February 2009 Archives

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I recently updated the web page for my novel "Patriots", with information on the new edition that will be released in April. The old edition from XLibris just went out of print.


Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: 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 ends on March 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.

In these trying times when civilizations are at the brink of disaster and many people are already in personal collapse, we should look back through history to find out how to salvage what we have and how to survive what is to come. [Minor rant snipped.] It seems that economic collapse is imminent and that at some point in the near future it is going to be every man for himself. As we watch countries collapse, global economies fail and people across the world starve and die, I ask myself has any culture or civilization in history gotten it right?

The nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle led by the American Indians may be the way that many in the future may need to survive. The thought of a survival retreat is nice, but what if a toxic gas cloud is coming your way? Or a band of starving armed men and women discover your location and decide that you have what they want? Are you equipped for a small arms battle? Lets face it, most of us are not. Many of us still need to live in an urban environment to make a living (while we still have the need) and having a stocked retreat is just not feasible. When the sh*t hits the fan you have to ask yourself, will you have enough time or even be able to get to your survival retreat? For most of us the answer is simply no. So how can we prepare for the impending collapse that most certainly awaits all of us? Thinking like an Indian may be the answer to your concerns. Mobility can be the key to survival. Having a plan of escape for several different scenarios and banding together with other like-minded people and loved ones who have also planned ahead to deal with the inevitable collapse of our society. Going where you can survive for short periods of time comfortably and being able to use the natural resources available to you wherever you may end up, can be the answer to survival for you and your loved ones.

The Indians moved with the food, with the climate in small tribes, which was best suited to their survival. They learned to use what was provided by nature to live, wild edibles and medicinal uses of plants, as well as some amount of farming and of course hunting. But they also learned to take only what they needed so that when they were to return they would have what they needed again. This is a lesson that most of us in modern society have long since forgotten. We have for so long here in America lived the life of gluttony (which has probably led to collapse of more societies than we realize) that when the end comes most of us will not know what to do or how to survive, which will not end pleasantly for those of us stuck in the urban areas. Those of us who plan ahead and have the ability to survive on the go while getting out of the way of the sh*t storm that will be left behind in most urban areas after the end comes. We will be the ones that will thrive in the face of adversity. We will be the ones left to create a better way--a way that works.

As I contemplate the future happenings I know with utmost certainty that the plan that I have derived will keep my loved ones and me safe and out of harm's way. For I have thought and planned like an Indian would, made preparations to survive on the go with a minimal amount of supplies but with the knowledge required to get what I need from what nature has to offer. But you may ask what if nature is damaged beyond repair, then how will you survive? Well my answer is simple, at that point nobody will survive and mankind will cease to exist. A gloomy thought but still one worthy of contemplation.

The reality is there is no right or wrong answer or single philosophy that is the definite end all to be all correct way to do it for any situation. Survival is fluid and every situation has to be dealt with accordingly. Creativity as well as preparation will see you through. Remember that nature taught the Indians how to survive, they didn’t have books, schools, survival manuals or hospitals etc… and they did just fine until the European man came with their gluttony and took from them what was theirs, to exploit it for their gain and greed.

As I end my letter, I leave you with this:
“Prepare yourself with the knowledge that you hope you never have to use, and you and yours will be just fine.” - MMJ

JWR Adds: I will append MMJ's article with the caveat that based on studies of skeletal remains, the average life expectancy for pre-Columbian Native Americans was only 18.6 years. That was before white men brought with them European diseases. As Hobbes put it so succinctly: "...the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." A pampered sedentary lifestyle may be bad for one's cholesterol numbers, but a hunter-gatherer nomadic lifestyles is no picnic.

At this juncture, for the sake of balance I'll also re-post something that I originally posted to SurvivalBlog back in September of 2005:

You should discard any fantasies that you might have had about strapping on a backpack and disappearing into nearby National Forest to “live off the land.” IMHO, that is an invitation to disaster. Too many things can go wrong: You will lack sufficient shelter. You will not be able to carry enough food reserves. Your one rifle and your one pistol, and your one axe, once lost or broken will leave you vulnerable and unable to provide for your sustenance or self defense. Any illness or injury could be life threatening. Even just a dunking in a stream in mid-winter could cost you your life. Also, consider how many thousands of urbanites will probably try to do the same thing. Even if you manage to avoid encounters with them, those legions of people foraging simultaneously will quickly deplete the available wild game in many regions. Furthermore, on your own you won’t be able to maintain sufficient security. (You must sleep, after all!) For countless reasons, playing “Batman in the Boondocks” just won’t work. So forget about the "one pack" solution, other than as a last resort--for example, in the event that your retreat is overrun.

Any of you that do not live at your intended retreat location year round should have a “Get out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) pack ready at all times. Keep it in the trunk of your car in case circumstances force you to hike all or part of the way to your retreat. (A sub-optimal situation, as described in my novel "Patriots".) Be sure to inspect your G.O.O.D. pack regularly and rotate any first aid supplies, chemical light sticks, jerky, dried fruit, or other perishables.

While MMJ's planned approach of traveling in a group is preferable to a solo “Batman in the Boondocks”, I still have my doubts about its viability, especially in harsh climates.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have been reading your site for almost a year now and am grateful for your advise. I've read both Patriots and Retreats. Currently, I live in suburban Detroit and am looking for a farm out in the country. I'm good on food and many other items, but question my weapons battery. BTW, both my wife and I have attended the excellent training at Front Sight. Currently I have three handguns: an XDM-40 with four mags, Steyr M40 with four mags and a Taurus PT92 9mm with two mags. My long guns include two short-barrel 12 gauge shotguns with one having a dedicated light, one DPMS {AR-15 clone] .223 with dedicated light and Trijicon ACOG 4x32 scope, one DPMS .308 AR-10, and one Ruger 10/22. Crossbows are on my wish list. I have between 1,000 and 2,000 rounds of ammo for each weapon. I want to buy more ammo as well as reloading equipment and supplies.

I want to buy a scope for the 308 and decided on a Leupold Mark-3 4.5-12x 40mm scope. My concern is night vision. Do I get a dedicated night vision scope for the .308 and forget the Leupold, or a stand alone [hand-held] night vision glass? What good is it to see with night vision, if I can't see it thru the scope to shoot? I don't think I'll need night vision in my subdivision, until I purchase the farm, but think I should get it now well it is still available. Of course my budget and lovely bride will only go for so much. Can you please advise?

Thanks so much, - RP

JWR Replies: Assuming that it is equipped with a flash hider, you should set up your AR-10 with an AN-PVS-4 Starlight scope, as your dedicated night-fighting rifle. With a throw-lever scope mount and a flip-up back-up iron sights (BUIS), you can quickly detach the Starlight scope and use the AR-10 for daylight shooting. (But of course be sure to do some target shooting tests to insure that the scope has correct "return to zero", when re-mounted. Be patient and plan to buy bolt action .308 (such as a Savage Model 10) for daylight long range shooting. (That is where the Leupold Mark-3 4.5-12x 40mm scope that you mentioned would be most appropriate.)

And BTW, buy more magazines! With a renewed Federal ban now looming, you should acquire at least six spare mags for each handgun, and at least eight spares for each battle rifle. Buy them now, while they are still affordable. Full capacity magazine prices are likely to triple or quadruple if the Federal AWB is renewed.

Hi James,
I've been reading your blog for the last two years. Let me just tell you that you've been an inspiration to my family and my friends. We have recently acquired a country property here in Canada and are in the process of building our retreat.

One thing that I have completely ignored, was the need for night vision equipment. In the country, in remote locations, or when the grid goes down, it is almost completely dark at night. I mean you cannot see two feet in front of you.

I've been researching what is the best night vision equipment to use for patrolling, security and combat. I think I'm going with Gen2 goggles, but there is this one product called SuperVision by company called Xenonics. But I'm not sure how it works and whether it is suitable for retreat defense.

Looking at different night vision products, my question to you is: What is the best option for avoiding night vision device (NVD) detection [by an opponent that has their own night vision gear]?

The IR beams that some equipment generates or IR gun sights will be visible to someone using passive NVD, right? I'm just thinking that the best night vision equipment will be the one that has no signature, or are all NVDs visible to other NVDs?

Another problem I see is that most firearms leave flash signature. Does the Vortex [flash hider] eliminate the flash completely? I think defending your retreat at night is a completely new ball game, there are many things that most of your readers might not be aware of or experimented with. I think NVDs are a must, just like the firearms. Without a good night vision equipment you cannot defend your retreat at night unless you get a good illumination from the moon. Thanks, - Peter

JWR Replies: Let me begin by stating forthrightly that the claims of the makers of Supervision are more marketing hype than substance. They do not perform well out in the boonies where there is not much ambient light. Instead, go for mil-spec Gen 2 night vision gear, or better yet Gen 3 if you can afford it.

Vortex type flash hiders reduce muzzle flash by about 90%. This video clip shows the dramatic difference of a rifle with and without a flash hider. (Can you see why I've had the muzzles threaded on all my bolt action centerfire rifles?)

For versatility, I prefer weapon-mounted scopes that can be detached for use as hand-held monoculars.Make this your first purchase. If you have a big budget, then you can go on to buy goggles, but get your weapon sight first.

You also asked about opponents equipped with vision gear being able to detect you. In brief: If you use active IR devices (illuminators or lasers), they can definitely be seen! But it is important to note that even "passive" night vision gear casts a back-light. (This is the light of the image that you are seeing being cast on your face.) Through another NVD this looks like a bright flashlight! For this reason, I discourage SurvivalBlog readers from buying any night vision scope that does not have a baffled ("flap") eyecup type eyeguard. (The baffle only opens when you have the scope pressed up against your eye, minimizing back-lighting.) This fault is common with nearly all of the commercial night vision gear on the market. (But some of these scopes can be retrofitted with mil-spec eyeguards.)

My recommended suppliers for Starlight weapon sights and goggles are JRH Enterprises and Ready Made Resources. For full mil-spec units as well as spare intensifier tubes, talk to STANO Components.

I saw the article on how Cabela’s shares surged based on gun sales. Let me tell you, we are in the midst of a feeding frenzy here in Colorado.

First, its not just guns, its all of the accessories as well. I had to return some items from Christmas to Sportsman’s Warehouse and found that the whole gun department was basically empty. They only had some black powder firearms and a couple of shotguns. Nothing else. I had run into this before Christmas when I bought my two oldest boys new elk rifles – and got the last .308 bolt action and the last .30-06 bolt action to be had. But I figured after Christmas things would be better. Well, they are not. So unless you shoot something odd like a .22-250 forget getting ammunition right now let alone a gun. And the cleaning kits were sold out as well. And holsters, ammo belts – you name it and if it was shooting related it was gone.

Now in my wanderings in the store I also found that communications gear is also disappearing off the shelves. I had a brief conversation with the kid that was working there and it turns out that this is another trend they are seeing. Basically all of the walkie-talkie units that can take ear buds or microphones are gone. The only things left are some cheap FRS units. The same thing was at work with the flashlights – all of the better units (like the Surefire models) were gone. I begin to wonder what is at work here – am I being paranoid or is this the next run on “near tactical” equipment?

Now I shoot as much as I can when I am in country so I go through a lot of reloading supplies and bulk ammunition. I have been told by some of the national dealers that I buy from (in bulk lots of 10 cases per caliber per order) that they are almost all sold out as well. One sales person related to me that they had run through over 10,000 cases of .223 that week alone and could not keep any in stock. Common calibers are gone – 9mm, .45 ACP, .38/.357, .223, .308, 7.62x39 – and less common ones such as the .40 are hard to get. So unless you happen to be shooting something that is very uncommon, keep your eyes open. I did however with a week of scrounging manage to come up with one box of 7.62 match grade ammo – the 175 grain M118 loading. Fortunately my long range precision gun likes this ammo so I bought it.

This is one trend that if you were not way out in front and loading up on ammunition, guns, and accessories, you would not be able to catch up now. - Hugh D.

Hi Jim,
FYI, just got done shopping at Midway [for ammunition handloading components] and all of the .308 150 grain soft nosed bullets priced at $25.00/100 and under are gone. All gone! This includes all round nose and flat point for 30-30. Only some of the premium stuff is available. The next best deal is a Lapua 150 grain at $42.00/100. Guess I'll have to top off with the only decent spitzer, a 125 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter at $22/100 if I can't find 150 grainers elsewhere. I suppose these can be reliable through a[n M1] Garand and are certainly adequate for deer. I've also shopped all over for loaded 9mm Luger JHP and it's all gone as well. Yes I shoulda got the XD-.45 instead, yet common ammunition that can be shared with the rest of the family and in case the gun fails the ammo would not be wasted. I have plenty, but more would be nice. The same can be said for the cheap 7.62x39 and M2 ball (.30-06). All gone, everywhere. There does appear to be some 7.62 NATO out there.

Cabela's seems to have a fair selection of all .308 spire point bullets and 9mm/.45ACP JHP, and a very limited amount (500 rounds) of the cheap 7.62x39, and limited quantities of .223 and .308.

The run on ammunition continues and is amazing. A report from the latest gun show in our area described [buyers with] dollies stacked with cases that emptied the place within three hours. What is the most shocking is that reloading components are also disappearing. - E.L.


News of the [U.S.]Attorney General asking for renewal of the Assault Weapons ban (on behalf of Obama) went out across the Internet last night [Wednesday, Feb. 25th.] Here was the result I saw: There was a line of about eight guys in front of my local gun shop this morning, waiting for the doors to open. This was at 9 a.m. on a Thursday morning, mind you. I was one of them. Most of the guys looked to be in their 30s and 40s--so we were taking time away from work to be there. (In my case, it was a "dental emergency". Obama has me grinding my teeth at night!) We got in the door, and I immediately saw there wasn't much left on the shelves--mostly just pump [shot]guns and bolt-action [rifle]s. There were just two centerfire semi[automatic]s in the rack: some POS no-name AK that looked like it was built from a beater parts kit, and one of those woosie S&W AR[-15] clones with no flash hider on but with the Mossy-Breakup camouflage paint job. Those both sold in the first few minutes. The owner said that he doesn't expect [to receive] any more black guns for three or four months!

One thing you definitely had nailed: They did not have a single high-cap magazine left in the store, except the one that came in the mag well of the AK I mentioned.

I cleaned out the last of their .45 and .308 ammo--just a few boxes. There was not a round of 9mm, .223, of 7.62 [x39mm] Russian to be found. Those was some slim pickin's! I wonder: What will they have left by Saturday night? - Ray H. in Virginia

CIA and Pentagon Wonder: Could Mexico Implode? (A hat tip to Darin B. for the link.)

   o o o

MP sent this: Recipes from The Great Depression.

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Cheryl sent this: EMP Attack: Overlooked Catastrophe

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Mrs. G. in Montana found a site that he thought would be of interest to the ladies: The Homemaker's Mentor. She notes: "I was looking for directions for dehydrating eggs and found a forum for a group of women who are striving for prepare for their families. Oh and speaking of the distaff viewpoint, also check out Betsy's writings over at Survival Lady.

"It's time [for the Federal government] to stop bribing me with my own money." - Rep. Dan Itse of New Hampshire, author of New Hampshire's sadly moribund state sovereignty bill, HR 645.

Friday, February 27, 2009

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

1.) Another "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition 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, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). 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 $700, 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 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

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

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Yesterday, in Part1, I discussed the "safe" and counter-cyclical occupations for the unfolding economic depression. Today, I'd like to talk about one specific approach: self-employment with a home-based business.

I posted most the following back in late 2005, but there are some important points that are worth repeating:

The majority of SurvivalBlog readers that I talk with tell me that they live in cities or suburbs, but they would like to live full time at a retreat in a rural area. Their complaint is almost always the same: "...but I'm not self-employed. I can't afford to live in the country because I can't find work there, and the nature of my work doesn't allow telecommuting." They feel stuck.

Over the years I've seen lots of people "pull the plug" and move to the boonies with the hope that they'll find local work once they get there. That usually doesn't work. Folks soon find that the most rural jobs typically pay little more than minimum wage and they are often informally reserved for folks that were born and raised in the area. (Newcomers from the big city certainly don't have hiring priority!)

My suggestion is to start a second income stream, with a home-based business. Once you have that business started, then start another one. There are numerous advantages to this approach, namely:

You can get out of debt

You can generally build the businesses up gradually, so that you don't need to quit your current occupation immediately

By working at home you will have the time to home school your children and they will learn about how to operate a business.

You can live at your retreat full time. This will contribute to your self-sufficiency, since you will be there to tend to your garden, fruit/nut trees, and livestock.

If one of your home-based businesses fails, then you can fall back on the other.

Ideally, for someone that is preparedness-minded, a home-based business should be something that is virtually recession proof, or possibly even depression proof. Ask yourself: What are you good at? What knowledge or skills do you have that you can utilize. Next, consider which businesses will flourish during bad times. Some good examples might include:

Mail order/Internet sales/eBay Auctioning of preparedness-related products.



Medical Transcription


Repair/refurbishment businesses

Freelance writing

Blogging (with paid advertising) If you have knowledge about a niche industry and there is currently no authoritative blog on the subject, then start your own!

Mail order/Internet sales of entertainment items. (When times get bad, people still set aside a sizable percentage of their income for "escape" from their troubles. For example, video rental shops have done remarkably well during recessions.)

Burglar Alarm Installation

Other home-based businesses that seem to do well only in good economic times include:

Recruiting/Temporary Placement

Fine arts, crafts, and jewelry. Creating and marketing your own designs--not "assembly" for some scammer. (See below.)

Mail order/Internet sales/eBay Auctions of luxury items, collectibles, or other "discretionary spending" items

Personalized stationary and greeting cards (Freelance artwork)


Web Design


Beware the scammers! The fine folks at www.scambusters.org have compiled a "Top 10" list of common work-at-home and home based business scams to beware of:

10. Craft Assembly
This scam encourages you to assemble toys, dolls, or other craft projects at home with the promise of high per-piece rates. All you have to do is pay a fee up-front for the starter kit... which includes instructions and parts. Sounds good? Well, once you finish assembling your first batch of crafts, you'll be told by the company that they "don't meet our specifications."
In fact, even if you were a robot and did it perfectly, it would be impossible for you to meet their specifications. The scammer company is making money selling the starter kits -- not selling the assembled product. So, you're left with a set of assembled crafts... and no one to sell them to.

9. Medical Billing
In this scam, you pay $300-$900 for everything (supposedly) you need to start your own medical billing service at home. You're promised state-of-the-art medical billing software, as well as a list of potential clients in your area.
What you're not told is that most medical clinics process their own bills, or outsource the processing to firms, not individuals. Your software may not meet their specifications, and often the lists of "potential clients" are outdated or just plain wrong.
As usual, trying to get a refund from the medical billing company is like trying to get blood from a stone.

8. Email Processing
This is a twist on the classic "envelope stuffing scam" (see #1 below). For a low price ($50?) you can become a "highly-paid" email processor working "from the comfort of your own home."
Now... what do you suppose an email processor does? If you have visions of forwarding or editing emails, forget it. What you get for your money are instructions on spamming the same ad you responded to in newsgroups and Web forums!
Think about it -- they offer to pay you $25 per e-mail processed -- would any legitimate company pay that?

7. "A List of Companies Looking for Homeworkers!"
In this one, you pay a small fee for a list of companies looking for homeworkers just like you.
The only problem is that the list is usually a generic list of companies, companies that don't take homeworkers, or companies that may have accepted homeworkers long, long ago. Don't expect to get your money back with this one.

6. "Just Call This 1-900 Number For More Information..."
No need to spend too much time (or money) on this one. 1-900 numbers cost money to call, and that's how the scammers make their profit. Save your money -- don't call a 1-900 number for more information about a supposed work-at-home job.

5. Typing At Home
If you use the Internet a lot, then odds are that you're probably a good typist. How better to capitalize on it than making money by typing at home? Here's how it works: After sending the fee to the scammer for "more information," you receive a disk and printed information that tells you to place home typist ads and sell copies of the disk to the suckers who reply to you. Like #8, this scam tries to turn you into a scammer!

4. "Turn Your Computer Into a Money-Making Machine!"
Well, this one's at least half-true. To be completely true, it should read: "Turn your computer into a money-making machine... for spammers!"
This is much the same spam as #5, above. Once you pay your money, you'll be sent instructions on how to place ads and pull in suckers to "turn their computers into money-making machines."

3. Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
If you've heard of network marketing (like Amway), then you know that there are legitimate MLM businesses based on agents selling products or services. One big problem with MLMs, though, is when the pyramid and the ladder-climbing become more important than selling the actual product or service. If the MLM business opportunity is all about finding new recruits rather than selling products or services, beware: The Federal Trade Commission may consider it to be a pyramid scheme... and not only can you lose all your money, but you can be charged with fraud, too!
We saw an interesting MLM scam recently: one MLM company advertised the product they were selling as FREE. The fine print, however, states that it is "free in the sense that you could be earning commissions and bonuses in excess of the cost of your monthly purchase of" the product. Does that sound like free to you?

2. Chain Letters/Emails ("Make Money Fast")
If you've been on the Internet for any length of time, you've probably received or at least seen these chain emails. They promise that all you have to do is send the email along plus some money by mail to the top names on the list, then add your name to the bottom... and one day you'll be a millionaire. Actually, the only thing you might be one day is prosecuted for fraud. This is a classic pyramid scheme, and most times the names in the chain emails are manipulated to make sure only the people at the top of the list (the true scammers) make any money. This scam should be called "Lose Money Fast" -- and it's illegal.

1. Envelope Stuffing
This is the classic work-at-home scam. It's been around since the U.S. Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, and it's moved onto the Internet like a cockroach you just can't eliminate. There are several variations, but here's a sample: Much like #5 and #4 above, you are promised to be paid $1-2 for every envelope you stuff. All you have to do is send money and you're guaranteed "up to 1,000 envelopes a week that you can stuff... with postage and address already affixed!" When you send your money, you get a short manual with flyer templates you're supposed to put up around town, advertising yet another harebrained work-from-home scheme. And the pre-addressed, pre-paid envelopes? Well, when people see those flyers, all they have to do is send you $2.00 in a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope. Then you stuff that envelope with another flyer and send it to them. Ingenious perhaps... but certainly illegal and unethical.

From all that I've heard, most franchises and multi-level marketing schemes are not profitable unless you pick a great product or service, and you already have a strong background in sales. Beware of any franchise where you wouldn't have a protected territory. My general advice is this: You will probably be better off starting your own business, making, retailing, or consulting about something where you can leverage your existing knowledge and/or experience.


In closing, I'd like to reemphasize that home security and locksmithing are likely to provide steady and profitable employment for the next few years, since hard economic times are likely to trigger a substantial crime wave. After all, someone has to keep watch on the tens of thousands of foreclosed, vacant houses. (If not watched, then crack cocaine addicts, Chicago syndicate politicians, or other undesirables might move in!)

Hello Sir!
While visiting your site this morning, I read a letter by someone talking about residential break-ins. While I don't wish to contradict anything stated in the letter, there are a few points that should be made.

15 years ago, I made the decision to train as a Locksmith. I have my own locksmith business is in it's 10th year and going strong. I've worked in banks, with police and even the DEA. I've been at the scene of scores of break-ins, assessing the damage as well as repairing and fortifying the sites.

This brings me to the point; Glass breakage is a very high pitched and distinctive sound. The moment a neighbor hears glass breaking outside their home, the police are called in to check it out. This is not what a would-be thief wants. The second reason that glass is not generally broken is that many of the windows now are double paned. These are not as easy to break as one might think. If broken, which is not always successful, the sound generated by the force needed will alert anyone in the surrounding area. Falling glass from the window can continue to make noise which allows any person investigating the noise to home in on it's origin. Lastly, the intruder can be severely cut climbing over a shard of glass. None of the above are desirable to a thief. (Though for more desperate times, more desperate measures would be needed.)

This as opposed to the dead thump of a door being kicked in, and closed behind the intruder. Most folks pay no attention to such noises (which is why, when asked by the police if they heard "shots", most people will deny it, as when muffled either by intention or the enclosed dwelling itself, a shot sounds more like a bump or thump. Or they will say that they heard "something" but not be able to describe what it was). Even the most curious neighbor will see nothing out of ordinary upon investigation of a thump outside their home.

More important is the method to increasing the security of the doors of the home. Though most people worry about their locks being picked.....and it can happen (therefore I recommend Medeco High Security locks), the vast majority of criminals prefer not to remain out in the open for any measurable time. Since picking can vary immensely from lock to lock (including the laughable Internet scare "lock-bumping" method - sorry folks, it only works like that consistently in the movies), the preferred method unlawful entry is to cross into forced entry and put a boot to the section of the door that is weakest. That would be a spot as close to the knob/deadbolt as they can get.

As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Well, in this particular chain, that would be the stud into which the bolt bore and latch bore are made. The reason is, that residential exterior doors open in; toward the inside of the house. A well placed boot only has to split the 3/4" - 1" of wood on the far side of the hole bored into the stud into which the deadbolt protrudes in the thrown position.

Though it was mentioned in the letter posted on your site that longer screws are needed for the latch plate, they will provide no measurable added security with regard to a person kicking in the door. Nor will driving a steel conduit into the hole aid in the attempt to "beef it up", as I've seen posted on another blog. Neither of these is going to solve the original problem of the lack of wood behind the holes bored in the jamb to accommodate the latch and bolt when engaged.

An expedient way to shore up this weak spot is to remove the molding on the interior side of the jamb and install a strip of metal 24" long (approximately), 1.5" wide and 1/16" thick. Drill 4-6 holes along the strip alternating from side to side and use 4" lag bolts (flat head) to secure it in place with the center point directly behind the center point between the latch and the deadbolt, reinforcing the formerly vulnerable stud. The molding is then replaced and nobody but the homeowner knows it's there. (This method, of course, will do nothing to stop a door "spreader" which police agencies use for entry when investigating.....but that's another story.)

The next weak point will be the door itself, from the holes for the hardware to the closest edge. This is where a wooden door will split under force. As the door is forced, the bolt and latch are held in place in the jamb. This causes a twisting motion as pressure is put on the shear point (where the door meets the jamb) and like the formerly weak jamb, the door splits off 6" - 12" on either side of the nearest hole.

Though brass "wrap around reinforcers" are sold, they offer marginal, at best, additional security. This is a place where thicker is better.....and more surface area is a plus. My recommendation is, of course, a steel door. Not only do they help seal out external temperatures (less prone to warping), they offer more security against forced entry. The next best is steel plates (decorative or at least paint-able) 6" wide, 1/8" thick and 24" long, with 8 screws spaced equidistantly along their edges (both sides) 1/2" in from the edge. Your standard back-set for a knob or deadbolt is 2 3/8 inches residential, but 2 3/4 (the commercial standard) is gaining popularity. Either way, this puts the knob and deadbolt in the center of the plates. For those few who have the old style 5" back-set, they're just going to have to figure out an esthetically pleasing solution.

Next is the hardware. Locks need to be as solid as you can afford. You generally get what you pay for. Go for the heaviest duty. We're not talking about a purchase from the local hardware giant either. Just because the package says "heavy duty" or "high security" doesn't mean a thing. Go to a locksmith or locksmith supply company. If you can find excellent quality on the Internet, that's great. Just don't worry too much about cost as the difference of price over the life of the lock is minimal.

