, split and fractured. Generally membership is comprised of people of African descent. There are numerous Crip gangs. Crip Gangs are found throughout the country, usually around urban centers. Some individual groups of crips may be organized some may not be. Some groups of Crips maybe enemies of other groups of Crips. The traditional enemies of the Bloods. There is no recognizable centralized leadership.
Blue colored clothing or bandannas
In speech replacing the letter “B” with the letter “C”
Refer to each other as “cousin” or “cuz”
Six pointed star
Phrase – community revolution in progress

The Bloods egan as a Los Angeles street gang in 1972. Traditional enemies of the Crips. Not as numerous as the Crips. Generally has a better organization structure. Membership is usually people of African descent. Found throughout the U.S. usually in urban centers. Not as much into fighting as the Crips.
Red colored clothing or bandannas
In speech replacing the letter “C” with the letter “B”

Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13
Began as a Los Angeles street gang in the 1980's by Salvadoran immigrants. may consist of members from or descended from many central American countries. Very well organized. Found in at least 31 U.S. states, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. very ruthless gang.
Tattoos of MS, MS-13, devil horns or “salvatrucha”

The preceding is just a short summary list. Time and space prohibit me from listing other gangs. I probably couldn't list them all if I wanted to, so I will show you how you can find out who is active in your area.

How to Find Out More
The first thing you need to do is be aware of your surroundings. pay attention when you drive to work or when make your monthly Costco run. Take a look at what's going on in your neighborhood. You may not need to worry about gang activity at your retreat location but you may need to pass through affected areas to get to your retreat. Suburban retreaters should pay close attention to their situation no matter what part of the country they live in.

Your Tools

Your Own Observations
These observations are the most important if your area has been affected by gang activity you may notice some things. These are some things to look for:

Gangs use graffiti like a bulletin board or a property boundary. Graffiti will also serve as a warning to rival gangs. Pay attention to colors of the graffiti. A commonly re- occurring color could be an indicator . Look for re-occurring numbers or roman numerals. Also look for re-occurring names or abbreviation. Try to remember or take a quick note of what you see for later reference.

Groups of Young Men
Most gang members are in the age group of 15-25 and predominately male. Now every group of young men is obviously not a gang. Use your judgment and take note of what you see. Look for similar colored clothing. If you have high school age kids in public schools or know some, ask them. They might have some knowledge you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.

Tattoos are like a gang member business card. Kind of like - “this is the group I belong to and these are my accomplishments.” Gang members tattoos are usually very distinctive. A lot of gang members wind up in jail or prison and often get tattoos while incarcerated. Jailhouse "tats" are easily recognizable. Do a little internet research to find jail house or prison tattoo pictures. Once again look for recurring themes, names, symbols, numbers and roman numerals.

Information Resources

Law Enforcement
The most aware of local gang activity is probably going to be local law enforcement. If you know a local officer ask them what is going on in the area. Most officers will probably be willing to spend a few moments talking to a concerned citizen and may have a lot of useful information
If your local area has a “Gang Task Force” or a similarly named unit it's probably a good indication that there are problems in your area. I don't know how much information a unit like that will be willing to give you, but it's probably worth it to call the department and ask. You may get a standard response prepared for the public, but you also could get a lot of good information. I may attract some Ire for saying that you probably shouldn't speak to Law Enforcement Administrators. IMO they may try to embellish or downplay current conditions for political or other reasons. You shouldn't have to worry about it though, most upper management types probably wouldn't want to talk to a concerned citizen unless you are friends with someone important.

Local News Agencies
Local news media is another great resource. Granted they can tend to be over dramatic and not always completely accurate but viewed objectively can be very informative. Watch the local evening news and pay attention to trends. If you don't have television, then subscribe to a newspaper. Many small newspapers have a crime blotter, this is a great feature. An increasing amount of reported graffiti vandalism could be an indicator of gang encroachment. Once again pay attention to trends. If the crime description says that the crime was gang related then you have a good indication of activity in your area

The Internet
The Internet has an absolute wealth of information. There are numerous gang information web sites. I would recommend knowing which gang you are looking for before starting a search, as you could be overloaded with information. Some web sites you may want to take a look at are: – This web site has Chicago area gang information – This is a very good web site IMHO.
Wikipedia has good general information if you know specifically what gang you are looking for. [JWR Adds: Wikipedia also has several pages specifically about gangs outside the US]

You should also know that many gangs or gang members have their own web sites. These are definitely worth checking out if applicable to your area or circumstance.

There have been many books written by a number of former and current law enforcement officers as well as former gang members. These can be very valuable resources. Many of these can be found in the Paladin Press book catalog. One book I definitely recommend is “The Gang Investigator's Handbook” by Matthew David O'Dean Ph.D. and is available through Paladin Press. Books written by former gang members are usually specific to their individual gang and will therefore require you to specifically know what gang(s) you have in your area and proceeding appropriately.

The prospect of having to deal with gangs is not pleasant. In the event of a collapse that prospect only becomes worse. Use this information I've given you to find out if you should be immediately concerned. We must all be aware that crime traditionally increases in time of economic stress. With our country in its current state things could become very interesting. Don't say to yourself: “I don't need to worry about it.” Do some research and be prepared.

I'm writing in response to the woman who has enrolled in the Front Sight "Get a gun" [training, gun and gear] deal.

My wife and I (and our two kids) all went to Front Sight in June. I have always been a prepper wannabe. bought several firearms and all kinds of holsters and web gear. My wife really wasn't interested in firearms.The Front Sight instructors were great. They really took extra time with my wife. She is very proficient now, we practice once a week "dry practice" in the basement when the kids are at school. then about every third week we go out into the wilderness and set up a couple of targets. I have a [Springfield Armory] XD45 and love it. She uses a XD9 and loves it. All of my other pistols are not really appealing to me anymore.

Be sure you buy a roll of Front Sight [gray paper pistol] targets while you are there. They really help you bring back to remembrance things they taught you. Don't skip any of the sessions, be sure to go to the night shoot as well. There is so much information, and after you leave you won't really have a chance to try it again.

BTW, my kids loved [the Safety and Youth Achievement course], and are begging to go back. We have a 6 year old boy and an 11 year old girl,)
Have fun. - Brad


Regarding your reader who asked about dry practice and how often she should shoot: Shooting is important, but "dry practice" is almost magical. Done properly (Dr. Piazza's manual is a perfect example), dry practice will keep you up to speed and even improve your shooting skills - all without firing a round. While I agree that you should shoot as often as is practical, remember that many people think you have to shoot tens of thousands of rounds yearly and go to the range weekly to keep up on your skills. Not so. While I don't recommend it, I've gone 3-to-4 months without firing a single shot on more than one occasion. But when I finally got to the range, I did just as well or better than before because I kept up on my dry practice. Dry practice builds and maintains muscle memory, and reinforces good trigger control. Of course the old adage still applies: "Perfect practice makes perfect." It sure isn't as cool to "click" when you could be shooting real bullets, but if you're limited on time or budget, it is a valuable substitute. Remember that even if you're Joe millionaire, you should do more dry practice than live-fire. Shooting at the range is simply verification that your dry practice is being done correctly. - PPPP


Hi Jim-
The Front Sight pistol manual clearly states a preference for dry-firing practice. The rationale is that 1: you need to practice daily, if at all possible; 2: live-firing may produce bad habits before good habits can be ingrained. The manual emphasizes that "perfect practice" makes perfect. I think very few ranges allow the kind of "draw to the ready", "point in" and "fire" anyway. If one did, I would never go there--who knows what clowns may be there with you.

By the way, with a decent CO2 pistol and holster, you can practice all the procedures, plus fire at a target in your garage or basement.
Added thought: at our latest visit to Front Sight we met a doctor and his wife who bought Certificates on eBay. I checked and they're going for about $300. That's a bargain! I guess that some First Family folks don't care to share their certificates with family, friends or local police. (Which would be a wonderful idea!).

We stayed at the Saddle West RV park for $20 per night with full hookups and very clean restrooms. This Casino also gave us $5 vouchers for breakfast for each day of our stay. We had very nice breakfasts for only a dollar or two more. They also gave Brunch vouchers, but of course, we weren't there to use them.

Do you remember the "hostage shoot-off"? You go one-on-one with another member of the group and whoever puts down the hostage-taker and two other bad guys first, eliminates the other shooter. The surviving shooters continue facing off till only one is left. A 16 year-old girl won that one on another range down from us. We had a couple of grizzly rambo types in our group, plus several older women (50 -65). In our group a rambo-type with cut-off t-shirt and tattoos, was beaten in the shoot-off by one of the women! As you were, we were once again astounded by the confidence and proficiency that resulted from the thorough, patient instructors.

We were there with about 400 others, the 2nd biggest group they've trained. But there's plenty of room for more. - Bob B.

"Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content, and a hundred other virtues which the idle never know." - Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mr. Rawles;

I took your advice and signed up for the Front Sight Gun (XD), Gear & Training special. I'll be taking my classes in January. I've shot my boyfriend's Glock .45--a "Mini" Glock Model 30-- several times out in the desert. Oh, and BTW, I don't know why the .45 [ACP] got such a bad rep[utation] for "heavy" recoil. It is not bad at all. My conclusion: The 9 Milly is not a "lady's gun" [caliber]--its actually a round for training children. So I'm getting the .45 version of the [Springfield Armory] XD.

My question is, after my boyfriend and I get this training (he is now just about convinced to go with me), how often should I/we take target practice to keep up to good proficiency? Is the "dry practice" that Dr. Piazza mentions worth doing? (I live in an an apartment in the suburbs, and I'm not sure how I often I can get to a range, or out in the cactus (on BLM [-managed public land].) And, BTW, just for comparison purposes, how often do you go to the [shooting] range?. - Maria in Mesa, Arizona

JWR Replies: First, congrats on taking the plunge and attending Front Sight. You won't regret it!

I recommend shooting as frequently as your time and budget allows. Once a week would be ideal to stay in top form. But with the current high prices of centerfire pistol ammo, you might consider conducting two out of every three shooting session with semi-auto .22 rimfire pistols. Dry practice is indeed quite useful, particularly in developing muscle strength and motor control. Note, however, that some stringent safety rules must be enforced and a safe backstop constructed, to eliminate the risk of a negligent discharge. Needless to say, failure to do so could have tragic consequences in an apartment building.

The Memsahib reminded me to mention that bird watching with heavy binoculars or a camera with a long lens is also great exercise for building arm muscles, acquiring targets, and practice holding a considerable weight perfectly still. The first time that the Memsahib ever shot a pistol (some 20+ years ago), she did amazingly well--in part because she already had several years of experience toting around a 35mm camera with a 200mm lens (and a 2X extender).

We rarely "go to the range", since we live way out in the hinterboonies and we can step out our back door and shoot whenever we'd like. I generally shoot about once a month in bad weather, and once every 10 to 15 days in good weather.

I am a bit confused on your recommendations for magazines for AR-15s. I don't own an AR yet, but have been buying some magazines (30 round) from the manufacturer I have chosen to buy my AR from (Stag Arms). My question is this: would it be unwise to invest in mags such as Tapco or the Magpul brands? What do you mean by purchasing OEM mags? can these be from any AR manufacturer, even ones that are different from my AR manufacturer? Please clarify your thoughts on OEM versus aftermarket (e.g. Brownell's, Tapco, Magpul, etc.).
Thanks a lot for your amazing blog! - J.B. from Michigan

JWR Replies: For most guns, I generally recommend buying only original government issue magazines, or factory original magazines. As I mentioned in several of my FAQs on firearms magazines, I consider most brands of aftermarket magazines little more than unreliable junk. Many of these have either dimensional problems (due to poor quality control), or insufficient heat treating of their feed lips. Both of these issue make these mags prone to jamming. You should avoid any magazines that are listed in mail order catalogs or online as "afterrmarket", "commercial", "G.I. type", or "generic".There are, however, some exceptions to this rule for AR-15 magazines that are made to full military specifications, and some brands or polymer magazines.

The makers to avoid include Triple K and the "USA" brand. This includes most of the steel M16 magazines on the market with the notable exceptions of SA80 magazines, HK steel ("Maritime finish"), and Sterling (England) steel magazines. (The Sterling mags work in both AR-180s and AR-15s.)

Some polymer magazines that do work well are Thermold, Beta (CMAG double snail drum) Orlite, and MagPul. (The latter makes the much-touted and incredibly robust PMAGs)

Most of the USGI contract alloy magazines are trustworthy, with the exception of Cooper Industries and some of the early (with black follower) DSI/Sanchez 30 rounders. For further details on M16 and AR-15 magazines, see my M16 Magazine FAQ. The "mil-spec" magazines sold by Brownell's work fine, because they are sourced from a military contract manufacturer that has genuine mil-spec tooling and employs proper quality control.

Mr. Rawles,

You mention about mass and the wisdom in buying sand bags stating 'they are cheap'. I guess that is relative to 'something'. I can not find them for less then $2.50 each and that is empty.
Have you priced sand lately? Where we live (midwest) it is not cheap. You would need a huge pile of it to fill enough sandbags to do much good for any purpose.
So, am I missing something here? Maybe I do not understand the 'sandbag theory'. Please advise. Thanks, - Polly

JWR Replies: In the U.S. there are several good sources for sandbags , but prices do indeed vary widely, so shop around.  (From as much as $3.75 each in small quantities to as little as 38 cents each if you buy in lots of 1,000.) For example, see:

Ranger Surplus

1st Army Supply

If you want to buy in quantity (perhaps a group purchase that you can split several ways), it is best to order direct from a manufacturer, such as Dayton Bag, or Mutual Industries, or United Bags. (The latter charged $380 per thousand the last time I checked .)

And for our readers across the pond, here is a source in England: Surplus and Adventure

OBTW, be sure to buy the later variety synthetic (such as polypropylene) sand bags. The early burlap (or "Hessian") bags tend to rot and rip out too quickly. The latest and greatest mil-spec bags use Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) or Polyethylene film laminated with a third layer of molten polyethylene. These have the best UV protection (and hence the longest useful life out in the elements), but they are also the most expensive. Even the standard military polypropylene bags will last two to three years in full sun, and much longer if painted or kept in the shade.

As for filler material. if sand is expensive in your area, then do some comparison pricing on "one half minus" road gravel, delivered by the dump truck load. (This is gravel that has been screened so that the largest pieces are no more than 1/2-inch in diameter.) I don't recommend using soil, since sand or gravel are superior for stopping bullets. If you must use soil, then try to get either very sandy soil or heavy clay soil. Dry loam soil is the least effective for use in sandbags. Remember: the more vegetable matter in the soil, the lower its ballistic protection.)

Mr. Rawles,

I am a fairly new reader, but have been interested and amateur-involved in survival for years now. I came across a solid compendium of tax information on local tax burdens. Scroll to bottom and download Special Report 163. I find it very useful. This might be helpful in deciding on retreat locations, where you can get the most from your money. Thanks, - Stuart E.

Paul D. and Rourke both mentioned this Time article Extreme Green: Living Off the Grid

   o o o

Thanks to Garth S. for finding this: US May Lose Its 'AAA' Rating

   o o o

The 25% off sale on Mountain House and AlpenAire freeze-dried foods at Ready Made Resources ends in just two days. Don't hesitate!

   o o o

News and commentary from the Economatrix: Credit Crisis Tentacles Reach Everywhere -- Fed Okays AMEX to Become A Bank -- Asian Stocks Fall as Confidence Drop -- Countrywide Gas Prices -- Crude Oil Falls Below $59/Barrel -- These are Unprecedented Times (A nice re-cap that shoots down the idea this is merely a "recession") -- UK Mortgage Market to Shrink By 80% -- Mexico Hedges Almost All of its Oil Exports -- More Unintended Consequences of The Bailout -- Greenspan: Clearly in Severe Recession ("Severe recession is newspeak for depression") -- Bond Insanity (from The Mogambo Guru)

"There is nothing which persevering effort and unceasing and diligent care can not accomplish." - Seneca (4 BC - 65 AD)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today, the US, Canada, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland honor military veterans, and those that made the supreme sacrifice. To those of you that have served, my heartfelt thanks. And for those of you that have lost loved ones, my sincere condolences!

Mr Rawles,
You're regularly posting first hand stories about the need to test gear. Imagine my surprise when my arrogance that that didn't apply to me proved false! You really do need to test equipment and skills! Unused tools (both physical and mental) are useless tools!

I store gas for my lawnmowers in two five gallon plastic containers. I figured that I'd pour what was left in them into my car when I put the mowers away for the winter. I know you always recommend being able to relocate more than one tank of gas away, so I figured I'd keep them rotated and full, emptying them into the car instead of bothering with fuel stabilizer. Lo and behold, you can't just pour gas from these containers into a gas tank! Even with the nifty built in nozzle gadget that makes it perfect for lawnmowers - it doesn't fit in my car! I need to buy a long-stemmed funnel like the kind my dad's been using for decades. Your readers should check their equipment and their gas tanks for compatibility.

