January 2009 Archives

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Today we present the final entry for Round 20 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 21 begins tomorrow, 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.

First, you decided to get your own shortwave receiver. You wanted to be able to listen to unfiltered worldwide news. Applause, and a pat on the back, for taking a positive step. However, an unexpected problem may soon surface. Any internal ferrite or wand/rod antenna, like what the radio came with, will only effectively receive strong signals. Unfortunately, it can’t do a good job on weak signals.

The obvious solution is to add an external antenna. But it may be spotted by the neighborhood or local “whiners” may complain that your obnoxious visible antenna is interfering with their television or radio reception. The fact that you are only receiving won’t stop their perception that it’s your fault. A second issue is that the “typical" outdoor antenna may not survive severe weather. It may fail in high wind/snow/ice.

Another negative is that any antenna wire in the wind will pick up static charges when dust hits the antenna. This dust hitting the antenna is what causes the “pop” sound in the audio during a storm. This electrostatic discharge (ESD) travels down the lead in wire and may weaken or damage the front end [electronic section] of the receiver. If you have an outside antenna a good antenna discharge unit is strongly recommended.

Is there a satisfactory solution for these problems? Yes! First determine what lengths of wire would be needed for a tuned dipole antenna to receive each desired frequency. Many Ham or Shortwave books either tell you how to calculate the desired dipole wire length or provide a suggested length data table for you. If you are fortunate the manual with the receiver may provide these parameters.

My low cost recommended solution follows:
I bought some 4 -conductor telephone cable and some 50 ohm TV coax cable at the local Home Depot. The 50 ohm cable is routed from the receiver to the center of the antenna. Cut the telephone wire at the center of the total length. Strip the insulation back slightly on all of the center wires. Solder [using electrical - not plumber type solder] the center conductor to one of the wire groups. Solder the coax shield to the other set of wires. Measure the desired distance from the center to the desired endpoint for a specific dipole. Carefully slit the outer cover of the phone cable at that location. Cut and remove the balance of an individual colored wire. Cutting the dipole for the lowest frequency first [ longest length ] will make removing the extra wire lengths easier. Measure, cut and repeat the same steps at the other side of the antenna. Note: Some books will suggest reducing the length of the antenna wire elements by 5%. This reduction is to compensate for the “close” distance to the other dipoles. Precise tune lengths are needed for transmitting but may not be necessary if the antenna is used for an entire shortwave band. The generic “rule of thumb” for most receiving antennas is the more wire available for signal pickup the better. Repeat this process for the other three wires. Cover the soldered connections with electrical tape. Fasten the antenna in a straight line along the cornice or eave of the house. Paint or stain to match the color nearby and it looks like it has been there forever.

If four tuned lengths aren’t enough - then the same approach could be done with 8-conductor unshielded computer network cable.

You now have a good antenna to pick up those weaker signals. In addition, the house now protects the antenna from any severe weather effects. If a nosey “snooper” comes by all that they will see is a “telephone” wire.

Mr. Rawles:
I'm thinking about buying a Bushmaster AR-10 type rifle that comes with with one clip. What features should I look for, especially these days? Are the magazines an issue? Thanks, - C. in Oregon

JWR Replies: Let me start with a pet peeve. The terms clip and magazine are not synonymous. A clip holds cartridges only at one end, whereas a magazine complete surrounds a cartridge. In the context of modern detachable magazine battle rifles, a clip is what is used to fill a magazine. Please do not call a magazine a clip, especially around children. They are impressionable, and I 'd hate to see another generation growing up to use faulty nomenclature.

In today's frantic market the over-riding concern for AR-10 buyers is interchangeability of magazines. Some brands of AR-10s will accept inexpensive metric FN-FAL magazines, while others will accept only purpose-built AR-10 magazines. Let me explain:

Only a few brands of AR-10s take the plentiful FN-FAL magazines. The brands that can accept FAL magazines are American Spirit, Bushmaster, and Rock River Arms (RRA) . (BTW the new RRA LAR-8 will take metric FAL mags and "inch pattern" L1A1 magazines, with the large forward locking lug.) FAL magazines are still fairly inexpensive--as little as $14 each. I recommend that you buy 25+ of them. Someday, you'll be glad that you did.

The Armalite, Knight Armament (KAC), and DPMS brand AR-10s take only purpose-made AR-10 magazines. As reader "Mr. Smith" pointed out, the KAC and DPMS can use magazines interchangeably but the Armalite lower uses a magazine that is not compatible with the other two. M14 magazines can be converted, but only to fit the Armalite AR-10.

Mr. Smith also mentioned that CMMG is about to produce AR-10 lowers that will take very inexpensive German Army surplus G3 magazines! These are compatible with DPMS upper receivers. For anyone that plans to build a new AR-10, this is the lower to use! It is noteworthy that CMMG also makes a lower that is compatible with DPMS-type AR-10 magazines.

MagPul Industries announced 7.62x51 polymer magazines for the KAC and DPMS AR-10s at the 2009 SHOT Show. Based on the track record of their polymer 5.56 magazines, these should be great. They key question is: Will they make it into production before a new Federal; ban is enacted?

The going rate for 20 round Armalite, KAC, and DPMS steel AR-10 magazines is $65 to $75 each, and climbing. That means buying 20 spare magazines will nearly double the acquisition cost of a rifle. Yikes! If you know anyone that owns those brands of AR-10, tell them to buy plenty of spare mags, soon. After the upcoming ban, they will be $200+ each. I'm not kidding.

The bottom line: In today's market, unless you are absurdly wealthy, you should buy only AR-10s that can accept standard metric FN-FAL magazines, or HK G3 magazines!

Mr. Rawles-
In response to "More predictions for 2009", reader Jeff K writes, "There has never, ever been hyperinflation with deflating real estate prices.". This is simply false, and a surprisingly common misperception. Zimbabwe is hardly a 'red hot' market for residential (or commercial) real estate, yet that country is an example of extreme hyperinflation. When Turkey went through its period of massive inflation it too suffered declining real estate values. South America, plagued with inflation during much of the past century was also a black hole for real estate investment. Ditto for [much of] Africa. Weimar Germany, a famous example of hyperinflation in a modern, western state was, similarly, anything but an appreciating property market.

What one may observe during a hyperinflationary event is the dramatically increasing cost of assets denominated in the hyperinflating currency. The real value of the domestic assets (such as real estate), however, is not increasing but rather decreasing as assets are constantly being revalued in terms of the inflating currency's loss of value. This loss, counterintuitively, manifests as a "gain" in the form of more zeros on the notes. Similarly, real estate deflates in periods of hyperinflation even as its price "rises". This is why super- or hyperinflation fails to attract real estate investors in states suffering such economic mismanagement. - Steven L


Dear J.R.,
A recent article from Bloomberg "Attali Warns of a' Worldwide Weimar' as Governments Print Money" will explain to your readers of how inflation and even hyperinflation can develop from a deflationary collapse.

As shortages of goods/supplies/services begin happening after manufacturing, transportation and supply systems break down in deflation; and with the abnormally increased money supply suddenly thrust into our economy working it's out into the broader economy- the conditions for inflation begin. - M.M.

Hello Jim,
With regard to Jeff K.'s reply, calling Roger Wiegand a "huckster", I'd like to point out some issues I have with his claims. Wiegand did correctly call the crash of the US Equity Markets, as Jeff states, but I could not readily locate anything about Wiegand being wrong on hyperinflation, since he isn't calling for it until late 2009. As for a decoupling, Wiegand, again to the best of my knowledge, has spoken only (or at least, primarily) of a decoupling of gold from the Dow. No other decoupling mentioned. Foreign equities? Show me where Wiegand has suffered a "big flop" here. Same with commodities, where he continues to support gold, which is a long-term position and one with which I wholeheartedly concur as having huge upside potential, even more so for silver. And is Jeff K. investing in the S & P? He's a braver soul than me, since I wouldn't touch the S & P with a
26 1/2 ft. pole, nor any other Dollar-denominated asset.

Jeff K. says "FYI, there has never, ever been hyperinflation with deflating real estate prices. There has never, ever been hyperinflation when one's debt is denominated in their own currency" Again, Wiegand hasn't called for price hyperinflation until later and I think perhaps Wiegand's timing could be off, but only the timing, not the inevitable event, since there is no example in recorded human history of a continually successful fiat currency, as they all eventually end, some catastrophically. Monetary supply increases are [presently] in full swing.

How did Jeff K. determine that Rodgers, Schiff and Wiegand have been wrong for thirty years? How can anyone be wrong for thirty years and maintain a growing number of satisfied clients? (Sure, some got burned, no one is perfect).Is he basing this on the fact that hyperinflation hasn't arrived yet? While it may not be hyper, is a 98% loss in the purchasing power of the Dollar and Wiegand's claim that it will get much worse, not enough to satisfy Jeff? Congressman Ron Paul, probably the most educated Congressman on the economy, with several related books written on the subject, also claims that inflation is all but guaranteed in our future and I cannot rationally consider Paul a "huckster". The [same] amount of money that the Fed created from 1913 to Sept. 2008 has been created in the last 16 weeks. This is off-the-hook, unprecedented (at least in the US) monetary inflation
and will potentially have a devastating effect on price inflation within 1-2 years' time. Worse, there are no plans to slow down and, in fact, the Fed continues to smoke the bearings off the presses like there's no tomorrow. (And there may not be, for the Dollar!).

The bottom line and the lesson I feel we should take away from these so-called "hucksters" is that government intervention in the markets is the root of almost all our economic woes. Inflation is real and growing, regardless of timing, and is likely to get much worse. (The exact call on dates means very little to me) and that bickering over these details of who is wrong and who is right is absurdly pointless in light of what is unfolding. Understanding the degree of manipulation, the vulnerability of our JIT infrastructure, the fact that we import most of our food, fuel and goods...it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the potential for a very dangerous situation to unfold unnervingly quickly and for which a staggering number are, sadly, completely unprepared, thanks to an ignorant / complicit mainstream media and a breathtakingly corrupt Fractional Reserve Banking System.

Additional note: I contacted Euro Pacific Capital in the wake of the related Shedlock article and received the following reply on Monday, January 26, 2009:

"Thanks for your e-mail. Yes we are aware of the Shedlock article, and we are disappointed that he would choose to market his firm by bashing ours. On many
levels his critique is distortive and unfair. We will address this in upcoming podcasts.

Andrew Schiff
Euro Pacific Capital, Inc."

Lastly, who does Jeff K. suggest we should entrust with economic insight? Bernanke? Geithner? If he says Larry Kudlow, my opinion of his observations will have been thoroughly confirmed. Some people will stand square in the tracks and argue over a loose railroad spike, even as the speeding train bears down on them. Sincerely and God Bless, - H.H.


Hi Jim,
Jeff K. slams Jim Rodgers, Peter Schiff, and Roger Wiegand in error as he does not appreciate the long term and conservative (read safe) old fashioned investment strategies, strategies safe enough for "widows and orphan" as they say. One should keep their eyes on the big picture, the macro economics and think in terms of years, and not in terms of a day trader and more nimble risk taking 'investors' who can make money in the short term and yet loose in the end. Few gamblers always call it right and most eventually loose. One cannot compare these two very different classes of investing on the success or failure of a chosen year or two.

This appears be the greatest financial meltdown in history, and as you say, we are in "terra incognita". The fundamentals continue to justify a conservative approach and playing the macro trends while ignoring the market noise. While Schiff did missed this nasty deflationary phase, he may yet prove to be a winner and Rodgers always mentions that he has the worst timing. Clearly they have gotten the big picture right, it is now a matter of whether it becomes be a deflationary scenario, some level of high inflation or the worst, hyper inflationary. IMHO, hyper inflation is likely. Unfortunately I can't speak about Wiegand. Fortunately I believe I've followed the best advice, the most conservative of all and invested in tangibles, lots and lots of tangibles. - E.L.

In Texas, they wouldn't call this a "weapons cache", rather they'd describe it as a "a good start at a gun collection": Weapons Cache Found Near Home of Former N.J. Cop (A tip of the hat to Hawaiian K. for the link.)

   o o o

Florida Guy sent us this bit of anticipated news: Zimbabwe abandons its currency. So it seems that that via hyperinflation, Comrade Mugabe and his cronies have effectively fleeced the entire life savings of virtually everyone in that once-prosperous nation. The only value the Zimbabwean dollar now has is as a novelty item for currency collectors. (A crisp new Z$100 Trillion note might fetch a few US Dollars on eBay. But on the streets of Harare, a Z$100 Trillion bill might buy a few cigarettes.) The nation has plunged into utter hopelessness.and despair.

   o o o

In case you missed the announcement, the WRSA is offering their excellent yet inexpensive Grid-Down Medical Course again this year. Classes are scheduled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania - (February 7-8), and Peyton, Colorado (February 27-March 1)

   o o o

Camping Survival (one of our advertisers) is having a big seasonal Blowout Sale. Check out the many bargains, including one of my favorites, Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap!

   o o o

Just as I warned you, more hedge fund redemption suspensions: Fortress Blocks Redemptions as Shareholders Lose 96% Since IPO. (A hat tip to Scott N. for that link.) In other economic news, Bank Bailout Could Cost Up to $4 Trillion. And, naturlich, Cheryl sent us another big stack of links: Stocks Extend Slump as Investors Fear Worsening Economy -- Japanese Economy Hit by the "Perfect Storm" -- Honda Shuts UK Factory for Four Months -- Toyota Posts First Net Loss Since 1963 -- A Professional Run on Banks has Begun -- Brown Warns of Void Left by Collapse of Global Financial System -- Gold Rally Fills Vaults with Bullion as Bank Stimulus Increases -- Some Credit Card Companies are Financially Profiling their Customers

"I figured out when I was a little kid that it was better to be a pessimist than an optimist. You see, when you’re an optimist, the best that happens is that things go as you planned, and half the time you’re bitterly disappointed. But when you’re a pessimist, the worst that ever happens is that things to exactly the way you were prepared for them to go, and half the time you’re pleasantly surprised." - Massad Ayoob , January 1, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Because we phased out our old Earthlink e-mail address, we've had to update our PayPal account. Our new PayPal account address is: james@rawles.to

Please use this new PayPal address for any 10 Cent Challenge voluntary subscription payments or advertising payments. (I've updated the relevant links.) As I've mentioned before, I strongly prefer AlertPay or GearPay because they don't share PayPal's anti-gun political agenda.
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net

Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net

We are also gradually transitioning to our Tonga (.to) domain for our primary e-mail address: james@rawles.to. Please update your address books. Thanks!

Wednesday's news of passage of the "supplementary" TARP II $900 billion stimulus and bailout legislative package in the House of Representatives is noteworthy. The fact that it passed with hardly a whimper is evidence that Congress cannot be trusted to show any fiscal restraint. According to the Wall Street Journal only about 12 cents of every dollar appropriated in that legislation will go for something that can be considered a growth stimulus, yet there was no lengthy or substantive debate on the bill. The floodgates of the Treasury have been opened! The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) is now sure to further expand, to heretofore unimagined proportions. Henceforth, each time that there is a new "crisis" or "emergency", or a "threat" to a vital industry, Uncle Sugar will dump veritable truckloads of magically-created money on the problem. What will be deemed a "vital" industry? Car makers have already been deemed vital. So why not truck and heavy equipment manufacturers? And the steel mills? And the airlines? And the aircraft makers? Ship builders? Why not yacht builders? The newspapers? ("They're really hurting, so let's just print more money!) Despite the fact that every Republican congressman voted against it, the bill was passed by the Democratic majority.

The passage of this bill is an ominous sign, and it is a dangerous precedent, especially when we consider the other legislation that the Obama-Reid-Pelosi cabal may have in mind. I suspect that they have plans for a panoply of socialist programs including universal (taxpayer-funded) health coverage, the so-called Fairness Doctrine, expatriation controls, enormous welfare and public works programs, and, of course new civilian disarmament ("gun control") legislation. Perhaps our only hope on the latter is expansion of the Heller and Lopez Supreme Court precedents, in new court decisions that affirm the Second Amendment as both and individual right and a collective right, and that further constrain Federal jurisdiction on firearms manufacture and sales. In light of Heller, any law, agency directive (or "interpretation"), or executive order that infringes on the Second Amendment will quickly be stricken down. (But then there is the nagging issue of Federal court packing by the BHO administration. This is possible, depending on how many SCOTUS justices retire in the next four to eight years.)

Getting back to the economic morass, the key point again is that the floodgates have been opened. There is now no limit to the MOAB. Rather than allow the natural market cycle to work malinvestment out of the economy, the Federal government and the Federal Reserve banking cartel will do their best to reliquify and and re-inflate the Big Bubble. What will come of this is anyone's guess, since this is truly Terra Incognita. A liquidity crisis this enormous is without precedent. Will the deflationary spiral be unstoppable? Will mass inflation emerge? Stay tuned. But don't look to me for answers. I didn't write the script. Or then again, maybe I did.

Business Week recently reported: "New Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is exploring the creation of a government-funded 'bad bank' to buy up mortgage-backed securities and other troubled assets from banks in hopes of boosting their capital levels..." This is all aimed at breaking banks out of their fear of lending. Bankers are currently so petrified that the credit market has essentially dried up. Even ostensibly credit-worthy companies can't get loans. So the MOAB expands, yet again, using taxpayer dollars to buy up the toxic debt. Talk about a losing proposition! Only a government would embark on such a venture. Of course, they'll be doing what governments do best: spending other people's money.

The government's response to the credit collapse could best be described as a "horrible spasm". (I mean that in the McNamara sense of the term.) The Feds and the Fed are flailing about, throwing money around in gargantuan quantities, hoping that something, anything works to get credit flowing and the economy jump started. They won't dare admit that they have no idea what they are doing. Parenthetically, do you remember Jim Cramer shouting "He has no idea!", back in August of '07? Perhaps that public meltdown on CNBC was a foreshadowing that The Powers That Be still have no idea. Again, we've entered Terra Incognita. As I warned in July of '07 and again in March of '08, things could get very, very bad before they ge any t better.

To monitor the economic situation, I recommend watching some key figures:

The first is the US Dollar Index. (After testing the critical 72 level, the Dollar has gained strength in foreign exchange. (Not because of any inherent strength, but rather because European banking is even more badly broken than American banking, and the Euro and Pound have taken a beating)

Next is the spot price of gold. (Can you spell "suppression"?)

This Adjusted Monetary Base chart released by the St. Louis regional Federal Reserve Bank sheds further light on the "Big Picture". (Look closely: Don't miss the upright spike that is hidden behind the gray bar at the right end of the chart, showing the enormous growth of the monetary base in 2008.)

And lets not forget the bank reserves statistics published by the Federal Reserve.(These show a banking system that was until recently starving for reserves, but is now gorged with reserves that the bankers refuse to lend, out of fear.)

For even greater detail, see Dr. Gary North's "Charts to Monitor" links.

In conclusion, I must repeat my long-standing advice to SurvivalBlog readers: Get prepared to ride out a lengthy economic depression with accompanying civil strife, massive economic dislocation, and the destruction of the dollar as a currency unit. Self-sufficiency, self-defense, and charity may very well be the bywords of the coming decade.

I've only recently become a SurvivalBlog reader, but I thought I'd share some info about a book I've had sitting on my shelf for quite some time. I'd never really put any thought into its usefulness until lately.
It's called The American Boy's Handybook. I first caught sight of it several years ago, way back in Elementary School, when I was just a little cuss, not the full sized cuss I've grown up to be.
Like the title says, the book itself is geared toward the younger generation, ages 8 - 18+. But there is a wealth of information that even the oldest of us kids can make use of.
Originally published in 1890, the book is packed, cover to cover, with projects and activities that require no electricity, no high tech spare parts, and perhaps most important, no advanced tools. Nowhere, in the entire book, will you find a single request for a band saw, circular saw, arc welder, hammer drill, or power tool of any sort. I would say that 75% of all the projects inside can be built with a hand saw, hatchet, hammer, and some simple elbow grease.
All four seasons are covered, with different projects (both FUN and FUNctional) appropriate for each. Without my copy to reference (it's currently on loan) I can't give a complete rundown of all its contents. Some subjects include, but are far from limited to:
- Spear Fishing
- Small Boat Construction
- Dead Drop Traps
- Build a Kite from scratch
- Make and Use a Bow and Arrow
- Basic Taxidermy
From hunting and trapping, to games and toys to keep the younger members of your family occupied, this book has something for everyone. Kids too little to be out checking the snares with Mom or Dad? Why not have them put together a Shadow Puppet Show for after dinner entertaining? Fresh snow on the ground? Teach them how to build their very own Snow Fortress. Bullets in short supply? (I hope not, but you never know.) Fashion a spear thrower or bola for taking down small game. Always wanted your own fishing boat, but couldn't justify (or afford) the expense of a special purpose boat? Build your own flat bottom watercraft.
These are just a few of the things I can remember off hand. IMHO, this is one of those books that should be on everyone's shelf. Even if The Schumer doesn't Hit The Fan, you can still keep the kids off the couch, learning to do for themselves, like people used to, before we all got our McLobotomies.
Thanks for All You Do, - C.M., Maine

Good Morning, Jim!
This is a response to “More Predictions for 2009”:
We can't make other peoples' choices for them, but we can be affected by them. We are our brothers’ keepers, but not their masters. Governments will always do what they always do. You need to be concerned with your “mini government” - your own household. Wherein the adults are the governing body and are also constituents (along with any dependents). I choose to focus on what I can control and not toil and spin about the stuff I can’t control.
My predictions for 2009?
- My wife and I will finally take an NRA rifle safety course (already in the works).
- Depending on how our marksmanship and safety progresses, we might hunt for food.
- We will evaluate how much wood we burned through winter and adjust accordingly.
- We will increase the size of our (tiny) gardens with knowledge from last year.
- We continue to diversify our income streams and savings (between the two of us we have five incomes: two main, one moderate, and two minor).
- We will reduce expense by finding cheap alternatives to everything and continuing to make our house efficient.
- We will unashamedly get all we can for free. Fruit from public land, materials from Craig's List, wood from a friend, etc.
- We review home security, vehicle capability, bug-out-bag readiness, and take budget-appropriate actions
- We will finally repay the rest of college loan debt and live truly debt free!! (remember: a mortgage is an investment in equity)

Our mindset is that being “in the world but not of the world” makes a lot of sense for every aspect of our personal existence, not just religious influence. While there are a lot of frightening and depressing aspects to be aware of, we will not be frightened or depressed by our awareness of them. I wrote not to criticize Mr. Wiegand’s excellent analysis, but to simply reinforce focus on what we can do because of these signs.
- Carl H.



I must say that Wiegand is another huckster that has had his hat handed to him over the last two years: the S&P has done better than his portfolio. He is another guy that can't make money in good times or bad. If you followed this guy's advice, your account would be friggin' destroyed.

Here are the four theses of Jimmy Rodgers, Peter Schiff, Wiegand, and all the other hyperinflation guys:

1.) US Equity Markets Will Crash.
2.) US Dollar Will Go to Near Zero (Hyperinflation).
3.) Decoupling (The rest of the world would be immune to a US slowdown.
4.) Buy foreign equities and commodities and hold them with no exit strategy.

They got #1 right, but their investments related to that were a disaster-- 2, 3, and 4. Big flops. Why promote people who have been wrong for 30 years?
FYI, there has never, ever been hyperinflation with deflating real estate prices. There has never, ever been hyperinflation when one's debt is denominated in their own currency.
You may find this article about [Peter Schiff] interesting: Regards, - Jeff K.

"The Survivalist" mentioned this article: More than a million wait in icy darkness across US

   o o o

As most SurvivalBlog readers surely deduced long ago, I am an inveterate scrounger. I scan through Craig's List with the same regularity as the Bald Eagles that cruise up and down The Unnamed River here at the Rawles Ranch do, at this time of year. So I was delighted that while doing some web wandering today, I found a link over at Keep and Bear Arms to this inspirational article: Praxis: Scavenging as a Guerrilla Art Form.

   o o o

Eric flagged this update: Peanut butter recall expanded to two years' worth of products. Here is an FDA web page with a searchable list of hundreds of recalled peanut butter products.

   o o o

The latest huge dose of gloom-'n-doomage from the Economatrix: Global Unemployment Nears 50 Million -- OPEC Warns of More Oil Output Cuts -- BP Sees Further Crash in Oil Demand -- Can the Market Avoid a February Fold? -- George Soros (the Billionaire) Selling Off Sterling -- Europe's Winter of Discontent -- More Job Cuts (Boeing 10,000; Starbucks 6,700, etc.) -- Billions More Needed for Bank Rescues -- Millionaires Crisis Plan: Return to Bartering -- IMF: British Slump will be Worst in Developed World -- Sony's Quarterly Net Profit Tumbled 95% -- Record Number in US Getting Jobless Benefits -- Despair Spreads Amid Mounting Job Losses -- Florida Beans and Corn Destroyed, Potatoes Delayed (Expect higher prices)

"One aspect of the red state versus blue state dynamic of the country which is often overlooked, is that while the Blue States have come out on top politically, the red states are much more self-sufficient in resources and infrastructure. In a time of crisis this underlying dynamic would become painfully obvious, as overpopulated and undersupplied states in the North and Midwest began demanding resources from politically disenfranchised states in the South and West where most of the agricultural and energy resources are located. When the force of the federal government is turned to massive redistribution of wealth and resources, those who are on the losing end of that redistribution are going to be very disgruntled. When a central government which you feel does not represent you comes to take the food from the mouths of your children and give it to someone else, suddenly concepts like secession and civil war seem more appealing than they might under ideal conditions." - Dave Nalle

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is a Ruger [Mini-14 .223] Ranch Rifle a good low cost battle rifle choice? Apparently they are not for anything past "medium range". (Honestly I don't know what that means.) Although the new Mini-14s [with] 580[-prefix] serial numbers are supposedly more accurate at longer ranges than previous Ranch Rifles. I am interested in going to an Appleseed event sometime later this year and was wondering if this might work for their program. Also if it is a good gun I was going to go ahead and buy the 20 round factory Ruger magazines. Thanks, - Clint C.

JWR Replies: In my opinion, even the latest production variants of the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle are a marginal compromise choice for a .223 battle rifle. But they might be a good choice for folks in California, where many other semi-auto rifles are already banned by state law. But be advised that they won't be exempt from the proposed Federal ban. (Yes, "Ruger Mini-14" is on the updated ban list. They made it under the radar back in 1994, but they won't in 2009.)

The drawbacks to Mini-14 Ranch Rifles that I can see are:

1.) The fragile flip-up rear sights on the earlier-production guns. Buy a couple of spares, even if you plan to use the provided scope rings.

2.) Their expensive magazines. (Buy only original Ruger-made 20 or 30 round magazines, and get at least eight of them. (The after-market magazines are most often junk that often do not feed properly.) AR-15s are inherently more accurate than Mini-14s, but they do require more frequent cleaning. It is noteworthy that magazines for AR-15s cost less than half as much as original Mini-14 magazines.

3.) They lack a flash-hider. But this can of course be quickly remedied with an aftermarket flash hider (such as those made by Choate), most of which do not require gunsmithing.

4.) Their marginal accuracy, compared to ARs. From what I've heard, with the possible exception of the new 580-series (et sequitur), Mini-14s shoot groups that average nearly twice as large as an AR with the same barrel length. This is a function of the barrel-to-stock contact at the lug at the front of the handguard. (Design demerits to the late Bill Ruger!) Yes, they can be tinkered with, but why pour money into a rifle to make it shoot straight, when you can get the same accuracy "right out of the box" with an AR?

5.) They lack the ubiquity of the AR-15 series. This has implications to everything from availability of magazines, to spare parts, to accessories (you can get anything imaginable for an AR), and to even training. Anyone that is prior US military service from around 1966 onward will likely already know how to handle, shoot, zero, and field strip an AR, because they are mechanically almost identical to M16s and M4s. In contrast, Mini-14 mechanical training is something that is well-known by former prison guards, more than anyone else.

So, all in all, I'd opt for an AR-15 clone or M4gery rather than a Mini-14. The AR's accuracy, profusion of available spare parts, and readily-available magazines gives them the edge.

But again, for someone living in one of the gun-deprived states, a Mini-14 might make sense. The other notable exception is in tropical climates, where if you buy the all-stainless steel composite-stock Mini-14 variants, they'll have better long-term resistance to corrosion than ARs.

As preciously discussed in SurvivalBlog, the next step up from an AR or AK would be an HK91 clone, such as those made by PTR91 Inc. (Formerly JLD), and up until some recent legal trouble, by Vector Arms. The 7.62mm NATO cartridge is far more capable than 5.56mm NATO, especially beyond 250 yards. The magazines for HKs are also dirt cheap. (As little as $5 each for German surplus G3 alloy magazines. That might make a big difference in the near future, since another 11+ round magazine production ban looks very likely.) I'd recommend buying an HK91 clone if you can afford it--that is if you can even find one, is today's frantic market.

I followed a link from your site and ended up at the DBC Pyrotechnics site, looking at a lot of 10 Thermite "all weather fire starters".

It seems like a very handy tool to have - cold weather fire starters like that. I wonder if any other readers of your novel might find them useful. A lot of 100 of those might be just a very useful thing to add into someone's retreat supplies.

Now if I can just find a place that offers pre-mixed bulk thermite, I might build some nice #2 can-size thermite devices, in case I ever have a need to do some "off grid welding", or whatever. A smaller [one quart] can [at the bottom of] a larger can filled with sand (along the sides) tends to direct more of the molten metal down through the bottom. Just the thing if you need to put a nice, fairly round hole through some steel plate for a special construction project. - Bob B.

JWR Replies:
I describe how to "mix your own" thermite as well as how to make thermite igniters in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". Thermite itself is quite easy to make, with black iron oxide and aluminum powder. But the igniters are a bit harder to improvise. So it might be easiest just to buy the small readily-available DBC Pyrotechnics fire starters with integral igniters, and use them to start larger containers of home-made thermite powder for those big cutting and welding projects.


On Tuesday Jan. 27th, SurvivalBlog readers found 12 [follow-up] letters concerning the recent "Gray Man" letter. I believe the writer's of the majority of those letters need to go back and re-read the original Gray Man post. That post included several suggestions for "surviving" within an area of control of a repressive government. They included putting pro-government bumper stickers on your car, checking out pro-government library books, accepting with a smile the government ID chip, gladly taking and using a government credit card and thanking the government for doing a good job. These are not "Gray Man hide in plain sight" activities. These are all actions that actively support the government. These are all activities that say to your neighbors that you support the government and that you think it's actions are proper. Whatever your secretly held thoughts might be, your actions are what your children and friends will see and it may add to their own doubts about their yearnings for freedom.

Please consider, if you choose not to openly fight repression, at least choose to not support it. You don't need to quickly line up to get a chip or credit card. Don't get it until you feel you have no other choice in order to survive. You don't need to put a government bumper sticker on your car. If you are afraid to proclaim what you really believe, say nothing at all. Don't give support to your secretly held enemy. Simply ignore them in every way possible. At the least, by complying as slowly as possible, you will slow the government machine down.

Several of the 12 letters spoke about spies of WWII and how they engaged in activities to gain favor with the enemy, in order to gather information for the Resistance. One letter spoke about a soldier alone behind enemy lines, who did as much as he could to avoid detection and detention, in order to return to his own lines. These are not examples of so called "Gray men". They were soldiers doing an assigned job in order to defeat the enemy. The villagers who secretly fed the partisans during the War in Europe were not Gray Men displaying happy faces. They were patriots supporting the war behind the front lines. Any of them that were caught were summarily executed. The so called "Gray Man" of the original post would do nothing to cause his arrest or worse.

It is said that during the American War for Independence, about a third of the population of the colonies put their lives, their families, and treasure at risk to gain Freedom. A third were blackguards who supported the king, and a third just stayed home and hoped somebody else would do the right thing. I would hope that in the coming days, we Americans can do at least as well as our ancestors. I pray that, at the least, there be one Patriot for every miserable "Gray Man". - Jim in Ohio


Mr. Rawles:
This "Gray Man" mini-controversy has prompted me to weigh in on the matter. I am mildly surprised at the strong reactions to it, although I suppose I shouldn't be. To be frank, this is precisely the survival mindset as taught in military SERE schools. The younger, and more passionate among us are mildly amusing in their rants against it. I suppose they need to really scrub down your mission statement, as it were, before spouting off about such things. Is your goal the survival of your family, other retreat members, and yourself, or, are you out to fight against the outlaw gangs, UN troops, T-1,000 [Terminator]s, etc.

Yes we would love to do both, but obviously(?) depending on what happens, you may have to choose one or the other. In many scenarios, it may be necessary to hunker down and just survive the initial chain of events before even considering venturing out to right wrongs and slay evil-doers. So in theory, the Gray Man concept may be necessary to live to fight another day.

Would I submit to the indignities described or defiantly say hell no and go down in a blaze of glory? The timing of your defiance would certainly seem to be critical. If you waited too late and found yourself in a corner and had to submit to it, hopefully you would be able to escape at some point and head for the hills. If you saw it coming in time enough to escape and join with other like-minded individuals, then you may be in a position to resist.

There are so many variables here, to sit and argue over such things is pointless. You may be on reconnaissance from your retreat and get policed up in a sweep and in end up in a camp. You may have to become the Gray Man to facilitate your escape.

The world is not so black and white. In unconventional warfare, being the Gray Man aptly describes many skill sets necessary to fight a stronger opponent. You only need look at recent history to understand how this works. You can get on-line and frontal assault the machine gun nest, or you can wait till they are marching back to camp and ambush them.

Seems kinda obvious to me, but it's gonna take more then pure hearts, raw courage, and hard work to defeat your enemies. It may also take swallowing your pride, being beaten and humiliated, and biding your time for when you strike back. If you are captured and maintain this overtly defiant attitude, likely as not you will be shot outright, and do no one any good.

So I think each man needs to do some soul-searching here. Are you really doing what's best to accomplish your goals, or is this your pride, or ego talking? Semper Fi, - Diz


Dear Jim,
After following the "Gray Man" debate, I have to say that I agree that the; "They can kill me, but I'll die a free man." position sounds great, but is a prime example of testosterone toxicity. However, that still leaves the issue of capitulation vs. effective resistance. The problem being that no one to date has presented any compelling suggestions as to how an effective resistance can be mounted. Anyone who tries to start is with the idea of becoming a rallying point, winds up cheered, jailed and forgotten; anyone who has a the right strategy seems to be silent. My problem is that we all know and understand the problem; there is no real need to keep chewing on it.

E-mail, Forums, Blogs, Broadsheets, Shortwave radio shows; [is just] talk, talk, talk. The Tyrants are perfectly content to let us rant, and rave, and even spout the truth about how they are enslaving us all. Just so long as we comply with each and every edict, and with each one, we are lead inexorably, to accept ever heavier chains.

What we need is some ideas on effective resistance; solutions to the problems of creeping enslavement? Please don’t tell me, or anyone that “dying a free man” is useless, unless you can tell me also what else I might do, besides surrender.

Who then will provide us with solutions? Who can answer the question: How do you effectively resist the Tyrants without going to prison, or getting killed? Political action is a waste of time, "We the People" are ignored. I admit that I am not smart enough to know the answer. Where is our V, our Danneskjöld? Without such a leader, or without such ideas, I see only the ability to throw more bodies in front of the Juggernaut, until it is starved for a lack of slaves, and victims.

So my question is not; "Who is John Galt?, but rather " John Galt; Where are you?"

Happy Trails - Fanderal

Thanks to Laura H. for this link: California prepares to stop paying bills: Come Feb. 1, tax refunds, welfare checks replaced with IOUs

   o o o

From The Appenzell Daily Bell: U.S. ratchets up pressure on UBS. Banking privacy may indeed be another casualty of the global economic crisis.

   o o o

Bill N. suggested a short article on using the shotgun for defense.

   o o o

More economic news, starting with this from Scott N.: Thousands stuck in property funds as Standard halts exits. (Does this sound familiar? As I've been warning people for two years, hedge fund and insurance redemption suspensions will become increasingly commonplace as the credit market and overall economy continue to deteriorate. Matt L. found this: English Town Establishes New Currency. Luddite Jean in England sent this: Taxes to soar by £20 BILLION per year as IMF warns Britain faces deeper recession than any other country: And from Cheryl (aka The Economatrix): Fed to Leave Interest Rate Near Zero for Some Time -- Postmaster General: Mail Delivery Days May Have to Be Cut -- US Houses Spiraling Down and Down -- Warning Over Collapse of Capital Flows -- Millions of Chinese Set to Lose Jobs -- Senator Warns White House Will "Create Crisis" and "Panic" to Push Stimulus Bill -- Hedging Your Investment Portfolio by Buying Firearms -- Bankers' Fear of Unemployment -- Bad News for Food Eaters (The Mogambo Guru) -- Everybody's Business: Deep in Debt and Now Deep in Worry

   o o o

Craig W. recommended this "Gray Man" Urban Camouflage Gun Bag. (OBTW, I've also seen guitar cases and golf bags used to the same effect.)

"If you board the wrong train, it's no use running along the corridor in the other direction." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,160. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 36 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines, with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Excellent condition original Glock Model 19 9mm 15 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch), and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $710, in today's market. 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.

2. ) A brand new-in-box Hot Jaw Bag Sealer and a box of 10 Mylar bags . (Every retreat group should have one these, since they are a tremendous labor saver!) This is a $200 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A gift certificate for $100 worth of books, courtesy of Back 40 Books.

6.) A case of 12 cans of recent production nitrogen-packed storage granola (mixed varieties) This is a $96 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,565.

This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present a guest editorial from Roger Wiegand. He is the Editor and Publisher of Trader Tracks Newsletter. Roger is co-editor of WeBeatTheStreet.com and he writes a weekly column, "Rog's Corner," For J Taylor's Gold and Technology Stocks Newsletter. He has had an interest in precious metals and futures since the commodity rallies of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Roger is a voracious reader, reviewing several domestic and foreign newspapers and wire services daily for economic, political, and monetary news. His commentary is frequently featured at KITCO.com.

Our new president was inaugurated and we wish him well for the sake of our nation and others throughout the world. We do not want to be cynical but must be realistic. We think this year will be the worst one of this longer recession-depression cycle and our new leader, we suspect is going to take a merciless pounding from a heap of troubles domestically first and foreign later.

Thankfully, the spending of TARP #2 and whatever billions-trillions are added for emphasis, should give us the Obama Market Bounce lasting perhaps 90 days or so. While this economics plan has no chance in our view, the herd psychology of markets should give us a nice relief rally almost across the board. The dollar is flat to down on the intermediate cycle and bonds are the same. We forecast the balance of our favorites to rally along with shares in both the mainstream and precious metals.

However, with spring flowers in April we are expecting a quintuple smash of:

Wave one of commercial real estate foreclosures and loan failures. Some of the biggest of the big buildings will be foreclosed and those planned but not built will never see daylight. Meanwhile, vacancies skyrocket while budgets are busted with dropping rents. One analyst estimated the New York City Financial district buildings will see 66% occupancies with break even budgets being much higher. You will see some major shopping malls shut down.
The second wave of residential foreclosures and loan failures arrives dragging down all real estate values both commercial and residential. They will sink like a rock in over-built states and within those regions previously hit the worst. This is related to the next mortgage failure cycle. Some of those formerly upscale, McMansion subdivisions will turn into ghost towns.
Wave one of auto loan failures containing billions in bank, credit union and auto finance company loans will smash credit markets. The reaction will be stunning and probably stop most vehicle lending temporarily for weeks paralyzing automakers and those lenders still doing car and truck loans.
Wave one of several future waves of credit card failures estimated at $40 billion by bank credit analysts will be an April smash. Normally card failures are in the 1-2% range annually. This larger event opens doors for a historic new number of non-payers and delinquents. This cycle is mostly job loss related but most of it is due to overspending by cardholders.
Wave one of the Credit Default Swaps (CDS) will hit markets like a Tsunami. These failures will be so overpowering, those in charge will be stunned and flabbergasted by the numbers. The figures are so large we cannot even imagine the amounts. One analyst said it was estimated between $500 and $750 Trillion dollars! There is no margin or deposit money on these trades.

Most See A Crisis Of Liquidity. We See A Crisis Of Insolvency.
Here is the difference: For those in a crisis of liquidity they have a temporary shortage of liquid cash but do have a positive balance sheet with a viable longer term business plan. Insolvency is something entirely different. Those personally or corporately insolvent have both a shortage of cash but worst of all do not have a reasonable and viable plan to grow themselves out of trouble. No matter how many billions are tossed to those insolvents, they will crash anyway while taking billions in TARP and replacement cash down the tubes with them.

An excellent example is the American auto industry. Even with enough cash to get by for say three years, the overwhelming debts and their whacko budgets eliminate any hope of recovery. The automakers are insolvent. When compared with their European and Asian competition, the Big Three continue to operate on the old paradigm with overly generous benefits, wages and perks. Further, the work ethic in America is not the same as with most other auto manufacturers.

There are exceptions of course but the money deck is stacked against the Big Three even having any chance. In addition to out of kilter budgets, the Big Three has an extremely heavy load of legacy costs related to retirees. The Asian companies do not have this burden for the most part. The Big Three are paying big bucks for many more retired workers related to pensions and health care.
A comparison might be the U.S. Social Security system. We already have too many retired folks collecting benefits compared to those working and making contributions. This relationship is going the wrong way very quickly. Real worker contributions are not keeping-up with payment demands and further, those worker contributions are deposited to the U.S. Treasury General Fund where they are open to abusive spending for other things. Those contributions should be in a segregated fund and not commingled. We suggest that when the younger workers catch on they will rebel against this idea thinking they are tired of feeding the oldsters and not keeping enough set aside for them selves.

Other Events Dragging Down World Economies
World trade is in a state of collapse as seen in tumbling Asian manufacturing and export numbers along with ships parked to the extent global docks are nearly silent. Historically when this happens, nations turn inward to save themselves. Asia will stop buying and investing in our crappy paper meaning the U.S. is no longer financed. Further, trade wars and protectionism will appear to protect internal and domestic economies. Nasty tariffs are born and international trade anger rises. Mutual cooperation so necessary to move all the global goods goes very bad.

Unemployment is rising swiftly throughout the world. In the U.S. we see 500,000 jobs per month going down the drain. Those are the losses reported. We would strongly suggest the actual monthly loss is near 1,000,000 per month. If this is true, America will shed 12mm jobs this year as our new administration proudly announces they will create 2-4mm new ones. They will be going backwards at the rate of nearly -80%, which is astounding. Worse yet, any new ones will be make-work government jobs creating a further drain on the treasury. We see next to nothing for new private employment. Obviously with all the joblessness, bills are not paid relative to autos, housing, miscellaneous loans, education, health care, travel, taxes, entertainment, etc. Lost jobs create a cascade of failures across the entire spending-investment spectrum. Further, when fear sets in as in today’s situation, those still working stop spending. Spending losses encourage a Catch-22 and the whole cycle-episode feeds on itself in a downward spiral.

While we remain in a primary deflation mode world-wide, we think inflation followed by hyperinflation is very real and possible in later 2009. The Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury are just about at the end of their rope. They are out of rate cut running-room and those moves are mostly ineffectual now anyway. All they have left is a phony game of printing dollars and bonds while moving them around in a circle within our country. Foreign USA paper buyers take less and less at new auctions. We know they are dumping dollars and other papers assets at a furious pace paying bills and investing in honest-to-goodness hard goods with real value. Watch out for big time inflation in the second half of 2009.

As we write this on January 20th, England’s Pound Sterling is taking a historic dive as their central bank has been printing recklessly to fund illiquid-insolvent disasters. One analyst expects the Pound to fail and this monetary crisis to go into a Trustee Receivership with the IMF and Euroland authorities in charge.

We’ve been saying for months the monster U.S. bond short just ahead will be the mother of all bubbles. Others agree and we see more and more discussion relative to this topic. Timing is difficult but more than one analyst suggests using the ET’s for trading this longer term event.

One top analyst from Canada suggests this current economic cycle might resemble the 1873-1896 depression in the U.S. Maybe, but with think its more like 1929-1939 as today is 1938-1939 with stronger negatives. After 1939 only war got the global system on track again. Expect a repeat.

Remember Sir Alan delayed the 2000 event with low interest and free housing money. He has only delayed the inevitable disaster giving it a bunch more nasty power. The overshoot on the downside is already crazy and we have long, long way to go headed down to the lower than low finish line.

Towns, Cities, States And Municipalities Losing Tax Income
Pensioners are a dominant investor group in municipal bonds for retirement income. Real estate taxes are the primary driver of cash-in for these groups. With tax values sinking and taxpayers defaulting, your local township, village, county or city is not receiving enough income to pay bond interest. We think there is a distinct possibility California goes bankrupt!

We see a series of rolling defaults. Look at California. The announced they will be mailing income tax refunds late as they are broke. Further, some creditors are either getting or, about to get payments from the State of California in IOUs. This state is $40 Billion short on their budget and realistically have no way to escape. Their lender of last resort will be Uncle Sam. This means other states that behave themselves and pay their bills will have their residents tapped to cover California messes.

In Michigan, the Cities of Highland Park and Flint went broke and Lansing (our capitol) and Detroit are next. We cannot imagine what life will be like in Wayne and Oakland counties in Southeastern, Michigan when our Big Three disappear in bankruptcy. Hundreds of thousands of high pay jobs will vanish-suppliers and associated employment constitute thousands more lost forever.

It has been said that whenever a nation’s debts exceed GDP by over +6%, there is no recovery. The U.S. crossed that threshold last year and is headed for +10% on debts over GDP. There is no turning back and the recovery could be a decade or more away. We are going broke nationally for certain.

Being Poor Is A Hardship. Being Poor In The Middle Of Social Violence Is Untenable.

The U.S. has resources to provide enough food and shelter for the poor, and newly jobless with little strain. They won’t do it because the government is always a reactor not an initiator in solving problems. This means there is a social upheaval ahead worse than ten Katrina’s. The sad part is it could be avoided if the authorities would just get busy and get the aid out and delivered. They won’t because they are too stupid and disorganized. Watch the fallout from this mess!

Families, singles, children, and pensioners are going hungry for lack of adequate nourishment many times trading food money for utilities or rent; not being able to afford all necessities. Here we sit with millions of vacate homes and more coming yet we lack adequate housing for the poor.

The food banks are overrun with demands while millions of others throw food in the garbage. The food situation is one of transport and distribution rather than a lack. Governments are not even close to being prepared for the crushing demands of the cold and hungry we see in 2009-2012. Then, to make it all worse, when the US weather warms-up and gets hotter this summer, heat drives out the jobless and they go hunting on the streets. They will be on the prowl for free food, food to steal and committing crimes for other necessary goods they cannot afford.

The terrible, old Los Angeles and Detroit riots and those of other larger urban areas will re-set new records for fires, destruction and mayhem. People read of the billions stolen by crooked bankers and their sleazy associates and anger is swiftly rising. We have no idea how crazy wild this can get but in our view meeting violence with more violence is not the answer. For those with limited resources it’s simply better to just get out of the way. For those with money and an obviously good lifestyle in the city, we expect you will be a daily robbery target. Better think about it.