This is especially important with regard to hinges. The top hinge holds the brunt of the weight. When the door is closed, you can check the sag of the door by how wide the gap is on the hinged side between the door and the jamb. The wider the gap, the more worn your hinge. Eventually, this will cause difficulty in latching/bolting the door, not to mention the more give a hinge has, the more strain on the screws under pressure. On an open door, rub marks near the top of the edge indicate worn hinges. A badly worn set of hinges will cause the door to "bump" the door jamb before closing. A quick fix when there is no alternative is to swap the top and bottom hinges.

Ultimately, extreme heavy duty hinges should be installed. This is a place where longer screws make a difference (which is probably where folks get the idea for longer screws on the latch plate). Since there are no holes bored into the hinged side of the jamb, and there are 3 sets of 4 screws, spread over the length of the jamb, holding the hinge to the jamb, any shear pressure is also spread throughout the entire stud, minimizing the force at any particular point. The force necessary to overcome this is substantial. Other means of entry are definitely preferable; which is the point in the average residential setting, as they are notoriously difficult to fortify with the standard construction, windows

Basic knowledge to be sure, but it's (surprisingly) not common knowledge. I thought it might be of interest to the readers of your blog. If you think it relevant (not to be presumptuous) to post, I'd rather be anonymous - Sincerely, - Anonymous

A current discussion forum thread {at AR15.com] on eXRS two-way radios is worthy of mention. Also see this description.

In searching the SurvivalBlog archives, I only found one post mentioning eXRS Radios. Here is a description of test by a paintball team.

What are your thoughts for secure short range comm? Text messaging could have some uses for silent comm. - Craig W.

JWR Replies: The eXRS radios are fine in the voice mode, but I am very dubious of the tactical practicality of text messaging, at least once the lead starts flying. Who in their right mind is going to want to take their eyes off the immediate situation for that long? The US military uses handheld text and graphics devices only in very limited situations, such as artillery fire control, and relaying information for close air support. Special Forces field tests with sophisticated graphics systems such as the Inter-4 Tacticomp (made, BTW by one of my former employers) showed that they only had genuine utility in setting up tactical situations. Once the first shot was fired, the gadgets were often tossed aside and operators reverted to good old fashioned shouts and hand-arm signals.

In contrast to the complexity of texting, voice communications are proven and fairly reliable. Also, keep in mind that we are living in the era of light amplification night vision equipment. This will turn even a small backlit LCD display into a huge "shoot me" beacon at night. (I should mention here that most currently-produced full mil spec electronics have a very dim "NVG" mode, which these radios lack. It is probably feasible to do a modification that would disable the back-light element(s). Failing that, an improvised cover using a strip of ubiquitous duck tape will suffice.) You can of course also use the expedient of working under a draped poncho. This method has been used for many years for map reading at night, with a red lens flashlight. But again, the tactical utility of texting is doubtful. In essence:, if you are in a situation where you are close enough that you would worry about opponents hearing you use voice communications, then that is also close enough (read: within rifle range) that you wouldn't want to sacrifice situational awareness to be looking down at text messaging device. Ear buds and small boom microphones seem far more practical for most short range tactical communications.

The bottom line: Buy the best hand-helds that you can, and when outdoors use them exclusively with ear buds. The eXRS radios are a good option, particularly in a signal-dense urban environment. And I am also a big believer in rock solid radio communications and intrusion detection sensors as effective force multipliers. (In a rural retreat situation, with limited manpower, I can foresee that have one radio frequency for both voice comms and intrusion detection will be ideal.)

I'll close with one big proviso: Don't make the mistake of becoming overly dependent on gadgets. Time and weather will take their toll. (As The Memsahib is fond of saying; "It's entropy, Jim, entropy.") Always have a Plan B and C for communications, and be ready and able to revert from high tech to no tech. Train for both best case and worst case situations, when it comes to your electronics.

Economics and Investing:

A picture is worth a thousand words: Graph of Four Bad Bear Markets. Based upon house prices, commercial real estate prices, and stock P/E rations, I'd say the markets have another 50% or more to fall, and the painful process may take another eight to ten years. And that is just to reach rock bottom, There may be another 10 years of climbing back up out of the hole that "Easy Al" Greenspan and his successors dug for the planet. (Link courtesy of Jesse's Café Américain blog, and brought to our attention by SurvivalBlog reader Ben H.)

Thanks to Thomas A., who set us the link to this piece at Seeking Alpha: China Trying to Break the Euro?

HPD flagged this piece by Mish Shedlock: Bernanke Admits Fed Is Clueless and Banks are Zombified. HPD quips: "Mish is getting funnier as Bernanke gets more absurd."

Items from The Economatrix:

How Can the US Economy Recover Without Manufacturing?

Wall Street Sinks as Obama Warns of Oversight

GM Posts $9.6B 4Q Losses; Burns Through $6.2B Cash

667,000 New Jobless Claims; Continuing Claims Top 5.1 Million

The Light Dims at GE

Governor of B. of E. Says "Impossible to Say" How Much Needed to Shore Up Banking System

Depression in the East Points the Way for the Rest of the World

Hungary on Brink of Bankruptcy

Gold Coin Shortage as Demand Soars

US May Break up AIG to Keep it Afloat

The Next Big Financial Meltdown

Laid Off? No New Job? How Bad Can it Get?

The Spectacular, Sudden Crash of the Global Economy

Worried Investors Want Gold On Hand "The global recession and worries about the stability of the financial system have sent the price of gold to $1,000 an ounce. But more surprising is that buyers are taking the unusual and expensive step of taking possession of it."

The Price of Protection (The Mogambo Guru)

Plus Side of Stupidity (The Mogambo Guru)

Susan Z. sent us this article about barter from Michael Panzner's blog: Cashless Improvisation

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F.R. sent this: Brit Couple Saved After 40 Days Lost at Sea

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The folks at Safecastle mentioned that their big 25% off sale on Mountain House canned long-term storage foods is underway. Safecastle Royal members who buy four cases or more (at 25% off and free shipping of course) get a free 35 gram pouch of CELOX traumatic wound coagulant. If they buy 12 cases or more, they get a CELOX pouch and an Optimus Crux lightweight backpacking stove (see further details at the manufacturer's web site), and they will receive rebate vouchers to use in subsequent transactions.

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A reader in Hawaii wrote me to ask: "I want to buy a 3 in 1 machine. Does anyone have any experience with them? Perhaps a brand to recommend or stay away from?" JWR Adds: Since I don't have a background in machining, I'm hoping that someone knowledgeable will e-mail me with some recommendations. Up until last year, I probably would have recommended the Shopmaster. But they recently transitioned the new "Patriot" model, which ironically is made in Mainland China! To the best of my knowledge, all the 3-in-1 machines marketed by Harbor Freight are also made in China. Any suggestions, folks?

"When they call the roll in Congress, our Congressmen don't know whether to answer present, or guilty." - Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, Manzanillo, Cuba 1898 (to a Hearst newspaper reporter)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Here it comes! Despite his campaign promises: "I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away. ... There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away. .", it comes as no surprise that President Obama is now asking congress to renew the 1994 Federal "assault weapons" and "high capacity" magazine ban. Now, just a few months later he has done an about-face and says he does want to take your guns away. Oh, but its necessary, he says, to save Mexico from the Drug War. If reenacted, unlike its predecessor, the new ban will likely have no sunset clause. Knowing the history of Federal of bans and freezes, the ban will cause the price of many semiautomatic guns to double, and and the price of 11+ round magazines to triple or quadruple. Now is the time to start writing your congresscritters. This unconstitutional legislation must be stopped!


The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $520. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) Another "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition 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, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). 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 $700, 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 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

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

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

The current economic downward spiral has prompted several SurvivalBlog readers to write me and ask: "My job is now at risk, so what are the safe jobs?" I've actually addressed this topic fairly well since I started SurvivalBlog in 2005. We ran a "best recession-proof jobs" poll, back in May of 2006. Then, in February, 2007, we ran a poll on "Best Occupations for Both Before and After TEOTWAWKI". Later, we even ran a poll on the current occupations of SurvivalBlog readers. In the past three years, we've also posted a panoply of more detailed employment-related letters and articles on subjects such as:

How to set up a home-based second business,

Bartering skills,

Home-based mail order businesses,

Small sawmills,


Handloading ammunition,

Horse breeding,

Rabbit breeding,

Small machine shops,

Selling and bartering through Freecycle,

Selling and bartering through Craig's List, and

19th Century Trades.

And those were just the ones that I found in a cursory 10-minute search of the SurvivalBlog archives. There are many more. Just type a topic into the "Search Posts on SurvivalBlog:" box at the top of the right -hand bar. (We now have nearly 6,200 archived articles, letters, and quotes!)


Which Jobs Were Safe in the 1930s?

One good insight on the near future can be found in the past. (As Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.")

According to statistics published some 20 years ago by Dr.Ravi Batra, the safest businesses and industries during the worst years of the Great Depression (1929-1933) were:

Repair shops
Educational services (A lot of young men that couldn't find work borrowed money to go to trade schools and college.)
Healthcare services
Bicycle shops
Bus transportation
Gasoline service stations
Second hand stores
Legal services
Drug or proprietary stores

To bring Batra's list up to date, I would speculatively add a few more sectors and business that are likely to do well in the next depression:

Home security and locksmithing (since a higher crime rate is inevitable in bad economic times.)
Entertainment and diversions, such as DVD sales and rentals. People will undoubtedly want to escape their troubles!
Truck farming and large scale vegetable gardening (since just 2% of the population now feeds the other 98%--whereas back in the 1930s the US was still a predominantly agrarian society)
Export consumer goods. (Starting in late 2009 or early 2010, the US Dollar is likely to resume its slide versus most other currencies)

Tomorrow, I'll post Part 2 of this article, in which I will focus on home-based businesses.

Mr. Rawles;

Given that even the smallest of windmills driving an automobile alternator can keep a 12 volt DC battery charged, and from that you can run a myriad of small devices, what is your opinion of Amazon's Kindle [mobile book reading screen] for keeping all the documents you might need, like the entire archives of SurvivalBlog? Amazon is now offering "Version 2" [of Kindle] , which seems easier to load with personal documents. Is it worth it as a backup library, or is it too fragile? - Sandy W.

JWR Replies: Buying a shiny new Kindle for that purpose is like "putting all your eggs in one basket". I would much rather put all my archived preparedness reference documents on multiple copies on CD-ROMs and then buy two or three used laptop computers with cosmetic defects. (The ongoing corporate layoffs in the US will surely mean that the market will soon be flooded with high quality used laptops for under $200 each, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some offered for under $100 each.) Store those laptops in 40mm ammo cans to help protect then from EMP. Redundancy is the key. One of my mottos is: "Two is one, and one is none."

Here at the Rawles Ranch we recently obtained a Brunton Solarport 4.4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic (PV) panel for testing. These produce .29 amps (at 15 volts) in full sunlight, which is enough to charge flashlight batteries or a cellular phone, but not enough to power a laptop. (But up to three Brunton PowerPorts can be "daisy chained" together (in parallel) to provide additional current.) I consider the Brunton PowerPort a "micro" mobile solar power solution. A more practical "mini" at-home or RV power solution is to buy a 10 watt PV panel (such as those sold by Northern Tool & Equipment or comparable panel such as the and a portable automobile "jump pack" gel cell battery, (available at any local auto parts store, or from a variety of Internet vendors). By placing the PV panel inside a southern-facing window (indoors or inside a vehicle, to protect it from the elements) you can trickle charge a jump pack and easily get one hour of laptop use per day.

Thanks for the always excellent blog. I recently came into a significant wad of money, more than $100,000. I have been toying with my options. I owe around $200,000 on my house, but I can afford the payments no problem; I am self employed in a health-care related field that I do not expect to struggle.

My thought process goes something like this: Why should I pay the mortgage down on my house since (1) I can afford my house easily, (2) with inflation coming I would rather pay it down with 2012 or 2014 dollars (that are "worth less" if not "worthless") than current dollars, and (3) before I default on my house loan, there will be 95% of other Americans who also default... so why should I worry about it? To me it seems to make much more sense to take that money and invest in gold, silver and guns, which I can sell for a nice profit--or at least, not lose huge amounts of value due to inflation. Or, just buy even more food, hand tools, etc. etc.

I keep thinking there must be a problem with my thought process, since you advocate paying down debt first. If there is a problem, what is it?
I have a fair amount of beans, bullets and Band-Aids already, by the way...
Thanks, - WPR

JWR Replies: It appears that we'll have another 12 to 24 months of deflation before the much-heralded inflation will likely kick in. If someone loses their job in the midst of deflation, then they might also lose their house. And even after inflation starts to increase, you will still need some income to make house and car payments. No job means no cash flow, and that will soon precipitate a foreclosure.

Since you are otherwise well squared-away logistically, I recommend that you put most of the $100,000 that you mentioned into 1 ounce gold US Eagles. (Get it out of anything dollar-denominated!) Wait until gold jumps up past $1,600 per ounce (+/- 2010?). At that point, do your best determine if further deflation seems likely. If so, then pay down you mortgage, just in case of layoffs. But if mass inflation seems imminent, just hold on to your gold, and gradually pay off your mortgage with cheaper dollars. You gold investment will then act as your "in case of layoff" insurance.

E.L. sent us the link to this "must watch" seven minute video clip of from Fed Chairman Paul Volker. It has some interesting nuggets and is a somber assessment of the unfolding global economic collapse.

Reader "Darth Paul" mentioned a video clip of an ex-IMF Chief Economist. Paul's comment: "I especially got caught up at 6:40 on the counter: "Obama's and Geithner's choices for administration? It's a huge problem!", "I'm trying to be positive but my intuition from crises is that this is gonna get a lot worste...we are going down a long, dark, blind alley"."

Mark in Michigan flagged this: Crime spike attributed to economy. Mark's comments: "This was an interesting story that exhibited two important things. One, there is indeed a thin veneer to civilized society. Two, it's important to have and be good neighbors."

Items from The Economatrix:

Asia Stocks Fall Heavily on Growing US Fears

ECB Faces Mutiny From Bank Governors

Alarm Over Europe's Credit Contraction

Government Says "Mass Layoffs" Soared in January

UK: Savers Withdraw Record Amount From Banks

Banks Face New Wave of CDS Losses, Analysts Warn (Hmmm...JWR's 2006 warnings about dervatives are coming true.)

German CDS Debt Spreads Hit Record as Economy Crumbles

European Banking Bailout Threatens Common Market, Finance Baron Warns

Japan's Exports Nearly Halved in One Year

Japanese Carmakers Slash Production By 50%

Russian Economy Hit by 8.8% Decline

Latvian Debt is Rated Junk Status

Russia: Problems Rise with Falling Oil Prices

Government Digs a Deeper Hole

Defaults by Franchisees Soar as Recession Deepens

Bankrupt Delphi Told it Can Cancel Retirees' Benefits

Reader E.L. recommended a series of five instructional videos available on YouTube. They explains the "why and how" of setting up ALICE web gear .

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"FFF" suggested this article over at Backwoods Home magazine's web site: Ice Storm 2009: A Cautionary Tale

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Mark P. mentioned that 38 years of The Mother Earth News have been archived on CD-ROMs. In my opinion, the first 25 years were the best. OBTW, speaking of references on genuine self-sufficiency, I highly recommend the compendiums of Backwoods Home magazine, in hard copy books and CD-ROM. The Memsahib hopes that Countryside and Small Stock Journal (her favorite magazine) does the same.

"We are in a period of price discovery. Many shares, businesses, and credits are on offer. Typically, people are reluctant to make bids until they have a clearer idea of what these things are worth. What are they worth now that we’re in a post-Bubble world? No one knows. And no one seems in a hurry to find out." - Bill Bonner, The Daily Reckoning

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I am pleased to report that we've surpassed the 7 million unique visits threshold, and we now get an average of 128,200 unique visits per week. Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. Please keep spreading the word! Keep in mind that you can send links to individual articles and letters posted in SurvivalBlog, simply by clicking on the "Permalink" text below any SurvivalBlog item. Then copy and paste that Permalink URL (from your navigation bar) into an e-mail, a forum post, a web page, or into your own blog. We also have an RSS feed available. (Just click on "Rss" in our top bar.) Many thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: 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 ends on March 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.

Many readers of Survival Blog are either in the process of moving to a lightly populated area or actively planning to bugout to such an area when the balloon goes up. Twenty years ago I moved from the edge of a large city to a fairly remote property, and have been quietly setting up the doomstead and perfecting skills ever since. In the process, I became part of the fabric of country life here and have learned some valuable lessons which may benefit the rookie country dweller.

Most full-time country residents are descendents of frontiersmen who ventured into the wilderness with little more than a rifle, axe, team of horses, and a large supply of guts. Country people hold many of the same attributes as their forebears; competence, toughness, perseverance, and a willingness to help their neighbors, be it for common defense or a barn raising. Many of these traits are at odds with modern city life supported by a specialized full-time job. Your transition to country life will be smoother if you consider the following:

Country People are Closet Doomers:
They can do lots of useful things such as shoe a horse, grow corn, weld, back a trailer, milk a goat, make tamales, catch a wild cow, troubleshoot an electrical problem, can a tomato, and shoot lights out. And that's just the women.

People here are armed every day as a matter of course. Most have been shooting all of their lives, so the level of firearms proficiency is way above average. I see lots of casual ARs and scoped bolt actions, so if my neighbors and acquaintances are any barometer, potential rampaging MZBs are in for some exceedingly tough sledding.
On a related note, there are a few bad apples in the country, but most tend to migrate to the anonymity of the cities. The outlaws who remain are generally well known to both law enforcement and the population at large, and are easy enough to avoid once you plug into the local grapevine.

Be Scrupulously Honest:
Country people don't care that much what you think or how you wear your hair as long as they can trust you. Lie or stiff a merchant one time and in 45 minutes everyone in the county will know it, guaranteed.

On the flip side, if you've been given too much change or an error is made in your favor with a bank deposit or charge purchase at a merchant, politely point out the mistake and insist on paying the correct amount. While such a gesture will usually be met with stunned disbelief in a large city, in the country it will be acknowledged with a nod and sincere appreciation. And never doubt for an instant that the country grapevine will work in your favor as the word spreads.

When I first moved here, I was able to open an account with any business in town simply by asking if I could charge a purchase. No references, no questions, no credit check, just an address so they could send a statement at the end of the month. Such an accommodating policy would most certainly not have been the case had I been late in paying those first bills.

Money is Overrated:
Country people never forget a kindness; they also rarely forget a transgression against good manners or honesty. The most valuable commerce in the country is not conducted in dollars but in trading, gifts, being owed a favor, and goodwill.

Become Part of the Community:
Self-sufficiency is a worthy goal, but in truth perhaps the most useful survival skill is contributing to a community which has a stake in your well being. To my mind, being able to call upon neighbors for specialized assistance or trade is just as important as beans, bullets, and Band-Aids.

Schools and churches are the glue which binds a country community. If you have children in local schools or choose to attend church, tapping into country networks will be greatly accelerated.
Also, small communities run largely on volunteers, so consider volunteering at the library, as a fireman, at sports fund raisers, community cleanup, or meals on wheels. JWR Adds: If you homeschool your kids, be sure to join the local homeschooling "co-op" group. You will be sure to meet the preparedness-minded folks in your community.

The Country is a Time Warp:
Time passes slower here, as it's based more on the seasons than on a clock.
Fight the city urge to hurry everywhere. Tasks are completed when time, required supplies, and any needed help are available, and not on an arbitrary schedule. Parts are generally not readily available as they are in a city, you might have to order a particular part and wait days or weeks for it to arrive, and perhaps have to improvise in the meantime.
The two main time-related lessons you’ll learn is that weather can throw a kink into any plan, and maintaining household water supply trumps almost every other concern. You’ll soon adopt a mañana attitude about most other projects, as there is always plenty more to be done while waiting for specific parts or supplies.
Slow down enough to take time to talk about the weather, trade recipes, talk gardening, help a neighbor with a project, and to watch a sunset.

Seek Out Those with Useful Skills Now:
Country life requires a generalist rather than a specialist, so trading your particular skills – whether carpentry, electrical expertise, or knowing what’s wrong with a row of beans - with neighbors in exchange for their skills just makes sense. In fact, there is even a term here, “neighboring”, which refers to a group effort of working each landowner’s livestock in turn without hiring outside help.
I have also become acquainted with various people who have huge gardens or dairy goats or sheep or hogs or teams of horses and mules or a small band saw mill for making lumber. Such people often don’t advertise and they may be hard to find, but the search is potentially of huge benefit to the astute survivalist.

As an example, there is a man here who has an old steam-powered grain mill. Another has a tiny combine for harvesting wheat and oats in the scattered small plots where it is grown in this area. Up until now, I haven’t used their unique services, but still make it a point to give these men a quart of honey from our hives every summer.
You will choose to help many of these people in time of trouble, just as they will choose to help you, but in the meantime always exercise OPSEC about your underlying motivations and preps. Country people have a wide independent streak so your desire to be more self-sufficient will never seem out of place.

Country People are Provincial:
But largely by choice, which doesn't mean they are stupid or uninformed. The vast majority are Internet savvy and many are exceptionally well-traveled and well-read. More than a few have made the decision to leave a lucrative city existence in exchange for country life. The level of overall awareness is high, so you'll hear more commonsense over a cup of coffee than you'll ever hear from Washington.
A few recent quotes I’ve heard regarding our current economic meltdown:
“I was going to sell all of my calves last fall but held back four in case my freezers start to look empty.”
“We’re breaking some new garden ground this spring, going to plant a lot more potatoes than we usually do.”
"I bought two more cases of .223 ammo, just in case the rabbits go on the warpath.” Listen and learn.

Never Underestimate the Amount of Work Involved:
Few farms or ranches here are entirely self-supporting, with one or both spouses usually working a “regular” job. The pay scale is considerably lower than in a city, so often people work two or even three jobs in order to live well. This is in addition to farming and working livestock on their own places. People work hard, and that’s in relatively good times.

If this economy continues to unravel, more subsistence-level farming and ranching may well become the norm, and that’s when the work really begins. Growing and processing most or all of your own food requires a tremendous amount of labor and expertise, with constant effort from everyone involved. Have no illusions about some idyllic country life of sitting on the porch all day, chewing on a grass stem while contemplating the vista. The trick for making subsistence agriculture work is for everyone to always be doing something constructive, whether it’s hoeing weeds in the garden, building a chicken coop, shelling beans, cleaning a firearm, playing with a toddler, or rereading one of your how-to books.

With that said, no family or survival group can possibly be competent at all of the skills required. This is when being on good terms with neighbors becomes essential; give them half of a fresh beef now for the cheese they can provide later on; the pickles you made are a fair trade for his baskets of peaches; your stash of supplies may well allow you to trade for a rooster and five hens (along with some expert advice on getting started); if you can provide the diesel, your neighbor might plow your garden plot after your tractor has thrown a rod. - Bois d'Arc

I’ve recently been brushing up on some skills; one of them was navigating by the stars. If you’re not sure what you’re looking at it can be difficult to test yourself, I found a web site that is very useful for double checking your knowledge. - Edward K.

Introductory Note from JWR: The following was posted at the Mike's Madhouse forum, one of the Baen's Bar Forums. (This is the forum moderated by SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large, Michael Z. Williamson.) It illustrates how incredibly naive some newbie gun owners can be. It also underscores a couple of my oft-repeated mantras: Survival is not about gadgets. It is about skills. And, tools without training are almost useless. Owning a gun doesn't make someone a "shooter" any more than owning a surfboard makes someone a surfer. Reading this letter made me laugh hysterically, but it also made me sad to think that for each "rescued' newbie that is successfully mentored by a skilled shooter, there are probably one or two others that remain blissfully ignorant. Even worse, some of these latter-day gun owners might think that merely buying several thousand dollars worth of guns and paraphernalia has somehow made them "prepared." Here is the post:

"This last week I had a conversation with a associate at work. First let me tell you about him, he's a little liberal and by that I am saying someone who is left of Obama. He starts up the conversation with "you know about guns right, could you teach me how to shoot my guns," at this point I am speechless, I mean this person is about the most liberal person I know. First I have to pick up my jaw and my hamster fell out of his wheel is laying on its back doing the kick'en chicken. Flabbergasted that I am I ask what type he owns and he tells me that they are "those M16 machine guns and a 45 cal automatic."

Having known him for about six years and he is a friend (we agreed to not talk about politics and religion years ago) I asked, "What does your wife think about the guns?" He answered: "Oh she knows we bought two of each" (Jaw on floor, Hamster now in critical condition), you have to know his wife more to the left than him, and the last time she visited [my home] I had to swear that all the guns were locked up so the children were safe.

The first thing I ask, do you have a gun safe, answer: "No and don't worry we haven't bought bullets yet." I tell him sure, I will walk through weapon safety and will teach him to shoot. By the way where did you buy the weapons? His answer: The local local "sporting warehouse" . I told him to bring the weapons Friday and I will go over range and weapon safety, and we'll go to the range on Saturday (today).

On Friday afternoon he brings the weapons and accessories over. Now I won't say the salesman saw them coming but, he sold him: two Pelican rifle cases with locks,two Blackhawk drag bags, two Pelican pistol cases. The "M16 machine guns" turned out to be a pair of S&W M&P PSX [semi-auto only M4 clone rifles] each with a Trijicon ACOG and with a green laser and forward pistol grip with flashlight and with bipod and only one magazine [for each emphasis Mike's] about the only missing accessory is the latté maker (a whole 'nother story)

Now I have seen decked out M4s before but this was ridiculous. With all [items] mounted weight about 15 lbs unloaded. The .45 turned out to be a Kimber SIS with 2 magazines and a shoulder holster and a belt holster with a gun belt, magazine holder. Now he isn't hurting for money but this is taking him to the cleaners. So first thing I start taking off cr*p, laser goes, pistol grip with flashlight goes, I start to take off the Trijicon but did you know that the M&P does not come with iron sights?

I had to ask [facetiously] why they didn't get a laser for the Kimber. His answer "It's on order."

Next, I put all the excess stuff in the handy Pelican box and walk through weapon safety. If you notice there were no eye or ear protection, cleaning kits [included] with all this gear [that he was sold].

First thing, I show them how to disassemble and clean the M4 and Kimber. I decided that we would start with the pistol and that I would bring a 22 for them to start with. The range went well we started with the targets at 5m then to 7m, 10m and so forth.it went flawlessly. No great groups but at least they were hitting the targets. We shot about 500 rounds of . 22 and ended with 200 rounds of .45.

They had fun and [I helped to create] another [enthusiastic] gun owner. I got them to start using a my favorite gun shop for their future purchases. (She liked my SIG P226 and wants one now).

We stopped at the warehouse [store] and returned some of the excess equipment, about $1,500 worth. I told them to practice the basics, and then if they wanted to they could get other accessories. I will be taking them to a different range tomorrow for the M4. Wish me luck. Now, if I could only revive my hamster!"

Steven L. sent this bit of good economic news: Cabela's shares surge on gun sales

Eric S. sent this snippet from Bloomberg : "Gold is likely to more than quadruple from the current level of $986 per ounce currently to $3,500 in 2010, he said."