I also assumed I was good at building a fire from nothing because I was in the Scouts "back in the day". Once again; unused skills deteriorate and disappear. I've been building fires in my home and in my backyard with big handfuls of crumpled newspaper. I thought I was skilled because I was gluttonously using an overabundance of available resources. Tonight I tried building a fire from a small handful of crumpled (and dry!) leaves. It turns out that often leaves will just smolder. I managed to build up my fire using two or three cotton ball sized pieces of newspaper instead of the six or seven whole sheets I used to use. But in doing so I also discovered the small pocketknife I regularly carry is only useful in shaving off tinder - it's useless in splitting logs for kindling. My bugout bag has several larger knives, but now I will consider adding a hatchet (recommendations?).

I will also be making about a million fire wicks out of leftover supplies from an entertaining bout of candle making in my old apartment.

Finally, a note about teamwork and information. My wife is definitely coming on board for the whole "Preparedness" mindset. She's started taking a martial arts class (a real one; not cardio kick boxing or other useless courses), we talk about what to do in case of emergencies, we've bought a small treasure of gold and silver, etc. However, the other night we learned something very valuable. We heard what she thought were gunshots (I think it might have been people using up old fireworks - but I digress) and she went to bring the dog inside. She brought with her an unwieldy lopper that I had left by the door. As I saw her coming back in, I asked her why she didn't bring the pepper spray. She replied that she didn't know where it was. Now, on your advice I bought several cans to (pardon the pun) pepper around the house, including basement and bugout bag. And I've told and I had shown her where they are. But she forgot. That's another lesson: you might as well not even own any piece of equipment that you forget about when it counts.

You can't possibly be too organized, you can't possibly rehearse too often, and there's no such thing as being too prepared.
We all are sending well-wishes and prayers for the Memsahib. - C.

I often read your blog and have read your novel , "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", (and have given it as a gift to several folks!) I just wanted to let you and your other readers know about something I found at Cabela's recently: 3-day and 10-day 'Hunt' Packs. These nifty boxes contain a mix of energy bars, gels, drinks, etc. designed for use by 'Wilderness Athletes'. Aside from the humorous effect of the name, these are quite handy and can be ordered from Cabela's on-line web store and may provide survival minded people an excellent option for Bug Out Bags, Car Kits, pre-positioned supplies, caches, or to give [charitably] to the unprepared after a natural disaster or terrorist type event. While the prices may be higher than some would like to pay, the manufacturer has done the work that some busy or family folks may not have the time or inclination to do.

Thanks for the information you provide! Regards, - Israel S.

I wanted to contribute this the following to your ongoing discussion on high capacity magazines.
Selling high capacity magazines is normally a small part of our business, but that changed last week. Between October 31 and today, we have sold more than I normally sell in a year.
I had stocked up anticipating increased demand, but was nowhere near prepared for the huge surge in sales that we experienced. A normal order was 3 to 6 magazines, now it is 12 or more and we have had several customers buy in quantities of 100+. As a result, we are completely sold out of AR-15 magazines. I have had 400 on order since before the election, hopefully to arrive some time later this month, but many are already allocated to back orders. I could use 1,000 more magazines, but I have no idea how long it will take the manufacturer to produce them, where I will be on their waiting list, or how much their price will have increased.

I sold out of Glock Model 23 magazines and am very low on Glock 19 magazines. I was able to re-order, but my supplier was out of a couple of varieties and the price has increased $2 each on the rest, so we had to raise prices. My profit margin was only $5 on Glock magazines, and one of my other suppliers is now quoting wholesale prices that are equivalent to what my retail price was.
This feeding frenzy should be an example to everyone who has delayed some of their preparations. Don't wait until the panic starts -- buy your long term storage food now. Get a water filter and grain mill while you still can. Buy your silver during the current dip. Survival supplies are tight, but things will get worse before they will get better. I have been in the survival business since before Y2K. (BTW, I have a 1997 edition of [your draft edition novel] TEOTWAWKI in its three ring binder on my bookshelf) and this is the busiest we have been since early 1999. - Dave (of Captain Dave's)


Mr. Rawles
I found this online - it is at an forum where folks are presently discussing who is raising their magazine prices and who isn't: Stay safe. - David B.


Brownell's has still not raised any of their prices, as of this week. I have an account with them and bought a bunch of mags (AR and AK). Most of these are going to be traded off to my brother and some other contacts. Brownell's AR mags are still $12.50. These are good quality and I have never had a problem with them. FYI, - Sarge



I've seen similar goings on here in Memphis. General threat of mob violence on the night of the 4th and after if The One lost the election, so I went to pick up some extra buckshot and I figured a couple extra boxes of .45 while I was at it. First went to Sportsman's Warehouse, but they were out of just about everything in the major pistol calibers except the exotic and high-dollar loads. The mountain of 9mm ball they'd laid in planning to put on sale this weekend was reduced to less than a mole hill.

They were also pretty much out of buckshot, too. Bear in mind that this is an outdoor sporting goods "big box" and not a gun store per se. I left there empty-handed and headed over to Guns & Ammo, my usual stop for same. I knew something was really up when a guy coming out as I went in had two black Glock cases and a blue SIG box in his arms and his son was carrying a double-arm-full of handgun ammo boxes. Once I got inside the store, it looked like Christmas Eve in there; people lined up three deep at the counter, which is about 50 feet long. All six employees were going like mad trying to keep up with the sales. I got the last half-dozen boxes of Hornady TAP buckshot and a few boxes of Winchester Ranger .40 and high-tailed it. Looks like everybody's a bit worried, and with good reason. "May you live in interesting times," indeed. - Booth


A recent post said that Cabela's in Texas was out of ammo. I live in central Indiana and my local Gander Mountain store is (by now) out of .223 and other popular Battle Rifle calibers so I thought I would buy on-line like I usually do. What a shock. Able Ammo, MidwayUSA and Cheaper Than Dirt are out of just about everything in Battle Rifle calibers. I've never seen anything like this ever. Most are not even accepting back orders. I stopped by a local but out of the way gun store and had trouble finding a place to park. The employee's said you could not move around in the store on Saturday and the owner said he was thinking of going out of business after the first of the year. Interesting.

Friday, before work, my wife and I stopped by our local police department to request Concealed Carry permits. We got there Friday morning, 10 minutes before they opened. I was first in line and the lady asked me why everybody wants gun permits? Apparently it was a busy week for her. By the time I was fingerprinted and left the lobby was full of people, mostly couples, all seeking similar permits. These were all professional people. I live in a bedroom community where we have the highest per household income in the state. Something interesting is happening on in our country and intelligent hard working professional people feel the need to be able to protect themselves.

At a local outdoor shooting range, which was very busy despite 38 degree temps and wind, I talked to as many people as I could. They are mostly male in their late 30's to 50's. I ask them how long they have owned their weapon and the usual answer was "Since Tuesday!" There are a great many new shooters out there and they are not hunters. While they were not seeking training, at least they know if their weapon will fire if needed. I rarely see the same people again. Apparently, if the gun works, it works and that is the end of it. - Russ in Indiana

Michael W. noticed some great advice on assembling "Grab-'n -Go" kits, by Kim du Toit.

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Seven readers sent us this: Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Identify Bank Loans. ($2 Trillion dollars in taxpayer funds, and no need to reveal the recipients?) Reader Dave S. made this comment: "I'm a little steamed. These guys are sinking the country and hiding it from the owners of this great land. They should be tarred & feathered."

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The latest economic news and commentary from Cheryl: Circuit City Files For Bankruptcy Protection -- GM Shares Plunge After Analyst Predicts They Will Hit Zero -- Wall Street Falls, Unable to Shake Economic Woes -- Expect Recession to Increase in Severity -- Bloomberg Picks Fight with Federal Reserve -- Fannie Mae Record $29 Billion Loss in 3rd Quarter -- 70,000 More Banking Jobs to Go -- Global Capital Stampede to Japanese Yen -- Stunned Iceland Tries To Recover -- Crisis Sweeps Nordic Region -- AIG Gets Second US Bailout on $24.5 Billion Loss (for $40 Billion) -- Three Trends Driving US to Economic, Dollar Collapse -- Jobless Ranks Hit 10 Million, Highest in 25 Years -- Economy's Illness Keeps Spreading

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There is some interesting commentary over at Mickey Creekmore's blog: Obama, Gun Control and the Cache

"It's best for anyone who's been in the military service if he's had some disagreeable experiences... to talk about it and get it out of his system and then forget it." - Frank Woodruff Buckles (America's last surviving WWI Veteran, age 107)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $600. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. Please e-mail us your bid.

I am a new reader of SurvivalBlog but I am already hooked. I realize that I am woefully unprepared to defend and care for my family if and when TSHTF. I live in New Jersey and commute to New York City every day, and work in finance. After 9/11, when I lost several dear friends, I took some steps to prepare for a short (several days to a week) disruption or an attack. I purchased a generator, several hundred MREs, bottled water, and iodine pills. I even applied for a firearm purchase permit but never bought a weapon.

Working in the capital markets, I have see firsthand over the last few month show how close we have come to a complete breakdown in the monetary and payments system. As a person who is generally a free market advocate and non-interventionist it troubles me deeply that the government has had to step in to try and salvage the banking system. However, I can say that in the days before some of these programs were announced, we were probably much closer than people think to a severe systemic financial collapse. I saw firsthand the panic and fear that prevailed on Wall Street in those few days, and it was real.

Hopefully we will be able to pull out of this current crisis. But in the spirit of preparing for the worst, I realize that I have much to do in order to get ready for TEOTWAWKI. So I do have a few questions that I hope you can answer. While I am sure some of these have been answered for previous newbies, I would greatly appreciate your opinion and advice.

What is your suggestion for a retreat location for someone living in New Jersey? I have read your "Recommended Retreat Areas" section and it looks like most of us east of the Mississippi are in some trouble. However, I am tied to my current location in terms of my employment and extended family. I am relatively blessed in terms of financial resources, so it is potentially feasible for me to purchase an out of state second home to use as a retreat. I do worry about access in a SHTF scenario. Highways potentially clogged, gas in short supply, etc. Is a 2-to-3 day drive by car or longer escape location feasible? There are relatively rural areas within 2-5 hours by car that we could choose, but none approach the remoteness most on this site seem to favor.

This also seems to be a common question but what about firearms? New Jersey is quite restrictive. The permit I got after 9/11 expired so I recently reapplied and should get my new permit in a couple months. I am not a complete neophyte but pretty close. I have hunted a few times with friends and have done some target practice at the pistol range. I know I need training. I also fear that the new administration may impose even more restrictive legislation limiting access to firearms so I want to move relatively quickly in assembling what I need. Here is what I am thinking:

handgun: there is no concealed carry in New Jersey so for home defense I am thinking something on the larger side, maybe a S&W Night Guard in .357 Magnum? Or does an autoloader with a higher capacity (maximum 15 round magazines in New Jersey) make sense? Maybe the SIG P220 in .45 ACP?

.22 rifle Suggestions? Id like something I can also teach my son on (he is 7) in a few years. What do you think of the US Survival .22LR? How big should I go? I don't think I'm going to need something for very big game but who knows. Is a .308 sufficient or should I look for something heavier like a .338 Lapua or a .30-06? Should I also have a tactical rifle? Remember that New Jersey has a pretty broad definition of "assault rifles" that are banned.
Shotguns: Likely would like to have at least one "riotgun" type and at least one for hunting. Suggestions?

Ammunition: How much is enough?I have seen that Cabela's sells reloaded/remanufactured rounds in bulk. Are these a good deal or are factory rounds superior to the point that the bulk reloads should not be considered?

Training: I am planning on taking several of the NRA courses that are available in my area for each of the weapons types I purchase. I have read the glowing reports on Front Sight and will try that as well if I can get the time. Any other suggestions?

I know I have a lot to learn in many areas such as food gathering/storage and basic survival. I have learned a lot from you already. I appreciate all you do on this blog, Jim. You provide a great service.
God Bless. - S. in New Jersey

JWR Replies: You are in a difficult locale, but I quite regularly get similar questions from consulting clients in Washington DC, Baltimore, and New York City.
I recommend that if you can afford it, that you buy a rural retreat, and stock it very well. If you prefer a warmer climate, then I recommend eastern Tennessee. If you don't mind cold and snow, then consider the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Pre-position 90% of of your tools and logistics at your retreat. If you are worried about burglary, then rent a commercial storage space that is near your retreat.

As I've mentioned in blog many times, I recommend that you keep always enough gas in cans on hand for one trip "Outta Dodge"--to get you to your retreat. (This ties in with the need to pre-position nearly everything at your retreat.)

In answer to your question on handguns: In New Jersey, your best bet is probably either a Springfield Armory XD in .45 ACP or perhaps a Glock Model 21 ( also .45 ACP.) BTW, you should take advantage of Front Sight's Gun & Gear & Training offer--that includes essentially free XD pistol. BTW, low cost firearms training is also available from the RWVA in the east and the WRSA in the west.

In answer to your other questions:

>.22 rifle Suggestions? I'd like something I can also teach my son on (he is 7) in a few years. What do you think of the US Survival .22LR?

The US Survival .22 LR--like all of it predecessors including the original Armalite AR-7--has a tendency to jam. It also has a fairly rudimentary peep sight that in my opinion has an overly-large rear aperture. I recommend that you instead buy a Rogue Rifle Company Chipmunk .22 single shot rifle for your son. Depending on his maturity, you can probably start training him with it under very close supervision at age 7. (The Chipmunk is a tiny rifle. It is made to the minimum dimensions allowable under Federal law.) For the rest of the family, buy a stainless steel All-Weather Ruger 10/22. Once your son is about 10 years old, you can buy a spare stock for the Ruger and saw off about two inches from the butt to provide a shorter length of pull, for transitional training. Slightly used "takeoff" standard birch wood stocks are readily available for under $15 each, since Ruger .22 rifles are often used as gun rebuild platforms, typically using fancy laminate target stocks.

> How big should I go?...

The .308 Winchester will suffice for everything two-legged or four-legged in North America with the exception of grizzly bears and moose.

> Should I also have a tactical rifle?...

Keep an inexpensive .308 bolt action in New Jersey and .308 battle rifle (as well all your magazines over 15 round capacity) in a wall cache at your retreat in a free state. As previously noted in SurvivalBlog I generally recommend the FAL, L1A1, HK91, AR-10 or M1A. And, FWIW, up until a week ago, I would have also recommended waiting for the about-to-be-released Kel-Tec RFB .308 or the Rock River Arms (RRA) LAR-8 .308 Caliber, in Mid-Length. However, in today's market, beggars can't be choosers. Buy whatever .308 battle rifle you can find, but be sure to line up at least eight spare magazines first. (You don't want to be stick with a rifle with one magazine!)

> Shotguns: Likely would like to have at least one "riotgun" type and at least one for hunting. Suggestions?

Buy a Remington 870 Express 12 gauge Combo set. (These come with both a bird barrel and riotgun barrel. It takes less than two minutes to switch barrels. BTW, Mossberg also produces a quite similar "Combo" set, that is very reasonably priced. The only drawback is that the Mossberg 500 Combo's bright blued steel is more prone to rust than the phosphate finish on the Remington Express models.

> Ammunition: How much is enough?

"Enough" is a subjective term, depending on the depth and duration of the situation that you anticipate, how much bartering you plan to do, and how much trouble you expect to encounter. (In an urban or suburban area, you might have to fire hundreds of warning shots to repel looters. But here at the ranch, we are in the process of filling at least five deer and elk tags this season, but we'll likely fire less than 10 cartridges.) If anything, err on the side of larger quantities. Any ammo that excess to your needs will be worth its weight in gold for barter and charity.

>...I have seen that Cabela's sells reloaded/remanufactured rounds in bulk. Are these a good deal or are factory rounds superior to the point that the bulk reloads should not be considered?

Bulk reloads are fine for target shooting but only can be depended on for self defense shooting situations if they come from a reputable maker, such as Black Hills Ammunition.

First, thanks for all that you do for the preparedness community. I have been a reader since [the early 1990s] when you had the early draft of your novel available for free download. I did send in my the $5 in shareware you asked for I believed it to be excellent fiction.

Second, I want to write you concerning an aspect of preparedness which is often overlooked. I know that in the last few months I have seen more posts on your blog and am grateful. I want to talk about communications equipment.

As has been previously noted there are really two major types of communication which are readily available to civilians. Naturally, I am speaking of the ham bands which consist of the VHF/UHF and HF spectrums. In reality the modern radio is mostly a computer or computer driven (hence the need to have a spare protected in a Faraday Cage).