Back in the 1930s depression, our population simply suffered in silence. While I suppose there was some crime, it was modest compared to what we see on the 2009 horizon. In this spoiled generation of me first-you last, there will be no time for suffering in silence. When an unemployed father needs milk for crying babies, he will get a weapon and go get the milk and food.
We get second-hand reports of huge gangs in South Central L.A., and Chicago on both the north and south sides and others. California gangs are reported to outnumber the police 3 to 1 and worst of all they have automatic and heavy weapons. This is not going to be pretty.

Even in the rural parts of the country, there are steady reports of thieves stealing farm equipment, robbing houses and taking fuel. Unattended property is a target. We think living in a small quiet town with good neighbors, being nondescript and blending in will provide a better life. If you can’t move, better make provision for a spot to land if your neighborhood goes bad overnight.

Another ugly part of depression life is a clash of cultures and religions. The have-nots will turn on the haves perceiving them to be part of the reason the poor are poor. Obviously this is ridiculous but that is an easy perception to embrace. Look for new nastiness among those cultures most prone to argue and pick-on each other and targets generally having a good life style with plenty of money.

A new mindset is necessary to curtail higher, former lifestyles. I have friends who spend like they did ten years ago but do not have ten years’ ago resources. Inflation is insidious. It grinds away on your income with no raises or increases being few and far between. It grinds away with taxes, as cost increases constantly slide higher at a gradual but relentless pace. It takes away little pleasures like eating out more often or taking nice vacations. It tightens the belts of kids in high school who want more expensive stuff while school systems offer less and charge more. It bites on us with repairs and on things that break too often and cost too much. Once tiny, annual fees like a dog license or, auto registration keep going higher and higher.

If most people took a real hard look at income and spending I think they would make tighter budgets, curtail old pleasures and get rough with letting a nickel go out the door. Most keep on keeping on, doing the same old stuff relative to spending and wonder why they are broke. Americans probably have the worst savings record in the world. They always spend far beyond their means, for the most part; living from check-to-check. I see it in Michigan in upscale neighborhoods where thirty-somethings living in McMansions have a husband-wife income of $250,000-to-$300,000, being basically broke. They have multiple leased cars and trucks, a house payment that would choke a horse and plenty of extras including private clubs, special training, fancy vacations, private schools, and overdone holidays. Watch how this comes to a screeching halt!

The chickens (vultures) are coming home to roost. Bye-Bye $150,000 per year auto engineer’s salaries, and here comes rising taxes as our esteemed governor takes more and spends more even in these distressed times. She thinks your earned money is her money. She never had a real job or met a payroll in her life. Let them eat cake she says; all is well. Watch where that goes. Taxpayer revolts are born of situations like this one.

I’ve got some bad news for her. The tax income is skidding, big painful state lay-offs are just ahead and when schools begin to close, homeowners send in house keys to the bank and leave our state. There is going to be lots of jingle mail sent to the bankers this spring. Mark my words it’s going to be beyond ugly. Maybe Michigan will revert to the forest emulating Detroit where wildlife abounds and not the kind you think either.

The USA War Machine Will Shrink.
We Can’t Pay For It And Most Americans Are Tired Of Feeding Defense Companies To Manufacture Stuff That’s Blown-Up And Wrecked.
Global economic calamities redistribute national power. The survivors have independent energy sources or, they steal it from others. The Middle Eastern struggles with Israel and the Arabs will continue we think until it heaven forbid goes nuclear. NATO is going weaker in Europe as Putin closes in for the kill. South America has several newly-bent left-leaning commie countries courtesy of Hugo Chavez. His antics in his country and with neighbors, and Cuba and Mexico tell us this dude is on a rampage to spread big trouble right at the door-step of America in Mexico.

We sincerely hope our new president is a tough guy with the bad guys. They will lend no quarter and are simply lying back in the weeds to take control by force. We suggest if the truth be known, Mexico is far out on the stability ledge as we speak. Our border guards and even the U.S.’s Border States’ National Guard are no match for those criminals in Northern and Central Mexico. New reports tell us they caused more deaths in Mexico last year than were counted in Iraq. This is very serious, indeed.

New Currencies, Bretton Woods And T-Bonds

Our New York global trading and investment banks will require constant infusions of new cash to stay afloat. The TARP funding and still more to come is tossing cash into a bottomless pit. One of the world’s bigger banks is going to fail this year and it will be a disaster.

Next, one of the larger insurance companies will go bankrupt and create another shock to the core of our system and that of the world. This insurance company crash will be matched by a monster blue chip American company failing and shocking Wall Street.

The U.S. Bond bubble is the mother of all bubbles and has tragic consequences for the entire world. These markets are 70 times larger than the shares markets and form the lifeblood of capital for global finance. When this one breaks, the reverberations slam the world’s financial systems to the bone.

The old Bretton Woods system of having our USA dollar as the backbone of the world’s currency system could break down. The Asians and those in the Middle East are already forming new currency and trade platforms based upon brand new trading ideas. The U.S. Dollar is headed to .4600 on our forecasts; roughly a -50% haircut. We are all entering a brand new world. The old world is a goner and those who cannot change will wither and fail.

Get with a new program and be busy moving in the right direction. The time is now and the time is short. We think after May, 2009, several chances to implant new trades, investment ideas, personal events and other things will be too late.

Imposition of government capital controls can impede moving your business, cash, funds, and retirement in or, out of the U.S. It might be very expensive and difficult; or impossible.

Survivors and Those Who Win Buy Gold And Silver
We think the secret to getting through this is to hunker down, eliminate debts, keep a low profile, trade in gold and silver shares during this first quarter along with futures, and then adjust in April when stocks sell off. Gold topped out near $850 years ago right where our price is today. We forecast 80% of the gold upside is still ahead in these markets. Silver is behind gold for now but will catch-up. They never trade like twins most of the time. We think the worst silver could do is $50; but expect much higher prices.

We look forward with anticipation to some great fun in these markets. If you are not in a position now, hurry-up and get it done. The door is open for all the shares’ markets including our precious metals. Futures traders in gold and silver have been trading this past week in large size. It seems the new trend is established and our long awaited rallies are underway.

In Trader Tracks, we provide weekly guidance and extra e-mail alerts to report our best new trades and offer suggestions for trade management. Visit our web site at WeBeatTheStreet.com for more information on our spectacular futures and commodities trading record.

Whatever you do, make a concerted effort to stay with our trend and hang onto your core holdings of favorite shares, cash, and coins. Physical gold should never be sold or, traded but rather accumulated steadily on a monthly savings plan.

Recent news says you cannot find any [bullion] coins or small bars. We see delays and back-orders but some dealers have goods in hand right now. Go shopping. Should you have difficulty buying physical metals, we suggest placing an order and being patient. Big traders are always ready to buy the dips and normally never sell their gold and silver. You would be amazed how quickly your physical gold and silver will accumulate using this strategy.

Roger Wiegand
Editor, Trader Tracks Newsletter & The Rog Blog at WeBeatTheStreet.com

Mr. Rawles,
I finally had a chance to use the Front Sight certificate that I won in your writing contest. I took the Practical Rifle class and it was great. My shooting improved dramatically in just a few days. I wanted to get out of the Washington, DC area for the inauguration of Barack Obama and shooting an AR-15 rifle seemed like an especially good diversion. Its a long trip for me but it was worth it and I hope to make it again and send my boys when they are old enough.

I was able to use frequent flyer miles for the ticket (my friends in the industry encourage me to use them while I still can, which is not easy). The hotel was discounted to about $45 per night, since the casinos are starting to hurt with the worsening economy. The class itself was free [with the gray course certificate] , but it did cost me about $250 for rifle rental and ammunition (bringing a rifle would have meant another bag fee and possibly another fee for an oversized bag.)

Anyway, I can say that the folks art Front Sight are a professional organization and I recommend them highly. I thank you again for the certificate. - J. Britely

My mentor Dr. Gary North recommended a video slide show over at iTulip,com. Gary's description: "A Low-Budget, Four-Minute Video Makes the Strongest Case I Have Seen for the Magnitude of This Crisis"

   o o o

The folks at Seed For Security (one of our advertisers) have expanded their web page of free self-sufficiency reference articles. BTW, my philosophy on gardening is to concentrate on non-hybrid plants. the "open pollinated" or "heirloom" varieties. Gain experience gardening with those varieties, and practice harvesting and saving seed. "Buy what you plant,and plant what you buy."

   o o o

Reader T.U. wrote to ask: "What's the big whoop-de-do about derivatives? Isn't the risk all 'notional'?" The risk is real. We are talking about hundreds of trillions of dollars in play. Most derivatives contracts end in a neat "zero sum" transaction. But what if one party goes out of business? The counterparty risk is tremendous. For some background, see the article that I wrote about derivatives back in 2006: Derivatives--The Mystery Man Who'll Break the Global Bank at Monte Carlo.

   o o o

On the lighter side, several readers mentioned this recent Dilbert cartoon. (The previous day's strip is also quite good.) And on the not-so-light side: David Rosenberg, Chief Economist at Merrill Lynch, declares we are in a .depression. (A hat tip to Jim H. for the link to that PDF.) And Laura H. found this Financial Times piece: Nations turn to barter deals to secure food.

"Hoplophobia is a mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons, as opposed to justified apprehension about those who may wield them." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper, To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

I would like to address a concept that is a common thread in our discussions and our thoughts as people who emphasize characteristics that strengthen our individual freedoms while trying to ensure our families’ safe pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

It’s the concept of the weakest link; and as I recently discovered, it has a nasty habit of exposing itself at the most inopportune times. Most of you know of which I speak. Every system, every group, every method boasts the greatness of its strength only to the degree that its weakest part can sustain a force great enough to enable the entire endeavor, right?
I have been been a survival-minded person for the greater part of two decades plus; military background and time spent in roles and responsibilities that most would choose not to engage. My experience dictated that OPSEC and "cover" become a lifestyle – not just a hobby. I prided myself on my ability to produce results without discovery; my commitment to educate my family/children and those around me to facilitate my own heightened sense of situational awareness; my ability to be always ready for whatever might come my way and the impending confidence that I would always have the upper hand.

That was until two years ago, when my oldest son at age 22 was killed serving his country, I wasn’t prepared for the sense of loss and ultimately what it would do to my fortress mentality. In the two year period since his death, I’ve found myself slipping, missing important details, my mind wandering as I grieve his death and deal with the absence that now occupies my life. My wife responded even worse than I did. Her grief has caused her to go through changes that none of us could’ve ever imagined even five years ago. This experience, unfortunately has contributed to our separation from each other. In an effort to try and work through this new territory, I occasionally leave my mountain home to take our two youngest children to visit her as often as I can. It was during one of these visits that the magnitude of our slackness showed its ugly head.

To make along story short, all of my years of preparation and subsequent months of sloth came to a head when my weakest link revealed itself, quite by surprise as I was sleeping soundly in my wife’s condo on the beach. (We recently separated, she recently moved out) while my 8 year old son was playing in the living room. There was a knock on the door. I was asleep so my son looks through the peephole to see who it was, recognizing the person and thinking he was friendly, my son unlocks and opens the door (did I mention that I was asleep?). The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Uninvited Visitor: "Hi, what are you doing?"

My Son: "Playing with toys, wanna come in and play too?"

Uninvited Visitor: "Where is your mom?"

My Son: "She is at work."

Uninvited Visitor: "Who is watching you?"

My Son: "My dad. He is in the bedroom sleeping,"

Uninvited Visitor: "No, I gotta go!"

Then he went running down the hall, down the stairs and exited the building. My son closed the door and came to wake me up. He proceeded to brief me on the situation and expressed his curiosity as to what just happened. It only took me a moment to assess and begin damage control to ensure no further harm would occur.

Some details on the situation: I was a t a condo on the beach, visiting separated wife, condo is supposed to be secure ("Yeah, right.") card readers, locks, hardened dead bolts, CCTV, front desk person – our visitor bypassed all of that to get to the front door. It was a Tuesday morning around 1000 – my wife was at work – this person would have known that – why, she went out on a date with him six months ago – she dumped him, he’s been reported stalking her every since; she tells me this after the incident even reporting that he sometimes sits in the parking garage in a dark corner to watch her. Weird, I know. His intention, IMHO, was to do some harm, I don’t believe this was in any way a normal, safe type of visit. He had obtained at least permission from front desk person to enter using his obvious familiarity to gain cooperation, and had somehow obtained an extra card key to get past elevator and/or stairwell, possibly (IMHO) possessing a key to the door, which I’m convinced he would have used if we weren’t there. An observation; I’ve known for years that predators prey on those who are caught up in chaos, they seem drawn to it. I digress…

Scarier, did I mention I was asleep at the time! I can’t tell you how many times this has played over in my mind – how close we came to a possible fatal error. I have scripted my kids ad nauseam on proper protocol for identifying and answering doors – apparently nobody told my youngest son that this person was no longer a "friendly", but had since become an enemy – failure to communicate started the problems.

Thank the good Lord in heaven that said person was afraid of my presence enough to be deterred – he had the right to be by the way (I can assure you this won’t happen again – Lord Willing). All those years of doing what I did – and this happens – yikes! Apparently my pride or maybe just my sloth created an opportunity for this situation to develop.

I am actually very happy in retrospect that this happened. It shook me out of my funk and has since challenged me to step it up and get back to my ‘normal’ situational awareness that I lived with and became comfortable with for so many years. I write this to remind you good folks out there to check and recheck – exercise, practice, communicate, analyze – whatever it takes – do your best to discover your weakest links and harden them the best that you can. Try to be creative, sometimes it’s the things that you can’t imagine that get you – if you have children, engage them in discussions that help you determine and reveal weaknesses without scaring them to death; and don’t be afraid of instructing them in ways that will help you maintain your OPSEC. The truth is these things can be fatal – learn from my mistake. Humbly submitted. - M.M.

Contrary to your apparent slew of letters, I thought that the Gray Man article article made a lot of sense. Come the time that the government actually moves against [gun owners] to that extent, we can be picked off one by one, leaving a lot of widows and orphans, or we can survive and live. A dead patriot does no one any good.

The “Gray Man” theory is thoroughly fleshed out in a book by Jefferson Mack, entitled “Invisible Resistance to Tyranny.” I was deeply affected by this book, and encourage others to read it.

For the record, I would be considered paranoid by most “normal” people. I despise our government, and despair at the looming storm on the horizon. I don’t participate in the frauds they call elections. I work at a good job and mind my own business. I am far from wealthy, but have laid up some of the basics to survive. Including privately purchased guns, ammo, and food. I will never buy another gun from a dealer.

When the time comes, I will have to make the decision on how to survive. I believe our government is far more intrusive than most of us can imagine already. When and if it strikes to remove our few remaining freedoms, we will have to choose whether to survive living “normal” lives, or be killed for our beliefs.

There is no honor in needless death. - David W.


I must disagree with lots of your correspondent who stated: "What good will it do “Gray Man” to teach his children of Liberty after he has given their Liberties away?", et cetera.

Any real Liberty-supporting organization must have a plan for the worst: The police state has made a list of anybody who has participated in any political action, selectively arrested and executed them.
Or, as I have stated in letter to some technocrat, "It's honest to try to win. It's stupid to assume you will win".
Negative: In Israel, the right-wing organizations fiercely fought against leaving Gaza settlements. But they didn't do anything to prepare for leaving, and now 8,000 [former] Gaza settlers are still living in cardboard boxes without work.
Positive: Long ago I have read the story. During WWII in some Yugoslav town there were partisans, actively fighting against Hitler. They stated that their victories were due to intelligence from mysterious Agent Red Star. When Agent Red Star died with rifle in her hands, partisans at last announced who she was. Everybody was shocked to find that the famous Agent was a prostitute hated by everybody because she slept with Nazis only and was the only one in all town who met occupiers with flowers.
She sacrificed her life fortune and sacred honor for Victory and for her people. - Thor


I'm going to play the devil's advocate here and play the flip side of "The Gray Man". I'm not going to extol any perceived benefits of cowering down and accepting the mark or sitting idly by while tyranny encroaches us. However, strategically I think there might be some benefit to be gained by having a man on the inside, if you will. Whether this person or persons will be in the military, civil service, government agencies, even a regular citizen (who is privy to the control grid that may be in place) or a combination thereof is largely irrelevant. What is important is the fact that having an insider in the machine may prove to be invaluable if it ever devolves into an all out Them versus Us. Throughout history double agents and traitors on the inside have proved far more damaging than brute force attacks from the outside. I hate to reference literary rubbish like The Turner Diaries, but in that "book" there was a group of people who could be said will not receive the mark (who were de facto "marked" men, for lack of a better word) and clean people who could be said will receive the mark that were there for support and logistics. Or to take another example, during WWII there were the partisans who performed direct actions against the enemy, and then there were the regular villagers who offered them food, shelter, and other aid while giving the outward appearance of conformity. Just something to think about as many people, especially those with families, might think twice about resisting the mark when their families are sick, starving, or dying.

A rock that is thrown against an engine probably wont do much, but if that rock is inside bouncing around it has the potential to completely obliterate the engine.
As always, all the best to you and yours. - O.E.



You posted several letters 'rebutting' the Gray Man theory. There must be some "very brave" souls out there. Although I have taken, saved, and witnessed many lives go and stay, I can't comprehend fighting a fight knowing I would die leaving my family as servants/slaves/prostitutes, etc. Possibly the Gray man lives on to fight another day. Possibly the Gray man does not, and stays on as a father figure to his children so that they (God forbid) can win a war he knows he cannot. It is easy to sit behind a PC and type a courageous letter. It is much harder to kill (hardest of all), leave a friend to die, die yourself, and worst of all leave your family alone for a lost cause. Taken in literal context this letter is offensive to anyone who has fought for any cause. Taken in a figurative context, the letter is 100% on the money.

To all the tough and carelessly brave out there, thank you for your courage. To the other Gray Men not wanting to die, and not wanting to martyr, I say: hold fast. God will judge, time will remember and for goodness sake never never never give up.

This is not being subservient, cowardly or submissive. In your novel "Patriots" nobody stormed an armed bunker to prove a point. Just because they would look cool to others surviving in trying times. This is being smart when the time comes. - K.


I had a conservation with a friend a while back. He said he was afraid "they" would be coming for our guns soon. I told him, it is like back in WW ll, the Nazis collecting. It is your duty as an American to shoot the collectors, or at least as many as you can. There are way more gun owners than there are gun collectors, so they will loose. They will run out of collectors, even is we can only 'get' one of them, at each confiscation.
This is where I draw the line. If 'they' get the drop on me, I may not be able to stop any, but I will do what I can to defend our nation from illegal confiscation and tyranny. - Henry Bowman


Mr. Rawles,
My fiancee' and I do not agree with the Gray Man theory and we are willing to stand up and fight for our country as our capabilities will allow.

We also feel we must speak out about the contributors that have posted survival advice from their retreats in South America and the Islands. There is an old Irish Saying that goes: "Over the fence is out". Those folks have no advice to give American Patriots who choose to stay and try to protect our way of life here in America. As far as we are concerned they are just Gray Men who have fled the country and are too cowardly to stick it out here and try to take back the way of life we all used to enjoy. We don't want to hear about their preparations or their retreat or anything about them.

Yes, we also are planning our retreat to the mountains in the near future but when the time comes to stand up and be counted we feel that we will be able to do that more effectively out of the city. We will not be hiding in a cave when the time comes to fight. Sincerely, - Irishgirl


Mr. Editor,

In defense of the "Gray Man" article , historically oppressed people have quietly rebelled against their oppressors.

Just because some keyboard commando says he'll fight to the death or "vote from the rooftops" doesn't mean he won't be peeing his pants or turning in his neighbors when the government comes to confiscate firearms or impose new laws/rules.

We've all seen what happens to people that defy the government and that's unlikely to change. Just as England, Australia and Canada have given up their rights , so shall we and it will be done to the cheering of our fellow countrymen.- Ulysses Grant


Some of your readers commented on the "cowardly" nature of E.'s post to your blog "Letter Re: The Gray Man in the Coming Storm" and I find their responses are predicated on idealism and not on an objective assessment of the State apparatus and the comorbid social, cultural and political factors supporting it.

The flag-waving patriot, bumper-sticker aficionado and cammie-clad militia man all draw attention to themselves, and these behaviors, when taken together and combined with other data, create a behavior cluster that might draw unwelcome investigative scrutiny. The idea that one person can make a difference by opposing the State in it's present condition is dangerous not only because one patriot is removed from action but also because such "successes" embolden the State and it's Sheeple followers thus strengthen perception of the State's legitimacy. One person opposing the State allows the State's resources to bear on one target and without a larger rebellion to distribute those resources (in the first case this is a "many to one" problem, the second is a "many to many" problem), the State wins.

The counter-insurgency in Iraq has changed the paradigm of combat and law enforcement. Intelligence Based Operations are the cornerstone of modern counter-insurgency (COIN) and this has created the specter of Intelligence Based Policing. Fundamentally, these involved pre-emptive Find, Fix Kill/Arrest through collection, social network analysis and application of Operations Research. Collection is key, meaning data has to be fresh and relevant. There is no want of intelligence on US persons. The FBI maintains vast holdings of such in Clarksburg, West Virginia and commercial providers like Choicepoint, Accurint and LEXIS-NEXIS contribute greatly to this Panopticon. So, the citizen cannot help be collected upon, however we may conceal certain practices and behaviors through covert and clandestine techniques---one of which is not to draw attention to themselves or activities. That's were the Gray Man has an advantage---in denying and degrading collection. One can resist overtly about RFID chips being against your religion, but the State cares not---it is it's own religion.

The American War for Independence was a linear, 1st Generation battlefield, not a net-centric 4th Generation battlefield with an immense intelligence infrastructure supporting it In short, it is difficult to conceal oneself, but concealing certain activities is possible. Future success goes not to flag waving ideologues, but skillful practitioners. Remain uninteresting. - Mark in Potomac


I strongly suggest reading Andy McNab's book Bravo Two Zero in which the British SAS soldier who was captured behind enemy lines while hunting Scud [missile launcher]s in 1991. McNab spoke of the SAS's concept of being the "Gray Man". It served him in pretending to be nothing more than a mere, hapless soldier caught up (pun intended) in some bad circumstances. The concept of the Gray Man is that he doesn't draw attention to himself, people won't likely have remembered meeting him, his appearance nondescript. In essence, he's just any other face in the crowd.

In our preps, that's the way we should all strive to appear, for the old slogan "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down". That does not mean to acquiesce to any scheme that our government may foist upon us. The author's plan may keep him and his hidden and out of sight, but does nothing for his brethren. Not to appear to be a tin-foil hat wearer, but he time for OPSEC and good, solid planning (both logistical and learning) is now, before something untoward occurs.

As an aside, those who enjoy Bravo Two Zero will also like McNab's non-fiction Immediate Action and the book The One That Got Away by Chris Ryan, the only patrol member that night who escaped capture or death. Truly harrowing stuff.

I know it's somewhat of a cliche, but Sun-Tzu said it best "Every battle is won before it is fought".

Thanks and keep up the good work. - Ken B. in New York


I would refer critics of the Gray Man concept to an article regarding the phenomenon of standing up to Leviathan, and what happens to people who do so before the time is ripe. "The Trouble With Ragnar Danneskjöld" Best, - Rory Hand


Dear Mr. Rawles:
Thank you again for the wonderful site. It really is informative all the time. I'm writing today in response to the responses to the Gray Man. I read the original Gray Man story by E., and I completely understood his point of view. I was rather surprised by the angry reactions to that letter. At the same time, I understand their point of view. Many people want to be good citizens and fight on the side of good. But to those people, I ask today, "Who is the enemy?" While there are many people who are willing to die for freedom and America, how many are willing to do more than that? The greatest enemy and threat to freedom in America, and in every country, is government. But in America, who is government? It's your neighbors and others. So who are these citizens going to fight? Are these people who are opposed to the Gray Man ideas willing to openly fight the government of today? Are they willing to resist with violence now, the very people who are in government? Or are they willing to spend the rest of their lives in jail, separated from their friends and family? Or does the strategy of the Gray Man and nonviolence a better idea right now, in this country? - Ogre



Reading this "Gray Man" debate reminds me that it is time to re-watch the 1980s television mini-series "Amerika". It is pretty ponderously long (a 3 hour story that they squeezed into 11 hours), but it did have some choice moments and it made people think. Here is a paraphrase of a quote from a minor actor in the final episode:: "Ten years ago, I buried my guns, because I didn't know who to aim them at. Well, now I do now!" Here is the advice of a Viet Nam vet: Be safe, keep a low profile, and stack your ammo cans and rations deep. - Alan G. (RVN, '67-'68 and '70-'71)

"No man survives when freedom fails, The best men rot in filthy jails, And those who cry 'appease, appease' Are hanged by those they tried to please." - Hiram Mann

Monday, January 26, 2009

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,010. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 36 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines, with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Excellent condition original Glock Model 19 9mm 15 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch), and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $710, in today's market. 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.

2. ) A brand new-in-box Hot Jaw Bag Sealer and a box of 10 Mylar bags . (Every retreat group should have one these, since they are a tremendous labor saver!) This is a $200 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A gift certificate for $100 worth of books, courtesy of Back 40 Books.

6.) A case of 12 cans of recent production nitrogen-packed storage granola (mixed varieties) This is a $96 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,565.

This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

The following are few random observation on current events:

1. Economic News

1A. The recent turn for the worse for Great Britain's economy has sent shock waves around the globe. I expect this bad news continue, and intensify in the months to come, especially once the full implications of the Credit Default Swap (CDS) derivatives fiasco become known.

1B. It is interesting to see that the COMEX spot silver and spot gold markets are breaking out of their doldrums. Apparently, the big investors have come to realize that there are simultaneous credit market-spawned economic problems in North America, Europe and Asia. With the markets for currencies, bonds, equities and real estate all in turmoil globally, precious metals are rightly seen the only truly safe refuge for wealth preservation. There will surely be some more scary pull-backs on rumors of central bank metals sales, but I think that this could be a major turning point for the metals market. There is now a general sense of panic in the air, and the smart money is heading for the exits.

2.) Gun Control on the Fast Track

2A. Ever since BHO was elected, gun, ammo, and magazine buying in the US has been at an almost frenzied pace. People can see what is coming. This is taking place even though there is not yet a scheduled congressional floor debate of the proposed re-vamped "Assault Weapons" and "High Capacity" magazine ban. This begs the question: What will the market be like once the debate is in full swing? Methinks that prices will at least double overnight. And then what will prices be like if an when a bill is passed? (Needless to say, that would be a Very Bad Thing. So please contact your Congresscritters, and do your best to stop any and all gun legislation.)

2B. I do my best to avoid tenuous conspiracy theories, but the timing of last weekend's Miami Viciousness with a ubiquitous Kalashnikov seems just a tad suspicious:: "These are weapons of war, and they don't belong on the streets of Miami or any other street in America," Mayor Manuel Diaz said. The Mayor and Miami's Chief of Police "both demanded immediate reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons. The Mayor said [US Vice President] Biden has assured him the Federal ban on assault weapons will be reinstated in short order." [Emphasis added.]

2C. The BHO Administration has wasted no time rolling out a series of Executive Orders (EOs). Both my gut and my informants inside the Beltway tell me that another EO will soon be added to the list with an importation ban on detachable-magazines semi-auto rifles (and possibly pistols), and for all magazines over 10 round capacity.

The recent CBS Evening News piece on the gun-buying boom is evidence that this trend is big. It is so big that not even the Katie Courics of the world can ignore it. (Although they will do their best to soft-pedal it, and to deflect attention away from the BHO Administration's civilian disarmament agenda, which includes renewal of the 1994-to-2004 Federal Ban, but with no sunset clause.)

The two preceding data points are evidence that the "news velocity" in America has increased and will continue to increase in the weeks to come. One could compare the economy and politics for the next 8 to 15 years to a roller coaster ride. The ride has already started. It is dark. Nobody can see the track ahead. There have already been some frightening dips and turns. But we are now nearing the big Deep Drama point on the track--you remember it--the one where everybody screams.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I'm a long-time lurker of SurvivalBlog, but thought I'd pass on some links of interest. For the record, I've read your novel ["Patriots"], and I am coming from a "Peaknik" viewpoint. But still have my original copy of "Life After Doomsday". Currently I'm living in Finland, which has its pros and cons. "Russian bombers over your home" is not a theoretical concept to Finns and they don't grow enough food for themselves [for a self-sufficient economy.]. A Nordic socialist government with high taxes and cost of living might not be of interest to many SurvivalBlog readers, but at least I see where my money goes and feel safer for my family should something happen to me. We won't talk about gun control and no legal right to self-defense. However, the country is the third most heavily armed civilian population in the world. Excluding the two school shootings the lack of most violent crime I would attest to the social welfare system in the country helping even out the worst of the differences. Study the causes of the nasty Finnish Civil War of 1918 with how united the country was in WWII and you can see why some of the social welfare system was instituted.

There's a large number of illegal guns in the country, 50,000--500,000. These aren't just your old hunting rifle, but include Maxim machine guns sealed behind a wall and mortar tubes in the basement. See the Wikipedia page on weapons caches. (A stay-behind plan in case of Russian occupation of the country. Note the explanation of why Finnish communists went from planning revolution to entering Parliament).

The Finnish government has spent a lot of time and effort towards building resiliency into the country, fearing a repeat of WWII when they ended up fighting both the Soviets and the Nazis. Since then they put a lot of effort into building up food stocks and ensuring the country can survive on its own. Bomb shelters are still part of the standard building code, though it's been relaxed from buildings of 600m2 [floor] surface area to 1000m2, and the air-raid sirens are still tested regularly. Military conscription is still practiced here and overall widely supported by people as well as a strong reserve system. However recruits these days are more likely to be out of shape and more attuned to working with computers than the farm-bred youth of WWII.

Many Finns have their own cottages as they move from the farm didn't occur that long ago. With the many lakes for water, cottages for shelter, wood for fuel and more nature-orientation of the Finns I think they'd do fine overall as a society in a TEOTWAWKI situation presuming the government food supplies get the population through the first winter. I was reading the government estimate in a Finland-stands-alone situation is that they can feed everyone in Finland with at least 2,800 calories per day, though you might be suicidal from the blandness of the diet. (See the NESA web site). This is a bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish, but they still translate many things into English).
Unfortunately, I don't know how much they took into account cuts in the fuel supply for tractors, fertilizers and transportation. The winters can be harsh and we're noticing climate change here leading to "black winters" that are worse than "real" winters. The snow and frost helps kill off bugs in the soil, provide extra insulation for buildings, and reflects light so it's not so dark. Unfortunately, that's all disappearing. Winds blow to the east for about nine months of the year. Unfortunately, Chernobyl melted down during one of the [Spring] months [when] the winds blow from the east and so nuclear fallout is also a concept that's been just theoretical so far. There's some mushrooms here you no longer want to eat. The Sosnovy Bor reactor that powers St. Petersburg is the same model as Chernobyl and is far closer to the Finnish border than one would like.

[Some topics previously discussed in SurvivalBlog snipped, for brevity.]

Lest we forget non-TEOTWAWKI scenarios, here's a reminder of the world of US WWII rationing. I like the various kids' books about disaster being published by various agencies. "Color your way through disaster!" could be their motto. Still, it's a beginning.

May I also suggest some readers might be interested in the late John Seymour's post-collapse novel "Retrieved from the Future". Seymour is famous as a father of the back-to-the-land movement in Britain, publishing two classics as "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It" as well as "Forgotten Arts and Crafts". Both are well illustrated and have a wealth of information on how to do things as well as how things used to be done. "Retrieved from the Future" is basically a Peak Oil novel written twelve years ago and set in Britain. As befits a self-sufficiency guru he pays a lot of attention to how high-energy farming fails to keep going as oil, fertilizer and spare parts go away while also discussing the rebirth of older forms of agricultural. The Golden Horde makes its visit and is deflected, but not the British Army when it comes time to requisition food for the cities and seize the few weapons British civilians have. Basically a solid British perspective on what would happen during a collapse.

As some readers have expressed interest in the new film "Defiance" I might also suggest trying to get hold of a Soviet film from 1987 called "Come and See". Essentially a film about partisans in Byelorussia during WWII, the depiction of the village being destroyed came to my mind several times while I was reading your book "Patriots".
Regards, - Simo H. in Finland

Last Monday night I was seized by eight guys, handcuffed and locked in the trunk of a car. Now I don't know if you've ever been locked in the trunk of a car, but it's not exactly how most folks want to spend an hour!

Luckily this was part of OnPoint Tactical's Urban Escape and Evasion class and I wasn't actually getting "rolled up."

Earlier in the day we had spent a considerable amount of time learning how to free ourselves from handcuffs, flexicuff [plastic cable tie cuff]s, duct tape, rope and various other implements that impede personal freedom.

We learned also about stress and adrenaline levels in a survival or escape and evasion situation, and how to properly deal with and inoculate against these. We looked at caching ideas and prepared caches of 'travel documents' that had to be hidden in an urban area without detection by instructors seeking to find them or by the casual observer.

The information regarding how to set up a "briefing book" would be invaluable to any survivalist, no matter where he lived. We learned some "social engineering" methods that would help us acquire needed supplies from outsiders. We learned how to defeat various types of alarm systems, fences and dogs.

A long section of instruction was given on working with cutting implements as well as how to improvise various types of weapons. Here's where your comment from "Patriots" came to mind "Crude but effective."

A further module of study was on lock picking and we spent the better part of a day working on this skill set.

Can you imagine the ability to drive up to a utility right of way that is gated and locked, pick the lock, pull your vehicles through and then lock it behind you during a bug out? Sure you could cut the lock but all that means is more people would follow you. If you picked it and then replaced it, it would be a different story.

The class went over numerous other topics including "acquiring" vehicles in an emergency situation.

I'm a country boy by nature, but if I'm ever stuck in an urban environment when TSHTF, I'll be much more confident now with the skills I learned at this class. After all, a survivalist should be able to operate in a multitude of environments.

BTW, I've also attended OnPoint's classes on Tracking and SERE, and I'd very highly recommend these as well. - Mr. Lima


Some time ago, I read a post on SurvivalBlog about the HESCO bastions. Very interesting. I follow another blog here [in Brazil] , and one of the bloggers tell me about the huge fertilizer bags that he uses at his farm. (It is a [large scale] soy bean farm). Each bag is of one of one ton capacity. And he tells me that this bags are thrown away after use. Well, I think it´s a good source of almost free HESCO bastion equivalents. - The Werewolf (SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Brazil)

Reader Benjamin H. wanted to remind folks that there are two types of deflation, and to that end he sent us a link to a great piece over ar iTulip: Debt Deflation versus Goods Price Deflation.

   o o o

Pete in New Hampshire sent this news that will be of interest to diabetics: Lifescan is giving away their new One Touch Ultra Slim [blood glucose] meters. Pete writes: " People can always use a back up meter, and free ones are even better. Of course they will need acquire the test strips to go along with it.ia

   o o o

Here is some of the latest economic news: Reader G.G. mentioned that some economists quoted by Financial Week concur with my prediction: Inflation starter? Foreign buyers no longer binging on long-term U.S. debt With financing of deficits in doubt as spending rises, deflation could quickly turn into runaway price increases, say economists Next, thanks to Jeff B. for this: Earnings, economy - here comes 'terrible', The week ahead: Investors gear up for a deluge of weak earnings and the biggest plunge in GDP in 26 years.

   o o o

Trent H. sent us this news of pending legislation from the state with the "Live Free or Die" bravado license plates: The Licensing of Horses in New Hampshire

"Americans who are in the bottom 10th of income distribution live better today than kings lived in 1800. They have better health care, cheaper entertainment, cheaper books, longer life expectancy, air conditioning, central heating, and much more. This has come as a result of the private property system, the future-orientation of a broad mass of savers, and the willingness of entrepreneurs to invest their time and money to meet the wants of consumers in the future." - Dr. Gary North

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I'm a SurvivalBlog reader in Australia. I want to describe the current situation for Australian gun owners, but first a bit of background information is needed to compare then and now: I grew up in Australia in the 1960s. My parents came here in the 1950s from a war torn Europe to have a better life here in a climate away from the cold and starving masses in Europe after the war, the so called “gun culture” in Australia was very free then, you could go on public transport with a 22 rifle tucked under your arm after a days shooting on the range or from shooting rabbits on many small acres dotted around the big cities, no one accosted you or thought anything about it, people chatted to you and asked how the says hunt went.
Driving through country areas was an experience! lot’s of people had gun racks in their back window of their pick-ups, and it was common to go out and bag 50 or 60 rabbits in a young boys lazy afternoon.

I grew up being the proud owner of a Remington 22 pump action at 13, and have owned many guns over the years, to have a license then was a mere formality and paying a small fee, up till 1998 in Australia you could legally own pump actions, semi autos and lever guns of all types, AR-15s and FN-FALs were very common along with AK copies, SKSes, etc.
That has all gone and an entire era has disappeared. Today in Australia, you pay a fee of AUS$200 for three years, then pay a another $30 to transfer a firearm to your name before you buy one you like, the ammo must be stored away from the gun and you must have a approved steel safe suitably bolted to a brick or concrete floor/wall, now you must have the police inspect your beloved new toy and of course its registered!, also you must have the ammunition pertaining only to the guns you have in your safe, heaven help you if its different from your guns.

The Police have the authority to randomly inspect your car while out on a hunting trip and often can and do searches of your vehicle to or from a hunting area, needless to say semi-autos are verboten! And our own version of Handgun Control, Inc (Yes we have those fools here too !) constantly screech about the “gun culture” in the US, (I lived in the USA for several years and thoroughly enjoyed my time there and most enjoyed the freedom to carry a handgun there. And I understand if it was not for the American servicemen we would be speaking Japanese, that must always be remembered ).

Australia is not what it once was, now it’s a benign dictatorship. (Those are harsh words but true never the less ) Both the main parties support the strict system we have, in truth real freedom to possess firearms for self defense purposes has never occurred,. The Police here have all the best equipment, the unlimited budgets and power and backing of the state, there really isn’t much difference between the thugs of Nazi Germany and now. Did you know Australia has one of the highest rates of home invasion in the western world ? (It ranks about 5th or 6th )

Now the precursor for all the anti-gun push was supposedly a man called Martin Bryant who many claim shot and killed 35 people.

"No action can really be understood apart from motive which prompted it." Arthur Schopenhauer. 1851.

For the record, Martin Bryant never had a trial by jury, he received a pre-sentencing hearing and all files pertaining to his case have been locked up under an act of secrecy for 30+ years. Now I ask are they the actions of open and honest Government? Jim, in my mind there is no question that this was deliberately foisted on the Australian people to facilitate disarmament, Australia today is a poorer place, both morally, spiritually and physically. To own a rifle today will set you back quite a large sum of money and the costs are onerous, for example to buy common 22 [rimfire] ammunition will set you back AUS$700 for 5,000 rounds! and the costs keep going up (never down ) woe to you if you shoot and intruder in your home, all the onus is on you to prove your innocence, in all probability you will lose all you own to get a win in the courts.

I subscribe to what the US Constitution stated. The Founding Fathers envisioned a peaceful country without foreign involvement or even a standing army, so the Constitution states that appropriations for the army can't exceed two years (Article I, Section 8). Alas, our Constitution has been ineffective in curbing the war racket. Unfortunately, the US seems to be heading toward monarchy. No standing armies for Australia or the USA…….my country is involved in two wars now, Australia has no place in Iraq or Afghanistan, period end of story! I will protect my family, my wife, my children, but not foreign interests or oil politics. To that end I prepare my family

By the way I want to state as a born again fundamentalist Christian, I see firearms as a God given right and most definitely not a “sport”. Since when is owning a gun [to defend life and liberty] a sport? If it’s a sport it can be legalized away (which is exactly what has happened in this country), there were over 1 million firearms owners in this country, but you know something? no one voted the lying self serving politicians out over the issue!
On a final note, I would have to say that if there is in the US about 360,000 people in the survivalist movement, over here the number can be counted in as few as 20,000, a tiny number, even fewer in the Christian circles I travel in , I find that saddening as most Christians here as anti gun and handgun inc, we are marching to abyss , but I for one wont go down without doing my bit to prepare my family for what’s ahead. Regards - Alan C.

My mainstream friends feel sorry for me. According to them, I live in a world of fear rather than hope. What they don't understand is that I enjoy the preparedness lifestyle. While they are out shopping for shoes and designer jackets, I'm buying fruit and nut trees and learning how to graft and manage an orchard. While they are at home watching millionaire athletes compete on television, I'm doing 100 reps up and down my stairs with kettle weights building my stamina. While they are watching a movie, I'm learning how to fix my car, weld, set up a photovoltaic system and operate a ham radio. While they are at a restaurant, I'm learning how to can, smoke, bake and pickle.

There has always been a small section of society that craves adventure and learning. We were the ones that got on the ships for the new world 500 years ago. We were the ones that crossed the continent 200 years ago. We are the ones that will one day venture into space to populate new worlds. Why do I prep? It's not just because I see the potential for mass societal upheavals, but because of the challenge. I like to learn. I do it because I enjoy the satisfaction of mastering new skills and being independent. - SF in Hawaii


The gentleman that wrote to say that he wants to rent his property out for bugout situations should read the [first hand] observations posted on [the aftermath of Hurricane] Katrina. [This was written by someone that sheltered dozens of people]: Thoughts On Disaster Survival. Regards, - Bill N.

Just when we thought the economic headlines couldn't get much worse, Mark P. for spotting this: Downturn accelerates as it circles the globe: Economies worse off than analysts predicted just weeks ago. And Paul A. sent this grim deflationary prediction from Mish Shedlock: Extreme Leverage In Reverse Portends Global Systemic Crash. Whether the incipient crash is deflationary, or inflationary, or a whipsaw of sharp deflation followed by sharp inflation (which is my personal prediction), you should get you beans, bullets, and Band-Aids together and stand ready!

   o o o

Mike W. sent us this "must read" piece from NASA on Severe Solar Storms, Power Grids, and the Web of Interdependent Systems

   o o o

Trent flagged this: Citigroup, Bank of America May Look ‘Nationalized’. And Cheryl sent us all these items: "Bad Bank," Bad News -- How Big is Britain's Toxic Debt? -- Britain on Brink of Depression -- Lights Go Out Across Britain as Recession Hits Home -- The Fed: Life After Zero -- Shipping Rates Hit Zero as Trade Sinks -- China Prepares for Year of the Slump -- Britain May Seek IMF Bailout -- Fears Confirmed: Recession Fuels Crime Surge -- Iceland Government on Verge of Collapse -- Jobless Claims Surge, Housing Starts Tumble -- Code Red: Economy in Collapse -- JP Morgan Chief Says Worst of the Crisis Still to Come -- Special Forces Rescue Icelandic PM from Furious Credit Crunch Rioters -- Stores Closing in 2009

   o o o

For the "It Comes as No Surprise to Us" Department, SurvivalBlog reader Florida Guy forwarded this article: Bad Times Spur a Flight to Jobs Viewed as Safe. (FWIW, I've been cautioning about the need for recession-proof income streams for years! It is not too late to launch a home-based business. And it just might turn out to be your ticket to making a good living out in the hinterboonies.)

"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."

- Lamentations 3:22-26 (King James Version)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $810. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 36 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines, with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Excellent condition original Glock Model 19 9mm 15 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch), and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $710, in today's market. 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.

2. ) A brand new-in-box Hot Jaw Bag Sealer and a box of 10 Mylar bags . (Every retreat group should have one these, since they are a tremendous labor saver!) This is a $200 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A gift certificate for $100 worth of books, courtesy of Back 40 Books.

6.) A case of 12 cans of recent production nitrogen-packed storage granola (mixed varieties) This is a $96 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,565.

This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


I finally have my bugout location found and purchased. Plan to start building a small home there later this year. Cabin first, house will wait till I see how the economy runs. On the east coast, as I have family here and really don't want to leave this area. I am outside a small town, on a dirt road off a local rural highway. I have near nine acres of woods and one acre of pasture (garden and orchard) space. One acre of the land is separated from the rest by a four foot wide surface creek. It has a nice cleared area I plan to develop into a picnic area at the creek. The majority of the land is heavily wooded.

I am considering offering the space as an overnight primitive camping stop for bugout travelers. One night to one week maximum. You know, rest up and recoup or reunite with stragglers while en route. Good idea or no?

How should I let fellow survivalists know about the location? I would have to meet traveler in some nearby town to get to know before showing them the location, for personal security.

Or should I hole up on my land and let everyone else fend for themselves? Your thoughts are appreciated, either as an e-mail or a post on your blog. Thanks, - S. in Alabama

JWR Replies: I can foresee a few potential problems with your plan:

First: Vetting someone for suitability and trustworthiness for such an arrangement is time consuming. Unless you could properly vet someone before they were told the exact location of your retreat, then it would be a huge OPSEC risk. Worst case: Your retreat ends up on some outlaw motorcycle gang's "shopping list."

Second: If anyone asks if they can cache supplies at your retreat, there could be legal implications, especially if they are less than honest about what they are burying on your property. (I've heard a couple of horror stories from consulting clients about the antics of some their erstwhile "friends" that turned out to be flakes or criminals.)

Third: In times of Deep Drama, it might be difficult to persuade "stay-overs" to abide by their contractual obligation to move on. (I can just hear the whining: "But I'm sick with the flu". or, "But my wife has a badly sprained ankle and can't walk...", or, "I'm not leaving until my brother arrives. We're supposed to meet-up here.")

Fourth: "Signing-up" a large number of stay-overs is an egregious violation of the "need to know" rule. Each person that is told about the retreat location represents one more person that could get careless and blather or boast of it to friends. Repeat that risk 20 or 30 rimes, and sure enough, on TEOTWAWKI+ 1 or TEOTWAWKI+2 you'll wake up in the morning to find that a hundred tents have sprouted in your pasture, most of which will be occupied by newcomers that you know nothing about. (This factor, BTW, is why The Memsahib and I have taken some extreme measures in guarding the location of our year-round retreat.)

In summation, I think that such an arrangement is more trouble than it is worth. To do it right would requite plenty of vetting. And if you are going to that much trouble, then it might as well be to approve someone that will be a full-fledged member of your retreat group.


I thought that your readers would be interested in this link to a blog where this woman's grandfather engineered plans to make canned food storage bins out of cardboard! She says they are going on 13 years of use. She has the free PDF of plans for them on her site .I'm having my husband make me a few of these!

Thanks for all that you do! - A. in Texas

Mister Rawles,

My husband and I have two editions of "Patriots", both heavily highlighted. I shudder to think that your books sounds all too prophetic about now.

I've seen you reference The Appleseed Program [of rifle matches and clinics] on your web site, but I can't determine if you have ever been to one of our events. If you haven't, it is truly worth the time, since we are about more than just marksmanship. That is just the hook to get people to come.

We teach the history of the beginning of the Revolutionary War and the mindset of the people involved. Somehow Appleseed changes people. It gets people off their rears to come and it gets prompts many to take up the call to spread the word of involvement. It gets people thinking. Appleseed has given me hope that there are good committed people out there and that with them, not all of America is lost. It has also proven to be an excellent way to meet like minded people. If the worst comes to pass, I have the marksmanship skills to survive and I now know many others who do as well.

My husband and I are new instructors, as we have taken up the call. We are involved in teaching in the Southwest, but there are classes around the country, so everyone should be able to find one relatively close by. The training is highly effective and I have yet to see anyone, even experts, leave without some new skills.