Reader "Jericho Jo" flagged this article from New Zealand: European chiefs propose global rules (for world economies). A quote: “Even the global crisis and a change of Administration may not be enough to convince the US to hand over its autonomy."I see the US as wary of giving away powers of oversight and regulation," said Robert Brusca of Fact And Opinion Economics in New York.”

HPD set this item from Bloomberg: AIG Seeks More Aid, May Lose $60 Billion, CNBC Says (Apparently the $150 billion in taxpayer dollars already spent wasn't enough...)

Items from The Economatrix:

Full Text of the Treasury Statement on Banks

UK: Top Economist Calls for 5-6% Inflation to Help Ease Crisis JWR's comment: Sure! We'll get 5% inflation, and then 50% inflation, and then...

Gold Hits Record Against Euro on Fear of Zimbabwean-style Response to Bank Crisis

US Cannot Go Back to Old Ways, Top Economist Says "Fixing the banks is not really the key to unlocking the demand side."

Financial Job Losses Accelerating Says UN Agency " ...the combined New York metropolitan area expected to lose up to 100,000 financial services jobs..."

EU Leaders Back Sweeping Financial Regulations Any bets on whether or not private banking privacy will suffer, in the process?

US Gasoline Prices Edge Up to $1.94

Bernanke: Recession May End this Year; Stocks Climb
JWR's Comment: And tortoises may learn to fly later in 2009, as well!

Consumer Confidence Plunges to New Low In February

Home Prices Post Highest Annual Decline in 4Q

World's Economies Tumbling Like Dominoes

The Long and Short of It

Food for Thought (The Mogambo Guru)

Warning for the West as Crisis Spills onto Streets

Thanks to Bryce L. for sending this: Expert: Climate Change Could Mean 'Extended World War'. There is a huge divergence of opinion on this issue. But consider that even if there is no climate change, government over-reaction or misdirected "solutions" could cause some serious problems.

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This is one of those risks' that I was warning about: Arkansas Times Publishes List of Arkansas State Concealed Carry Holders. (A hat tip to Scotty and Stacie in Arkansas for the link.)

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Pete in Florida sent the link to this piece by Glenn Beck; We Surround Them - The Unveiling

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Reader GRB mentioned that Cansolidators and Harvest canned food FIFO storage systems (recently reviewed by SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large, Mike Williamson) are available at a discount at Costco online.

"He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one that hath no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God hath enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend itself." - From a 1747 sermon given in Philadelphia, as quoted by C. Asbury in The Right to Keep and Bear Arms in America: The Origins and Application of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, (an unpublished doctoral thesis in history, available at University of Michigan Graduate Library), pp. 39-40

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

After my successful test of ShelfReliance's Cansolidator, I acquired their full-size Harvest system that holds up to 600 cans. The Harvest comes in two cartons, a tall heavy one with the metal structure, and a big, double-walled carton with the can racks. The instructions are included, and quite straightforward. One or two pictures weren't as clear as they could be, but a look at the components straightened everything out.

While I was able to put the system together myself, I'd recommend have a second person to assist. It's not particularly complicated, just large. The steel frame slots together with keyhole fasteners, and they're quite snug. I used a rubber mallet to get them together. This is a good thing, in my opinion; it means it won't come apart easily. The tracks are thick, rigid plastic. You'll want to ensure you have plenty of space to assemble this beast: it takes access from at least two sides to get the racks locked in, lined up and properly spaced, and I recommend the caster upgrade--Once it's in filled and in place, it is not going to move otherwise.

This system is well-designed. It takes most standard sizes of can, small, medium and #10, and can be customized to take various proportions of them. It adjusts for cans as short as tuna cans, and for the tall ready-to-serve size soup cans. It takes standard peanut butter and condiment jars, too. I would recommend a padded underlayer if you plan to store glass jars, just in case. Each rack holds about 15 standard cans (the larger racks being proportionally deeper), but I was able to bump the rear cans on the feed rail, and double stack a couple of extras. The tracks are very

Included is a set of magnetic labels for most common canned products, plus some blanks for making your own, plus some specialty ones for canned long term food (shelf life up to 30 years) that Shelf Reliance sells. (I haven't tried these yet, but their prices are quite reasonable and competitive and their quality so far in my tests is excellent.) This, and the open design makes it very easy to find what you need, and keep track of the amount on hand. First In, First Out (FIFO) means all you have to do is see what's low, buy more and feed it in from the front.

Well-designed, modular, adjustable for most cans and several other containers, sturdy, compact, easy to use, easy to assemble, fairly clear documentation, made in America, half the price of some competing systems. Shelfreliance is happy to customize parts for you if you want to store more #10-size cans, or more standard cans, or fit the unit into a narrower or shallower space. They also sell component pieces individually for expansion, and have "scratch and dent" sales for those on a budget.

No actual negatives so far. Just be aware that it takes a while (a couple of hours) to put together just because it's so large--there are 31 racks on the standard model. You really should buy the casters if
you ever plan to move it. - Michael Z. Williamson

Mr. Rawles,
First of all, thank for providing the incredible resource of Survivalblog. I have only been a reader for a few months, but it has been an eye-opening experience. I was raised in a conservative, Christian home and my father was only a "casual" gun owner. At first, when reading the opinions on your blog, I was skeptical about owning firearms. I had never owned a gun in my life and only shot one a couple times. In actuality, I had never really thought too much about guns. However, after reading your reconciliation of Christianity and self-defense and my own study of the Scriptures, I determined that preparing to defend myself and my family is the right thing to do. I recently purchased my first gun, a 12-gauge Remington 870 Express Synthetic 18" [barrel] shotgun, at a local gun show. I also attended the two-day shotgun course at Front Sight in January. I now feel fairly confident in the handling and defensive use of my shotgun.

I was hoping to get your opinion on something that still bothers me, however. While I now believe it is prudent to provide for my own self-defense, I have to wonder if there is a danger of putting more faith in guns than in God? For example, see the following:

Psalms 20:7-8: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright."

Psalms 44:5-7: "Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us."

Isaiah 2:22: "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?"

Your blog seems to discuss guns, body armor, and hardened defensive structures pretty extensively. Is this something you have considered before? What do you think is the correct balance between guns and God? At what point does someone cross the line where they begin to put all their faith and trust in their guns and their own preparations? How do us Christian and otherwise religious Survivalblog readers avoid crossing that line? Thanks again! - DR

JWR Replies: Thanks for re-opening this topic. First, you mentioned Psalm 20,. It noteworthy that this psalm was an admonition to Israel's kings to not raise too large an army rather than saying the nation should not have an army to defend itself. (That psalm ties it to several other verses that warn against "multiplying chariots".)

Certainly, there must be a balance struck when preparing. It is foolish to trust just in just your own preparations. We need to trust in God's providence and his protection for his Covenant people. But at the same time we need to heed the prodding of the Holy Spirit to prepare for our family's safety, housing, nourishment, and security.

Trust in God is a wonderful and crucial aspect of preparedness (it is to me!) but we should not expect manna to fall from heaven, nor walls of flame to spring up between us and those that would do us harm. Some Mennonites, for example, eschew all means self defense and decry even the willingness to defend oneself or one's loved ones. That, in my opinion is taking "turning the other cheek" (Luke 6:29) to an extreme that is not scripturally founded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I enjoy your blog. Recently a few friends and I started to look for potable water storage tanks for long term storage. Most tanks either were not designed for long term storage or the retailer does not have enough information. (Ever since the bottled water cancer scare, the composition of the plastic has taken on a new importance.)

Wanted to pass on to you a link to WaterTanks.com, a company that has really been great leading us through the process and willing to sell us 1 or 100 tanks. Our sales rep is James Opferman.

We are going to pick up the tanks ourselves and save on the sizable shipping costs. I thought your audience might be interested. They also have a cool rain barrel configured with a nice strainer on the top. Keeps out the roof debris and bugs.

I'm off, to read more of your site. - Jerry A

Tamara over at the Books, Bikes. & Boomsticks blog mentioned Rick Santelli's "rant of the year", amidst cheers from the Chicago Merc trading pits.

Stock market slump: Major stock market indexes fall to 1997 levels. Hmmm, let's see, now adjusting for infaltion,...

G.G. sent this: Foreigners Wary of Long-Term U.S. Securities. JWR's comment: How long will it be before foreign investors start demanding higher rates of return.? Stagflation is coming, folks!

I spotted this Wall Street Journal article linked at The Drudge Report: 'Nationalize' the Banks, Dr. Doom says a takeover and resale is the market-friendly solution.

Several readers sent this article from The Guardian: Britain faces summer of rage - police, Middle-class anger at economic crisis could erupt into violence on streets

Reader "Jericho Jo" set us this: The noose around U.S. banks' neck: the unknown. A quote: "Even prominent members of Congress, including Senate banking committee chairman Chris Dodd, acknowledge a seizure of one or more banks may eventually be necessary. The industry, already fighting for its survival, is now also fighting for its independence."

Items from The Economatrix:

Soros Sees No Bottom in World Financial Collapse

Martin Weiss: Red Alert--Meltdown Imminent!

UK Could Crash Like Iceland

Greenspan: "Recession" Will be Worst Since 1930s

The Future of U.S. Banks

Fears For BofA and Citi Rattles Markets

This Financial Crisis is Now Truly Global

United They Fall: Post-Communist States Pull EU Into Red

US Seeks to Stem Nationalization Fears

April Gold Futures Settle Above $1,000

The More They Do the Worse it Gets

US Debt is Losing its Appeal in China

World Financial System Insolvent

IMF Emergency Fund Doubled to $500 Billion

Economic Crisis "Is as Bad as They Come"

Huge Protest Over Irish Economy

Financial Foxes Guarding the Hen House

Miles of Idled Box Cars Leave Towns Singing the Freight-Train Blues

Heather flagged this for us: Sole revival for cobblers. Heather asks: "Perhaps this is a good Depression-proof trade to learn?"
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Reader "67" pointed me to HowAutoWork.com, a a site for learning the concepts and terminology of engines and motor vehicles. Knowing how a machine works is crucial to understanding repairs and maintenance. The site has detailed, informative, easy-to-grasp information. I'm bookmarking it for "curriculum enrichment" for my home-schooled kids. This sub-page on engine types is a good starting point.

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Several readers sent us thi from Glenn Beck's site: The Survivors Club Quiz

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Brian F. sent this news article from Alaska: If you're packing, flaunt it, group says

Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Hauschen,
Ihr klein Hauschen,
Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Hauschen,
Und die erste und die zweite Hypothek!

- Popular drinking song in the Weimar Republic of Germany, 1922 referring to the runaway inflation of the period

Loosely translated:
We are drinking up our granny’s little house,
Her little house,
We are drinking up our granny’s little house,
And the first and second mortgage!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Please keep spreading the word! Putting a link to SurvivalBlog.com in your web page or in your e-mail footer will mean that there'll be thousands of new SurvivalBlog readers, and more importantly thousands of people that will be prepared in the coming hard times. Consider that each of your friends, neighbors, and relatives that get prepared will be one less person that comes begging on your doorstep, on TEOTWAWKI+1, so it is in your own best interest to wake people up.

The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) keeps growing. SurvivalBlog reader PhotoTom sent us this: U.S. Tries a Trillion-Dollar Key for Locked Lending. Here is a snippet: "The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve plan to spend as much as $1 trillion to provide low-cost loans and guarantees to hedge funds and private equity firms that buy securities backed by consumer and business loans."

I've been warning about the likelihood of hedge fund collapses for years. This first trillion dollars in bailout money for the hedge funds is little more than a kind gesture between banking buddies. But it won't magically restore liquidity to a global credit market that measures in the hundreds of trillions. International liquidity is still frozen, asset values are still plunging, the level of opacity and obfuscation are nearly total, and the level of mutual trust betwixt bankers is miniscule. The current "Price Discovery" system is a joke. Most of the once-touted collateralized debt obligation (CDO) derivatives, for example, are so onion-layered that there is no effective method to judge their safety. And we cannot depend on "neutral third parties" to judge value, risk, and credit-worthiness. The so-called watchdogs at Standard & Poors, Fitch, and Moody's, we have learned, were complicit in the subprime Housing Bubble swindle. They were on the take. Who wants to buy packaged debt instruments when they may contain toxic debt? Who is going to lend in that environment? I can foresee that the write-downs may eventually be as deep as 80% for many derivative instruments such as CDOs and credit default swaps (CDSs).

I stand by my prediction of massive hedge fund failures and redemption suspensions. The next wave will likely come in early April, when hedge fund earnings (or more likely the lack thereof) are announced at the end of Q1.

An aside: Two of my consulting clients are hedge fund managers. Both of them are looking for extremely safe, remote, and self-sufficient rural retreats. Who can blame them? More than most other observers and certainly more that the still clueless talking heads on CNBC, hedge fund managers can see the enormity of the economic crisis, its full implications and the most likely final outcome. And that outcome will be a lot more like The Road Warrior than it will be It's a Wonderful Life.

Dollars and Real Money

Do you recall my mention that the US Dollar's recent gains against the Euro are more of a function of banking weakness in Europe than it is of any real strength in the Dollar itself? This article with accompanying graph prove my point: Financial Crises And Public Finances: Where Is The Greatest Risk? (My thanks to veteran economist John Mauldin, who pointed me to the BCA Research web site.) According to Mauldin, Europe is just one small step from a total systemic banking collapse. I concur. If one European nation's banking system fails, the rest may follow, like a house if cards. The American banking system may be precarious, but the situation is even more tenuous in Europe. My advice? Get out of paper currencies (both the Dollar and the Euro) and buy practical tangibles. Things like Silver, gold, stainless steel (handguns) and lead (the JHP variety). Forget fine art, vintage wines, and collectibles. Those are all headed into a downward spiral. But if by chance you do fancy any of those, just wait until we reach the depth of the Depression, and you'll be able to pick them up for 20 cents on the dollar. Presently, you should be getting out of your dollar-denominated investments, and stuffing your home gun vault vault full of battle rifles, large bore autopistols, and full capacity magazines. A few bags of pre-'65 junk silver make nice ballast for the bottom of the vault. The current (and most likely short-lived) strength in the Dollar represents perhaps your last chance to pay down your debts and shelter your assets in tangibles.

I have started using Mara Helland [one of SurvivalBlog's advertisers] as my CPA after finding her on your site. She is very helpful, very friendly, and very reasonable. There is also a major benefit to using her service as she understands the SurvivalBlog mindset and goals.

Thanks for your help, - D.C.


One option to consider for a Concealed Carry Permit would be to apply for a non-resident permit from the State of Florida. Florida's Dept of Agriculture issues permits to non-Floridians and the application process and requirements are less restrictive than in my home state of Arkansas. The training requirements are very generous. Along with traditional types of training, they will accept firearms training courses conducted by your state or any NRA-certified instructor; a hunter's education course, or even a Form DD-214 for military members or veterans. The cost is reasonable and Florida
has one of the best reciprocity programs in the nation. [JWR Adds: Florida concealed carry permits are recognized in 23 states!]

For OPSEC, holding a Florida non-resident permit in another state allows the holder a little anonymity against the release of public records. Just a few days ago, I came across an Excel spreadsheet listing names and addresses of every permit holder in my state plus the state of Tennessee. The list did not disclose the names of Arkansas or Tennessee residents that hold Florida permits. The application process is very straight-forward and can be requested on the Florida web site.
- RDC, Arkansas

The Army Aviator notes: "Just a head's up, perhaps a sea change of some sort: Bloomberg['s televised financial news on Sunday] started off by saying that several Asian countries had pooled together a fund of $125 Billion to fight FOREX attacks against their currency but it didn't seem like enough. Then they described Hillary's visit to [mainland] China in an unusual way. Their comment: 'We thought she was a presidential candidate but she's just a bond salesman.'"

From reader HPD comes this BBC news link: Is the US heading for a depression? The US economy is contracting sharply. Is there a danger that it will go from recession to depression?

Peter O. suggested this Reason magazine piece by Damon Root: "Milton Friedman Proud Father of Global Misery" (No, it is not a diatribe against Friedman--it is in his defense.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Fannie Mae Rescue Hindered as Asians Seek Guarantee

Jefferson Co., Alabama, Unable to Make $636 Million Sewer Debt Friday

Treasuries: Prices Fall as Treasury Set to Issue $94 Billion

Shenandoah Update No. 23: All News, All Bad

Examples: Confidence Destroyed

The Hijacking of America
. A quote: "There is no longer any means of reversal of the final terminal phase of the downward spiral now solidly set in motion. It is coming whether you or I want it to or not. All you can do is take the positive approach and prepare for it, and profit from the debacle. The time to do so however is rapidly running out."

Reader S.H. notes: Many good lessons here in this outstanding photo-essay on the recent devastating Australian forest fires. There are definitely some lessons to be learned here in many of the aerial views burned homes and structures about defensible space and the repercussions of not evacuating when you should. Some of these pictures are rather sobering reminders of the power of fire.

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I heard that for a limited time, Ready Made Resources is offering the Warrior Aid and Litter Kit at 40% off. This medic kit package includes a Talon II 90C folding handle collapsible litter, which normally retails for $560, just by itself. If you've been looking for a "full up" tactical trauma kit at a reasonable price, then this is it!

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Several readers mentioned that they saw Glenn Beck's recent War Room television special edition on "worst case scenarios" for the near future. The first three segments are available on YouTube. Beck seemed flabbergasted by the two retired military men that spoke in favor of private citizen "Bubbas" standing up for the Constitution. (It was clear that Beck was expecting at least one of them to have a much different response.) OBTW, the show inspired a new discussion thread over at TMM.

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SMC found this wee bit of Survival humor: Wondermark #491; In which Wendy is prepared

"All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation." - John Adams

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: 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 ends on March 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 was raised in a missionary family, on nine different mission fields around the world. At the age of nineteen, I went out to serve the Lord on my own in the former Soviet Union. I had no formal Theological training, but was accepted by the missionary societies of my denomination because of my experience under my father and my willingness to go to dangerous areas.

I married, and my wife and I have now six children. A few years ago, due to some changes in my theology, I fell out of favor with my denomination and had to return home to the USA. I was faced with a situation of suddenly having to feed and care for a large family with: 1. no formal education/training/skills of any kind and 2. very little understanding of the southern American culture that I found myself living in. I was forced to take very low-paying jobs and survive on a low-income.

With our savings we were able to buy a small rural house and 7.5 acres in the southeast. We were able to pay cash, I wanted it to be ours with no strings attached, regardless of what the future held. I figured that at the very least we would have a roof and some plantable land. I bought in the area my parents lived in to help care for them as they progressed in years.
Our income is very limited. I work at just above minimum wage. I work a full-time job and another part-time job. I am thankful that the Lord provides.

As I studied current events I became concerned about the possibility of a world-wide economic and/or societal collapse of some kind, or a societal break-down here in the USA resulting from any number of possible reasons. I had witnessed the chaos of the nineties in the former Soviet Union, had watched doctors and physicists sweep streets and live off of potatoes and bread for months on end, and I was concerned about my responsibility to feed my family should a similar collapse happen here.

What can you do when you have very limited means? Actually there is much you can do. It amounts to setting goals and getting your family on board with you. The first thing I did was (after my wife and I had many long talks and she began to see things in a similar way), I gathered the family around and explained everything to them. I explained about our limited means, exactly how much money was coming in, how much went to utilities, fuel, etc. I explained what I believed the dangers were. I explained what we needed to do as a family. Let me interject here that after being born and growing up on a third-world mission field, they were far from spoiled children! They were accustomed to living in tight quarters, washing in cold water, eating cheap, and basically just "roughing it."

My first priority was for two weeks worth of provisions. We began to buy a few extra cans of food when we went shopping. I set a goal of 20 dollars per week for prepping. Some weeks ten dollars of canned goods and/or dried foods like rice, beans or noodles, and ten dollars in ammo or medical supplies. Some weeks just food, some weeks just extra gasoline. We bought gas cans at thrift stores and garage sales for a dollar apiece, Large scented candles (better than nothing) at closeout sales and garage sales for 30 and 50 cents, and just about anything we could scrounge that might come in handy if the lights went out. It did not take us long to build up enough supplies to last two weeks in an emergency. We had enough gasoline to drive to work for two weeks (if needed), enough food for our family plus a little extra, and candles, radios, batteries and other odds and ends to get by.

I had also along the way added to my ammunition stocks for my Winchester .30-30, and my bolt-action .22 LR.
After we reached the point where we felt we had enough for a two-week catastrophe, we began to focus on the six-month time frame. This opened up many entirely new possibilities. since the food required for this amount of time was such a major expense, we had to make sure that it would last for several years. This raised the issue of long-term storage in buckets, mylar bags and oxygen-absorbers. We had to save for months to buy an order of oxygen-absorbers and mylar bags on e-bay! We found low-cost buckets and began to fill them with rice, feed corn, corn meal, noodles, beans etc. Anything that was inexpensive. We taught the children to like corn-meal mush and grits since they might get quite a bit of it one day!

Gradually we worked our way up to 30 buckets. At this point I made a strategic decision. I decided that we needed to invest our extra funds in gardening. Not entirely stopping the food storage, but reducing it in favor of procuring means and experience in growing and canning our own food. We began to buy canning jars and lids to put away in the attic for the future. My father gave us a tiller with a blown engine which we were able to get fixed, and we began to garden. The first garden was not very well thought-out. Some things grew, some did not. But we learned. We learned first-hand what pollination means and about soil fertility. We learned about bugs and blight. We gained valuable experience.

We also invested in chickens, and watched some of them die, some of them be eaten by neighbor's dogs, some get eaten by our dogs, and the hardy survivors begin to lay eggs. We watched them eat their own eggs and learned to give them calcium. We let half of them free range and half range in portable pens that we built which have an open floor that we could move each day to fresh grass. We learned how to make them roost and lay where they were supposed to.

We bought some rabbits and learned a lot, real fast! We experimented with many types of portable cages for rabbits which would allow us to move them from one grassy spot to another without giving them time to dig a burrow. Sometimes we would wake up and find rabbit carcases torn to shreds, because a neighborhood cat had gotten to them. My kids handled most of this, and they learned things the hard way.

If you haven't figured it out yet, We were totally green. I spent my life traveling and overseeing the translation of Christian literature into foreign languages. My wife is a musician. We had zero experience at any of this, and no one around that we knew to advise us. We had to learn everything from scratch. We bought a goat and promptly saw it attacked and killed by a stray dog. That hurt, financially as well as emotionally. After sending the dog to join the goat "on the other side", I bought another goat. and then another. These have survived. We have learned to care for them.

Gradually I am seeing my children grow confident in their relationship to the animals under their care. Gradually we are learning the needs of these animals and how to make them produce for us. If we had had some kind of hands-on training, it would have saved the lives of a lot of animals, but we didn't. I am happy to announce a much higher survival rate for animals that we bring home now.

I felt like I needed a greater firearms capability (what man doesn't?). I thought long and hard. At first I bought a Mosin-Nagant since they were so cheap ($75) and the ammo was dirt-cheap as well. I then began to consider what type of semi-automatic I could afford. I looked at the prices of ammo which was very critical since I would have to train my entire family to shoot. At the time the best deal for us appeared to be the SKS rifle. It was cheap (a good quality Yugo[slavian SKS] was less than $200), dependable, semi-auto and the ammo was very cheap at the time. I later added a cheap 12 gauge pump, and last but not least, a 17 round Bersa Thunder 9mm. After purchasing these guns I began to pick up ammo for them when I could find it on sale. I have gradually gotten up to about 500 rounds for each of them.

I then turned my attention to our home and it's defense. While we live in the country, we are close to our neighbors 100 yards +/-, about five miles from a small town, about 15 miles from a large town, and about 90 miles from Atlanta (upwind fortunately). My greatest concern is our proximity to the road. The house is only about 65 feet from the dirt road in front of our house. A looter or burglar/rapist could be at the door or windows before the dog barked. In response to this my next expenditure is to be fence posts, fencing, and barbed wire, along with a row of thorny bushes in front of the wire next to the road.

Our house is a soft target, offering no ballistic protection. My remedy/forlorn hope is to have plenty of sand and gravel on hand, and to start checking the thrift stores for pillow cases to buy and store. perhaps we would have time to bag up sand bags and at least harden up certain corners or rooms of the house. We also have several large piles of sandstone (we live on top of a mountain) which could be placed strategically and then perhaps sand bags on top of that. We could also cut logs and add that to the mix.

Our water supply is a [grid-powered] electric well. This is one of my biggest worries. We have made it a priority to buy a generator at least strong enough to run the well and freezers for an hour or two a day. I know that this is only a temporary solution but is about all we can handle right now. I am very thankful for the non-fiction writing contribution about the siphon pumps for wells such as mine, that offered up new possibilities which I have not had time to address yet. We also have a neighbor 1/4 mile away which has an artesian spring on his property, though it has extremely high iron content. I have purchased two 330 gallon plastic livestock watering tanks and several drums which I can fill at the first sign of trouble. I can also load them on my little trailer and pull them down to the neighbor's to fill up from his well. I just need to check on the ramifications of the high iron content.

I am also trying to fill up as many containers as possible with gasoline. I add Sta-Bil and plan to use/rotate it yearly (as long as the price stays low). I would like to keep at least 250 to 500 gallons on hand at all times. I buy old gas cans at yard sales and just found a source for cheap 55 gallon drums with sealed lids ($3). I may start using them instead.

Our immediate plans are to build more pens and raise more chickens and goats, maybe a pig or two. We also look forward to planting a much bigger garden this spring and maybe use some of our hard-won experience of last year. We also want to involve the kids in martial arts classes if we can afford it, as well as herb-collecting hikes from the local community college field school (which are free and fun). We want to spend more time with them in the woods and in the garden so that they feel comfortable there and begin to think about survival from their own perspective. We also are beginning to exploit the library for free resources for them to study on various topics.

The future of this country looks grim. As Christians we have "read the back of the Book" and we know Who wins. Our responsibility is to be good stewards of the talents we have, perform our duties as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and ultimately, to trust Him for that which is beyond our vision and power.


I have some observations on home security where there are children under the roof:

I have given my kids two new directives.

1) Every time they enter the house, they must now shout out their name and lock the door behind them. I did this because I realized that I was getting desensitized to the sounds of my front door opening...

2) If they hear me say "Hit the ground!" they immediately do just that, no excuses.

If I ever need to discharge a weapon in my house I want to decrease the odds of a bullet hitting them. It goes without saying that you should manipulate your position and the background positions to keep your loved one's from being downrange.

For the kids, it's a game. I'll say it every once in a while to keep them on their toes. "You can be going to the bathroom or have a glass of milk in your hands, I don't care. If I say to "hit the ground", then [you immediately] hit the ground." - SF in Hawaii

Jeff M. found this: Family of Four Trying to Live on $1,500 for the Year

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The folks at CampingSurvival.com got creative and put together a fairly complete one year food storage system. including Yoder's canned meats and cheese. All you need to add is some cooking oil, a sprouting kit (or multivitamin tablets) and a couple of tubes of toothpaste!

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KAF sent us: How to Build a Cold Smoker

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Our Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson found this: Building a stick welder from an old microwave oven.

Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.
“I thank You and praise You,
O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand.” - Daniel 2:17-23 (KJV)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: 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 ends on March 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.