It would behoove anyone [in the US] who is prepping to first get your Technician ham license. Any number of internet sites have the exact question pool which you will be quizzed from. You can prepare one of two ways – buy a book on the fundamentals of radio communication or simply go to a web site such as and work through the question pools. Currently, there is no code to learn as there once was – therefore you will not be tested on Morse Code. However, I would recommend that as soon as possible that one begin to become fluent with CW (Continuous Wave, i.e. Morse Code). At times the nature of the HF bands are such that people can communicate with one another using CW and not via voice.

Once you have your Technician license you will want to either get involved in an amateur radio club or begin to monitor the VHF/UHF bands. The VHF/UHF band covers 50, 144, 220, and 440 MHz (6, 2, 1 1⁄4, meters as well as 70cm respectively). Most often the easiest way to monitor the VHF/UHF is through a handheld unit. I have had a number of different models but for my retreat we use the Yaesu VX 7R. This model is built to mil spec standard – waterproof and shockproof – as well as easy to operate. It is about the size of a small paperback and has the longer lasting lithium-ion batteries. It is presently selling for around $270.

The VHF/UHF bands are limited to line of sight communications and for long range communications in these bands you need the services of a local radio repeater. I will not go into the technical aspects of a repeater here suffice to say that it boosts your signal strength and resends you signal to others monitoring the same frequency. I often work a repeater some forty miles from my house – but I sit atop a hill.

The HF frequencies are truly worldwide communications. You can with little equipment work stations as far away as the South Pacific on good days. However, to open these frequencies up you need to have either your General or Extra license. The next step is to get your General and then lastly your Extra license. With each further step you gain more band privileges – the Extra basically being an unlimited ticket to ham radio communications.

HF transceivers can be expensive but don’t necessarily have to be. I have two different types of HF radios currently in my ham shack – modern radios (Yaesu 857D (HF/VHF/UHF radio), ICOM 718 (HF + 6m), and an old tube rig (Yaesu FT 101E). The HF frequencies covers 160, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, and 10 meters. Presently with the [pitiful] shape of the sunspot cycle only from about 20 – 10 meters is active depending on where you are and the time you are monitoring.

Space and time preclude an in-depth examination of HF transmitting – I would recommend a good beginner’s book such as the ARRL Amateur Handbook for Radio Communications. This work will give you more information than you really want to know about HF communications. It is truly fascinating to listen to different stations on the HF bands. You get to such a worldwide spectrum which is largely absent from the VHF/UHF side of the hobby.

Lastly, with the HF radios you will have to have a quality antenna. “Quality” does not necessarily mean expensive. I have a G5RV Jr. antenna which is hooked up to my ICOM 718 and I have picked up stations all over the world. This particular antenna cost me a whopping $38 less than a year ago. A word of caution – antennas have to be tuned to each specific frequency which you want to listen or transmit on. Some HF radios have built in tuners while others you must buy an add – on tuner. (Essentially you are really tuning the antenna to match the band frequency which you wish to transmit). Antennas can cost as little as my G5RV to thousands of dollars for tall towers. If you are wanting to keep a low profile I would suggest erecting a dipole cut to the specific frequency length which you wish to transmit on.

Much more could be said – however, IMHO your communications will be much more operational with ham equipment than with CBs or the like.
With Kind Regards - Dr. Joe

Hi James
You'll recall hat I wrote to you a while back, forewarning of increasing prices for canned tuna, as I am in the import food business.
I read Buckskin's message with interest, as I sell to food distributors, of the type that he is referring to. What many of your readers may or may not know, is that a huge amount of our food
products are imported. I don't have exact figures on it, but there are certain categories of food products that are almost exclusively imported, as they either cannot be produced here at all or cannot be competitively produced here. An example, is organic canned beans. While they are packed in the U.S., most of the organic beans are actually grown in China, Peru and other countries. You would never know this when buying a can of beans that is packed by an American company. Another good example is frozen vegetables. There are companies here that import frozen vegetables from other countries, then mix them in blends and sell them. They don't necessarily say on the package that the vegetables are imported because they are further-processed here in the U.S. In addition, many of the ingredients for foods produced domestically are from imported sources. Chinese milk powder is used extensively by American food producers.

My main point is that, while I am in a different part of the distribution chain than Buckskin is referring to, I do sell a lot of imported products that go to food service (restaurants, prisons, hospitals, fast food, etc.). What I have been observing over the last couple of months is that as demand slackens in the U.S., prices have been going down. The U.S. is one of the largest food consumers in the world and as a result of the economic implosion, people are eating out less and while they are cooking at home more, they are trading down at the supermarket. Chains like Whole Foods are suffering as a result of this, as well as the larger supermarket chains.

Earlier in the year, a lot of my suppliers overseas started increasing prices because of increased raw material costs, increased tinplate costs, increased fuel and energy costs, etc., coupled with increased freight costs to the U.S. However, as demand started waning here, my customers refused to accept the price increases, as their sales volume has dropped off and in many cases, their inventory started backing up. Now, prices are going down. Canned tuna, for example, has dropped about 20% and will probably drop further. This is certainly not happening to all products that we sell, but I expect to see more price declines in the future. Another reason for this is that raw commodity prices have collapsed and this has had an impact, too. Oil is way down and this has reduced transportation costs. One more factor is the recent strengthening of the dollar against most other currencies, which means that a dollar buys more overseas than it did earlier in the year.

Although I expect this decline to continue for some time, it may or may not have a big impact on food prices in the U.S. This depends on whether or not the price decreases are passed
along down the distribution chain.

One thing to keep in mind is that in the long term, the dollar is toast. When all of the bail-out money and other giveaways that the government has printed money for, hit the economy,
the dollar is going down and all imported products are going to get a lot more expensive. All the best, - Kurt

Abraham"s new blog on suburban survival looks like it is off to a great start. His most recent post selecting "Get Home Bag" contents was excellent. (A hat tip to the gents over at Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest (TSLRF), for the link to Abraham's blog)

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Our friend Commander Zero up in Montana recently had a very well-reasoned post on handgun proficiency that quotes my mentor, Mel Tappan: Standard Controllability Test

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Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned that after some record sales, they are now down to just 30 of the used water-tight Hardigg gun caching cases left on-hand. These have been selling very quickly since the election. (There is little wonder why! One customer called them "my Obama Gun Grab Insurance" ) Bob also reminded me that their 25% off sale on Mountain House and AlpenAire freeze-dried foods ends in just four days. Don't miss out!

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News and commentary, courtesy of The Economatrix: Watch Out For Gift Cards this Holiday Season -- The Banks Don't Just Get It, They Are Lucky to Be Alive -- Wall Street Turns To Consumer To Gauge Economy -- GM's Beleaguered Shares Could Go Lower -- Central Bankers Fear Deflation -- Economic Downturn Marches Toward Main Street -- Berkshire Hathaway Profits Fall 77%

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There are several new retreat properties listed at our spin-off web site, One of these listings is for parcels that are being broken up from the old Rawles Ranch, near Stites, Idaho. Disclaimer: I no longer own that ranch, but I will indirectly benefit, since any parcels that sell will pay off the remaining mortgage note that I hold.

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dear Jim
I agree with Michael that deleveraging, the reduction in credit, means falling price levels in the short run - but not for 4 or 5 years!
He wrote: “Credit can be destroyed. If the value of your house goes down by $100,000, then that $100,000 is just gone. It doesn’t exist any more. It is not in the money supply. This is deflationary”
Back to basic definitions - inflation is an increase in the money supply, deflation is a decrease in the money supply. Generally inflation leads to rising prices, and deflation to falling prices. The price of houses is the symptom of deflation, but does not affect the money supply.
“Now there is dwindling credit, severe unwillingness to lend, and a Fed that is contracting the ‘money’ supply.”
Whoa there! Check the latest M1 money supply chart which shows a ~45% increase in just two months! This is an exponential “hockey stick” chart that Al Gore did not need to fudge the data on!

Bernanke and the Fed were keeping inflation low, 2% or less, (trying to clean up Greenspan‘s irresponsible inflations). But now the massive bailouts have blown that plan out of the water. Thanks to Gary North to help us to “follow the money”.

Unless this horrific, banana-republic-style inflation of the money supply is corrected, inflation of prices will be back with a vengeance. Remember that in the Great Depression the money supply was anchored to gold - not a good comparison to today’s fiat money that can be created at will.

Of course the timing will be tough to predict as the velocity of money determines prices, as well as just the supply of money. (I.e., how fast is money spent - 10 times per year or 100). And Fed decisions are political and psychological in nature, not just economic, and hence not easy to predict. But overall, in the race between the deflationary effects of deleveraging, and the unlimited ability of the Fed to succumb to political pressure and inflate, I’m betting on Ben Bernanke‘s helicopters. Regards, - OSOM


Be advised, Cabela's here in Fort Worth, Texas is sold out on all ammo except 22 LR and shotgun shells. A friend who went there today was amazed to find all ammo shelves emptied. The last time I went there (shortly before the election) the place was a mad house. Standing room only, many people turned down on their background checks (or delayed). I considered myself lucky to get in and out of there in an hour. I got my new toy, no problem and plenty of ammo "at sale price". Cheaper Than Dirt's prices have doubled or tripled. They will not honor their printed catalog prices and I consider them as garbage now. They have lost my business.

Thanks for your outstanding book. I am a Viet Nam veteran and have gained additional insight in what is to come and preparations to make. I lent my original copy to some younger Marines and it is still making the rounds. I bought two additional copies later. I check your site almost daily as do most of my friends who have awakened. Keep up the good work and God Bless you Sir! - Robert A.


Reader David B. may boycott Cheaper Than Dirt for raising prices on full capacity magazines. But he has little understanding of basic economics. CTD would be stupid not to charge what the market will bear. Thanks for your great blog. I check it every day. - Ira W

For many months, I have been imploring family and close friends to get prepared by stocking up on items likely to be banned under and Obama Administration. Folks like Diane Feinstein will be energized and empowered under an Obama Administration to do what they tried to do but couldn't with the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.
The chickens have come home to roost and as you pointed out in your recent post (11/7), supplies of ammo and magazines are drying up fast. I purchased a few "top-off" items late last week and even today. But what I'm seeing from some of the traditional suppliers is truly frightening. For example:

AIM Surplus - 10-to-14 business days for them to process orders received today. Who knows what will be left by the time they get around to the newest received orders.
Natchez Shooters Supplies - Rationing Glock full/high capacity mags.
Several local friends have told me of long lines at traditional brick and mortar stores that sell these items.

In order to help out fellow SurvivalBlog readers, may I suggest they and their friends look at alternative source suppliers? For example, there is a goodly supply of ammo being sold on forums such as, and similar forums. Find a nearby seller that has what you want and buy it. Similarly, online suppliers like LA Police Gear, and OMB's Express Police Supply are excellent and dependable sources. I bought 10 Glock M18 33 round.mags for under $27 each delivered from OMB today. That won't last long! On, there are a number of reliable suppliers advertising in the Ammunition forum. For past experience, I have found to be a fast, reliable supplier with reasonable prices.

I could go on but you get the idea and I hope your readers will to. The clock is ticking and some folks are way behind the power curve.
All the best! - Jay in Florida



My gun show report for today is as follows.
As a friend and I pulled onto Highway 2 from 9 heading to the Monroe [, Washington] fairgrounds we hit a terrible traffic stoppage. It took 35 minutes to travel the last six miles. Every east bound car was pulling into the fairgrounds--all of them. We get there and my friend who is not a club member has to wait to pay to get in the gun show. It was a 45 minute wait line to get in. The membership enrollment section was bang up packed.

I fought my way to the ammo department for X's AK ammo. It was all gone except for some soft point. I called him to see if he wanted some and when I went in to get it.But it had already sold. When I left the show, all battle rifle ammo was gone. It sold out in one hour.

I did not see many sporting rifles for sale for the first time in a long time.[ The dealers brought] nearly all battle rifles and semi-auto assault style rifles.

Magazine prices have already climbed by about 7 bucks per magazine with the average price now around 25 bucks. They were $13.50 each in June of this year.

There was a general air of urgency. You could feel it and it was hard to resist. It was soon evident that all the important stuff was going to be off the shelves and into closets around the county. I suspect it will be more then a month before factories can make up what has been sold around the nation in the last few days.

Even though magazines and ammunition was off the shelves and at inflated prices the rifles themselves. They were not marked up at all. I was happy to see that..

My friend C. bought an original late 1700s flintlock from middle eastern origin. Looked like it was on a camel's back many times... It had an integral folding bayonet the length of a short sword. I told him the ATF would be grinding that bayonet off next year because it makes the old musket an assault rifle and the weird curving stock could be mistaken as a pistol grip --another evil feature that will call for men in black coming in the windows and doors next winter. He looked a bit like he was having a stroke and I remembered I should not speak to men in there 80s in so a casual and dry mouthed way. Think so? he asked.
I said let's hope I really am joking and he sincerely agreed. So did the 20 guys who stopped to listen to the quick exchange and admiration of the ancient piece of machinery.

It was still a good day even though I bought almost nothing because everything I wanted was gone.

I found only two AK magazines made from steel, in acres of guns. I saw plenty of plastic mags but X. did not want any of those for his AK.

All the PMAGs in the world must be sold out now.... If it said "Magpul", then it was soon sold.

Got some good books from the Militia Of Montana (MOM) table

All in al, this served as a first hand look at what is being reported on the news every night. Every round of battle ammo is now gone. Thanks Mr. Obama:. Look what you made us do! Think of the money being made. Let's all hope our new supreme leader is busy messing with nationalizing the auto industry rather then dreaming of ways to pave streets with our liberty. - KT

Hi Jim,
While I completely agree that one should stock-up on full capacity magazines, I don't think you should read too much into the "Cheaper Than Dirt" (CTD) prices. The company is just poorly/inaccurately named. It may simply be a coincidence, but MidwayUSA has many magazines on sale now.
Here are Midway's prices for the items you listed:
Glock Model 20, 21, & 22 full capacity factory magazines: $23.99

Glock 33 rd. 9mm magazines: $34.99

I went directly to the Beta CMAG web site and found the Mini-14 drum for for less than CTD's price--$260 directly from the manufacturer.
Deals can still be had if folks search around and act quickly. Regards, - James S.


JWR Replies: There are still a few bargains out there, but supplies are obviously getting spotty. The folks at CDNN mentioned that they have sold out of all of their Springfield XD magazines, with the exception of the .40 S&W magazines. Adam at said that they now have 200+ orders pending, yet they still have good quantities of HK USP pistol magazines on hand. I heard that has had a huge volume of sales, yet they have not yet noticeably increased their prices. (But I did note they now have their CMI M14 magazines and all of their Saiga magazines on back-order.) Supplies are definitely drying up! I hope that people took my advice back October, 2007: The Falling Dollar--Sheltering Your Assets in Steel and Alloy Tangibles. In today's world, any top quality full capacity magazines are a fine investment.

"For a quarter century, those who recalled Charles Mackay's [non-fiction book] Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and its many successors, and pointed out that uncontrolled speculation always ends the same dismal way, were told that they ought to shut up until they learned something about economics. Sober warnings from distinguished scholars were drowned out by a chorus of cheerleading, while less prestigious voices were pushed out to the fringes of the blogosphere. What is now painfully clear is that those marginalized voices were right all along, and their warnings could have spared us a massive economic disaster if the pundits and politicians who dismissed them had listened instead." - John Michael Greer

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We are pleased to welcome four new advertisers: Mara Helland & Co., P.C.,, Carter Cutlery, and Milk on the Moove: Here are brief introductions:

Mara Helland & Co., P.C. - Mara is a CPA that specializes in discreet accounting and tax services for clients throughout the US and for Americans ex-pats abroad. She works from her home in western Montana. - Offering a wide range of preparedness products.

Carter Cutlery - Murray Cater is an Oregon-based master blade maker, who had 18 years of training in Japan. His knives are both eminently practical and pieces of art.

Milk on the Moove. Makers of retort packaged (shelf stable) milk products that are ideal for supplementing food storage programs. And yes, I checked: All of their products are made in Logan, Utah. All of the milk comes from local farmers, and is free of hormones such as BST. Nothing they sell comes from China!

Be sure to take a look at the web sites for each of our advertisers. By giving them your business first, you'll help support SurvivalBlog!And of course if you do place an order, then please mention where you saw their ad.

Here's a beginner's list I made for my [elderly] father today:

{Brown pearl] rice does not store well. Neither does cooking oil so that needs to be fresh. No, Crisco doesn't count.
Coconut oil would be your best bet.
Wheat berries - 400 pounds - bulk order at your local health food store
Beans - 400 pounds - bulk order at your local health food store
Mylar bags
Country Living grain mill
propane tanks, small stove and hoses to connect
freeze dried fruits, vegetables, eggs and meat if you can find them.
500 gallons of water [storage capacity. Rainwater catchment is a common practice in Hawaii]
Water filter

Cast Iron Cookware

FN PS 90

10 PS 90 magazines

5.7 handgun

10 FN 5.7 handgun magazines

5.7 ammo

Training: Front Sight four day defensive handgun course. (Note: eBay sometimes has course certificates for $100!)