Sincerely Yours, - G.F.in New Mexico


Hello Jim,
A little follow up to MJM's article on basic marksmanship. He is 100% spot on. The fundamentals and basics of marksmanship are the foundation that all shooting is built on. I would recommend seeking out NRA high power competition to improve their rifle shooting skills. High power shooters are always looking for new people and welcome them with open arms and are willing to teach. Plus the matches are just plain fun and gives you goals to strive for and measure your progress against. Also don't forget Fred's Appleseed program as well. Take care, - Jeff in Ohio

Here is a round-up of grim economic tidings from England: Scotty found this one from The Times of London (online edition): World Agenda: riots in Iceland, Latvia and Bulgaria are a sign of things to come. And Jack B. found this: Britain on the brink of an economic depression, say experts. And still more bad news from the UK, by way of reader G.G.: Confident tone as UK bond sale nears. (They admit that the risk of a government bond auction failing--where the amount of money raised falls short of its target--has increased.) And Luddite Jean sent this: Gordon Brown admits: 'I never saw it coming,' as figures confirm we're in the worst recession for 28 years: (Jean notes: "How on earth a Chancellor of the Exchequer and then Prime Minister didn't see this coming, I'll never know. 18 months ago, I was predicting a sharp downturn and possible recession - family and friends thought I was crazy, but I prepared for it just the same. Now I have a business which is doing well, and should continue to survive through a recession and depression. The goods I hold will be in great demand if we reach TEOTWAWKI. When I found your web site in the latter part of last year, it reassured me that I wasn't the only 'crazy' person on the planet!") Also from Jean: UK 'could run out of money very soon' warns Cameron amid fears of 70s-style IMF bail-out.

   o o o

Evan sent this, as an example of very bad OPSEC: Deadly weapons found in storage unit.With some more details, reader L.D. sent us this link: Man accused of keeping weapons cache in Bellevue [, Washington] storage. Gee, I guess that this shows that skill as a machinist does not necessarily also engender the ability to mark a calendar with a storage contract expiration date. One correction to the television news report: It described the demi-blocks of C4 as "armed and unstable". But there were no blasting caps, fuses or wires visible in the photo. So I think the description was a bit of hyperbole. But regardless, this guy is going to be in deep legal trouble. As I advise my consulting clients: Do NOT risk a long stretch in prison, just for the sake a of gun that shoots faster. Either buy registered Class 3s, or just skip it. You can wiggle your trigger finger nearly as fast as full auto, anyway...

   o o o

Thanks to Mr. Yankee for sending this: As Food Costs Rise, Is Government Being Straight About Inflation?

   o o o

Bill N. mentioned a Thermite emergency fire starter.

"The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger,
since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently;
but he is willing, in great crises to give even his life--
knowing that under certain conditions it is not worthwhile to live." - Aristotle (B.C. 384-322)

Friday, January 23, 2009

I posted "E."'s letter on "Gray Man" survival strategies without comment, because I knew that he'd be sure to get and earful without me having to chime in.) Just as I anticipated, his letter elicited many strongly-worded letters of disagreement. For the sake of brevity, I have posted just a sampling:


"E's" Gray Man concept is cowardly, standing idly by as evil men corrupt this fine country. The Citizen, on the other hand, works to preserve and protect the liberties that we now enjoy, in opposition to men and women who wish to do those liberties harm.

The Citizen knows the power of government is kept in check only by the citizenry-at-large. He (or She) is not afraid to oppose totalitarian policies, because he knows to remain silent will surely result loss of his rights. He understands the Constitution and respects the ideals of the fore-fathers. He knows they didn’t hide at home when the call went out for help, and our great country was the result. He participates in activities like The Appleseed Program where he can increase his skills and knowledge. He is the first to write / call / e-mail his elected representatives. He is the first to join with like-minded people in the NRA and other organizations, knowing those organizations are not perfect but that there is strength in numbers.

He not only teaches his children what is right, but he is an example to his friends, neighbors and religious congregants. He is involved in leadership activities like Scouting, so he can help mold the youth of tomorrow and preserve great American traditions. He takes a kid hunting who has no other way to experience a great American tradition. He helps out a neighbor women with two kids whose husband is serving Afghanistan . He is not boastful or full-of-himself, but is ready to support liberty with a well-thought-out and logical argument.

This does not mean the Citizen is not prepared. This does not mean the Citizen doesn’t keep his preparations under wraps and private. This does not mean the Citizen does not put the safety of his family first and foremost. It is precisely because he cares for his family that he refuses to allow tyranny to become the law of the land.

The Citizen is not afraid to stand up and be counted against tyranny, as he knows that both he and Gray Man are “on the list.” He, the Citizen, refuses to go quietly into that long, dark night. The Gray Man, on the other hand, will one day be hunted like a weasel in the wilderness: cold, wet and alone, with no way to challenge the tyrants. - W-Squared


Mr. Rawles:
If our Founding Fathers had followed the "Gray Man" strategy, we would still be British subjects. Regards, - Steven L.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read your blog regularly and appreciate the information deeply. I could not resist replying to today’s post by "E." regarding the “Gray Man’s” plans for survival, because, of all the interesting posts I’ve read on your site this one had a most unusual effect on me.

What I can’t understand is:
Where is “Gray Man” going to go after becoming a fugitive in a police state? Especially with children? Is he going to walk there? How will he trick the face/iris scanning cameras at every corner, or the heat signature blimp hovering overhead, which are a certain part of the future he describes?

Where is “Gray Man” going to stick his [RFID] chip when he also consents to being strip searched before thanking his oppressor?
How many of his friends, family members and co-workers will “Gray Man” surrender to the authorities to maintain the appearance of loyalty to the system?
What good will it do “Gray Man” to teach his children of Liberty after he has given their Liberties away?

Why didn’t the “Gray Man” do anything to help out the millions of Americans who sacrificed their lives fortunes and sacred honor to preserve Liberty for our posterity when we still had a fighting chance?

What sort of prayers will “Gray Man” whisper to his God after he has rendered his soul and spirit useless in the face of evil?

The “Gray Man” is part of the problem. A typical American who so desperately fears the consequences of saying ‘no’ that he has convinced himself that consent to tyranny is somehow revolutionary. How can a man pretend to be free after relinquishing his rights? This is double think, and I find it quite disappointing that many modern American males have such difficulty seeing the value of rising in common defense against tyranny over shrinking away in silent, lonely protest after having lost all.

Is a person truly being honest about the value of their life if they choose to live it in bondage?
Thanks for all you do, Mr. Rawles. - D.H.


Mr. Rawles,
As a Christian, I would caution "E.," the "Gray Man," against taking the chip and then removing it if he is also a Christian. If the RFID chip is the "mark of the beast" or if it merely could be, it is too much of a risk for my soul. From everything that I have read in the Bible, accepting the mark proves your allegiance to something other than God and it is against His will. Personally, I do not want to be against His will. If I am captured and forced to make a choice in those times, oil up the guillotine and I'll see you guys on the other side.
Always cynical, - Semper Cynicus

Good Morning Jim,
First, I definitely concur on a BFO award for the horizontally polarized CB antenna idea.

I am a relatively new ham. I got my license two years ago, and can highly recommend that as you say, that everyone [in the US reading this] get their license, because it IS so easy now. One thing that I think needs to be pointed out is that with the removal of the code requirements for any license, a General Class license is really no harder to get than a Technician license. The best way to get your ham license it to find a local club that offers classes. Many clubs have web pages that are listed on the ARRL web site, and will tell you if they do classes. My club, the Edmond Amateur Radio Society (EARS), usually runs both a Technician, and a General class at least once a year, and usually twice, we are not unique in this regard.

If a person lives so far out that they can not conveniently get to a club then I can highly recommend QRZ.com. They are a huge resource for hams with all kinds of technical information on radios, and antennas, as well as forums for asking questions. The most useful thing is that they offer an online practice test program that uses the current question pool for all licenses. So it is possible to practice for Technician, General, and Extra class tests with the live question pool. This is a great learning tool. If you can't get to a class, get a copy of the current book for the license you want/need, and read it cover to cover, then go to QRZ.com and take the test, until you pass it.

When I was taking my Tech class exam , and got to the point that I was passing the QRZ test every time, I decided to try the General test, just for fun. I only missed passing it the first time by just two questions. So I got the General book, read it, and then took [variations of] that test until I was passing it every time. Two weeks later I took both the Tech, and General tests at the same testing session, and passed both. While I'm above average bright, I'm not that much above average, it's just that easy. With a general license almost all of the Amateur radio allocated spectrum is available to you, and all modes are available in one band or another.

After saying all of this I need to point out that while getting you license is not hard, the book only teaches you what you need to pass the test. Being a licensed ham is being part of a community, and there are huge amounts of information, and many skills you will need to have to effectively use anything beyond your Tech license. That's not to say you should avoid getting your General right off the bat, but you will be much happier, and get much more out of your time on the air, if find a local club, or at least get an Elmer (a ham who mentors new hams) to help you learn what you really need to know to be a good ham. You will find that getting the hardware, and getting it up and working is much easier, and will work much better with the skills your Elmer can teach you.
1) Get your license, and go ahead and try for both your Tech and General tickets, you have nothing to loose.
2) Find a club that offers classes, if you can't find one, get the books and try anyway.
3) Find an Elmer to help you learn the ropes.
Good Luck to all, - Fanderal


Hello Jim
There has been much great "Advice on Two-Way Radio Communications". There are a couple suggestions I would add:

If you are interested in an Amateur Radio License, there are numerous free web-resources to help you prepare for the simple tests. The giant link site AC6V.com links to the vast majority of them. In mentoring students I've suggested they work at the material until they regularly score 90% or better on their on-line or on-computer practice tests. My most recent student went from not having a license to passing all three levels of exams at the same test session using this simple guideline.

I've used the Hamcram free Materials from W9PE.us to assist over 30 students. Their on-line test site, as well as QRZ.com and eHam.net and the audio Podcasts at HamRadioClass.org have been mentioned by students are helpful.

A previous letter mentioned PSK31. There is a very interesting PSK31 modem that avoids the need to use a computer with the radio [available] from http://nue-psk.com/

One concern with transmitting is being DFed. Some simple suggestions to avoid being found are:
* Decide whether your Emergency Communications needs to be Two-Way, Single (Broadcast) or a Broadcast acknowledged other than by return transmission on the same frequency.
* Don't interfere with anyone else on the air, why tip anyone that you are even transmitting?
* Listen first, Listen some more and make sure your frequency is clear before transmitting.
* Avoid calling any attention to your transmissions - no whistle tones, lengthy preambles or other attention grabbers.
* Do not transmit or broadcast on a regular schedule and certainly do not announce a schedule unless it is an emergency. Work out a varying schedule.
* Keep your broadcasts short.
* After you sign-off, don't go back on for at least a few hours later, if not days between transmissions.
* Never respond to an unknown call-in.
* Don't give out any information that helps locate you - even GPS coordinates or landmarks can get your found.
* Maintain tight security, consider Transmitting and Broadcasting to be on a Need to Know basis.
* When possible, broadcast from different locations.
* Consider operating mobile.
* Consider operating "remotely" via a line of sight RF link to your main transmitter.
* Feed Line is Cheap and can save you. Get some distance between your antenna and yourself.
* When you are done transmitting, pack up and get your gear out of there.
* Consider taking down your antennas between uses. Some antennas can be erected just before use, and taken down and hidden away after you are finished, others can be concealed, including changing their electrical resonance when not in use.
* Use a lookout (LP/OP) while broadcasting. If alerted, terminate transmission and put the station into full countermeasures drill.
* Have a stand down drill, full countermeasures drill and evacuation drill planned out. If need be power the station up and let it serve as a decoy for your own safety while moving off.
* If your receiving stations can be so equipped, have them record your transmissions rather than repeating them for lost parts of your message. They should use OPSEC in their handling of the recordings.
* Though digital modes get through RF noise that will blank out many other modes, they are slow. Consider using modes that operate below the noise level (check out a mode called "Olivia" which can put a message through that neither ear or computer screen will show a signal for!).
* Consider minimizing your message to prearranged pass-phrases. Better to type in "Blue Balloon for Baby" four times, which gives the receiving station a very high probability of capturing the whole passphrase which they can look up in their passbook, than rattling off a long list of instructions once.
* In usual use the use of Encryption or Codes will get you in trouble on the Amateur Bands (except very limited special situations such as controlling an Amateur Radio Satellite), but in time of emergency it would be prudent to consider anything transmitted as public. Uninteresting Codes may be useful.
* Consider using antenna designs with RF patterns matching your needs. If a finely focused antenna with little side or back sensitivity or emissions can work, use it.
* Don't forget about DF resistant techniques like Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS). This technique employs antennas which basically shoot straight up and reflect off the ionized layers in a fashion making direct DF difficult [except from very close by, via ground wave DF].
* Only use Radio when simpler, less exposed methods of passing information won't work. I had a long chat with a WWII Homing Pigeon Specialist, who rode a glider in at the battle of the Arne. He pointed out that the use of Pigeons allowed them to maintain absolute radio silence during the launch of the assault. There is so much more to the use of radio in a serious emergency situation. I've written articles on various techniques for using industrial equipment as transmitters.

Be a bit wary of the Amateur Radio "Emcomm" groups. They are training to be part of the government system and in some areas border on paramilitary auxiliary government units. They also tend to never really look at the sort of serious situations we might, nor do they do much for protecting the individual participant, as most require the Emcomm Responder to go unarmed and have SOPs that are basically counter-OPSEC [and counter-COMSEC].

Hope these little bits of information are of use! 73, - Steve W

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. OBTW, some other COMSEC and OPSEC issues, do-it-yourself cryptography, and counter-DF techniques are described in the "Radio Ranch" chapter of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"

Matt S. recommended this editorial: The United Ponzi States of America

   o o o

It's time to pray for global warming, says Flint Journal columnist John Tomlinson. (Thanks to Rich C. for the link.)

   o o o

The "all things vehicular" web store JCWhitney.com (one of our Affiliate Advertisers) has a special underway for free shipping on orders of $49 or more. This could be a huge savings on heavy items. Use Promo Code SAWBBX8 at check out. This offer is valid only through February 7, 2009.

   o o o

Stephen S. suggested this editorial: If the state can't save us, we need a licence to print our own money. Meanwhile, Ben H. sent this: [UK] Reform plan raises fears of Bank secrecy. The article begins: " The Bank of England will be able to print extra money without having legally to declare it under new plans which will heighten fears that the Government will secretly pump extra cash into the economy." And Cheryl sent us the following bits of news and commentary: Will China Lead the World Into Depression? -- Asian Economic Woes Grow -- Sony Looking at $4 Billion Loss -- Is Britain Facing Bankruptcy? -- Fed Manipulating Market Prices, Gold, Oil and Bonds -- Gold Safe Haven as US and UK Head for Bond Default and Devaluation -- Gold to Gain Through 2012, Morgan Stanley Forecasts -- Jobless Claims Increased Sharply Last Week -- Foodbanks Struggling to Meet Demand

"You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?" - Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $385. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of 36 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines, with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Excellent condition original Glock Model 19 9mm 15 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch), and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $710, in today's market. 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.

2. ) A brand new-in-box Hot Jaw Bag Sealer and a box of 10 Mylar bags . (Every retreat group should have one these, since they are a tremendous labor saver!) This is a $200 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A gift certificate for $100 worth of books, courtesy of Back 40 Books.

6.) A case of 12 cans of recent production nitrogen-packed storage granola (mixed varieties) This is a $96 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,565.

This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

The following is a design for a barrel stove heater that is designed to be installed outdoors, with hot air from an upper air chamber forced into a residence via a four-inch diameter air duct, pushed by an electric fan. However, with a proper chimney installation the same system could also be used. Also, keep in mind that both utility line current (AC) fans and 12 VDC fans--suitable for larger off-grid power systems--can be used.

Because so many SurvivalBlog readers uses mobile devices such as Blackberries and cellular phones, an because some of our readers live in remote areas with slow dial-up Internet connections, we generally avoid posting graphics in SurvivalBlog. But we can make rare exceptions for articles that genuinely need graphics to convey a message. Today's first post is good example:

How to Build an Inexpensive Outdoor Forced Air Wood Burning Heater

If wood is available but you are unable to safely utilize it as a heat source due to the fact that your permanent or temporary shelter happens to be a recreational vehicle (RV), mobile home or travel trailer, then this idea may be helpful. On the other hand, it may also have appeal to those who live in a home where a wood burning heater could be safely used but for those who do not want the mess associated with constantly transporting wood and ash. Those with large homes and greater winter heating requirements should regard the heater as a possible method of reducing heating costs and not as a substitute for your current system. Two additional benefits of the forced air outdoor barrel stove heater are very low initial cost and portability. I built mine for less than $150 last year and can verify that it has been working splendidly since then.

For the first time in my life I have not been faced with expensive monthly propane or heating oil bills. Granted, my residence is tiny but the winters here are quite long and brutal. It is nice also to know that in the event that I move I can easily disassemble the heater and take it with me.

These images pretty much tell the story:


Duct Detail


I have excluded drawings of the blower and the flexible aluminum tubing that connects to the horizontal air pipe ends with large hose clamps. Keep in mind that each four foot section of flexible aluminum tubing will stretch to up to eight feet in length. Run the tubing into your residence either through a window opening that has been partially covered with plywood or through a small port cut through the side of your residence. A small blower connects to either one of the two tubing sections just inside the window opening or wall port. Except for the barrels and a small electric blower, all of the hardware required can probably be found or ordered at your local hardware store. Ace Hardware is a particularly good source for wood burning supplies, however, and most of their stores also carry the Vogelzang Barrel Stove Kit. In the event that you can't find a small used blower locally, try Dayton Blower. They offer a number of reasonably priced small blowers that would work just fine. If you are limited to twelve volt electric power you might consider finding a used automobile heating and/or air conditioning system blower. Should the nearest auto salvage supply company require you to go through the long drudgery of pulling the part yourself then give the U Need A Part (UNAP) locating service a try. I should warn you, however, that auto parts dealers can sometimes become irritated when one is unable to provide an exact part description. If you can connect to someone via e-mail try saying something like "virtually any heating-air conditioning system blower - the more powerful the better" and see what happens.

If there is someone in your area that owns a plasma cutter I would recommend hiring him to make the barrel cuts. It will save a lot of time, effort and metal cutting saw blades. Insulating the heater is an optional step but it can obviously improve efficiency. I wrapped the sides (but not the ends) of my heater with R-11 insulation. Make sure, however, that the paper backing is removed beforehand. Although fiberglass insulation is fireproof, the paper backing is not. If you should decide to use insulation it must be covered with sheet metal to protect it from wind and rain. I used some aluminum roofing material that had conveniently blown off the roof of a nearby derelict barn erected 1913. Fortunately, the owner had no interest in having the material returned since he was planning to have the barn demolished soon anyway. I snipped a few pieces of the roofing material to size and fastened them together with sheet metal screws. Note that I created a drip edge on top made cutouts for both the barrel legs and chimney pipe. The cover laces tightly together at the bottom with steel wire. I had briefly considered using ample quantities of heavy duty aluminum foil for the job but decided against the idea because it not only punctures and tears too easily but could also blow off in strong winds. I would not be surprised, however, if there is some sort of more easily cut metallic wrap available from Menards or Home Depot, for example, that would be far more convenient to use than sheet metal. At the present time I don't use a thermostat. If I did I would try to find one that could also turn the blower off should inside air temperature fall below a certain level due to fuel exhaustion which unfortunately turns the heater into an air chiller. If anyone can suggest how to do that, then please e-mail the details to the SurvivalBlog Editor.

The parts list is as follows:
Two clean 55 gallon steel drums
One small electric ("hamster wheel") blower
One Vogelzang Standard Airtite Barrel Stove Kit # BK100E. [Barrel stove kits are available from Lehman's. Search for Item # 17120106 ]
Three 4' sections of 4" diameter steel stove pipe. One section will need to be cut to length. Avoid using aluminum chimney pipe or elbows
Two 4" diameter steel stove pipe 90-degree elbows.
One or two 4' sections of 6" diameter steel stove pipe for the chimney. A rain cap is optional, but recommended
Two or more 4' sections of 4" diameter flexible aluminum [clothes dryer type] duct tubing. The number of sections needed will vary according to the distance that heater is located from your residence and how you decide to route the tubing after it enters your home. Keep in mind that when expanded each section can stretch to 8'.
Approximately six large [stainless steel Aero-Seal type] hose clamps for the air duct tubing
Two dozen short sheet metal screws
Duct tape and silicone sealant

Optional items would include a thermostatic fan cut-off switch and enough fiberglass insulation to wrap the sides and thin sheet metal to cover the insulation.

JWR Adds: I strongly recommend that the bottom of the main (firebox) barrel be lined with firebrick. Without it, the service life of a barrel stove could be as short as two years with regular use. A rain cap for the chimney is also a must, in my opinion. Without it, rainwater coming down the chimney will cause a barrel stove to rust out with alarming rapidity.

Take appropriate safety precautions in routing the chimney, to avoid fires,and to avoid the introduction of smoke indoors. Inspect the chimney and air ducts frequently, to make certain that carbon monoxide from the chimney does not co-mingle with the air passing through the ducts! The use of a carbon monoxide alarm is a must whenever using any sort of wood-fired heater.

If the next few years go the way some are expecting, and the country moves in the direction of an authoritarian socialist state, the gray man will do some things his friends may not expect nor initially agree with:

The gray man will put a pro-government bumper sticker on his vehicle, in contrast with the beliefs in his heart.

The gray man will smile when the police come to his door to collect his firearms. He’ll happily hand over his registered weapons at the door and thank the officers for their work, while his cache of unregistered weapons is safely hidden away.

He’ll be first in line to receive his sub-dermal ID chip, and will smile as it is implanted. He’ll then return home and remove it himself, treat and stitch the wound himself, wear long-sleeve shirts until the wound heals, and rub the scar with oil until it disappears. He’ll carry the chip under his sleeve or inside his watch so as to blend in with society, until such time as he wishes not to be seen or tracked.

He’ll gladly take his government issued credit card, and will use it for regular purchases like groceries and gasoline. However, on the weekends he’ll leave it on his coffee table next to his ID chip, and he’ll take his silver coins and ammunition to the illegal farmer’s market for barter and open discussion.

He’ll go to the library and check out the books on the government’s suggested reading list and use them as examples to quietly teach his children what not to believe.

If one day he and his family should disappear, the authorities will check their databases. They’ll see that his car has not passed through any turnpike billing checkpoints. They’ll see that his credit card has not been used anywhere unusual. They’ll see via their satellite RFID map that all members of his family are still located in their home, and they are currently viewing government programs on their internet-television.

Days will pass, and they’ll go to his home and see that his vehicle is gone. They’ll enter and find a small pile of ID chips sitting next to a government credit card and a RFID turnpike billing pass. Next to this will be a note, thanking the officers for their good work. - E.

Dr. K. flagged this for us: Experts, lawmakers concerned that US may be too reliant on drugs from abroad.

   o o o

The folks at Ready Made Resources have added what could best be called "Son of Blast Match" to their product line. This would be a good item to keep in each Bug Out Bag, and they are even small enough to keep on a key chain.

   o o o

Ben L. spotted this: Report: Al Qaeda Group Bungled Test of Unconventional Weapon. In British Football, this is called an "Own Goal" error.

   o o o

There were two very good economic pieces currently at The Appenzell Daily Bell: Britain on edge of bankruptcy? and US losses may reach $3.6 trillion. S.F. in Hawaii recommended this "big picture stock market analysis: Dow Jones Industrials -40% Declines 1885 to 2008. In other economic news, Cheryl; (The Economatrix), sent these items: Recession Rides the Rails -- Railcar Manufacturing Industry in Trouble -- Government Gone Insane (The Mogambo Guru) -- The Endgame -- Bankrupt Consumers -- Biblical Debt Jubilee May Be the Only Answer -- State of Mining: Bad, Could Get Worse -- Oil Falls Below $33 -- Seriously Alarmed (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard)

"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am a basic Marine who has been blessed with learning marksmanship from some of the best practitioners in the business of shooting. No, I am not a sniper or a silent but deadly snake eater from a recon unit who is speaking from high atop a lofty pillar to the masses. Simply, I am a regular guy (with very little prior experience) who is well trained in the art of marksmanship who feels comfortable with a gun in his hand. Furthermore, I simply enjoy shooting and am fortunate enough to be able to do it as part of my working life. Like everyone else who reads this web site, the present and future state of our society concerns me. As a result, I vowed that I would contribute something to this that might help people with similar views/concerns.

While at a gun show recently, I was personally overwhelmed by the volume and cost of the high tech firearms and accessories available to the public. Most of it was truly amazing stuff. Laser range finders, laser sights, holographic sights, night vision scopes and ultra bright lights name just a few of the accessories that one can attach to a weapon to become more lethal. However, this stuff was amazingly expensive and complicated to use. I also found that many of the vendors really didn’t know their own products. Unfortunately, many were there only to make a buck and take advantage of the new hot gun market that has been created by the recent election results. This bothered me because I wondered what a novice shooter would think while swimming around in this sea of cool, yet complex stuff? They would most likely believe that one must attach all kinds of expensive accessories to a gun in order to be proficient with a weapon. They would also think that they have to spend all of their savings (assuming they have savings) to upgrade their guns to achieve great results. While I cannot endorse the quality and effectiveness of any type of accessory for a gun, I can tell you that they have a place and they are amazingly lethal when put in the right hands. Moreover, I also cannot endorse any type of weapon. Yet, I can also tell you that the accessories and the guns are only as good as the person shooting them. In other words, technology can neither teach marksmanship nor can it cure poor marksmanship. Remember, the United States military killed lots of enemy with M1 Garands and Model 1911 pistols equipped with iron sights. You need to learn the fundamentals…basics will always pay huge dividends. My goal is to throw out some of my thoughts to give beginning shooters reading this web site an idea of what direction to go in order to learn to shoot:

1. Take a class. Go to an indoor range and take a class from a certified NRA instructor. Pull out an advertisement in the classifieds or put a flyer up at a local range seeking marksmanship instruction from someone in law enforcement or the military. We are out there in large numbers. I would teach someone in exchange for a burger on a free Saturday. If you find the right person, it shouldn’t cost you too much. Here are some of the things to look for when you are receiving instruction (these can apply to rifle and pistol and are in no particular order except safety): safety, trigger control, grip, stances/positions, sight alignment, sight picture and breathing…just to name a few. There are no secrets, only basic techniques. Demand the basics. If someone wants to come right out of the chute and start teaching advanced techniques, either force them to take a few steps back or get another instructor. Basics, Basics, Basics.

2. Start small. Every learning process starts off with one small step and should progress toward refinement as a student masters the fundamentals. Go buy or rent a .22 pistol, get some cheap rounds and let someone show you the proper way to shoot it. Once you have a small caliber weapon mastered at a very low price, you will truly be amazed at how easily you can cross apply those skills to a more powerful weapon. On many civilian ranges I have observed multitudes of clowns brandishing large caliber weapons, shooting expensive tactical/competition ammo and deploying zero common sense. Due to their abject ignorance, they can’t put a round on paper because they are too concerned about the sexiness of the gun that they are shooting. Meanwhile, two lanes down, I am getting a 14 year old first time shooter to hold a 4 inch group with 9mm reloads. Starting with a .44 Magnum or a Desert Eagle will not teach you anything but how to fail or how to get killed. Shooting is not sexy and it is not a fashion statement. It is designed for one thing…to kill. Start at the bottom and work up. It is worth it in the end.

3. Dry Fire/Snap In: Snapping in (practicing without rounds off of the range) is something that Marines do at boot camp for countless hours before stepping foot on a live fire range. This process also continues in the squad bays at night to help young recruits refine positions and work out the kinks. Ask anyone who is a really good shot. They will tell you that you can improve your shooting for free without expending a single round by dry firing and snapping in. There are many different exercises you can do to enhance this. Shooters place quarters or spent rounds on top of the pistol and see if they can dry fire the weapon without said item falling off. It enhances your trigger control and your confidence. Bottom line, it gets the weapon in your hand and allows you to practice and commit proper technique to muscle memory without leaving the house. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR WEAPON TO ENSURE THAT IT IS NOT LOADED PRIOR TO HANDLING IT! READ THAT AGAIN.

4. Get further training: Once you feel confident and you have some cash, enlist the help of one of the tactical shooting schools to hone your skills. Again, just like transferring basic shooting skills from a .22 to a .45, you will be amazed at how smoothly good fundamentals apply to solid tactical shooting. There are arguments on both sides of this, but I will tell you that building a solid foundation is not only critical, but it is easy and can be done at a reasonable price. Don’t fall victim to believing that you have to spend substantial amounts of money to become a great shooter.

As a public service, I would like to include the four safety rules that are pounded into the heads of recruits. I do not bleed green and do not put these in this article to somehow snub people from the other services. These are the only rules that I know. I have taught them to novice shooters in the civilian world, and I can attest to how well they work. If everyone internalized these and followed them, we would not have accidents with weapons. They are brilliant in their simplicity. I wish that we still worked on a level that was this cut and dry. Here they are:
1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
2. Never point a weapon at anything that you do not intend to shoot.
3. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
4. Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire.
Read them and teach them!

I cannot possibly hope to teach anyone how to shoot in an article. I simply believe that there is a lot of confusion out there for those who want to arm themselves against some of the dangers that lurk in our society. For them, I hope that this little compilation helps dispel some myths and provides a useful roadmap to get started. Thanks for reading.

Dear Jim:
I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber with an idea that may help folks with their storage items.

I was out the the shed looking for my box 'o bullets to catch up on some reloading and came across an empty 81mm rocket box. Sprayed it off with the hose and let it dry and started thinking that it looks like the same height of a #10 can, I tried it and it was. So since I dislike storing survival items in cardboard, not sturdy enough or water proof, started loading it up and lo and behold the Mountain House freeze dried cans fit also. So far so good.

Also looked to be the right size (~14" wide, 25" long and 7" high) to make a 'go' box. That would be a box with a variety of items that one could just grab and go [or Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.)] in a hurry, or give it to a needy, unprepared relative or some other poor unfortunate that was in need of charity and then tell them to 'Go'. Grab, as in not having to search around looking for different things such as matches, which food to take/give, and items like toilet paper, light source, fuel, etc.

So this is what I came up with, one sturdy metal box with the following items: Five liters of water, P38 can opener, 12 hour Chemical Light sticks (4), Plastic forks (4), Bic Lighter, 2 books of matches, one roll of toilet paper, Trioxane (4 boxes, 3 bars each) 66 oz can of Tuna, #10 can of freeze Dried Chicken/Rice, #10 can Freeze Dried green beans, two #10 cans (that’s over 12 pounds!) of Costco Cattle Drive Chili with Beans (yum!) box of 64 feminine light day pads (also works as bandage) small bar of hotel soap, mylar blanket, candle and a small knife. Should keep a couple of people set with the basics for a week or so if they are able to forage additional water.

I'm sure I can tweak the contents with this and that but overall I'm happy with it! Take care and may God Bless you and yours for all the good work you do. - Cactus Jim

JWR Replies: Although they are very space and cost efficient, I generally do not recommend buying humongous containers of wet-packed foods--such as the cans of tuna and chili that you mentioned for that purpose. Unless you are feeding 10 or more people at once, there is too much risk of spoilage in all but the coldest of weather. Most of us with small to medium-sized families should stick with smaller wet-pack cans for our G.O.O.D. kits!

Hello Mr Rawles,

Just a quick comment on the new movie that's out called "Defiance". It is rated R since it has killing and some cursing but is based on a true story about three Jewish brothers [named Bielski] who lived in Byelorussia at the start of WWII when the Germans [and their Quisling allies] began to round up and murder entire villages and communities of Jews. They decided to live in the woods that they knew so well and escape and resist the Germans...They met others who had escaped to the woods to hide and began to pool their talents and pick off soldiers and arm themselves and live off the land and ended up living in the woods on the run for over two years and ended up over 1,200 strong. Their will to survive and methods of survival against well armed troops was incredible. They started out with a revolver and four cartridges and began to accumulate different types of weapons to fight back. Some scenes show them trying to defend themselves with old bolt actions against machine guns till eventually they began to use all [the small arms] that the Germans had available, as well. The movie excelled in contrasting the different mindsets that were common among the people of the day that caused many to sit idly by and be rounded up or shot on sight and many to be able to run and hide and fight. I think many SurvivalBlog readers would want to see this movie and would marvel at what humans are capable of--both positively and negatively. Thanks, - Ross

The Wall Street Journal reports on Argentina's coinage shortage: Argentina Is Short of Cash – Literally

   o o o

Down Range TV Names Obama "Gun Salesman of the Year"

   o o o

G.G. flagged this ominous news: America Passes A Milestone! We now have more people employed in government than manufacturing.

   o o o

On the economic front, Jasper sent this: Tony Blankley: Economic crapshoot ahead. Jasper's comment: "Note that this article tries to get across how little we really know about how to break the spiral we're in. When the mainstream media is laying the groundwork for another round of bailouts, you know it can't be good. (See this article: Another Bailout in the Works?, and this one: Roubini: Credit Crisis Losses Could Hit $3.6 Trillion".) To add to all this, Cheryl sent us another glut o' gloom: Obama Inaugurated, Stocks Fall on Bank Worries, Dow Slips Below 8,000 -- Lloyd's Slumps 47%, Investors Flee -- Sterling Dives on Debt Fears -- Second UK Bank Bailout "Plainly Not Enough" -- European Car Industry Faces Collapse -- Hong Kong Stocks Dive, Economic Outlook Dims -- 25% of Retailers May Go Bankrupt -- Pound Slumps to Record Against Yen, Rogers Says UK "Finished" -- Economy Worsening Rapidly

Andrea: Unhappy the land that has no heroes.

Galileo: No, unhappy the land that needs heroes.

- Bertolt Brecht, "Life of Galileo"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $350. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) A "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines, with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Excellent condition original Glock Model 19 9mm 15 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch), and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $710, in today's market. 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.

2. ) A brand new-in-box Hot Jaw Bag Sealer and a box of 10 Mylar bags . (Every retreat group should have one these, since they are a tremendous labor saver!) This is a $200 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A gift certificate for $100 worth of books, courtesy of Back 40 Books.

6.) A case of 12 cans of recent production nitrogen-packed storage granola (mixed varieties) This is a $96 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,565.

This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

I hope this can be useful to people who want a perspective into the Third World way of life. I recently had the chance to interview two people from Peru. One is a man who grew up in the Andes with no electricity, dirt floors, etc. who worked his way to becoming a geography and history teacher. The other is a former Peruvian Special Forces soldier of 15 years. My mother in law's input is also dispersed throughout this article. Although I have little respect for modern reporters, I found out how difficult it can be to interview someone.

When I first started probing into the Peruvian way of life, I was shown a series of photos, They were of the Geography teacher's family making cheese, so I will start with that.
In the true Latino way, after I had asked him many times to get a copy of the photos so I could post them, and many affirmative responses, he never sent them. He said yes to my face so he wouldn't offend me by saying “no.” I'm not offended, I can see why he wouldn't want 178,000 people looking at them, and I know its the Latino way. This is definitely a cultural difference. I've seen this occurrence hundreds of times. The first picture was his brother squatting (no stool) next to a cow milking it. The cow's hind legs were tied together so it wouldn't kick. No stall. This was in the open. He was wearing Yanqii rubber “tire tread” cut mining belt sandals.
Cheese is made every single day. There is no refrigeration for the milk available.
This is how he explained to me the cheese making process. I am not a cheese maker, so I don't know the accepted modern way to do this. In fact, neither does this mans family. They just know their way that they've used for the last five centuries or more, and it works. It makes what they call “queso fresco” or fresh cheese. I know of no American supermarket version except in heavily Latino areas.
The daily labor of cheese making, not including the milking, is about a half an hour.
The first thing that is done, is the coagulant needs to be prepared. This is not included in the half-hour, as it is something that is already set up and renewed easily each day.
These mountain people take a pigs stomach, wash it, sew up one end, then stuff with green banana peel, cut up limes, and some kind of leaf he doesn't know the name of, until it is big and round. The empty spaces between the solid ingredients are filled with the whey from the last cheese they made, or water to start a new batch. The other end of the stomach is sewn up, and they smoke it above their crude indoor fire pit for 7 months. When it is really reeallllyyyy sour, it is ready. Every time they remove some, they replace it with whey. Rennet is what is being extracted from the pig stomach. Slowly these people are switching to rennet pills, so this way is being lost. The imported German pills come from a pharmacy where you can buy anything you can afford, antibiotics, hypodermic drugs & needles, etc. with little restriction.

They take some of this mixture ( I believe about 1/2 to 1 cup) and mix it with their milk in a plastic bucket. It looked like a two gallon bucket. I noticed that one of the buckets formerly contained latex paint. Buckets are extremely useful with innumerable uses. They pay about three dollars for a used bucket. (that's a lot for subsistence farmers) About 15 minutes later, the milk has solidified. It is broken up with their hands into small chunks, then patted down to the bottom gently. The whey stays on top. It can be saved to drink, but usually discarded after refilling the pig stomach. After the whey is discarded, the remains are placed in a deep tray and broken up again by hand until it is soft small balls, salt is added during this step. Next it is stuffed into a mold for a few days, then smoked over their cooking fire to dry and cure for a few more days. Cheese made like this, according to one who lived it, is good for at least six months with no refrigeration.

In the village, the people are extraordinarily tight knit. They are as unified as unified can be. Everyone knows everyone. I estimate it was a community of about 200. Everyone helps who needs it. If you need a house built, just stake out an area, and make some food! It will be up in a few days. Building codes? Huh? The roofs are covered with a fiber-cement corrugated sheeting. He was very proud to have it. It must be better than tiles. (Tiles are so old fashioned) Nobody will hurt you anywhere in town. His anecdote was “If you'd just had a drink, and wanted to take a nap, you could just lay down anywhere and nobody would bother you.” People there are honest and trustworthy. The very unfortunate part is that the youth are losing their values and morals. I personally attribute this to the television that infected his community 13 years ago.

In his tiny town there was no electricity until 13 years ago. It is hydroelectric. He claims it is extremely clean. He said gas driven generators are nearly non-existent (maybe at some mines or other large industrial complex) Photovoltaic is extremely rare. How can we expect the poorest to use the most expensive (per watt hour) electricity generating technology? Even the western world has trouble affording it! The electricity powers street lights--I counted seven--indoor lights, and televisions.

I was told that quite often people have their guinea pig farms indoors, in their living/cooking/eating quarters with its accompanying filth. They have public outhouses. They dig their pits about 4m deep. This place is blessed with a source of clean water. They have water from a fresh spring across a small valley and up a hill. No pump is needed to get the water to the public spring head, all gravity. If it wasn't for their spring, they'd be boiling everything. According to this man, and a couple other people, a populace can become accustomed to fetid horrible water, and not get sick. They say a daily occurrence is to see simultaneous deification, dead animals (probably including human), clothes washing, bathing and drinking all in the same river! Yuck! I don't know their definition of “sick” though. Strange though as this is, I find it more odd that they only drink bottled water here in New Jersey, because the “pipes aren't safe” to them.

They grow all their own produce. Anything left is donkey driven to the nearest town up to three days travel away. Natural is normal there. You either get your food from your own garden, or at an open air farmers market in your town. Most farming is manual. Big farms as well as small. Horses and cows will plow, but there aren't any/many horse drawn machines. Lots of different sized shovels and hoes are used. Mechanization with tractors is only near cities. Nearly everything is produced locally and consumed locally. According to this one source, he believes that more is produced by hand and locally than mechanized and transported. I tend to agree, given everything I've heard also. Flies are natural too, right? They crawl all over, and people don't have screens on their windows or doors. Ignorance is quite prevalent. Not stupidity though, that's different.

This man clearly stated that if there ever were some collapse, his city of birth would be absolutely fine, and wouldn't even notice the difference.
I showed him how to get a copy of the book “Where There is No Doctor” he was excited and will send one to his village health worker. I also steered him to the Third World Reference Library web site, but alas, we found it is mostly in a foreign language to him. He did note that some of the Spanish language literature was published by his alma mater. He had one eye that opened farther than the other... He has been through a lot.

Horrible inflation lasted 2-3 years before the currency changed twice. People starved to death. More and more money available, prices climbing daily. People hoarded commodities for days to weeks speculating to get a higher price. Logic aside, that is what happened. People who paid for round trip passage somewhere were denied the return trip, it had become too expensive. Oops, stuck.
If you think water-boarding is torture, listen up. Peru had internal terrorists, they have been extinct for many years. The Terrorists would cut down power poles, block roads, kill and create, well, terror. The terrorists wanted a socialistic government. Both the geography teacher and the special forces soldier understand that socialism has been tried many times and in many countries, and it doesn't work. The Peruvian Army and Fuerza de Operaciones Especiales (FOES) special forces would fight them. They would also retrieve information from the enemy in creative ways, for example, they would have a person stretched out tied to a pole, laying horizontal, suspended some distance above the ground, slowly rotating over a fire until they decided they would part with sensitive information, etc. They would also kill anyone and everyone associated with, including family, friends and acquaintances of known terrorists. It worked. They had been dormant for a long time. They may be on the rise again though. (not sure) Peru is also still dealing with this extremely high collateral damage, and I'm not sure if it continues today.

I can find next to nothing about the FOES online, even on Peruvian Google, except the Youtube videos he showed me. Look up in YouTube “Comandos Peruanos” and “FOES Peruano” if interested in more. To be in the FOES, one had to show their valor. They showed it by ripping open live dogs and eating their hearts and livers raw/living. Hand-grenade hot-potato is a popular party game. Having someone shoot a machine gun between you and your comrade too. They are trained in martial arts, knife fighting, etc. I know my cousin, a SEAL, told me that they only use their knifes to open MREs. This Peruvian guy used them for much, much more. (My cousin also told me that push ups cannot be made into an aerobic activity, I figured he'd done enough to know, so I had asked him. “We're still human,” he said.)
Yeah, that ain't Politically Correct, as my friend Karl would say.

This person also worked for private security firm. He laid out to me how their system worked. Sorry, but all the titles are in Spanish so when I translate them, they will sound weird.
The first guy is called “gerente de recursos huamnos” or Human Resources director.
He's in charge of the whole company.
Next they have one “Jefe de Seguridad” Security Leader. He's in charge of everything security.
Below him are “Inspectores de Seguridad” Security inspectors.
These people have a zone they are responsible for, and they dispatch and are in charge of their “vigilantes de seguridad” Security guards.
The security guards have a “full ration of weapons and ammunition”. They are not allowed full power arms. Short barrel semi-auto hand guns and shot guns. I'm not sure If they also water down the powder charge or not, but they can not have full powered military style weapons. Again, this is private security, so people pay for these services. There is lots of shooting going on by these guys. Rich people have electronic security systems linked to these “vigilantes.” Electric fences and walls topped with electrified wires are good deterrents. The voltage and amperage varies on your preference in cooked flesh: Zapped, Shocked, Lethal or Char. Broken glass topped compound walls seem to be a worldwide safety measure. Bars across doors are normal.
The official police are part of the delinquent gangs congregating on the corners. The police beat people and abuse them other ways.

Taxes in Peru.

This is confirmed with at least three sources of small businesses. If you earn $1,000 in your business, you pay $20 taxes. (2%!) Wages are not taxed. Low low property taxes.
Everything in Peru is repaired many times before it is replaced. A guy with two lathes and a mill can make it quite well re-boring motorcycle cylinders. A new car there costs a lot more than repairing everything and painting and upholstering. Like $1,000 to refurbish a car, versus $15,000 new! If the part isn't available at a store, you go and get it made. This applies to industrial machinery, commercial, everything. He gets it that its the system here [in the US] that prohibits the refurbishing of anything.

If you own land, but do not develop it, the extra poor will come and squat on it. They will build their shanty towns out of woven palm-like leaves into walls, and fill up your space. If someday you get tired of it, and want to get rid of them, just call the police and they'll burn it down and drive the people away. They'll come back, and you'll burn it down again, until one side gives up.

The military also corrupt. This guy was ordered to remove thousands of bullets from their casings and to sell the brass for some commander. In fact, when the military was in charge of the whole country, it was openly corrupt, and unstable. This is the cause of Peru's continued Third World status. Government corruption and instability. They have plenty of natural resources, oil and minerals, gold, et cetera. This man told me “we take it out of the ground, and form it into rough ingots, then send it somewhere where they know what to do with it.” So they could have a fully functioning economy, but they don't.
I wish I knew what to do to keep that from happening here. Nobody has any (legal) answers as for what to do, besides get ready and get far far away.

Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I have been regularly using [the V2830 Foodsaver that was purchased during the recently-ended sale], and we love it! I thought you might want some feedback that could be valuable to your readers. We have #10 cans of freeze dried food (as I'm sure many of your readers do). The disadvantage to opening a can to eat some is that once you open it, the clock starts ticking on how long it will stay fresh. Our solution? We use wide mouth mason jars, pour the #10 can's contents into the jars, and use the V2830 to seal the wide mouth lid onto the jar. This means we can take our time with eating the contents, as opposed to eating the same thing on a regular basis before it goes bad. I know I can eat the same thing every day (parents raised us this way, did lots of gardening, canning, stocking up on food and items, et cetera.)

So now you have a #10 can that is empty and perfectly usable. What to do with it? We put all of our canning lids and bands into the various jars, label them, and throw those #10 cans into our storage area! Lids are easily stacked, but not the bands. However, the #10 can holds about 20 wide mouth [canning lid] bands. I create a column of bands, and around it I put bands on their side. I stumbled upon this experiment this morning as we were doing some vacuum sealing and trying to reduce clutter. Our kitchen and storage area are much more organized now from reusing the #10 cans to hold other items.
The #10 cans are perfect for holding anything, even ammo! I will be making a metal handle, poking it through both sides of the #10 cans, folding the metal over on the inside of the can so it won't come out, and wrap some electrical tape or rubber around the handle so you have a makeshift bucket. Please pass this along to your readers, especially the idea of saving things to reuse them.
Thank you for all that you do. - Lee H.


CB is potentially a good choice for folks that are not licensed amateur operators if they use directional antennae and phase the antenna for horizontal polarization instead of the normal vertical antenna. I am thinking base to base operations here. Using antenna with horizontal polarization can attenuate signals transmitted by a vertical antenna by 20 dB. Every 3dB of attenuation cuts the signal by 1/2 so that would be 1/64th or slightly less signal power! [JWR Adds: The means very low probability of intercept by anyone outside of your private family or survival group "horizontal antenna network"! That suggestion just earned you a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) award. Yes, I know BFO means something different to hams (Beat Frequency Oscillator), but here at SurvivalBlog it means that I like your idea so much that I'm sending you a free book to thank you for it!]

A Yagi-style antenna can give 10 or more dB of gain. That means the effective radiated power of a 5 watt radio (which is actually about 3 watts) is ten times more or about 30 watts in this case.

Propagation can cause skip signals to give interference. The antenna should be a minimum of 1/4 wavelength above ground for best results. A directional antenna can be something like a flashlight [beam] if chosen properly. It can send and receive signals from the direction of choice and attenuate signals from other directions. A cheap wire antenna beam is called a Moxon beam [, named after the late Les Moxon, call sign G6XN.]