This essay will cover several common foot problems which can be prevented with proper care. These problems can lead to impaired walking, running, and decreased mobility, which may adversely affect survival in a serious post disaster situation. The foundation for this information is basic knowledge gleaned from the 1930s edition Scout Handbook, which relied heavily on Lord Baden Powell’s experience in the British Army.The author is a Board-Certified Surgeon.

The feet have a hard job to do. They support the weight of the body standing, walking, running, and jumping. Any time there is excess body weight, the added load on the feet can result in problems. These include plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains. There is a much higher incidence of Type II Diabetes in the obese, and this leads to a host of foot problems, many of which can be life-threatening.
Ingrown toenails are a common preventable problem. There is a congenital predisposition based on the geometry of the nail, and this is made into a problem by the bad habit of keeping the nails too short and ripping the nail off instead of trimming or filing it straight across. This leads to a spicule of nail which points into the soft and delicate tissue of the nail fold, where it causes irritation, inflammation, and finally chronic infection and pain.

The preventive treatment is to keep the nail as thin as possible by filing the surface, which makes it flexible instead of rigid, and to avoid any ripping of the nail. The nail should be gently filed or trimmed straight across, with only enough rounding of the sides to prevent digging into the skin. A small tuft of cotton can be wedged between the nail and the nail bed if needed to prevent digging in until the nail grows long enough. [JWR Adds: I concur that a relatively "square" cut is best, as has been encouraged by military organizations since before the 1850s. However, readers are forewarned that changing the profile of toenails radically can cause in-growth, so make any changes gradually!]

Sometimes cutting a “V” notch in the center of the leading edge can relieve the pressure on the sides until it grows out.

There are proprietary systems which involve gluing a rigid polymer or metallic strip across the nail to pull up on the sides. In theory this should work. It is difficult to get any adhesive to work on nails, but they are worth a try.

If things have gotten too far out of hand, and a spicule of nail is growing into the nail fold, then a thin portion of nail will need to be removed by a surgeon or podiatrist.
This can be done as an office procedure with local anesthesia. The procedure itself is not very hard but I have found that getting good anesthesia requires some skill and patience and I would not recommend it as a “do-it-yourself” project. The nail matrix needs to be destroyed either by cautery or by a caustic agent to prevent re-growth on the affected side. Recovering from this to achieve normal walking takes several weeks.

Parents and partners need to look out for each other and their children since this can become a serious problem. Education about proper foot care starts early along with toothbrushing.
Immersion foot or trench foot is caused by chronic exposure to water and extreme environmental condition, either hot and humid or cold. The best prevention is avoidance of immersion, and if this should occur, dry socks need to be put on after drying and powdering the feet. It is helpful to have spare boots. The time to break these in and waterproof them is now.

Ankle sprains can be extremely debilitating. Wearing well-fitted ankle high boots, laced securely, best prevents this. There is a great product available wherever animal health supplies are sold called Vet rap made by 3M. It is flexible elastic wrap that is self-adherent. It provides excellent support for those who have previously injured their ankles, and it makes an all-purpose first aid dressing material, which can help hold a pressure dressing in place, or keep a splint immobile. If you would like to pay more, the human version is called Coban. I would recommend the 4” size.

Diabetics need to take special care of their feet. In a survival situation it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to get the specialized care needed to treat a diabetic foot infection, so prevention is key. Because of the peripheral neuropathy which many diabetics develop, the feet may lose sensation. It is very important to frequently inspect the feet for any injury, nails rubbing on the skin, pressure sores, etc. This is best done with a partner so all parts of the foot can be seen. Nails need to be cared for meticulously. Cotton tufts can be placed between the toes. Shoes must be “shaken out” frequently to make sure that no pebbles or debris get inside. Well-fitting high boots are less likely to get debris inside than sneakers or low-cut footwear.

Smoking can lead to severe peripheral vascular disease with loss of arterial supply to the toes and feet. In a normal situation it can lead to gangrene and amputation. Combined with diabetes it can result in more severe atherosclerotic changes in the blood vessels. It can also make the smoker more susceptible to frostbite.

Who can help you meet these challenges? Most experienced outdoorsmen and soldiers have learned the hard away about these issues. Next to making sure the troops get enough water to drink, foot care comes a close second. It might be a good idea to link up with a healthcare provider to make sure you don’t have any remediable issues such as ingrown nails that require attention.
Diabetic control and smoking cessation can be approached with your primary care doctor. There are specially trained nurses who frequent senior centers and nursing homes, providing basic foot care. Those with a nursing background might check out this type of training. For good quality shoes with plenty of toe room, and custom made inserts for pressure relief, you’ll need to see an orthotist.
Having healthy feet is critical to maintaining a tactical readiness for future possible disaster. Some chronic foot problems develop over years, so now is the time to make appropriate changes in one’s habits.

Some states allow for the public release of permit holders names and sometimes address. Newspapers have requested these lists (since they are public information) and then published them.
Other states (like Minnesota, and others) makes it a crime to release to the public who is a permit holder. - X.


This headline says it all: Dateline Feb. 17, 2009 in The Miami Herald: Florida can't keep up with concealed weapons permit requests.

Regards, - Jim H.

Mr. Rawles,

Thanks for your very reasonable and level-headed response on concealed carry permits. I agree that you they aren't for everyone! I wish that I lived where I only had to worry about predators with four legs. But living where I do (in Virginia), we have lots of two-legged predators and I would feel naked without my XD .45. (I got the "Compact" version.) I used to carry a Commander-size Kimber 1911, as I used to be a M1911 Die Hard, but nowadays I practically speak Croatian.) [JWR Adds: To explain his comment to the uninitiated, the Springfield Armory XD-series auto pistols are made in Croatia.] My family will soon have two XDs, since my wife is signing up for the Front Sight "Get a Gun" package deal. We want to get back out there while the weather is still cool. (Summer at Front Sight is an oven set to "BROIL".) Their XD package is an amazing bargain, and the training is superb. It is absolutely worth the travel expense! I recommend it to everyone that reads SurvivalBlog. Put that training at the top of your "Priorities list." Without proper training you are just a "pistol owner", not a competent shooter. I had no idea how incompetent I was until I went to take the training. It takes some humility to admit that, but I really was incompetent, and just thought that I was good shooter.

By the by, I am buying every XD magazine that I can lay my cotton-pickin' hands on at a good price. Since they are imported, these mags could be under risk of an import ban, soon. One of your recent posters mentioned he saw high mag prices at gun shows. That is true, but there are still some bargains out there, by mail order. [JWR Adds: I highly recommend 44Mag.com, CDNN Sports, MidwayUSA, and Natchez Shooter's Supply, as low-costs sources for full capacity magazines. Buy plenty, now, while they are still reasonably-priced!]

My XD is a my constant companion, kinda like an American Express card. I "don't leave home without it." - Riggins in Virginia

LRG spotted this: Cave house for sale in Festus, Missouri

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I just heard about another preparedness blog The Prudent Home. Check it out.

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Oxy sent this: Scratch Guadaloupe off the list of possible retreat locales.
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The JPFO's latest Talkin' to America show features and interview is with Mark Spungin, the author of "Neither Predator nor Prey". Mark's novel is about the reaction by a minute percentage of Wyoming gun owners to a nationwide ban and confiscation of firearms.

"Abilene is a town of an armed citizenry. This tends to make relations both peaceful and respectful." - James Butler ("Wild Bill") Hickok, while City Marshal of Abilene, in an interview with an eastern newspaper reporter. (Until Hickok's reply, the reporter had thought Wild Bill himself was the reason.that Abilene was so peaceful for the locals)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thank you for your excellent site. I'm here every day.
My wife and I are considering getting Concealed Weapons Permits. Do you recommend getting a permit? Is it a good idea, or is it a red flag that would attract the unwanted attention of our government officials? Do you have a permit? I would appreciate your insight. - The Forester

JWR Replies: I do not have a CCW permit, but I have the benefit of living in an open carry state. I don't issue any blanket advice on concealed carry. Everyone has to weigh the risks and benefits of licensure for themselves, in their own particular circumstances. Since I live in a lightly-populated region with low crime, I decided that the high profile that goes along with getting a CCW permit wasn't justifiable. I am far more worried about being mauled by a bear when out berry picking than I am getting mugged. Street crime is virtually unheard of here in TUWS. (Robert Heinlein was right: An armed society is a polite society.) Again, the decision on whether or not to get a CCW permit is personal judgment call. For many SurvivalBlog readers living in high crime areas, getting a permit would probably be advisable.

BTW, I wouldn't be surprised to see Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and perhaps the Dakotas all "going Alaska" in the next few years--dropping the requirement for a CCW for carry inside city limits. This has been the case in Vermont since time immemorial, and the CCW permit requirement for inside city limits was recently dropped in Alaska. (In many southern and western states it is already legal to carry conceal outside of city limits.)

I’ve often been asked for advice on how a shooter can improve his or her proficiency at arms, and it seems that the questioner is almost always expecting some magical tidbit of “gouge” that will bring out their “A” game. Apart from analyzing form and talking about mechanics, one thing that I universally recommend, and almost always find lacking in the normal routine of many shooters, is dry practice.
The term “dry practice” includes many things, but to put it simply and encompass all applications, it is firearms training conducted without live ammunition. Far from a replacement for live fire training, dry practice is, however, an essential and exceptionally useful tool in improving everything from presentations to reloads to trigger control and beyond. Its application to a program of training can help with any firearm related endeavor, and if you aren’t doing it now, you should consider adding it to supplement your live fire training.

So, how does one go about this dry practice? First, one needs a safe place to conduct it. We are training without live ammunition, but human fallibility still applies, so a safe backstop is requirement number one. In the event that a live round finds its way into the mix despite all our precautions, which we will discuss shortly, a safe backstop will limit the event to an embarrassment instead of a possible tragedy. I often use a 40mm ammo can filled with sand to affix my target to, and place this in front of a stout exterior wall. Basement walls are ideal for this. Ballistic panels, such as those made by Second Chance and Point Blank, also work well to affix targets to, and you are really limited only by your imagination, as long as your backstop will reliably stop the caliber of arm you intend to conduct training with, even if you were to not strike your intended aim point. Targets can be anything from the actual targets used in a competitive discipline to scaled silhouettes replicating distance in the confines of the practice area to squares of tape or target pasters. Col. Jeff Cooper even recommended the “televisor” as a dry practice aid, as he stated he could get along quite nicely without it. (Placed against a safe backstop, of course!) Your mileage may vary on this one, for many reasons. I would recommend saving yourself a potential television replacement trip to Best Buy and using more mundane targetry. Other considerations for the training area include floor composition—when conducting pistol or carbine reload drills you don’t really want to be dropping magazines onto a concrete floor hundreds of times (cardboard and carpet are your friends!)—and also separation. You want your practice area well-defined so that all sources of live ammunition can be kept out, and your mental focus can be devoted to the task at hand. One final note: no mirrors. While one may think that a mirror will help to observe and debrief practice sessions, their effect is always negative. Your attention will be focused away from where it should be, and the result will be negative training. No mirrors on the backstop, no mirrors anywhere in the area. If you want to be able to debrief performance, use a video camera.

Additional equipment includes dummy cartridges and “snap caps”. Snap caps, for the purposes of this treatise, are generically defined as inert cartridge simulations which include a semi-rigid or spring loaded surface in the primer area to cushion firing pin or striker fall. Some arms designs are better suited than others to omitting such aids, but I’ve always thought it wise to use them in all my dry practice to avoid striker/firing pin abuse. Snap caps can be found in nearly any caliber or gauge from Brownell’s, Midway, and other sources, and are made by A-Zoom, Armsport, Precision Gun Specialties, and other manufacturers. When practicing reloads and manipulations, dummy cartridges can be used to add appropriate “heft” to magazines. One does not reload with empty magazines, so it should not be so in practice. Dummy cartridges can be obtained from the same sources as snap caps, or can be manufactured if one is a reloader. I use cartridges reloaded with appropriate real projectiles sans primer and powder. My manufactured dummy rounds for this purpose are all marked “DUMMY” on the side of the case with a blue Sharpie pen, and projectiles are likewise colored blue. For dual purpose training aids on the cheap, dummy cartridges can be assembled with short length of nylon rod of the appropriate diameter (available at any hardware store) inserted into the primer pocket. The nylon rod will cushion the firing pin fall and last for a good long while.

Apart from these items, the appropriate firearm, magazines, holsters, and magazine pouches, are of course requisites, as is a container for live ammo downloading at the entrance to the practice area for use when practicing with a carry weapon that is normally kept loaded and on the person.

Dry Practice Safety Rules

This brings us to safety and prep. First and foremost, eliminate all sources of live ammunition. When entering the practice area, download your carry firearm, if appropriate, and place all rounds and loaded magazines into the live ammo container at the entrance to your practice area or range. A sealed container is best. Pat yourself down and check weapon condition before proceeding. Enter your practice area. I keep dedicated practice magazines and snap caps/dummy rounds in a box that gets placed on a stool in my practice area. Ensure that this box is visibly different from the live ammo container. Now, inspect all magazines and training cartridges to be sure they are what they are supposed to be. Inspect the primer area of all dummy cartridges, and check weapon condition again. Do this every time you begin practice. If, for any reason, you are interrupted during your training, stop everything, and do not begin again until you have come back and completed the inspections again. Now conduct your training. Dry practice sessions should be no more than 15-30 minutes depending upon the discipline and intensity. After this, we get into the realm of diminishing returns and incorrect repetition. At the completion of training, Stop. Flip a mental switch out of practice mode. No more trigger squeezes, no more manipulations. Check weapon condition. Police up training aids and store them. Exit the training area and place the weapon in the desired condition at the live ammo area. Done.

So what do we actually “practice” in dry practice? As stated before, these sessions can be put to a myriad of uses. I tend to begin and end each and every session with pure fundamentals. Stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, slow steady trigger “roll”, drop the hammer/striker on a snap cap, follow-through, recover, repeat. For pistol, I include dominant hand and less-dominant hand only work as well. In the meat of my sessions, I pick out several items to work on ahead of time and concentrate on these areas. This is a great opportunity to work on presentations, especially in the case of pistol if you are unfortunate enough to be limited to live fire at a facility that frowns on holster work. End each presentation with sight alignment, sight picture, and I mix it up between stopping there and continuing through to trigger actuation. This prevents creating a conditioned response of always pulling the trigger after presenting your weapon. Work slowly and concentrate on form at first, gradually pick up to full speed, then push it past your limits a bit. Don’t get too carried away here, and if form deteriorates, it’s time to pull it back. After pushing it past the redline, I always come back to slow and deliberate again, and finish with normal full speed. This formula works for just about any area in which you wish to increase speed. Rifle bolt manipulations for hunting arms, tactical and speed reloads, malfunction drills, assuming firing positions, and many other drills can be incorporated. Drills do not always have to include trigger actuation. One of my staples is multiple target drills where I simply practice taking a sight picture on each of several Aimpoints, working on decreasing my target to target splits. Your imagination is the limit here, and further guidance on dry practice drills can be obtained from numerous books by the best and brightest in the shooting world.

On frequency of practice, this is up to the shooter. When deployed in harm’s way, I have dry practiced nearly every day in one form or another with primary and/or secondary weapons systems. When stateside, my frequency drops off a bit depending on the minutiae of everyday life, but at a minimum, I can find at least one or two times a week to devote to dry practice, no matter how hectic things get, and usually more. It’s not hard to find 30 extra minutes a week if you make it a priority. This small investment in time will quickly show its many rewards in your live fire training. Remember to use a safe backstop, separate yourself from all live ammo, check and recheck weapon condition in all phases of practice, and remember, above all, that you are handling a live firearm—do not treat it as anything else, and remember to observe all basic safety rules.

We'll start with a bit of levity, to temper all the recent bad news: The Monster Crash. (Kudos to Richard at KT Ordnance for sending the link.)

I've added 90-Day and 5-Year price charts for silver and gold to the bottom of my Investing page.

Reader M.H. sent a reminder that anyone in the US that is expecting a tax refund on their state income tax should file their tax returns as early as possible this year. As states increasingly run into budget crises, some taxpayers that wait until April 15th to send in their tax forms may end up out of luck--and end up waiting for many extra months to get their tax refund checks.

Robert B. sent us this: New Gulf currency 'Khaleeji' poised to be Gold backed to remove 'Riba'

From Ben H.: US Federal 2008 deficit was really about $5 trillion

RSR spotted this: Beer No Longer Recession-Proof

Items from The Economatrix:

US Economy: Housing Starts, Factory Output Plunge

The Crash of 2009 is Coming to YOU!

1 in 5 California Public Workers to be Fired

BofE Seeks Power to Inject More Money into Economy to Fight Recession

Britain's AAA Credit Rating Threatened by Scale of Bail-Out, Says S&P

Fed Says Economy Even Worse than Thought

Growing Stocks of Unsold Cars

HUD: The Mortgage Crisis is a Jobs Crisis

Nearly 5 Million Americans Receiving Unemployment Benefits

California Legislators Finally Approve Budget

Public Fears about Troubled Economy Growing

Gold Primed to be "Mania Asset"

It's Getting Ugly: Economist Says Hoard Gold and Scotch

The Burning Platform Here is a quote:"When I see Senator Charles Schumer of New York make a speech on the floor of the Senate saying, 'And let me say this to all of the chattering class that so much focuses on those little, tiny, yes, porky amendments, the American people really don't care', I want to throttle him."

It Will Happen (The Mogambo Guru)

Investors Rush into Gold Coins

SF in Hawaii found this fascinating web page about a secret underground ammunition factory built under the noses of British administrators in Palestine: The Ayalon Institute

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I found these personal accounts captivating: Urban Survival Stories.

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OSOM sent a link to this two-minute video clip: War Zone Detroit

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Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned that between now and March 7th, they can offer 215 watt REC (Norwegian) and Evergreen Solar (American) brand photovoltaic power panels an unprecedented cash price of just $3.75 per watt! (Plus shipping.) This is an amazing price, considering that the prevailing price is around $5 per watt plus shipping. When you consider the state solar power incentives, plus the new Federal tax credit incentive, this makes a PV power system quite affordable. Why buy a gas-guzzling generator with a service life of a few thousand hours, when you could buy PV panels to provide self-sufficient and dirt cheap power, lasting for decades? Call Ready Made Resources at 1(800) 627-3809 for the special pricing. See their web page for specifications.

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." - Mother Teresa

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our spin-off web site, SurvivalRealty.com (my #1 Son's venture), has several new retreat property listings, including the first one in Australia.

Mr. Rawles:
I took your advice you posted last year and have been investing in some high cap magazines. I've bought about $2,000 worth since the [November 2008 presidential] election, and I haven't had any second thoughts. Thank you sir, your advice is making me a tidy profit. The 75-round Romanian [RPK] drums that I bought for $135 each the day after the election are now going for $250 each. And the 31-round Glock 9 milly magazines that I paid $33.50 each for are now going for $65 each. Oh, I found +2 [magazine floorplate extension]s for those, so now they are all 33 rounders. I figure those mags will be over $100 each in a couple of months.

My real coup de largesse was this past weekend, when I went to a local gun show here in Texas. (There is a gun show just about every weekend, somewhere in Texas. Some just take a day of driving to get to!) The place was a mad house. It took 30+ minutes to stand in line just to pay to get in the door. People were buying mil surplus ammo and magazines like crazy. Basically the ammo and mags were all sold out by noon on Saturday. And most of the "black guns" were sold out buy the time they closed the doors Saturday night. Prices on magazines have basically doubled since the election.

Anyway, just after the show opened, I was scanning the tables, looking for high cap magazines--what else--when I spied a Mini-14 GB stainless, with an original Ruger-made 30-round magazine tucked up next to it. I was about to ask [the seller] if he'd sell the magazine separately, when I glanced at the gun's price tag: $400! I just about died of an infarction on the spot. That is a great price on a fairly scarce model. (The "GB" is the LEO-sales model, with factory-installed flash-hider.) The seller--a nice old gentleman and a Korean War vet--said that he had put less than 500 rounds through it. The rifle's looks matched the story, so I whipped out four Franklins and a copy of my driver's license to show I was "Free, white and 21". Anyway, we got all set (private party sale--my only way to business) to get the gun out the door, and the old timer says, "Oh wait, don't forget the [factory shipping] box, and the magazines, they come with it." He reaches under the table and lifts up a shoe box full of original Ruger 20s and 30s, some of them still in the white boxes! I nearly had a second heart attack. There were 11 [magazines in the box, of which] six were 30 rounders. That's like $900 worth of magazines, these days! Later at the show I also scored four 20 round Beretta M92 "Robocop" mags, two [Steyr] AUG 42-rounders for $30 each, five AR-10 mags (for just $40 each--I've seen them advertised on Buddy's board for $80 apiece!), a half-dozen "Okay [Industries]" M16 mags, and big box of nearly new [Austrian] STG[-58] FN/FAL magazines--which for some weird reason are still around $15! I bought 23 of those. I talked the guy down to $12 per, since I cleaned him out.

Speaking of FAL .308 mags, my next purchase (already agreed, by phone) will be a DSA [FN/]FAL clone. I have to drive 115 miles each way to pick it up. I found it private party, [listed] on GunsAmerica.com. I'm now tapped out, but my dad is lending me the cash. I explained the situation, and he says that it is wise to buy it. [He said:] "We'll have a good chuckle about the price, in a year or two!"

Here is my strategy on mags: Buy what you can, while you can--while prices are still halfway reasonable. I don't own a Beretta 92, an AR-10, or an AUG, but I figure I can always trade [for what I need] later. And I practically had to buy that FAL, since I found all those magazines. (What a great excuse to buy a gun.) My only regret is that I didn't have the cash to buy more magazines at the show. At the rate prices are zooming, Beta [C-MAG]s will pretty soon be back to $750 apiece, just like during the [1994 to 2004 Federal "Assault weapons" and 11+ round magazine] ban. .

Thanks again for your advice, sir. Your were right about silver. You were right about magazines. And for that matter you were right about derivatives, too. The world seems more and more like the first chapter of "Patriots" every day. (What, were you psychic?) I'm taking [your novel] to heart. I got all my "beans", and "bullets" in hand, now I just have to work on the "Band-aids". Thank You, Sir! - Matt E. in Texas (Soon to be a 10 Cent Challenger and an Appleseed qualified rifleman.)

JWR Replies: I'm glad to hear that you stocked up. You won't regret it. Those extra magazines will make fine barter items, both before and after a "Crunch." OBTW, I'm not the only that is one advocating investing in magazines. The following is from a recent e-newsletter from firearms training guru Gabe Suarez:, advocating preparedness: "...Then get as many magazines as you can justify. Glock magazines are going for about $35 now. A year ago they were under $20, and dealer price two years ago was about $12! At the height of the assault on freedom known as the Crime Bill, they were selling for $125. Forget Ameritrade, buy magazines."

A few interesting things happened in the market [on Tuesday]. This wasn't in the market, but is relevant. Hearing lots of chatter generally about things moving to "the final phase".

"Gold is moving as the last phase of the crisis appears to have started," said Martin Hennecke, associate director with Tyche Group in Hong Kong.

I'm assuming that the last phase starts out with gold, silver, Treasury notes, and the dollar all moving up, together. (It is quite unusual for the dollar and gold to move together, even though that's been the case recently.) Then at some point - like a tired marathon runner that can't keep up with the leader, the dollar quits climbing but gold doesn't. That would be the real indication of the beginning of the end.
The Dollar drops, Treasury bonds start to go unpurchased causing yields to start soaring, tax collections come up short, States start defaulting on their bonds, Uncle Sam follows suit, and it all takes one final big swirl around the commode before collapsing.

In other metals trading, March copper tumbled 7.4% to $1.425 a pound, while March silver rose 3.6% $14.11 an ounce. March palladium added 1.2% to $219 an ounce, and the April contract for sister metal platinum rose 2.9% to $1,091.70 an ounce. I'm not even going to comment about oil today. What's much more important is that the copper market essentially collapsed today. Copper is the industrial metal. It predicts manufacturing and production for the next 6 months to a year. You don't build anything - certainly nothing electrical or electronic, without it. It's used in chips, cars, houses, bridges, airplanes, tractors, and dozens of other places - you can't even build roads without it.

A collapse of copper like this says that things are falling apart fast, and the economy has no direction to go but down for at least the next six months.. Given the Dow closing under 7,800, we should soon see a flood of bank and other financial institutions fail. It doesn't appear that things will be changing direction any time in 2009.

Frankly, I don't have a good feeling about our prospects of making it through the end of the year - it's looking worse every day. Y'all might want to start thinking about moving to condition yellow. Double checking supplies, having your vehicles serviced, buying stuff by the case next time you go to the store, rather than by the can. - RSB


Although it is enlightening to hear of various approaches to Survivalism, I don't believe that conspiracy theories should get much play during this very serious time we are living through. E.B. mentions the World Trade Centers collapse, vaccination, sugar, aspartame, fluoride and the AMA monopoly . While some of these may be real concerns, this is not a proper focus at a time when the infrastructure is collapsing around us. It's like trying to investigate the cause of the Titanic sinking during the time the ship is going down. During that time period, the why doesn't matter. What matters is making your way to the lifeboat.

Conspiracy theories are sure to be seized on by mainstream media as evidence that Survivalists are nuts. SurvivalBlog should concentrate on things we can do something about right now - Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids.

On Monday, SurvivalBlog linked to the excellent and revealing speech by Dimitri Orlov: Social Collapse Best Practices. Orlov said that "at the end of 2008, I announced on my blog that I am getting out of the prognosticating business. .... collapse is well underway, and now I am just an observer." He made the point that now is the time to deal with the basics: "Food. Shelter. Transportation. Security."

Orlov is right. Even though most of us probably think the government is corrupt, that can't become the focus. Practical preparedness is what really matters right now. Let's keep SurvivalBlog on track. - K.L. in Alaska

JWR Replies: Your point is well-taken. While I don't agree with everything that E.B. espouses, I do my best to accommodate a variety of viewpoints in SurvivalBlog, some of which are out of the mainstream. FWIW, you would not believe the sheer volume of whacko e-mails that I get, that make E.B's postulates seem quite tame by comparison. Nearly every day I get rants on everything from Gray Aliens building massive underground bases and tunnels, to sightings of boxcars equipped with shackles. These are mostly from the "I believe in everything" Coast-to-Coast AM radio show crowd. Discernment seems to be a scarce commodity in some circles. You name, I get it. (And then I get follow-up e-mails, asking why I didn't post their earlier e-mails, inferring or outright accusing me of being part of an organized Cover-Up Conspiracy.) Most SurvivalBlog readers don't realize how much nonsense and blather I have to filter out.

I chose to post E.B's letter intact. I'm sure that I get grief about it, but he makes some valid points and in my opinion he deserves to be heard, at least regarding his preparedness strategy.

Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson Adds: I'd just like to point out that diesel fuel does melt "structural steel": Structural steel is low carbon alloy (1015, 1020) that every blacksmith uses, and that most people wind up deforming in their fireplace as the grate ages. I'm not going to comment on any other Sep 11 theories. One can choose to believe the engineers of the world, or believe they're all part of a conspiracy. I'm just going to point out that "structural steel" will only resist fire in your house for a few minutes before failing. 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (attainable in any fireplace, barbecue or structure fire) will reduce its strength by 50%. At 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (easily found in the center of most fires) it melts into decarburized slag. It is not a magic barrier against bullets or flames.