Body armor: Nick at

Personal medications
Augmentin antibiotic
Up to date dental work
Anti-fungal spray

$10,000 cash in small bills
100 one-ounce silver coins ( or

Gasoline in 5 gallon cans or better yet, this.
Gas stabilizer
Mountain bikes
Air pump

Rechargeable Batteries
Battery charger
Hand held walkie talkies
Topographical map of your area
Spare eyeglasses
Shortwave radio
Home generated power
12 volt battery system
Good backpack
Good knife
Good compass
Good shoes
Bar soap
Dental floss
Toilet paper
Fishing kit
Salt licks
Connibear traps

Regards, - SF in Hawaii

JWR Adds: The following is based on the assumption that SF's father also lives in Hawaii: Because of the 10 round magazine limit for handguns, I recommend that Hawaiians purchase only large bore handguns for self defense--such as .45 ACP. Both the Springfield Armory XD .45 Compact or the Glock Model 30 would both be good choices. The "high capacity" advantage of smaller caliber handguns is not available to civilians in Hawaii, so you might as well get a more potent man stopper, given the arbitrary 10 round limitation.

I believe that we are in for deflation, not inflation. A simple error that most people make when considering this topic is language related: When discussing actions of the Fed they talk about ‘printing’ money. Well, the Fed (actually the Treasury) hardly ‘prints’ any money at all. In Zimbabwe they print money. Lots of money with lots of zeroes. Here, they just increase the number of zeroes in a computer. The difference is profound. When there is a lot of currency floating around then people use it to buy stuff. More currency with higher values means more currency chasing the same amount of goods and that means inflation. The currency does not go away. If fewer goods are on the market, the same amount of currency is there chasing it and prices go up. The currency doesn’t get destroyed.

In the US the amount of credit used is orders of magnitude more than the amount of currency in circulation. Credit can be destroyed. If the value of your house goes down by $100.000, that $100,000 is just gone. It doesn’t exist any more. It is not in the money supply. This is deflationary. Further, if the bank repossesses your house and then sells it to someone else, the difference in sale price has an effect on the banks ability to lend. If they lose $100,000 on your house then they have effectively lost the ability to lend $1 Million because of the fractional reserve system. That $1 Million is not in the money supply any longer. That is deflation. And, of course, the amount of money that will vanish in exactly the same way as part of the derivative mess is orders of magnitude larger than the amount to be lost due to housing.

As can be seen by looking at virtually anything in the last few years (gas, oil, corn, gold, wheat, houses, cars, the Dow, etc.), prices for everything have gone up while there was credit in the system and banks wanted to lend. Now there is dwindling credit, severe unwillingness to lend, and a Fed that is contracting the ‘money’ supply. Value/dollars/money is vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Prices on everything are coming down hard. This is deflation. Your dollars are becoming more valuable, not less. Hold on to cash.

I know this is counterintuitive, and I am an abject Austrian regarding economics. But, the majority of people (including many Austrians) are fooled by the difference between an expansion of cash and an expansion of credit. Weimar Germany, Argentina, Mexico, Zimbabwe – these places all created lots of currency and had rampant inflation. We cannot use that as a model. In the Great Depression we had deflation because the Fed contracted the money supply. This is well documented, as are the effects. This is the model we need to use now. The effects this time around will be much worse, they have the same genesis and the same result. People will need/want/hoard cash.

Now, once we are near the bottom of a deflationary cycle (I predict 4-to-5 years from now), who knows what the government will do? At that time they may crank up the printing presses because everyone will want dollars and no one will trust the banks. Then all bets are off. Then we could have inflation. But for now, your dollars are getting more valuable not less. Get what you need in order to get through hard times, but, short of a societal collapse a la your novel ["Patriots"].Some FRNs in a fireproof box in your gun safe (and not in some bank that may fail) are your best bet. - Michael W.

"Nines" sent us this: Another Friday, Another Bank Collapse.

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You probably saw this announcement last month: Bush Calls Economic Summit for November 15. This could portend a new financial order announcement by the G20, either at this meeting or at their next one, early in 2009. I suspect that the US Dollar will lose its primacy as a reserve currency. As the Chartist Gnome told me "this will likely go far beyond 'a new Bretton Woods.'" A country with these numbers, and these numbers, and these numbers, and these numbers cannot negotiate from a position of strength. The handwriting is on the wall for the US Dollar. Get out of your US Dollar-denominated investments, ASAP! Invest instead in tangibles.

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Tom, who operates mentioned his new educational site: Urban Survival Stories. It looks interesting.

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Bob sent us this article: Dems Target Private Retirement Accounts: Democratic leaders in the U.S. House discuss confiscating 401(k)s, IRAs

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More news and commentary from our Economatrix: Running On Fumes: GM Could Run Out Of Cash -- Jobless Rate Bolts to 14-Year High -- Main Street Sucked into GMAC Junk Bonds -- Financial Meltdown Worse to Come -- Across Economy, the News Just Gets Worse -- How to Survive the Coming US Dollar Collapse -- First Full-Year Slump Since 1940s, Says IMF -- Ford Posts $129 Million Loss; Will Cut More Jobs -- Cash or Gold? -- Just Three 'Superbanks' Now Dominate Industry

'If we find our government in all its branches rushing headlong... into the arms of monarchy, if we find them violating our dearest rights, the trial by jury, the freedom of the press, the freedom of opinion, civil or religious, or opening on our peace of mind or personal safety the sluices of terrorism, if we see them raising standing armies, when the absence of all other danger points to these as the sole objects on which they are to be employed, then indeed let us withdraw and call the nation to its tents. But while our functionaries are wise, and honest, and vigilant, let us move compactly under their guidance, and we have nothing to fear. Things may here and there go a little wrong. It is not in their power to prevent it. But all will be right in the end, though not perhaps by the shortest means." - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Duane, 1811. ME 13:29

Friday, November 7, 2008

The high bid in the current SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $600. This auction is for a mixed lot that includes:

1.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

2.) A custom-made, fully-stocked EMS Medic Bag from Cajun Safety and Survival (a $212 retail value)

3.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value)

4.) A case (6 cans) of Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 (96 ounce) cans donated by Ready Made Resources (a $160 value)

5.) An autographed copy of "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" ($24, retail)

See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for complete details on these items. This auction ends on November 15th. Please e-mail us your bid.

Regarding my recommendation to stock up on full capacity magazines, reader David B. noted this in an e-mail yesterday morning: "[The discount mail order dealer] Cheaper Than Dirt [is] already gouging us based on our fear of Obama being elected. Overnight, their price for Mag-Pul [brand AR-15/M16] magazines went from $15.97 each to $29.97 each. Wow. They just lost my business forever." David's note intrigued, me, so I just spent some time at the Cheaper Than Dirt (CTD) web site and compared their new prices with their latest hard copy catalog (dated November, 2008). Here is a brief sampling:

Glock Model 20, 21, 22, 31, and 32 full capacity factory magazines were all $19.97. Now some are $29.97 and others $39.97 Ouch!

Glock 33 rd. 9mm magazines were $44.97. Now $49.97 (Note: I bought a pile of these for $26 each, about a year ago, and I'm glad that I did!)

Ruger factory 20 rd. Mini-14 magazines were $59.97. Now $69.97

Beta CMAG 100 rd. double snail drum for Mini-14 were $299.97. Now $399.97

LR .308 19 Round Blued Steel mags made by DPMS (for their flavor of AR-10 rifles) were $39.97. Now $49.97 (But out of stock)

M14 and M1A .308 20 Round Parkerized "Military Style" [commercial copy] were $11.97. Now $29.97 (But out of stock)

AR-15 .223 30 Round, Bushmaster factory mags were $29.97. Now $49.97

FN P90/PS90 5.7x28mm 50 rd. magazines dropped from $69.97 to $59.81 (At least a some good news!)

All in all, I have doubts that the aforementioned price increases were all triggered by CTD's suppliers. But I wouldn't go so far as to call the increases "gouging". Pricing is a function of supply and demand. In a free market, prices eventually reach equilibrium. And I'm sure that the current demand is skyrocketing. I certainly know that my personal demand is! For example, I just placed a "top off the inventory" order with one of my favorite suppliers, CDNN Sports. I was pleased to see that as of yesterday, none of their prices had increased. I did notice however, that they are now sold out of many magazines, including quite a few SIG, HK, and Springfield Armory XD pistol magazines. My advice: Stock up now, while magazines are still available at fairly reasonable prices. I anticipate that there will be some significant shortages for the next few months. But after BHO's inauguration in early 2009 all bets are off. If, (as I've predicted), an executive order banning importation of so-called "assault weapons" and "high capacity" magazines is enacted, there could be some huge price increases!

I have a good friend who is an executive in the "food distribution business". They supply restaurants, schools, hospitals, day care centers, nursing homes,,,,,the large quantity food purchasers.

This past week at their annual sales meeting, they were informed of coming changes.

#1--Most food has been delivered in #10 [96-ounce] or one gallon size cans. [The rolled steel for] most of these cans[is] made in China and the cost has increased dramatically in the past several months because of rising steel prices. Effective December 1, the price on an individual empty #10 can is increasing by about 75 cents per can. This means that whatever is in a case of food (six cans) the price will be going up by about $4.50 per case just because of the can price. On some products, the price increase will be as much as 25% because of the can price increase.

#2 In an effort to offset the rising price of cans, many food distributors are making a concentrated effort to switch customers over to buying frozen foods instead of canned foods. The big move is for customers to install commercial food freezers (costing between $3,500-to-$7,000 per location) where they can store frozen food instead of canned foods. The feeling is that with increasing prices on "canned" goods, there will be a long term savings by going to frozen products.

This could have a major impact on the folks that wish to store or stockpile "survival" supplies in cans if emphasis moves to frozen foods. It will also present an interesting situation if we have a major problem with the grid, tons of food would go bad in a very short order.

#2 Small customers and customers in remote locations will be gradually phased out of the delivery system. Delivery costs and diesel prices have made it impractical to service this type of account. I wonder if the same decision will be made about small rural and remote general grocery stores.

#3 Sales people were told to inform their customers that they need to plan and be ready to deal with rapid and un-expected price increases on food products, this is going to become a way of life.

Please pass this on to your readers. - Buckskin in Texas

I wanted to comment on something that was mentioned near the end of the Utah home break-in article: The author hit on the idea that TEOTWAWKI already took place in the late 1960s. Possibly some gifted insight.

I'm a member of a regional Peak Oil group. (I originally joined this group a few years ago, in order to learn food-growing skills: You've always suggested getting with various groups, in order to learn skills), we've begun a spin off group meeting--a 'meeting of the minds' so to speak, involving predictive analysis, regarding the collapse of the current civilization.

We were all encouraged to present our own theses, with the material to support it. In my case, I presented the idea that our civilization actually peaked sometime in the early 1970s, for the following reasons ( based on the "fusion" [an MI term] of the open-source analysis of several theories, in addition to my own historical observations):

- The last manned Apollo mission to the moon took place in 1972 (we have not seriously entertained the thought of going back there since).

- Domestic US oil production peaked at roughly 9.5 mbl/d (million barrels per day) in December, 1970, and has since gone into irreversible decline (without going into detail, we now produce roughly what we once did during WWII. In other words, US energy independence is a fantasy). This includes the North Slope of Alaska, which previously peaked in the late 1980s at roughly 2 mbl/d, and now produces roughly just over 700,000 bl/d.

- Nixon's decision to remove the last aspect of the US Dollar being tied to anything tangible, in 1972 (DeGaulle wanted France's loans repaid in gold bullion. This was in part a result of the Vietnam War).

- The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, which permanently devalued the US Dollar.

- The US withdrawal from South Vietnam, with Saigon being overrun by 1975, marking the US military's first "defeat" (For the real reasons as to why the US got involved militarily in Vietnam, I suggest Googling 'Geneva Conference': By international agreement in 1956, Vietnam was supposed to be split in half for only two years, while the country took a popular vote.)

- A lower living wage for the average US worker, since the 1970s.

There are other examples. In my opinion the best author specializing in this area of predictive analysis is John Michael Greer in Oregon, who is critical of Jared Diamond's research. (Diamond avoids the Roman Empire, and skims over the Mayan civilization). Greer has concluded that a civilization takes roughly 150 years to collapse--something akin to Winnie the Pooh being dragged down the stairs, hitting his rear end on each step, staying there a brief moment, then hitting the next one

OBTW, I'm reading "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" for a second time, this time flagging it with Post-It notes. - CPT J.E. .(A prior service 96B)

Three readers sent me this noteworthy blog piece: Over 1 Trillion Dollars Worth of Credit Default Swaps Against Governments. The article mentions that there are still $33-to-$47 Trillion (notional) in CDS derivatives still outstanding. This skunk won't be washed clean until the real estate market bottoms, and all the "Marked to Mystery" paper gets marked to the real market. And, BTW, that bottom may not be for another five years. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The fallout from the nascent derivatives collapse may topple some national governments.

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The latest huge download from Cheryl, our kindly volunteer Economic Editor: Oil Prices Up As Saudis Cut Production -- Credit Continues to Tighten in US -- Two EU Banks Warn of Tougher Market Conditions Ahead -- Naked, Short Failures (from The Mogambo Guru) -- Scrap Steel Buyers Cancel Orders As Prices Tumble -- Dow Tumbles 443 On Weak Economic and Corporate Data (Post-vote losses = 10% in two-day rout) -- Holiday Outlooks Grimmer After Dismal October --Oil To Shoot Back Through $100 -- US Long-term Jobless Benefits at 25-Year High --Global Recession, Country By Country -- Investors Running Out Of Places To Hide --1,000,000 Jobs Lost This Year (And this is the beginning of a recession?)

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Reader Henry S. mentioned: "The Swiss have produced a free guide to every type of toilet you can imagine. The guide is very Swiss and proper": Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies (PDF)

“History is a vast early warning system” - Norman Cousins

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I just noticed that when I zoom in on our Clustrmap, SurvivalBlog has no readers indicated in Cuba nor in North Korea. It is amazing that the citizenry of these two nations have been cut off from the outside effectively, and for so long.

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Wars are forever. The memories seem to never end for families. They are passed on from generation to generation.The Civil War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq.
What remains is not even so much who won or lost, but rather the memories of war center on beloved family members that died and the foods of these times…

I’m only in my 50s, yet our family oral traditions date back earlier than 1860, but that is where I will start.
My great-grandfather’s two brothers marched off to fight in one of the major Civil War battles that no one can even name today. They were never heard from again. My grandmother’s half-sister, whom I knew very well as a child, worked as an attendant at the Home For Confederate Widows in Austin until it closed and she retired. I was born in 1951. My parents who both died after the year 2000 yet knew many Civil War veterans in their hometowns. They remembered parades where the vets were honorees. That war is remembered as the time they boiled the dirt from the smokehouse to retrieve salt. The girls and women of the family scratched vegetables out of the kitchen garden. Soldiers used the clothesline to hold target practice on china teacups. It was a hungry time.

My father’s father enlisted in the waning days of WWI but did not deploy to France. That war is remembered as the time when the family moved off the farm to the city, yet still continued to go back home in the late summers to spend several weeks canning, pickling, and putting up produce. Daddy wrung chickens’ necks for the cook pot in the backyard. It was a transition time. My mother’s [first] husband, the father of my sister, was shot down in a plane over Germany one month after the D-Day invasion. That war is remembered by its Victory Gardens, the ration books for sugar, the rationing of milk for a pregnant mother, and meatless Tuesdays. It was a time of want.

The coming bad times will also be a war, or likened to a war. It will be a war for your personal survival, a war for our future, and a war that determines the path humanity will take on our planet. Global warming, acid rain, rampant species extinction, and the collapse of fish populations and pollinators are in our immediate future.

What does the food of struggling people around the world have in common? Peppers! Think about food from India, Thailand, Mexico, China. All these cultures have developed foods spiced up with native peppers. In a survival situation, it will take about one nanosecond to get tired of beans, rice, pulses, corn, and potatoes on a daily basis. However, with the use of peppers and a couple of herbs and spices, you can spice up your daily fare.