A ham license [in the US] is now so easy to get that people should just get the ham license and that will open up more bands and allow the right equipment for the situation. See www.ARRL.com for testing locations and times.

The first level ham license is the Technician class. To quote a recent ARRL article: "Some Technician licensees who gained new privileges on February 23, 2008 remain unaware or uninformed as to what they may and may not do on the HF bands", says ARRL Regulatory Information Specialist Dan Henderson, N1ND. In addition to all Amateur Radio operating privileges above 50 MHz, Technicians who never passed a Morse code test now have CW privileges on certain segments of 80, 40, and 15 meters plus new CW, RTTY, data and SSB privileges on certain segments of 10 meters. And that's it. "Know your privileges," Henderson advises all Amateur Radio licenses. He says some Technicians apparently believe their new HF phone privileges go far beyond what they really have. "Technicians have no phone privileges on any HF band other than 10 meters, period!" Henderson emphasizes. "That's the bottom line. If you want to operate phone on the other HF bands, you'll have to upgrade to General or Amateur Extra class." [The good news is that there is now] no code test for any class of license now! However, code can get the message through poor band conditions when voice is impossible.

A digital mode called PSK31 can, with a laptop computer and a low power HF transmitter, communicate under severe band conditions even better than code! Technicians have phone privileges from 28.300 to 28.500 with a 200 watt power limit. When band [signal propagation] conditions are good, California can talk to the UK on 5 watts. Band conditions for HF are poor right now [because of low sunspot numbers] but there are always openings on the various bands due to changing conditions. I called a local Boise station last night on 75 meter phone using 10 watts and was answered by a Southern California station, but at the same time a Northern Wisconsin station with a super antenna farm was having trouble hearing me with 100 watts power. I hope that this has not bored you to death.

See QRZ.com for practice tests and a search engine to locate a ham radio operator in your zip code to contact for more information. 73s, - The Other Mr. Delta

The fine folks that operate Everlasting Seeds have announced special pricing for US military veterans, disabled veterans, and especially financially distressed disabled veterans. (Click on the"Veterans" button in their left-hand menu.) Thanks for supporting our veterans in such a tangible way!

   o o o

Eric sent us a link to a list of products containing peanut butter that have been recalled by Kellogg's

   o o o

More economic bad news, starting with three items from Formerly Merry Olde England: RBS loses £28billion in a Year as Darling warns British economy will collapse if second bank bailout fails -- We’re a nation on the brink of going bankrupt -- A terrifying gamble with Britain's future (Thanks to Jean in England for those links.) And these come from Cheryl, starting first with her link to UK news: : Royal Bank Shares Plummet After Biggest Loss in History -- Pint of Beer Cost Rising (So much for deflation!) -- UK: Fifty Jobseekers for Every Vacancy -- US Regulators Close First Banks of 2009 -- VeraSun in Bankruptcy, Puts Seven Plants Up for Auction Due to Credit Freeze(VeraSun is the second largest bio-fuel maker in the US) -- Reviving World Economy Further Away than Ever -- The Recession Crimewave Grows -- Bank Crisis Re-ignites as US Giants Post Massive Losses -- Honda Stops Production for Two More Months -- Money Manager Disappears with $350 Million -- Economic Depression is Inevitable -- Global Economic Demand Collapse, Bonds Next -- Gold Rallies with Stocks -- Buffet Says US in "Economic Pearl Harbor" -- Dark Days for Retail -- The End of Banking as We Know It -- Time to Sell US Treasuries, Biggest Korean Fund Says

   o o o

A recent e-mail from reader J.P. included this Harder Homes and Gardens tidbit: "...a few well placed 30-pound propane tanks in the oak half-cask wine barrel planters, camouflaged with flowers. [To frighten the intestinal contents out of banditos, put a few .308 tracer rounds through the planters. It would be a very poor career decision for a bandito to take cover behind one of these planters.] Priceless." (Of course the usual safety and "check your local laws" provisos apply.)

"The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for re-election and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once." - Alex Kosinski, US Federal Appeals Court Judge

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mr. Rawles,

I have read "Patriots," and am finishing up your ["Rawles Gets You Ready"] preparedness course and I have a question: What brand, or type of two-way communication do I look for. I live in Kansas, about as far inland as we can go. I have several family members in the same small town and would like something that we all could communicate with. Ready Made Resources recommends a GMRS system, is that something to consider, or are CBs the answer?

I appreciate all that you post on your blog, consequently, I have just purchased the "SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog" book to look back on what I have missed since I started reading late last year. I have found your articles to be so beneficial to me and have recommended your site to others. Sincerely, - Thea

JWR Replies: I expect the Citizen's Band (CB) to be quite crowded with "chatter" in the event of a widespread disaster. And it will probably remain crowded if the power grid stays up. If you want a low-power system (assuming that you don't have a large PV battery charging system), I would recommend MURS band radios. Inexpensive used MURS band handi-talkies are available from MURS Radios--one of my advertisers. The MURS band radios have have comparable range to GMRS band radios, but the MURS band has far less traffic. (In many rural areas the band is essentially uninhabited.) Most transmissions in that band require no license.

If you want a higher-power system, I would recommend buying using Marine Band radios on eBay. (There, search on "Marine Band Radio".) These do not require a license except for "vessels over 65 feet in length". (But be advised that there are FCC restrictions on "inland" use. Reader Don K. mentioned that only radios that are "Type Accepted by the FCC for part 80 use may transmit on radio frequencies in the Maritime Radio Services. Equipment used for Land Stations must be specifically approved by the FCC for this use; most shipboard equipment is not approved for Land Station use. Fines by the FCC can be and usually are substantial.")

Since most Marine band radios draw more current than a MURS handi-talkie, you will need a more capable backup power system for battery charging. I suggest a couple of large 6 volt DC deep-cycle ("golf cart") type batteries for each radio. The beauty of the MURS band and the VHF Marine band is that they are both essentially "private bands" in many areas. But of course don't consider them "secure", since they can still be detected and monitored with a multi-band scanner.

As many people will remember from the last "Assault Weapons" Ban (AWB) [in the US, which was effective from September, 1994 to September, 2004] there was a time window before the law took effect. Once it took effect, however, pre-ban purchased receivers could not legally be built into "assault weapons" unless they were in AW "format" before the ban took effect. So what does one do to get around this? It's a rather silly technicality, but so are a lot of other legal issues. In this case, your stockpiled receivers need to be in AW "format" before any ban takes place. If you can't afford to buy full kits for every receiver, you have to find other ways to meet the letter of the law. Remember that while you are innocent until proven guilty, government agencies often play by different rules, and of course, legal fees are expensive if you have to prove your innocence.

In the case of AR-15s or other firearms with sectional receivers, this means you need one complete upper with all the allowable evil features--bayonet lug, threaded muzzle or flash suppressor. Install a proper trigger kit into each receiver, and then attach the upper to it. Document this with photographs. You want one photo that clearly shows the serial number and one that clearly shows the attached "Evil features" on that receiver. (This also applies if you have already built a weapon from a stripped receiver and need to document that it was done before the cutoff date.)

It is acceptable to use digital photos for this purpose, but do not edit them in any way--experts can tell, and any edits call into question the credibility of the entire photo. Ideally, have the photos or the actual shoot witnessed by a lawyer or notary, although friends you can trust to step up and testify on your behalf will suffice. You need to "place" the photos, which means to add matter that documents the time and location of the shot. Set the camera clock for a proper timestamp and date on the photos. Consider adding a [dated] newspaper banner under the weapon and/or using a notable background such as your house or vehicle (if you can shoot outside) to add additional placement. To increase the continuity between the close-up and the overall photos should they ever come to court, place items in the setting that are obvious placers--a few long matchsticks resting on the weapon, or a trail of string over it, that would be hard to replace exactly for a different photo. Do not move or disturb the object(s) between the two shots. Print hard copies and archive CDs on your premises and at least one place off premise--a trusted friend or relative, with a lawyer or in a secure box under a different name that cannot be seized--since dishonest law enforcement have been known to do that to prevent any evidence for the defense.

Once you've created and documented your AWs, you can defer buying other upper receivers/features until your budget permits. You did create that receiver into [a complete] AW format [rifle] before the ban. Therefore, by the letter of the law, it [demonstrably] is always an AW. (This assumes that future bans are similar in construct to prior bans at state and federal level). If your local culture is gun friendly, be seen at ranges and gun shows with your legal AWs often. If any legal question arises, you want lots of local citizens, range officials and law enforcement who will testify that of course Joe Preparedness has AWs. He's had them for years, all legal, long before that ban took effect.
The photos are also useful if you decide to sell an AW at some point in the future--you can clearly document that it was in fact [built as] an AW before the cutoff date. They can also serve for insurance purposes. - Michael Z. Williamson [with additional input from his wife Gail Sanders, She is an honor grad of the Defense Information School, and a combat, forensics, and public affairs photographer.]

JWR Adds: I'm not a fatalist when it comes to re-enactment of an AWB. By all means contact your representatives numerous times, by multiple methods (mail, phone, and e-mail) and express most vociferously, your estimation of the Constitutionality of a new ban, especially in light of the recent D.C. v. Heller Supreme Court decision. With that said, I must also state that I am a realist: We all saw what happened last year when the congresscritters were deluged with phone calls, running by some estimates at a ratio of 25-to-1 opposed to the TARP Bank Bailout Bill, yet the majority of our so-called representatives still voted for it. This demonstrates that the congress is now no longer responsive to the electorate. So I can only conclude that given political expediency and the nature of quid pro quo dealings inside the DC Beltway, there will be more "Change" made than the American people want. There is a very high likelihood that some flavor of "Assault Weapon" and full capacity magazine ban will be enacted during the first three month "honeymoon" period that will be enjoyed by the BHO Administration and the Democrat-dominated congress. There may also be a separate importation ban, via an executive order, perhaps in first two weeks that BHO is in office.(One BHO camp insider told me that he'd heard talk of "more than a dozen January Surprise executive orders".)

My advice: Take the appropriate countermeasures: Stock up, especially on magazines, and "cover your tail in paper" using the method that Mike Williamson suggests. Someday soon, you may be very glad that you did.

Hi Jim,
Regarding the recent article on Survival Gardening, another useful reference is [the book] Gardening When it Counts; Growing Food in Hard Times, by Steve Solomon, 2005, New Society Publishers. This wonderful book is very practical and comprehensive. It contains ratings regarding how difficult particular vegetables are to grow. Root systems, seed quality and selection, homemade organic fertilizer, tool selection and care, composting, irrigation, and pests and diseases are among the many topics covered. The author has decades of experience in growing his own nutritious food, and it shows. Reading this book can help one to avoid many gardening mistakes. It is highly recommended. - Richard B.

Greetings Jim,
As always you have such great content on your site - I find myself constantly looking for "tomorrow's" post today as I end my evening on the West Coast.
Regarding the post by David R: 'The Real Threat Is Deflation', I'd like to mention a great article over on www.Mises.org called 'Falling Prices Are The Antidote To Deflation'.

Thanks to your guiding me towards studying and understanding the Austrian School of Economics, this web site has become, like yours, one that I seek out with my morning coffee. Another great article recently posted on their web site, and coincidentally written by Llewellyn Rockwell - the current president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, is: 'How This Happened'.

Both of these articles may help many of your readers more clearly understand why you are firm in your beliefs of the Austrian Economic system.
May God continue to bless you and your family! - Dennis in Northern California

Chuck sent this: Zimbabwe unveils Z$100 trillion banknote. ("Inflation was last reported at 231 million percent in July, but the Washington think-tank Cato Institute has estimated it now at 89.7 sextillion percent -- a figure expressed with 21 zeroes.")

   o o o

I just dropped by the Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest blog, after a long absence. I must say that the two Ryans are in fine form. Their blog has both some good informative pieces, plus plenty of their own distinctive brand of humor. Great stuff, guys!

   o o o

Anne E. recommended this video at the Pioneer Living web site about civilian disarmament in England and Australia: Americans Protect Your Gun Rights At All Costs! And here is a great companion piece, that discusses both hunting and gun ownership rights in the UK.

   o o o

More economic news, first from Eric: California controller to suspend tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants (It will be interesting to see what happens when there have been no welfare checks issued for a couple of months...) -- Rescue of U.S. banks hints at nationalization. And from Jack B. comes this link: Monetary union has left half of Europe trapped in depression.

“Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States , an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms? - James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The latest news on my novel "Patriots": The new edition from Ulysses Press is still on track for release in April or perhaps early May. It will include both a glossary and an index. It has been updated, re-edited, and re-titled: "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse." It will also feature a quite eye-catching new cover. (Subject to a few final tweaks in Photoshop.) Thanks for your patience, folks!


Blackhawk has done some short videos with Todd Jarrett where he discusses reloading, shooting on the move, and assuming the prone position. When assuming the prone position make sure the weapon is pointed down range and that you don't cover your weak hand/arm. An IPSC shooter shot himself with a .38 Super while practicing the prone position at a range where I shoot.


Shooting on the Move

Assuming Prone Position

Regards, - Bill N.

Thanks for your continued efforts in continuing to bring the right thinking to a troubled world.

I have one heads up and one question that you might be able to help with.

1. Heads up : For UK-based readers (and those who have access to UK IP address) you might like to point out to them a series currently running on BBC 2 : Victorian Farm

To quote from the BBC site:

"Historical observational documentary series following a team who live the life of Victorian farmers for a year. Wearing period clothes and using only the materials that would have been available in 1885, historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn are going back in time to relive the day-to-day life of the Victorian farmer.

Working for a full calendar year, Ruth, Alex and Peter are rediscovering a lost world of skills, crafts and knowledge assisted by an ever-dwindling band of experts who keep Victorian rural practices alive."

Think the U- version of the Pioneer House series that showed in the US a couple of years back. The first episode focused on ploughing and sowing with draft animals, threshing, replastering the farmhouse , making cider and the trials of cooking on a coal fired range. The series is available via iPlayer on that site.

This series is useful inspiration to go out and trial grid-down skills. I believe the farm, in Shropshire, can also be visited.

Mr. Rawles,
Here is an essay, "The Five P's: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance," by Michael Gaddy concerning gun ownership and training, a method for practicing for high-stress shooting such as might occur in a home invasion, and a recommendation to find out how your local law enforcement department might respond to an unlawful order to confiscate firearms. Perhaps your readers may find it interesting.

I hope the Memsahib is continuing her recovery. Best wishes. - "Emma Lee"

George S. found this article: Cold leaves bio-diesel school buses at a standstill

   o o o

Eric L. sent us a link to a recent radio show clip, where economist Peter Schiff is starting to talk like a SurvivalBlogger.

   o o o

Signs of incipient economic depression: America's once insatiable appetite for imported electronic gadgets has waned: Circuit City closing remaining 567 stores. (Thanks to Dan S. for the link.) And "The Divemaster" sent us this NPR news story: Searching for Vital Signs in a Sick Economy

   o o o

Cowboy spotted this: Smith & Wesson sales are Smokin'. Cowboy's comment: "Apparently S&W AR-15s are quite the commodity these days...(tongue firmly implanted in cheek) S&W stock is doing well despite the weak economy? I think it is more accurate to say that S&W stock is doing well because of the poor economy. This is very telling indeed. "

"[There is] treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up." - Proverbs 21:20 (KJV)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

By God’s grace I was born and raised on a small family farm. During the 1960s and 1970s we were trying to pay off a 340 acre corn and soybean farm in northwestern Iowa and we were flat stinking broke. So we raised nearly all of the food to support our family. This required a large garden (80ft x 120 ft), an even larger truck patch (48 ft x 1,200 ft), a small fruit orchard (12 trees), livestock (caves, sheep, hogs, and 300 laying hens).

With some of the best and most productive farm land in the entire world, with better than 30 inches of precipitation, 165 frost free days, real farm tractors, planters, and cultivation equipment it took us 20 ac to feed six people. That breaks down to a 1/2 acre garden, 1 acre truck [farming] patch, 8 acre pasture, and 10 acres for hay ground and animal feed.

My point for you non-farmers out there, is that you are not going to feed yourself with a Mantis tiller and 1,000 square feet of sandy dirt that requires you to pump endless ground water irrigation just to keep your crops alive. If you committed enough to surviving that you purchase over 20 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammo (a good start) I am suggesting that you need to consider a similar commitment to growing food.

I do not discount the importance of purchasing and storing up bulk staples, dried grain, canned goods, and freeze dried entrees, I have them as well. But I am telling you straight out that if the economy tanks anything like the 1930s, and I think it will last longer, you are going to run out of grub mighty early.

Now everyone has different skills, resources, and family commitments, but let's consider some of the basic requirements for growing food:

Yearly precipitation
Up to a point, more is better. You typically need 12 inches to grow grass, 20 inches to grow trees, and 30 inches to grow corn. If you want to raise a really big garden without irrigation you need about 8 inches per month through out the primary growing season (May-June-July-Aug). Except for a few areas defined as microclimates I recommend that you consider living east of the dry line (100th meridian, i.e. Wichita, Kansas). Rainfall beyond 12 inches per month or 48 inches total will only make it harder to control the weeds and bugs. A maximum of 48 inches leaves out Louisiana, Florida, and the Coastal areas of the deep south A good source of local area climate data is City-Data.com.

Frost free growing season.
See these maps at the NOAA web site. Anything less than 120 days severely limits what you can grow. Remember that the folks scratching a living from the Dakotas, Eastern Montana, and most of the Rocky Mountain States are not multi crop farmers, they are either ranchers or specialist who grow crops like hard winter wheat. Any climate with between 165 to 240 days is about perfect. This translates into south of the Dakotas and North of Dallas, Texas. This is enough of a growing season for row crops and all vegetables and allow a little wiggle room for getting every thing planted on time. In the south you will be able to plant every thing directly in the garden, on the northern edge you will be starting many of your plants in a greenhouse. That said, starting plants in a green house gives them an important jump start on weeds and bugs. You should plan on one.

While I suggest that you should consider living in the mid-southern region of the short grass prairie, there are a number of smaller areas that provide the basic conditions for productive farming. I suggest some fine areas such and La Grande Oregon, Rathdrum, Idaho, Montrose, Colorado, where the local rainfall and warmer winters make favorable microclimates. The easiest method of evaluating an area in the arid west is to look for big commercial fruit orchards. If it grows both apples and peaches the temperature extremes will be acceptable and if you can grow fruit without pumping ground water they must get enough rain. The reason that I concentrate so heavily on living in an area with rainfall is that I anticipate that no matter what the trigger event (WMD terror strike, economic crisis, destructive natural event) we will not have enough electrical power or fuels to pump large volumes of ground water for a really long time.

Soil productivity
Black, gray, brown, and even red soil is fine as long it is loam. This means that it has organic particles (composted twigs, leaves, wood, bark, and stems) to help hold the moisture and feed the worms, bugs, and microbes that make soil really productive. Sand and gravel are fine structure but if you don’t have the worms, bugs, and microbes to aerate the soil and fix atmospheric nitrogen for the plants roots you will have to do this mechanically and ultimately you will have to add nitrogen fertilizer. [JWR Adds: It is wise to have the soil tested before making an offer on a retreat property. Soil testing is usually available at colleges and universities that have agriculture programs. You can also contact your local NRCS office or USDA Extension Office, and they can. provide information on soil testing labs in your region.

My whole family might be able to plant and cultivate 1/2 acre without equipment. But I don’t plan to find out. For my own use I bought a 25 hp diesel tractor and basic tillage, planting, and cultivating attachments. I also bought an old Ford 8N plus 4 attachments for under $2,000. A small tractor should only burn 20 gallons per year tending a small garden and truck patch. Gas and diesel may still be available during a deep depression, it may even be cheaper, but I have 500 gal of stabilized diesel in a farm tank.

Seeds, Fertilizer, Weed & Pest Control, and Livestock
Most folks have heard about Heirloom seeds. Plant varieties that will reseed themselves true year after year. But just as important, livestock will allow you continued farming success without access to petroleum based fertilizer, weed, and pest control. I use a wheel hoe in the garden and a tractor mounted cultivator in the truck patch to kill weeds, but I would rather use sheep, goats, and poultry to eat the seedling trees and weeds when I can. Livestock manure is the ultimate fertilizer and Poultry, particularly ducks, geese, and guinea hens will help control the bugs and deliver the fertilizer at the same time. Personally, I can not imagine trying to control weeds and bugs without my livestock.

Fences, Shelters, Ponds, and Trees
These are some common land improvements that are best built and planted before the crunch. [With most common soils] an agricultural pond will not efficiently seal and hold water for 2-3 years, fruit trees take 3-5 years to bear fruit heavily, and my Pecan grove will likely take 10 years if the deer and bugs will just leave it alone for a while. Building these improvements is really not difficult unless you try to do it yourself without power tools. I suggest that you build them now so you can borrow or rent tractors with PTO augers, bulldozers, backhoes, cement mixers as needed.

Academic Classes and the Extension Service
Many community colleges and land grant university extension services offer free information and classes to teach you to raise gardens, fruit, and livestock, and how to store your produce using a home canner. I took a great class titled “backyard food raising”. The skills needed to raise and store food are a lot like the skill to shoot a gun or reload ammunition. You can’t just read about it, you learn by doing.

Growing a garden is not like riding a bike. It is different for each area and the weeds and bugs are scheming right now to eat you out of house and home. I suggest that you start now and learn each new plant, animal, and pest while you can still buy food at the grocery store. While you can grow a lot the first year, my experience is that it will take 3 years practice before you are confident and fully successful
Some Useful References:
Homesteading, Gene Logsdon, 1973 Rodale Press
Basic Country Skills, Storey, 1999, Storey Publishing
Emergency Preparedness and Survival-Section 3, Jackie Clay, 2003, Backwoods Home Magazine
Organic Orcharding, Gene Logsdon, 1981, Rodale Press
Introduction to Horticulture, Shry, Reiley, 2007, Thompson Delmar Learning
Backyard Fruits and Berries, Miranda Smith, 1994 Quarto Publishing
Animal Science, Ensminger, 1991, Interstate Publishers Inc.


On the topic of SHTF scenarios like [the Post-Rodney King Verdict riots in] Los Angeles and Hurricane Katrina, YouTube has many videos detailing this that your readers might find are worth revisiting. It's one thing to talk about it, another to actually see it all again:

Los Angeles Riots, Looting, and a Gunfight in Koreatown

LA Riots - Korean Store Owners Prepare for Showdown

Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, 08/28/2005 Massive Evacuation

Hurricane Katrina Looters, A Few of Them Were Police Officers

After Hurricane Katrina, Desperation at the Convention Center

Regards, - The Survivalist


I remain very skeptical regarding the police, as representatives of the state, in "SHTF" situations. New Orleans is the most obvious example. But consider: the state disarms you, and then confiscates a portion of your wages to create a bureaucracy to protect you. When that's not enough the state "creates" crimes - whether it's the "war on drugs" or something as simple as banning cell phones in cars - in order to sustain it's bureaucracy. Like any other agency of the state, this becomes a self-perpetuating dynamic.

Secondly, agents of the state, in a true crisis situation, will have limited information. Otherwise law abiding citizens are easily painted as potential threats through the chain of command. History provides plentiful examples of what happens when those agents of the state -otherwise good people- meet up with the civilian populace during times of crisis. Clearly history is not on the side of law enforcement making sound, independent decisions in these cases. Further, as New Orleans demonstrates, law enforcement personnel can easily be deployed from their own back yard to other areas of the country where they do not have roots, family or ties to the community. There are also cultural differences (in the example of New Orleans: How Chicago police may feel about citizen-owned firearms) that amplify and exacerbate the problem.

Volumes have been written about this subject. But I would encourage anyone looking to the state for protection of their individual rights during a crisis situation to study history - and I am not speaking about ancient history or extreme examples such as Stalin or Mao. Simply study American history. - Steven

Hello Jim,

Mosby's description of defense tactics was common all along the frontier in the 18th Century including western Pennsylvania. As defense against indian raids, a small blockhouse was built on a farm in a central location. A spring [or shallow well] for water was a necessity. When news of local raids spread, people would gather as many possessions as possible and head to the blockhouse for the common defense. This is an instance where much can be learned from history. While these small forts where rarely overrun, the abandoned farms were wide open to burning and pillage. Destruction of property, livestock and crops were the norm and could cause food shortages. Also, often the danger of raids would last for months at a time and while forted up this made it difficult to tend to any crops and livestock not destroyed. Groups of people would travel to abandoned farms for short periods to try to work the land as much as possible. Some providing security while others worked. What goes around comes around but I hope things never get this bad again. - Jeff in Ohio

A tip of the hat to Eric for sending this: The other dark meat: Raccoon is making it to the table

   o o o

Heather sent us this: Rice prices 'could rise sharply'

   o o o

Tim L. suggested this article by one of my heroes, Dr. Walter Williams: Congress' Financial Mess. And for more of the Big Picture, see this article at Bob Chapman's The International Forecaster: The Smell Of Panic In The Air For The Economy. (A hat tip to Bryan for the link.) And for other economic news, Cheryl kindly sent us all these items: The U.S. Economy is Being Marched to the Gallows (Predictions of Hyperinflation, Dollar Decline and Civil Unrest) -- Near Panic in Markets Over Fears of Further US Bank Write-Downs -- Merrill Lynch Reports Record $15 Billion 4th Quarter Loss -- Another Fall in US Consumer Prices Sparks Fears of Deflation -- Unsold Cars Pile Up Around the World -- IEA Cuts Oil Demand Forecasts -- CitiGroup Splits in Two - $8.3 Billion Loss -- BofA Gets $138 Billion Bailout After First Loss in 17 Years -- Treasuries Fall on BofA Bailout -- Bailed Out Wall Street Helps Float Obama Inauguration -- Bank of China VP Warns of Fresh Financial Crisis --Bread Misery Index (from The Mogambo Guru, $50 Billion Zimbabwe dollars buys two loaves of bread)

   o o o

The Western Rifle Shooters Association (WRSA) has scheduled another excellent Grid-Down Medical Course. This one will be held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on February 7th & 8th. If you attend, be sure to wear your SurvivalBlog hat or T-shirt, and you might meet some fellow SurvivalBlog readers!

   o o o

Jason alerted us to this amazing piece by commentator Michelle Malkin: Buy a house, get citizenship?! Yes, it’s true

"Expecting a carjacker, a rapist or a drug pusher to care that his possession or use of a gun is unlawful is like expecting a terrorist to care that his car bomb is taking up two car [parking] spaces." - Joseph T. Chew

Friday, January 16, 2009

Congratulations to M.J., the high bidder in the most recent benefit auction. Today we are starting a new SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction for another large mixed lot, which will include:

1.) A slightly different "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original Austrian FN-FAL steel 20 round magazines, with cartridge counter holes, 10 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (all Colt made!) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Excellent condition original Glock Model 19 9mm 15 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch), and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $710, in today's market. 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.

2. ) A brand new-in-box Hot Jaw Bag Sealer and a box of 10 Mylar bags . (Every retreat group should have one these, since they are a tremendous labor saver!) This is a $200 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A gift certificate for $100 worth of books, courtesy of Back 40 Books.

6.) A case of 12 cans of recent production nitrogen-packed storage granola (mixed varieties) This is a $96 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,565.

This auction ends on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

There is much conjecture in shooting publications and online forums about BHO's upcoming inauguration. Some (myself included) have predicted that the new Administration will unleash a flurry of executive orders in their first few week. Among these will likely be a ban on semi-automatic firearms and so-called "high capacity" magazines. This may be followed soon after by the permanent re-enactment of the 1994-to-2004 Federal "Assault weapons" ban.

Alas, probably too late, HK plans to build and sell their "416"-style uber-railed MR556 and MR762 rifles in the United States. The scheduled release date is "sometime in late 2009" That is the wrong end of Aught Nine, in my estimation. There will likely be a ban in place by then. Meanwhile, after a 18-year hiatus from civilian sale, there is still no firm word from Steyr about the release date of the much-anticipated flat-top ("A3") AUGs in the US. At least SIG got their SIG-556 rifles and pistols into production in time, and ditto for FN's PS90 (5.7) and FS-2000 (5.56) bullpups, and RRA's LAR-8 .308. But those have only been produced in relatively small numbers compared to the plethora of AR-15s being churned out in 31 flavors from umpteen makers. <Sarcasm Mode On> I expect to see a Martha Stewart Edition floral motif AR-15, any day now. <Sarcasm Mode Off.> OBTW, have you seen this DeWalt (a one-of creation), and the CavArms pink AR-15s?)

So the SIG 556, "SIG Classic", and other "produced in only small numbers before the ban" rifles will be worth a fortune, if and when there is another ban. I'm planning to buy one or two, just as an investment. That is, if I can find one in captivity on the secondary market. Another few question marks out there: The FN SCAR, the Magpul Masada/Bushmaster ACR, and the Kel-Tec RFB .308 bullpup. If any of those new guns make it to market before a ban and the price is reasonable, then pounce on them. They will be sure to appreciate in value handsomely.

The current market for semi-auto battle rifles, full capacity magazines, and even ammo can best be described as "frenzied." I can make no firm predictions, but I think that I can safely presage that both the depth and breadth available product selection and the prices your local gun shop or gun show in 2012 will be much different than today. Some of the biggest price gains will be in 11+ round magazine prices. Stock up!

Background - I am a 40-year old male, my Missus is a year younger and we have three children. The children are active in school, church and 4H. The eldest is a known "good worker" in the neighborhood and during summer vacation is in high demand for haying, etc. Middle child is interested in chickens and sewing. The youngest is an all round good helper and loves to go to the woods.
I have always been interested in farming and in non-electric tools and equipment. My off-farm job keeps me busy 50 hours per week. Missus does not work outside of the home.
I can build or fix most anything. I got those skills from my father although he is better and faster at it that I am. I have never had a high income so we "use it up, wear it out, make do or do without".

Present home - We own a 40-acre farm in Maritime Canada, 19 miles from the nearest town. We live half a mile off a paved road and the house cannot be seen from the pavement. The nearest store is 17 miles away and we are not on a road to anywhere. The likelihood of people crowding through here escaping the city, which is 110 miles away, is nil.

The house is a 130-year-old storey and half. We have a large barn, wood shed, workshop and a couple of smaller outbuildings. There are about 8 acres of woodlot, 10 acres of hayfield, a couple acres of blueberries and the rest is (now) fenced for pasture. There was no fencing on the place when we moved in and I put up woven wire as we can afford it. We have a small flock of sheep, a few laying hens and a rooster. If we had to, we could live on lamb, eggs and the odd cockerel. We also have a beef cow, a calf, an ancient draft horse and in the summer we raise meat birds and the odd pig. I am working toward improving our pasture and hayfields so that we lessen our dependence on purchased grain and hay. Raising Highland cattle, Tamworth pigs and Royal Palm turkeys may be in our future.
Property tax - $400 per year.

Debt – After my "war on debt" 14 months ago we are down to a small mortgage and that’s it. We did have six credit cards with a total balance of $3,000 and were always behind with the power and telephone bills. We were paying out $100 per month just in interest. The cards were paid off and four were cancelled, the power was brought up-to-date and is now on a 12-month budget plan. With no debt and no interest to pay, life is soooo much better.

Investments – Through payroll deduction, I have put a bit aside in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) for the last 17 years. Two months ago we had $80,000 in RRSPs but since the [equities] crash(es), we are down to $50,000. I have always felt that the farm is my retirement security so I am not too worried.
Right now any income from the farm is rolled back into the farm in the form of hay, seed, fencing, etc.

Shop - The workshop houses all of my tools (hand and power) as well as a blacksmith forge with a hand-cranking blower and a hand operated drill press. I heat the building with a wood stove. I like my circular saw, reciprocating saw and electric drill but I can easily fall back on my handsaws and brace & bit. Supplies that I need to stock up on include files, hacksaw blades, welding rods and coal for the forge.

Water – We have a gravity feed water system for the house so there is water regardless of the power grid situation. There is a year-round river at the base of our property and several intermittent brooks. There is also an unused well by the house and a well for the barn. We use an electric jet pump and tank for the barn but I have purchased a hand cistern pump for on top of this well. Lastly there is a small spring fed well where the old milk house used to be about 70 years ago.

Heat - We have always had an oil furnace, oil-fired water heater and oil tank and an airtight wood stove. When oil reached it’s high last summer I decided to make a change. I replaced the oil-fired water heater with an electric one and bought eight cords of hardwood. I also installed a mini-split heat pump in the end of the house farthest from the wood stove. So far this winter we have not used the oil furnace at all.
We had removed a wood-fired kitchen range a few years ago due to insurance and the space it took up but I am strongly leaning on re-installing it. I may even install a range boiler so we can have hot water.

Firearms – I have a British Lee-Enfield .303 and about 20 rounds and a .22 with about 200 rounds. I need to stock up on .303 [British rifle] ammo, a gun cleaning kit and I should get a sling and scope. I may also get a shotgun and some bird shot.

Security – Just the dog, motion lights and the fact that the house is on an open knoll away from the road. We have good neighbors and we all watch out for the other’s property. The main drawback is distance – each neighbor (north, east and south) is a little over half a mile away. Near the paved road we have had thefts of anything laid down in sight of the road – ladders, fence post maul, gas-powered water pump for a garden, and even chickens. Houses that are left empty have had break-ins and some have been burned down.

Fruit/garden – Perennial trees and plants interest me as a source of food that will be dependable no matter what our economic or health situation. We have several apple trees and rose bushes on the property. We are bringing back the blueberry field and the rhubarb plants. I have planted strawberries, raspberries and chives.
The children and I plant a fairly large vegetable garden every year. This year, after the cow and the sheep were done with it, there wasn’t much left for us. This spring we fence the garden.
This fall, for the first time ever, I purchased next year’s garden seed. This way, no matter what happens, we won’t have to worry about finding seed in the spring.
To extend our growing season, we plan on build a greenhouse onto the south side of one of the sheds in the not-too-distant future.

Food storage – We have three freezers full of chicken, turkey, beef and pork. Our generator is to protect the contents of these freezers. I have a lot of salt on hand so if we had a prolonged grid down situation I could salt down the beef and pork. We have also started stocking up on Mason jars and lids, and bottling accessories. The remains of our garden produce go into our cellar.
After my first week of reading SurvivalBlog last summer, I went to the local grocery wholesaler and bought 200 lbs of dried goods. I made the mistake of telling the guys at work so now instead of being the nut with farm; I am the survivalist nut with the farm. I now keep all preps to myself.

I have laid in a stock of flour, yeast, sugar, salt, rolled oats, white pea-beans, baking powder, baking soda, molasses, peanut butter, honey, raisins, nuts, canned goods, canola and olive oil, spices, pepper, pasta & sauce, rice, dried onion, powdered milk, cream of wheat, pancake mix, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, juice powder, and hard candy. We manage to put an item or two in our deep larder every week. I have been keeping my eye out for a grain mill as we can easily put in 1⁄4 - 1⁄2 acre of wheat.

Health – We keep our prescriptions filled or re-filled. My oldest child and I have just completed a first-aid course.
We’ve begun to stock up on: toothpaste, tooth brushes, dish soap, bar soap, Dettol disinfectant, Buckley’s Mixture cold medicine (tastes awful but it works), Raleigh’s Medicated Ointment, multi vitamins, vitamin C, aspirin, female items, Band-Aids & tape, toilet paper, peroxide, deodorant, lip balm, nail trimmers, and razors. I have just purchased a large first-aid kit for the house and a small one for the car. I will eventually add a minor surgery kit, which would be handy if just used for veterinary emergencies.

Vet – I have a large plastic toolbox for our growing supply of veterinary items. I keep a supply of needles, syringes, worm treatment, penicillin, castration bands, iodine, foot treatment, etc. I don’t shear my own sheep but this year I picked up Oster electric shears on eBay for a great price. I did try out the shears on our longhaired dog. He healed up nicely and didn’t hold a grudge.

Fishing – I have a large supply of hand line gear, a small supply of trout rods, and a small gill net and net knitting needles. We have a small fiberglass dory with two sets of oars.

Vehicles – We have a late 1990s mid-size car and a mid-2000s mini-van. Both are in good shape.

Communication – Other than the usual telephone, we have two walkie-talkies and a hand crank radio [receiver]. We live out beyond cellular service. I plan to get a short wave radio. Several hours into a power outage, our phone goes dead due to small fuel capacity for the Phone Company’s generator down the road. I would like to have some way to communicate with my parents (three hours away) and my siblings (one and three hours away) but we would all have to have Ham radios and I know that won’t happen.
TEOTWAWKI – farming - I have been assembling a collection of a few small tractors and 3-point hitch equipment. My main concern is that when gas becomes scarce and too expensive to purchase I will have no way to harvest hay for winter fodder. I have a small horse-drawn mower that I plan to restore. That way if worse comes to worst, I could at least mow hay and put it in the barn loose. In such a time, horses would be at a premium but I know how to hew an ox head-yoke so a horned steer or two and we’re back in business.

Long term goals – "harden" the house with better doors, dig a trout pond, build a greenhouse, increase firewood and hay stores, increase gasoline storage for the generator and chain saw, install a small safe, and buy more ammunition.

In conclusion, in a TEOTWAWKI grid up situation we will not have to change our lifestyle at all. In a prolonged grid down situation, we’ll be eating a lot of salt beef and beans in the winter and fresh veggies and chicken in the summer. - "Mr. Enfield" in the Maritimes

Dear Jim,
I just got my new (old) set of The Foxfire Books. I sat down and began to cruise through the pages of the first one. What a wealth of information!
Then it happened. I turned over page 370 and there was a picture of Hillard Green. He is almost 80, (the book was published in 1972) and here is what it says, unbelievable:
Excerpt from the facing page: "The last time we visited him, he was busy peeling tomatoes he had just gathered and scalded. He waved us in, put a fresh plug of tobacco in his cheek, and went on with his work chuckling as we got our camera ready.
'People'll look at those pictures,' he laughed, "and say, 'What is that crazy old man a'doin'? You tell'em I'm puttin up 'maters for th' winter, that's what. People might laugh at such stuff as this, but I'll tell y', I'm not about t'let'em rot. And when you've got old, you're not a'goin't lay down and die just because you're old. Feller's got t'have somethin' t'do. Well, this is one of th'things I do, and I'm proud I can. Let'em laugh. I'll be eatin' good this winter and laughin' back.'
The peeling process over, he next sliced and cored them, put them on to cook, and began to heat the canning jars.
'Everyone ought t'learn how to do such as this. One a'these days, times might get back hard again, and then what will they do? Nobody not knowin' how t'do nothin'. Might have t'live off th'land again, one day. We never had nothin' fer th'winter only what we put up. What we put up was what we had. Goin't be a lot of hungry people someday." - Northern Art

Mr. Rawles,
I greatly respect your advice and columns on most matters yet I continue to see people like yourself claiming we are facing an inflationary holocaust. People in the inflationary camp point to the size of the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) or the rate or printing as if that number alone meant something. You cannot take that number alone, sir, but must measure it against the value of assets that have been destroyed by the deflation going on around you. The total inflationary pulse from Europe, Japan, and the US thus far is approximately $7.5 trillion as best I can estimate. On the other hand, the total value of assets destroyed in 2008 alone was over $60 trillion dollars. In other words, deflation outweighs inflation here by a factor of about 8 to 1. Even if we get another $50 trillion in inflationary action, which I seriously doubt will occur, it would only be an attempt to stand still against the massive wave of deflation going on around us. And that doesn't count the losses that will come in 2009, 2010, and beyond. It is my firm belief that we are in the midst of a deflationary crash that is going to last 3-5 years and at the end of that crash is the dissolution of the United States due to its incredible financial obligations. What will come after that is similar to the breakup of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new nations, each similar to but different from what preceded it.

Given the above, I find it hard to take these warnings of impending inflationary disaster seriously. The US cannot inflate without antagonizing its trading partners who hold its bonds. Antagonizing them not only cuts off cash via lending but likely cuts off trade, resulting in a lack of goods here in the US which the US is no longer capable of filling by itself. Thus inflating is suicide. Instead all the action I see appears to be an attempt by the very rich to "ride the wave down" until it bottoms out. This bottoming out is the perfect time to consolidate wealth in the hands of those that hold cash by picking clean the pockets of the middle class who were heavily invested in the sucker's stock market. Paulson is guiding the consolidation of financial institutions into those few controlled by "friends of Hank" while people like Ben Bernanke harp on bailing out the financial institutions (the very wealthy) with hundreds of billions of dollars while disdaining to throw even breadcrumbs (by comparison) to companies that employ the middle class of America.

In fact, the classic advice during an inflation is to be in debt up to your eyeballs so you can pay the debt back with cheaper currency. Yet you give sound deflationary advice - be out of debt - with which I agree. I truly enjoy your column but wonder if it is time for you to prayerfully step back and really examine the direction of the financial world rather than simply continue to run based on old assumptions. If you stand back and simply examine the data, rather than beginning with an assumption, the data appears to very strongly point to deflation. Remember, Americans were told that the US would not allow the deflationary mess of the 1930s to happen either, but it did. And if you examine the Federal Reserve's role in that you see that they even inflated the money supply to extremes. For starters, I recommend that you please consider [Mish Shedlock's essay] Humpty Dumpty On Inflation. It's a well written article and certain graphs in there are truly eye-openers. If you are not a regular reader of Mr. Shedlock's column, you may wish to become one. He has been spot on the mark about everything in terms of deflation or else he has been too conservative. For instance, he said 2008 unemployment would exceed 6% clear back in 2007 when unemployment was 4.9%. People said he was insane yet look at what happened. He also documents the many ways wealth is being destroyed, such as the $10 trillion in household wealth destroyed during the 15 months from the beginning of the 4th quarter 2007 to the end of the 4th quarter 2008. And that doesn't count pension losses, or corporate and government losses plus it's only the US. Further, it's through Mish's columns (Mish is his nickname) that I discovered that many large corporations like HP and FedEx are freezing wages and suspending 401(k) contributions entirely. Those are not inflationary actions!

I really do urge you to give the deflationary scenario a good second look. The end of that road is just as horrible as the hyperinflationary one but the way we get there may be different and it may cause you to prepare in a somewhat different manner. Sincerely, - David R.

JWR Replies: You should be aware that I revised my predictions for inflation considerably since the onset of the global credit collapse in the third quarter of 2007. For more than a year, I have been predicting that we'll experience at least 18 months (more likely 24+ months) of sharp deflation, then followed by mass currency inflation. I stand by that prediction. Once the "worm turns", and the Almighty Dollar is rightly seen abroad as the bird cage liner that it really is, there will be some spectacular failures of US Treasury auctions. Then, in the great banana republic tradition, the Treasury Department will have no choice but to offer higher and higher rates of return in order to successfully peddle their paper. Meanwhile, the multi-trillions in spending that cannot be covered by tax revenues and borrowing will have to be covered by monetization, which as I've mentioned before is highly inflationary. Once the Treasury and Federal Reserve take the turn down that path--and I'm fairly confident that they will--then the fate of the dollar will be certain. From then on, it will be time to "warm up the helicopters", as the Dollar heads into at least double digit inflation--and possibly much higher rates.

The Memsahib is now "Happy McHappy" because her annual Murray McMurray poultry catalog just arrived. Along with the obligatory pile of seed catalogs, this annual event is one of the things that keeps our spirits up during the snowy winter months.

   o o o

Eric spotted these articles: Kansas wheat acres continue downward trend and, German bond auctions fail, and, Latvia is shaken by riots over its weak economy

   o o o

More gloomage, courtesy of Cheryl: Crude Tumbles Below $35 -- Fears Grip Banking Sector as Barclay's Cuts 2,100 More Jobs -- FTSE 100 Joins Global Rout of Markets -- UK Jobless Rise 40 in Just One Week -- China Bails Out its Steel and Auto Makers -- Ireland: Drastic Cuts to Prevent Debt Crisis -- Asian Markets Dive as Economy News Darkens -- Banks in Need of Even More Bailout Money -- US Foreclosure Filings Up 81% in 2008 -- Fiscal Situation of 50 States: Combined Budget Gaps Estimated at $350 Billion for 2010 and 2011 -- No Taxation Without Inflation (Mogambo Guru) -- Jim Sinclair: The Unavoidable Face of Hyperinflation (Sinclair writes: "The dollar cannot and will not remain strong, nor can a planetary Weimar experience now be avoided.)".

   o o o

Sean M. flagged this: Solar Jerrycan that purifies water with sunshine

"Many citizens are questioning the numerous disconnects between the futures markets in precious metals and commodities and the realities of global supply and demand. As the saying goes: keep an eye on the referee. Maybe this match/game isn't quite as fair as it's advertised." - Charles Hugh Smith

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Your last day to bid! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,500. Get your bid in by midnight, eastern time, tonight. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. 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.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends today, January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid by midnight, eastern time, tonight. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

Sometimes it is not an option to relocate so you have to get prepared wherever you are located. I am located on the Gulf Coast 60 short miles from New Orleans, Louisiana. We were ground zero for Hurricane Katrina, so I have a first hand experience of what can happen I will describe some things that I did right and some things that I did wrong.

We were unable to relocate to a place like Idaho as we had elderly parents who could not and probably would not relocate to a more appropriate survival area.

My mother was born in 1930 the daughter of a sharecropper in the Louisiana delta. They lived a survivor lifestyle as a matter of everyday life. She instilled in me a fear of having absolutely nothing. Until her
death in 2007 she refused to run a dishwasher or air conditioner. She could not bring herself to waste electricity, water, or anything for that matter. She would not waste anything.

Although not as dedicated to thrift as my mother, I did inherit her fear of hunger, and vulnerability to the unexpected. She died in fear of depression era conditions returning. When she died I lost a valuable
source of survival information.

Because of my mother's influence, the day after Hurricane Katrina, we were one out of 75,000 or so who had lights and running water 36 hours after the storm. The following is what most people did wrong:

A lot of people had generators, the problem was that they only had a couple of cans of gas. So they were all without power in less than 24 hrs. All of the gas stations were disabled. No gas means no

Nobody had enough food, they recommend three days, it took almost three days just to get the roads clear.

No guns! I had friends who did not "believe in guns" that ended up borrowing some weapons.

No dogs! Without dogs, you have no warning of intruders. Alarm systems don't work after the batteries are dead.

The following is what I did right:

I had a natural gas generator installed. I was up and running less than 36 hours of the storm. It was also a mistake to select natural gas as a fuel source. Upturned trees broke gas lines all over the region, it was only blind luck that left me with gas pressure. A propane system would have been better.

I had drilled a water well. I was able to provide water pressure to my house, city water was out for weeks. I tied the system back to the house by a simple water hose going from a faucet on my pump to one on the house.

I had lights and water. Here is what I did wrong:

I evacuated the elderly mothers and dogs to an area 100+ miles north. Electricity was out over the entire state, my motor home generator powered my sisters house where I left our parents and dogs. I left the dogs at my bug out location before I returned to the disaster area.

Mistake #1: I sent my dogs elsewhere.

The other thing I was unprepared for were refugees. I call them refugees because they would have gone hungry without the food in my pantry and freezers. I was totally unprepared for the 16 families looking to me for food and direction.