Brett forwarded this item: Depositors turned away from Stanford banks

Garth S. sent this New York Times news story link: Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down. Garth's comment: "At least [in America] we don't have debtors prison."

From Todd S.: Swift, steep downturn crisscrosses globe

G.G. flagged this: Publishers See Red, Magazine Ad Pages Down 21.5% in Q1

Thanks to Robert B. for sending this: Sales Tax Time Bomb Explodes as Consumption in Freefall

The Drifter sent us a link to this piece by Mish Shedlock: The Nationalization Train Has Left The Station

FloridaGuy flagged this: Gold hits record against euro on fear of Zimbabwean-style response to bank crisis (JWR Adds: The current "strength" of the US Dollar is in actuality just a manifestation of the weakness of the Euro, since European banks are in even deeper Schumer than American banks. It is all relative. All the paper currencies are on the same path, but some are just moving more rapidly down the path to destruction than others. For safety, buy silver and gold. Get out of paper currencies and any investments denominated in those currencies. This is the age of tangible investments!)

Items from The Economatrix:

Obama Unveils $75 Billion Mortgage Relief Plan

EU's Battle with Depression

Baby Boomers: Your Generation's Crisis Has Arrived

US, UK, Euro Banks Face Collapse: Global Banking System Insolvent

Eastern European Economies About to Explode in a Chain Reaction of Debt Default
"An economic crisis is quickly turning into a political crisis. Riots have broken out in capitals across Eastern Europe. Mr. Geithner had better be paying attention."

World Stocks Tumble as Bailout Confidence Fades

Fed Banker Warns of Deflation

In Times of Crisis, Never Forget the Value of Gold

The New Currency Trade: Gold vs. All Else

Brzezinski: H*ll, There Could Even Be Riots

Bad News from America's Top Spy

Oil Slips Below $35 as Global Markets Tumble

Stocks End Day Flat After Obama's Housing Plan Unveiled

FloridaGuy sent us this: Camera convicted him but raised battle over privacy

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Paul A. spotted Las Vegas, Nevada article: Deadly home invasion near Lamb & Las Vegas Blvd. this is reminiscent of the Phoenix news clip that I featured last week. Gee, perhaps I ought to start a running tally. Here's a start: Armed Homeowners 2, Home Invaders: 0

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Our thanks to Bobby C. for sending this: Mississippi Passes Regulation Protecting Gun Owners During Martial Law

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A bit more of our privacy crumbles away: Anonymous Caller? New Service Says, Not Any More (A hat tip to KAF for the link.)

"What has been, what ever must be, the consequence of such a sudden and prodigious inflation of the currency? Business stimulated to the most unhealthy activity; a vast amount of over production in the mechanick arts; a vast amount of speculation in property of every kind and name, at fictitious values; and finally, a vast and terrifick crash, when the treacherous and unsubstantial basis crumbles beneath the stupendous fabrick of credit, and the structure falls to the ground, burying in its ruins thousands who exulted in the fancied security of their elevation. Men, now-a-days, go to bed deeming themselves rich, and wake in the morning to find themselves stripped of even the little they really had. They count, deluded creatures! on the continued liberality of the banks, whose persuasive entreaties seduced them into the slippery paths of speculation. But they have now to learn that the banks cannot help them if they would, and would not if they could. They were free enough to lend their aid when assistance was not needed; but now, when it is indispensable to carry out the projects which would not have been undertaken but for the temptations they held forth, no further resources can be supplied." - William Leggett, Plaindealer, December 10, 1837

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $400. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes::

1.) Another "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Used original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition 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, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). 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 $700, 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 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

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

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today's first post is a re-post (with permission) from Étienne de la Boétie's blog, The Discourse of Involuntary Servitude. OBTW, it is noteworthy that when he posted it to his own site, he used a photo of a Survival Realty property in northern Idaho to illustrate the rural retreat concept. He couldn't have picked a better picture, since that property typifies the ideals of rural retreats: isolation, defendability, and self-sufficiency.

This is a response to a previous article written by the esteemed Dr. Richard of the Virginia Prepper's Network. Dr. Richard and I agree completely on a great many issues but disagree on the issue of the Survival Retreat vs. Neighborhood Survival. Here are my thoughts on the issue:

Dr. Richard makes some good points with respect to the desirability of an informed and prepared neighborhood, but in the end it all depends on your particular neighborhood and neighbors. Because I saw the collapse coming in 2005 I sold my home in Northern Virginia at what the Washington Post called the absolute peak of the market and put the proceeds into physical gold and silver when gold was trading around ~$400 an ounce and silver at ~$7. BTW, the guy who bought my home tried to sell it less than a year later for significantly less and could find no buyers. My goal was to move to low cost Austin, Texas where I could be near my dad’s ranch which I could then get prepped to survive the coming economic collapse. Unfortunately my wife thought I had gone completely insane which along with other disagreements on the health of our children (She believes in vaccination, sugar, aspartame, fluoride and AMA monopoly medicine and I don’t) led to a divorce. Now I rent a single family home to be near my ex-wife and kids where I can spirit them to safety when the SHTF. While I have never been to Dr. Richard’s neighborhood the detailed description (cul de sac, all single family homes on relatively large lots, high income/ high IQ neighbors in a development of less than 400 homes in a somewhat rural area) sounds infinitely more survivable than mine.

My situation is much different. My neighborhood is a mix of single family homes and townhouses with a much greater density than Dr. Richard describes. The neighborhood is lower income / lower IQ as well. There is an apartment complex about a mile away and I once found a cocaine baggie in the parking lot while jogging through it one day. Unfortunately because I am so busy I haven’t met as many of my neighbors as I would like and the ones that I have met are essentially completely clueless to the realities of the world. My neighbor with the most raw intellectual horsepower is a software architect in IP security but he still hasn’t figured out that fire can’t melt structural steel and giggled when I tried to explain the realities of 9-11. He is morbidly obese, addicted to sugar and nicotine, and completely unarmed. Not exactly the guy you want to have your back fending off looters and brigands. My second smartest neighbor is an engineer for an IP hosting company. I spent 30 minutes one day taking him through the physics of WTC 7 and how 47 story modern steel framed skyscrapers don’t collapse completely and symmetrically into their own footprints at freefall speed defying the laws of physics. I thought I saw a glimmer of understanding but I never heard back from him. I am assuming he went back to the TeeVee set. When I jog through the neighborhood at night the street is lit up with the glow of flat screen mental prisons.

Anyone that has ever unplugged someone from the matrix understands how difficult and time consuming it can be to educate and free a single mind. I have a good friend who is an entrepreneur/small business owner and has held VP level positions at international networking companies. I have been working on him for years and even after his son had a febrile seizure 24 hours after getting vaccinated he is mad at me for trying to warn him and continues to see the same doctor that potentially crippled his son. My ex-wife has P.hD and I can’t get her to stop giving our kids fluoridated water even though the practice is opposed by 14 Nobel Laureates, 2,100+ health professionals, and the EPA’s own scientists through their union. If I can’t convince my own ex-wife to quit giving her kids water “medicated” with a chemical used as rat and roach poison which has been linked to lower IQ in 23 peer reviewed studies from around the globe then how I am going to educate and convince dozens/hundreds of acquaintances and strangers on the realities of the world.

So, since neighborhood survival is not an option for me then creating a survival retreat with a self-selected group of individuals is my #1 strategy for survival in an economic collapse. Compare some of the qualities and skill sets of our group and those we are speaking with vs. the TeeVee bums in my neighborhood.
• A general contractor who is a firefighter / EMT in his community with skills in general carpentry (framing, form, and trim), basic electrical, plumbing, HVAC, masonry, roofing, and siding. Skilled in basic small engine repair, hand tools, and appliances. He is taking classes in sustainable agriculture and automotive repair.
• A retired naval Commander (helicopter pilot) with special operation experience that has been working on his retreat for years.
• A world class software and information security architect.
• A C-level executive and former military intelligence officer.

All are completely aware, completely awake, completely armed, with good to excellent preps and are already in high gear improving their skills and doing what it takes to get ready for the coming collapse.
Now add the advantages that a remote survival retreat offers over attempting to survive in an area populated with completely clueless starving TeeVee bums.
• Security – Hidden from looters and brigands who would be more than willing to kill for your stored food and supplies.
• Rural Location – Self-sufficient agriculturally with farmers, dairymen, and cattle ranchers. Plentiful wild game and plentiful wild edible plants.
• Self-selected compatriots – Honest, trustworthy companions that are completely prepped for the collapse and have a diverse blend of excellent skills to weather the storm.
• Designed for a collapse – Wood stove, solar power, well water, fruit trees already planted, etc.

So while I wish Dr. Richard the best of luck I am headed to Galt’s Gulch with other members of the intelligentsia. It doesn’t mean that I am not willing and/or trying to help my neighbors, in fact I am having a large number of them over next week to try to explain the realities of the coming collapse but at the end of the day I must protect my family and myself and a self-selected group of intelligent people awake to the realities of the world secure in a remote retreat represents the best odds of survival.

Even if you are going to bug out here are some tips to help the folks who must prepare for themselves:
Educate, Educate, Educate - Give DVDs, send links to web sites like this, Virginia Prepper's Network, SurvivalBlog, WhatReallyHappened.com, InfoWars.com, and SteveQuayle.com. When you pass along DVDs specify that the recipient must pass it along to someone else and specify that the next recipient must pass it along as well.
Share your Bounty and Improve Your Own Chances - I am sharing some of my storable food with a neighbor with the caveat that we would share when the SHTF. If I successfully bug out then they keep all the food for themselves. If I am trapped in the neighborhood then I have improved my chances for survival with diverse food stores.
Arm Them With Knowledge - Take your neighbor to the Appleseed Project and turn a rifle owner into a Rifleman.
Plant an oversize or community garden - Share the costs of sod, seeds, and the rental of a tiller.
Store Extra Preps for Friends and Charity - I have stored extra food for charity and even stored items like diapers and wipes for a low income couple who live in my neighborhood. I have cached food, money, and silver for the employees of my business as well in a location they can access in an emergency.

Greetings James,
The recent article by Eli was very informative but I would like to ad one comment regarding his section referring to burglaries. I believe what I'm going to mention here is commonly overlooked as I was guilty of it myself.

Eli wrote: "Go and look at your front door. Find your lock plate. When a door is forced, this is the part to give, with the plate coming loose and breaking the trim. Get a screw driver, and remove one of the screws. Realize that this is what is securing your front door. Now go buy longer screws, and replace them immediately."

While this is very important,....DO NOT overlook the hinges. Most hinges are secured with 1" screws (or shorter). My wife and I had our house broken into about 8 years ago. I had done such a good job with the strike plate and the 3-1/2" screws that when the thief finally was able to break the door down, it was obvious that it gave way at the hinges. The dead bolt and strike plate were still mostly intact but the hinges had torn out of the jamb. The entire door was laying in our bedroom when I came home to my wife and the police standing in our bedroom. (We had a door that lead from our bedroom to the back patio.) Also, if it wasn't for the monitored security system, our whole house would have looked like our bedroom.

From that point on, everywhere we've lived, I not only heavily re-enforce the strike plate but the hinges as well. Of course no door is "forced entry proof", but this will definitely slow them down. And, if re-enforced properly, they may just give up without actually getting in. Best Regards, - SRN

I found a product called Grancrete, that when laid down with a trowel and embedded with multiple layers of fiberglass can be made bullet proof.

I was originally investigating this stuff because it was invented for nuclear waste encasement I thought it could be used for a little extra protection. After talking with a very knowledgeable staff I found out that it has never actually been used for nuclear encasement but they have completed ballistic tests and it was resistant up to a .30-06 with just a two-inch layer.

I do believe that people could easily retrofit a house [with Grancrete] to add protection. Maybe not to protect the entire house but at least a few feet strip around windows and doors that could be done aesthetically. most people don't realize how easy it is to to get shot through the wall.

I also found a much easier way to make sandbag walls at a greenhouse building web site. Here they sell rolls/ tubes of sand bags. they make an easy fill-in-place solution and and direction on how to build with them. Thank You - Danny

In a recent edition of his Reality Check e-newsletter, my mentor Dr. Gary North mentioned this alarming piece posted in the Not A Sheep blog: The Disappearing £16.3-trillion. In the age of the Internet, it has become difficult for the Powers That Be to spike a news story!

Laura and Garth were the first of a dozen readers to send this link: Kansas suspends income tax refunds, may miss payroll

Ben H, sent this link to an interesting (and frightening) article at the Von Mises Institute: Printing Like Mad

I noticed that spot silver and gold prices are solidly back on the bull market track, at seven month highs. To those that were castigating mea few months ago, for "giving bad advice", all that I can say is: "I have my doubts that your stock portfolio is going to do as well as my silver for the next five years." And to anyone that is dawdling, waiting to see "direction" in the metals markets, you are about to miss the boat. Buy on the dip days.

Items from The Economatrix:

Obama Signs Stimulus and Dow Plunges 300 "The Dow closed at 7552.60, only a fraction of a point shy of the recent low of 7552.29 Nov. 20, just after Obama was elected. The market now is down more than 2,000 points since Obama was elected, when it closed 9625.28 Nov. 4."

GM Seeking Up to $30 Billion More, Axing 47,000 Jobs

Worst is Yet to Come for Americans

Lloyds Facing More Write-Downs, HBOS Losses Mount

Nationalizing 401(k)s

Little-Known Agency that Insures Pensions of 44 Million Workers Braces for Recession Fallout

Automaker Bankruptcy Looms

Eastern European Currencies Crumble as Fears of Debt Crisis Grows

America's Emptiest Cities

Feds Provide $429 Million to 29 More Banks "The Treasury Department says the capital infusions bring the total amount the government has invested in banks to almost $200 billion."

Bob A. sent us a link to a bit of Climate Change humor to cheer us up in the midst of all this depression talk.

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JS sent us this cool link: The supergun that kills from a mile - and the camouflaged crackshots using it against the Taliban

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KAF flagged this thought-provoking piece in the Effect Measure blog: Fort Detrick stands up by standing down

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Justice prevails! West Allis man not guilty in open carry gun case. (KAF also sent that link. Thanks!) JWR's suggestion: Mr. Krause set a real Rosa Parks-style precedent. Let's make the next Arbor Day into Open Carry Arbor Day. If hundreds of thousands of Americans all carry holstered pistols while planting trees in their front yards, someone just might take notice. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

"The very first, most important rule of gunfighting is this: have a gun. If you do not have a gun, do not come to the gunfight." - Mark Moritz

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 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 ends on March 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 sat down to see what I could offer to share with other SurvivalBlog readers. Many topics have already been covered, so I will attempt to go somewhere new.
I am a law enforcement officer by trade, and hope to provide a unique perspective as such. I have seen shootings, stabbing, burglaries, robberies, etc. I have served both search and arrest warrants. I work in the southwest US, and have worked in very affluent areas as well as very poor areas. What follows are some observations of my time on the job, relating to a few different areas and crimes that occur. Hopefully some people will get something out of this. None of this is to be construed as legal advice, strictly observations. All are very applicable to everyday life, and will be highly applicable at TEOTWAWKI .A good teacher once said “I am not showing you the way, only A way.” I apologize in advance if I jump around between topics:

Of all the shootings I have seen, whether officer involved or not, shot placement has been the key to success (success being the death or incapacitation of attacker). Regardless of bullet or weapon type, a solid hit will end a fight. I have seen Black Talon .45 ACP ammo through the stomach fail to incapacitate someone, as well as .223s with poor shot placement fail to stop an attacker. Both subjects lost a lot of blood, but were able to continue to fight. A few recent shootings involved 9mm FMJ ammo. All were fatal, and all were solid hits to the heart/lung area. The take home lesson is that shot placement is key to survival, regardless of caliber. Obviously, proper ammo choice with proper shot placement is best. (I know it has been discussed before, but bird shot is not an effective defense load)
So how can we improve our shot placement? Shoot more. Dry fire. Practice. Then practice some more. If you do not shoot, learn. Whether you are a beginner or advanced shooter, do not forget to work on the basics- sight alignment and trigger control. There is no substitute for trigger time and fundamentals. 22 conversion kits are widely available for many guns for practice at reduced cost. AR-style sights are also available for 10/22s if you prefer that route over a conversion kit. Shorter, more frequent practice sessions are more beneficial than infrequent longer sessions, whether live or dry fire.

After improving static shooting skills, focus on stress shooting. Attend a training course. Practice what you learn in the course. A 2-4 day course will expose you to a lot of new ideas. It is up to you to reinforce them [with practice] when you return home. Only through repetition will these movements become second nature. Join a local IDPA league. The stress of competition will help. Become physically fit. Studies with police and simmunition/judgmental shooting scenarios showed that the more physically fit an individual, regardless of all other factors, the more likely they were to succeed on the simmunition portion and the less mistakes they made on the judgmental portion. (Think about how sports teams make more mental errors late in a game when fatigue sets in) All subjects showed an immediate increase in heart rate and blood pressure. The more fit individuals showed a more rapid return to normal levels, often before the end of the scenario. Combine physical exertion with shooting. Try doing sprints/pushups/jumping jacks, then shooting. Use your imagination.

Learn to clear a malfunction on your weapon. All guns will jam at some point. Ejected shells have bounced off walls and landed back in an open recoiling action. Strange things happen. Know your chosen weapon’s action of arms. Learn to do so with economy of movement. You can purchase dummy rounds or assemble them from spent cases. Throw a few into your magazine next time you shoot, and clear the malfunctions as they happen. It will also show any flinching problems. Teach someone else to shoot. You will be amazed at how much you will learn teaching someone else.


A-Points of entry-
Residential burglaries are an all too common occurrence. The most common points of entry I have seen are door and open windows. For some reason, crooks have an aversion to breaking windows on houses, though it will happen. (Perhaps the Broken Window Theory is true…) “Smash and Grab” activity does happen, but tends to be more vehicle related. (Practice good OPSEC in your vehicle. Do not leave valuables in plain view. Do not place gun stickers on your vehicle, etc)

A few bad guys that have been willing to talk have mentioned that you can shut a door after kicking it in, but a broken window is harder to hide from neighbors. Go and look at your front door. Find your lock plate. When a door is forced, this is the part to give, with the plate coming loose and breaking the trim. Get a screw driver, and remove one of the screws. Realize that this is what is securing your front door. Now go buy longer screws, and replace them immediately. A security door is also a huge plus, as it opens out and requires different techniques to remove. They are not fool proof, but do more to make someone choose another house which is the ultimate goal.

Open windows are the other really common method of entry. Any time any work is done on your house, check all of your windows. It is disturbingly common for workers or anyone in your home to leave a window open in a unused room, or unlock a seldom used door and then return later. Follow workers when they are in your house (Side note on this… I recently had a water heater replaced. I would have done it myself, but it was still under warranty and was free. While chit-chatting with the worker, he asked if I was a cop. I told him no, then asked why. He replied that the only people who watch him work tend to be cops. Just like you are observing others, do not forget that you are being watched as well.) Sterilize your house prior to allowing workers in. Do not leave out firearm accessories, bank statements, etc. Bars on windows are also effective in limiting possible points of entry. They may be against fire code (check your jurisdiction), and reduce points of exit as well. Roll shutters are another really good option here. Many newer homes have a window to the side of the front door. Consider a metal grate or something similar inside to prevent breaking the window, then undoing the locks. These windows, even when frosted, also provide a visible indicator about how many people/when someone is coming to the door, eliminating surprise.

B- What is taken
Cash, firearms, jewelry, electronics, tools, credit cards, personal info, bank statements. Anything that they can pawn or trade for drugs. If you go on vacation, take your spare vehicle keys with you. A recent trend has been to load up the second car parked in the cover of the garage, then drive it away with all of your stuff. Buy a gun safe, preferably a heavy one. Don't forget to lock your safe (No, I am not kidding about this.) Bolt your safe down. I have seen studs cut from the wall to remove a safe. I personally have not seen one pried from the floor yet, although I am sure it has happened. Bolt it to both floor and walls and be safe. Write your serial numbers down also, especially for firearms. (Be very careful with this list, for obvious reasons, especially with private party gun sales. Keep a copy somewhere other than your safe also) It is very hard to prove ownership or log an item as stolen without the serial number.

Robberies occur all the time, everywhere. Situational awareness is the most beneficial for preventing these. You are most vulnerable at times of preoccupation. Fumbling with keys, exiting/entering a car or residence, running with your headphones on, etc Carry bags in a manner to leave your gun hand free, assuming you are carrying concealed. Pay attention. Pause before entering exiting anywhere. Stop, look, and listen. Take a few seconds to do this anytime you enter or exit anything. Make it a habit. You see all the time on surveillance footage of people walking into a liquor store as it is being robbed. Try to stop, look and listen before you enter the store. After you enter, step to one side and do it again. Park in well lit areas. When in your vehicle, keep your doors locked. Do not pull up directly behind the car in front of you and box yourself in. Know where exits are in restaurants and businesses. Listen to your hunches. Home invasion robberies are increasingly common as well. Security doors pay huge dividends here. Even a highly trained SWAT team either has to pry or yank these with a vehicle, before dealing with the interior door. This buys you time. Time equates to distance and options, which equate to safety. Have a dog, and lock all of your gates. See above about window bars. A fenced yard helps. Most states have laws that recognize fenced yards as having a higher expectation of privacy than a non-fenced yard, and a corresponding reduced standard for lethal force action inside said fence. (i.e. the "reasonable person" test, an intruder climbing over a locked gate into a yard with a dog would be expected to be a greater threat than an intruder that was at the front window of an unfenced yard.)

It is not unreasonable if the “police” come to your door to ask to see a badge, preferably a commission card, as these have an officer’s photo. Look though a different window and see if a car is outside. Call the agency they say they are from and verify they are who they say they are. If in doubt, wait and verify. Keep your doors locked when you are home, not just when you leave or before bed.
Police are not trained to look for "bad guys." They are trained to analyze behavior and patterns. When something looks out of place, it is cause for concern.


I work nights, so most of this section will be related to this. I have approached many houses. Let me walk you through what is typical for my squad. Hopefully it will grant some insight into the mind and method of potential attackers.It starts outside of the residence, down the street. Turn off your vehicle lights before you turn onto the street. Park your vehicle so it is not in plain view. Take advantage of other parked cars, as well as the shadows in between street lights to conceal your car. Exit the vehicle quietly. Do not slam your doors. Turn of/disable your vehicle dome light prior to opening your door. Secure any loose or rattling equipment. Stop, look, and listen while still at your car. Let your eyes adjust. Identify the target residence. Depending on the threat level of the suspect or call type we number anywhere from two to six. Approach the house, again taking advantage of lighting and concealment. At the house, stop, look and listen. Are there motion lights? Video cameras? Is there a fence? Is the entire yard fenced? Is the gate locked? Are there cars in the driveway? Are the hoods warm? Most residences have an exposed front and a fenced back yard, so we will assume that is the case. Is there an alley? If so, send one or two people to cover points of exit/look through rear windows. What do you hear? Television? Fighting? Screaming? A shower? A racking shotgun? Whispering? Is there a barking dog? (Pepper spray is effective and commonly used to silence barking dogs. Many SWAT teams now carry suppressed weapons strictly for this purpose. Many cops also carry dog treats.) Look at windows. Can you see through the blinds/curtains? Do an experiment at your residence. Turn on an interior light in a room, and go outside to the window. How much can you see in? Can you see through the corners? What about where the curtains are supposed to come together at the bottom? Do this for all the windows. What do you see inside? How many people? Men, women, children? Are they calm? Are they armed? At the front door, we unscrew light bulbs, adjust cameras, cover them with rubber gloves if they do not move. Spray paint would be effective also at taking care of cameras that do not move. Consider installing a light fixture with a completely surrounded bulb, one that takes a screwdriver to change, or mounting it higher up.. When you knock on the door, move away to a position of cover. Again, stop look and listen. Does the television go off? Who yells to who to get the door? Corners of buildings provide more “cover” than the middle of a wall, as most construction backs multiple 2x4 or 2x6’s up at this location. Have someone watching through a window. Usually by shadow or change in light you can tell when someone is coming to the door, and often how many.

When entering a house

The most common mistakes when clearing a residence are noise discipline and speed. Slow down. Do not move faster than you can take in important details. Be as quiet as possible. The idea is to catch them before they catch you. They are waiting for you. Do not give them any advantage.
There is much debate about building clearance, and many schools of thought. Here are some universal points to all methods:

You need at least three people to be safe. Never search by yourself. More people are better. Cover reflexive angles of one another. Smooth is the goal. Do not stand near the walls. You do not want to risk giving away a position by running your equipment against a wall. This also gives you more options should you engage and have to move. Move slowly (one minute per hundred square feet is not unreasonable). When “pieing” [or "pie slicing"] a room, examine each new degree of the pie from top to bottom , and back again. Hunters will understand this better, but you are not looking for a whole person. You are looking for parts. A toe, an ear, an elbow. Likewise, when clearing, have your upper body move before your lower body (i.e., lean and clear, then move your feet underneath you….repeat….practice with a friend/spouse or a mirror [with and absolutely cleared and double-checked firearm]) and keep your elbow tucked under your weapon, so the first thing the bad guy will see is half the barrel of your gun and half of that eye. (Notice I said “that” eye. Learn to shoot with your off hand, and practice. It is impossible to safely clear a house with the gun in one hand the entire time.) Practice house clearing. Get a friend, family member. Go through your home. Go through theirs. Take turns being the good guy/bad guy. Do it during the day. Do it at night. Repeat. People hide in all sorts of places. Cupboards, washing machines, inside couches, between mattresses, etc. Do not move past anything you have not cleared. You do not want to be worried about something behind you while clearing. If a door is locked and you have to bypass it, get creative. Lean something up against the door so you will know if it is opened behind you. Tie it shut. Do not make more noise than you need to. Do not be afraid to kneel or squat when pieing. People are expecting certain things. Think outside the box.

As far as lights go, there are two schools of thought. The first, turn on lights as you enter the room. You can see, but the enemy can also. The second, use a weapon mounted or handheld light. You can illuminate an area, kill the light, then move. Try both and see what you prefer.

B-Defensive Measures
Consider all of the proceeding section of what attackers do. Apply this to your home. Imagine you are at home, watching television. The neighbor’s dog starts barking, or your's does. The dog suddenly stops. You still get up to investigate, wisely. You go to turn on your outside light, and the bulb does not work. At this point in time the hair on the back of your neck should be standing up. Pay attention to all of the small things. You check your security camera, and suddenly it’s looking at a view of the wall. If a security camera is not working, blocked, etc, lights not working, dog stopped barking (or still barking like mad) these are clues to put on your vest and load your weapon. (You do always put on your vest and grab your weapon when you go to investigate bumps in the night, right? )

Look at your home. Put up a fence around your entire yard. Build a full size fence, not a half one. Clear an area for 8-to-10 feet on either side of the fence, the entire way around. Do not take the time to put up a fence and then provide an easy means over it. Lock the gate. Get two or three large dogs and let them have free roam of the yard. They make “shake” alarms for fences that will go off when the fence is disturbed. They can be made to ring your cell phone (As in your phone rings, you answer, a computer voice states "You have a fence activation on the north side of your property."). Look at your outside lights also. Where are the dark spots? Where are blind spots that you cannot see from your windows? Consider discrete mirrors in strategic locations to check blind spots. Mount your lights high so they cannot be unscrewed, and get fixtures that protect the light bulb. Install security cameras. Consider a few camera pointed towards your house, possibly under eaves or overhangs that will be easy to miss. Where are your children’s rooms in relationship to yours? Where are the bullets that you may be shooting going to be flying? What walls can be made bullet resistant? I have been in homes where the people literally filled the half walls at the top of the stair case with sand/sand bags to provide a fortified fighting position for the family. Other ideas include surplus vests, Kevlar sheeting, etc stuffed in this area. Another option is to fortify your children’s rooms if they are on the other end of the home, but this also provides an intruder with a potential stronghold. Consider interior flood lights. The same people with the sand bagged half walls had flood lights above the stairs, facing down. With the positioning of the lights, it blinded everyone to the defenders at the top of the stairs.