Fortunately, peppers are among the easiest of all plants to grow. Nothing is much more forgiving than a pepper. Pepper plants are actually perennials, not annuals as they are sold in the stores. Where I live in south central Texas, a pepper plant can live for years. If the winter is mild, there is no problem. If the winter is a bit more severe, just place some rags around the roots, cover with some plastic and weight the entire thing down. In the spring, you will be rewarded with a delightful blooming pepper bush that will supply until the next winter arrives.
Right now, I have Big Jim, jalapeño, serrano, and ancho growing. But the king of my garden is the lovely volunteer chile pequin that sprang up from the forest behind my house. Chile Pequin is a native of south central Texas. Interestingly, this is a pepper well known by Hispanics in Texas. Most families have their stories of growing up with mother making very hot chile from the abundant chile pequin, a free gift from nature. However, huge numbers of the rest of the population have lived alongside chile pequin growing wild without ever knowing how delicious this little spicy number is.
Chile Pequin is a tiny little pepper, often no larger than an apple or orange seed, although mine can grow larger than that. Due to the fact that I live in San Antonio and peppers are called “chiles,” that is how I will refer to them from this point forward.

Confusion abounds as to what is the difference between chile, chili, chile con queso, salsa, and pico de gallo. Pico de gallo means “rooster’s beak.” It is tomatoes and chile plus onions, garlic, and cilantro. Chili is the saucy meat stew which may or may not contain beans. This is also called chili con carne. I prefer no beans, but for survival, of course I would opt for beans. Pinto beans, never those tasteless little pieces of chalk: red kidney beans. Salsa means any type of hot sauce made with tomatoes or corn or fruit such as mango and chile such as chipotle (dried, smoked jalapeños) or fresh jalapeno. Chile con queso is a melted cheese sauce cooked with chile peppers. If sausage is added, it is called “flameado.”

Every kitchen needs a stone mocajete or molcajete, not a fru-fru ceramic item bought at a gourmet kitchen store. This should be a workhorse in your kitchen. In traditional Mexican families, the mocajete sits on the table so mother can concoct the chile to specifications or requests from the family according to what is being served. In English, it is called mortar and pestle and is used for classic hand grinding. Decades of grinding will smooth the mocajete out. Chile is served with every meal. Today Hispanics do not cook this way so much, but it is how many were brought up. Times have changed all around and the family sit-down meal is ebbing away into memory in many cultures.
Depending on how much chile goes into the mocajete influences how “pico” or hot and spicy the chile turns out to be. One chile pequin is enough for one

The comal is a flat cast iron griddle that goes on the stovetop. You can grill (blister or blacken) chile or more commonly, cook fajita meat and its veggies such as onions, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Americans have gotten out of the habit of using cast iron to cook, but it can’t be beaten. I grew up with cast iron, but my children are ignorant of its use and care. Cast iron is also a source of iron in the diet. Jalapeños can be grilled to produce chipotle, if you like that flavor. Tortillas can be re-heated.


  • Basic chile: Grind one pepper and one tomato, salt and pepper only if desired.
  • Pico de gallo: Grind one diced pepper, one diced tomato, add by stirring in some chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper
  • Pinto Beans (charro beans or borracho beans): Add a jalapeño, one diced tomato, one bay leaf, and one onion while cooking
  • Rice: Sprinkle freshly diced tiny pieces of chile when serving or cook with tiny pieces incorporated into the raw rice before cooking
  • Pepper sauce: wash peppers, stack in a bottle, pour boiled vinegar over and cork, store in refrigerator. Fabulous over black-eyes peas, pinto beans, white beans, navy beans, or any other food that needs kick

If you prefer no skin, briefly boil the larger chiles and tomatoes to slip off the skin. Grind as usual. If you are lacking enough fresh tomatoes, add a little tomato sauce or canned tomatoes. Rinse the mocajete well with water after each use, checking the crevasses for lingering pieces.

Your garden needs to be growing parsley, cilantro, and various peppers. I have not mentioned bell peppers because they are not my favorites, but they deserve a place in any garden for ease of growing, beauty, and flavor. Chile gardeners are known for sharing peppers in order to share the seeds. If you meet a pepper you like, save some seeds or ask for some. People are unfailingly willing to share.

More Food for Bad Times
Greens are making a culinary comeback. One hundred years ago they were a staple. Now you find chard in many restaurants. The taste is acquired, so now is the time to begin to learn to cook and enjoy greens and teach your family to eat them. My family ate spinach and mustard greens when I was growing up. Kale, beet, and collard greens will supply vital nutrients to your diet and are easy growers in the home garden. The addition of bacon or bacon grease, red pepper flakes, vinegar, garlic, or sugar can add kick to a bland food. Experiment until you find the taste you and your family prefer.Okra has earned a bad rap due to bad cooking. As a child, I would not touch okra as it was often simply boiled and it became very slimy. Due to the proliferation of fast food fried chicken eateries, many people now know that okra is delicious served fried. Okra is a vital ingredient of seafood gumbos. I don’t eat seafood, but you make gumbo with sausage and rice and it’s wonderful. With my family roots going back to Civil War days and all the privations involved, we had many poor people food recipes handed down. Tomatoes and okra was a favorite of both of my parents. You can lay a piece of soft bread down first in a bowl as a sop and add the cooked okra and tomatoes. Naturally, sprinkling cheese of any type such as parmesan, romano, or cheddar would greatly enhance this humble dish.

Succotash is a vegetable concoction that is rather like a kitchen sink recipe. If it grows in the garden, add it in. Succotash traditionally utilizes corn and lima beans. Depending on the cook, you can add tomatoes and okra. Just don’t forget the herbs and chile to make it edible.

Use it All: Chicken
A whole rotisserie chicken will last for a week at my house.
Day 1: warm sliced chicken served as main entrée with skin and fat pulled off and fed to the dog who loves chicken day
Day 2: cold chicken pasta salad with finely diced/shredded broccoli, carrots, mayonnaise, ranch dry dressing (available in a big plastic container from Sam’s Club), and cayenne pepper, salt, pepper
Day 3: cold chicken salad with plenty of fruit such as raisins or currants, apples or grapes, toasted almonds, celery including the tops, a little onion, curry powder; use mayo as a binder
Day 4: baked chicken spaghetti topped with cheese
Day 5: boil bones and veggies for soup, add rice or noodles
This seems like a lot of meals for just one chicken, right? It’s because you are basically using the chicken as a flavoring. Americans eat way too much meat, so you’ll be doing just fine. Focus on flavors and carbs.

More Use it All: Ham
Buy an uncooked ham, cook it, and it lasts seemingly forever.
Day 1: warm sliced ham for entrée; delight clever dog by sharing scraps.
Day 2: ham sandwich
Day 3: omelet with ham and chile
Day 4: add diced ham fat cooked into your beans or peas or lentils
Day 5: fried ham for breakfast
Continue this way until meat is all used up.
Boil the ham bone for cooking beans or peas or lentils

Grease, Fat & Butter
In the old rural days, there was never a shortage of grease or fats. If you have ever read Poland by James Michener or The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you will remember a recurrent theme was the lack of and longing for fat in the diet during the lean times.

If you have backyard chickens or a source of eggs, you’ll be fine. However, even a steady diet of lean rabbit meat can lead to “rabbit starvation” as the human body requires a small but steady input of fats for proper metabolism.

In my childhood home, bacon grease was kept in a special closed can for flavoring beans and corn. All other grease was put into a separate can for disposal. Just keep in mind if the bad times arrive, you will need to be mindful of your fat intake.

Finally, remember, everything is better with chile. If you don’t like spicy, it’s time to learn and develop your palate. A daily dose of beans and rice will get old very fast if you don’t do something different. If you really can’t go “pico,” then opt for bell peppers. They are in the same dependable plant family and won’t let you down. They dry easily in a food dehydrator and keep and reuse well.
I advocate growing your own chiles, since it is so easily done. Try different varieties from different regions. See what works well in your garden, zone, climate, and soil. Chiles grow well in containers,too. .

Recommended "Easy Growers"

  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • All kinds of peppers
  • Greens
  • Potatoes (grown in alternating years with corn if space is an issue.)

In conclusion, a great variety of vegetables exits that can be grown in your area. I have listed a few I know from personal experience and find foolproof. Many, many foods await your experimentation. Try something new today. Compost your fruit and vegetable scraps to improve the soil. In fact, don’t let any biomass go into the waste stream. You do have permission to toss out bones and meat scraps. Use everything for compost and mulch. Harvest your rainwater. You will feel very good about this, I promise.

Just remember: buy heirloom seed only, avoid the hybrids, and diversify, diversify, diversify. Change your eating habits. Picky eaters are not survivors. Complainers are not survivors. Survival will depend on your head, hands, and heart. There is no time like now before the Stuff Hits the Fan to change. We don’t want to awake to find a changed world that could be likened to the war times of the past. Later, it could be a misery, today it can be an adventure.

Do you have any information on a laser flashlight for self defence, designed to temporarily blind attackers? Thanks, - Dave S.

JWR Replies: When lasers blind, they do so permanently, by destruction of the human retina. The "dazzling" effect is quite different than blinding. Never use a "non-eye safe" (blinding) laser against an attacker, or you will very likely be sued for every asset that you have, as well as a portion of your earnings for the rest of your life.

There are indeed flashlights with a temporary "dazzling" effect designed for self defense, but I have not tested them. At least one publicized prototype uses pulsating LEDs, designed to induce dizziness and/or vertigo. I've never been one to trust my life and safety to high tech gadgets. Keep in mind that these "dazzling" effects might work well in controlled conditions, in a low-light situation, but they cannot be trusted to be effective in split-second real world confrontations, which can take place in all sorts of light conditions. I have my own ideas about appropriate technologies for self defense. If you want to effectively repel a violent attacker, expose their eyes to the sight of the gaping muzzle of a Glock Model 21 .45 ACP. This technique has been known to induce severe physiological effects including involuntary urination and defecation. If the visual stimulus proves insufficient to deter an attacker, then press the patented "on" button, in double taps, as needed.

Several readers have e-mailed to ask me for investing recommendations, following the election of Barack H. Obama (BHO) to the American presidency. My basic recommendations are unchanged. The dollar is still doomed as a currency unit. If anything, the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB), will grow even larger in the BHO era. Mass inflation (following some distinct deflation) is even more likely. So your need to get out of dollar-denominated investments and into tangibles is now more urgent. Specific advice: I now put a stronger emphasis on purchasing any semi-auto firearms or full capacity magazines that are imported. I suspect that based on the precedents set by the last three presidential administrations, BHO will unleash a large stack of executive orders in the first few weeks after his inauguration. And one of those will probably be an import ban on semiautomatic firearms and "high capacity" magazines. Based on the experience of the 1994-2004 Federal ban I predict that a spare Glock magazine may jump to $6+, and FN FS2000 (5.56mm NATO) and PS90 (5.7mm) bullpup carbines could jump to $3,500 or more. Ditto for the SIG 556 rifles. The latter have been imported in fairly small numbers. Hence, they could see a huge jump in price in the event of an import ban. What a great excuse to buy a gun!"Its an investment, honey." As for magazines, see this SurvivalBlog post from 2007 for my recommendations on buying full capacity firearms magazines. But now, as I've noted, you should put a stronger emphasis on buying imported magazines. Buy low, sell high.

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This house with an underground bunker was mentioned once before in SurvivalBlog. Too bad that it has been so heavily publicized. (Thanks to Matt C., "Rightcoast", and Bobby, who all sent us the same link.)

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Bigbird spotted this article in Der Spiegel: As Crisis Grows, Investors Look to Gold

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From our Economic Editor: U.S. Stocks Post Biggest Post-Election Drop on Economic Concern -- South Africa Runs Out of Krugerrands! -- Morgan Stanley Calls An End To Bear Market -- Global Recession Already Underway -- Swiss Financial Guru Sees US Bankruptcy -- Customers Pull Billions Out Of Fading UBS, Largest Swiss Bank -- US Housing Market Nightmare: Next Phase -- Stock Market Unrelenting Bullishness Amidst Deteriorating Economic Conditions

"Murphy's Law: "If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way." - Capt. Edward A. Murphy, Jr., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, circa 1949

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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

The following is from Jennifer’s (my wife's) perspective…
My Journal Entry of Jan. 30th, 2005. I do not intend to put just dramatic experiences in my journal, in fact, I intend to put mostly my feelings on higher things as well as normal everyday experiences in here, but this one is deserves to be remembered for posterity.

We started out the new year with a 100 year flood. We were evacuated from our home, but we were able to move back in a day later. Luckily had 72-hour kit available and ready, but if it would have been longer, we were ill-prepared for this situation. No plan, no shelter, etc.

The sewer lines were broken due to the flooding, so they capped our sewer line and the city pumped it daily. Last week I woke up Tuesday morning at 4:45 am and smelled something funny. I went downstairs and stepped into 2” of sewer water all over the basement floors. 2000 sq. feet of sewage. Wait-----It gets better or you could say worse!

I hadn’t slept very well all week and was getting up several times a night to check the drains down in the basement. Friday night our neighbors called us to go to a late show. We left our oldest daughter to baby sit, and our son was on his way home from his friends to help her. When we got home at 11:30 or so, the back door to our house in the garage was open a little bit and we really didn’t think much about it. We figured our son hadn’t shut it tight when he got home. (we live in a very small town with literally zero crime. Our two oldest children were sleeping in our master bedroom and the other four were upstairs in their beds. So we woke up the kids and sent them upstairs to bed. My husband and I got ready for bed and went to sleep.

At about 2:30 AM, my 7 yr. old came down stairs because she had had a bad dream. I told her she could sleep on the couch in my room. I heard her go back upstairs about five minutes later. I was awake somewhat so I got up to go check the drains downstairs so I could have some piece of mind and be able to go back to sleep. I came back to bed and my husband was snoring, but it sounded kind of funny. I moved over closer to him and realized that the snoring wasn’t coming from him but from under the bed. I told my husband that one of the kids must have came down and fallen asleep over on his side of the bed. He was unresponsive, he sleeps very sound. I got up in the dark and felt under the bed and I was shocked to feel a full size big body instead of one of my tiny kids.

I somewhat calmly told my husband that it wasn’t one of our kids. This woke him. I can't say why I was calm except for the fact that perhaps angels were watching over me. I went over and turned on the lamp and looked under the bed. There was a big man sleeping under the bed. I whispered with some serious intensity, “Roger, there is a man under our bed!” My husband immediately got out of bed and looked under the bed also. For a minute we thought it might be one of our son’s friends. Not thinking real clear at 3 am. He has two 14 yr. old friends that are pretty big. My husband ran upstairs and pulled my son down to our room and he looked under the bed and our son informed us that he had no idea who that was sleeping under our bed.

I immediately dialed 911 in the other room while my husband was grabbing his shot gun from the closet. He cocked his shotgun and looked in the chamber and it was empty. Because we have kids in the house, he usually keeps it empty, but has the shells nearby. He ran into his closet to grab his shells and they weren’t there. Realizing his gun was nothing but a big whoppin’ stick, he told me to watch the man while he ran to get shells in the garage. He didn’t find them in the garage and realizing that he just left me with an empty gun on an intruder, he grabbed a golf club and came back into the house. (He told me later he had picked out his four iron first and thought, I never hit my four iron very good so he grabbed his nine iron instead.)

Anyway, the sheriff showed up within 10 minutes of me calling 911. He came in and shined his flashlight under the bed and turned to us and said, "you don’t know this guy?!” We said, “Nope.” He looked at us with amazement and then took out his Taser and undid the holster on his gun. He then woke him up, handcuffed him, and started searching him. He started pulling out a bunch of drugs, meth, pot, pipes, [drug weighing] scales as well as my ' wallet, checkbook, cell phone, keys to our Suburban and a .99 cent pen of my daughters that had a bunch of shiny beads on it that looked like diamonds and rubies (that is, it looked like that to a guy that was wasted on drugs), and a hand gun. You can not imagine the scene of seeing the cops arrest a 170 pound drug lord under your bed at 3 am after you realized you slept with the guy there for 4 hours.

Apparently, our son didn’t lock the side door to our house when he came in, and he and his sister fell asleep in our master bedroom about 10:30 or so. The guy comes into our house at about 11:15 or so. We arrive at 11:30 and he gets scared and jumps under our bed. We come in and get the kids to bed in their rooms and we get undressed, brush teeth and jump in bed. We talked for about 10 minutes. He was going to wait until we got to bed before he made his getaway, but he fell asleep before he could make his getaway.

We are so lucky that the kids were ok, I mean, he literally had to step over our son as he was going thru our stuff in the bedroom. Anyway, we were blessed to escape completely without harm, he is really lucky he didn’t wake up to my husbands nine iron, the cops had one of the easiest arrests ever, the guy was prone, asleep, under our bed, in our house, with all the stuff he stole from us in his pocket with all of his drugs. The guy apparently had two outstanding warrants for arrest for breaking and entering.
I know the "what ifs" are endless to think about. But, there are some basic "what ifs" that do not take much imagination. What if the turning on the light would have awakened him? He has a gun, we have an empty shotgun and a 9-iron. What if our kids were awake when he broke into our home?