Some other things I did wrong:

I did not have enough food. I fed a lot of people. In a real end of life as we know it scenario, I would have been forced to choose who I would have to turn away. It's one thing to take care of people when you know help is on the way, quite another when there is no help in sight.

Weapons: I loaned my old shotguns to all the people who did not believe in the private ownership of guns. When gangs of illegal aliens and welfare recipients' were roaming the streets, the folks who didn't believe in guns didn't hesitate to request assistance.

I did not have a fuel source independent of the grid.

The following are changes that I have made:

I now have a Bluebird Bus motor home. It has a huge fuel tank that I can use to run the house if the natural gas generator quits. It’s diesel generator can put out 12 kw for a long time.

I have a much larger store of food.

I have a photovoltaically-powered water supply.

I have a bug out vehicle that has a 1,200 to 1,500 mile range. It has a propane refrigerator. It has a water
system that can provide water pressure to my house.

I have dogs. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, thieves were cranking up lawn mowers and pushing them up next to running generators after the storm. They would then shut down the running generators and leave the running lawn mowers while they absconded with the generators. You cannot stay awake 24 hours a day. Dogs do not miss much if anything. I can’t recommend a breed of dog, but the following work for me: Miniature Schnauzers, Australian shepherds, Catahoula Curs. If you live in the south and have some land you cannot beat a Catahoula Cur. An Australian Sheppard is a close second for all climates.

I have ten acres and good soil, I am putting in a very large garden. However, I do not feel that I can overcome the huge welfare population we have here, If things get out of hand, I plan to bug out. I now have an RV that has a tremendous range. It has a propane refrigerator, and full facilities. I can literally live on the side of the road for weeks or months. It is equipped to pull a full-size 4WD with trailer. I have several bug out locations within four hours where I can evacuate to. When I leave I will have dogs, food, tools, and arms. I also have shortwave radios.

You have to develop a survival mentality, you have to add to your preparation everyday. Each trip to Wal-Mart is an opportunity to add to your supplies. The one thing I learned is that when the storm hits, its too late to think about being prepared. You have to think: if a disaster strikes, how long can you feed and protect your family? I add to my provisions every day.

Start to prepare now. Think: food, food, and more food, ammo, bandages, and unless you can go without sleep 24 hours a day don't forget the dogs!

[In his article "The Thin Blue Line",] Deputy W. makes a very good observation about the tipping point when law enforcement retreats to protect their own families. This situation has occurred twice in recent history here in the U.S., during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992 and most recently in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina. I lived through the riots in L.A., as well as two earthquakes and would like to share some of what I learned from this experience.

The fact I want to impress on SurvivalBlog readers is that they will most likely experience a situation like this wherever they live at some point in their life, it is almost unavoidable. Mention this experience to most people and they will think "this will never happen to me". However, human behavior really hasn't changed very much for thousands of years. If you starve people or remove the threat of arrest and incarceration, some of them will turn into animals who will stop at no evil, causing a breakdown of civil society. The saying "at any time, you are three days from anarchy" is no doubt true.
As the riots began, most people assumed the situation would remain under control in the South Central part of Los Angeles, a poor and rundown area. The story ran on the evening news and everyone went to sleep thinking it would blow over. Law enforcement (the Los Angeles Police Department - LAPD) made a number of errors in handling the situation and it rapidly spiraled out of control. By the next morning, the air was smoky and the news was filled with scenes of mobs attacking defenseless people like truck driver Reginald Denny, who was nearly beaten to death because he had the misfortune to drive his truck through the wrong neighborhood. Keep in mind, at that time LAPD was considered to be one of the best run police forces in the U.S. If the LAPD couldn't keep control, then could your local law enforcement keep control in this kind of situation?

What did it feel like to be there for "the end of the world"? Power and water still worked, and I had about a weeks worth of food on hand, so it was a comfortable, though scary "end of the world" for me -- I didn't own a gun at the time and the flimsy gate and sliding glass door at the entrance to my apartment didn't offer any protection if someone wanted to get in. Because LA is a media center, the local helicopter news coverage was quite good and people stayed glued to their televisions, just to make sure the mobs weren't heading our way. So good in fact that looters would burn down the business they finished robbing and go home to watch the fire on television. Once it became clear to the public at large that no police would be there to stop anything, it became a free-for-all. Television crews on Sunset Boulevard filmed people breaking large storefront windows, the alarm bells blaring and dozens of looters entering to help themselves to the "30 Minute 100% Off Sale". I remember quite clearly an interview with a looter who had just exited a shoe store holding up a pair of shoes for the camera and saying excitedly, "Granny, they didn't have the shoes you wanted, but I got you these in your size".

Another scene burned a memory I will never forget. Many of the businesses in these poor areas were owned by hard working Korean families. These merchants banded together and got on the roofs of their businesses with shotguns. Four days later when the smoke cleared, they were the only businesses left in town and I don't believe many of them even had to fire a shot.

I ventured out to the local grocery store after the first day -- you could hear gunshots from neighboring Venice. The parking lot at the shopping center was full of panicked people, desperately buying anything. They patiently waited in lines over ten people long -- at least people were still reasonable in this neighborhood. We traded stories with people who had just come down from Sunset Blvd., where the looting was really taking off, it was completely out of control. The shelves in this store, however were stripped clean -- it looked like a store you would see behind the Iron Curtain, people had money, but there was nothing to buy.

After this experience, I swore that I would never be unprepared -- you can't always count on someone else to look out for your interests and protect your family. - CK


Mr. Rawles,
I have been a law enforcement officer (LEO) in a small city - western New York and was raised in New York City. I believe that Deputy W. stated his facts on the nicer side. The mental state of anyone in survival mode is not a pretty thing, ff they are not prepped as most here [where I live] are. I would venture to say better than 50% of the LEOs in the nation would not go to a callout under TEOTWAWKI scenario. And how many would respond to a SHTF moment? They have to take their families as primary importance and you would not expect otherwise. The only way to avoid this is to make certain that the families were well provided for and protected, that is not done anywhere that I am aware of. So do not take the law into your own hands just to be righteous, but protect yourselves and be prepared to defend family and property, food, et cetera, if you see the legal system break down.

I was once told by a fellow LEO: "I don't need to store food, I have guns and I will feed my family" .And, yes this man was basically [otherwise] ethical and honest as are majority of LEOs in this country. I am not Christian or Jewish nor any variation of that. So my faith in your savior is not what I lean on, but my faith and my belief in my right to survive will allow me to do what I must to survive. I pray for all whom 'he' would protect and allow all to live -- if they do not threaten me and mine.

Get a firearm and practice with it, and if they will listen, train your family as you might not be there to use it. If possible, have a plan and a backup plan, and have a gun with you at all times. That plan should include a bug out bag (BOB) and it should be portable,many sites to find what should and should not be in there. Shalom, - S.S.B.


I would like to add that during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that the New Orleans Police Department was doing just as much looting as the Citizens and the National Guard was there to disarm the survivors. So I'm not even going to trust a LEO during the bad times ahead, they have family to feed too. What makes the matter worse is the average citizen has been conditioned to obey law enforcement.

What do you do when a LEO comes to your door and wants [to 'requisition'] your supplies? Signed, - Dan


Dear Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the recent article concerning the Thin Blue Line being the "only" thing separating honest citizens from criminal chaos: I think one of the basic suppositions is incorrect.
For the past year I have been living in two places. Approximately 3-4 days a week I live in a large Pacific Northwest City and the other 3-4 days I live on the edge of a very small town (pop. 2,000, which is my Bug Out Location) somewhere in the Inland Northwest. The police force in the large city is doing the best they can, but I am am constantly at Condition Yellow. Crime is serious and getting worse. In contrast, the small town doesn't have a single police person. There is virtually no crime. While I think a societal breakdown is more than likely in the city, given almost any excuse, I also think that almost any kind of problem in the small town will most likely bring the town to an even higher level of cooperation and care for the common welfare of the citizens.

I plan on making the small town my permanent residence as soon as possible. The ramifications for quality of life issues are vast, even if the Schumer doesn't hit the fan!
I in no way mean to take anything away from the police. They are doing the best they can, but these days they should be getting combat pay! As Dirty Harry said: "We've got our finger in the dike, and the whole dang thing is crumbling around us!" The future is not in any city. Thank you (again) for your guidance and fellowship. God bless, - E.T.

Eric sent us this: Prices for rooftop solar systems fall as supply grows

   o o o

"OffGrid", James S., and KAF were the first of more than 10 readers that flagged this: U.S. military report warns 'sudden collapse' of Mexico is possible. Speaking of emerging threats, Semperfiwife sent this Newsweek piece: Bob Graham talks about the possible nature and likelihood of a WMD terrorist attack over the next few years.

   o o o

From FloridaGuy: Detroit's credit rating downgraded to junk bond status

   o o o

Nick sent this: The New Paranoia: Hedge-Funders Are Bullish on Gold, Guns, and Inflatable Lifeboats

   o o o

The latest economic news and commentary, starting with three items from reader H.H.: "Frightening" Global Downturn -- Pension Crisis Coming -- Really Scary Fed Charts (H.H. comments: "Probably the most unnerving charts I've ever seen. Future hyperinflation seems totally unavoidable now.") And from Cheryl (The Economatrix), comes these: Wall Street Dives on Bank Woes and Grim Retail Sales Data -- Oil Tumbles to $36/Barrel -- Trading in Gold Soars 60% -- S&P May Strip Spain of its AAA Rating -- Chinese Exports Biggest Fall in Decade -- UK Trade Deficit for Months is Record $16 Billion -- World in Mad Rush for Gold Coins -- Shipping Ratest Hit Zero as Trade Sinks -- Ruble Devalued, Gas Dispute Deters Investors -- Deutsche Bank EU4.8 Billion Fourth Quarter Loss -- World Trade Suffers as Oil Price Plunges -- Pandit Prepares Citigroup for Breakup -- 2009: The Largest Economic Train Wreck in History is About to Occur -- Roubini Forecasting 40% Home Mortgage Failure? -- Big Brother's New Target: Tracking All Firearms

"What we as a nation have done recently is eat the seeds and kill off the game which is necessary to regenerate surplus in the future. We have consumed our future surplus. This is essentially why the Coming Depression will not end in 2009 or 2012--we as a nation have consumed our future surplus via stupendous deficits and the stupendous interest payments which must be paid out of future surpluses." - Charles Hugh Smith

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Just one day left! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,500. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. 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.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

I recently received an e-mail from T.F. in Utah, who quipped: "They tell us that inflation is now non-existent. Well, how many years of deflation will it take to get prices back to where they once were? It is noteworthy that the average annual property tax on a house on a city lot now exceeds the entire land purchase price and construction cost of a comparable square footage house, in 1890." Inflation is indeed insidious. And its has implications that are far-reaching. For example, consider the following:

Creeping tax increases one of the reasons that it is now nearly impossible for someone to "live off the land" on small acreage. Even if you own your house and land free and clear, property taxes are inescapable. Thus, in "self-sufficient" mode, although you can feed yourself, you still need a cash-earning job, just to pay the taxes. I pray that at the far end of the coming depression, our debt money system--which is the root of inflation--will be replaced by a system of sound currency that is redeemable in specie. That is the only sure, long term solution to creeping inflation, and corresponding creeping taxation.

I've mentioned this tale of woe before: Back in the 1930s, my great grandparents lost a considerable portion of their 5,000+ acre sheep ranch in northern California to back taxes. At the beginning of the Great Depression they were land rich but cash poor. But by the end of the Depression, that had neither much money or land. (By 1942, the county had taken most of the ranch for back taxes.) Although the chances of a long-lasting deflationary depression are fairly small (since I think Helicopter Ben will try to inflate his way out of this mess), it is prudent to do your best to maintain a cash income to supplement "the fat of the land", from your self-sufficient retreat. See the SurvivalBlog Archives for some suggestions on building up home-based businesses.

I purchased a 1982 Mercedes 240D diesel. These old diesels will all run on used cooking oil [also known as waste vegetable (WVO)]. I have run mine for more than a year on 100% used cooking oil with no modification other than a larger fuel filter. You do not have to spend hundreds of dollars for a large capacity diesel filter. I bought a large water filter at the hardware store for around $30. I use the wound rope or string insert that you can buy for less than $20 per pair. It works great for a fraction of what an auto parts store will charge for a diesel fuel filter. If you use new oil from the bottle the larger filter is not necessary. If the temperature drops below freezing you will need to mix [the WVO] with [petroleum-based] diesel to thin it, but otherwise you are good to go. You can also run motor oil in them and I understand they will also run on transmission fluid. I have not tried running 100% motor oil but I have added several gallons at a time to a tank of diesel. There are millions of them still around. Some are still in remarkable shape. The old engines are bullet proof. You can still buy every part new for the cars. I recommend the 1981 to 1985 Mercedes diesel cars. I am not sure about ones older than this. They started changing the engines and injection pumps on the newer ones. Hope this helps, - Ken

JWR Replies: In cold climates, owners may need to add a fuel tank heater. As previously discussed in SurvivalBlog, when burning WVO or WVO blends, it is preferable to have two fuel tanks: A small one containing only standard #2 diesel fuel, and a main tank containing WVO or a WVO blend. The engine is started and warmed up using the small tank, then switched to the main tank. Then, a few minutes before shut-down, the fuel supply is switched back to the small diesel tank. This leaves only "dinodiesel" in the fuel lines and hence eliminates most problems with hard-starting.

Ready Made Resources sells a well-proven WVO to biodiesel processing system. Properly blended B60 biodiesel containing WVO can reportedly be used even in vehicles with more sophisticated fuel-injected engines.

BTW, from a preparedness standpoint, the best diesel passenger cars to look for is a older (pre-turbo) Mercedes built on a W123 chassis, specifically the 240D and 300D models made from 1977 to 1985. I recommend the "T" designated "estate" station wagons, since they a have a lot more cargo room than a typical four door sedan. This configuration also provides room for an auxiliary fuel tank, as described. For a utility-type diesel vehicle, I'd recommend getting a US Army surplus a M1008 CUCV pickup.

I have learned a great deal from your site and recommend it to my customers (I sell preparedness books).
There is a movie being released on January 16th called Defiance. You can go to the movie web site to get a several minute long previews.
This is a movie on the Polish Partisans, or resistance forces that fought against the Nazis in World War II. My dentist escaped from communist Poland and told me that her grandfather was a Partisan leader. I have done was research I could to learn about her grandfather and the resistance forces. Basically, as this movie will "teach", they moved great numbers of Jews into the forests and built underground houses, shops, entire villages. They conducted guerrilla warfare against the Germans while protecting the young and old from capture.

I have meant to contact you about this basic idea as a tie in to this scenario in your book. If people were to prepare positions in advance, build more permanent structures equipped with a small wood stove, well, septic, supplies, the odds of survival would drastically increase. But we can learn from what has already been done. And they did this with minimal weapons, and those, when available, were a few pistols and bolt action rifles. Compare this to what we have available and already in our hands today. Keep up the good work. - Don in Ohio

I have a red dot sight battery, lithium Energizer CR2032, which was stored in it's original packaging in a refrigerator since May 1996, almost 13 years ago. I recently opened it and have been testing to see if it would still work, at present I have about 11 hours of use on it. I know this is anecdotal, but the point is, if you use red dot aiming devices and it uses one of these type batteries, it is probably worthwhile to store a good supply of batteries for long term use. Regards, - K. in Texas

JWR Replies: Lithium batteries should be stored in a refrigerator. But reader Shirley A.--who is an audiologist--mentioned that this is a bad idea for zinc air batteries. She notes: "...do not store zinc air batteries in the refrigerator. The batteries are inert until the tab is removed. Once air reaches the hole(s) on the back of the batteries, they become activated, hence "air-activated" batteries. The humidity in a refrigerator will cause the protective tabs to become loose, thus allowing air to reach the holes and activating the batteries.They will all go dead in a short time. Zinc air batteries should be stored in a cool, dry environment, like a dresser drawer. For the same reason, don't store your batteries (or your hearing aids) in the bathroom."

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:
I can't thank you all enough for the numerous responses to my earlier posting. It's a pleasure meeting you all and reading about your different approaches to survival and a preparedness mentality. I have been doing my best to respond to all of your emails, but wanted to let you know if you haven't heard back from me directly, it is not due to a lack of interest, but more the logistics of responding to the volume! I have read through all of the emails that have come my way and encourage those who haven't responded but might be interested to please don't hesitate to get in touch. I am quite encouraged by the number of people who have written with advice and/or an offer to participate in this project. I am more than ever convinced, after hearing from you all, that this is a subject whose film time has come, and I'm going to be making every effort to get funding and a green-light so that we can move ahead as soon as possible. Warm regards, - Amy Bucher, Engel Entertainment

Dave S. flagged this disturbing news: Treasury: Deficit hits new record in just three months

   o o o

Northern Tool & Equipment (one our affiliate advertisers), has a special offer that runs though the end of January: Free Shipping on UPS Ground Orders over $149. Use key code: 117231.

   o o o

Cheryl spotted this: Wisconsin Department of National Resources to Hunters: Hand Over Your Guns on Demand. Cheryl also sent us a fresh batch of economic news and commentary links: Digest: Stocks Shed 4-5%, Gold Dips 2.5%, 7.2% Unemployment -- Russia, China, Brazil and India Looming Collapse in 2009? -- Credit Crisis Solutions that Should Scare You -- US Debt Crisis 2009: What Must Our Creditors Be Thinking? ("Gold should perform nicely in 2009.") -- Bernanke Urges "Strong Measures" to Stabilize Banks -- America: Running on Empty -- Every Breath is Needed (The Mogambo Guru) -- In Fraud We Trust -- Depression Looms -- Citi Shares Fall Despite Talks with Morgan Stanley -- Alert: Mysterious Credit Card Charge May Have Hit Millions of Users -- Stocks End Day Mixed Amid Earnings Anxiety -- Many States' Lotteries Rising in Recession

   o o o

It sounds like this guy might have read the John Ross novel: Unintended Consequences: Judge issues warrant for Schrenker

   o o o

FloridaGuy sent this: Go East, young man? Californians look for the exit

"Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it." - Lou Holtz

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just two days left! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,100. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. 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.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

The “Thin Blue Line”. It describes something much greater than the title of a second rate movie. It describes the thin blue line of civilian law enforcement officers that is the only thing that separates America from utter chaos. It is not too difficult to imagine what would happen if that thin blue line were to disappear or become overwhelmed. A scary thought indeed, but one that you are already thinking about since you are reading SurvivalBlog.

Yet, we are alarmingly close to just such a scenario. As most readers of SurvivalBlog know, our modern Western society is extremely complex, interwoven, and most of all, vulnerable. We are facing the most serious economic situation since the Great Depression, but discussion of the current economic crisis and the innumerable other threats to our society is beyond the scope of this essay. Rather, I hope to explain to you, from a rural law enforcement officer’s perspective, what we could be in for in the event of a cataclysmic societal event.

I have been in a law enforcement career for 10 years. I have worked in a jail, I have worked road patrol, and I have been an investigator. Through my career, I have become a student of human nature. I have seen the evil that man is capable of perpetrating against his fellow man. There is one general rule to remember about all of humanity: it is at the core of our sinful nature to do that which is best for ourselves, regardless of what effect that may have on other people. We are a murderous and self seeking race, and it is my hope that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to set you free from this sin.
But facts are facts. The Bible tells us that there will be many more souls that will be lost than there will be souls that will be saved in the end times. So we must prepare ourselves spiritually and physically, with the assumption that we will soon be facing unimaginable evil, and it will be in the form of a human face. As disturbing as it may be to you, you must be prepared to do whatever it takes to defend yourself and your family. You must be willing and able to deliver a lethal recourse if it becomes absolutely necessary. I will extrapolate on those thoughts.

The average petty criminal has a simple mind set. He operates from much lower moral standard than most other people. He is concerned about only one thing: himself. He is typically lazy and self serving. He doesn’t see a reason to go to work every day. Working people are chumps to him, but he likes having them around because they earn plenty of things for him to steal. It is no coincidence that burglaries are primarily daytime affairs. He knows that most people will not be home when he chooses to burglarize. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody, but he carries a knife or a gun in case somebody tries to interfere with his plans The only thing that keeps him from being more brazen is the threat of enforcement action against him. He doesn’t really want to go to jail, because it really is an unpleasant place to be. After all, if jail were so great, why do so many criminals flee capture?

Then consider the more malicious type of criminal. He has absolutely no morals, with the exception of honor among criminals. Even that is very questionable if it comes to a point where he can save his own skin. He has been raised on violence, and it is all he knows. He has no empathy for you, your family, or for anyone else. He doesn’t care if he causes you pain, and he probably even enjoys it. He will give no more thought to killing you than you would give to killing a housefly. He sees people like you as an annoyance to be dealt with. He sees you as an inanimate object, put on this earth only to provide him with gratification. He sees you, your family, and your possessions as a means to an end to self gratification. He will do whatever he wants to do in order to be gratified, unless and until you are willing to do whatever it takes to defend yourself. Otherwise, it is very likely that you and your family will perish horribly.

You see both types of these criminals all over America. You see them in the big cities and in the small towns. The only reason they are kept in check is because we have an established system to adjudicate and punish criminals. Even that is not usually enough to keep them from committing dastardly acts. All that we can hope for as a law enforcement officer is to catch the criminal after the act punish him. Then we hope that this acts as a deterrent to future criminal acts. Honestly, I’m not sure that it does. Some men are just plain wicked and that’s the way it is.

Criminals are the minority under normal circumstances. Most citizens are decent and hard working people. But it would not take much to destabilize our society. There are a lot of threats to our way of life. Proceed with me through the following scenario. A major economic collapse occurs in America. Millions are unemployed and have no way to earn honest money. The rest of the citizenry is crippled by inflation. Through various economic events, the entire economy grinds to a halt. Trucks and trains stop moving, which means that coal is not delivered to power plants, and food is not delivered to stores.
Things quickly grow desperate. The average family realizes all too late that they have only a few days worth of food in their cupboard, with no available means to acquire more. Hundreds of millions converge on supermarkets within a matter of a week or two, and riots and looting erupts. Martial Law is declared and the National Guard is called up, but is completely inadequate to maintain order. Not only do the aforementioned criminals become free from constraint and begin to run amok, but millions of regular people realize that the only way their kids will be fed is if they go and take supplies from someone else. Hungry people with weapons will have no reservation about doing unspeakable evil on others if it means their own family will survive a little longer. Do not doubt that the sinful nature will turn normally docile people into voracious killers. It has been written into our DNA since the Fall of man.

Now to the big point I’m making. Here’s where it gets really scary, and the vulnerability of the thin blue line becomes apparent. I am employed in a county with a population of 40,000 people. We have a city of 25,000 as a county seat. At most, the agencies in my area could muster about 50 officers. This means that there would be an 800 to 1 ratio of citizens to police officers in our area. It would be impossible to maintain order with this ratio. We would be lucky to be able to hold a few buildings, let alone provide law enforcement service to 1,000 square miles of rural area.

Now imagine this happening in every city in town in America, all at the same time. The number of law enforcement officers, National Guard, and [Reserve Component and active duty] soldiers would be wholly inadequate to even make a small dent in widespread civil disorder. There are many Friday and Saturday nights when our local law enforcement agencies have to stack service calls for two hours due to high call volume, and this is during normal times. If law enforcement agencies can’t answer calls in a timely manner during normal times, how could a reasonable person expect law enforcement to be there during a societal collapse?I also urge you to consider this. There is no way that I, even as a police officer, can abandon my God-given responsibility to care for and protect my own family. There are times when retreat is the better part of valor, and if that terrible time comes, the vast majority of officers will not be able to justify in their own minds fighting a lost cause. They will retreat and take care of their family, which is what the brotherhood of the thin blue line is all about. Don’t misunderstand. The huge majority of law enforcement officers perform a very dangerous profession honorably and to the very best of their ability. But drastic times will call for drastic measures from everyone, and the preparedness minded person can’t assume that the thin blue line will always remain intact.

Thus, it quickly becomes apparent that each citizen will be responsible for his own family’s safety and security during these perilous times. To assume that there will always be police there to protect you will most likely be fatal. Please don’t make that mistake. Do what you must do. If you own a gun, learn how to use it proficiently. Take firearms training courses, and know the laws in your area. Most importantly, be ready for the unexpected, and don’t rely upon the government to take care of you. That’s your responsibility. - Deputy W. in Missouri

To follow up on your response E.G. in the southeast who has such good neighbors. This reminds me of the small town in Maine where I grew up. Back in the day[s of early pioneer settlement]. this community, like so many agricultural ones in the region, hosted homesteads that were spread out much like E.G.'s friends in the southeast. At the time, raids by indian parties were the norm as relations fluctuated between harmonious and deadly.

As it was more than obvious that a homestead family alone could never hope to hold out against a band of forty warriors bent on pillage, the community made provision for the common defense by picking a good piece of ground and building a blockhouse on it. This was stocked with arms, ammunition and provisions and maintained for the common defense and place of refuge. This system became the norm in the region and low and behold, the raids eventually stopped because the bands started bouncing off one block-housed community after another, and paying the price for it.

Jim's sage advice along this line is not only spot on (as always) but also has deep American roots; individual people who work their lives as sovereign individuals but who in times of danger come together to form a cohesive group capable of protecting the whole...and having the pre-positioned goods and SOPs in place to make it happen.- Mosby

Hi Mr. Rawles -
I've been reading, and enjoying, your survival blog for some time now. There has been a recent thread on home invasions, which has gotten me to upgrade my home door security. While surfing the web reviewing door frame reinforcing products, I came across a link to an interesting article on the techniques used by firemen to breach your doors and gates. While the steps I am now taking would defeat most "kick in" assaults, stopping a determined crook with a [police or] fireman's "Hallagan" tool seems unlikely. Thanks for your Blog, and Happy New Year. - Tom from Chicago

Eric S. suggested this Washington Post piece: We're Borrowing Like Mad. Can the U.S. Pay It Back? And if that weren't bad enough news, here is the daily glut o' gloom from The Economatrix: Leading Economist Fears Decade of Economic Weakness -- Oil Traders Demand Ships to Store Crude at Sea Before Prices Rebound -- Crude Below $40 as Demand Drops Faster than Supply -- The Bond Bubble is an Accident Waiting to Happen -- UK Auto Workers: Pay Cut or Lose Jobs -- Japan Suicide Hotlines Overburdened in Economic Crisis -- Merkel Makes 44-Billion U-Turn to Save German Economy -- UK Plans $200 Billion Gamble to Restart Mortgage Market -- Money is Dead, Long Live Barter -- UK Government: Recession Will Fuel Race Tensions -- Arizona Treasurer Warns State Running Out of Money

   o o o

SF in Hawaii mentioned this article from Australia: The jobs most at risk in 2009

   o o o

Kenya: 10 million risk hunger after harvests fail. (Thanks to Danny B. for the link.)

   o o o

Scott N. spotted this Wall Street Journal commentary: 'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years. Scott also suggested reviewing CBO Acting Director Robert Sunshine's recent Senate testimony. Scott's comment: "I'm watching this on C-SPAN. Sunshine is testifying on the state of the current recession before a congressional committee, on Thursday, 1/8/09. He states that if this were a typical recession, we'd already be pulling out of it by this time. In the current recession, however, we haven't even hit the worst yet (e.g., here come the Alt-A and Option ARM mortgage defaults in 2009, credit cards after that, collapse of Baltic Dry index, etc.). He's estimating 2014 before we're back to full economic potential. It's a damning report. 'It's not a terribly optimistic forecast,' Sunshine says. Quite the master of understatement. We could use a little bit more sunshine on what going on in Washington, DC. The rest of the CBO Macroeconomic analysis team is not much more optimistic either." JWR Adds: Don't miss the chart early in the video clip that shows the Federal debt ballooning to 400 times the GDP by 2058. For those that would prefer to study the text of Sunshine's report, see this PDF.

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today we are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, The Remnant Store, in Florida. They offer gravity water filters are very competitive price, as well as compact storage foods and several outdoor survival products, such as fishing trotlines. (Be sure to consult your local laws before ordering any trotlines.)

Just three days left! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,100. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. 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.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present a lengthy entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

The following are some hopefully useful field expedients, substitutes and spares, all of which can be had for a buck to about ten bucks each:

#1: Drywall Saw: if you don’t have one of those all-purpose $49.95 survival knives or field shovels from Gerber or Glock with the accessory root saw, or you’ve found that the finger-length saw blade on a Swiss Army folder leaves a lot to be desired when cutting a 2x6 [board] down to size? A bow saw or flexible survival kit saw are a couple of possible candidates that may be up to the task, but so too is an inexpensive drywall "stab" saw. The blade on the one I got for a buck in the closeout tool bin at my local Big Box store hardware department has a blade just a smidgen under 7 inches long and saw teeth that cut on the push stroke on one edge and reversed teeth that work on the draw stroke on the other. It also has a sharp enough tip on the blade point to poke through drywall or thin wood paneling, hence the term "stab" saw.

The handle on mine, made/distributed under the GreatNeck brand, P/N 4932, is hard plastic and black rubber, comfortable enough to use for repeat cutting. Though that handle included a molded-in flap pierced for a lanyard or hang cord, the handle itself is stout enough to be drilled at the butt end for a hole for a wrist lanyard or dummy cord. So I modified mine to eliminate any chance of the cord tearing through the molded flap. I also did a little reshaping of the handle on my saw with a file to get it to better fit my hand, so there is enough material molded around the blade at the handle end for personal modification to suit.

In addition to the obvious uses for field carpentry, mine’s proved useful on the rib cage and pelvic bones when field dressing whitetail deer. There are certainly other times in the woods when a nice quiet saw is to be preferred to noisier if sometimes quicker tools like machetes or hatchets, as well as being lighter in weight. A drywall saw is easily carried in a homemade or improvised leather or nylon web belt sheath, or a short length of metal tubing can be squashed flat and the saw blade inserted, both for protection for the blade from other residents in a toolbox and to keep the saw from chewing holes in a pack or rucksack pocket. Mine also fits in a scabbard meant for an M7 bayonet for an M16 rifle, which I picked up for a couple of bucks in the junk box at my favorite army-navy surplus store. That has the total cost for my saw under five bucks, so I went back and bought two more, one for a pal and one as a spare for myself. Using a saw to cut those little figure-four release triggers for small game snares or dead fall traps beats doing that task with most knife blades, by the way, though setting snares in the cold is not real high on my list of fun things to do. But if you’re going to try it, I suggest you first practice setting the things when it’s warmer out...and using a saw instead of a knife to build your hare-trigger releases. (Yes, that spelling was intentional!)

#2: Snow Camo Overwhites: I live in snow country where sets of military over-white trousers and parka can be useful during the white time of the year, and yes, I have a good set. But my back-up plan consists of a large white vinyl trash bag that can either be used for its intended purpose or can instead have neck and arm holes poked into it in a pinch, then to be worn to help keep drizzle and sleet off. It’s considerably more glossy and shiny than I care for, which can be cured either with a few vertical stripes of flat white automotive spray paint, or an XXXXXL white t-shirt can be added over it- unless, of course, you are a XXXXXL T-shirt size as is, and you have to use a white pillowcase or kiddy bed bed sheet substitute instead. Really large used T-shirts go for 50 cents each at my local Goodwill thrift store, and since I’m not planning on wearing these against my skin, I’m not the least bit squeamish about getting one that’s been used. And while I was there I found a pair of much-dripped-on white painter’s pants for a buck, too, oversized and baggy, just right for wear over warmer trousers underneath. A few shots with the ol’ 99-cent can of flat white spray paint, and I was right in business. Admittedly, they were still loose enough on me that I needed a pair of elastic carpenters’ suspenders to help hold them up, and those suspenders were available only in blue or red, not white. Out came the flat white spray can again, which took care of that, backed up by a wrap or two of white athletic bandage tape over the too-shiny buckles, which both locked them in place and ensured there wouldn’t be any giveaway shine even if the paint flaked a bit. It didn’t hurt to have that pair of short lengths of tape handy should they be needed for other uses, either. That white spray paint also works real well on surplus store desert helmet covers to whitenize them for winter wear, then useable either as field jacket or parka hoods, or as, of all things, wintertime helmet covers.

#3: Inexpensive Lockblade Folding Knifes: I like nice pretty folding knives, both factory and custom, and some are so pretty and beautifully crafted that it seems like sacrilege to drop one in a pocket, let alone open it up and actually use it; the one I got as a present a couple of years back is like that. So in my pocket rattling against my keys instead is the cheapie $1 lockblade folder I picked up in the sporting goods/camping supplies department at my local Wal-Mart. Packaged as "Ozark Trail #3074," the knife’s 31⁄4" blade is jinked (partially "sawtoothed) along the rear third of its belly edge, is marked "stainless," and is retained by a screw, making sharpening and other maintenance simple. The knives’ handles/scales are a hard black plastic that’s sufficiently impact resistant that of the dozen or so examples I have none have yet suffered breakage or cracking, though one that came in contact with a hot Jeep exhaust manifold melted and blurred a bit. Now that one’s a "parts queen" donor for any of the others that might have a blade chip or snap a point. That hasn’t happened yet, the only replacement so far needed on my stable of cheap Chinese folding pointy-sharpie things having been that of a replacement blade pivot screw that came loose on one and got away in my pocket. The scales are a little squarish for my taste, easily fixed by rounding off the edges and corners with a file or sandpaper, and yep, there’s a well-placed hole for a dummy cord lanyard or key ring. One so equipped resides on a spare bootlace that goes around my neck when I’m kayaking in the summertime, and twin brothers of the cheapie Wal-Mart folder live in the glove box of each of my vehicles, my tool boxes, in one pocket or another of most of my rucks and daypacks, on my key chain and there’s one in the drawer of my computer desk where it does double duty as letter opener and box tape slicer. There are some users who don't care for the idea that the knife can be disassembled and have concerns that parts can become unattached and lost. I haven't had that happen yet, but I figure screw tightness checks are routine maintenance, and I will use a threadlocker if I think it's necessary.

#4: Singlepoint Balance Sling: I had always wanted to be a high-speed, low drag, tactical operations operating operator, but had never been able to come up with one of the $35-$50 3-way HK or Vickers slings that all the gun shop commandos and SWAT Team guys who’ve never fired a shot in a real world gunfight keep insisting to me that all the real professionals use. Adding a center-of-balance attach point for a centerpoint sling is a simpler alternative, and can be accomplished with nothing any more complicated or expensive than a screw-in eyebolt at the point where the wrist of a shotgun’s butt fits into the gun’s receiver, an expedient that goes at least as far back in historic use as Doc Holliday’s sawn-off double-barreled scatterguns. For the sling itself I used a five-foot length of black 1-inch wide tubular webbing as used for rock climbing harnesses, also very useful for belts and regular weapons slings. The advantage of using the tube web in this application is that the tube web is hollow inside, and inside went a 48-inch-long elastic bungee cord. The hook of one end of the bungee’s elastic shock cord was then crimped to the front snaploop of a very used AK-47 sling that had pulled out the oil-rotted threads holding it on, though all sorts of alternate snaps and swivels [or a 550-cord loop] could be used instead. The ones found on $2 surplus Swiss gas mask bags are especially excellent, with or without the bag strap attached. The hook then attaches either to an AK or other rifle’s front sling swivel, or at the new midpoint location if the hardware for that application is installed. A friend who saw and tried my centerpoint sling on my AK wanted one for his new M4 configuration AR-15, and since he already had a sling attach point installed as the stock locking plate of his CAR-15, all I had to do was add the sling’s body loop and the strap with the swivel snap. In his case, that snap was made from a pear-shaped key ring mini-caribiner, after threading a short piece of clear plastic gas line tubing over it to keep it from scratching the rifle finish and keep potential rattling silenced.

At the other end there’s a loop just large enough to go over the user’s shoulder across the chest front, again with the elastic cord keeping it snug. With the sling snap attached at the midpoint I can hold my rifle in both hands and extend it out to arm’s length in front of me, and the elastic and slightly muzzle-heavy weight with a loaded mag in places returns it to a muzzle-down port arms position. This allows a fast transition from carbine to handgun, handheld radio/cell phone, or my ice cream cone, depending on my priorities at the time. I really prefer to have web or leather slings on weapons that may be fired enough to get more than a little warm, since nylon slings can melt through if they come in contact with a hot barrel. I’ve also had my doubts about the general utility of balance point slings, but this is my opportunity to try one out for a while, and there do seem to be two situations in which mine has proven useful for me. One is while standing around with the weapon at ready for long periods of time, as when at a guard post or waiting to hit the firing line on a hot range, probably why they’ve been so popular with some troops in Iraq. The other is when aboard a motorcycle, snowmobile or ATV and the right hand is occupied with operating the vehicle, which would be a really nice time to have a shorty bullpup weapon instead. But when what you’ve got is what you’re going to have to use, I’ll admit the springy sling may be worth being fitted.

#5: Gear/Armor Carrier Vest: Now that I had my new SWATzie sling I now needed a black tactical vest and armor plate/pad carrier to go with it, and $2 seemed to be a good price to give for the basic start for one. That was for two of the polycloth black shopping bags from my local Wal-Mart store at a buck each, offered as an alternative to the usual flimsy plastic variety. Aside from the low cost, their big attractions were their 12" x 12" square size, and the pair of 11⁄4" wide straps that serve as the bags front and rear handles. Cutting away the stitching that held the end of one strap at the mouth of one bag left an attached double strap that was long enough to go over my shoulder and connect the first bag worn in front to the second one across my back. The other strap was similarly modified, but on the other side of the handle, giving a strap on either side to connect to the other bag, one on the front left side of the front bag, and the other on the right rear of the same bag. The straps on the other bag were modified the same way, but alternated in mirror-image reverse, so that the outside left strap of the front bag’s strap connected to the outside left of the rear bag, and the inside straps likewise went to the attach points of their respective counterparts. In my case, just the straps of one bag worn draped over my neck probably would have been enough to position the front bag high enough in front that the bag’s open top came to about the height of a field jacket’s front collar button. That configuration is very similar to the old Military Armament Corporation (MAC) Ingram M10 submachinegun carry bags [made of then military-standard olive drab canvas] that unfolded for wear beneath the user’s neck, the inside of the MAC bags being lined with a Kevlar pad. I wanted protection and other features in back, though, so initially went with the twin bag approach. The bag in back rode high enough that it too left just enough room for a jacket or shirt collar to fit beneath it, and it covered my upper back and shoulders nicely. Both bags rode high enough that an equipment belt can be worn underneath, and the belt can be put on either first or after the vest is in place; others of different body sizes may find they’ll need more of the adjustment provided by lengthening both shoulder straps. Alternately, a set of padded shoulder straps salvaged from a day pack or ALICE ruck shoulder straps could be used instead.

Inside the rear face of my front bag went a used and expired Kevlar soft vest obtained in a trade from a retired cop neighbor of mine. Inside the front face of that same pouch went a military SAPI plate, hopefully capable of withstanding rifle fire--or maybe not as effectively as desired: the military has been replacing them with a newer E-SAPI version--an enhanced SAPI plate. I also added a "kangaroo pouch" extension extending from the bottom of the front bag, [made from a third black cloth shopping bag folded in half top-to-bottom, giving a 6-inch extension and raising the basic cost of the rig by another whole dollar. The Kevlar padding from another soft vest went in the bag in back. I can add yet another "kangaroo" drop pouch location on the bottom of the rear bag, should another 8" by 12" SAPI or E-SAPI plate come my way and I feel like spending yet another dollar, and depending on whether I want the extra SAPI protection low over my kidneys and spine, or higher at my shoulder level. Until then the ballistic pad from a vest fired into for testing rides at a height in between, sealed in a large vinyl pouch to prevent the pad from becoming soaked if I get caught wearing the vest outside in the rain, or go for an unplanned swim. No, you shouldn’t use expired or damaged vest inserts or material. Yes, you ought to spend the bucks for the very best body armor you can afford, and if you’ve developed tastes based on personal experience, go with it. But if all you have on hand is less desirable material, it may be better than nothing, so long you’re under no illusions about its lessened effectiveness.

At the bottom edge of both the front and rear bags’ exterior I added a left and right-side horizontal black nylon strap [sections left over from building the sling described in section #4 above] and quick-release buckle to connect the front and rear bags at my waist. The buckles came in a package of three from the craft section of my local fabric shop, and one had been used on a holster project, leaving the two I needed. I notice, however, that these not only appear identical to the ones used on grocery shopping cart kiddy seat belts and will fasten with the cart buckles just fine, but also are even identified as having been made by the same manufacturer. [Ask nicely at your grocery when they change their shopping carts’ seatbelts for newer ones less frayed or for ones with a newer advertising message and you may get a grocery bag full of the old ones for free.] In any event, the bottom straps do a fine job of keeping the bottoms of the vest bags from flopping around, and mine can be adjusted for anything from t-shirt weather to opened up enough to fit over a parka or field jacket with winter liner. Velcro attachments would probably work just as well.

Upgrades and enhancements: I also added velcro at the edge seams of the bags to help the bags maintain their flat and square profile when other items like my cheapie overwhites and poncho are added inside between the ballistic panels. Likewise I added matching facing velcro straps to the former cloth handles, now over-the-shoulder straps, which helps them stay together to be slid through the adjustment buckles for them, which are former metal sling adjustment keepers.

The Velcro came from the craft department at Wal-Mart in a strip about 3⁄4-inches wide by 3 feet long for a little over a buck. Yes, there are uses yet to come for the leftover hook-and-loop pieces.
I wanted a way to carry ammo and other goodies with my cheapie vest, and since they’d be a bit difficult to get to with the vest padding inside, that meant pouches for them on the outside surface, leaving the bag interiors to function as a drop pouch for empty magazines or clips or other non-disposable novelties. The solution to hanging external pouches or other accessories was easy, and all it took was a bunch of 12-inch long black nylon inch-wide straps laid out in horizontal rows across each bag’s outside face, separated by about a half inch. If that sounds like MOLLE rack webbing, it should because that’s a good approximation of what it is, though spaced primarily for ALICE gear rather than MOLLE. Accordingly, the critical dimension is not the spacing between the straps, but the distance from the bottom edge of each lower strap to the top edge of the upper strap, which should be from about 2-1⁄4 inches to no more than 2-3/8 inches, the inside height of an ALICE fastener. The front face of my vest wound up with nine rows of webbing, seven at the bottom and two at the top for first aid packet or compass pouches. On the back outside face, it’s also covered top to bottom with nine rows of the webbing, allowing anything from a Camelbak canteen pouch, a couple of 2-liter GI bladder canteens or ammo pouches to be fitted. The spacing for the vertical stitches that hold the straps to the fabric is approximately 1-3/16ths inch apart each and I made up a spacer from a narrowed wooden paint-stirring paddle to keep them in a reasonably uniform vertical line. Note that the metal ALICE clip fasteners will chew through web straps fairly rapidly, since they’re really meant for use on the heavy- duty web of a pistol or LBE belt. One answer for this is to use the commercially available and relatively inexpensive ALICE strap-type adapters; another is the old airborne unit trick of replacing each ALICE clip with at least two separate loops of parachute cord, knotted tight and with the ends at the knot fused by heat to prevent the knots from working loose. Now if you come across a military vest or armor carrier with the MOLLE straps worn through, you’ll have a good idea as to the likely cause, and how to prevent a repeat if you adopt the vest and repair the damage.

As an added benefit, the resulting ALICE/MOLLE web slots are just large enough to allow the body of a 12-gauge shotgun shell to fit, with the shell’s rim keeping the round from dropping through. That inspired me to build a second vest primarily for use with a shotgun. Lacking the bottom extensions it’s accordingly shorter and more compact, and so can be worn reasonably concealed beneath a GI field jacket. The old Second Chance Z9 that was the first vest I owned back in the 1970s rides in front in this one, and I’m still looking for another castoff vest for the back pouch. Additional boxed ammo carried in pouches in back helps balance the load on my shoulders, and helps prevent me from kicking myself for not bringing more ammo along for those parties that last longer than anticipated.

A third, similar vest was made at the request of a friend for carrying .50 caliber rifle ammo, among other items. It’s similar to my second "shotgun" vest, with a few variations described later. Other specialized applications may well come along, and I expecting that vests to serve as at least temporary expedients for dealing with them can be launched at a cost of around two bucks each, for a start.

The triple-magazine ALICE pouches for M16 magazines fit very nicely at the bottom corners of my first "rifle" vest, though M16 magazines aren’t what are in them. With the two inside top anti-rattle strap tabs that separate the three magazines removed, an M16 pouch is just right for an 8-round M1 Garand clip of .30-06 ammo laid flat. Alternate the bullet ends left to right as more loaded clips are added, and they’ll hold eight clips, nine in some if an extra one is crammed up into the pouch cover before snapping it shut. I’ve got two pouches so filled on the back bottom corners of my long vest and another up front, [and a holstered handgun where a fourth ammo pouch could go] giving me 192 rounds in 24 clips carried in three pouches. Conveniently, my Garand ammo is stored in 192-round cans, in clips; isn’t it splendid how such things sometimes work out?

A load like that with the added weight of vest pads and plates can get heavy after a bit, so I added some of that black nylon webbing along either side of both of the adjustable straps to help spread the weight; padded pack straps are a possible solution for this problem, too. Those leftover short sections of Velcro strip were added to three of the webbing rows approximately centered on the front panel on the third, fourth and fifth rows from the top. Their mating sections were added to the back of a largish US flag patch, which I’ll continue to consider wearing so long as this country and its Constitution remain at least partially workable institutions. Since situations in which wearing a bullet-resistant tac vest with a couple of hundred rounds of Garand ammo are not only possible but appear to be becoming more likely of late, there may be some question as to how long that "workable" consideration will last. Others may find flags of state or local jurisdictions, their religious or veterans organizations, or family or group identification symbols or name tapes to be more suitable or to the point.

Oh yeah: the black Wally-World bags come with the motto "Paper or Plastic? Neither", and "Wal-Mart" printed across their front. Various cures for this can be as simple as just facing those slogans inward, turning the bags inside-out placing the lettering in the inside where it won’t be seen, to a few shots with the trusty 99-cent spray paint can, the flat black one in this case. I found that the paint solvents softened the bag lettering enough to allow the printing to be scraped away, but turned one inside out for better access to the stitching of the handle straps anyway. If you don’t care for the black colored bags, blue ones from Kroger grocery stores can be used instead, or bright orange ones from the Big Lots retail chain. I’m sure that the selection can vary depending on what stores are in a particular area; I haven’t found suitable bags in winter white yet, but either a white cover can be added to the front and rear faces of the pouch sections, or that ever-handy can of flat white spray can be again called to duty. An inexpensive camouflage bandanna can be used as a sewn-on cover before ALICE or MOLLE webbing is added instead, for those wishing to match their other field gear or maintain uniformity with group camo; likewise the remaining material from the back of a camouflage shirt blouse or lightweight T-shirt could be used. I've also found that the JoAnn Fabrics shop chain offers a very similar bag in a Loden/British Racing Green for a buck each, and a few of them may be the beginning of my next project.

Those who’ve seen how glaringly black vests fluoresce in current night vision equipment seem to be less enthusiastic about using all-black gear, but television and movies have done their best to condition their zombie audiences to accept those in the black tac vests as being the ultimate in authority figures. That kind of mass conditioning may be helpful to domestic concentration camp guards, but the cowering habits of sheep-like GDP en route to the slaughterhouse may also be utilized in making one’s exit from such locales by other individuals or groups wearing the black vests, at least until the urban inmates discover that many of those in the black outfits may not have their best interests at heart.