Every home has ambush spots. When you are practicing clearing your house, think about what spots give you problems. Blind corners or multiple doors in close proximity are nightmares while clearing. Find a spot on the far side of the room or down a hallway where you can view these problem areas. One where you can view a problem area and fortify is an ideal location. Stairwells make good options. While you are practicing clearing your house with someone else, take turns being the “bad guy.” See where you want to hide, where you have the best advantage.

I hope this helps. People often talk about hardware versus software. In these tough economic times, hardware is not easy to come by. Software is cheap. Try to still obtain what you can when you can, but focus on learning skills--any skills. Plant a garden. Change your oil. Help someone with a construction project. Read a book. Learn to bake bread. Learn to distill alcohol. Reload. Take a first aid course. Cook with your food storage. Volunteer somewhere where you can learn something. Practice bartering your skills for goods or services. YouTube is an amazing resource out there if you are unsure how to do something and don’t know anyone that can teach you. If you already have skills, teach them (while still learning new ones.) Spread the word to those that will listen. Post a youtube video about preparation, or about any skill that you have. Teach someone to shoot. You can pick up a surplus Mosin-Nagant rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition for around $150, depending on where you live. Encourage everyone you know to buy one or two.)

TheBoxOTruth.com is a great resource also regarding questions about ammo ("I wonder what happens if I shoot layers of sheet rock with "X" caliber...") Show your friends SurvivalBlog. Sow the seeds of preparation in all you come across. Continue to prepare, pray, and be safe. - Eli

Situational Awareness has a number of definitions, from the rather complex to the "simple". They include:

  • The process of recognizing a threat at an early stage and taking measures to avoid it. (Being observant of one's surroundings and dangerous situations is more an attitude or mindset than it is a hard skill.)
  • The ability to maintain a constant, clear mental picture of relevant information and the tactical situation including friendly and threat situations as well as terrain.
  • Knowing what is going on so you can figure out what to do.
  • What you need to know not to be surprised.

This comes to mind because of my recent reading of your novel, "Patriots". (An excellent book. A must have for any "prepper".) The book is primarily about a group of people who joined together to survive in the "days after". The daily requirements of surviving in times of roving bands of criminals and martial law enforcers were covered rather forcefully. Many of the challenges they faced required an armed response, and situational awareness was often discussed. For the kinds of situations in which the "Patriot" folks found themselves, the extremely helpful explanations of such matters as OPSEC and LP/OPs are very helpful to anyone facing what is soon coming for many of us. As the book describes, situational awareness is absolutely vital to survival and success in our near future.

But, while situational awareness is most commonly thought of as a conflict skill, there are also other kinds of situational awareness. On Yahoo Groups, there is a discussion group about surviving in the days after. One of the most prolific writers has several times recently warned the readers to "Get out of the cities now !". He's even suggested moving to very unpopulated areas and using wood pallets to erect shacks. IMHO, this is a suggestion that will cause many people great harm. Folks, with little or no preparations, suddenly moving to the land to escape the "Golden Horde", will likely fail or die. Just reading the stories of the many pioneers who moved west, will quickly sober you up from any "can do/don't know" thinking.

I have lived nearly all my life on a farm. I have developed a deep knowledge of the land. It has come at the great expense of many missteps, failures, successes, hard work and time. I call it having situational awareness of the environment. I know what certain kinds of clouds mean when forecasting tomorrow's weather. I know that the vine-like plants with three shiny leaves aren't so good to eat or touch. I know a dead snake can still bite. People just coming to the land for the first time will have little of that knowledge.

For untold years and many generations, the knowledge of how to live on the land and be self-sufficient was passed down thru families. In farm country, school was often found at the back fence. If you or your Grandfather didn't know something, the farmer next door often did. I remember many times in my youth when I'd be out working the land and the guy next door would be out on his. Often as not, we'd stop and stand by the line fence and talk. ...And I learned lots. But, now, much of this passing on of knowledge is lost. Farmers more commonly sit 12 feet in the air, driving an air conditioned combine, following the turns suggested by the GPS receiver on the dash. Your parents most likely worked in a factory or a shop, than on a farm. What was common family knowledge just a couple generations ago, such as maple syrup making, canning, gardening, butchering, animal husbandry, etc., etc., is gone. The "chain" is broken. Without this great deal of passed on knowledge and experience, nearly any farm endeavor can, and often will, lead to unexpected disaster.

This is where Situational Awareness comes in. "The need to know, so as not to be surprised." The list is endless, but for starters:

  • Knowing the good bugs from the bad in the garden
  • Knowing fresh horse manure will kill a garden, fresh chicken m. will help
  • Knowing only 3 or 4 ounces of yew leaves--a common landscape plant in much of the US--can kill a horse
  • Knowing how to split wood so that the axe won't glance off and chop your leg
  • Knowing that burning certain kinds of wood in your wood stove means you need to clean the chimney twice a winter so you don't burn down your house [with a chimney fire]
  • Knowing the nice, fresh, clean, free flowing, mountain stream may be full of giardia.
  • Knowing that, when plowing with a horse, you should never tie the reins together and put them around behind your back so your hands are free to handle the plow. (This was the way it was done in the novel "Dies the Fire" [by S.M. Stirling). If your horse happens to shy and takes off running, you will be dragged along the ground and be seriously hurt. The proper way to plow is with the reins over one shoulder and under the other. Then, if your horse runs, you just duck your head and the reins slide off.
  • Knowing that crows in the garden are bad because they eat the new planted seeds, but crows around your chicken coop are good because they keep away the hawks that will eat your chickens.
  • Knowing that if your tractor suddenly starts making a new sound, this is not good. Stop immediately and figure out what's going on, before something breaks.
  • Learning to look around you when walking, instead of only staring at the ground for your next step, (as most people do).

And on it goes. I have lived decades on the land. There's not a day goes by that I don't learn something. But even with all my handed down knowledge and hard-fought experiences, I'm not even sure I could make a go of suddenly heading out to the "country" to build a cabin and barn, till the soil, cut fire wood, store food for man and beast, and more. It's just awful hard without lots of prep's. And I can tell you, without an extensive knowledge of what the "environment" around you is telling you, it's darn near impossible. ...(Taking a walk in the woods can hurt just as much as a walk on certain inner city streets.)

So what are you to do ? Well, having a "G.O.O.D." bag and great escape vehicle is a start. Having supplies, tools and seed already in place really helps. But once you get to your retreat site, have a plan, have some knowledge of how to do, what to do. Practice now. If you think you're going to learn while living in a wood pallet shack, you won't. You'll most likely die. If there's no more Elders to ask, get to know the other "elders"--books. Go to local farms and ask to spend time just helping, so you can learn something. Go to a school to learn skills; like tracking, orienteering and fire building without matches; (one of the best, imo, is Midwest Native Skills Institute). Never take charcoal or lighter fluid on a picnic, learn to gather what burns. Go camping in winter, instead of just when it is "pretty" outside. Find a "big animal" vet. and ask to attend and help when birthing a calf. Most especially, turn off your tv. Use your time to learn to sew, or knit, or make soap. Pick up (fresh) dead animals on the road and practice skinning them and then tan the hide. [JWR Adds: Needless to say, consult your state Fish and Game laws before doings so!] Find local crafts people and acquire a skill, such as weaving, or candle making, or tin smithing, because having a survival trade in a cashless society may keep you alive. Learn to listen. Throw away those darn ear plug music things. Learn situational awareness. What is the wind telling you about the day ? What does the sudden and not normal crowing of a rooster warn you of ? What does the setting of the moon in a certain place on the horizon tell you about the season ?

Learn what it takes to live on the land, before you have to suddenly move there. Learn what nature, the land, and new tasks are telling you, before you find yourself in a difficult situation, ...(un)aware.

- Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment, Ohio

My old friend Fred the Valmetmeister sent us a "signs of the times" piece: For many Idahoans, better a trailer home than no home

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I was sad to hear that Mickey Creekmore is ceasing new posts to his blog, in order to concentrate on a new hard-copy newsletter. I wish him the best with his new venture.

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Greg mentioned a useful table on Firewood Ratings and Information, published by the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory. Greg notes: "With all the "fire" wood down in the recent ice and wind storms this appears to be a helpful link. I see too many people burning the wrong woods or at the wrong time."

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When we last checked, "Patriots" was ranked #3 in What's Shaking in Buy.com's Entertainment section

"I am so firmly determined, however, to test the constancy of your mind that, drawing from the teachings of great men, I shall give you also a lesson: Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: 'Is this the condition that I feared?' It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress, and it is while Fortune is kind that it should fortify itself against her violence. In days of peace the soldier performs manoeuvres, throws up earthworks with no enemy in sight, and wearies himself by gratuitous toil, in order that he may be equal to unavoidable toil. If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes. Such is the course which those men I have followed who, in their imitation of poverty, have every month come almost to want, that they might never recoil from what they had so often rehearsed." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca, c. 4 BC – AD 65, Epistles, Volume I.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Congratulations to CDR, the high bidder in the auction that ended yesterday. Today we begin a new SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes:

1.) Another "be ready to barter" box of 38 full-capacity gun magazines, from my personal collection in JASBORR. This box includes: 4 - Excellent condition original East German 30 rd. steel AK-47 magazines in a "raindrop" camouflage pattern belt pouch, 12 - Excellent-to-new condition original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Well-used but serviceable condition 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, and 6 - Excellent to new condition original (Norwegian contract) Glock Model 17 9mm 17 round pistol magazines (early type, with "U" notch). 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 $700, 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 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

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

4.) Five cases (200 pairs) of AMMEX Heatworks chemical hand warmers (a $182.50 value), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com

5.) A Brunton Solarport 4 (4.4 Watt) compact photovoltaic power panel and 6/12 VDC power adaptor set, including as USB power port. This is a $120 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

6.) A Pelican Model 1400 waterproof case in olive drab, ideal for pistols, Starlight scopes, or communications gear. This is a $95 retail value, courtesy of Scorpion Survival.

7.) A Non-Hybrid Garden Security Collection, Garden Bean Collection, and your choice of a pint of fertile grains (Hull-less Oats, Spelt, or Winter Rye), a $50 + retail value, courtesy of Seed For Security.

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,600. This auction ends on March 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Another option for retreat communications is to license your own business frequency with the FCC. That is what we did. Having worked in public safety, both fire and law enforcement for 30 years, I knew what I wanted in a radio system. I wanted to use public safety quality radios and I wanted my own repeater, all in the UHF business band. Our remote area has few UHF frequencies since public safety operates in the VHF band in our area. There are few businesses that use radios.

The initial license cost about $400. for ten years because the initial frequency search. Future 10 year renewals are about $135. The frequency is mine and no one for over 50 miles can use or license it. I licensed a repeater as well so I got two frequencies for the price of one. I obtained a permit for a repeater site from BLM and I will install my 50 watt, solar powered repeater this spring. The repeater spot, on a remote mountain, "looks" into the mountain range where our ranch is and also looks 30 miles down the valley to the closest town.

As far as purchasing quality radios, I decided on the Kenwood brand since that is what I use at work and our local radio tech is a dealer for them. For hand-held radios, we use the [Kenwood] 3160. I bought all of mine used on eBay for less than $150 each. For 25 watt and 45 watt mobile radios, I bought them on eBay as well. I have a 65 watt mobile in the house as the base radio. These radios have over a 20 year life in my experience.

By using these professional radios, you can also purchase military/police quality head sets, boom microphones and bone microphones for them which is very important to OPSEC when patrolling or manning an LP/OP. Sound can travel a long ways in the mountains.

Also, you can program the radios for the FRS and GMRS bands so you could talk to folks with their inexpensive radios from K-Mart and Cabela's. This would be illegal for the FRS frequencies unless you can program the radio to [limit it to] put out .6 watts (600 milliwatts) on the FRS frequencies. You could not use the base or mobile radios legally [with more than 600 milliwatts] on either the GRMS or FRS frequencies.

As far as antennas go, buy a good commercial or public safety quality antenna for your base antenna. When it comes to hand held radio antennas, I have seen the high gain antennas from Smiley Antennas, work wonders. Once our mounted unit was working in a narrow canyon and no one in the unit could reach dispatch on their hand held antennas when we needed a patrol car for an arrest. I attached my expandable Smiley Antenna (VHF) antenna to my radio, extended it out to the full four feet, and contacted dispatch with no problem. I was the brunt of many "fishing pole" radio jokes from my team mates, but they all went out and bought their own!

I would recommend that groups consider this type of communications for their needs.

Thanks for your work Jim. I just renewed my 10 Cent Challenge subscription, with a little extra. - PED /p>

I wish to inquire about hardening a home .I n a firefight, when in a "normal" home, shots would traverse the walls. Being a simple farmer here in southeastern Idaho I am a little concerned about the current turmoil and possible Golden Horde. I know that when I was in Rhodesia, we built earthen berms around the home like big flower boxes along with 2"x4" mesh wire to stop RPGs. We also had built two perimeter fences and placed crushed white stone inside the two fences ([each] nine feet high). Also I am interested in how to pump water here when there is no grid power for myself and family and 30 head of animals. I have some supposed "no freeze" hydrants now but they do freeze. Go figure. I have only been in Idaho for two years. Thanks for any help. Also, I wanted to say that your novel was great. Sincerely, - Charles B.

JWR Replies: Retrofitting a house for ballistic protection can be an expensive proposition, if it is done in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing in the present day. Sand bags are inexpensive, but as one of my distaff consulting clients noted, "There is a big difference between Better Homes and Gardens and your Harder Homes and Gardens.")

I generally recommend starting with a masonry house with a metal roof. They are nearly fireproof, and aside for their windows, quite resistant to small arms fire. As I described in detail in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", given sufficiently heavy hinges and stout hinge mounting points, steel shutters can be added to windows, and then wood veneer added, to make the shutters look "decorative." Adding steel plate to doors overstresses their hinges, so it best to build bullet-resistant doors from scratch. Again, that is described in my novel. And the novel even includes a formula for calculating the weight of plate steel. (It does add up quickly. Parenthetically, special safety precautions must be taken when lifting and positioning plate steel. (See: ANSI A10.13-2001.) The oft-quoted "32 feet per second-per second" of acceleration is a law not to be trifled with! Watch your fingers and toes.)

Water pumping is best accomplished by a traditional Aermotor windmill if you are in a windy region, or via photovoltaics elsewhere. In either case, I recommend constructing a large cistern to provide gravity flow for domestic use, gardening, livestock, and firefighting. OBTW, the folks at Ready Made Resources offer free consulting on photovoltaics and other alternative energy systems.

Regarding your frost-free hydrants. They were possibly installed incorrectly. Since the valve body is buried below frost depth, they should not freeze is buried at sufficiently deep. (This depth varies, depending on latitude and solar exposure.) Properly, they should have at least a cubic foot of gravel around the base, where the valve's weep hole drains the water from the standpipe portion of the hydrant, each time that that the water is turned off. It is uncommon, but the weep hole can become plugged, especially by heavy clay soil. It is also possible for frost to be "driven down" to unusual depths by the proximity of vehicular traffic or even large livestock tromping around a valve. BTW, be very cautious if you decide to excavate to check to see if there is enough gravel there. It is easy to break Schedule 40 PVC pipe with a hand shovel. (I speak from sad experience!)

Howdy James,
I hope you and yours are doing well. I recently came across the Preparedness Podcast and in Episode 5 - Gold, Silver, and a look at what's coming in 2009 is an excellent primer on investing in gold & silver.

Basically silver is your 'checking account' and gold is your 'savings account'. A 20% silver and 80% gold ratio is suggested as good mix of spending power and portability. A few gold coins take up a little space when you have to bug out, but the same dollar amount in silver will weigh you down when you need to carry other items. I do think silver is the better choice for a 'barter society', but gold rules when you got to travel light! Later, - Mark in North Carolina


Don’t even think about buying gold bars, unless you are a multi-millionaire s already swimming in coins! To quote Gary North, rather loosely, “You are now entering an area only gold dealers ever venture into”.
Gold bars do save a small amount of premium - initially - but this is “penny wise, and pound foolish”. For a small premium for coins, 5% to 8% currently, you get all these advantages:

1. Much easier to verify authenticity. How do you know that you are getting real gold when you buy bars? How do you prove a bar is gold when you sell? This is easily a deal killer. Even if you are not a numismatic expert, common coins can be verified with a scale and calipers to conform to the published weight and dimensions for the coin. It is extremely difficult for fakes to conform to specifications - read the expert, Mr. Fisch. Even more conveniently you can use the Fisch coin test kit. These are highly recommended, not just for assurance purchasing today, but a great service to offer in post-TEOTWAWKI “Barter Faires”

2. A wider market for coins means a better price, and much more liquidity. You may take a nasty discount trying to get rid of a hard-to-verify bar that more than negates the premium saved.

3. No need to assay. Forget the cost for a moment - what if assay services are not available in a crisis?

4. Smaller units so you have a much more divisible means of payment. Bars are only good for large transactions. To dollar cost average in or out of an asset you need smaller units.

5. A small premium is not an expense, but part of the value inherent in the coin - value you will recoup on resale. If you don’t overpay, you can recoup much of the premium even upon resale to a reputable dealer, e.g., see Tulving’s buy versus sell prices.

You should be able to get most or all of the premium back from a private buyer - if not even more premium in a bull market mania. Do you think a newcomer to gold will even consider risking hard-earned cash on a unverifiable lump of gold? The only exception I can think of are some of the Credit Suisse or Pamp Suisse “coin-like” bars that are well known and minted like coins (not cast in a lump like ingots). Weight and dimensions can be verified on these coin-like bars, Fisch even has a verification tool for the 1 oz. Credit Suisse [bars]. Still, I prefer coins - why limit your market when you want to sell?
Leave the cast ingot bars to the big bullion banks that can document the chain of custody from bullion foundry to bank.

An argument for silver bar investing can be made, given the recent high premiums on silver. But, even here, why not have your silver investment do double duty to add to your barter junk silver?
Regards, - OSOM

JWR Replies: I'd just add that serialized 100-ounce Engelhard and Johnson-Matthey silver bars are typically re-purchased by coin dealers without any assay required. After you have your barter silver coins squared away, silver 100-ounce silver bars are the the most cost-effective vehicle for silver investing, at least for the small investor.


Mr. Rawles,
I have been reading your blog and others (like FerFAL in Argentina, [also see FerFAL's SurvivalBlog Profile]) and completely believe that having some silver coins is a good thing to have when the SHTF. However, someone asked me recently, “So how would you use them? How many people know a “standard” [modern, debased] coin from a “silver” one?” Well, I didn’t have a good answer for that. Can you help me explain the use of silver coins in a SHTF scenario? Who would recognize their value other than another prepper? Even all of them might not know. Thanks, - Coinless in the Mountains

JWR Replies: I estimate that nearly half of the US population is familiar with the fact that dimes, quarters, half dollars minted before 1965 are silver. (Although most folks don't know that they are 90% silver, with base metals added. for the hardness required for the rigors of circulation as pocket change.) Most of these same folks know to look for copper showing on the rims of later (post-1964) debased coins, to distinguish them from the earlier, genuine article. In the event of a monetary collapse, there will surely be a rapid education for the rest of the populace. The beauty of free market economics is that prices very quickly reach equilibrium. I anticipate that within just a few weeks, new prices denominated in pre-1965 silver coinage will be set for most consumer products, and a daily trading ratio of silver coin-to paper currency will be pegged. (No doubt with a steadily-declining value for the fiat paper currency.) Have faith: The marketplace will quickly adjust, and people will quickly adapt to using silver coinage and practical tangibles in barter. (As I've written before, in the early stages of an economic collapse, ballistic wampum, i.e. common caliber ammunition will likely be even more sought-after than silver.)

On a related note: Few Americans are familiar with the 40% silver content half dollars minted between 1965 and 1970, so I do not recommend buying any of those for barter.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's planned "Son of TARP", also dubbed "TARP 2.0" bank bailout is rumored to be more than twice as expensive as the first round that was enacted in late Aught Eight. This is more evidence that the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) has no limits, and will not end until the the taxpayers are on the hook for decades of substantially higher taxes and not before the value of the Dollar is reduced to near fire-kindling status.

Thanks to Brandon S. for these two items that he spotted in the Alabama media: "Here is what happens when counties make poor financial decisions. Special Masters Recommend Non-User Fees to Pay Off Sewer Debt, and County commissioners [in a bankrupt county] fear for their safety and ask for off duty police officers to watch over them."

JHB sent this: [US] Federal obligations exceed world GDP: Does $65.5 trillion terrify anyone yet?

G.G. sent us this one from The Financial Times: Eurozone slump worst in 50 years

From D.D.: Ruined financiers committing desperate acts

Items from The Economatrix:

What The Stimulus Bill Means to Us Here is a quote: "For the average Joe Citizen, it doesn't look good: $13 per weekly paycheck (if you have a job) and tax breaks that appear to be for those who still have money for cars, houses and education. There's a few extra dollars for food stamps, some Medicaid prop-up, some jobs...amazingly ineffective and not likely to ease the situation. Whoever said "anything is better than nothing" is totally wrong in this case, considering the bill the taxpayers will end up with." JWR Adds: Lest anyone deceive themselves, any transfer of wealth orchestrated by government requires both a recipient and an individual who's earnings are being expropriated. (See today's Quote of the Day, from Kenneth W. Sollitt.) The money can't come out of thin air. and when you consider the inherent inefficiency of government, this is even more of an insult than direct theft. At least when a robber sticks you up at gunpoint, there is the assurance that Mr. Badguy gets all the money that you are handing over. But when the government gets involved in the "fairness" racket, only about 50% of the tax funds reach the intended recipients. The rest is consumed in overhead.

1 in 9 US Homes Vacant

The Coming Crisis: White Collar Homelessness

US Stocks Fall Again

US Auto Parts Industry Wants $18.5 Billion Rescue

Why Geithner's Bailout Plan Got a Bronx Cheer

Trillions? Get Ready for Quadrillion!

Projected Jobs Numbers Don't Quite Add Up

Geithner Faces Tough Debut at G-7 Meeting in Rome

Stocks Sink on Uncertainty of Stimulus Plan

S&P Heads to First Ever Quarterly of Negative Earnings

How to Invest When Stocks Aren't Going Anywhere

$100 Bills as Toilet Tissue?

Chrysler in a Crunch

Some Banks May End Up Nationalized, Analysts Say

FDA Declares Form of Vitamin B6 a Drug (a hat tip to JHB for the link)

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FloridaGuy sent this item from any Indianapolis newspaper: Legal gun owners must give fingerprints to get their stolen guns back from police

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KAF and Hawaiian K. mentioned this commentary by Dimitri Orlov: Social Collapse Best Practices

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F.H. flagged this television news item from Las Vegas: Local couple rescued from blizzard during snow machine outing [in Utah].This tale illustrates the importance of proper planning and carrying the right clothing and survival gear. It also underscores the importance of physical fitness as a key aspect of preparedness. The couple was physically incapable of walking out. But ironically, the fact that they were overweight might have helped in their particular situation--since they had to wait for days for rescue, and they foolishly carried no food or water supply.

"There are certain things that are true no matter how much someone may deny them. In the economic realm, for instance, you cannot legislate the poor into independence by legislating the wealthy out of it. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. Government cannot give to people what it does not first take away from people. And that which one man received without working for, another man must work for without receiving." - Kenneth W. Sollitt

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Last day of bidding!

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,725. This auction ends at midnight (Eastern time) tonight--Sunday, February 15th. 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.

Again, this auction ends at midnight (Eastern time) on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


I sent the following letter to my legislative representatives:

Here is macroeconomics as I see it:
Wealth comes from commodities, manufacturing (improving commodities), and agriculture (same principle).
Service industries do not create wealth, they distribute it. This includes financial industries.
Government consumes wealth as it re-distributes it. Even in the admittedly vital services such as protection of its citizens.

There are already (pre-”stimulus”) more government employees than there are employees in manufacturing and agriculture in the US.

The aforementioned being true, increasing the size of government is like a snake thinking it can sustain itself by eating its own tail. Three things will happen. 1) It will taste bad. 2) It will hurt. 3) Ultimately the snake will die.
Another way to look at it is to acknowledge that if government spending produced prosperity, the US would be at its most prosperous.
This proves the common wisdom of the advice to those who find themselves trapped in a deep hole. The first thing to do is to stop digging.

Consume less. The only credit problem we have is that too many (individuals, businesses, financial institutions, and governments) have used too much credit and amassed too much debt. This means you. When you have to incur debt to pay the interest on your prior debt, you are running a Ponzi scheme. Does this sound familiar?

Reduce taxes and simplify laws to give incentives to wealth creation. 1) Oil (or any energy production scheme that investors will back) will stem the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars out of our country. We have a lot of potential energy sources. These dollars can be used for further investment and job creation in our country. 2) Agriculture - Our country is blessed with the ability to efficiently produce food for our people and others throughout the world.

Reform the financial industry. Their accounting books should have all their assets and liabilities on them. Acknowledge that derivatives are a form of gambling (though even in Las Vegas the house makes you buy chips up front to show you are good for the debt).

Allow institutions that have made bad gambles to fail. If you want to finance something, help small and solvent banks that have made prudent business decisions to buy (or assume) the assets of the insolvent institutions at fire sale prices. So what if we have to learn the names of the new big (only) players in finance.

Stop demonizing the rich who have come to their wealth honestly. There are only three things they can do to prevent their wealth from helping the economy. 1) Burning it. 2) Burying it in the back yard in a (really big) cigar box. There it cannot help finance jobs or investment. They are not likely to do this anyway since this strategy cannot make them more money. 3) Investing it in financial instruments that are the (so far) legal equivalent of gambling. As noted previously, regular gambling is safer for the economy.

Final thought:
Government did not make our country great. Our Constitution made it great by freeing people from tyranny (be it from cheats, liars, bullies, or government) to become the best they can be by depending upon themselves. Please read the book “The 5,000 Year Leap” authored by Cleon Skousen.

Regards, - Kris N.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to thank you for what you are doing and your work. I think that the reality is that you are saving a lot of people's lives in addition to helping people to continue to be "in" the world but less and less "of" the world. I have been able, in turn, to pass along to other people a lot of things that I have learned from you and your readers, and I hope help them to focus and remain calm in their preparations. (I have also pointed them all to your web site).