Some observations: An empty gun is worthless, it will never save your life. We owned no rifle and no handgun. We have no training. We had no dog and no security system. We have purchased a rifle and handgun now and put in a security system. We got a dog. We need training. The situation presented to us would have been much less stressful and less out of control if we would have had front sight training and the appropriate weapons to protect ourselves. Our oldest two children would have been safer, if awake, if they would have had front sight training and so forth. We are lucky it turned out to happen the way it did, but you can't base your life on luck, you need skills for every situation, skills are the answer, from gardening to weapons training, skills are the focus of our family now. We were so vulnerable.

We talk about protecting ourselves, our preparations, our fuel, our shelter and our food for TEOTWAWKI, always in the future tense, but we are seeing more and more situations every day and year that make me believe that TEOWAWKI happened sometime in the late 1960s and as we have lost skills, become spoiled people dependent on fragile infrastructures, accepted crime and immorality as something we just have to live with, and all this has crept in, in an amazingly subtle way as we have slowly and sometimes quickly lost essential skills and freedoms. - R. in Utah

JWR Replies
: This article underscores te importance of having both the tools and the requisite training needed to survive in an uncertain world. I highly I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers 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.

Hello Folks,
I just completed going through a portion of the SurvivalBlog archives and look forward to exploring the site further. I especially liked the animation about Libertarian philosophy. Very well done with excellent points to consider.

I have recently returned to the US after having spent four years in a small village in Mexico outside of Guadalajara. I am an artist and teacher of art and semi-retied there after having had my medical insurance increased a number of times to the point of being ridiculous. I just got fed up and moved south. Two years earlier I had spent a year or so living on a boat in the Sea of Cortez and so had some language and culture skills.

I had one of the Berky models sent to Mexico and proceeded to use it as my primary source of drinking and cooking water. I also used the 24 oz. portable version when traveling. I used the system for four years and was so confident that I began distributing them to local orphanages through a local Rotary Club. I liked the idea of not being dependant on electricity or a plumbing hookup. I lived on a lake and on occasion would use lake water if the municipal system was not providing water, which was quite often or if the utilities would not provide electricity, which was quite often. Although the Black Berky filter is classified as a water purifier by the manufacturer, it does not remove viruses. I would add either iodine or chlorine to the water to kill viruses. The filter would then remove the iodine or chlorine from the water.

I read an article in your blog about adaptation as a primary means of coping with changing circumstance. Mexicans are extraordinarily adaptive. Living with a history of political and societal instability for generations and with strong roots in indigenous cultures, they are experts at finding ways at making one thing substitute for another. I remember one time coming back to San Diego by sea from the Sea of Cortez, I was running low on fuel and had to stop in Turtle Bay about half way up the west side of the Baja Peninsula. I didn't have enough cash and Turtle Bay was way way off the beaten path. I had to hitchhike 125 miles through the baja desert on a seldom used road to get to a bank to get the cash. One the way back I hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck traveling with an old semi carrying supplies. The semi got stuck in a place where the road turned into a salt flat and while stuck, one of the tires went flat. We discovered the only spare was also flat and un inflatable. If you've ever tried to re-inflate a semi truck tire you know that it is not easy without a means of keeping the tire against the rim. We had nothing with which to do that. Instead, the Mexican driver had his compadre get some gas while he got the tire off the truck, patched and ready. He had the compressor hooked up and running and had his partner sprinkle gas on the inside of the tire and throw in a match. The tire blew up with a whoosh, sealed the rubber against the rim and the inflation began. All we had to do then was get unstuck--which is another story.

My ancestors on my mothers side were Mennonites and I have spent some time on the colonies. Surviving since the 1500s in small groups throughout the world, they have devised a system of cooperation that leaves them able to adapt easily to the winds of change. I'm sure there is much that could be learned from them and look forward to spending more time on their farms. Last time I was there they were making home-made root beer that was like nothing I've ever tasted.

Well, anyway, congratulations on a great blog site and for all the valuable information. Best of everything to you both, - Daniel N.

JWR Replies: I highly recommend Big Berky water filter. They are just about idiot proof. However, as they come from the factory in gleaming stainless steel, they are fairly expensive. Especially for your circumstances, I recommend manufacturing your own to sell or to distribute for charitable purposes. I described how to do this in a SurvivalBlog post a few months ago.

Mr. Rawles,
I can understand Mrs. B’s reasoning from a long term standpoint. But, what I believe she is missing is that most of what is trying to be conveyed to people on this site is to stock up on articles such as food stuffs, hygiene supplies, bartering goods and such for the period of time that will exist from the point that the realization of a SHTF time and the time when all the skills and knowledge will be needed to sustain life.

For an example, lets say that it’s October or November and everything has just fallen apart. The time has now come to start to acquire food from sources other than the local grocery store. According to Mrs. B, everyone should be able to immediately start gathering food and starting survivalist skills immediately. Unfortunately, its not that simple. The fall time frame would be the end of the growing season in most of the country, so if a person is expecting to plow a field, mature plants, and harvest for food, they are looking at approximately five months before planting, another two to three months for maturing of plants, then harvesting. In the meantime, what are they supposed to survive on?

They are going to have to rely on the food stores that Mrs. B seems to be recommending against. Unless a person is already living at their planned retreat, or if they have had the capability of regularly visiting their planned retreat to properly have gardens ready, livestock already purchased and fenced in, and shelter already established, there is going to be a desperate need for food stuffs, batteries, medical supplies, and everything else that has been discusses on this site.

I and many of us here have working ranches/farms that we live on, and yet we know that even we have to have all these supplies set aside for when the SHTF. We still make weekly/monthly runs into town to purchase items for everyday use. Also, with the responsibility of livestock, purchasing feed is economically advantageous to us right now in comparison to having to dedicate acreage to the growth and storage of feed grain. So the transition from regular ranching/farming will still effect us to a point that we have to have stores of not only human needs, but livestock needs also.
I do not want to take away from most of Mrs. B’s article, for the period of time that would exist after a prolonged TEOTWAWKI what she has written is well thought out, and will be useful. The only thing that I am disagreeing with, is the need for a substantial amount of stores for when that time occurs. Respectfully, - Bob W. in Texas


CPT Rawles:
I disagree with most of what was said [in Elizabeth B.'s article] about what do when TSHTF. I was in Somalia and have seen what happens to civilization when no law is apparent. Those that have the means gather together to take from those that have [what they need].

Numerous web sites describing how to survive (not yours, but many others) say to find a community that has a large LDS (Mormon) or Mennonite following and you will have food for a year.
Within 60 days after a total SHTF event, over half the people living [in affected areas] will have died, from either starvation illness, murder neglect or out right lawlessness--oh and lest I forget stupidity.
After 120 days half of the people left alive will have eaten most of the easily available food sources and taken most of the food from survivalists who haven't planned their survival to include fighting off warlord style roving groups of people (as was seen in Somalia). Within 300 days most if not all the food sources that had storage such as grocery store warehouses will have been either looted or infested by bugs, or scavenged by wild animals and others searching for food.

I have talked to friends of my other half who work in zoos and animal habitats who have stated that if something goes wrong and they fear for the safety of the animals they will set them free.
Conservative estimates of wild bears, lions, and others dangerous wild animals such as gorillas are 2,000 to 4,000. Most of these facilities are located around large cities so they will find many things to eat and survive on. (Read: people, dogs, house cats, etc.)

As for prisons I'd be surprised if less then 80% of the inmates don't make it out of the facilities as most of the guards will desert when its obvious that they don't have government or local law enforcement back up.

So what I am trying to say is, their won't be any way for people like Elizabeth B. to grow gardens, work with those in the community to trade and survive through working together Its just not going to be possible, since 98% of your time and effort will be spent staying alive and free of lead from outside sources. That's the bottom line. Even if you have say four or so families (possibly up to 20 or 25 soldier-age persons with weapons and 20,000 rounds of ammo for each weapon--which I doubt most do). You could face as many as two or three hundred attackers with all sorts of weapons procured from National Guard armories, police and SWAT teams, other survivalists, and who knows what else. They will be attacking you with only one thing in their mind: That is to destroy you--rape, pillage and take what you have so that they can survive.

Look at history. Whenever there is no rule of law those who have the means to gather together will overpower those individuals who seek to stay isolated.

My main point is not to say give up but to try to get as many people as you can together to make small communities where you can build defensive positions or exploit natural defensive terrain--walls, moats, heavy forests, cliff faces to help you in your effort to survive to carry on what amounts to a real civilized life. A community of 20 to 40 families with defensive walls and structures could and would be able to have gardens, orchards and the things which some of you say you must be able to do to survive. What many [who don't think in terms of a 24/7/360 perimeter defense] suggest is just a futile attempt at making people think that they can hide out in the woods in their little homes gardening and raising their food, without need to worry about the other 90% of the population of the US. (Those [currently] living in big cities, where even now its "the big dog eats the little dog" .)

Okay, so this is my two cents for what it is worth. I wish all of you the best in everything you strive to do. God bless each of us. For background: I have 22 years military experience starting with my service in Vietnam two tours ('67-'69 & '70-'71) South Korea, Central America, Africa, Middle East and Germany.

SurvivalBlog is great site. Thankfully, I don't think we will get to the scenario of Schumer Hitting the Fan. So most of what you and your readers recommend on your site will work for a slight hiccup in the system of life.- FFZ

"The problem with political jokes is they get elected." - Henry Cate, VII

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today (Tuesday) is the last day to take advantage of the 33 percent off pre-election sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The sale ends at midnight tonight, Eastern time. Don't miss out!

Our first post today comes from my darling wife. She is now home from a lengthy stay in the hospital, but is still is need of your prayers. Please pray for a complete recovery and restoration of her full vigor. There is so much in this mortal life that we'd like to accomplish together. Please pray that she will be given the years that needs here, before she goes to be with the Lord. Thank you!.

While most of my livestock purchases over the years have been satisfactory, I have found that buying livestock can be full of pitfalls. I will share some of my mistakes in hopes you can learn from them. I have found livestock sellers may not outright lie to buyers but they often do not volunteer important information. So it is very important that you get a detailed book for each type of livestock you plan to purchase and do some research, so you'll know exactly what questions to ask. Make certain the book has a chapter about choosing healthy stock. The book ought to give you signs of unhealthy or poorly conforming animals as well as questions to ask the sellers about the health of the animals.

The first time I bought sheep I did not know to ask if the yearling lambs I was buying had been wormed. Unfortunately the five lambs I bought had not been wormed. Because of the parasite load they were carrying, they were not able to withstand the stress of the transport, feed change, and new environment. They quickly developed pneumonia despite all I did to try to keep them alive. Two out of the five died. No, the seller would not refund any of my money.

I paid a premium price for the first dairy cow I bought because supposedly she was "due to calve" in less than two months. I did not ask the seller to have a veterinarian certify she was bred. (My mistake!) She never calved and the seller would not refund the extra that I paid for a "due to calve" cow. We drank store bought milk for an extra year because of this mistake.

Then there was the pair of a angora rabbits I purchased. I assumed wrongly that since I was buying a "breeding pair" that meant they would breed. I did not think to ask the breeder to demonstrate that the male had all his necessary parts. He didn't. No, the seller would not refund my money.

Temperament is another important component of purchasing livestock. Animals with bad temperaments can be difficult to work with or down right dangerous. Don't take the seller's word for the temperament of the animals, insist on seeing a demonstration. Even better arrive early, to see the animals before the seller has a chance to get the animal "ready".

I told the seller of my second cow, that I intended to show her at the Fair and milk her. He kept expressing on the phone to me how wonderful that would be. I neglected to ask for a demonstration of her being haltered, led, or being milked. He neglected to tell me she was more feral than a March Hare. The only time I was able to milk her was when she was immobilized in a squeeze chute!

Then there was the horse supposedly "gentle enough for a novice to ride bareback. But the seller kept postponing our meeting and postponing until it was getting quite late even though we had driven several hours to see the horse. When we finally were met by the sellers, the seller's daughter who supposedly was the only person who knew how to ride never showed up. Because it was late and getting dark and we had a long drive home, and they just seemed so honest we bought the horse on the seller's word that I, a novice, could ride the horse bareback with just a snaffle bit . Later when I rode this horse at our ranch, after he discovered that I could bring him under control when he tried running away with me, his next trick was balking--refusing to move at all. When I repeatedly urged him forward he started rearing and bucking. No, the sellers would not take the horse back and refund our money.

Do your homework. Find out all the questions you should ask, find out what parts you should inspect and what to look out for. Insist on seeing the animals handled, haltered, led, ridden, milked, as applicable. By the way, if the seller is only able to manage the animals with well-trained stock dogs, then how are you going to manage them? Do not let the seller's position as president of the breed association or their religious affiliation cause you to believe they would not mislead you or omit information in order to make a sale. Sadly I have found this out the hard way, "Buyer beware" should be your watch words as you purchase livestock--even from the breed association president, and even more sadly sometimes from people who claim to be of the same religious beliefs as your own.

Mr. Rawles-
I just finished reading the letter sent in by the correctional officer regarding his prison’s security infrastructure and keeping the prisoners in during a SHTF scenario. I think he’s missing an important element regarding keeping prisoners in the prison: He assumes the prisoners will be attempting to get over or under the fences unaided. Prisoners have families and social connections on the outside. During a true SHTF breakdown, some of those outsiders will take risks on behalf of their incarcerated loved ones. The fences that should be an obstacle could be breached with a vehicle from the outside in just a few seconds, by someone coming to the aid of a prisoner during social upheaval.

In a situation where the wheels are really coming off our society, I believe people should assume the majority of prison inmates will get out, and become difficult to identify as they reintegrate with whatever elements of society are left.
Regards, - Rich S.


I enjoy reading your blog. Let me be the first to applaud you on your record of more than three years of daily posts without a miss. Good job! Now let me recommend that you start posting twice a day!

On the subject of prisons, something that hasn't been mentioned other than obliquely is the possibility of outside help in the time of collapse. And I'm not talking about the help of peace-loving citizens in maintaining order in a time of society difficulty. If the world goes crazy, I suspect that family members, fellow gang members and some who just like to feed chaos will be assisting prisoners escape from the outside. This would include attempting to take out guards if they are still on duty, ramming the fences with vehicles to break them down, to even opening individual cells. Just something to think about, especially if you live near a prison. - Brian


James Wesley,
I have a friend that lives near a [high security] Federal prison. Complete with guard towers, COs carrying weapons, and a lot of inmates. We have talked about this at length and have some conclusions similar to your man that posted from the Midwest. I have one issue with his logic – here in our area a lot of inmates have family members that have purchased housing close to the prison to make for easier visitation (and bring a new low to our area). I would say that the local people might stop some of these guys from getting over or under the fence but I would also say that one ‘loved one’ with a semi or large box truck will make sure that these upstanding incarcerated ex-citizens will be able to make a break for it by crashing the fence. You can count on some bad guys getting their friends out in a time of crisis as they will have some people on the outside with out a doubt.

Just something that people over look – saying the locals are going to pepper them in to demise is not counting that they may have relatives or friends coming to rescue them from a sure end at the hands of the man. So it might be good idea to set up security both to and from the prison before that peppering action takes place. - Fitzy in Pennsylvania


I have enjoyed the illuminating, if somewhat chilling, discussion regarding the fate of correctional institutions in the event of a total TEOTWAWKI event. Joe in the Midwest paints a very interesting picture that, coming from an insider carries great credibility. The water issue alone pretty much guarantees the end of any possible uprising in a matter of days. Grim, but there it is.

It occurred to me, however, that while it may be possible to button up a facility on the inside, there may be serious gaps in security that might prevent a determined force, arriving on scene well equipped, to break in and free everyone. This has happened before, in Latin America on occasion. In fact, a sniper from outside the prison carried out a gangland execution from a hillside in France as late as Sept. 30th of this year. In Iraq and elsewhere, attacks from the outside to facilitate escapes seem to be getting almost routine.

In a situation where it was becoming apparent that law and order were breaking down across the spectrum, I find it unlikely that the Mexican Mafia or other robust organizations of that nature would sit by and allow their comrades to remain locked in a potential death trap. These organizations are more than capable of throwing the kind of party that could see the facility breached from the outside in while an uprising occurs inside.

The local community, as Jim pointed out, would be a key source of back-up for a beleaguered guard force but they had better be prepared to meet with a force that would undoubtedly be equipped with all the kinds of things you don't find in sporting goods stores and prepared to commit extreme violence. In the case of the aforementioned organization, they undoubtedly have members in their ranks who have served in someone's army somewhere, most likely in combat or severe unrest areas.

Making their way to their target would not necessarily be too difficult as many of these facilities are within range of a tank of gas from areas where these groups congeal in numbers. More than likely a number of gas stations along the way that can be looted as well.