As for sourcing components, I happened to get a deal on a couple of a hundred 18-inch sections of nylon strap from the industrial surplus outlet of a manufacturing plant. New web from commercial sources can be used instead; one pal of mine used a couple of cheap nylon dog leashes to make his, and inexpensive import nylon slings are another source of alternate potential raw material. Those wanting olive drab straps instead of black can use the material from the Swiss military web straps offered by Sportsman’s Guide, 6 of them 31 inches long and 14 that are 66" each, all with plastic pinch-release buckles, and under $15 for all 20, their item # 124510. Sportsman's Guide also offers 1-inch wide nylon strapping in 125- yard rolls as their item # 132816, but you don’t get any buckles with that deal. My ballistic pads and inserts have been collected from a variety of sources and applications over the years, but those looking for their own suppliers of those components should check with the offerings of BulletproofME.com or UsedBodyArmor.com as possible sources.

Previously I’ve never cared for vests for much other than the specialized ones for aircraft survival gear, [which can be slung over flight deck seats when not in use] M79/M203 ammunition or photographic gear. The polyvalence of having body armor and ballistic plate carriers do double-duty as attach points for web gear is too obvious to avoid, however, particularly since the armor carrier makes the use of web gear or LBE suspenders underneath both hot and uncomfortable, and can restrict access to gear carried underneath. Two bucks [or four] for a pair of shopping bags as a starting place for an armor/gear carry vest seems like a good bargain to me, though you’ll have considerable time and hand work putting one together after you decide just how you want it arranged.

The vests made from 12"x12" bags front and rear work out a little short so far as complete lower torso coverage goes, but that can be an advantage for those who expect to spend lengthy periods seated in vehicles or elsewhere. Adding the extensions like those I used for my SAPI plates provides an additional 6-inch deep pocket that runs horizontally completely along the front of the vest, long enough inside for double-taped "royal" AK or RPK magazines, full-length Sten, Swedish K or Thompson SMG magazines, or for use as a "drop pouch" for expended magazines or recovered clips in the case of my Garands. Those without such concerns can use the long horizontal space for chem-lights, highway flares or pop flares, pistol mags or a gas mask or night vision device, as available.[JWR Adds: I do not advocate taping rifle of SMG magazines "end for end" . This often results in the downward-pointing magazine getting jammed full of mud when you jump down prone. So instead, tape the pair together parallel (with both tops pointing upward.) You can use a short length of dowel, and a pencil, or even a couple of thicknesses of MRE spoon handles between the magazines, to make them angle apart from one another, to provide the necessary magazine well clearance.]

Those who are really tall might want to consider the possibility of stacking two bags piggyback, front and rear- four bucks worth, again. Alternately, that open space beneath the rib cage not well covered by a single bag [or the small of the back, for the rear bag] can be used for a front- attached drop magazine pouch or reversed fanny pack, or in back, for an extension for a poncho or sleeping bag carrier that rides below the 12" x 12" dimensions of the bags. If a fanny pack is used low across the back, the waist straps from it can be used for the waist/belt line connecting straps between the front and rear bags, saving the separate addition of those components. It’s also a common feature on commercial vests to include multiple belt loops extending beneath the vests’ bottom edge at the belt line, allowing an equipment belt to be supported by the vest itself. Such can be added and used if that’s your preference.

One additional word of warning: the allegedly recycled plastic-weave material from which the raw material shopping bags are made does not seem to be especially fireproof or fire-resistant, and the nylon straps added for gear attachment certainly are not. A dunking of the vest in one of the commercially available fireproofing chemical mixtures could be a wise final finishing step once the vest is completed but before other equipment is installed. That may be more of a consideration if you’re an armored fighting vehicle crewman or plan to hang around the exhaust downdraft on either side of a CH-47 "Chinook" helicopter exit ramp, but do be cautious when close to campfires or other open flames, and try not to excessively antagonize anyone operating a flamethrower.

#6: Too-big, worn-soled Moccasins fix: I’d been watching for a decent pair of mocs for most all of last year’s yard sales, but all that turned up [at the last yard sale of the season, of course!] was a pair that was way oversize and had both soles worn through. No worries, for 50 cents for the pair, they were a bargain, just a quarter apiece. I spent part of the winter cutting away the worn-through bottoms and peeling off the glued-on strip of finest plastic beading in the decorative native pattern of the Made in China tribe. On Memorial Day weekend, off I went to the Buckskinners' and Revolutionary War Reenactors’ Rendezvous where the sutlers and craftsmen had set up their booths and tents on Sutler’s Row. I found the guy I was looking for, a leathersmith who offered a resoling service for mocs, with buffalo leather soles for $2 per sole. That gave me a pair of newly-resoled slightly oversize mocs for just under 5 bucks. I added a pair of glue-in padded insoles, let them dry, and then checked their fit: still floppy. The next addition was a pair of $1.98 cotton booties, which I installed by wrapping my feet in plastic shopping bags and then putting on the booties, and then liberally slathering rubber cement over the booties and the places inside the mocs I could reach, pretty much everywhere once I had them turned half-inside-out. Insert glue-coated bootied foot in moccasin, allow to dry, and then repeat on the other foot.

While I was waiting for the second foot’s new addition to dry, I carefully removed my other foot from the first one, leaving the bootie and plastic bag inside. I then had at it with my paramedics’ shears and cut away all of the former bootie that showed outside the edges of the moccasin, then slowly and gently began peeling away the remains of plastic bag from the moc’s interior. Again, by the time I had finished with the first foot the glue had set up enough for me to begin on the second. I set them aside to cure up overnight, and as it turned out, they had all weekend. When I tried them on again, the fit was just right, tight enough to stay in place without flopping or raising blisters, and loose enough I could nudge one off with help from the toes of the other foot.

The insulation from the cold provided by the cotton bootie bottoms was a nice feature, but one I’d have rather avoided for extended summertime wear or for wear in situations in which the things were likely to get soaked. If I hadn’t had the services of the rendezvous craftsman, I could have likely have done a fair job of resoling them myself, or could have let a local shoe repairman- getting harder to find nowadays- do the job. But he did a very tidy job, had materials that were unavailable to me, and the skilled experience he had at doing dozens of pairs of mocs at each of these events he attended far outweighed the cost of his very reasonable price. Interestingly, that leatherworker who did my resole work had another pair he was working on when I picked mine up. Belonging to a big feller pushing over 350 pounds or so, the addition to his mocs included the bottom of a pair of flip-flop shower shoes added as a cushion to the underside of his mocs before the buffalo skin retread went on and concealed that decidedly non-period padding. That combination would indeed help keep ground dampness from morning dew or a light rain off the bottom of one’s feet, though, and if needle and flax or waxed linen shoemaker’s threads weren’t available, at least some similar work could probably be managed with a tube of shoe-goo and/or some staples. And maybe an old pair of cast-off donor flip-flop shower shoes.

Yeah, during this year’s yard sale season, I kept my eyes open for any more good deals on moccasins, with no real sweet finds. But now I’m happy to find any good deal on mocs whether they’re my size or if they happen to be a bit bigger, and smaller ones go into a "trade goods" bucket. Any time I can get a pretty good pair of mocs for under a couple of bucks, I figure I’ve done okay; I spend a lot of time in the things, indoors and out, so spending another five dollars or so on a pair to extend their service life and improve their fit seems like money well spent. That’s not only much less than what a decent pair of even imported lined mocs will run new, but I suspect those buffalo hide soles are going to last me a good long while. And interior padding added to a pair of oversize shoes or boots when nothing else is available could save someone an awful lot of blisters.

#7: Fifty Caliber Spare Ammo Carriers: When a pal of mine managed to scrape up the bucks to get the .50 caliber long-range rifle he’d wanted for some time, he came to me for advice and counsel on ammo and accessories, since I’d gotten myself one as a 50th birthday present a few years back. Could I make one of those two-dollar tac vests [#5 above] for him, but set up for .50 x 99mm Browning MG ammo for his Big Rifle instead of shotgun shells or MOLLE gear? Why sure, I told him, it being just a matter of having three rows of loops per row of shells, the one at the bottom consisting of smaller bullet-diameter loops to keep the cartridge cases from dropping through, the rimless but bottlenecked .50 cases not being as well retained by the top row of webbing as rimmed shotgun shells are. I believe it would have been no great problem to space rows of eight cartridges across the 12-inch space available, but he was happy with a pair of rows of six shells each, with a little extra space in front, a configuration that does make removing them from the loops a bit easier and keeps the vest’s weight down. On the back, he specified an all-web covering, giving him the option of carrying additional ammo in pouches, or canteens, Camelback water bottle, or other useful goodies back there. I don’t expect he intends to do much crawling beneath barbed-wire fences for long distances, especially on his back, while he’s equipped with his big long-range noisemaker.

A dozen rounds is a good beginning for an ammo load out for the big loud rifle, but a way to easily increase that amount by double or triple was still needed. In the big box in one gun shop I visit pretty regularly all sorts of used holsters, pouches and cast-off accessories from trade-in guns can be found. Though I’d pawed through the contents before and noted an odd trio of residents therein, I’d never had a use for the particular items I had encountered and had no immediate use for them. Apparently, other customers had felt the same way, because there they remained, despite price tags of five bucks each. Now they had suddenly become useful; I paid for the three and picked up a fourth one new in the packaging, at a cost more than the three used ones combined. The items in question were vinyl plastic "Sidesaddle" 12 gauge shotgun shell holders meant to be bolted to the side of Mossberg 500 series scatterguns; similar models are available for the Remington 870 and Winchester 1200 guns, and several other models. The problem is that with the aluminum receiver of the Mossberg guns, the receivers can be warped inward if the sidesaddle attaching bolts are overzealously tightened. The previous owners of the guns traded in with their spiffy tactical ammo holders still mounted had apparently found that out the hard way.

One simple answer if using the things on a shotgun, especially if it’s a gun other than the model the device is meant to be mounted upon, is to attach it to the stock instead, using wood screws and/or multiple wraps of tape. In this case instead, the ammunition holders were fitted up to each other, back to back, with a short section of seat belt webbing removed from a junked car mounted in between as a spacer. The spacer web extends just far enough from either end of the two shell carriers to allow a pair of grommets to be added at the corners of both ends. This allows a carry strap with snap hooks to be hooked to them for carry in either a vertical or horizontal position. The strap I favor for the purpose is the one that’s used for the U.S. military 2-quart bladder canteens, since it’s wide, adjustable and comes with a snap hook at either end; the Israelis are also real fond of using these as top-mounted M16A1 rifle slings. Since the ammo being carried is a dozen rounds of .50 caliber instead of a dozen lighter-weight shotgun shells, the wide strap is advisable since it helps spread the load across the shoulders.

With the six-.50 rounds of one carrier facing forward and the others pointed to the rear, [or up and down, if a horizontal carry position is used] it’s a simple matter to peel off individual rounds as needed, either to load the noisy rifle, top up a magazine, or refill the vest loops. If the user prefers to have them all face in the same direction, they can be inserted in that way instead. There’s a possibility that rounds could drop out or be knocked off inadvertently, since the .50 rounds are much longer than the shotgun shells that were fully covered when in the carrier slots. That leverage of the longer ammo can be taken care of by having a pouch on the belt into which the carriers can be dropped when on the move, one on either side, or velcro or snap-on covers can be made and installed.

Those who don’t have a .50 but are looking for a means of carrying a dozen extra reload rounds for a shotgun may also find that fitting two of the sidesaddle carriers mounted back-to-back is a suitable way of doing so, especially if an over-the-shoulder strap is added. That allows a quick "grab-and go" procedure of quickly taking up the shotgun by its sling in one hand and the dozen-round ammo carrier in the other, then tossing the ammo carrier’s strap over a shoulder to free up the hand with the ammo for other purposes.

#8: Knife Handle Repair: While at the local thrift store looking for really big undershirts, white painters’ pants and worn-out, torn or ugly belts [a buck each, and dandy material for knife sheaths or reinforcing cheap import book bag/backpack shoulder straps for more severe duty] I made my usual search of the used kitchen cutlery box; this time I struck pay dirt. With items ranging from 25 cents to an extravagant $2.50, I zeroed in on a 7-inch blade Ontario Knife Co butcher’s knife, with a 50 cent tag sticker on it; when I picked it up I found out why: the wood around the rivets on the starboard side grip scale had split and required repair or replacement. Can do!

Yep, I could have just whittled and sanded a twin of the good one, drilled out the remaining rivets, replaced them, and it would have been almost as good as new. I could even have just epoxied the old handle back on, good for at least a short-term fix, but probably a repair that wouldn’t survive hard use. Instead I took some of that black nylon web strap material left over from building those $2 tac vest/ armor vest insert carriers, and cut a section long enough to go from the back of the blade’s edge along the handle where the grip scale had been, wrapping around the butt of the handle at the end, then back again along the other side to match where I’d begun, but on the other side. Then I cut another one, same length. Mine worked out to just over 91⁄2 inches long; shorter or longer handles would of course require shorter or longer sections. The point, though, is that the length of strap material that covers both sides is made from one continuous strip of web.

The next step is to liberally coat both sides of the knife blade where the handle rests with epoxy [knives that have a short tang instead of full-blade-width material for grip attachment get a different fix, discussed later] and to press the web, not along the sides of the grip where the wood scales had been, but along the top and bottom, again, wrapping around the butt. When the epoxy has tacked up sufficiently to keep the web in place, fold the material sticking out to the sides down against the handle area. Don’t worry if there’s a gap, but if a dry test fit before applying epoxy shows any overlap, you may want to trim a little off the edges so that they neatly butt against each other. At this point I begin wrapping the handle area with plastic shopping bag material cut about a half-inch wide, overlapping each wrap just snug enough to hold the webbing tightly against the handle. When you get up to the end try to tuck the section wrapping around the handle’s end in as tightly as you can; if it won’t cooperate, there’s a cure for that after it’s dried.

Once you’ve completely covered the handle with the plastic bag material wrap, you’re ready for the next step, which is a single-layer wrapping of more of the bag material around the entire handle. At this point, I add a pair of corrugated cardboard pads over the handle area- you may not need it. I then put my handle in a vise and tighten that sucker good, squeezing the epoxy into the nylon web and getting a good bond to the metal beneath. I let it set up overnight at least, a weekend if possible- the directions for your epoxy, room temperature and your experience with your favorite flavor of epoxy may vary. When it’s nicely set up and cured a couple of days later, I peel away the plastic bag strip, and if necessary I’ll then hold that butt section momentarily over a candle if needed to get a good fit on that back-end fold. The idea here is to heat the material just enough to soften it, not for it to catch fire. Again, squashing it in a vise while it cools may help, but if you don’t have a vise, you can do about as well by setting the handle on the edge of a brick on it’s side, using another brick on top for pressure, and adding a concrete block on top of the upper brick for additional weight.

The next step is a repeat of the first, but using that second strap you cut to size, except that this time the web will be placed flat on the handle sides instead of the edges the first strip covered. This time you do really want as good a fit as possible at the back edge of the handle, and this time, since the epoxy is going to bond web-to-web, my first wrapping to secure the web in place while it sets up is a covering of black nylon fishing line. Then I add the plastic bag strip, then squish that feller real good in the vise, and go away for a day or two. Or three.

Unwrapping the bag material is like Christmas, I’m surprised almost every time, sometimes good, sometimes not. If the repair is to your satisfaction, good on you. If not, some more carefully applied heat, a little more epoxy here and/or there, and some more of that fish-line wrap may fix your problem. If not, you can always get out the rasp or a wire wheel on a drill and start over. Or use leather from those cheap thrift store belts instead, though it doesn’t wrap around the ends as well and heat won’t help shrink it to fit- you may be better off cutting a separate piece for each side’s handle if you use leather. I’ve repaired the handles of around a dozen knives and one hammer using variations of this method, some of ‘em toolbox knives that get knocked around and rattle in the box quite a bit. So far, I haven’t had to redo any of the ones I’ve reworked this way, and some of those repairs date back to 2000. Though some folks like to use a loose wrap of cord around the handle so that it can be unrolled and used for alternate purposes in an emergency, I’d rather have the most secure handle possible and carry spare cordage wrapped around a knife’s sheath and as a sheath tie down. That personal preference is up to the user, but I’ve yet to run out of cordage and regret not having access to that epoxied to my knife handle.

As for those knives with narrow tangs or less than full-length material where the handle attaches: I’ve done the same sort of thing with a cord-and-epoxy repair, except that in this instance I use heavy nylon cord [trotline cord from the Sporting Goods department] instead of flat web. If there’s a hole through the tang from a previous attach rivet or screw, I start on one side there, go through any existing or added hole to the other side, and then both radial wrapping and back-and-forth linear runs of cord begin. Once it’s built up enough to act solidly enough as a handle again, a cover made of a short section of that black hollow-center tube webbing can be used if flattish grip sides are preferred. If not, just go at it with more and more trot line, and again, finish up with a finer fishing line or even heavy carpet thread in the color of your choice if desired.

The application of composite cord/epoxy handles is not limited to knife blade repairs of course, but may also be of use to those looking for a way to utilize hacksaw or Sawzall blades made for cutting metal as emergency hand tools. The back-up plan to this application is to use a pair of vise-grip locking pliers as an expedient handle for a metal-cutting saw blade, allowing later use of the blade in the tool for which it was designed if desired or possible, but the added permanent handle is certainly more comfortable for extended in-hand use. Neither should the possibility of adding a handle to a worn-out or broken saw blade reground to a knife edge be overlooked; power hacksaw blades are particularly nice for this application. Those who wish to build their own survival knife with saw teeth on the blade spine and a sharp belly edge can begin with a new power blade, rework that blade to the length and shape they prefer, and add a handle as per the above. Their resulting tool will be at least reasonably capable of either whittling or cutting metals.

#9: BugOut Bag folding fork and spoon [or "Spork".] This one is an idea that’s neither new nor original, but like the others is one that’s been further modified to fit my particular needs and the material available to start the project. In this case, I wanted a compact fork and spoon for use with both my personal bugout bag, as well as extras for the 30-day supply bags carried in my vehicles. My first attempt consisted of simply shortening a pair of the utensils in question, then drilling a hole in their shorter handles for a connecting lanyard or key chain. But they rattled.

During the Second World War, some German troops were equipped with a mess kit fork-and-spoon combination that had the handles of the utensils shortened even more, then were joined by a rivet that served as a pivot, allowing them to fold and nest into each other nice and compact. When folded out, the opposing tool became the handle end for its partner, allowing shorter handles than if they had been separate items. I cut the handles of my first-draft unit down further, drilled them for the pivot and joined them together. Opened, the utensil’s fork was sturdy enough to assault combative peas, or, with the other end, the spoon was ready for the annihilation of soups. Folded, the unit was compact enough to slip handle-first into the side of a first-aid or compass carry pouch, through one of the webbing loops of a tac vest or armor plate carrier, or, temporarily, in the top of one’s boot if the cuffs are bloused into it.

I began my initial limited production run of enough of the folding utensils for my BugOut Bag, 3-day pack and 30-day packs, plus one each for the glove boxes of each of three vehicles, and a couple of spares. Improvements/additions included grinding a flat screwdriver tip on the end of either handle just past the rivet, one that is narrow enough to service M1911 grip screws and my pocketknife blade pivot screws, and the other a bit wider. Adding a second pair of smaller holes further down the handle with another rivet set into one handle so that the rivet’s head acted as a detent into the mating hole in the handle of its partner made the lockup of the unit more positive when in the open position. And naturally I added a small hole for a dummy cord lanyard to prevent loss either from dropping or absent-mindedly setting it down and forgetfully walking away from it. This is why they’re called dummy cords.

It turned out that the first dozen I built for myself weren’t enough: others who’ve been around me when I’ve been using mine have asked me to build one or more for them too. I’ve also got a simpler variation that simply consists of a fork-and-spoon pair riveted together end-to-end but doesn’t fold. That version goes along with bulk packages of food in storage, along with a P-38 military folding can opener. The two items can be connected together by key chain, one of the ubiquitous mini-carabiner snap links or a chain repair link, or on a lanyard cord long enough for the useful tools to be carried or temporarily draped around a user’s neck.

#10: Shoestrings. Speaking of hanging things on a cord around one’s neck: I frequently keep a quarter-sized "button" compass and small pocketknife around my neck on a spare bootlace; and some of us old-timers include a military P-38 C-ration can opener as well, even though the days of the issue of C-rats are long gone. This used to be a common practice when I was in the military, threading the bootlace cord into the plastic protective tubing we put over our dog tag chains to keep the cold chain off our bare skin. I’ve yet to really need these minimalist survival tools, though I’ll be glad enough to have them if I do suddenly have a critical use for them, but the extra boot lace has come in handy numerous times. Sometimes that’s actually been as a replacement for a shoelace that’s broken on a shoe or boot, but there’s a swell flash of realization when you really need a short length of strong cord and then remember you’ve got one handy right around your neck.

Variations on this idea include using braided nylon #550 pound test parachute suspension line, also known as "parachute cord" instead, or using fisherman’s twisted cord trot line, both of which are available in a variety of colors and sizes/strengths. The #18 twisted nylon cord I use is rated at 113 pounds test, and the thicker #36 cord is listed as good for 320 pounds; if anything stronger is required I reach for my roll of parachute suspension line. Short sections of any suitable cordage are useful as "dummy cord" lanyards for weapons, knives or other critical gear, especially when in or around boats, snowmobiles, or motorcycles. Cord can be such an excellent replacement for the metal ALICE equipment clips for U.S. belt equipment that some military users pitch all their metal fasteners; just be sure and use at least two separately knotted cord loops as the silent and nonmetallic replacement for each ALICE clip if you do this- and three per is better.

I’ve also known one trooper who used military issue WD-1/TT commo wire as replacement boot laces in a pinch; the civilian-world equivalent would be stereo speaker wire. Clearly, he didn’t have an extra bootlace worn around his neck...
Final thoughts: My adaptations, field expedients, and shade-tree modifications are ones that were suitable for the tasks I’ve had at hand, the tools I’ve had available, and the skill levels and experience I’ve got at working with the tools I had for what I was doing. Changing materials or methods may be perfectly suitable for your needs, you may conclude that some of the items or modifications just aren’t worth the trouble, or that the expenditure of a few more bucks on more specific-purpose items is a better idea- and for you, that may well be. For others, some of these adaptations may be the only gear that fits a minimalist budget, or that allows the purchase of other necessities. In other cases, some of the items presented here may serve as spares, with better top-grade [and top-dollar!] equipment better used for the job at hand until it fails from overuse or is otherwise expended- and my low-bucks methodology may give you a back up plan to turn what might have been a disastrous shortage into an inconvenience. As with all things, your mileage may vary, and remember that all of my demonstrations have been performed by a professional on a closed course.

Way back in the early days of World War Two, when wartime shortages and rationing began to affect stateside consumers, a motto appeared by which many, perhaps most of those recent survivors of the Hoover-Roosevelt Depression lived. Some thirty-five years later it was revived and applied to those living in politically [and physically] embargoed Rhodesia, also engaged in a war, theirs simultaneously against foreign invaders, domestic terrorists and sellout politicians [in England and] within. Now there may be another resurgence of the applicability of that motto, and we may soon be in a much better position both to more clearly understand and appreciate the creativity and resourcefulness of those who lived by those words earlier, as well as finding a few of their earlier methods and techniques useful in our time as well: "Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

Thank you so very much for what you do! Your blog is the best resource on the net for preparedness info, news and views that I know of! My 8 year old daughter wears hearing aids in both ears,. How long can I reasonably expect hearing aid batteries to store? In the event of TEOTWAWKI, I would be heartbroken to see my little girl unable to utilize one of our most precious senses. I imagine many elderly folks may have the same problem. What a very dangerous predicament to be in, the world falling apart, and you can't even detect someone speaking to you, or creeping up behind you...
Any info will be greatly appreciated, once again thanks! - Matt C.in Northern Ohio

JWR Replies: You probably missed the link in SurvivalBlog a few months ago for a clever little photovoltaic button battery charger. Buy two or three of them. And of course buy a four year supply of batteries, and store them in your refrigerator. Rotate your supply religiously, using the FIFO method, once established.

Several readers sent this: Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months. As I've mentioned before: Your most reliable source of power will be a home micro-hydro or photovoltaic power system that is not grid-tied. (Since a grid power connection can couple EMP or EMP-like surges over long distances.) Yes, I realize that there is now a 30% Federal tax credit for new grid-tied alternate energy systems. So my advice is to make the initial installation grid tied, but later disconnect it and make it a stand-alone system after you've received your tax credit and once you are no longer obligated to be grid-tied. Talk to the folks at Ready Made Resources for details.

   o o o

Matt B. recommends this interview with economist Peter Schiff via YouTube.

   o o o

Eric sent us this from The Los Angeles Times: Victory gardens sprout up again; People are borrowing an old wartime concept to lessen the need for mass-produced food, reduce pollution, form communities and save on grocery bills.

   o o o

My own darling Memsahib spotted this NPR news story: City Folk Flock to Raise Small Livestock at Home

"Gold is money, and nothing else." - J.P. Morgan, testifying under oath to Congress before the Pujo Commission, 1913

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

As I sit in the front seat of my motorhome looking out at the beautiful hanging Spanish moss, feel the warm breezes and know that all I have to do for breakfast is walk five feet and pluck a fresh grapefruit from the tree beside my campsite, I once again know how blessed I am. However, as idyllic and normal as the situation appears, I know full well that it can all come crashing down at a moments notice.
I have always been a preparedness freak to some extent and even finished up my career as an emergency management specialist for a large defense contractor. The majority of my friends and family snickered as I prepped up for Y2K. In spite of the jokes, labels and general disdain of the sheep, over the years I managed to keep a good supply of food and equipment and tried to update my skills on a regular basis. As retirement approached, my wife and I decided we wanted to join the ranks of what are know as “full-timers”. These are people who live in their recreational vehicles full time and travel the country. Many like us have no permanent home or base. The regular logistical problems associated with life on the road are fairly easily solved by solutions such as mail forwarding services and electronic banking and bill paying. What keeps me up at night is how to maintain a suitable level of preparedness in less than three hundred square feet of rolling, living space. What I am presenting are solutions or at least partial solutions that I have adopted to meet my needs, obviously all situations are different and I advise readers to explore many options. Although far from complete, here are some of the preps I have made.

The Plan:
First and foremost, you must have a plan, and I don’t mean just an idea in your head of how you will react in certain situations I mean a written plan. Write it down, print it out, you don’t want to be trying to boot up the computer during an emergency. Next, practice the plan. Nothing wrecks great theories faster than actual application. Revise your plan and keep on revising it till it is workable. The evacuation phase of my particular plan envisions three different scenarios for leaving a location. In the motorhome, in the small vehicle we tow, and on foot. With each scenario, I list which equipment will be taken with us, this eliminates the need to try and decide once the emergency commences. As Mr. Rawles so aptly puts it “two is one, and one is none” so we do keep some redundant gear. In the tow car are two, ready-to-go backpacks, and any time we are in the car there are a minimum of two weapons. This way in case we return from a day trip and find our motor home non operable, we are able to egress with at least a minimum amount of supplies.

Living in a Recreational Vehicle (RV) you are constrained not only by space but also weight, each unit has a designated cargo capacity and it is not wise to exceed it. Therefore, storing large quantities of food and water is out of the question. In order to get the best bang for our capacity buck, we keep a good supply of staples such as rice and beans, dried soup mixes, and of course a few MREs. As for water, my particular RV has a 70-gallon tank which can last a very long time if you adhere to wise water use. Of particular concern is the fact that many manufacturers are now producing RVs with no way to gravity fill the tank (with that kind of intelligent thinking they should run for Congress). Additionally, I have found that many water spigots in national parks and other areas do not have any threads on the pipe making it impossible to hook up a hose and fill your unit. One way around this is a device call a water thief which hooks on to the spigot and provides the threaded surface necessary for a hose connection. This device can be found at most RV suppliers and should be considered mandatory equipment. In the event that we run out of supplies, we keep a fair amount of cash on hand because credit cards become useless when trying to bargain with the local farmer or you need repairs in a small town.

A couple of the rather large vulnerabilities of a motorhome are fuel consumption and maneuverability. Rolling houses are not the best option for circumventing roadblocks or out running cars filled with those people intent on relieving you of your possessions and/or your life. One lesson we learned the hard way. Once, after refusing to fill up at a gas station in Texas because it was obvious they were running a “bait and switch” on the posted price, I drove off defiantly only to find out it was the last station for 126 miles. When we arrived in the next small town running on fumes, we were forced to buy gas at $4.35 a gallon. Lesson learned: never drive with less than a half a tank and we make it a point to fill up before we stop to camp for a while. A full tank will hopefully be enough to get us out of the immediate danger zone if evacuation is required. As for armament, I pared down my choices to a shot gun and a battle rifle chambered for .223 Remington]. This, with a couple of hand guns round out our supply. When choosing your weapons for the road, be sure to consider where you will be going as you may be illegal in some states depending on what you are carrying. Again, with space and weight limits, a large amount of ammunition is out of the question, so the “spray and pray” philosophy is not an option nor should it ever be. To our benefit, my wife and I both have extensive weapons training and the mindset that we will protect ourselves.

As I said before, these are only a few of the problems we are working on. The bottom line is we love our lifestyle and enjoy seeing different parts of the country. The reality is we know what is coming and will probably have to give up our mobile lifestyle in the near future in order to find a relatively secure retreat location. We will not be starting from scratch as we already have most of our equipment and food in storage and will simply move it to our new location. Of course, the most important question is, “When do you head for the fort?” I don’t think anyone can answer that so we will continue to monitor the news, pray for guidance, and trust the Lord to get us there in time.

Dear Jim,
Thank you for the web site, it has been a great source of info. I first read your novel ["Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"] in the 4th quarter of 1999. It was very helpful for preparedness for Y2K. I read it again 1st quarter 2008 and am now re-reading with the high lighter and pen. For the folks who have not read your book, they are missing one of the best preparedness manuals out there.

I have never been a Boy Scout, but my personal creed has always been to be prepared. If you have any skills at all, then there is nothing worse then being in a situation and not having the "stuff" to resolve your problem. If you are mechanical, then you need to have some basic tools with you, etc. etc. People who do not know how to use something don't see the need to have it. It's like caring a gun, people think it's extreme or crazy to carry it, but I ask do they have a cell phone? Why? because they may "need" it, well better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it. Pretty basic stuff huh?

After reading your novel, I realized how unprepared I and my family were, as well as how vulnerable we were in the location we lived. I was born and raised in the Northeast.

A few years ago, we moved to the Southeast, to the "area" you recommended to another blog reader last month as one of the places to go to this side of the Mississippi if you couldn't go further West.

Prior to moving, compared to my neighbors and guys at church, I would have been labeled pretty handy, can fix and paint cars, gas and arc weld, build, etc. After getting to know the boys down here, they all can do this stuff, most of the fellows from church have built their own homes, can do car repair, lots have restored cars and trucks, operate heavy equipment, etc.

My question is this, three of my best friends down here have very similar set-ups like mine. Private homes and land, 25 to 50 plus acres, all very keen on being prepared, lots of good guns, grub, etc. Three of the four have read your book, and the one who has not has been well briefed.

Our location to each other is about two miles apart from one another, each. We are not on the same country road, but the first guy is two miles to the next guy, then four miles to the next guy, etc. All of our homes are up on a hill, private, defendable, but all are wood-frame built homes. No brick or stone, dumb, dumb, dumb!!!

Each guy and his family could hold down the fort from a few trouble makers, but if a few pick up truck loads of the bad guys came at us the same time, it would be tougher, plus not any of us has large enough families to handle security patrols and the like.

If it were only me in a good spot or one of the other guy's had a great set up, it would be easy, we all just hunker down here or there, but with four great retreats, and like minded people, what is a guy to do with these options?

I know I have not covered all the other possibilities, like heat, water, fuel, wood, food, but they are all pretty equal, like I mentioned earlier, these guy's are pretty handy, so they all have a lot of "stuff".
I would like to hear your opinion or the opinions of others.

OBTW, we have done business with some of your sponsors and I bought the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. This is a "must have", even for us people who think that we know a bunch!
Thank you, - E.G.

JWR Replies: I think that you should plan to co-locate at a property that has a shallow well (that can be hand-pumped), and that is the most defendable. (Advantageous terrain, clear fields of fire, and so forth.) As I often tell my consulting clients, "Just think medieval": If you were going to pick a particular parcel of land--not pick an existing house, based on its attributes--then where, in your darkest imaginings, would you someday build a castle? That, then, is the property you should pick.

As the author [noted, prospective students should consider their career plans before devoting time and money to a specific school or program, virtual or not. For example: I'm employed by a global Fortune 10 company and there is a list of colleges and universities whose degrees are not sufficient as hiring criteria regardless of accreditation. It is a good bet other large companies have similar policies. Ditto for graduate degree programs. Depending on the school, bachelor degrees from online schools or virtual universities may not be accepted for matriculation. If the student plans to pursue a graduate
degree they should make sure their intended grad school will accept their undergrad degree.

I'm not knocking virtual schools, my Bachelor's degree was obtained 100% online as will my graduate degrees.

Obviously if the student is just getting a Bachelor's degree for the sake of getting a degree, plans to work for smaller companies, or be a serial entrepreneur, which school issues the degree does not matter. However, everything comes with a price, and you get what you pay for. Choosing the wrong virtual university could mean having to go back and get a second Bachelor's degree before getting that job you covet or continuing on with your education. - John T. in Michigan


Mr. Rawles,
My son came up with another method for keeping college costs down that I don't recall having seen before: he talks instructors into letting him skip courses.
He was homeschooled, so had no official record of what he'd learned. When he started college through the Running Start program (open to homeschoolers, as well as regular high school students, and another great way to save money!) at age 15, he met with his future calculus professor and talked him into letting him skip the first quarter of that subject. Later on, based on his grades in more advanced courses that required the one he skipped, he was given credit for it--at no charge!

He has since talked other teachers into waiving courses that were officially required for classes in specialized subjects he wanted to learn, picking up any knowledge he truly needed from the prerequisites as he needed it for the courses he wanted to take. He didn't get credit for any of the other classes he didn't actually take, but did save the money and time he would have been spent taking them. That's important both because of the time and money needed to take the unwanted courses and because it can be difficult to fit classes into your schedule that are only offered every year or two.

This tactic is also helpful if you don't do your full degree at the same school. Your choices are limited if, as a newly-transferred junior, you want to take classes that require a course that students at your new school usually take as freshmen. It can be hard to mesh in to a new school's program, but there are obviously ways around it, and you can save money doing so! - Nancy L.


Hi Jim,
I've been reading your blog for a while but this is my first time writing in. Excelsior College is great for people who need a flexible way to get a degree. I actually got my undergrad nursing degree through them. This option is only available to those with prior healthcare experience, which I had. I was formerly a home birth midwife with a certification through the North American Registry of Midwives. They accepted this credential to enter their program, and gave a number of credits for earning this credential. They accepted all my transfer credits from previous work, and I wound up only needing to take the 7 nursing exams, plus a microbiology exam. Now I had a prior degree in another field, but their flexibility for people of many different backgrounds is well-known. I moved across the country halfway through my degree, and since it was not a residential program I didn't have to change schools. This has been a godsend for people in the armed forces, who move all over the place. I liked them so much, I'm going back to Excelsior for my Master's in Nursing. The Masters programs are different. Rather than being exam-based, you take classes online with a group of other students. Anyway, my experiences with this school have all been positive. I'm not an employee of the school, or connected in any other way than being a student with them. Oh, a final bonus of this school is that you can generally spread out your degree earning over many years, making it very doable to work full time while earning a degree with them.


Mr. Rawles,
I recently read your "Patriots" novel and loved it, and have been reading and learning from your SurvivalBlog daily since then. I've been following the topic of alternative and low cost routes to obtaining a college degree and wanted to contribute another option that your readers might be interested in.

Harvard University's Extension School offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of fields in a non-traditional format. The benefits of this school include:
- Non-traditional admissions policy: This is my favorite aspect of their programs. Classes are open-enrollment, meaning anyone can register for most courses without undergoing any kind of application process. Admission to degree-granting programs is based on your performance in several classes rather than your performance on standardized tests or in prior schooling. There are no SATs, GREs, or other tests required for admission (except an English proficiency test if you're not a native English speaker). And there are no transcripts required. You simply take 3 courses at the school, including a writing course, and if you pass them all with a B- or better and GPA of 2.5, you will be accepted upon applying to the degree program. The classes are very challenging, so rather than trying to weed out unqualified applicants based on previous transcripts and tests, you get a trial by fire, proving in the actual courses that you're up to the task.
- Low cost: Most undergraduate courses there cost less than $1000, so a full 32 course undergraduate degree costs considerably less than one year of school in many traditional 4 year colleges.
- Flexible scheduling: Courses are offered on both weekdays and weeknights, so it's easy to schedule school around work.
- Flexible location: Many courses are available online, and for the undergrad degree, only 16 credits (4 courses) are required to be taken on campus. So if spending several years in the People's Republic of Cambridge or elsewhere in the congested Northeast doesn't fit your survival plans, you can knock out the on-campus requirement in a single summer.
- Excellent education: Courses are taught by a combination of full-fledged Harvard professors and part-time instructors who are professionals that have real world experience in the subjects that they teach
- Diverse student body: Classes are filled with students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, most of whom are working part or full time jobs while in school.
- A degree from Harvard: Very nice to have on your resume, no matter what you think of "elite" ivy league education and faculty. :-)

My wife and I both worked at Harvard for a few years so we could take classes at the school for free. I took classes both at the Extension School and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (where traditional undergrads and grads take classes) and can confirm that the Extension School classes are as challenging and of as high quality as the "regular" classes. My wife managed to get a masters degree in English from the Extension School while working full time, and has found the education invaluable, and her degree essential in helping her get job interviews and ultimately in landing her first job as a middle and high school English teacher.

We no longer work at Harvard and have no financial interest in the success of its programs, but we both spread the word about this little known "back-door" to a Harvard education because we believe it's such a great value and opportunity for anyone who wants to further their education in the fields of study that they offer.
Regards, - Luke V.

Perennial content contributor Bill N. sent this: NYPD Eyes Disrupting Cell Phones in Event of Terrorist Attack. So be forewarned that you can't count on cell phone connectivity, in extremis.

   o o o

Check out the Pioneer Living online magazine, they have a lot of useful educational resources.

   o o o

FloridaGuy sent this: Radical cheap: $1,000 homes. (But you have to wonder about the safety of those neighborhoods...)

   o o o

Sam in Illinois mentioned this sign of the times: BATF running out of 4473 Yellow "Record of Sale" Forms.

"A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing." - Proverbs 20:4

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

For many, the cost of a college education can be prohibitive; however the necessity of having a degree can be crucial when a job seeker is looking for work. Oftentimes, a college degree is used as a discriminator in the hiring process. Those with years of experience and talent may not even be considered for a position simply because they haven’t “filled in the blocks” required by a human resources department. Even if the degree is in an unrelated field, it is usually enough to get a person through the initial hurdles of the interview process.
However, even the costs of a local community college may be prohibitive to those who have to work and support a family – cost both in money and time. This was the situation I was faced with just a few years ago; however there is a solution.

In my hunt for a better and cheaper way to obtain that necessary sheepskin, I discovered the Bain 4 Weeks web site (I have no personal affiliation or compensation) which described the efforts of one woman who obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in just four weeks. While initially skeptical (think: diploma mill), I examined her method. Utilizing the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and other college-level examinations, she was able to complete her four-year degree in just four weeks.

While I didn’t have an entire month available to dedicate to testing out of college credit, I did use the same principals to accelerate my degree completion while working full time, taking care of a family, and spending my evenings at home rather than in a classroom. In fact, I can proudly say that I was able to complete the entire degree with never having to set foot in a classroom. This method enabled me to adjust my education schedule to my life schedule. At some points taking a test a week for a couple of months was no problem; at other times, I was reduced to taking one test a month.
Perhaps a quick explanation of the CLEP program is in order. These exams are recognized by most accredited universities. These tests allow an individual to receive college credit (typically three to six credits) for specific subjects and cost $70 per exam. The first-year exams are six credits each for the five subjects (English, Math, Social Science and History, Humanities, Science) and will provide the typical test taker with 30 semester-hour credits. This means that the first year of college would cost $350. Imagine an entire year of school for less than the price of one class at a community college.

There are both paper and computer-based versions of the test available. They can be scheduled at many local colleges (paper versions) or at places like Sylvan Learning Centers (computer based). The advantage to the computer versions of the test is that the results are immediately known to the student after completion. Also, an enterprising student can take more than one exam in a single day at these centers. (However, I was never able to complete more than two in a day – I was mentally drained after the second test.)
There are plenty of study guides available online and at your local library – practice, practice, practice.

So, how would this work? Let us take the example of someone who has finished high school, is working part time and staying at home. He could schedule one test every two weeks and spend the interim weeks studying for the next exam. After 10 weeks, this student would have finished his first year of school. Keeping this same pace (most of the remaining exams are three credits each), the student could complete the remainder of his degree in 45 weeks. All total, he would have spent slightly more than a year working on a four-year degree. His cost would be approximately $2,450 for all 120 credits. So for about the cost of just one semester at a community college, this person would have completed all the degree requirements necessary for graduation.

Another scenario would be a single mother working to support her family. She doesn’t have a lot of money and can’t dedicate two to three nights a week to attend classes. Instead she decides to start taking CLEP exams. She studies a little each night after the kids go to bed. To get time off for testing, she saves up a little extra time from her lunch break throughout the month to spend a couple of hours at the test site (or takes a Saturday test). What happens if something comes up and she isn’t able to study enough to take another test that month? Nothing happens at all. Unlike taking night classes where she cannot afford to miss classes; earning credit with these exams allows her to adjust her test-taking schedule to fit in with what works for her life. If she averages one test a month, then in 10 months, she would have finished one year of school. In essence, she is able to go to school full time while working and raising a family without the financial or time burden traditional education would have created.

Granted, the folks who create the CLEP tests do not award degrees; so a person would have to transfer the credits to a school that does. In my case, I used Excelsior College. If a person completed all degree requirements and then transferred the credits to Excelsior, the enrollment cost would be $765 and the graduation fee would be $440 for a total of $1,260. So the grand total would be $3,710 for the entire degree. Most schools accept some CLEP exams (usually up to 60 credits) but require the remainder of classes be taken through their university. Excelsior (and there are a few others) have no residency requirements and will accept all credits taken through CLEP or other accredited colleges. Make sure to check around. Excelsior is a good school, but there are others that are also equally suitable.

A second advantage to this method of getting that “sheepskin” is that for those who home school or those who have a GED, getting accepted into a college can be challenging if not impossible. Most schools do not ask for or require high school transcripts or SAT/ACT scores for transfer students. What constitutes a transfer student? Most of the time schools consider a transfer student as someone who is going to transfer 30 to 45 semester hours of credit. In other words, if you have an enterprising student who was homeschooled but the one college she wanted to go to will not recognize her diploma, she can take her first year of CLEP tests and then be considered a transfer student with no restrictions.

As a side note, I shared this method with a gentleman at work whose son was a sophomore in high school. His son began taking CLEP tests over the summers and during the Christmas breaks. By the time he finished high school this young man had already earned an Associate’s Degree.

Is there a downside to this method? It would depend on what the person pursuing a degree really wants. If he or she is trying to get a specific degree, say in microbiology, then this method probably would not work because of the lab requirements. However, many of the techniques/concepts can be used to reduce overall costs and speed up the length of time it takes to get a degree. Hopefully, this information will be valuable to those who feel frustrated in their efforts to complete a college degree.

Lastly, if I had to do it all over again, I would have joined the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve and learned a skill that would prove useful in a TEOTWAWKI situation. This would also provide me with a part-time job, free CLEP and DANTES tests and money for school if I chose to attend a specific college.

Please note that I am not endorsing any of the cited organizations. I simply want people to understand that there are alternative ways to get what you need. Being a survivalist means being adaptable and “thinking outside the box”. - V/R, USAF

Hello Jim:
Well, the weather hits for the Pacific Northwest keep on coming and lessons still need to be learned. As I type this, the entire Western Washington region is cut off. That’s right! All three open passes across the Cascades to the east have been closed due to avalanche and flooding concerns, flooding has cut off I-5 between Portland and the state capitol of Olympia and Western B.C. is cut off from blocked passes in that region. All official roadways have been closed in Western Washington key areas due to flood and washout concerns. The news is reporting that since there is no way for intermodal traffic to move in or out (trucks and trains), there is a potential of limited shortages in stores of perishable goods and JIT delivery failures. What a mess.

What is interesting is that, again, people had ample warning that there was a potential for the migration from cold snowy weather to a quick warm up system called the Pineapple Express. These weather migrations almost always lead to local or regional flooding due to rapid melting of snow both locally and in the mountains. I watched interviews of folks in well documented flood plains and suburbanized farm land fail to take heed and either have an appropriate home built (unlikely due to outdated city codes or height restrictions or homeowner association covenants) or simply did not have their items in a ready to G.O.O.D. condition. Some people freely admitted to going through this several times and not being ready each time. I saw one interview where a fellow said he never got flood or renters insurance despite knowing the flooding concerns. Never mind that he had what looked like a large flat screen on the wall next to him. What screwy priorities! Some people admitted that they would remain safely in place but had to leave once the realized they didn’t have any food or water (despite being surrounded by some murky wet stuff).

I was working my police patrol job yesterday when a citizen in a known flood area asked what the city would do for them to protect them. I tasted blood from biting my tongue so hard. This citizen lived in a home worth nearly $700,000 and had been flooded before. I wish I could bark out, “Here’s a clue for ya!” I shake my head at the priorities of folks sometimes.

Peace to you, your family and the readers of SurvivalBlog. - MP in Soggy Seattle (a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

Hi James!
Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas! I've just returned from a 'holiday' working on my retreat and found that over the holiday break my e-mail server fell over.
I have added those messages I could recover to my Groups Listing page - but I know I have lost at least a couple of postings .

As a significant number of people access this page [from the link at the Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area page] at your site, [I'd like to] explain what has happened and ask anyone who doesn't see their listing to resend it to me. Thanks, - John @ Survivalistbooks.com

This coming weekend, CNN will broadcast a program called I.O.U.S.A. It’s a documentary about the United States debt – which is out of control, an expose on just how bad our current economic crisis is. Karen and I believe that becoming educated about what is possibly the biggest problem in our lifetimes – is critical. So we write this email to you today hoping you’ll watch this program and get involved. If we sit idly-by and watch from the sidelines as our Federal Government continues to spend our hard earned tax dollars - in an out of control fashion, well then we deserve what is coming. However, if we can get our friends, families and loved ones educated about what’s really happening with our money and hold our elected officials responsible and accountable for conducting themselves as representatives of the people – we might just make it out of this economic crisis. Someday.

This program will air on CNN on Saturday, January 10 at 2:00 p.m. EST and on Sunday, January 11 at 3:00 p.m. EST. Please watch it. You will be glad you did.- David D.