Now three things that I have done/learned that I would pass along to your readers:

1) I did get some guns and ammunition recently following the information I learned from your web site and novel. Then I found a man that would teach me basic marksmanship - again as your advice suggested, learn the tools you could be relying on. After just one day of proper training I was shooting better than 90% of the yahoos at the range that had far better gear than I have. It cost me a little money But I am better equipped, more confident, and have a foundation to build upon - add each day I am at the range I am better and better. So I would tell your readers that if they just "think" they know what they are doing, then spend a little money and really learn what you are doing.

2) I bought and read "Patriots". It was a good read, but sobering. At the same time, it helped me frame better the "problem" I am trying to solve. And while I hope it never gets that bad, it sure allowed me to get some perspective and begin to work things out in a way that fits my scenario. My advice would be for others to get your book and read it.

3) I purchased the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. When I first started this process a few months ago, I was very overwhelmed. I noticed your course and its price and I thought - "Too much." However, after reading the blog for a month or so and after reading your your book, I felt you could be trusted and that your course was not "hokey." I have been very, very pleased. It is practical, well organized, and adaptable. There is a saying "How do you eat an elephant? - One bite at a time." And your course helped me to get things aligned so that I could eat things "One bite at a time."

I have been working on a one year preparedness program since the week after Christmas. I am probably 75% of the way toward where I want to be. The remaining 25% is probably one-half just finishing purchasing and storing some things and one-half understanding if my retreat location can handle some of my "plans" and if not, [then determining] what is Plan B.

My family and I would not be nearly so far along without your help. I wish we had started this process long, long ago, but c'est la vie. We are on our way now!
May God bless you and your family, Kind Regards, - Jay

I'd like to extend an invitation to SurvivalBlog readers to visit the Baen's Bar Forums, hosted by the sci-fi publisher Baen Books. My forum there has ongoing, detailed discussions of ARs, Mausers, handgun choices, and preparedness, mostly for natural disasters. There are also shameless plugging of my books (since it's my forum). Be forewarned that there is some off-color language--PG-13, not R, and the religion and politics of members varies greatly, though there are other fora we send them to for those arguments. Registration is free, private and not shared.

My subforum is "Mike's Madhouse," and there are a variety of other fora of interest on the site. - Michael Z. Williamson

G.G. sent this: Rogers Renews Bets U.S. Stocks Will Slump on Rescue.

From Brian F.: 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis:

Bill N. set a link to a speech transcript where a US Senator has the guts to point out the pork in the Stimulus Bill. OBTW, it is no wonder that the omnibus spending package is now widely referred to as The Porkulus Bill.

Items from The Economatrix:

FDIC Shutters Four Banks in One Day

Home Prices in Record Plunge in Q4

Economic and Financial Systems Deliberately Destabilized. A key quote: "There probably won’t be bank runs as in the 1930s. You will wake up one morning and find you are going to receive one new dollar for 10 old dollars and that new dollar will be for all nations, as they all devalue and default."

Bank of England Says UK Economy Could Fall 6%--- just three months after Alistair Darling predicted a fall of 1.25%

Could Obama Turn into a Zombie President? Here is a choice quote: "They have a plan for a plan, but they don't really have a plan. The whole proposal is so vague as to create new uncertainty, and maybe the problem is really so bad that they haven't worked out how to solve it."

"People Really Hate You" US Bankers Told

US Retail Sales Unexpectedly Halt Six-Month Slide (JWR's comment: I attribute this to all the ongoing frantic gun, ammunition, and full capacity magazine purchasing. Have you been to a gun show recently?)

UK Bank Regulator Resigns Amid Furor

KAF mentioned this post over at the Xavier Thoughts blog: The Sad Necessity of Anonymity

   o o o

Ebola Marburg Case in US Traveler to Uganda (A hat tip to FFF for the link.)

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Hawaiian K. sent us a link to a web site for a man dubbed "The Human Swiss Army Knife." He regularly carries 1,300 compact survival items in his clothes.

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A follow-up to this article I mentioned yesterday: Congo town mounts own defense against rebels. Florida Guy sent us a link to a photo montage from the town.

"The world is not going back to normal after the magnitude of what they have done. When the dust settles this will either work, and the money they have pushed into the system will feed though into an inflation shock. Or it will not work because too much damage has already been done, and we will see continued financial deterioration, causing further economic deterioration, with the risk of a feedback loop. We don't think this is the more likely outcome, but as each week and month passes, there is a growing danger of vicious circle as confidence erodes.

This will lead to political instability. We are already seeing countries on the periphery of Europe under severe stress. Some leaders are now at record levels of unpopularity. There is a risk of domestic unrest, starting with strikes because people are feeling disenfranchised. What happens if there is a meltdown in a country like Pakistan, which is a nuclear power? People react when they have their backs to the wall. We're already seeing doubts emerge about the sovereign debts of developed AAA-rated countries, which is not something you can ignore." - Tom Fitzpatrick, CitiBank's chief technical strategist, as quoted by The London Telegraph in November 2008

Saturday, February 14, 2009

This is last day! The big 25% off special on Mountain House and Alpine Aire freeze-dried foods in #10 cans, offered by Ready Made Resources ends tonight (Saturday, February 14th.) To do better than any competing offer, they are offering free shipping on case lots, and are including some free bonus items with each order. This sale ends at midnight tonight, so be sure to get your order in immediately!

Christopher W. asks a very good question, "should you buy gold and silver coins as an investment?" I think this brings up the point that there are really two uses for gold and silver, as an investment and store of value and as a barter/trade item to facilitate commerce. Unless you want to overpay for an item, you will need change, which for every day purchases is provided by smaller silver coin. A friend on Wall Street put it this way "what are you going to do, chip a piece off a gold brick to buy some food?" Smaller coins can also be a good investment, in the sense that they hold their value better than paper money, but you will create more value faster with bars than coins, if it is return on investment you are after.

Countries with very limited or dysfunctional banking systems have this problem today. Any readers who have traveled to Third World countries know you have to keep your big bills (over $5) hidden away, the smaller bills are what you pull out to transact. Many vendors don't have change -- they are basically living hand to mouth and whatever they make is immediately consumed to feed their families. Also, in many of these countries, there is not a lot of coinage in circulation, hence the need for change. I've been in many situations where the item I want to buy costs the equivalent of $1, but I had to spend $5 to get it because I had no change. Fortunately, this was a tourism-travel situation and I viewed the extra cost as a kind of charity. In a SHTF scenario, charity might be limited to donations of items you could easily reproduce, like food from a garden. Coins will become much more precious.

Using gold and silver (and possibly platinum and other rare metals) as a form of investment implies a larger transaction size than those used for every day commerce. Maximizing your return on investment is the goal, not facilitating an efficient commercial transaction, so what is most important is to buy at the lowest cost possible. As an example, if the premium for an American Eagle [one ounce] silver coin is $4 per coin and the cost of silver is $13, you would pay $17 per ounce, a 31% premium. If you bought a large silver bar on the COMEX and paid for physical delivery, it would cost a little over $13, a few percentage points over the actual silver cost. So if you bought 5,000 ounces of silver in American Eagles, it would cost $85,000, while 5,000 ounces of silver in bars would cost $65,000. You could own another 1,500 ounces of silver bars for the same amount of money compared to coins, in this example. When it comes time to sell, silver bullion coins can be counted quickly (assuming they are still in their sealed U.S. Mint boxes, 500 per box), but they will not command the same premium paid when they were purchased. Bars, even though most dealers accept them as genuine as they are serialized by the manufacturer, could require an assay in some circumstances (up to $300 per bar). . Most investment metal traders will be set up for this occasion and in an investment scenario it shouldn't be a big deal. In large volumes, the coin premium is a significant cost that cuts into investment profits.

The bottom line is you should start with coins, junk silver is very good, as well as some gold coins. If you are fortunate enough to have completed all your other preps and have money left over for "investment", you will want to go with bars. - CK

I bought a cross cut saw on eBay and was wondering how one might sharpen and care for it. I was directed to a USDA Forest Service web site that has a 30 page downloadable document all about cross-cut saws, their use and care. And it is free! Supposedly it is one of the best resources around on this particular topic.
Kind Regards, - Jay

The note from SF in Hawaii about the cost of barley versus the work to produce it made me think of one of my favorite tales from Laura Ingalls-Wilder's book, "Farmer Boy", about the boyhood experiences of her husband Almanzo. In this scene, Almanzo has been double-dared to ask his father for a nickel to buy lemonade. When he asks, his father gives him a lesson in the value of money that I have tried hard to instill in my children:

Father looked at him a long time. Then he took out his wallet and opened it, and slowly he took out a round, big silver half-dollar. He asked: "Almanzo, do you know what this is?"
"Half a dollar," Almanzo answered.
"Yes. But do you know what half a dollar is?"
Almanzo didn't know it was anything but half a dollar.
"It's work, son," Father said. "That's what money is; it's hard work. You know how to raise potatoes, Almanzo?"
"Yes," Almanzo said.
"Say you have a seed potato in the spring, what do you do with it?"
"You cut it up," Almanzo said.
"Go on, son."
"Then you harrow - first you manure the field, and plow it. Then you harrow, and mark the ground. And plant the potatoes, and plow them, and hoe them. You plow and hoe them twice."
"That's right son, and then?"
"Then you dig them and put them down cellar."
"Yes. Then you pick them over all winter; you throw out all the little ones and the rotten ones. Come spring, you load them up and haul them here to Malone, and you sell them. And if you get a good price, son, how much do you show for all that work? How much do you get for half a bushel of potatoes?"
"Half a dollar," Almanzo said.
"Yes," said Father. "That's what's in this half-dollar, Almanzo. The work that raised half a bushel of potatoes is in it."
Almanzo looked at the round piece of money that Father held up. It looked small, compared with all that work.
"You can have it, Almanzo," Father said. Almanzo could hardly believe his ears. Father gave him the heavy half-dollar.
"It's yours," said Father. "You could buy a suckling pig with it, if you want to. You could raise it and it would raise a litter of pigs, worth four, five dollars apiece. Or you can trade that half-dollar for lemonade, and drink it up. You do as you want, it's your money."

Regards, - Jason R.

It is noteworthy that spot silver and gold prices have remained fairly solid near their six-month highs, despite the IMF's saber rattling move of announcing 403 metric ton sale of gold.: This is evidence that wise investors have not been fooled by all the governmental and bankster blustering and that they will continue to shelter more of their assets in tangibles.

"The Other Jim R.": flagged this must see: video link: 'Worst economic collapse ever'. (Don't hold back, Mr. Celente, tell us how you reallllly feel!) For those readers that don't have a fast Internet connection, Matt B. mentioned that there is a transcript of the interview at the Russia Today web site

Thanks to G.G. for sending this from Wall Street Journal - Europe: We're Heading Toward a Global Weimar; Things are grim, but he who masters green tech will be a superpower. A key quote: "The global banking system is thus on the brink of bankruptcy. So the worst-case scenario is the most likely scenario: a collapse of the banking system followed by world-wide inflation."

E.L. suggested listening to An Interview with Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Don McAlvany's latest podcast.

MPS in Alabama flagged this New York Times editorial: The Worst-Case Scenario. MPS had this droll comment: "The plot summary of your novel has been appropriated."

Courtesy of Jeff in Alaska: Large U.S. banks on brink of insolvency, experts say

Larry T. sent this: Revealed: The true horror of everyday life in Zimbabwe

Items from The Economatrix:

US Unemployment Climbs to 32-Year High

Where Do All the Gold ETFs Get Their Bullion?

A Pension Deficit Disorder

Banks Agree to Foreclosure Moratorium

Wave of Bad Debt Swamps Companies

Silence is Golden
(The Mogambo Guru)

Doug Casey on 2009: Another Year of Shock and Awe

European Bank Bailout Could Push EU into Crisis

Ireland to Take Control of Banks, While Plans for Fortis are Rebuffed

As Vacant Office Space Grows, So Does Lender's Crisis

Stimulus Still Can't Help Wall Street

Stimulus Puts $13 in Weekly Paychecks

Caterpillar CEO Contradicts Obama on Stimulus

Europe's Industrial Base May Never Recover from Crisis "European Commission warns EU states running out of money for rescue packages"

US Family Net Worth Down 20%

Senator Schumer's "Pork" Comment Draws Ire

J.H.B. sent us the link to this update at the Gun Owners of America (GOA) web site: Firearms Legislation in the 111th Congress. (a good page to bookmark.) Readers should note that H.R. 45 currently has little support (it is not gathering co-sponsors) so at least for the present time please don't expend too much time organizing and letter writing about this bill.

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John C. sent us this article, which has some implications for survivalists that foresee a breakdown in law and order, and large, organized gangs of looters: Congo town mounts own defense against rebels

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The WRSA has announced a couple of more sessions of their excellent "Grid Down" Medical course, in Peyton, Colorado, and Clackamas, Oregon. Not only is it excellent training, but you are also very likely to meet fellow SurvivalBlog readers. (Wear your SurvivalBlog hat or T-shirt!)

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My friend Bob in Tennessee sent this article from Jihad Watch: 35 Jihad Training Compounds on American Soil. Not only is the terrorist threat significant in itself, but so is the possibility of government reaction casting a wide net, perhaps making anyone doing tactical training out in the woods a "terrorist", and possibly arrested for "paramilitary activities."

"It will not be enemies at the gates who overwhelm the American empire. It will be the army of politically armed economic dependents inside the gates. Granny will bring it down. If you want a mental picture image of the end of American empire, imagine a man dressed in uniform, holding an automatic rifle, being pelted mercilessly by an old lady who is beating him over the head with her handbag." - Dr. Gary North

Friday, February 13, 2009

The economic news has been so copious for so many months that I've decided to create a new daily Economics and Investing section, to divide those items from the extant Odds 'n Sods section. My heartfelt thanks to The Economatrix (our volunteer Economic Editor) and to the many SurvivalBlog readers that have sent such a deluge of economic news and commentary links. Please keep them coming, via e-mail. Thanks!


Just two days left to bid! The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,650. This auction ends at midnight (Eastern time) on Sunday, February 15th. 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.

Again, this auction ends at midnight (Eastern time) on February 15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

James Wesley,
I’d like your input regarding the purchase of gold and silver coins from third party vendors. Instead of paying $1,000+ for a single gold coin of one troy ounce. I’d like to buy ten 1/10th troy ounce gold (or silver) coins. I feel smaller denominations of “hard” currency promote better trade/purchase power. I have noticed in a multitude of Gun/Survival forums/magazines various companies that offer coins that are not directly from the U.S. mint but are [in smaller fractional sizes] than what you normally purchase from the US Mint.

I can foresee having a handful of one troy ounce gold coins [when] all you need is a dozen chickens. Any thoughts? - Christopher W.

JWR Replies: The situation that you describe is precisely what I showed in the Barter Faire ("For an Ounce of Gold") chapter of my novel "Patriots". A full ounce of gold is far too compact a form of wealth to be practical for day-to-day barter transactions. That is why I recommend that readers here in the US invest in small-denomination US pre-1965 silver dimes, quarters, and half-dollars, for barter. (Or get their equivalents, if you live elsewhere, such as pre-1948 (pre-decimal ) silver English coinage, or decimal or pre-decimal 1964 or earlier silver coinage in Australia.) The prospect of making "change" from gold coin transactions with a cold chisel is neither practical nor aesthetically appealing.

Today I picked up 200 pounds of pearled barley from my local health food store that had ordered it for me. As I loaded it into my living room so I could mylar seal it, I flashed on what it would have represented in terms of time (man hours) in an earlier age. To get that 200 pounds of barley, I would have had to:

1) Have land
2) Have seed
3) Till, irrigate and plant the land
4) Protect the crop from birds and thieves
5) Harvest, thresh and transport the grain

The number of man hours required to get 200 pounds of grain would have been enormous, compared to the amount of time I had to spend to make the money to buy the grain.
As we witness the collapse of the current economic model, I have begun to ask myself not just how much something costs, but if I had to make it or do it myself, how much time would it take. From this perspective, the relative value of things change. Wheelbarrows and horses aren't necessary, but they sure are faster and easier than transporting things on my back. Water filters aren't necessary, I can chop and carry wood and boil water, but this takes more time then using a water filter. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: The foregoing observation becomes even more sobering when you consider the prospect of doing work with "the sweat of the brow" versus diesel fuel or electricity. Engine-powered and electrically-powered equipment is a tremendous labor saver. As my grandfather Ernest E. Rawles was fond of saying: "There's nothin' like power tools!" That saying has been passed down to my children.

Woe be unto us, if and when we live through an age with a significant disruption in the supply of diesel fuel and gasoline. Presently, here at the Rawles Ranch we burn about three cords of firewood each winter. We could get by with just two cords. But even that represents a tremendous amount of effort if it must accomplished without the aid of a chainsaw. A four day job becomes a four week job. Nearly the same ratio applies to hand tilling and to hand scything. Someday, a pair of well-trained draft horses with pulling tack and tackle might be worth a king's ransom.

Prepare for times of fuel scarcity. Start looking for high-quality used hand tools. Here is a short list: Axes, timber jacks, timber cross-cut saws, splitting mauls and wedges, scythes, wheeled-cultivator, spading fork, a hand-crank or treadle bench grinder, a brace and bits, carpentry hand saws (cross-cut and rip) a pair of come-alongs, a hand crank meat grinder, a hand crank wheat grinder, a post hole digger, wheelbarrows, garden carts, and so forth. A "WTB" ad on Craig's List is a great place to begin gathering such tools inexpensively.

Dear Jim,
I was incensed that one of my state's US Senators (Kay Hagan of North Carolina) voted for the so-called "Stimulus Bill". I searched for ways to register my protest in such a way that it would get her attention. Thanks to you and your novel "Patriots", I have a way. I just sent her a copy with a gift card from Amazon.com. The gift card reads: "This is to thank you for voting for the stimulus bill and making the resulting economic collapse and hyperinflation profiled in this work of fiction a reality." I just hope she gets the message, since it is a bit subtle especially for a politician.

I really like your book and am re-reading it. I hope you understand that I mean no disrespect to you in my means of protesting Hagan's vote on the Stimulus Bill.

All the best, - John R., Waynesville, North Carolina

Hawaiian K. flagged a great article at Kevin Kelly's Technium Blog: Amish Hackers

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson pointed us to the comments accompanying this article: Second Circuit to Second Amendment: Drop Dead.... The article was informative, but I thought that the comment from "Bruce" was potentially quite practical: "[I]f you live in a rural area like I do, go out in the woods somewhere and dig a hole. Don't fill it in. We'll call it the 'plausible deniability hole'.
Then, when the state comes for your guns (bullion, whatever), take the officers to the hole. When you get there, say 'D**n, somebody dug up my guns! They musta been watching me from the ridge top! I had a funny feeling when I was digging it, but I didn't see any people or cars, so I figured it was just nerves!'"

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From the JPFO web site: West Allis Wisconsin Open Carry Trial Update. As I've written before: Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

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For just the next five days, the folks at Midwest Outfitters are giving SurvivalBlog readers first crack at a new batch of Portuguese surplus .308 ball 150 grain ammo in sealed 200 round battle packs or full cases. Something tells me that it won't last long.

"You've got to understand that we had a big ranch but we only got money once or twice a year out of it. The money wasn't very free. All the money you got was in gold coin. I remember I was nearly fifteen or sixteen years old before I saw much paper money. It was all gold and silver. They didn't have any greenbacks that I remember. My dad would take the wool and mutton to sell, and he'd come back with some tobacco sacks full of twenty-dollar gold pieces. He used to drive three or four-hundred head of sheep down to Cloverdale. They only brought about $2 a head. A big four horse load of wool taken over to Ukiah would pay for the groceries and clothes for the next winter. That was the big trip of the year, when I was a boy. That was when the money came in. That was the way that we used to get paid for things. Gold and silver coins. As kids, they used to let us play with the gold coins now and again. That was quite a celebration." - Ernest E. Rawles (JWR's grandfather)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's first post is a cross-post (with permission) from Dr. Richard's excellent Virginia Prepper's Network Blog. His article addresses a fundamental issue that is a concern for most SurvivalBlog readers. Choosing between a rural retreat versus an "in town" approach is a decision that should be made deliberately, with plenty of study and prayer. There is not a "one size fits all" solution. Choosing a retreat locale depends upon your personal circumstances, the size of your extended family , your source of income, your health and fitness, your stage in life, and your personal envisioning of the future. OBTW, be sure to visit the Virginia Prepper's Network blog site. If nothing else, it will give you links to the rapidly-growing network of state-level preparedness "Prepper Network" blogs and forums. (Of course, all the usual operational security (OPSEC) provisos apply. Some people, particular those in the non-Doomer camp of the Peak Oil crowd, have atrocious OPSEC discipline. If you get involved in a Prepper Network, please do your best to raise their collective OPSEC awareness, and don't get sucked in to revealing your particulars, just because "everyone else is doing it.")

Earlier this month, I posted Etienne's guest post Seeking/Starting a Survival Retreat in Virginia / Maryland / Pennsylvania / West Virginia. Today, I had lunch with Etienne de la Boetie and another prepper here in Loudoun County [, Virginia]. We had a long discussion about survival retreats vs neighborhood survival. Etienne is a big fan of the survival retreat concept. He previously had a retreat where he did not own the land but where he was able to store a travel trailer recreational vehicle in which he pre-positioned various preps and supplies. Unfortunately, his friend moved and sold the property. There are four major flaws in the survival retreat separate from your home concept:

  1. There are significant liabilities and social problems with communal retreats where one does not own the property - you are vulnerable to the actions of the others, particularly the property owner.
  2. Property left at unattended retreats is vulnerable to theft and vandalism. This is going to be a growing problem as the economic depression gets worse, especially if we have economic collapse.
  3. Getting to the retreat would be problematic in the event that it is actually needed - particularly in martial law scenarios where the military and law enforcement block traffic at key intersections or in cases where there are fuel shortages.
  4. Relatively undeveloped retreats with a trailer and undeveloped land may not be sufficiently developed for long-term survival and offer insufficient space for storage of the various preps and other items you need. Many of these items would likely be at your day-to-day residence and you cannot assume that you can transport everything at the last minute.

My view is that survival retreats only work if you live there full-time. Furthermore, although remote locations are further removed from the masses, they are also further removed from jobs, markets, customers, hospitals, and many other useful infrastructure and will be harder pressed to gather a sufficiently large group to cover all of the tasks needed in a true long-term survival scenario. Even the best special forces operator cannot defend his property 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unfortunately, we are rapidly running out of time and it is probably already too late to relocate - especially if relocating means trying to sell your existing home in this real estate environment -- in my neighborhood we haven't had a sale in over eight months and anyone who bought in the last four years and did the traditional 20% down payment fixed 30 year mortgage now has negative equity.

I am a big proponent of the concept that your family, friends, neighbors, and church are your survival group. Yes, I understand that many are unprepared and clueless about both the threats and what they need to do to prepare for them. However, your home is your survival retreat. Strengthen it to the extent you can, but your odds improve exponentially if you can organize your neighborhood and help everyone survive against the threat(s) you are facing in your survival situation. You and those in the group who are better prepared or who have the right skills are the cadre needed to get organized and do what is needed. The rest of the neighborhood are your foot soldiers and do'ers. My philosophy is to lead and organize but that charity starts with those who are willing to help themselves and help the group in the survival situation. In a survival situation, your first challenges are to assess the hazards/priorities/immediate needs, organize the group, secure the neighborhood, and scrounge/barter/trade for needed resources.

Be a leader. There are many things you can do to help develop your neighborhood group of family, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members and increase the odds of the neighborhood surviving:

  • Get to know them.
  • Have potluck dinners.
  • Help them wake up and prepare.
  • Start a garden club to help start victory gardens.
  • Start a community watch program for your neighborhood.
  • Give them a copy of Chris Martenson's Crash Course on the economy DVD. I bought a case of 30 and gave them as 2008 Christmas gifts.
  • Give copies of Holly Deyo's book Dare to Prepare as gifts. I bought a case of 8 and gave them as 2008 Christmas gifts to family and several neighbors who got it and were starting to prep.
  • Store extra preps for charity and be prepared to give when it is needed for survival.
  • Learn about their skills, backgrounds, and interests - on my street we have a former Navy Corpsman/LEO/M16 Instructor/master scrounger/contractor/award winning barbeque chef who "gets it" and is starting to prepare, two nurses, a master gardener, an agricultural engineer / head of the 800-home neighborhood HOA, a Mormon family that does food storage, and six members of the neighborhood garden club run by our master gardener.
  • Buy tools that would be useful that could be shared like tillers.
  • Buy extra seed such as a seven year supply of Survival Seeds and be prepared to provide seeds for neighbors
  • Build a survival library of books and skills that you can use to train them when they need survival skills.
  • Buy several extra surplus rifles such as the Russian Mosin-Nagant or SKS rifles and stock extra ammunition to equip your "community watch" patrols.
  • Invite them to go to a shooting range with you.
  • Be prepared to give honest evaluations of whether individuals should relocate once a survival situation begins to relative's homes or even public shelters if that is the best option for them.

You will be pleasantly surprised how many of your family, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members that are starting to wake up and realize the reality and danger of our current position. This number is increasing every week. Don't simply assume that they are all clueless sheep - many simply need some education and a leader to show them the way.

To quote Robert Prechter, "Short Answer is: no. Long Answer: The worst thing about real estate is its lack of liquidity during a bear market. At least in the stock market, when your stock is down 60 percent and you realize you've made a horrendous mistake, you can call your broker and get out (unless you're a mutual fund, insurance company or other institution with millions of shares, in which case, you're stuck). With real estate, you can't pick up the phone and sell. You need to find a buyer for your house in order to sell it. In a depression, buyers just go away. Mom and Pop move in with the kids, or the kids move in with Mom and Pop. People start living in their offices or moving their offices into their living quarters. Businesses close down. In time, there is a massive glut of real estate.”

This is entirely true if one looks back in history. However is buying a steak for Friday night’s dinner an investment? Or is it part of survival? So, we are caught on a cleft stick.
If we wait we will surely pay less [for a retreat property] as real estate prices go down. But then we will be faced with a time problem. Can we prepare adequately in the time available? Plants and other food supplies take time to grow, even if we do it successfully the first time, and few have the experience for that. Can we find the perfect location even when the price has gone down to more affordable levels?

Another very important factor that people all too often forget is land taxes. US states, by law cannot go bankrupt. That in turn means that taxes will not decrease if the general level of income goes down, perhaps to say half of the former level. If anything, taxes will increase. States still have to pay their loans. Particularly in many urban jurisdictions land taxes are near more modest income rental rates. Do you think you own that property free and clear, even if your mortgage is fully paid? Can you afford to pay sky high “rental rates” (land taxes) for your fully-paid land if you are getting half your previous income? Do you think that your income will remain at its current lofty level as more and more become unemployed and start competing for your job in an atmosphere where employers also are being squeezed?

It is time for some outside-of-the-box thinking here. Each jurisdiction is different, but somewhere there is a loophole if one searches diligently. In some jurisdictions, one can find methods of freezing or even permanently reducing land taxes. In one jurisdiction I know of, both are possible by registering your land as a tree farm, resulting in reduced and fixed taxes for 30 years. In other jurisdictions, it is possible to pay your taxes in advance, prorated according to the interest rate. Even more, in some jurisdictions one can legally occupy land, pay no taxes and no purchase price if you simply pay usage fees in advance, (usually quite nominal) to use the land for specific purposes that politicians have deemed as desirable. (Often in remote locations that politicians want to develop, ideal for bug out purposes. This often has its own problems, usually surmountable, but for illustration purposes it is adequate.)