Some of the figures in secure facilities mean a great deal to these organizations, sometimes even running them from the inside. That they would sit idly by and let them die I find unlikely. At that point, you've got serious problems on two fronts. Those fences can be breached by anyone with a chain saw with a metal cutting attachment...or a stolen dump truck. Defeat the cinder block in much the same way and saw through any re-bar they encounter. The corrections officers get pinned down in their secure fall back position by infantry and all the birdies fly the cage.
Any local law enforcement organizations or concerned citizens in these areas may wish to consider that possibility as they ponder our uncertain future. - Mosby

Mr. Rawles:
Having read the post about a large correctional facility from the perspective of one of it's guards - I think that a few things need to be addressed.

It's not necessary to go over or under a wire fence, you simply need to defeat some of it's deadlier facets. Defensive obstacles are only as good as the people defending their integrity. With 30 minutes the convicts will have the concertina wire cleared away and the fence itself clipped. Among the many things taken from inmates on a regular basis are makeshift wire cutters. Worse yet, envision an accomplice outside the wire (realizing the fence is no longer defended) can simply walk up and toss a couple of small bolt cutters that will deal with the fence quickly. I suppose it's even possible to simply drive a vehicle through both fences, although some are built with concrete bases and are resistant to this. The point is, the fence might as well not exist - there will be no folks on the other side of the wire to defend it, most of them in such a scenario will be at their homes looking after their families - the only ones available might be unmarried men and women, but - again - their labors are far more usefully spent preparing at their shelter, than protecting society at large by their actions.

Perhaps he should ask himself exactly how many COs will remain to defend the wire? And you have to remember that you are flanked, since each of those inmates has family, and if experience serves, quite a few families move to the area near the institution just to be nearby [to facilitate frequent visits].

He's right, of course, in that there are typically only a core of troublemakers bent on violence, for the most part America locks up a lot of non-violent people, our incarceration rates per capita are staggering compared with the worse third-world hellholes for human rights. Yeah, there is summary execution in those places that aren't factored in, but we seem to be the only on that is bent on rearing millions of people that have been disenfranchised and alienated from their own society.

According to The Christian Science Monitor: "More than 5.6 million Americans are in prison or have served time there, according to a new report by the Justice Department released Sunday. That's 1 in 37 adults living in the United States, the highest incarceration level in the world."

Now let's look at the ripple, each of those persons is a member of some family for the most part, most have children - all of these people have a bone to pick with society as a whole. So it is not unjustifiable to contemplate that there are a few hundred people outside of the prison that will make it their business to free those that are still inside. Then there are the families, who, realizing, that their loved ones are in a locked-down prison, starving and subject to the basest brutality imaginable - will mount some sort of rescue effort.

Let us hope that it's not a family member with access to a M1 Abrams tank or even a Bradley [tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle], not to mention the several different varieties of armored transportation our military uses and stockpiles around the country.

Long before this happens, the administration of each prison (and since it's more and more often a private corporation with no intrinsic duty to serve the public trust) needs to identify their core population that are the violent offenders, put them in the deepest lockdown, then release the non-violent ones. It really is a small percentage of the population. Get them back with the only societal control that has any chance of working, their families. But you need to do it before you have 2,000 violent felons looking for a way out. They will find a way out.

I, frankly think that if things collapse too hard that the prisons in California alone will be overrun by the gang members who are not in the prison. Pelican Bay Correctional Facility had 3,301 prisoners as of 2006. While located in the far north of California hundreds of miles from S.F. and L.A. - it's only a hop and a skip to Salem, Oregon. And it's where California houses the worst of the worst. Fortunately for San Francisco, a far larger prison exists just north of the bay - San Quentin. With a paltry 5,000 maximum security inmates. It costs $210 million a year to run. In a collapse can you really foresee any state government allocating that?

If you live in California, you really want to avoid the areas on this map. They have 318,000 inmates in their system with an annual turnover of about 14,000 (leaving and being replaced) It costs almost $10 billion a year to run with a per inmate cost of $35,000. That $10 billion represents the budget shortfall that California is currently struggling with.

The correctional system and it's repercussions on our society is yet one more lie we as citizens have been allowing our politicians to use to manipulate us. The truest statement ever made about prison, is that most people go into it fairly naive and non-violent, they get their real education once they are in there. If someone burglarizes my home, for instance, I figure he owes me to fix it and to replace stuff - that's pretty much it. As our current legal systems exists, the bad guy doesn't commit a crime against me, but against "The People of the State of California" - huh? Recently a burglar duo had their sentences 'modified' - they had been convicted of 32 separate residential burglaries - most while the residents were at home. In the original sentence one got 18 months and the other got six months, reimbursement was ordered and each was to write a letter of apology to the victims, along with 500 hours of community service. Without telling the victims, about 9 months later, the sentences of both were modified to credit for time served, the writs of restitution were vacated and they were both released without spending one hour doing community service, and not one penny to restitution. And it was all done without the knowledge or consent of the real victims, who no longer had the right to object simply because the crime was against, "The People". No kidding.

I'm pretty sure that we turn out more violent offenders every year than we do doctors and nurses in a given year. Heck, in California alone it's 14,000. And most of those aren't first offenders, it is very rare to spend time in a real prison on your first offense in California.

So while the fence looks formidable, and I'm certain someone would make some effort to secure it in the event of a total lockdown - there are factors that we have been breeding out of control for decades now that will influence the ultimate outcome of it.

Oh, did anyone notice that the California Penal System map didn't include Federal facilities? There are 11 of them. Here's a map of Federal Prisons in the BOP's farthest western region.

Not all federal facilities are true prisons, some are temporary facilities (like those attached to courthouses)

Oops, have we forgotten all the local prisons (county jails) Each county has at least one, but most have at least two (one for temporary - awaiting trial, short sentences) and one for longer term. Hmmm... Let's see: California has 58 counties, and officially 117 jails according to records. Most of these have a wide mix of inmates, in most cases those sentences to misdemeanors go to county jail, but a lot of inmates there are held by contract with state corrections due to overcrowding, and lets not forget that when a prison inmate must undergo a trial while still incarcerated, they are transferred to a county facility until the trial is over. At any one time in California there are 6,000 people awaiting trial on various felonies, some will plea out, some will go to trial, etc. It is estimated that current capacity is 75,000 - add that to the state prisoners and federal prisoners and you come up with 20,133 in California (according to the Bureau of Prisons web site) as of Nov 2, 2008.

Aw, gosh - I almost forgot the seven military prisons or confinement centers in California! This rounds out the current population to around 180,000 people in California alone - and they are everywhere that people are. That, by the way - does not include the county jails. It is difficult to get a day to day count there because so many of them are operating well above their rated capacity

People whine all the time about the money we 'waste' on military interventions - and nobody seems to care about the number one growth industry in America today - prison.

Oh, this doesn't count those people who are currently serving their sentences in house arrest or other non-incarceration capacity - but that number is statistically small compared to those locked up and dehumanized. Do I sound like a bleeding heart type? Well, if you knew me you wouldn't think so.

Along the same lines of Elizabeth B. who recently explained that stocking up on food wasn't enough, you have to learn to grow it too - you cannot sit back and expect that criminal acts will disappear in a societal collapse - neither will the criminals who existed before starvation set in, not to mention those that will turn criminal when their survival is on the line. - LDM

Robert C. alerted us to "a real life synopsis of what happened post-Hurricane Katrina from folks who witnessed it."

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Where will the Dow bottom? This was recently posted at The Trader Blog: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - Three Scenarios For The Stock Market

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We warned you about the precipitous drop in overseas shipping long before the mainstream media picked up on it: Investors shun Greek debt as shipping crisis deepens. The article begins: "Freight rates for shipping are crashing at the fastest pace ever recorded as banks shut off credit lines to the industry, precipitating a sudden crunch in world trade."

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Sol G. sent us a link to an October article in Business Week that we had overlooked: Lehman: One Big Derivatives Mess. The full extent and end results of the Lehman derivatives fiasco probably won't be known for several more fiscal quarters.

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

Monday, November 3, 2008

I was quoted extensively in a recent article at, titled Surviving The Apocalypse. BTW, both the article and the "In Pictures" sidebar slide show was remarkably free of errors. Sometimes journalists manage to get things right.

Tomorrow is the last day of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course pre-election 33% off sale. Don't miss out!

Today we present another entry for Round 19 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article 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 19 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

You are incredibly mistaken if you think you can store up enough to see you through bad times. You are wrong, dead wrong. When I say store up, I’m talking, food, provisions, tools, barter equipment, and whatever.

The key to survival will be adaptation, just like in nature. Those who survive will be those who can readily adapt to a changing environment. I know many of you are sitting on little mountains of barrels, cans, packages and feel like you have an edge. Simply put, you will not be able to squirrel away enough.

What happens when the stash runs out?

I was shocked to read this week (October 31, 2008) when a SurvivalBlog reader wrote:
“Is there a good book that you can recommend on food storage for someone like me that is on a budget and wants to "do it myself”, but not go so far as ‘grow it myself?’ ”

How long will the bad times last? Who knows? What will you do when the stash runs out? Barter those silver and gold coins that no one can eat?

Survival skills depend on knowledge and practice. If you have children, take them out of soccer and dance classes and immediately put them in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. Look until you find a good troop or better yet, join up, take the required training, and begin your own troop. You will influence more lives than you can possibly imagine. You and your children will have outdoor living experiences that will see them through the rest of their lives. Did you ever cook your food over a wood campfire and lie on the ground scanning the night sky for meteors with the smell of smoke and coyote yelps lingering in the air? Scout troops teach children community living and cooperation, both critical survival skills.

Read everything you can until you become familiar with survival concepts and theory. Then you need to begin to practice, practicing daily. First of all, move out of your apartment into a house. If you can’t afford to buy, then you shouldn’t be storing food. Rent if you can’t buy. You don’t have enough room to practice and store your supplies in an apartment, no matter what anyone says.

Here is a short list of skills you and your loved ones need:

* Water: Harvesting, storage, filtration, sterilization

* Gardening: How to plant, save and store seed, make soil, propagate.

* Fire: Get rid of that propane tank and charcoal briquettes, practice fire-starting with a variety of materials that you find. Build many types of fires. Accumulate a couple of iron items such as a good grill or tripod, dutch oven, lifters, and work gloves … learn how to cook over coals, on a plank, in a box oven, in a trench, in a hay box, in a tin can, in a rocket stove…know how to dry and smoke … know how to build a fire anywhere on any surface and how to improvise safe surfaces. Buy as many matches as you can. Matches are an excellent storage item. They’ll never go bad and will be a high demand item.

* Shelter: Practice making shelters from as many materials you find on hand for a variety of conditions. Sleep outside in different weather as often as you can. You’ll grow to love it and will discover the night sky.

* Solar cooking. Make solar cookers from boxes, aluminum foil, glass jars. Practice, practice, practice throughout the changing seasons

* Tools: Know how to clean, sharpen, store tools; get very familiar with your ax and saw and hammer and pliers. Feel free to stock up on nails and screws and wire.

* Cooking: Unfortunately, the current generation of young adults really knows practically nothing about tasty and thrifty food preparation. This is easily remedied. You eat multiple times a day. Look on each meal as a practice event. If you have children, shut down the smorgasbord of choices for each picky eater. Everyone needs to know how to eat beans and rice with a few additions such as meat for flavoring, herbs and spices to make each meal new and palatable. Make soup a daily fare. It won’t matter if you have thousands of dollars of food stored if it is not familiar foods that people enjoy. There is no SPAM or tuna in my storage. I won’t eat SPAM, and I’m morally opposed to eating tuna due to depletion of our oceans and crashing fish populations. Learn to eat more simply now, today. Eat each meal at home, don’t eat out. Practice serving vegetarian meals at least once a day. Terrific cookbooks like Apocalypse Chow and Backpacker's Recipes can point you in the right direction. Can you bake bread in a dutch oven? Can you make pasta with wheat and a pasta machine?

* Food. I saved this topic for last because it is so huge. First, buy some sturdy gardening tools from Craig's List. The older ones are better. Read up, talk to gardeners, go to free community gardening events, and begin now, yesterday was already getting very, very late to learn this skill. Food is going to be much more important than just stashing and hoarding. Real freedom comes from being responsible for your own food. When you are out of the apartment, you’ll be able to prepare for your chickens. True, you might not be able to house them right now due to city or HOA regulations, but the time will come. Be ready for your little chicks and their fabulous eggs. You need to plant fruit trees specific to your zone which will thrive. It takes three years or so for fruit production. In my incredibly tiny area I have pomegranate, olive, apples, figs, blackberry, strawberries, and bananas. Look on every square inch of your yard as an opportunity for food supply. Practice container gardening -- you never know. Composting and mulching cannot be overstated or overlooked. You should never throw another scrap of fruit or vegetable away again. Get a dog for the other food scraps, friendship, and protection. Invite wild birds into your garden. Learn what the sun requirements are for specific plants and what your garden can supply. Include edible native plants that you know you can serve in a pinch. I have mesquite, roses, cacti, lilies, and edible flowers. Learn to eat a huge variety of foods. Learn to prepare a huge variety of tasty foods. This will truly be the key to survival in the future. My Great Depression-era father thought that pickled pig’s feet, cornbread crumbled into buttermilk, pinto beans with cornbread, and greens were some of life’s greatest pleasures. Picky eaters will not be survivors. Complainers will not be survivors.

Finally, forget the batteries. They won’t last forever and you can’t buy/store enough for the rest of your life. You are contributing to the toxic waste stream by buying batteries. If you just insist on having a flashlight, then go buy a case of Faraday flashlights that work on the principal of magnetic induction. A radio is actually a terrific idea. Get a hand crank dynamo or solar radio. Like I said, ditch the battery idea. Prepare to adapt to a new life. [JWR Adds: Be warned that most of the Chinese-made "dynamo" hand crank radios on the market are very flimsy and are unlikely to last more than a month of daily use. I recommend the BayGen radios, made in South Africa. They are built to last.]

Critical issues such as waste removal, weapons, spirituality, residual recycling, and community need to be in the back of your mind, but that is for another essay.

As you reach for an item in the store, ask yourself this question: What if I could not buy this today or ever again, would I miss it? What could I use instead? Can I do without this today and forever? Rethink your lifestyle and prepare for another test of adaptability that may be thrown at humanity. Throughout time, we have been tested whether it has been by ice ages, wars, famine, or plague. If you can adapt, you can survive.

I’m only speaking in generalities because it is up to you to adapt to survive. You need to find out the information for yourself and think of new ways to live. Survival is not only about surviving, it is about living and enjoying life. It’s impossible to teach someone everything there is to know, at some point you have to depend on yourself. Check for endless videos on any subject in the world. I’ve improved my vegetable growing methods by learning from experts on YouTube. In the end, your existence will depend on your own mind and your own heart and your own hands.

[JWR Adds: While Elizabeth has made some excellent points, she has overstated her case for adaptation. There are some critical uses for both propane tanks and rechargeable batteries that justify their inclusion in preparedness planning. Granted, they represent finite supplies. But I'd rather have them in reserve for a critical situation and not need them. The inverse is not appealing. (Needing them, but not having them.) Imagine if you needed to conduct impromptu surgery. Would you prefer to perform a surgery by the light of fat oil lamps?

I disagree with her assertion about not storing extra tools. Tools will be worth their weight in gold. A lot of things can be improvised and adapted, but high quality tools--especially those with tight tolerances cannot. You can probably improvise a plow, but you cannot improvise a Unimat lathe. And consider this: With a Unimat lathe (in properly trained hands) and given enough high speed steel stock you can build just about any tool including another Unimat lathe. Thus a "stored" tool can be eminently useful for "adaptation."

Lastly, keep in mind that preparing to survive in a warm southwestern climate is considerably different than in cloudy, cold northern climes. The colder the climate, the deeper the larder that you'll need. (Since growing seasons are short, and in some years with early frosts you will have hardly any garden yield. Stored fuel (firewood, coal, et cetera) is similarly important in cold climates. There may come a year when you cannot cut a fresh supply of firewood--say you break a leg or have a major illness. That is why it is very important to have several years worth of firewood on hand.]

Mr. Rawles;
With the current state of the country more and more people have been stepping up their preparedness. The question I get asked most is what to do with the people who say they will be over when everything falls apart.
I know you have addressed this in the past, but it is something people need to think through with the current state we are in. With my preparedness consulting I have had story after story from preparing people of family, friends and people who know they are preparing, but do not prepare themselves saying they will be there when everything falls apart.

I have used your novel "Patriots" as a guide for how to prepare for any scenarios and it mentions giving charity to those who show up and sending the unwanted on their way and keeping those who belong or can contribute to the group. For the transients or refugees this is a very good solution to the problem, but when it comes to family and people who know you are preparing it calls for a different solution or group of solutions. I hope you can give some advice to everyone facing this problem. We can go into OPSEC when it comes to not telling folks what they are doing, but there have been mistakes made and it is hard to hide from non-preparing family and for them to understand not to talk about it or you are trying to network with people to get a group together and the information spreads.