A SurvivalBlogger in the southeastern US might find this "RV" of interest. I've noticed that retired armored trucks don't get sold on the open market very often--most get re-engined umpteen times and simply passed around between armored transport companies. (Thanks to Chester for the link.)

   o o o

Trent and FloridaGuy both sent us this: Merrill Lynch predicts $1,150 gold by June

   o o o

As usual, here's the latest economic news and commentary from Cheryl, but the first item was suggested by Redclay: Numbers show economy in near free fall -- World Stocks Drop as US Unemployment Rate Hits 7.2% -- Oil Falls Below $40 Amid Severe Drop-Off in Energy Use -- NASDAQ Creates Index to Track Bailed-Out Firms -- Wal-Mart Cuts Forecasts as Sales Disappointing -- 2009 Bad Time to Buy Homes as Jobs Vanish -- North Sea Oil Exploration Firm Collapses -- The Outcry is Muted, But Food Crisis Worsens -- Dollar Death Bounce -- Several readers mentioned a WND article about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008: Is Feb. 10 financial doomsday for thousands?, New law could force companies into ruin, but then Cheryl sent this good news: Update: Thrift Stores Exempt From "Financial Doomsday" -- Lastly, KAF found this: UBS closing U.S. clients' offshore accounts. (So much for Swiss banking privacy. At least there will still be private vault storage. Hint, hint.)

"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress." - John Adams (1735-1826)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Our spin-off web site, SurvivalRealty.com seems to be approaching critical mass. Five new advertisers have been added in just the last few days. Both individual property sellers and real estate agents have caught on to the fact that they need to exploit niche marketing to find buyers for rural properties in the currently depressed real estate market. And for buyers, SurvivalRealty is the best place to find retreat-suitable properties with very motivated sellers. (Prices are falling!) Speaking of which, don't miss the price reduction on the Cocolalla Ridge Retreats, near Sandpoint, Idaho. Talk about a bargain, and you couldn't ask for more like-minded neighbors that you can depend on in turbulent times!

In a recent SurvivalBlog post on countering home invasions robberies, I briefly mentioned that the crime rate in America might eventually get as severe as in South Africa. That elicited today's first post, which came from a South African farmer, describing first hand what it is like to live there and to deal with the constant threat of crime.

Although we in South Africa do not live in a TEOTWAWKI situation, we routinely have to deal with constant attempts to appropriate life, possessions, and freedom that could be good training for a TEOTWAWKI situation. The following are some real life insights as to what and how we handle these regular attempts at property liberation on our homesteads and surrounds.

We are fortunate to live well outside of South Africa’s largest city, our community is isolated and not visible from any main road. To a point where people that live in nearby areas do not know where our entry road is, and have to be given detailed instructions on how to get to our community. (I’ve even had a 20 year resident of an adjacent area tell me outright that I’m lying and no such road/area exists. What a great place to be!) There are a total of 24 families in our area, not all participate in the community [security effort] and only one other family has a preparedness mindset. Almost every member of the community is very private and the idea of personal privacy and property rights is taken very seriously. Of the 24 families there are nine that take an active role in protecting the community totaling 15 men. Our community is situated in a blind valley with a single very defendable entrance, there are however two additional tracks that can be used for either a north or south escape route if you know where to find them.

Most of our threats consist of one or more of the following.(In no particular order) Stock theft, cable theft, fencing or dropper [(cattle chute)] theft, house breaking, armed home invasions, rape and other crimes. There is also a marked increase in produce theft (directly from fields) in recent months.

What also needs to be understood is that in the rural areas there are specific crime ‘seasons’. Outright you can peg the December/January and Easter periods as a very high probability of stock theft, then the last two weeks in any month with increases in housebreaking and implement/equipment theft. Our analysis of this suggests that people are looking for meat in December/January and April for family [summer and fall] feasts. And at month end they are looking for a bit of cash to tide them over till payday or they have just plain run out of cash and need more.

The number one livestock theft item is sheep, they are simple to lift onto ones shoulders and carry off without a sound (sheep make no noise at night if manhandled). Cattle are the next most frequent target. of theft. How this is achieved is the cattle are often liberated early evening (20h00 – 21h00) and a team of thieves will work as follows. A Cutter will walk ahead and cut any fencing about 100m in front of the cattle, then three drivers will drive the cattle along the chosen route, typically the hocks are slashed so that the cattle cannot run, they are then prodded with sharp sticks or bicycle spokes in the correct direction. The animals are generally butchered in the veld and only choice portions are taken, or they are herded directly to a township/village for slaughter. They are often herded over 20 or 30 km in one night. Making track and trace is sometimes extremely difficult. The sad thing about this is that if you do recover your animals before they slaughter them, the animals need to be put down anyway. We have even had a situation where large ‘steaks’ were cut out of living cattle and they were left to be found in the morning. Goats and Pigs are very low down on the list as they will vocally announce their displeasure at being manhandled. This PDF describes another very well known way of transporting stolen stock long distances.

With regards to implements and equipment theft. Very high on the list are hand tools, power tools, generators, water pumps, borehole pumps, and electric gate motors--in fact anything that can be pawned or sold off quickly. A new phenomenon that has recently reared its head is that people are stealing metal gates and droppers, we have yet to catch one in the act, however we believe it’s for the scrap metal market. New fencing is also quick to go, especially weld mesh and Bonnox-type fencing. As it’s easy to roll up and cart away, and has a quick resale value on the open market if priced right.
To counteract the effects of crime in our area we have established for a number of years now a very effective farm watch system that includes the following. (I will cover each point separately to provide insight into the logic and tactics):

Highly visible motorised patrols:
The main point of these is to provide a “show of force” and it is mainly used as a deterrent during low crime times. The use of vehicle mounted Search/spot lights is heavily employed. One of the largest drawbacks is that ‘they’ can see you coming and a) either scamper off to find a quieter area to harass, or b) just drop into the grass that is typically 1 metre (3 feet) high, and then effectively become invisible. Another drawback is that once the patrol ends this can be easily be seen, due to a lack of lights sweeping the roads and properties.

Foot patrols: These are undertaken specifically during times of harassment, or in peak crime times. Foot patrols generally consist of two separate patrols of minimum three individuals each, contact via radio is available but only used as and when required. A preset route is followed, there are a total of nine routes, typically only four are covered by both patrols in an evening. Each route has specific LP/OPs developed as well as caches of food/water and medical [supplies] on the longer routes. Some routes are never more than about 300 - 500 meters from a lot of the homesteads and others can take one over two kilometers from the nearest homestead.

LP/OPs: Generally performed on off nights where ‘nothing is going on’. Members will walk out onto their own properties and take up specific LP/OP to generally [listen and] observe. This is often tied in with the final checks on animals, stores and stables. The interesting thing is you are able to track the movement of an individual(s) from well over two kilometres away, just by listening to the night sounds of animals. Dogs, Plovers, Geese, Guinea Fowl, and peacocks, frogs/toads, and others can all give an indication as to what is happening in the area. We have got to a point where just by listening to the sounds of the local critters, both wild and domestic, we are able to make a good judgment call if a impromptu patrol needs to rustled up. Most evenings we can track the return of staff members and labourers as they walk back from the local shebeens.

Contact Routes:
These are predefined routes that each farmer will take when a contact is established. This has worked very well for us on a number of occasions leading to the arrest of six individuals and the peppering of at least three that have escaped, with bird shot liberally inserted into their Gluteus maximus. The adage in our area is not to have someone die on your property, rather wound [them] and let them spread the word. It the best advertising you can get for a peaceful nights rest. They also cannot go to a hospital as this raises questions. We have heard via the grapevine of one individual that had a friend digging around in his butt with a piece of bent piece of wire to try extricate shot. Somehow I don’t think he is coming back. [JWR Adds: Things are different here in the oh-so litigious US, where wounding a miscreant is an invitation to a huge civil lawsuit. I advise American, Canadian and British SurvivalBlog readers: Don't pull the trigger unless your life is immediately threatened.]

Basically there are two types of contact:

1) Farm based. When there is an attack on a particular farm then the alarm is raised via, land line, cell phone, radio or audible sirens. Information is generally given to wives for relay, as husbands prepare, as to what portion of the farmstead is threatened. A ring is established around the farm with selected individuals providing direct support at the farmstead, once the farmstead is cleared then the ring closes along predefined routes. BTW, it is vitally important that the outer ring is maintained, as often a lot more is seen from the ring than from the farmstead. In addition all lights on all farms get turned off, specifically to assist the guys with Night Vision, but we have found that those that don’t, can also see better without distracting ambient light sources. Lastly, the explicit rule is that if it’s your farm / livestock under attack then you are not to leave the house! There is no need for a hostage situation or to allow for a penetration of your family's security, or God forbid a friendly fire incident. That is why you have neighbours.

2) Infrastructure based: Typically this is cable theft, we are very proud of the fact that we are one of the few rural areas in South Africa that has had no interruption of our telecoms service in well over 18 months. We have taken the initiative to install alarms on our lines that activate as soon as there is a voltage drop. ([Caused by a] cut line) This triggers a response where farmers scramble to cover specific points. The amazing thing is how fast these cable thieves can move. They cut and drag 150-200 metres of 50-pair cable well over 500 meters in a matter minutes. It took us a while to get our attack honed, but now we have a 100% strike rate and no more cable theft.

Most patrol members are armed with Shotguns and occasionally with a sidearm, a 2-way radio, torch, Night Vision if they have the gear, and a small first aid kit is carried by one member. A handful of heavy duty cable ties [for use as handcuffs are also carried. Each member is also at liberty to equip themselves with what they feel is necessary. What we find is that new members tend to go all out on kit, and it only takes about two weeks for them to start reducing the amount of glory kit they carry to the minimum. (We actually have a pool bet going on the number of patrols walked with full kit, we always do the two longest for them on the trot. Hey, we need some fun.)

Some additional information, many thieves will plan their attacks long in advance with scouting and intel well sourced, either via the local labourer population or via direct observation. One of the most common and disturbing warning signs that you will get, is that dogs are being poisoned in the area. Depending on the poison used, it will generally be a fast acting (in a matter of minutes) the most common poison is Aldicarb or Temik a restricted use agricultural pesticide. Luckily we have not had any incidents in our area, but all around us there are reports of multiple dogs going down in a single night.
Finally, one of the benefits of living in [the old] South Africa (pre-1994) was conscription, with two years of compulsory military service, for most straight out of school. This has put most of the ‘older’ (I say that with care as I’m yet to hit 45) members of our group with a military service background and we have been through some of the Border War. All of this helps to set the tone of patrols and provides the training and discipline for younger members.

Some friends and I were out on a hike several weeks ago with our bug out bags, and we were talking about how we could easily identify non-threatening travelers or [perhaps even] fellow SurvivalBlog blog readers. Maybe a flag of some type? Being able to identify ["friendlies"] would be especially helpful in a TEOTWAWKI situation. I'm just wondering if anyone else had suggested anything along those lines. Thanks, - Steven

JWR Replies: Your chances of meeting a fellow SurvivalBlog readers are slim. (There are only about 282,000 SurvivalBlog readers in the US, scattered in a population of more than 305 million.) However, recognitions flags, banners, standards, or guidons carried by military units have a history that stretches back to ancient times, for good reason. In the modern military context, that emphasizes camouflage, they are an anachronism. (Guidons are now only used for formal, in-garrison occasions). Nowadays, in the field, the only thing that is analogous are ground marking panels--like the multi-color VS-17 Signal Panel Markers--designed to prevent friendly fire accidents. But in a post-collapse group defense (or community defense) context, distinctive flags carried like Pilgramager's banners might be a good idea for particular circumstances:

1.) If it is for a group that is large enough to easily defend itself (i.e., so they need not travel stealthily), and

2.) Banner SOPs are established well in advance, and

3.) The group is traveling through territory where they are likely to encounter both friendlies and bad guys, and

4.) If the flag is something quite distinctive, and hence not easily copied by malo hombres. (Perhaps using a couple of triangles of very unusual and scarce fabric colors sewn together into a square. "All hail the Mauve and Chartreuse banner of the Warlord!")

I surmise that a Japanese sashimono-style battlefield banner attached to a backpack frame (hence, that would not require someone's hands to be occupied) would be the the most appropriate.

Perhaps some other readers would care to chime in with suggestions.

Just a quick note about vacuum sealing for the folks who purchased a FoodSaver recently [during the current special $59 sale price offer.] I live in Alaska and grew up using the FoodSaver brand sealer and there are two key things to remember when using them. The first is follow the instructions and allow ample time for the sealing strip to cool down between bags and second never allow moisture into the unit as this will ruin it quickly, we have ruined many this way and when they quit working, had to throw them away and get another.

When sealing in bulk we use multiple sealing stations to allow machines time to cool both for the pump and the sealing strip. We seal mostly salmon, moose and small items we want for long term storage and hunting trips, say matches and backup batteries to keep dry. Most good hunting in Alaska will involve water from rain or a boat in a river and things get wet. I never seal everything for a hunt but having a set of cloths that you know will be dry is very comforting. We have found that a quick glaze in a freezer works best for keeping moisture out of the machine and we use an old upright freezer with racks that we place plastic trash bags on and layer the fish with bags in-between to keep them from freezing together. You can stack the fish several layers deep on each rack this way. We freeze the fish several hours or overnight some times because we can get very tired catching and cleaning fish late into the night and a sharp filet knife is dangerous and can ruin a season.

We also like to use a cutting board to lay whatever is being sealed on to keep the bag level with the machine. I am sure that there are many other good tips for these machines and I would like to here them. Note I would recommend that if the funds were available or you were in a two family situation to go ahead and get a more expensive semi commercial unit or full on commercial unit, but these will cost you around five hundred for a semi commercial and thousands for the industrial model. Cheers, - AK Man

Hello to the Readers of SurvivalBlog:
I do hope you'll consider the following request. I produce documentaries for a company called Engel Entertainment We have been around for more than a dozen years, and have a solid track record producing award-winning and highly rated programming for all of the major broadcasters (the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, PBS, National Geographic, etc.). My most recent film was a two-hour special for History Channel called "Black Blizzard", about the American Dust Bowl (this is actually re-broadcasting this Friday night, January 9th, at 10 p.m. if you'd like to see a sample of our work.

I am now in the process of developing a new film about survivalism. While working on the Dust Bowl film, I met men and women who had lived through what I came to think of as a kind of mini American Apocalypse - a decade of no rain, no crops, dust storms that killed livestock and children, and created grinding poverty -- truly "the worst hard time" as one book called it. These folks endured and are some of the most stoic, pragmatic, wonderful people I've ever met. During this time, I also read [Cormac McCarthy's novel] "The Road," and I'm sure that, too, inspired my thinking. What I would like to do in this new film is present a solid history of the survivalist movement as background, and then take a look at the current state of preparedness of the American public in the event of a catastrophic event. I am looking for leaders and participants in the movement who would be willing to share with us their philosophies and strategies for the future.

Jim Rawles kindly agreed to allow me reach out to you. Ideally, I am looking for a spectrum of individuals, families and groups who would consider the possibility of welcoming a film crew into their lives for a short period of time (which could be anywhere from an afternoon to a few days, depending upon what we agreed). Jim has helped me understand the need for security, and we are willing in every case to work with you to respect OPSEC, including using pseudonyms and not revealing the locations of your homes or retreats. We are willing to be driven in and out of your location blindfolded (and would obviously cover the costs that would be associated with meeting and transporting a crew in this way to protect your security.)

With the American economy in a free-fall, the timeliness of this subject couldn't be more relevant, and I would like to stress to you that we plan to approach the subject with respect and an effort to provide useful information to our audience. If you are interested in this project, please contact me at: survival@email.engelentertainment.com
Yours sincerely, - Amy Bucher, Senior Producer, Engel Entertainment

Does this sound familiar? Walking Away from the American Dream. FWIW, In August of 2005, I accurately predicted mortgage holders "walking away" from houses and turning in the house keys to their bankers. This has more recently been called "jingle mail". Also on the economic front, comes these items from The Economatrix: Stock Losses Leave Pensions $400 Billion Short -- Martial Law, Financial Bailout, and War -- Biggest Rise in US Unemployment in 59 Years -- Bank of England Cuts Rates to 300-Year Low -- Pink Slips Pile Higher, Recession Worsens -- The Fate of Paper Money --

   o o o

Matt B. sent a YouTube video link about a gent that proves that practice can indeed make perfect, in his case with a slingshot.

   o o o

Tom G. wrote to mention: Northern Tool & Equipment currently has most of their photovoltaic (PV) power panels and packaged PV systems on sale. In the "Categories' list at their site, just click on "Alternative Energy" and then "Solar Solutions". BTW, they also have a lot of their other inventory now on sale, including air compressors, with price reductions of up to 60%. Since Northern Tool is one of the SurvivalBlog Affiliate Advertisers, we'll get a little piece of the action if you place an order, following our link.

   o o o

Several readers sent this WorldNetDaily article link on the proposed renewal of the Federal "assault weapons" [sic] and "high capacity" [sic] magazine ban: Congress' plan would let AG 'ban guns at will'

"Determine what is best for the government, and know that is what the powers are working to make happen. [Monetary] inflation is what is ‘best’ for a government with enormous debt'. - Ayn Rand

Thursday, January 8, 2009

We blew past 600 gigabytes in web traffic in December. Since we are only contracted for 450 gigabytes, we just had to negotiate a special flat rate with our ISP for one terabyte of monthly traffic on our web site. There is now so much SurvivalBlog traffic--around 124,000 unique visits per week--that late in 2008 our ISP had to set up a dedicated server for us. Thanks, everyone, for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success!

Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your site. I had no idea that there were whole survivalist communities out there until I stumbled on a link by accident. In fact, I didn’t really know that I fit into that category myself. My wife and I live on the Gulf Coast and we discovered the hard way during Hurricane Rita that a bag of trail mix and a bottle of water, was not preparing to evacuate. Eighteen hours in traffic in a hundred and fifty mile traffic jam taught us to find the roads that are not on a US map. After that we planned, made maps of blacktop roads for evacuation, and stocked a retreat a couple of hundred miles from the coast and cities.

Two years later here came Hurricane Ike. Since we had our gear pretty much laid out it only took us about an hour to load and we were gone. It was a vacation compared to the first time. After the storm blew threw we used some of the gas we had stashed and wanted to look at the house and see if there was anything left to come back to. The trip was eye opening. There were people sitting in gas lines that stretched for more than a mile for five gallons of fuel. Some people where sitting at stations that didn’t even have gas because they just couldn’t go any farther. There was no food or water to be found. I thought to myself what if the trucks didn’t come back or the electricity didn’t come back on for an extended time frame.

People can speculate if there is going to be nuclear war, Peak Oil or the economy is going to complete collapse. People have been saying “The End is Near” for a few thousand years, but this was real, we saw it, and we were in it. We made our trip. The house was damaged but still there. We checked to make sure everything was secure and left back for our retreat. We stayed for about two weeks in semi-comfortable conditions. We are not where we want to be as far as being stocked up for an extended time frame but we are getting there. By the time next storm season comes we should have supplies for about two months and we are installing solar power to augment our generator and propane systems. That is a pretty short time for some of your readers but considering the rest of the people I have seen, this is living like a king. After that it’s a squirrel on a stick. - Randall

I just recently purchased a MURS band Dakota Alert and Radio setup from [MURS Radio] that advertises on your site. Needless to say I got a screaming deal! I live in the Pacific Northwest, literally in the middle of dense woods. My radios and sensors arrived during one of the best snowfalls we have had in a while. All of the trees were loaded [with snow]. The temperature was in the very low 20s. Our terrain is mountainous.

Here are my results (which may be helpful to your readers who may be thinking about purchasing them):

[Dakota Alert MAT] Sensors: Solid transmission to Base station (located in a metal building) at 3/4 mile. Longer range not tested (It was cold, and I did not require longer range.)
Hand held transceivers [handi-talkies (HTs), [also made by Dakota Alert] to and from base station, solid to 1/2 mile, sketchy at 3/4 mile.
Sensors to HT solid transmission to 1/2 mile sketchy at 3/4 mile.
HT to HT solid at 1/2 mile sketchy at 3/4 mile.

The sensor does not have enough transmission time to finish the third [repetition of the] "Alert Zone 2" message due to [an error in] the speed of the person recording the message. I contacted the manufacturer about it, and they said that all their current units are all this way. No one wants to be #2. (All other alert messages are fine) This is not a problem, but one does have to chuckle.
A cold vehicle (just started) dose not always activate the sensors. This is not a tactical problem but is an annoyance.

BNC connectors and pull up antennas are leaky. In addition to the manufactures suggestion to add a packet of desiccant inside the sensors, I highly suggest wrapping the BNC connection and each segment joint of the antenna with COAX-SEAL.(A hand moldable plastic.) This will insure total water proofing of the unit. I plan on disguising my [chromed, collapsible] antennas by covering them with gray heat shrink [tubing] and a little magic marker action, then sealing the BNC with coax seal.

Since I live off the grid It makes no sense to run the base station (which is 12 Volt DC) off my inverter. I wired it up to my 12V distribution network that I use for all my comm devices Ham, CB, etc. Just to play it safe I contacted the manufacturer about the maximum voltage the unit could handle as I charge my batteries at 14.4V. They recommended some sort of voltage regulation device. You could "fab"one up or as they suggested, use a [voltage] regulating cigarette lighter plug. They said the unit would function at the higher voltage but it would be hard on it, and reduce it's life expectancy.

The only drawback is that there are only four alert messages, limiting the number of sensors you can use at one time. If you need more than four sensors you will need a second receiver. I plan on calling the manufacturer and suggesting a "record your own message" modification. I am totally pleased with these units. Thanks for listing them. - John

JWR Replies:
Thanks for the review. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we also use MURS band Dakota Alert transmitters in conjunction with some gently-used Kenwood transceivers. We bought all of these components from MURS Radio. Programming the transmitters to match our MURS frequency was quick and easy. We have been very pleased with their sensitivity and reliability. These are great products that provide a low-cost solution for detecting anyone entering our property.

Regarding your Retreat Areas recommendations: I grew up on a small multi-crop and livestock farm in north western Iowa, with 24 inches of precipitation and 180 frost free days.
I have been living in California Eastern Sierra since 1982 , but soon will be leaving.

I respectfully submit that your assessment of the agricultural capability of many of the low precipitation/low humidity areas of the western US is vastly overestimated. Western states such as Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico are not farmable by amateurs using conventional means available during any TEOTWAWKI scenario. Obtaining water rights and controlling large scale irrigation is not some thing you can learn after a crash. Northeastern Oregon, Southeastern Washington, and the Snake River plain of Idaho are exceptions.

Your frost free growing season data [at state level over-generalizes] for many states. For example, eastern Oklahoma has 200 - 220 [frost-free] days.

For the vast majority of readers, Interstate 90 should be their northern limit if they wish to grow any more than a small garden and areas south of Interstate 80 would be preferred.
If you plan to grow enough row crops to feed yourself, or if you want to trade with the local farmers, you will need an absolute minimum of 18 inches [of] precipitation (preferably during mid spring and summer) and 140 frost free days.

JWR Replies: I have always recommended that readers do detailed study of micro-climates before relocation. Start with the Gale Publishing Company book "The Climates of the States" (in the reference section of many libraries), and then do detailed climate and soil studies using data from the NWS, NRCS, and various online resources.

My general guidance is to avoid areas that require irrigation, with the exception of the very few locales that have an end-to-end gravity fed irrigation infrastructure in place. As I've mentioned many times, if and when the power grids go down, many parts of the western US will quickly revert to desert. Hence, my preference is for "reliable rain" or "dryland farming" regions--that is, areas where crops can be reliably grown with regular spring and summer rains. But here is the rub: Many of those regions are heavily populated and might might not be safe in the event of a major societal disruption. So your choices will be narrowed to ""a subset of a subset", if you are looking for an ideal retreat local. There are just a handful of places that I consider ideal lightly-populated locales for retreat self sufficiency. Two notable ones are the Palouse Hills region (straddling the border of eastern Washington and north-central Idaho), and the Montpelier, Idaho region. So, taken together with other important criteria like crime, taxes, gun laws, and so forth, it is no wonder that Idaho is at the very top of my list for retreat locales.

With the exception of the immediate riparian tracts, I do not recommend Idaho's Snake River Plain, because the majority of the region depends on electrically-pumped irrigation water, much of it from deep wells. When the grid goes down, that area will revert to sagebrush. That, by the way is a clue to remember: When you are traveling in search of potential retreat properties, observe the native vegetation on the non-irrigated hillsides. What you see is what you'll get, when the grid goes down. Again, in much of the West, the only exceptions will the few and far-between places with end-to-end gravity fed irrigation. And BTW, if you plan to live "in town" the same logic applies to municipal water supplies. Very few of these are gravity fed from end-to-end. (Ironically, the City and County of San Francisco is one such locale. (Its water comes from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. But given its population density, San Francisco can hardly be recommended!)

Susan Z. sent us this bad omen: [Former Bank of England official] Willem Buiter Warns of Massive Dollar Collapse

   o o o

Reader Debby S. flagged this: Terrorists could use 'insect-based' biological weapon

   o o o

"Shades of Minority Report...", writes "Mike Papa", an ex-pat living in Jordan, regarding this article: Police set to step up hacking of home PCs. Mike's comment: "So now the United Kingdom is authorizing warrantless preemptive invasion of home computers by police if "a senior officer says he “believes” that it is “proportionate” and necessary to prevent or detect serious crime." Scary stuff, likely coming soon to a country near you (Here in Jordan, I'm not sure it doesn't happen already. I've been told by several to assume that all e-mail, phone calls, Internet usage, etc. is routinely monitored.)"

   o o os

How did I miss finding this great blog for so long? Check out Tamara's View From the Porch blog. I just added it to my Blogroll.

   o o o

Luddite Jean in England sent these two news links:: 200 shops a Day to close this year in high street bloodbath, and Cold war! 12 freezing European countries without gas as Russia switches off supply (Jean added this explanatory comment: "Russia has long accused the Ukraine of stealing [natural] gas from the pipeline, and are using this as an excuse. The real reason is purely economic - the price of Urals Crude oil has fallen to $32, and Russia no longer has enough money to run the economy. They are holding Europe to ransom, and demanding higher prices for the gas.") And here is the latest from Cheryl: US Stocks Drop Erasing Most of '09 Gains -- Alcoa to Slash 13,500 Jobs, Reduce Aluminum Output -- India: Trucks Go Off Roads Over Fuel Prices, Food Shortages Feared -- Don't Get Used to Cheap Oil, Analysts Say -- Fed: Economic Woes Will Last Despite Radical Moves -- Chrysler Sales Plummet 53% -- Subaru Posts 2008 Increase in US -- Private Sector Cut 693,000 Jobs in December

"With the exception only of the period during which the gold standard was in effect, virtually all governments throughout history have used their exclusive power to issue money, as a method to defraud and plunder the people." - Friedrich von Hayek

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The sale goes on! More than 700 SurvivalBlog readers have bought Foodsaver vacuum packing/sealing systems at the special $59.99 sale price. I had thought that the sale would end on December 31st but the manufacturer is still honoring the sale price while supplies last. (The promotion program manager mentioned that it would be less than two weeks.) We get a little "piece of the action" for each order. So this a is a great way to save money and to support SurvivalBlog in the new year. Don't miss out on this sale! You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly FoodSaver.com.Use code L8FAV28 at checkout. Note that the special price will not show up until the last step of the checkout process.

By buying foods in bulk and re-packaging them in more handy (single meal size) vacuum bags, you can save a lot of money on your grocery bill. You can also vacuum pack Mason jars! (These come with a wide mouth Mason jar adapter as an included accessory.) But be sure to get an additional regular mouth Mason jar adapter, for an extra $8.99.) Buy a FoodSaver. You'll be glad that you did!

I took your advice and ordered some FN-FAL magazines from What-A-Country, and they were promptly delivered. However, I was surprised to find that the military surplus magazines were quite dirty with what appeared to be black sand, and slightly oily. Is that common for used magazines? As a first time battle rifle owner making my first military surplus purchase. I don't know if this is common practice or not. If it is, what is the best way to properly clean the magazines so they can be used? Any advice or a link to a web site with additional information would be appreciated. - SteelerFan

JWR Replies:
That isn't very unusual. When buying military surplus, I'd much rather get oily or greasy mags, because that indicates that an effort was made to protect from rust in all those years of storage.What-A-Country imports most of their magazines from Israel. And the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has almost always done a good job with storing weapons and accessories. (For example, I've seen Lee-Enfield rifles that had been in storage in an Israeli warehouse for 50 years that still looked arsenal-new, once the grease was removed.)

I once bought a large batch of Thompson SMG magazines that were practically pumped full of grease. Yeech! It took a lot of time to degrease those.

OBTW, if the magazines that you bought are grungy inside, it doesn't take long to disassemble them. If there is a lot of grease, you'll need to use a solvent (such as Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber), otherwise just wiping them down with paper towels will usually suffice. But again, be sure to examine their interiors. (Needless to say, the usual safety provisos on avoiding skin contact and inhaling vapors of Tri-Chlor-based solvents apply!) One you've cleaned the magazines inside and out, wipe them down with a light coat of oil, or perhaps a heavy coat if you live in a region with high humidity. and for long-term storage in a damp climate, RIG is ideal. (But then, of course someday you'll be back to square one--removing grease, before use.)

As to diesel fuel treatment, it is a investment that will involve the operation and reliability of your backup power engines and vehicles. The fuel is expensive so don't cheap out on the fuel treatment. You need to have a diesel fuel maintenance program in place,
1. Treat the fuel with the proper required [stabilizing and antibacterial] chemicals.
2. Clean and polish the fuel once a year, pump the water & sludge out of the bottom of the tank. A clogged fuel filter is a serious problem.
A cheap cleaning rig can be home made, [consisting of] two filters a 20 micron and a 4 micron bought off eBay and a pump and some gauges. This can be offered to another family for a rental fee.
3. Send out a fuel sample to a lab for testing every year or two. Order a test kit online.

I worked for a telephone company doing backup power systems nationwide for years. Caterpillar provide me with a company that provides good products. I would not go dumping anything into my generators I was not sure of or was not approved by the manufacturer- TEN-32 is the product I used. Check out their web site and e-mail them questions.

You have a great blog, I try to support the advertisers, too. Thanks, Ed S.

Concerning the article that Lisa sent: "Blacksmith-collector of forgotten trades": Many survival minded folks consider learning a basic trade to help them through TEOTWAWKI. Most commonly they think farmer, gardener, blacksmith, bullet reloading. But there are many other basic skills and trades that will be highly prized and needed if the electricity goes off.

Tinsmithing, broom and basket making, wheel and barrel making, pewter casting, weaving and spinning, candle and soap making, harness, horse collar, boot and shoe making, hide tanning, etc., will all be needed. Many of those trades need specialized tools, equipment and knowledge. Most 19th Century and non-electric shops have long since been broken up and auctioned. But, the tools still exist. You can find them in antique shops, sometimes put away in the corner of a barn or someone's basement, or even on the wall of a restaurant. You can also find many tools on CraigsList.org and eBay. It is much the same for books. They are out there on any subject you can think of, but it's the locating them that's the trick.

Right now we have the luxury of going online. By doing a used book search on Barnes & Noble web site, you can purchase a used book from any listed book store in the country. Other book retailers often offer the same service,--check and see. Right now we also have the luxury of going to flea markets, online, and to antique shops to find the needed specialized equipment. Right now we also have the time to acquire examples of the "art" of various trades. In the future it will be much easier to make a tin funnel, buggy wheel, or wood barrel if we have on hand an old one that we can copy.

But we may not have much more time to find the tools and knowledge we need to be really self-sufficient and/or provide us with a needed trade good if times get really interesting. It takes quite a bit of searching to find all the specialized items we may need. My suggestion is to get to it. Even if you don't have the desire or interest to become a horse collar maker, someone in your future community will. It will be good to have what is needed, to make it possible. - Jim Fry, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment

After reading the recent letters about home invasion robberies, I've gotten a little paranoid about the idea of someone kicking in my front door in the middle of the night. It would be incredibly easy to do and it's unlikely I could retrieve a firearm quickly enough to defend (I have a toddler so all guns are locked up except a pistol, which my wife doesn't know is in Condition 3 in a drawer too tall for my daughter to reach).

The Strikemaster II is out of budget (I need three of them) so I looked into having similar strikeplates fabricated. As it turns out, I can have them made for about $30 each by a local guy who has a plasma cutter. This is an option for those in a similar situation.

On a related note, on a whim I purchased a lock pick kit at a recent gun show. With just several minutes of practice I am now able to pick the deadbolts on my house in less than 10 seconds each. So my locks have got to go. Any standard lock that you purchase at Home Depot or Lowe's can be picked or bumped in seconds. Neither of those stores carry locks that provide high security, all on-package claims aside. The only locks that even approach being secure (enough for residential use) are those that meet or exceed ANSI 156.x standards, and even this level only provides that the lock can't be picked in less than 15 minutes. A good article on the subject can be found here and here.

I have glass adjacent to two of my doors. Rather than putting a double-cylinder deadbolt in, which would be unsafe during a house fire, I'm replacing my deadbolts with a high-security cylinder on the outside and a keypad-equipped cylinder on the inside. The keypads cost about $100 and are backlit. As an extra safety measure, I'm hanging keys inside each door - but not close enough to see or reach through a broken window.

With all the glass on modern houses, it would be impossible to stop a determined burglar unless someone is home. My objective is to buy the extra time I'd need to respond to someone breaking in. For burglary protection for valuables, I'm relying on a security system and a large gun safe bolted to the floor with four 4-1/2" anchors. Best, - Matt R.

Reader J.L. sent this piece describing the impact of a new Federal regulation: "New safety rules for children's clothes have stores in a fit". J.L's comment: The thing that galls me, is that the thrift/resale arena is one of the few bright spots in the economy, and they are some of the few places people can go and get low priced clothes to help them get through this recession."

   o o o

Frequent content contributor Bill N. found a web site with a useful comparison of civilian MRE equivalents.

   o o o

Reader Paul B in Texas found this 60 Minutes television segment linked over at iTulip: The Next Wave of Mortgage Defaults. Paul's comment: "This indicates the real estate market still has four to five years to continue its downward fall. Things are getting worse, not bottoming out!" JWR's comment: The scary thing is that the Alt-A and Option ARM defaults that they mentioned are just a small fraction of the threat posed by the huge overhang of Credit Default Swap (CDS) derivatives. Beware!

   o o o

My old college friend Mike (now back in Iraq for the third time) sent me this article: U.S. Facing Debt Time Bomb. One oddity: This January 3rd piece appears to have been partially spiked. It can no longer be found with a search at The Washington Post web site, nor at the MSNBC site. Where (Mike found it, on January 4th.) I suppose that some editors would prefer to see such sans culottes articles go away quickly. So it took me some searching to find the full text. Luckily, it had been re-posted by several discussion forums.

   o o o

And here is the latest batch of news and commentary from The Economatrix: Obama Plunges Into Pre-Inaugural Talks -- US Millionaires Lose 30% of their Wealth -- McMansion Trend in Real Estate Slows as Economy Slumps -- Billionaire Kills Himself Over Financial Crisis -- Obama Says US Economy is "Very Sick" -- Crunch Puts Car Buyers in Negative Equity Loans -- Beware, Commodity Index Rebalancing Ahead -- Looming Collapse of Russia and China (Marty Weiss) -- Empty Offices are on the Rise -- Barron's: Get Out Now

"The typical individual is addicted to low quality leisure. He watches prime time television. He reads very little. He does not subscribe to economic newsletters or spend much time on financial web sites. He does not think about the distant future, which he defines as anything beyond this month’s paycheck." - Dr. Gary North

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,000. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. 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.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

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

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at KI4U.com (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of CampingSurvival.com.

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present a guest editorial from Roger Wiegand. He is the Editor and Publisher of Trader Tracks Newsletter. Roger is co-editor of WeBeatTheStreet.com and he writes a weekly column, "Rog's Corner," For J Taylor's Gold and Technology Stocks Newsletter. He has had an interest in precious metals and futures since the commodity rallies of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Roger is a voracious reader, reviewing several domestic and foreign newspapers and wire services daily for economic, political, and monetary news. His commentary is frequently featured at KITCO.com.

We think we now have enough data from both the fundamentals and technicals to make some serious forecasts and predictions for 2009. While 2008 was a nasty year when lots of things imploded, they are far from being repaired. Treasury Secretary Paulson told us this week there are no more surprises, which tells me we haven't even discovered but a small portion of this monster derivative mess. His ripping-off of the taxpayers to the tune of $700 billion is only a warm-up. However, the larger question for traders and investors is what could happen next and when.
In the following report we take the key global economic points and suggest the outcome for 2009.

The most important news for 2008 was the destruction of the big global banks' net worth and their badly wounded ability to conduct normal business and make market-moving loans. Ben & Hank's bailout only helped the bad-boy banks reliquify themselves to remain somewhat solvent and stay in business. They are doing nothing to extend credit to any business enhancing western or global economies. The 2009 result will be no significant banker lending, taking more bailout money and sweeping additional bad loans of all stripes under the banker's rug and hiding the rest in back rooms.

The largest surprise in our view was the massive disaster at insurance giant AIG. Despite numerous injections of bailout billions, AIG remains in very serious trouble hanging on by their proverbial fingernails. The 2009 result will be a surprise crash and failure of AIG frightening the world at large causing ripples of failures throughout western and Asian nations unable to conduct business without mandatory insurance policies. Most folks have no comprehension as to the monster fallout this will create. It is in our view literally immeasurable, and this is why Paulson handed them so much money.
Our new president is determined to hand out $860 Billion to One Trillion dollars in a Herculean effort to literally buy a new economic recovery. While some of his ideas are noble indeed the overall plan
will have little effect and Great Depression II shall take hold in 2009 with crashing stock markets in May and September-October 2009. We think the worst of the worst hits in later September 2009.

During the spring of next year we see:
(1) A second larger wave of residential housing mortgage failures; (2) The first big wave of auto loan failures and repossessions; (3) Over $40 billion in credit card defaults, smashing the bank lenders; (4) The first wave of commercial mortgage failures and foreclosures on shopping malls, office buildings and other commercials; (5) And finally, the grand smashing finale of Credit Default Swaps (CDS) originated with no margin money or down payments! We heard today the total is $500 trillion! I cannot even fathom that number. These five converging train wrecks could take the Dow from a dead cat bounce of 10400-10800 back to 7250, or even 6600, or 5600.

Shares traders and investors have one more solid quarter, in our view to regain some stock market losses on the forthcoming Obama Trillion Dollar handouts. We think the rising share markets will help most all sectors gain some recovery and provide the illusion the bottoms are in and new bases found. The stark reality hits home after shares peak in April or early May taking an unprecedented selling high dive scaring the wits out of Americans and the watching world.

Even with these events and rising unemployment and social problems, economic observers and analysts could continue to plead the worst is over, the bottoms are in and a fine, new, shiny world of trading and investing in our bright economy lies just ahead for the fall of 2009. Then, in later September and early October, the New York, London, Tokyo and Asian markets take a monster crash. How low is low and how bad can it get? We think the Dow could end-up on November 1st, 2009 anywhere from 5,600 to a low of 3,000 or even 1,500. One guideline will be a falling overshoot of PE's on our largest, so-called international corporations posting lows of 4 to7. Today, many of them are near 18. What does this tell us about the severity of our projections?
Unemployment nationally in the USA is now touching 16%. The officially posted number is somewhere near half of that. By the fall of 2009, American REAL UNEMPLOYMENT WILL BE NEAR THE ALLTIME 1930'S DEPRESSION HIGH OF 25% UNEMPLOYED. SADLY, THAT IS NOT THE WORST AS IT GETS MORE DIRE. WE PREDICT REAL, USA UNEMPLOYMENT REACHES 30-40%. IN THE RUST BELT STATES OF MICHIGAN AND OHIO, WHILE 40% IS NOT UNREALISTIC.

Several European nations have larger, more established social safety nets for the unemployed. In the USA, local, regional and national authorities are not nearly as prepared. The American federal government departments for food stamps and the job of providing welfare provisions will be overwhelmed. This will be a Katrina event for the hungry citizens of the United States. Urban areas will see skyrocketing crime and in parts of some cities, life could become totally uninhabitable.

The last report we've seen on those receiving food handouts and related welfare amounted to 11 million USA citizens with 700,000 children going hungry each day. We suspect the true amount of those needing food help will rise to 35,000,000 with an untold tragic number of them being little, defenseless children. Governments remain in denial and are not prepared for this national emergency whatsoever. As things worsen, food riots and others with violence aimed at the "haves' are common.

The number of bank failures over the next three years will be in the thousands. In addition, the US Dollar's valuation could break recent lows near 70.00 on the index, dropping to 46.00 by 2011 or 2012.
Inflation or potentially hyperinflation is quite real as the Federal Reserve and US Treasury strain to print and circulate cash to prod our stalled economy. It is simply not working even with the dramatically lower interest rates of late. Benny Bernanke is out of rate cut running room.

Consumers are broke and going broker. Households of interrelated families are doubling and tripling up even with several employed members being under one roof. Basic costs of rent, mortgage payments, health care, food, utilities and taxes are too much to bear on stagnant and in some cases falling wages. In some areas of America, there are entire subdivisions of homes totally abandoned or existing with only a hand full of occupants. The millions thrown at lenders for new mortgages are not getting through to buyers, as there are fewer of them. We are witnessing system breakdown.

Municipalities and states are sinking into a spending, debt-ridden morass. It was reported today that 22 of 50 USA states are in serious budgetary trouble. California is one of those in terrible condition and Michigan is already technically broke as are many of her cities. Detroit will file bankruptcy in 2009 and there will many other surprises as well. There will be a cascade of bond defaults and the outcome will cap the ability of these cities, states and counties to borrow ever more.

The shining light through all of this is the faster we find the bottom the faster we can recover. Sadly, the recovery process will take years. Futures and commodities traders should continue to earn steady profits as the stock markets slide into oblivion for years. We see no recovery until 2015.

Roger Wiegand
Editor, Trader Tracks Newsletter & The Rog Blog at WeBeatTheStreet.com

Here's another one for your readers. I'd heard of this "exit tax" a few months ago and it was completely ignored by the mainstream media (MSM). At first blush, it doesn't appear to impact most people, i.e. only those over $4 million USD net worth for couples who renounce U.S. citizenship and leave. However, we all know how well the alternative minimum tax (AMT)--the so-called millionaire's tax--worked out. It was supposed to affect only several hundred tax "scofflaws", and now because of inflation, millions of citizens are affected. A few years of 50% inflation will put most professional couples into the realm of exit tax eligible.

I'm sure many of your readers will agree that it is making more and more sense to go off the financial grid, as well as the electric grid. Rendering unto Caesar is getting pretty darned expensive, even if you want to leave!

Take a look at this post over at The Ron Paul Forums. Here is a snippet:
"Europe's Economist magazine refers to this new tax as, "America's Berlin Wall." They also point out that, along with North Korea, the United States is already one of the few countries in the world that taxes its citizens on their income regardless of the country they earn it in. As most already suspected, the IRS is a hard master. A government that is bankrupt by any honest accounting accounting standards will eventually be forced by its creditors to turn over any real assets it still has at its disposal. Unfortunately, in most courts of law, those assets can include the full net worth of all U.S. citizens and residents. The ability to tax this net worth, to extinction if necessary, is the ultimate backing behind the guarantee U.S. debt holders know as"the full faith and credit of the United States."

Yikes! - CK

I have not yet seen mention of “air locks” as a security layer for entry doors. Many years ago I managed a software project that included doing installs at armored car companies. The visitor entrance had you go in one set of doors to a small holding room. Here a security receptionist behind thick glass and gun ports could identify you and hold you until they were ready. Only then could you enter a second set of doors into the main facility, which would be analogous to an inner courtyard in a residential estate (i.e., an open area surrounded by secured offices and security stations with more gun ports). There was no way possible for someone to just barge in through the public doors into the private work areas.

I have always been intrigued with this “air lock” concept for security in a home design. The security screen door might be a micro version of this concept. The walled yard with a security gate is closer to the full concept. Even with those ideas in place, I would still like to have a secure foyer in which visitors could enter and be fully observed and communicated with but still protected by a second beefy security door.

Then if the secure foyer opened into a sort of atrium, you can interior rooms overlooking the foyer have bullet resistance windows and discreet firing ports. It doesn’t seems like it would take too much to design an attractive home with many substantial security layers:

- Walled yard with remote controlled security gate, intercom and security camera
- “Air lock” foyer with observation windows and discrete firing ports and remote controlled secure exterior and interior entry doors
- Interior atrium or courtyard with interior rooms having overlooking bullet-proof windows and firing ports(maybe with decorative sliding covers?)
- Gate or steel door to block off bedrooms from living areas at night
- Safe room inside the bedroom area for final retreat location
- Escape tunnel or hatch from safe room to outside into a camouflaged exit point (bushes, shed, etc.)

Are you aware of any traditional architecture styles that incorporate many of these security layers? For instance, I learned in a cultural training class that in Italy new acquaintances are never invited to a private home for visiting. You always arrange to meet in public until you are well known and then only come over at an invited time, never to just “drop by”. You would never invite a bunch of people over and e-mail them a map to your house to just show up for a party. Only family and close friends are invited into one’s house. Also, the houses tend to have outside gates and entry doors away from the living areas so unless someone expects you, you will never get close enough for them to even know you are there wanting to come in. Sort of a cultural OPSEC. - The NW Pilgrim

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning those design approaches. For several years, I worked for defense contractors that had secure (SCIF) facilities. This gave me some first-hand experience. For any readers interested in detailed specifications, do a web search on the phrase "Man Trap AND Entrance". You'll find articles like this one. One proviso: If you utilize a man trap door system to hold a miscreant, then you must immediately declare "you are under citizen's arrest" and summon the police or sheriff's deputies. To do anything else--or otherwise delay--could be the grounds for a civil suit or criminal prosecution.


Hi Jim,
The after market security films [mentioned by another reader] may not be useful as advertised. The issue is that the laminate film is not secured sufficiently to the window frame. An intruder can knock out the glass plane at the edges to gain entry. The security laminate films are more of a safety measure against severe weather by preventing glass shard injury.

Most of the security laminates are secured to a window frame with a small bead of silicone, but this offers little resistance to a blow by a crow bar that can deliver thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch. A intruder could knock out a corner of a window and reach inside to open the lock.

Some vendors use a thick PVC frame that is bonded to the window using an adhesive. However this is still likely not strong enough to hold back a determined intruder for very long. The film lamination may provide between 30 to 50 sec of delay.

If you watch this video of a test with a product using the PVC frame it takes just a few blows to cause the PVC frame to partially blow out. I believe a determined intruder can knock the window enough to get his hand to reach the lock in a matter of seconds.

I believe the real solution is to have the security laminates installed at the factory when the windows are manufactured so that laminate security film is installed into the window frame. I would also like to note that these security laminate films do not offer protection against bullets.

[Regarding your recent mention of the ban on barbed wire in the city of Newark, New Jersey,] they aren't the only ones. I am currently in Kabul [, Afghanistan] doing contract security work and we wanted to improve the security of the compound we live in. We are doing so by adding HESCO bastions made into fighting positions on the outside of our perimeter wall. As our workers were finishing the last of them, the police came by to tell us that we could not put up HESCOs on the street. When I got out there I asked the police why we could not put out HESCOs. The reply was that someone in parliament thought it made the city look like a war zone and that they would no longer be allowed.

This ignores the fact that Kabul actually is in a war zone. We also had the bombed-out hull of a BTR-152 [Russian Armored Personnel Carrier] alongside the building but that was fine, apparently.

I solved the problem by saying that they were not HESCOs, that we planned to face them with plywood and plant flowers in them. It wasn't for force protection, it was part of our neighborhood beautification program. The workers laughed, the police scowled and within a week we had them enclosed in lumber and had flowers planted on our fighting positions. - Jake (Vacationing in Kabul)

Reader Jason in North Idaho mentioned the documentary "Alone in the Wilderness" about Richard Proenneke. Jason notes: "I saw it on on PBS. It was very good documentary."

   o o o

The day's economic news, starting with this from The New York Times, courtesy of Karl K.: The End of the Financial World as We Know It. Next, Jonathan B. sent this: The Economist magazine says its a depression. Allen sent us this sobering piece by the ever-cheery Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of The London Telegraph: Asia needs to fully wake up to the scale of the West's economic crisis. And top all that, come these from Cheryl: China, Crystal Maker Waterford Wedgwood Collapses [JWR Adds: Be advised that this corporate umbrella includes Doulton, the makers of the Big Berky ceramic filter elements. So stock up!] -- Ford's US Sales Drop 32% in December -- Bailout Costs Exceed All American Wars -- US Asks Arab Nations for $300 Billion to Fund Auto Bailout -- Idle Ports Signals Two Bleak Years Ahead in World Trade -- Wall Street Braces for 2009's First Full Week -- Buffet's Berkshire "has nowhere to hide" -- Downturn Stress Impacting Health -- As Recession Deepens, So Does Milk Surplus -- America Shifts to Cheaper Wines, and More of Them

   o o o

Justin M. flagged a piece in The Los Angeles Times that indicates that Asian Avian flus is still a threat: New bird flu cases revive fears of human pandemic

"Because of the unprecedented fragility of our intertwined power grid and complex transportation system, the technological West is highly vulnerable to sabotage and chaos." - Camille Paglia

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back in November I reiterated my point that the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) would know no limits. One of my specific warnings was: "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." A recent wire service headline confirmed that prediction: U.S. governors seek $1 trillion federal assistance.The article begins: "Governors of five U.S. states urged the federal government to provide $1 trillion in aid to the country's 50 states to help pay for education, welfare and infrastructure as states struggle with steep budget deficits amid a deepening recession. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin -- all Democrats -- said the initiative for the two-year aid package was backed by other governors and follows a meeting in December where governors called on President-elect Barack Obama to help them maintain services in the face of slumping revenues."

This is affirmation of my long-standing assertion that the MOAB will continue to expand, uncontrollably. According to a published tally sent to me by SurvivalBlog reader Matt C., $7.2 trillion of bailout money has been allocated, of which $2.6 trillion has already been spent. It is noteworthy that this figure does not include President-elect BHO's proposed $1 trillion "stimulus package", nor does it include the $1 trillion sought by the state governors.But even this glut of Federal largesse (from your wallet, BTW), will be insufficient. You will read of some spectacular state and municipal bond failures, more derivatives fiascos, state pension funds "in crisis", and then there will be news of "special levies", "temporary' or "one time" taxes, and so forth. I anticipate that both state income taxes and state sales taxes will increase dramatically. There of course will also be news of "drastic" cut-backs, but chances are that while some of the more extravagant programs will be cut, few bureaucratic paper-pushing jobs will be sacrificed. (That, my friends is is the only truly "essential service" in the eyes of a bureaucrat.) I also would not be surprised to see some of the states that have never had sales taxes start to implement them. The bottom line is that we can expect taxes to increase at the city, state, and Federal levels. In an era of rising unemployment, the few people that are still productive and fully employed will be asked to shoulder the burden of the bailouts. It will be wealth redistribution on a grand scale--Robin Hoodism run amok. The only genuine escape from all this would be expatriation, but few will take that route. However, the one thing that you can do with relative ease is move internally to a state with a smaller scale of government. Again, it is no coincidence that the states that have he most bloated bureaucracies, the least fiscal responsibility, and the most Nanny State trappings are those that are having the biggest budget crises. If you stay in any of those states, they are going to sock it to you. You can expect--with utter certainty--that the tax rates in those states to soon rise to painful levels. My advice is simple: Vote with your feet.

For any of SurvivalBlog readers that are self-employed, or that are retired (or that are about to retire), or that have "portable" jobs that are readily available with the same job security in other states, my advice comes down to one word: move. If you have been considering moving to a state with suitable retreat areas, take this as your cue. Given the deteriorating real estate markets-both residential and commercial--this may indeed be your last chance to sell and move before you lose another 30% of your equity. Parenthetically, I recently had some correspondence with a consulting client that owner of a small but prosperous business in California. This man owns both a home and half a dozen pieces of commercial real estate. He is someone that has been "considering" moving to a state where hi family would have better chance of avoiding violent crime. My advice to him was blunt:

"I recommend that you seriously consider moving out of California, while you still have the chance to sell your business as a profitable operation, and sell your other commercial properties at a profit." And later, "I recommend moving out of California and making your new [retreat] home your full-time residence. Sell off most or all of your California properties. Perhaps leave one or two that are the most stable, profitable, and recession proof in the hands of a trustworthy commercial property management company. I realize that it is a major life change that we are discussing, but recognize the real decisions have already been made, and made by folks "above our pay grade". Presently, 99% of the population are deer in the headlights. They are petrified and they are going to get squashed. You are in a good position at present, and you should take full advantage of it by cashing out and moving as soon as possible. If you wait until the recession (and then depression) sets in in earnest, you will probably lose nearly everything. " And later in the correspondence, after he mentioned how his business ventures were still prospering, I wrote: " At the current rate, the prosperity you currently enjoy will evaporate in less than two years. By then, all that you will have is un-sellable properties and negative cash flows. Get out!" I then went on to recommend to make some specific recommendations on potential retreat locales (one of which was highlighted in my book "Rawles on Retreat and Relocation".) I concluded with an admonition: "There are quality of like issues at stake, but more importantly preservation of life issues. Discuss this with your family and pray about it. In any case reduce your commercial real estate holdings, as soon as possible. That needs to be done, regardless of where you move. Do not hesitate."

I'm sure that there are many other SurvivalBlog readers that are in comparable situations to that consulting client. My advice to many of you would probably be much the same. The only strong proviso in all this is: Do not abandon a job that is good-paying and that has genuine job security. In times like these, that would be foolish.

Hi Jim,
For what it is worth: I was quoted $1.99/gal for diesel/fuel oil for Friday delivery (Northern Virginia) from the terminal, and since it looks like prices will be heading up from here, I am filling all of my reserve tanks. After several hours of study, I decided to go with FPPF Super Fuel Storage Stabilizer and FPPF KILLEM (rather than PRI-D or Stanadyne products) in 32 ounce bottles to protect my investment. The best price I found via mail order was from Fleet Source in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Delivered cost: $126 for enough to treat 4,000 gallons.

I hope this is useful information for your other readers. Thank you so very much for your wonderful work! Happy New Year! - Scott in Northern Virginia

I recently learned about a water purification system that is being promoted by Rotary International for Third World areas without safe drinking water. Simply put: fill a plastic bottle with water, and leave it in the bright sun for six hours. The ultraviolet (UV) light kills the pathogens, and the water is safe to drink. [JWR Adds: This method only works well with fairly clear water. UV light cannot penetrate very murky water, and it will not sterilize any plant matter suspended in the water. So be sure to use a pre-filter when treating water from open sources such as ponds, lakes, or streams. ]

Sound too good to be true? The Swiss-developed system has been saving lives for 17 years. It is fastest in the tropics, where increased water temperature assists the process. Winter use in temperate zones may want to consider using solar ovens or greenhouses to achieve adequate water temperature. Even in bright cloudy weather, the process is effective after two days.

I might not want to make this my first potion, but if stranded in the wilderness, of stuck for an extended period without a reliable water supply, I’d give it serious consideration. Regards, - Ben

Mr. Rawles,
After getting a flat tire recently in the back-country I decided to beef up my off-road repair kit with more than just a spare tire. I now have two spares. I've also added a portable 12V compressor along with a portable tire puncture repair kit like this one.

For $35 the kit includes enough plugs to repair perhaps a dozen punctures, extra valve stems and valves, valve wrench and high quality reamer and needle for applying the tire plugs. It is an excellent kit and is much higher quality than the plug kits you find in typical auto stores.

In some states it's illegal to use tire plugs, but for an emergency situation it may be just the ticket you need to get to a tire shop and have a proper tire patch applied. - Craig R.

JWR Replies:
That is good advice. I must add one proviso: The 12 VDC compressors normally sold for roadside emergencies use a very wimpy compressor that will not re-inflate a flat tire that has the weight of a car resting on in. They just don't have the requisite oomph. Buy a proper 117 VAC compressor with a 2 gallon pressure tank. (If you are a SurvivalBlog reader, odds are that you already carry a 117 VAC inverter, anyway. These compressors can be run from a small inverter. I've done so many times around the ranch.) If you pay less than $50 for a new compressor, then you can be sure that it will be inadequate for anything more than adding a few pounds of pressure to a tire with a slow leak.

Thanks to Lisa for finding this gem: Blacksmith 'a collector of forgotten trades'

   o o o

Joe H. sent us a link to an article from Permaculture magazine about self-sufficient living on the cheap (in England)

   o o o

I read that the latest movie in the Terminator franchise (Terminator 4: Salvation) is scheduled for release on May 22, 2009. Judging from the trailers, it looks like most if not all of the film takes place in the post-Skynet nuked future. This one should be good.

   o o o

The latest flurry of economic news and commentary links from The Economatrix: Bank Bailouts a Failure...And There is No Plan "B" -- Frugal is Cool in Cash-Strapped US -- UK $200 Billion Re-Financing Time Bomb -- UK Banks on Brink of Second Bailout -- UK Banks Defy Brown's Call to Loosen Credit -- BoE to Cut Interest Rates; Savers to Receive Zero Interest -- Jobless in City Park Tent Village -- US Manufacturing Slumps to 1980 Low -- Gulf Cooperation Council to Create New Currency -- Feds Sell Off Failed IndyMac for $13.9 Billion -- Sanderson State Bank Latest Failed Bank -- Oil Prices Rebound as Dollar Slumps -- Store Bankruptcies Can Burn Shoppers -- Will Your Cell Phone Crash in Emergencies?

   o o o

FloridaGuy flagged this: Newark, New Jersey bans barbed wire

"There was no court in Holland which would enforce payment. The question was raised in Amsterdam, but the judges unanimously refused to interfere, on the ground that debts contracted in gambling were no debts in law. Thus the matter rested. To find a remedy was beyond the power of the government. Those who were unlucky enough to have had stores of tulips on hand at the time of the sudden reaction were left to bear their ruin as philosophically as they could; those who had made profits were allowed to keep them; but the commerce of the country suffered a severe shock, from which it was many years ere it recovered." - Charles Mackay, LL.D., describing the Tulipomania, in Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published London,1841.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dear Mr. Rawles
The [home-made] MultiMachine is an accurate all-purpose machine tool that can be used as a metal or wood lathe, end mill, horizontal mill, drill press, wood or metal saw or sander, surface grinder and sheet metal "spinner". It can be built by a semi-skilled mechanic using just common hand tools. For machine construction, electricity can be replaced with "elbow grease" and all the necessary material can come from discarded vehicle parts.

If the MultiMachine builder adds just three easily-learned skills:

Making small welds with a welder made from three vehicle batteries hooked in series.
Using a flower pot furnace to make simple Zinc and Aluminum alloy castings.
Grinding lathe cutting tools. (There are many "How to" instructions on the web for all this).

...then they can then build seven additional metal bending, rolling and cutting tools that could be used to equip a small but fully functional metal working factory.
That's about 20 serious metal working tools in a project that needs just broken engine blocks, used pipe and truck frame pieces (and lots of hacksaw blades)!

How can just one kind of machine do all this? In almost every kind of machining operation, either the work piece or the cutting tool turns. If enough flexibility is built into these functions, the resulting machine can do almost every kind of metal working operation that will physically fit.
Sounds crazy or too good to be true? The 4,600 member Yahoo news group on Multimachines doesn't think so and are standing ready to help.
Don't know anything about machining? Read the small book "How to Run a Lathe" available on our news group.
Every person interested in personal survival needs these free books and video in their library (at least)!
Again, no catches, no charges, no nothing! Just benefit from the seven years work spent developing machine tools for poor people in developing countries. - Pat D.

I often get e-mails from readers claiming either directly or indirectly that preparedness is "only for wealthy people"--that working class people cannot afford to prepare. That is nonsense. By simply re-prioritizing your budget and cutting out needless expenses (such as alcohol, cigarettes, convenience foods, and cable television) almost anyone can set aside enough money for a year's worth of storage food in fairly short order.

It is amazing what can be done with hard work, ingenuity, and very little money. While I do not endorse interloping on public lands nor do I suggest that you live like a hermit, the following stories are indicative of what can be accomplished with next to no cash.

First, here is an article about about a father and daughter that lived for four years undetected in a Portland, Oregon park

Next, a news story about a hermit who secretly lived for at least three years inside the "secure" Los Alamos nuclear research reservation in New Mexico:

Next, an article about New York City's part-legend, part-fact "Mole People"

I also vaguely recall in the 1990s reading an article about a man who secretly built an underground house in parkland abutting the suburbs somewhere on the east coast. The house went undetected for several years. Its entrance was hidden in a berry thicket. He was only discovered because neighbors saw his comings and goings. When police arrived to investigate, after much searching for the entrance, they entered the underground house just after than man had taken a shower in his underground bathroom. (Perhaps one of you readers saved the newspaper clipping or has a link to the news story.)

I recommend the book "The Last of the Mountain Men". It is the story of Sylvan Hart (a.k.a."Buckskin Bill"), a famous Idaho solitary who lived deep in a roadless section of the River of No Return Wilderness. His solution to his own unemployment during the Great Depression was to move to the wilderness and live self-sufficiently. The book describes how Hart lived from the 1930s to the 1970s. He mined and smelted his own copper, made his own muzzle loading rifles and pistols, and constructed his house and garden. It is a fascinating book.

And for someone with a "maxi" budget? Consider the Bear Den: [now advertised at our spin-off SurvivalReatly.com web site.]

I didn't point out all of the preceding references because I want you to live like hermits or flee into the wilderness and live in a hollowed-out tree like the boy in My Side of the Mountain. Rather, I just want you to start thinking outside the box. Survival is 90% sweat, ingenuity, and perseverance. It is only the remaining 10% that requires cash.

Mr. Rawles;
We came across a small discovery here on our ranch. We feed many animals and four dogs. So we go through a good deal of dog food in bags. I noticed the similarity in dog food bags to the construction of sandbags. So, I have been using , dog food bags as low cost/no cost sandbags. They work well and if you keep the weight close to the amount that came in the bag. They don't rip. We have been using them for a year and they hold up well in our tests thus far. They have been used in areas that are under roof so they don't get exposed to rain/moisture. They work well in areas where one would want to bag to bolster areas close to windows etc. We have also stored some without sand dirt and they hold up well and don't seem to degrade.

I thought I would share our small discovery. Thanks for what you do and your efforts. - EG

"America’s most precious metals are Gold, Silver, and Blued Steel." - Frank in Maine (a SurvivalBlog reader)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 20 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 20 ends on January 31st, 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.

Hello JWR,
Thanks for the site. Information is the best currency. I will send 10 Cent Challenge money in February.
Just wanted to give you a link to LBWEyewear.com, a site I discovered which sells [made-to-order] prescription eyeglasses. Most normal pairs are less than $25. Some less than $15.
I don't have any connection to that site, just a satisfied customer. I'm sure there are others like it.

I have found that paying 200+ dollars for a pair of glasses is not economical because I lose them often and break them. It's always good to have a spare pair in the car, or BOB. And even though ordering eyeglasses on a web site"sight unseen" means you have to guess as to the style / fit, it's better to have a clunky pair in an emergency than none. Also, post-SHTF, optometrists appointments are probably low priority. I think this falls under the category of medical supplies, such as prescription medicines.

For the second time now I have ordered 4 pairs for less than 60 dollars. There is a pair in each vehicle I own, one by the television, one in the shooting bag, etc. Also, after ordering once I now know which to order that are stylish for me. This company sent both my packages snailmail within two weeks.

Here's the catch: you have to know your prescription. That means you have to call your eye doctor and finagle this information out of their receptionist. Legally they have to give you this info, but that doesn't mean they will. Optometrists make their money selling their ability to check your eyes. They're selling you the eye exam, not the glasses. But they give you the exam "for free", because you will buy the glasses for hundreds of dollars. The manufacturing itself costs only a few dollars for common glass
Also, your prescription is more than what is written on your contact lenses box. You have to know the power of your near / farsightedness, the axis of any astigmatisms, and your pupillary distance. Doctors don't often give this information on the first try.

In support of buying local and supporting independent retailers you may want to pay your optometrist something for their service. I however cannot justify another pair of over-priced specs. Offering to "buy the exam" may be a more honorable way to go.
Hope this info is helpful! Best, - N.

Dear Jim:
Why go to college at all? Speaking as a college graduate, unless you are getting a technical degree, you would probably learn more apprenticing in a real business that interests you, and studying on your own and taking courses part time. When you need to apply knowledge right away, motivation is high, and the lesson really sticks. Bonus - you avoid 4 years of immersion in (and contributing to) a politically correct cesspool - often intellectually dishonest to boot.

For some professions you do need a degree for technical knowledge. But most of the time a degree is just a screening device or "ticket punch" to show that you can study hard and persevere. Gary North has a whole section on his web site on how to beat the college racket, and get your ticket punched with a degree for under $25,000, and no debt.
The way things are going a highly skilled trade where you can work for yourself might be the best bet (electrician, plumber, auto mechanic, computer repair, etc., etc.). Someone who can just work like a professional in the "blue collar" trades will have such an advantage over most of the competition they will do well.
Regards, - OSOM


Mr. Rawles,
I wholeheartedly agree with both of the readers whose letters referenced learning a trade before attending college. My own experience, I grew up in a military family, when I graduated High School I wasn't sure the military for me just yet and had the foresight to understand I probably wasn't mature enough to handle college at that point in my life. I was also fortunate that in addition to a tradition of military service my family also had years of experience in the trades, one Grandfather became a boilermaker after the Navy, the other a carpenter after his stint in the Army, my Father retired after 22 years in the Air force and learned the trade of sheet metal work and HVAC repair, all of them proudly non-union. With their guidance I did some research and discovered the excellent merit shop (Non-union) apprenticeship programs offered by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The tuition is reasonable, (roughly $200 per semester when I started in 1997) and most member companies are so thrilled to have a young worker take his career seriously that they will sponsor the cost, provided good grades are maintained.

I chose the carpentry apprenticeship program, and shortly after graduation on my 18th birthday embarked on a eye-opening and enlightening experience. One of the first things that shocked me was that at a modest sized company for our large upper midwest town, (150 field employees) there was only one other apprentice my age. We had a handful of laborers who were college dropouts, but none of them were interested in tradecraft training, preferring to remain unskilled laborers and wondering why they always got the grunt work. The fact that there wasn't a larger group of young Americans clamoring to learn a useful trade to provide for themselves and their families was astounding to me!
After two exciting years (and two bitterly cold winters) of building everything from power plants, to hospitals, to runways I decided to return to college. At first I was planning on studying Civil Engineering, which is a fine profession but entails an inordinate amount of desk work after graduation. Again, with some guidance I stumbled upon Construction Engineering (At other universities known by the names of Construction Management, or Construction Technology).

At the University I was shocked by two things

1) College is a business! They will try to keep you in as long as they can to keep raking in the student fees, etc. My first academic "advisor" even told me that finishing a bachelors degree in four years was a pipe dream, and most students took five years these day! I promptly switched advisors. Students, don't let anyone convince you it can't be done in four years or less. I was far from a stellar student in high school, just barely cracked into the top 50% of my graduating class and I completed my Bachelor's degree in four years, while working 30+ hours a week at part-time jobs. This may take a little extra "hard work" but again, nothing worth having comes easy and if you're already a preparedness minded individual than this shouldn't be too much of a stretch for you!

2) A surprising majority of engineering students never worked a trade, and never held a trade related internship in college! This flabbergasted me to say the least, how could someone who's never put hands on a piece of lumber or steel expect to lead workers in a project? Needless to say, come graduation time those students who continued to work at best buy weren't in the highest demand by employers. Conveniently enough, my trade training had an added benefit: Rather than having to work a "typical" part-time job in retail, I always found construction companies that were willing to work around my college schedule, and pay significantly above the minimum wage my friends were earning. Which offered the added benefit of leaving the nights, and most weekends free for studying or socializing.

After finishing school, I attended the Navy's Officer Candidate School and became a Surface Officer for 5 years. Again, my trade experience gave me a valuable leg up over my peers. I finished school with no debts, having continued to work the entire four years but was again surprised to learn that some of my friends who had been [contracted cadets] in ROTC had massive debts. The ROTC is quite willing to take C students, but don't expect to get a full ride! I knew of many officers that finished college twenty, thirty, even forty-thousand dollars in debt!

Now working as a Project Manager for a large General Contractor I am still surprised by the lack of interest shown by today's students for the trades. To me, the work is exciting, doesn't involve a desk, and pays extremely well. Believe me, we would love to take as many motivated young Americans as we can get our hands on! Unfortunately, many of them have been sold on the dream that college is for everyone, it's not, and that isn't a bad thing. I can't say enough good things about learning a useful trade or skill, It's a job that can never be outsourced, but unfortunately it is being "in-sourced" by immigrants who are willing to work hard, harder than most Americans these days.

Mr. Rawles, thank you for your wonderful blog. Very Respectfully, - A Former C Student


Having recently discovered the site, I am now a daily follower. I find the advice practical and in keeping with my pragmatic approach to life. The technical detail is impressive, and the topics wide ranging. There is always something surprising each day I scroll down the page. I am an architect in New York City, and find the architectural topics of great interest. The site's take on architecture is refreshing and seldom discussed or debated elsewhere. I will plow through the archives and find out what sort of treasures lurk within.
There have been a number of recent letters discussing the issue of college education. There is a common tone to these letters that suggests that learning a trade is important, perhaps of greater importance than getting one of those pricey college degrees. I agree that having useful skills, particularly hand skills, is important. As for myself, I am a woodworker and carpenter, making and designing furniture, restoring my house in addition to my architectural "office job."
Here's my take- college degrees are critical in addition to "pragmatic" skills. I'm not going to suggest which degree to get, since certain degrees are "more valuable" in certain parts of the USA and world than others. Architects are useful in New York City but useless in Nebraska, for example. Two points I want to stress:

1- My degree "got me noticed" by all my employers. It "got me a foot in the door" as ridiculous as it sounds. That degree, that piece of paper, really got me ahead of the mobs on the streets. It's a sad arrangement, expensive but necessary. Think of that piece of paper as some prized battle rifle as you soldier through life- it's a tool like anything else.
2- My degree "expanded my mind" beyond the day-to-day, hand-to-mouth nature of existence. Religion "expanded my mind" as well, but the concepts and thinking that college introduces rounded me out even more. When we are all holed up behind steel doors clutching those riot guns, the mind needs to find release, in addition to prayer and meditation. Art, philosophy, psychology, medicine, etc. can help.

Keep up the good work! - Freakoscope

JWR Replies: The emphasis on learning a trade in many of the recent letters overlooks one key issue: At present, someone with a baccalaureate degree on average will earn $1,000,000 more in their lifetime that someone with just a high school diploma. So if you plan to work in the corporate world, then I recommend getting at least a Bachelor's degree. Just make sure that the degree is in something useful, where there is a reasonable expectation that there will be jobs waiting. (Not "bird calling and basket weaving"--as my father dubbed the useless degrees.) Perhaps the best way to do this is to work in a skilled trade or with an IT certification, to work your way through college on a five to eight year plan. Graduating debt free at age 26 or 27 with lots of practical experience will actually make you a much more desirable job applicant than someone that graduates at age 22 or 23 with nothing other than the degree on their resume. Take as many lower division credits as possible from a community college or on-line. All that employers will consider is the degree itself, and the name of the institution that eventually grants the degree. So take your first two years "on the cheap", and then transfer to a more prestigious school.

Blacksheep sent us this Army Times article about WoundStat: Army halts use of new anti-blood loss product. (Note: So far as I know, Celox and QuickClot (available from several of our advertisers) are still approved for use in trauma cases.)

   o o o

FloridaGuy sent this "signs of the times" piece from one of the several states teetering on the edge of bankruptcy: California Taxpayers Due Refunds May Get IOUs

   o o o s

This piece by Matt Hardigree was linked once before at SurvivalBlog, but it was so entertaining that it bears repeating: And Now for Something Entirely Different - The Ten Best Post-Apocalyptic Survival Vehicles. (Thanks to Jack B. for the reminder.)

   o o o

"N" sent us the link to this essay on self defense against skyjackers aboard aircraft: Fight Back. Note that the author's mention of carrying a carbon fiber knife would be a felony.So it is best to rely on canes, stiff combs, and ballpoint pens.

   o o o

Eric sent this: Rising desperation as China's exports drop


"If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence." - 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, US v. Moylan, 1969

Friday, January 2, 2009

Good Morning, Jim!
I am a long-time regular reader here with a question. On your blog you've been recently posting about various web gear, etc. I have long desired to build some of my own gear using nylon straps and high strength plastic buckles, tensioners, and adjustment components typically found on outdoor gear. The problem has been finding a source/supplier for these components. Do you have any recommendations?
Thank You, - John Geerman

JWR Replies: In my experience, piece parts for Fastex buckles and similar parts are ridiculously expensive if bought new in small quantities in a "brick and mortar" retail store. Lower prices can be found in bulk online (for example, at eBay), REI (Fastex quick release buckles and "tri-glides") and Reef Scuba (for nylon webbing material). But I've found that it is often best to simply find "trashed" military surplus backpacks and well-used older generation Load Bearing Vests (LBVs), and cannibalize them for their hardware. Check around at your local surplus stores to see what they have.

The Swiss Army surplus waterproof Alpine backpack extensions, for example, have a profusion of redundant hardware--including the hardware and straps such as the extraneous tie-down straps like those designed to hold down a Swiss "Darth Vader" helmet when stowed on the back of the pack. If you take half of these off, you still have a quite useful waterproof bag, plus a big pile of male and female Fastex type connectors, short length of straps, and tensioners.

Dear Jim,
Just one caution amid all the excellent advice on hardening a house against intruders--be sure it's possible to get out from the inside easily in event of a fire or other disaster. Shutters, or latchable
bars are better for this than those mounted solidly into the structure. Alternately, consider paying for ballistic glass. - Michael Z. Williamson

Mr. Rawles,
Thanks for your time and efforts - SurvivalBlog has been a great help to me and I am planning to mail a 10 Cent Challenge contribution to support your work. In the meantime, I thought I would comment on a recent series of postings about "Home Invasion Robbery Countermeasures" with some of the changes I've recently made.

The home we recently purchased was a brick ranch, but it had a number of architectural weaknesses: Double-hung windows with standard weak latches, doors with weak strike plates, no deadbolts, a flimsy garage door,and two sliding-glass doors. Although we are in a rural, peaceful location, I have taken several measures to increase the home security that may be helpful to others.
The flimsy garage door has been replaced by a windowless insulated door with internal and exterior steel panels.
Each of the exterior doors have had a security storm door with laminated glass and a 3-point latching system installed (Larson brand from Lowe's). The storm doors allow opening the entry door and being able to view the surroundings before unlocking and opening the security door.

I've purchased "Strikemaster II" door strike's to install on the exterior doors along with good locks and deadbolts so that even if the security storm doors are breached the steel entry doors are reinforced. I'm also adding a "Strikemaster II" and deadbolt for the door leading from the garage to the house.

To reinforce the windows, I've had them laminated with an 8mil security laminate film and an attachment glazing system to anchor the laminated glass to the window frame. I've also purchased window pins to install so that the window cannot be forced even if the sash lock were somehow broken. The sliding glass doors are also laminated and security bars are being installed. An added bonus is that the laminated windows have a solar tint to cut summer heat gain by 40% and with the insulated garage door and the storm doors I anticipate much lower energy costs.

I am also planning to install a wireless Dakota driveway alarm and gate as you have recommended. My other plan to increase security is to begin keeping guinea hens since they offer a number of benefits to a rural home or retreat - they are fantastic guards that sound the alarm whenever anything is amiss, they feed themselves on bugs, ticks, etc. which is great for organic farming, and they supply both meat and eggs.

Hopefully some of the ideas I am implementing will be of help to others. I also recommend getting used heating oil tanks (often available for free or nominal cost on Craigslist) and using them to stock up on fuel. Clean the tank, install a battery operated fuel pump, and buy a supply of fuel while it is cheap before war breaks out and the price of oil soars again. Thanks again for all of your help, and Happy New Year. - SteelerFan


Dear. Editor:
In all the talk about using high tech electronic gadgets to protect against home invasion robberies I am surprised no one has yet mentioned the tried and true dog. My choices are Akitas and Great Pyrenees, but just about any medium to large sized dog will do. Attack and protection training is nice if one can afford it and is willing to accept the responsibility of such a trained dog, but from personal experience, I haven't had a dog yet that would not unhesitatingly lay it's life down to protect it's family and home.

Do I expect my dogs to stop a home invasion by several armed and determined thugs? No, I don't. But I do expect them to buy me the necessary seconds to grab my weapon so that I may. And thank you for a great site, - James G.


Mr. Rawles,
Many years ago when I worked in security we use to install security window laminates to the inside of high-risk structures. This laminate bonds to the glass and works much like the laminated windshield in a car. It is virtually invisible once installed but can repel ferocious attacks. We used the products on retail stores and high-end homes that didn't want security bars or shutters due to aesthetic reasons.
The other nice part of these products are they are always protecting you. You don't need to shut them like window shutters and they aren't ugly like bars. They are also very deceptive to intruders who think the window will be an easy entry point only to find that they can't get through it with a baseball bat and crowbar. It also provides minor ballistic protection and protection against blast by limiting glass shrapnel.
There are sites that can install it professionally or do-it-yourself (DIY). Here are some:

Here is a demo of a DIY window film installation.

Here is another demo of a different product under more severe conditions.

These products work well on annealed glass (typical glass that breaks into sharp shards when broken). For use on tempered glass (which is usually a sliding glass door, as required by most building codes), you will need to do a special install to anchor the film to the frame with a specialized caulking.
These products work very well as an alternative to more conventional window protection. - Craig R.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
It is easy to become an avid reader of your site.

One simple means to beef up home security is simply to reverse entry door opening. Like commercial code doors, mine open "out" so any attempt to force "in" my doors has one working against the entire door jamb structure. I prefer steel 1 3/4" thick doors with any [small] window design at the top, if at all.

I live upstairs in my shop. The access to my apartment is up a stairs and through a outward opening door as mentioned. Before one intruder gets that far, I am aware through an old but simple means of alarm. Being that a fine fishing line trip line is strung each evening across the downstairs floors that is attached to electric switches. Intruders will trip one or another once inside the building and I will know by my apartment alarm where they are there long before they know I am waiting with the pump. - Jon C.

JWR Replies: That does have its merits, but I've always believed that it is important to have at least one door to a house open inward, especially in snow country. Someday it might be more than just embarrassing to get trapped in your own home.

The article linked at "Box O' Truth Tests Elmer Keith-style DumDum Bullets" contains a very dangerous statement: "5. Cutting the end off a rifle Ball [full metal jacket (FMJ)] cartridge projectile will definitely make the bullet expand or break up..." DO NOT DO THIS! By cutting off the tip off of a full metal jacket (ball) round you have in effect created a pinched copper tube, open on both ends, filled with a plug of lead. Upon firing, it is possible to blow out the lead plug, leaving the tube (jacket) lodged in the barrel. When the next round is fired, the bullet will encounter this obstruction in the barrel, causing damage to the firearm and possible personal injury. Commercial soft point bullets have a solid base to preclude this from happening. Regards, - John in Colorado

Reader Rod McG. recommended this web site: Mappery.com

   o o o

I heard from a gent over at The FALFIles Forums that Dan's Ammo still has some original FN (of Belgium) Browning Hi-Power 13-round 9mm magazines at just under $20 each. These were made for the South African Defense Force (SADF), back in the 1960s, and were recently surplussed. If you own a Hi-Power pistol, my advice is to buy at least eight of these magazines for your own use, and another larger pile for barter. You'll probably be laughing about getting them at this price, this time next year. OBTW, if you hear of any other importers or dealers that still have any full capacity magazines at pre-BHO inauguration sales frenzy prices, let me know the details, and I'll mention them in the blog.

   o o o

A limitless Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB)? Now there is talk of bailing out newspapers!

   o o o

Bill in Wyoming mentioned the current swarm of earthquakes going on under Lake Yellowstone-over 250 since it's beginning on December 26th. The strongest was a [Richter Scale] magnitude 3.8, on December 27th. Some have suggested that this might be a precursor to a massive Yellowstone Super-Caldera eruption. Current updates can be found at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, as well as links to seismograms and other monitoring adjuncts.

   o o o

I spotted this bit of bureaucratic self-congratulation linked at The Drudge Report: US rescue averted 'financial collapse': Treasury. (This is perhaps a more accurate headline: US rescue delayed 'financial collapse': Realist.)

"For more than six hundred years-- that is, since Magna Carta, in 1215--there has been no clearer principle of English or American constitutional law, than that, in criminal cases, it is not only the right and duty of juries to judge what are the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that it is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge the justice of the law, and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such law." - Lysander Spooner, The Right of Juries

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The third year for SurvivalBlog has come to an end, with continued strong growth in readership in 157 countries. Our stats have tripled in the last 14 months! We've logged 400,000+ different readers, and we now have nearly 5,800 archived articles, letters, and quotes--all are available for free download. Since this is New Year's Day, here is the one and only annual reminder to renew 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions. For the privacy of my readers, I don't keep records of subscriptions, so I have no way of tracking when any particular subscription has lapsed. I never e-mail our subscribers, bugging/begging them to renew. This isn't PBS, so there are no insufferable Pledge Drives. SurvivalBlog subscriptions are entirely voluntary. If you realize that it has been a year or more since you subscribed, and what you get out of reading SurvivalBlog is still worth 10 cents a day to you, then please send a $36.50 subscription payment via AlertPay, GearPay, PayPal, check, cash, "Forever" stamps, or money order. (We even get some subscription donations in silver coins and .45 ACP ammo!) OBTW, please mark your calendar to remind yourself about subsequent renewals. To all of you that have subscribed: Thank you so very much!

Our Mailing Forwarding Address is:

Jim Rawles
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845

Online Subscription Payments:

PayPal: rawles@earthlink.net
AlertPay: rawles@usa.net
GearPay: rawles@usa.net

Happy New Year! I pray that in Aught Nine you and yours are safe, healthy, right with God, and well-prepared.

It looks like we're in for some turbulent times. I hope that SurvivalBlog has substantively helped you to get prepared.

I recall awhile back you posted a message that offered humor and a bit of the lighter side of life since we’re inundated with intimidating subject matter. I haven’t seen too many lighter sided anecdotes of late so here’s mine. When I was 20 yrs old, I was a paratrooper and foolhardy scared of nothing. Now, after serving five years as an airborne, ranger, infantryman and 20 years in law enforcement, I’ve learned to respect dangerous situations.

Recently, my insurance agent dispatched her part time picture-taker to my residence to snap some pictures of the place to keep records current. I reside at the point of transition from suburbia and rural life not too far from Washington, DC. This photographer was approximately 20 years old. Upon arrival telephoned the home number whereupon my wife answered. He asked her to come outside to help. She asked "why"? In a semi-scared voice, he reported that he was "surrounded by birds" and was afraid that he was going to be attacked. My wife told him that they were just free ranging hens and that there was nothing to worry about. She actually had to convince him that the hens were our pets and that they wouldn’t ‘attack’ him. I suppose this is funny only if you own hens and realize how friendly they are. Besides, even if you’ve never seen a live chicken, can you imagine being scared of one? Happy New Year, - Pete.

Greetings Mr. Rawles,
I read your blog everyday and am learning so much. Thanks for your dedication to helping prepare us for the future.
In reference to the recent article on home security, we lived in Argentina for three years and we could all learn from their security measures. The first house we lived in had steel shutters, as did everyone in the neighborhood, and they were all shut at night. The doors have locks that automatically lock when you leave the house. The small front yards usually have tall steel fences with the same height gates. The gates were also locked at all times. Homes that didn't have shutters of some kind, had bars on all the windows. Big dogs were also the norm. The back yards were usually walled in by concrete block walls sometimes 10 feet tall. At our second house, one of our neighbors had concertina wire around the top of their walls.
It is a normal custom to clap your hands to alert someone you were at their front gate. It would be very rude to try to enter someone's front yard without being invited first, and is usually not possible due to the locks and dogs.

But, as new houses were being built, we were seeing less and less of the shutters and bars, more American style houses were being built and that's a shame.

It was very difficult at first to live with these kinds of security measures, but after awhile it became normal and comforting to know your house was secure. Gun control is very strict and very few folks have guns, so home security was very important.
Just wanted to share those observations with you. Thanks again for your hard work.
Warmest Regards, - Beverly A.


Hello James Wesley, Rawles:
Feed lot panels are extremely useful for hardening windows against dynamic entry.
For those who are not familiar with the product, feed lot panels are welded wire product. They are typically 16 feet long. The height varies but is typically 54" high. The wire is very stiff (typically #4 or #6 gauge) and the wire is galvanized for long life. The panels are inexpensive and semi-rigid.

We recently replaced a 13' x 69" bay window with a 60" by 60" picture window (one pane) flanked by a couple of 60" high by 24" wide double hung windows. Our primary goal was to increase energy efficiency by reducing cold air infiltration during the winter and to improve our cross ventilation during the summer.

I had some fairly extensive conversation with the contractor regarding my desire to have sufficient "beef" beside each window to be able to run several 5" x 1/2" eye-bolts beside each window (with the eyes of the bolts aligned in the vertical direction), slide the trimmed-to-fit feedlot panel over the eye-bolts, and then drop a cane bolt through the openings in the eye bolts.

(Minor detail notes: Roof overhang requires that cane bolts be inserted from bottom, but "drop in from top" is a more natural word picture. Also desirable to use a cushioning material to hold panels away from frame of window to eliminate scarring. Rubber or vinyl garden hose is a possibility.)

He was very happy to comply. Each window is framed in with 2x4s next to the window frame, but then a 4x4 was bracketed into the top and bottom headers immediately beside the 2X4s on each side of each of the three windows. Wood is cheap.

Feed lot panels can be defeated. But defeating them requires time and tools...not something typical home invaders want to expend/lug around. Feed lot panels also help protect windows against airborne, flying trash during extreme wind storms. They may be ugly, but they are cheap, durable and relatively easy to install, given proper tools and some time and the foresight to have enough wood to bolt into. - Joe H.



I've already made numerous changes to my home and property to thwart / limit any would be thefts and boosting the overall security. A number of ideas came from your web site. Thanks.

Other than the simple measures of installing a Radio Shack microphone/speaker and, locking the doors of my barns with snap links and walking out the front and locking that door, I am worried for my horses if someone should try to force their way inside and manage to stay very quiet. I'm very impressed with my $149 Radio Shack investment, you can hear everything and my house is 300 feet away.

Can you offer any additional advice on making barns more secure? I'm more concerned about the horses than all of the tack and saddles. But those items aren't cheap either. Thanks, - Pete in Florida

JWR Replies: I do have one specific recommendation: Buy a MURS band Dakota Alert infrared intrusion detection system. (Available from MURS Radio, one of our advertisers). Put one Motion Alert Transmitter (MAT) out at the end of your driveway, and one "watching" the front of your barn door. We use Dakota Alerts in conjunction with matching frequency Kenwood MURS band hand-helds here at the Rawles Ranch on a daily basis. We have been very satisfied with their quality and reliability. In our experience, this combination is ideal for detecting intruders on likely avenues of approach.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
First, as always, I am compelled to thank you for your service to all those who would learn from your knowledge and efforts. My 2009 10 Cent Challenge contribution is forthcoming, but it is only a small token of my appreciation in light of all that I have learned from your excellent blog.

I wanted to add a note of my reality to your recent excellent comments on the sorry state of home architecture in our country today. I live in a typical recent-construction, middle class, Metro Atlanta home with a brick front facade, and Hardiplank (a concrete-like product molded to look like wood siding) on the remaining three sides. It is essentially three stories, with a "daylight basement" comprising the first story. Many of the "weak links" that you pointed out exist in my home, but we did install a fairly comprehensive alarm system.

Last February, while my wife was at work and I was taking my son to daycare (it was 11:15 a.m.), thugs broke into our house by kicking through the basement wall! Evidently, the crooks suspected, or noticed, our alarm system, and tried to bypass it by going through the wall. It would have worked if the dummies hadn't opened the basement door preparing to depart with their loot. Of course, opening the door set the alarm off, and they fled never having made it out of the basement. They did steal an old rifle that I had recently bought, and had left in a storage closet awaiting a good cleaning. All in all, we were very fortunate.

I write not to simply share my story (which is, unfortunately, not very uncommon), but to point out what I learned:

1. Though Hardiplank, and similar products, have many virtues, resistance to invasion is not one of them.The concrete feel and appearance gives a false sense of security. I was shocked to learn that the only thing between my "inner sanctum" and the bad guys was the Hardiplank, fiberboard sheathing, and drywall! Even if your 1st story sheathing were 5/8" plywood it would present a much more formidable barrier!

2. If I had heeded my instincts, the burglary could have been avoided. I try to live in "condition yellow", though I slip into white more than I would like. That morning, while buckling my toddler into the car, I noticed a rough-looking young man walking slowly up the sidewalk. By the time I had buckled my seatbelt, he was ambling back down the street in the opposite direction. All of the alarms in my head went off, but I didn't call the police to investigate (something that they encouraged me to do in the future while discussing the event). I did, however, step back inside and turn on the alarm, which I didn't usually do for such short trips (things are different now). If I hadn't turned on the alarm, I would have probably walked right into a home invasion in progress (stupidly in condition white!) after dropping my son off. As it was, as soon as I got the call from the monitoring service, I knew exactly what had happened, and who had done it! During the frantic 3 mile drive home, my main concern was, "what will I do if I arrive before the police?" At the time, I had no firearm with me, which leads me to my final point.

3. Any time you walk into your home [after an absence] in condition white, with no way to defend yourself, you invite disaster. Yes, I know it can be terribly stressful to admit to yourself that our society has "come to this", and some people would rather just play the odds and hope it doesn't happen to them. I feel that God was watching over me that day (by the way, the police were on site when I got home - it had only been 20 minutes since I left the house) and gave me a second chance. I guess I could remain in condition white, and hope it doesn't happen again, but I have responsibilities. God gave me a second chance, and I am committed to learning from this experience. You'd better believe that I will arrive home in condition yellow to orange, looking for any hint that something is awry - especially if my family is in tow! Oh yeah, and my next house is going to be as solid as I can afford, and then some!

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas, and will have a terrific new year. Best Wishes, - SH in Georgia


I have been an advocate for survivors of violent crimes. I would like to point out some things that I have been tracking for almost a year now. (I have 'home invasions" as a google search alert and get messages on this topic many times a day). First, I have noticed that most of these invaders are not so much interested in carting away ill-gotten booty from the residence that they have invaded as much as the first object is to terrorize and torture those in the dwelling. This is a major change in the high level of deprived violence of these burglars who are now being reported as "home invaders". The attacks are sadistic, whereas, twenty years ago true sadistic attacks were more rare as the goal seemed to be to steal and leave. Second, these sadistic home invasions are world wide. I have not yet figured out why this is so. It is, however, concerning that no place seems safe from this bizarre rise in sadistic violence. Perhaps it can be linked to violent video games? I am not sure what else could link these acts world wide. Third, unlike violent home crimes in years past, the home invaders are attacking during the hours when it is more likely that the residents are home. (Most of these invasions seem to take place between 11 PM and 5 AM). Clearly, unlike in early times when the criminal element wanted to avoid the residents, this new class of thugs want that violent encounter.

I think this does require that decent folks to have a change in understanding what is taking place. These criminals are not just getting the pleasure of taking your property but they want to cause you and your family extreme fear, terror, and pain. Passive conduct by the victims that might have allowed these thugs to rob your home and leave you alone might have worked twenty years ago, but I think today's home invaders first literally will want a pound of your flesh. On a positive note, I have also read of numerous residents who have successfully fended off the invaders by being properly protected within their homes. I am 'surprised" that the media doesn't seem to do much coverage of these heroic deeds of the victim defending himself or family members from these sadistic invasion. - Advocate for Survivors of Violent Crimes


Dear Mr. Rawles.
Regarding your post on Tuesday December 30, titled "Letter Re: Home Invasion Robbery Countermeasures". I would like to see you elaborate on the "Countermeasures" portion of the title. Specifically, could you show some real examples that people could use as "force multipliers" similar to this . Maybe you can do a post on with and without grid power in SHTF scenarios.

For example I live in a suburb of a city of about 80,000 people. I live on a corner lot and have a fenced in back yard. What low-tech methods could I deploy to allow full coverage around the perimeter of my property to signal of coming trouble. It would help if the ideas were designed to not create an abundance of false alarms and not alert the surrounding neighborhoods like a trip alarm.

I don't have a retreat location but I'm getting my finances in order to allow a property purchase soon. If TSHTF tomorrow, I would need some simple ideas to keep my family safe as long as possible.

BTW, I read your "Patriots" novel and it was awesome! I am about half way thorough your "Rawles Gets You Ready" course and it too is great. Thanks, - Steve F. in Louisiana

JWR Replies: A corner lot is problematic. Depending on the landscaping that is prevalent in your neighborhood, if it would not look too out of the ordinary then you might consider planting a "decorative" thorny hedge around as much of your perimeter as possible, and install a gate across the front of your driveway. Make both the maximum height that you can get away with, without being branded as the Neighborhood Paranoid Poster Boy. The gate should have a spiked top of some sort, to discourage gate jumpers. Just inside the gate, position a passive infrared Motion Alert Transmitter (MAT) for a Dakota Alert. You should also plant thorny bushes below each of your windows.

Motion-activated floodlights are inexpensive and very easy to install.(They are available at home improvement and hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's.) If the power grid goes down, you really should bug out ASAP, but if you are forced to stay, then solar-powered floodlights might suffice. (But note that their reviews mention that they have a short service life. So it is best to just test them but not mount them outdoors until needed.) Under those circumstances, a pair of night vision goggles would be a must. (And if you have those, you might want to retrofit your floodlights to use infrared bulbs. Being battery powered, your Dakota Alert system will continue to operate without grid power. But of course keep plenty of spare batteries on had for all of your flashlights and other home security and communications electronics.

"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear." - Harry S. Truman, August 8, 1950

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

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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

Monthly Archives

Visitor Map



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