Some of the stories I have heard are:

There have been several version of this first one, but it is basically the same falling out in a group and the unwanted plan a unwelcome return.
"We had a member of our group and he turned out to be a slob, was not preparing and thought that a case of ammo and a rifle was all you needed and they would take whatever else was needed from the weak. They politely told him that he was not welcome and would not sharing in the preparations. This person is now contacting the group, saying if it hits the fan that they "will be over".
The group believes they will have to defend themselves from this former member who will bring his spouse and children with him."

"We have been preparing for several years and have been trying to get family members, both close and distant involved in a group.When things go bad they [declare that they] are all coming over.
We do not have the room for the extra people in our home. We do not have enough food for the extra people. We do not have other supplies they will need to live here. They do not have the mindset to endure a long term situation nor will they contribute to the survival of the group.We already have a small group of like-minded people we have networked with and are either leaving supplies here or will be bringing their supplies when they come and we have enough for only them."

With our networking efforts we have talked to many people and have picked up some good people to be in a group. With the economy going down the tubes we are having past contacts talking to us and they plan on showing up if it hits the fan."

"We have had someone gossip about our preparations and now we have people saying they will be over and we do not even know these people.
How may people know we are preparing and how many are going to show up and what are they going to do to us if we turn them away or will they just take our supplies?"

Respectfully, - Ron from Ohio

JWR Replies: Based on what I read in e-mails, nearly all SurvivalBlog readers--save a few that are utter recluses that have few (or no) family ties--all go through the same thing. This most commonly happens at holiday gatherings, when "Cousin Bob" first teases you for having "that mountain of storage food in your basement", but then slyly adds "...but I know where I'll go when things fall apart." This is the same Cousin Bob that has frittered away his earnings on plasma big screen HDTVs, Jet Skis, and BluRay DVDs. My advice is to be blunt and forthright. Tell Cousin Bob that he's had the same period warning that you have had, and that he's had comparable resources available to prepare. Depending on your predisposition, you might say: "You've been warned. You must make adequate preparations for your own family. Period." Hopefully that will spur your relatives into action.

I recommend two books to help our readers understand metalworking. They might never need these, but they're at least useful for understanding what's involved:.

1. Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop

2. The Modern Blacksmith

And if you want to go a step further, there's a nice compendium called "Useful Farm Implements", though I suspect we'll just focus on more immediate books like "Gardening When It Counts" though I personally recommend not using animal protein powder as a soil and feed amendment [as recommended in that book]. Prions, ya know?

On a more personal note, I remain stunned that the economic crash has driven down the price of oil instead of up to the stratosphere. Stunned, I tell you. Its funny that no matter how much education you manage, how much study you do, and calculation, you can still miss things. Good call on the economic crash, BTW. You pinned it down, 10 years ago. Must feel slightly queasy to find yourself right. The irony of course is that there's been no civil uprising mess, so the strategy isn't working yet. I try and stay fluid and adaptable instead of committing to a single strategy for success. But I don't have a family to protect either. Keep well and don't let reality get you down. Best, - Inyokern

Mr Rawles:
My sister-in-law works for one of the large food bakeries. They make a well-known cracker that is purchased by a large portion of the US population every day. She manages health and safety for a number of their bakeries and recently attended a conference on pandemics hosted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC is holding these conferences for companies producing staple foodstuffs as they say it isn't "if" we will see a flu pandemic but "when".
The conference was a real eye-opener for my sister-in-law. The CDC says that we will either have a flu pandemic or avian flu pandemic within the next 10 years (likely earlier rather than later). The following recommendations for key personnel of the bakery was provided by the CDC as they believe we will see absenteeism over 50% during a pandemic. They want food manufacturers to be able to continue production during a pandemic.
Here are the top three:
1. Have a supply of Tamiflu on hand. Roche offers companies a program that will store Tamiflu for them in advance for a fee. Roche will rotate the stock on a regular basis to guarantee freshness and ship it immediately to key personnel in the event of a pandemic. Individuals should get their physician to write a prescription and keep some on hand. Tamiflu will be in short supply during a pandemic.
2. Get a flu shot every year. The CDC is making a concerted effort to get flu shots offered to everyone, not just targeted groups anymore.
3. Get a pneumonia vaccination. Pneumonia is the actual cause of death in many flu cases. The CDC is now recommending that key personnel get this vaccine. Many flu shot clinics also offer the pneumococcal vaccine as well. You will have to be persistent in requesting it as they are hesitant to give it to the general population. The CDC is trying to limit it in order to keep it available for targeted groups.
It will be very difficult to limit contact to both other people and livestock in the event of a pandemic. By following these three recommendations, you should be able to reduce your chances of dying during a pandemic. - Rangemaster

More gloomage from Cheryl, our Economic Editor: Germans Freeze £21 Billion in Property Fund ("Nearly €30bn of German property funds were frozen between Tuesday and Friday last week in what industry experts fear could foreshadow a UK commercial real estate collapse.") -- The Federal Reserve is Inflating at 341% Per Annum -- Cash Was King, Now Gold Is God -- Fed Interest Rate Cut May End Up Making Matters Worse ("The Federal Open Market Committee’s half-point cut in its Federal Funds target does not address the leverage and credit issues in the banking system.") -- Gold, Faith And Credit (The Mogambo Guru) -- Peter Schiff on Glenn Beck: Global Economic Crisis In Perspective

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Reader Jordan S. mentioned Wikipedia as a potential survival reference. He noted since the Internet won't be available in a Grid Down situation, it is best to download a snapshot of the current Wikipedia articles, in HTML format sans pictures). Jordan notes: "You'll get the current version of every article. It's large - around 14 Gigabytes, but you can store it on DVD or an external hard drive."

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"Luddite Jean" in England sent us these economic and news headlines: Interest rates may be cut by 1% and pundits start to recognise that their predictions were too optimistic -- Government 'spend our way out of recession' -- Faulty army-issue gun that is 'too expensive' to fix

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Author Michael Panzner has some follow-up commentary on the scope and implications of the next Depression: Repeat the Past (and then Some)?

"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men." - Samuel Adams (1722 -1803)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

There are just two days left in the pre-election 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This course only rarely goes on sale, so don't miss out on the discount price!

Hi James,
When I traveled in Europe, I found the inside-the-waist, in-front-of-your-crotch travel pouches sold by REI and the like to be very useful for passport, ID, etc., although they do get a bit hot and whenever they get out of position, it’s hard to avoid the urge to mark yourself by adjusting them. Trying to do so in public can also get you some very strange looks. Because of all this I’ve refrained from wearing them when at home in the States, but I’m missing the comforting feeling of having extra cash and essential documents discreetly hidden. I’m imagining a money belt would be more comfortable.

You mentioned in an old post that you always wear a discreet money belt when you travel. Do you recommend a specific brand? Dress money belts are relatively easy to find, but casual/Western money belts I haven’t seen. I’m also having difficulty locating a money belt, either dress or casual, that is big/stiff enough to serve as a pistol belt for concealed or open carry.
Best Regards, - David in Pleasanton, California
JWR Replies: The money belt that I've worn off and on for the past 15+ years was made by Hamley & Company of Pendleton, Oregon. (They are old-time holster and saddle maker, established in 1883.) It is a tooled western belt that was special-ordered with the "money belt option". The belt was fairly expensive, so I've deemed it to be a "weight control belt"--meaning that I don't dare gain any weight and outgrow it!

Dear SurvivalBloggers:

Modern images of strength conjure up big pectorals and biceps and perhaps a set of 6 pack abs but are these the muscles we need to develop for WTSHTF? No, not really.
Here's some ideas of the less romantic parts that would be useful to work on now.

1) Hand and forearm strength: Gripping, grappling and weapon retention come to mind. Consider how many things we would have to use our hands for if there were no power (and no power tools). Kneading dough, screwing screws, pulling ropes. Do you have the grip strength to carry two 5 gallon buckets full of water 1/4 a mile at 8.3 pounds per gallon? Do you have any calluses or is your job cerebral and are your hands soft and unprotected.

2) Lower back strength: Lifting, gardening and carrying a pack come to mind. Can you carry your wife or buddy if he or she were injured? Can you drag them (hand strength again)? Try pulling 150 pound person a few times across the lawn and find out.

3) Cardiovascular strength: Okay, perhaps not a strength per se, but how's your conditioning? Can you run an 8 minute mile without cramps and total loss of fine muscle control (meaning that you can still fire your weapon accurately)? - SF in Hawaii

Dear Jim,
That chart that you posted on Saturday only applies to steel alloys. At a given temperature, oxidation will show those colors. The brighter colors are incandescent colors that are emission, not absorption colors. This is a good reference for heat treating metal, but only works if you know the alloy in question.

It is actually best to use that chart on overcast days or in shadow. Bright sun will generally cause one to excessively heat in the incandescent range, leading to red-shortness, cracks, decarburizing and burning. - Michael Z. Williamson

Congolese behind rebel lines try to return home. Once again, we see that the last thing you want to be is a refugee--or an "Internally Displaced Person" (IDP) in the modern parlance.

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Ted suggested this article over at Gold-Eagle, by Scott Wright: Commodities Bull Market?

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Reader Marsha U. asked about a good place to find full capacity magazines for her FN PS90 and HK93. (She notes: "I feel the need to stock up well before Bush leaves office." ) For commercial vendors, I recommend CDNN Sports. For finding private sellers, I recommend Buddy Hinton's Boards.

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Jerrold W. sent us this video link: Hack a Padlock

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry." - T.S. Eliot

Saturday, November 1, 2008

There are just a few days left in the pre-election 33% off sale for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This course only rarely goes on sale, so don't miss out on the discount price! BTW, the demand has been so great that a rush printing had to be scheduled. There may be brief delay before some of the most recent orders are shipped.

Dear James:
I came across this table in a reference book and thought it may be useful to everyone. Note: This chart should not be used as a guide to combating fires. Remember all fires are dangerous, and you should call the fire department, if that is a possibility, when you see flames. All degrees are in Fahrenheit below.

450 degrees Fahrenheit
Brown to Purple
550 degrees Fahrenheit
Blue 600 degrees Fahrenheit
Faint Red
900 degrees Fahrenheit
Dark Cherry Red
1,100 degrees Fahrenheit
Full Cherry Red
1,400 degrees Fahrenheit
1,600 degrees Fahrenheit
1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
2,200 degrees Fahrenheit
Sparkling White 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit

Regards, - Mikael

JWR Replies: Of course all the usual torch and metal-working shop safety rules apply.

That chart, BTW, is handy companion piece to the Combustion Temperature Reference that was posted previously in SurvivalBlog. I recommend printing out hard copies of both posts for your shop reference binders. Keep in mind the standard provisos that the true measurement of the volatility of a stored material is its "flash point", which in most cases is considerably lower than the flame point figures noted in the Combustion Temperature Reference.

Also, when using color as a reference for gauging the temperature, keep in mind that the ambient light available can skew the color observed. Holding up a piece of metal in the dim light of a blacksmithy will not show the same color as holding up the same piece of metal heated to the same temperature in bright daylight. This can lead to heat-treating errors. This was best illustrated in the classic book "Hatcher's Notebook." In it, Colonel Julian Hatcher recounted the story of the "Low Number Springfields", that many shooters in the current generation might not have heard: Here it is in a nutshell: The smiths at the Springfield and Rock Island Armories were manufacturing Model 1903 Springfield rifles. One of the steps in the process was heat-treating the receivers to a certain color of redness. This was before the days of precise industrial pyrometers--back when heart treating was judged "by eye".) It was found that some of those receivers failed--due to the heat treating being of insufficient hardness. The Board of Inquiry discovered that some receivers that were heat treated on overcast days, lacked sufficient heat treating (and blew up dramatically when fired), while those made on sunny days had the specified strength. This was because on overcast days, the heated receivers showed the correct "color" when they had not yet actually reached the requisite temperature. This failure in process control was of course soon corrected, but ever since, "low number Springfields" have not been trusted for full-pressure pressure .30-06 loads. (The manufacturing transition BTW, was with Springfield Armory M1903 rifles that had serial numbers below 800,000 and Rock Island M1903 rifles with serial numbers below 285,507.) Just an interesting historical tidbit...

Hello Jim,
I work at a Correctional Facility. It is a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) prison with some 1,900 inmates currently housed.

Our facility is cross-fenced inside with a 12 foot fence topped with the military razor wire. Yes, you can get across it but you are going to pay a price. They have tried that here and the one that got across would have died in hours from the cuts without an emergency room.

I have experienced a full blown riot. This was only 98 prisoners but they trashed the whole mess hall and it spilled out into two of the fenced off areas.

These interior fenced in areas can be gated off to reduce movement.

It is just not possible that the staff could not get control if they have not exhausted their supply of CS [tear] gas. One of those large CS guns can fill a large outdoor area with enough gas to choke down the best of them.Then you cuff them all and they are contained. I have seen this happen.

All of the admin buildings have top positions from which the COs [Correctional Officers]--note they are not called "guards" anymore--can dispense from shoulder weapons canisters to any point in the yard to supplement the big foggers.

Is the potential for losing control a problem? Yes, of course...

Is anybody at our prison talking about it? Me... but not the administration that I know of.

My county sheriff (headquartered some 25 miles away) has discussed this with me in detail. He is prepared to protect this area if a general prisoner break takes place.

And when the electric locks fail they stay closed. You can only open them with a key at that point.

So, if the inmates take control of a few pods and some interior yard space: You retreat behind a series of doors and barred gates until you are all back beyond "central". Central is the command and control center with all the electronics. If you lock [the facility] down and all the doors through to the admin area and leave by the front gate. The only way they can get out is under the fence or over the fence with the concertina wire on top.

Most will die inside once the water is shut off and they strip the kitchen. Most of the food is stored beyond the kitchen in separate security areas. Ultimately the smart ones will try to retrieve enough solid items to build a ramp up to the top of the wire; or dig underneath. After constructing a ramp they'll probably throw a couple of mattresses over the top and try to get over the first fence. Yes, that's right, the first fence. But then 15 feet away is the second fence just like the first one. But now they have to build another ramp by moving the objects up the top of the first fence and pushing them over. By this time the locals may be barbecuing just across the fence and shooting one or two now and then just for fun...

So, in my estimation, getting out of our Correctional Facility will not be easy.

I have sat in my car in the parking lot waiting for time to go in for my shift and looked at the security fence and thought "just how would the inmates get across this?" Given enough time, yes they will do it. But only under conditions where they are not opposed from the outside. But any locals who oppose them will keep them inside until they turn to drinking the blood of the weaker inmates. Cordially, - Joe in the Midwest

Ready Made Resources (one of our original advertisers) just launched an unusual 25% off sale on Mountain House and AlpenAire freeze-dried foods. Unlike many storage food dealers, they actually keep considerable stock in-hand. This is a limited-time offer, so don't delay in placing your orders!

   o o o

They say a picture is with a thousand words. Well, these photos are worth 100 Billion: Chuck mailed us a link to a series of amazing photos from Zimbabwe, posted at blogoncherry. Make sure that you scroll all the way down to see the Z$100 Billion note. I suppose that next year's "reform" in Zimbabwe will be mandating wider tapes for cash registers, to make room for more digits. Seriously, Comrade Mugabe and his band of fools need to be escorted at gunpoint to the airport. Oh yes, I should also mention that if you want to keep current on Zimbabwe, then read Cathy Buckle's blog.

   o o o

Stephanie sent us a link to this US Army article: Blending used oil and vehicle fuel, that describes how to blend used crankcase oil with diesel fuel. Provisos are in order: All of the usual fuel and oil handling safety precautions apply. Avoid letting used motor oil contact your skin, since it is a carcinogen. I also have my doubts that USEPA would approve, but this is something to keep in mind for stretching your supply of diesel fuel in a post-disaster situation.

   o o o

The latest economic news and commentary, courtesy of Cheryl: Wall Street Bolts Higher To Add To Week's Large Gains -- Evidence Of A Recession Piles Higher With New Data -- Japan Cuts Interest Rates to 0.30% -- US Heads Towards Recession -- Interest Rate Conundrum Heralds More Market Distress -- US Fed Zero-Interest-Rate Policy Coming? -- Financial And Geopolitical Forecasts For 4Q 2008 -- Stock Market Forecast Current And For The Next 30 Years -- Florida's Freedom Bank Closed By Regulators; 17th Failure This Year -- Panic Strikes Hungary, Poland Borrowers As Banks Cut Dollar, Franc Loans

"Politicians and diapers should be changed often, and for the same reason." - Mark Twain

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