It is time to analyze the situation determine our current strengths and weaknesses, and plan to take advantage of our current strengths. They may disappear. In the current situation, with government budgets all out of whack, negotiating is possible in nearly every jurisdiction. While we still have a job and a bit of spare money, we should be looking to cut deals. (and don’t say you have no money. If the toilet breaks tonight, you will find a way of fixing it tomorrow.) Today, we are not rushed, and government--however slow--is there, and there to serve us. (Who knows what will come after TSHTF?) We can ask questions and expect truthful answers when silly servants do not guess which direction our thoughts are trending. If things get tougher, they will surely guess. Find that loophole wherever you want to be and exploit it. Find a way under, over, around or through the problem.

Get started today. Tomorrow may be too late. And remember, the longest, or shortest, journey starts with but one step. Stop theorizing and get off your hind end. - Allen

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles returns to the small screen tomorrow evening. It has been moved to what has been called the Friday night "death slot." There are rumors that the series will canceled. Cue the sad, sweet theme music to Firefly. :-( Meanwhile, there is plenty of buzz about the Terminator 4: Salvation feature film, which should be released on May 22nd.

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Craig W. flagged this: The (Zimbabwean) Dollar - The Point of No Return. (They've slashed another 12 zeroes!)

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Thanks to Stephen B. who was the first of several SurvivalBlog readers that sent us this: Mysterious Scientology Project Raises Questions in Wyoming. Hmmm... To update an old saying: "If it walks like a group retreat , and it quacks like a group retreat..."

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I noticed that spot silver and gold both took substantial jumps yesterday. I stand by my long-term prediction of silver reaching $50 per ounce. Buy on the dips. But course buy your Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids first. In other investing and economic news, here are some items kindly gathered by Cheryl: GM Cutting 10,000 More Jobs -- EU Banks May Need $32 Trillion Bailout -- RBS, Morgan Stanley and UBS to Axe 6,500 Jobs -- Ron Paul: Collapse of the Dollar -- Stocks Reject Obama's Plan -- Gold Prices Rebound as Stocks Tank

"With the planned fiscal stimulus (taxing future generations), the National Debt will reach 100 percent of GDP during the Obama administration. When Argentina’s economy collapsed in 1998, their National Debt as a percentage of GDP was 65 percent. The Great Deniers say we are not Argentina. They say we are safe because the U.S. dollar is the reserve currency of the world. This is like jumping off a 20 story building and as you pass the 10th floor someone yells out the window asking how you are doing. You answer, 'Good, so far'." - James Quinn

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,510. This auction ends at midnight (Eastern time) on Sunday, February 15th. 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.

Again, this auction ends at midnight (Eastern time) 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 21 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 ends on March 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.

There hasn’t been much discussion regarding what might be a well-planned bug out. The following is an overview of our vehicular bug out plan. This overview is offered to assist others in fleshing out their specific needs and plans.

If you are like us, then you believe that the local area is not viable for long term personal survival. Thus we are forced to consider quickly getting to an alternate location. I won’t present our criteria for the destination as everyone has different needs.

We selected a locale for serious consideration and visited there. The “boots on the ground” impression is worth far more than any data mining that you may have done. We have also subscribed to their local paper for the last two years. Our initial positive impression of the area has increased with time. The local paper gives a detailed behind the scenes view of what the real issues in the area are or are not. Taking the local paper will also allow us to blend in faster with the locals by being talking about the latest area news. If you don’t get good “vibes” during a on scene visit then you should select another area. You have successfully avoided something that for you would have been a mistake.

We have listened to the various local radio and/or television stations here to determine which could be deemed “credible”. We judged local emergency reporting as this would show what the actual station resources and attitudes are. Most stations, in their emergency coverage, all seemed to simply parrot whatever was provided at the on site command center via the press sessions. Locally, a daytime country/western station has demonstrated careful and accurate news reporting in two major emergencies. They were the only station to send reporters to potential areas of concern to discover facts. An out of state radio station does better at forecasting our local weather than the nearby stations. We have noticed, during our travels, that most of the country/western stations seem to present a more accurate view of the news than the bobble heads on talk radio. This accuracy is probably a reflection of their “tell it like it is” listeners.

All of us should have thought out what event, or events, will trigger the launch of the exit plan. We recommend careful listening to various shortwave, local and out of state radio and television news. The news that is presented from a different locate will occasionally surprise you with different facts and/or opinions. Research for yourself the facts concerning any items of concern and/or interest. Draw your personal conclusion and take appropriate action(s) once facts are separated from propaganda.

Okay, so we now have a trigger mechanism and need a detailed plan to quickly and efficiently get from “here” to “there”. It’s time to start adding some detail to the draft plan. Since we know each specific vehicle MPG [and fuel tank capacity] then possible locations along the travel route, for fueling, can be determined. We plan to use the every two hour “Chinese Fire Drill” approach. Once every two hours, at previously-determined locations, all vehicles stop. All people receive a situation update and describe any items of concern. Vehicles are topped off with fuel. Everyone can get prepared food/drink items. Those who need a restroom stop quickly does so. [JWR Adds: Avoid using public rest areas. In the event os a crisis, they are likely gathering places for very desperate refugees that are nearly out of fuel! Pick out wide shoulders on side roads, well in advance. Assuming that you are traveling well-armed, these should offer some semblance of security when stopping. ] Plan your fuel allocation on worst case fuel consumption not best or even typical usage. We top off fuel at the two hour intervals since we are already stopped and can get extra use of the time. If we later discover any unexpected need to quickly travel for some distance we have already shifted “extra” fuel into the tanks. We plan to have each vehicle carry enough fuel so that it is able to make the entire trip without depending on any gas station being open. This approach allows success even if any vehicle does break down. All other vehicles can still finish the trip even if one is not quickly repairable. If the group is close to the destination then a tow rope will be used to [hopefully ] allow all vehicles to finish the trip. The tow rope can also be used to remove some road obstructions.

We will listen to various local radio stations along the planned route. You can get a list of the stations, their frequencies, locations and audience focus by entering the state name along with radio stations into Google; Example: Montana Radio Stations. This monitoring will allow us to become aware of any sudden need to modify our plan based on the actual local status. The monitoring is done by high school young adults and any adult who desires to assist. Each listener uses a set of earphones so they can focus on what is said. Any significant items that will be submitted to the group are written immediately on a notepad. Yes, we have a means to immediately update the group if the issue needs immediate attention. All drivers do nothing but drive. All other activities are done by others in the vehicle/group.

We strongly suggest that you, or several people, drive your planned exit route several times to discover any areas that might either become a potential problem or maybe offer an unexpected benefit. [JWR Adds: It is important to plan and practice a secondary and tertiary route.] You may be surprised--we were--about additional items that are noticed on more than one trip. At one location that we had planned to use for a stop, the overall local area feeling was very negative. We quickly decided to proceed further along the highway.

Check periodically during the year and see if the planned route has any recurring traffic or weather related problems. What’s the speed that you plan to travel between individual town “ X” and town “Y”? Your overall plan should use worst-case MPG and alternate plans already prepared if the road is not in the expected condition or weather is not as planned [hot/cold/windy/snowy ].

The travel maps that we have prepared all have some disinformation. The direction arrows for the travel route all point to the “from” and not the “going to” direction. In addition, the arrows stop one town short on both ends of the route.

There is an easy way to determine some of the potential traffic choke points. Find out where the highway gates that are used to block traffic during adverse weather are located. Carefully note these locations during your initial or other trips. My conclusion is these are the natural traffic restriction locations. We carry detailed topographic maps so that we can maneuver around any blockage along the route. You should have an answer ready for “highway X is blocked ahead. What are alternate choices?”

We will be towing a trailer with one vehicle. All goods that are planned to go with us are kept in what we call “here to there” locations. This means when the time comes to load there is no wasted time on “where is X?” or “do we take Y”? All such decisions have been made in advance.

Yes, we keep a supply of knocked-down boxes on site for planned use. The loading simply becomes everything from “here to there” goes – anything and everything else stays. An actual loading of the boxes has shown that the planned sequence, capacity and room is possible.

Note: You can gain a significant amount of extra “free” room by removing the back seat in each vehicle.

Have you ever followed a trailer and seen the lights flicker as it went over a bump? This defect is almost always caused by a poor wiring ground connection at the hitch. The ground capability can be tested by connecting a jumper cable between the metal tongue of the trailer and a good ground on the tow vehicle. If the lights on the trailer suddenly get brighter or a problem vanishes then you can be certain that the ground path needs work. We use an 8 gauge wire for the ground connection on both vehicles.

Should your route include travel on gravel roads then be aware that the crushed rock material may cut or even pop weak or almost worn out tires. Check the tire ply rating and tread depth.
Be sure that they are able to stand the expected use. Could your tow vehicle or trailer benefit from a stronger tire? You can check with a truck tire dealer to find tires with higher weight carrying capability. How do you know if a tire is intended for either a car or truck? Answer: Car tires are rated [marked on the sidewall ] to carry a specified weight at a maximum inflation pressure. Truck tires are rated to carry weight at a minimum inflation pressure. Example: We wanted load range D radial tires for our trailer. The local tire dealers all said that nothing was available (even via special order ). The truck tire dealer, in a nearby town, simply asked did we want the load range D in a Major Brand or the In House brand at $20 less for each?

We strongly recommend that you install radial tires on ALL vehicles. We have also observed a 0.5 MPG mileage increase with radial tires on two different trailers. My super wife and co-pilot says that she loves that the trailer doesn’t sway near as much in cross winds. In addition, when an 18-wheeler goes by the trailer isn’t sucked toward the adjacent lane. This change took her from having a white knuckle experience, when trucks passed, to being able to relax. We also installed shock absorbers on the trailers. The difference in bounce of the trailer when driving over a bump went from several up/down cycles to one. The shocks also reduced the amount of trailer would lean during a fast turn. Any items in the trailer benefit from a much smother ride.

When the potential needs seems to be imminent the trailer will be hitched, lights & brakes checked, loaded & ready to travel. The planned route and alternatives will be reviewed daily for any potential weather or other delays. Most states offer a 1-800 number and/or web site with road condition updates. Find those updates now, and put them on a list!

All fuel levels will be maintained at a 50% or higher level. Vehicle oil, spark plugs and all filters will be changed. We keep this replacement stock on site so that it is instantly available. These changes ensure that each vehicle can give us its best effort. We carry a replacement set of all radiator hoses and belts. We have each vehicle battery load checked semi-annually. Most locales that sell vehicle batteries provide a free test service. We will replace any hose/belt/pump/battery/brake that is questionable. All vehicle light bulbs are also checked . All vehicle tires are inflated to the pressure that we want to use for best weight carrying capability.

Fuel tanks are filled to capacity, immediately before leaving, from on site storage. All vehicles will be parked such that on “GO” each driver can start the motor and quickly move out. Our thought is that by advance preparation we will gain a minimum advantage of 10 minutes. At 60 MPH we will be 10 miles distance down the road ahead of the majority.

We plan, by taking action at the trigger, to hopefully be at the travel end point before most people are even started. The Hurricane Katrina news coverage reinforced the fact that that early travelers were able to move at full highway speeds. Later departures were moving very slow.

Summary: We have tried to make plans for two different scenarios; 1.) We have several days to get ready, or 2.) The need is sudden. In either case we have all necessary items on site for prep and pack. The planning buys us some of the very important variable called time.

Planning also helps to eliminate the “what do we do” panic response mode. Everyone should have or develop now, at a minimum, a who/when/what/where plan. The plan doesn’t cost much, if any, cash to develop. Equipment without a plan doesn’t have any value.

Note: We do not provide discussion on specific roads to be traveled or planned speed as this to should be one of your group discussion items. Unique roads, weather, vehicles and group plans each offer a different series of opportunities and challenges. We hope to see you at the “Troy Barter Faire”! (For those of you wondering what this means, see Chapter 14 in "Patriots".)

I prayed, reflected and then invited several families to work with me to form a group. Here are my results:
- I formed an agenda, created a 'private' [password-protected] web site where I posted articles (in PDF files), created links to web sites like SurvivalBlog, and set a date to gather at my home
- I found near universal interest as folks are scared about the economy and direction our country has taken
- People eagerly attended meetings (every two weeks), opined, and felt very good about gathering
- Three months into gathering I printed up some rules and requests if a retreat was to be formed on our property.

To sum:
Do your best to be prepared.
If your personal economy is tight sell your chatchkis [trinkets and collectibles] and invest in 'beans, bullets and blankets.'
If you wished to become part of a private retreat on our ranch there were minimum levels of preparation a family would subscribe to.
If money was an issue, in order to prepare, meet with me and we'd find a way to to reach their goals. (That is, I was willing to help them financially if they committed to help themselves)

The results following that meeting:
- One person stepped up and accepted my offer of mutually beneficial financial help. We are getting a pole barn and they are getting much needed cash. They are helping us so we can help them become better prepared. They want 'in' our retreat
- One family has been preparing for many years and wants 'in.'
- One lady e-mailed and told me there are not 'enough hours in the day' to become prepared and she and her husband backed out. We never heard from the friends that they brought one weekend either.
- We stopped hearing from three other families completely.

My conclusions (and I'd welcome some insights)
1. Many folks like to talk, few are willing to do the work and make the sacrifice in current lifestyle to prepare.
2. Considering what it takes to truly prepare some are overwhelmed. Sadly, their response is not to reach out for help, when feeling that way, but to 'do nothing.'
3. Forming a good group is tough. We all know the statistics of marriage and divorce. Entering into a committed preparedness relationship may be as tough or tougher. Forming a group to rely on one another in the most dire of circumstances is daunting, indeed.
4. Finally, what Winston Churchill said applies: "Never, never, never quit." The safety of my family may well rely upon my ability to form an effective retreat group. I'll take the above lessons in and continue adding onto the two families who have opted into our retreat. I'll make a plan B, and then a plan C, and so on. I'll keep doing all I can to ensure we have the best provisions, location and, most importantly, the best people we can find to survive what may come. - D.S.

Dear Jim:
For those that are thinking about relocating to Alaska as a retreat location they should read this CNN news story. Thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full. - The Old Yooper

"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable." - Seneca 5 BC - 65 AD

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

An update on the big 25% off special on Mountain House and Alpine Aire freeze-dried foods in #10 cans, offered by Ready Made Resources: To do better than any competing offer, they are offering free shipping on case lots, and are including some free bonus items with each order. This is in accord with their long-standing "we will not be undersold" sales policy. This sale ends in just four days (on February 14th), so be sure to get your order in soon!

Hello, Mr Rawles!
Thank you for a great and very useful blog. Thanks for your time and effort that makes for a good, bulky read every morning. On more then one occasion I´ve had to hurry to work because of the lengthy articles.

It seems like you´re receiving letters about gun ownership from around the globe so I thought I´d share Sweden´s gun situation with you.

Sweden has quite liberal gun laws for those who are determined, compared to many other European countries. Compared to the US it´s a hassle, of course, but no problem if you are focused.

Sweden has a different gun culture, as self defense, upholding the constitution and freedom from the king aren´t really seen as gun related issues. If you want a gun here you´ll have to pass for a hunter or sportsman.

The first step in either case is to take classes. To receive a permit for hunting rifles or shotguns you have to have what's called a "hunter´s degree". It´s obtained by going to evening classes fifteen (15!) times, scoring 60 of 70 points on the test and passing four different shooting tests, two for rifles and two for shotguns. The time and cost varies some, depending on how much time you need to practice at the range but an inexperienced shot should expect at least eighty hours, with fifty of those hours spent on the classes themselves, and at least $700. The course is $500 with books, the training at the range is $25 an hour with an instructor and then $15 for 25 rounds of shooting on your own. When you are ready you´ll have to pass the four shooting tests which are $50 for the two shotgun tests and another $50 for the rifle tests. Of course, if you´re a terrible shooter there is no limit to what you can spend on classes and tests but I figured that for the average beginner, like myself, it should amount to around $700 total.

Now, the assault on your wallet doesn´t end there, because even with the classes the police still have their say and they charge you for it. The first permit costs $75 for the first gun, with $25 for every additional gun. The permits have to be renewed every five years also. That means you´ll have to pay the same in five years time. Failure to comply with this makes your guns illegal and you risk to be charged with possession of an illegal firearm, which carries a six month sentence, assuming that your guns are unloaded.

Once all the paperwork is done and you´re looking to buy a gun the law requires you to have a gun safe. This either has to be bolted to the wall or weigh more than 330 lbs. For someone living in a rented apartment, like a do, this can pose a problem. We also have a four rifle limit, with the possibility to acquire two additional rifles [under some circumstances]. There are limitations on ammunition as well. These limit the amount of powder you can keep in your home. The limit is set by the fire department and should pose no problem to the average survivalist, since it is of 44 lbs. of powder in cartridges. I haven´t done an exact calculation but it should be around 10,000-to-12,000 rounds.

Pistols are somewhat easier and cheaper [to obtain a license]. You start by joining a shooting club. They arrange classes and usually have their own range. The classes are almost always included in the membership fee and the mandatory test is taken in-house. Once you´ve achieved a certain degree of marksmanship, you´ll get certificate from the club which you present to the police for a permit. From there it the same procedure of course, $75 and the gun safe.

There is a problem with pistols though: You have to start out with a small caliber pistol. This is to weed out anyone wanting a gun for nefarious reasons but also to keep away those not interested in the sport and participating in club activity. This is however not necessarily a bad thing. I was thinking about the article by M.J.M., titled "How to Approach Shooting", recently posted on your blog.

Once you've got your .22 pistol it takes six months of ownership and after you have shown a genuine interest in shooting, the club issues a large caliber certificate. These certificates are required every time you renew your license so you can´t just do a year of hard work and you´re set, to be able to have your gun you´ll have to practice and partake in club activity.

The upside of all this is that, due to limited market, guns are cheap in Sweden. The pries are more or less as in the US but Sweden has a 25% sales tax on top of all other taxes. When I read about the cost of food, land other preps I get envious but guns seems to be equally priced.
Regards; - D. in Sweden

Take a look at the E.V.A. Track Turbo Diesel Adventure Tourer Motorcycle. Here is a description from Motorcycle Daily: "The Dutch company E.V.A., builder of small diesel engines as well as an interesting two-wheel-drive system for motorcycles, intends to bring such a bike to market in Europe, and perhaps even the U.S.A. this year. It's called the Track, and it may be just the bike to have for the apocalypse."

Here is a link to the E.V.A. company's web site.

73s, - Steve

Mr. Rawles;

The Ozark Mountains and the Ouachita Mountains are part of a very old series of mountains that runs from the Mississippi drainage to the Red River. This formation has been worn down to its present height by erosion and was more recently split by the Arkansas river. In addition to the generous growing season and precipitation you mentioned, many parts of this area have recoverable natural gas deposits and in is common for farms along the Arkansas river to have gas well heads. In addition to a monthly payment, many of these farms also enjoy free natural gas for domestic use.

The Ozark and Ouachita Mountains extend north into Missouri, west into Oklahoma, and as far south as the Texas border. While there are many nice areas in Arkansas, you might want to compare the taxes and regulations in all four of the states in this area. The cities of Fayetteville, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri are rapidly growing in population but land located even 20 miles away from these urban areas and their associated highway corridors would be reasonable locations.

Finding undeveloped land in not hard as you are discovering, finding land with good water (natural gas often adds a sulfur smell) and deep tillable soil requires a little more investigation and testing. The agricultural extension service from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and Oklahoma State University, Stillwater have great web sites and a local office in every county seat [in their respective states]. They can help with soil and water sample testing as can the local well driller.

One of the very best features about this area is its reputation as a low cost retirement haven for hunters and fishermen. Since most folks in the area live close to the land and survive during normal times in a more or less self sufficient manner, building a survival retreat/retirement home will not make you an obvious target. In some counties, over 30% of the population is composed of retirees. Hiding in plain sight is an effective form of OPSEC. - C.H.

The recent fires in Australia with large loss of life and property underscore the need to have defensible space around buildings. There is one factor in the Australian bush fires is not common knowledge in the US: In extremely hot weather, some tree species found in Australia--such as eucalyptus--exude volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are extremely flammable. When the conditions are just right, this can cause a firestorm effect.

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Chris E. flagged this: Rep. Kanjorski: $550 Billion Disappeared in "Electronic Run on the Banks." A key quote: "[if the Federal reserve had not acted] by two o'clock that afternoon $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States. [This] would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed."

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Cheryl sent us the following economic news and commentary: 15 Companies that May Not Survive 2009 -- Nissan to Cut 20,000 Jobs -- US Job Losses Hit College Educated -- Bank of England to Issue Grimmest Warning Yet on Economy -- US Treasury to Pump Billions More into Banks -- Grab Your Torch and Pitchforks: Homeowners Protest at Morgan Stanley CEO's Home -- Peter Schiff: this is Just the Beginning -- US Inflation Could Hit 200% -- Silver/Gold Ratio Reversion -- Merrill Lynch: Gold Hysteria Continues, Could Hit $1,500 -- Peace of Mind Comes in Yellow (The Mogambo Guru)

"Time and the laws of trade will restore things to an equilibrium if legislatures do not rashly interfere in the natural course of events." - New York Evening Post, June 15, 1819, as quoted in The Panic of 1819: Reactions and Policies, Murray N. Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007, pp 31–32.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,510. This auction ends on Sunday, February 15th. 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.

Dear Jim:
I just read a TEOTWAWKI warning article [at Rense.com] stating that since the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) was down 95%, [and that therefore] all shop shelves would be empty in short order. The writer said that the BDI referred to the number of ships in transit. I thought it only referred to the price charged for the transport of those ships and that while the cost was indeed 95% lower, there were still a lot of ships in transport. Can you clarify? - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies:
I see plenty of scare pieces like that, mostly written by people that aren't looking at the whole picture. Here is a videoblog clip, on the same topic.

You are correct that it is not the international shipping volume that has dropped by 95%. It is just the rates (shipping costs) that have plummeted by 95%. Key agricultural commodities like wheat and rice are still being transported in quantity. But the balance sheets of the shipping companies are suffering because orders for imported consumer items like cars and plasma HDTVs have dropped to nearly nil. Shipping companies proactively raise or lower rates, as needed. During boom years, shipping rates (bids) are high, but when orders decline, the BDI figure drops rapidly. This is because the last thing that any shipper wants is to set sail with a hold that is not nearly full.

The BDI is a useful indicator of global trade and global economic health. It is indeed presently signaling economic depression. But it is not indicative of imminent starvation in the US!


For starters I would like to say that Jim you are dead-on with your Delta Junction recommendation. I live near Delta. And it is some of the finest farm land in the world. everything grows amazing here. Some of the information in the previous letters is wrong and I would like to clarify them . The growing season may be a little shorter in days of light, but in total hours of light it is much longer than other places. It gets light here in May and gets dark at night again in late August. Some vegetables will grow great, some don't do so well, Corn doesn't like it, but potatoes grow without trying. And as for isolation, that's the idea. Things are harder to get, but you learn to live with less and enjoy it more. As for power, at least in the Delta area you do not need to worry about that in the winter, solar is awesome here in the summer, but in winter the wind is ever present. I have four wind generators that I built from old car alternators and Fan blades. I never had a loss in the battery bank. I live off of their grid anyway, so I am used to adapting.
As for the wood situation, certain types of trees do incredibly well here, And they grow faster not slower, I have trees that I know weren't there ten years ago and are over twelve feet tall, Spruces grow well here, and birch is my main heat, I have a fair sized house, and a new, catalyst stove and burn 5-to-7 cords of wood per winter.

Fuel is more expensive here, but it fluctuates like anywhere else, buy when the price is low, and stockpile it. In this area it is common for people to have a couple of 1,000 gallon tanks buried in their yard, Moose and caribou ar always around as a meat source, as with buffalo in this area. (Yes we have buffalo in Alaska). Along with Many other species of flora and fauna.

On the other hand Alaska is not a place for those who can not take care of themselves. In this area it is not uncommon to see the temps dip below -60,F. I have seen -72. It is dark all winter, And the stores never have what you want. There is plenty of water though, my well is thirty feet deep, and the pump is set down to twenty feet, My suggestion for people who are thinking about moving to Alaska is simple, Unless you have lived a subsistence lifestyle for a while, are used to constant extreme weather changes, and can do it on your own, stay where you are, or find some place else. As for me, I will never go outside [Alaska] again, you can keep it. - Z. in Alaska


Mr. Rawles
I too am a long time reader and this is also the first time I have written. I urge all of your readers to take head to Mr. Galt's letter concerning Alaska as a retreat locale. It is harsh up here. I live in Delta Junction area and love it. We have been here for over 10 years now and have our place set up pretty well. We live off grid and in the bush, hunt, fish, trap, mush dogs etc. etc. I wouldn't encourage anyone to try to move here and set up a retreat this late in the game. We just went through a couple weeks of -50 to -60(Tok recorded -78) temperatures then 70 m.p.h. hour winds that blew down many trees and damaged a lot of structures. These things are a regular occurrence. A lot of Russian immigrants have moved from the lower 48 into the Delta area. Most of the ones I have met seem to be good people but most live off welfare. When the welfare stops we'll have problems. The bad bunch of them are thieves already not just the Russian but Americans also. The Russian community has a bad reputation for it though. Anyone planning to move here and find a job might be in for a rude awakening.

The local jobs don't pay enough to live on the grid and the government jobs stay filled mostly. Delta is profiting from a small military bubble economy brought about by the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program but with you know in office now all that could come to a screeching halt at anytime. Because of the GMD program everyone around here thinks their land has gold on it and prices it accordingly.

Yes, Delta does have a big farming community. Most of the farmers get buy living off of government programs and are deeply in debt. The ones that don't live off the program hurt. Most farms lay dormant wile collecting CRP checks. I have heard that there will be no more new CRP contracts in the future. The fertility of the farm land has gone way down too because of the climate here. The cold doesn't allow much time for plant matter to decompose plus it's hard to have crop rotation with only Barley. (Barley, hay grasses, potatoes, and carrots are the main crops grown here.) For the last three years we have had a frost in the middle of August that pretty much killed any vegetables that were not in a green house.

Wells in Delta are any where from 40 to 450 feet in depth. If you buy land where there is bed rock you may drill 450 deep and still get mastodon pee to drink. Wells are at $50 a foot this year. Better plan on how to get water out of the well when the power goes down. Currently heating oil is 2.23 at the pump in town, more if its delivered. Diesel is currently $3.69. It hit $5 last winter. Fire wood from Delta Lumber is $180 per cord until they run out for the winter other sources are up to $250. The people from Delta lumber are great people and will work themselves silly trying make sure no one goes cold. I have seen one add for firewood for $300 per cord. Dry firewood is a must because -50 the soot form green wood builds in the chimney thus creating chimney fire. A friend of mine got burned out at -50 for that very reason. They didn't get in enough dry wood for the winter. Luckily they were able to run to separate garage and no one suffered any cold injuries. Finding a place to cut fire wood now is getting hard to find.

Most people here are enjoying high power bills now since Golden Valley increased their rates. The average size house power bill is running $300- $400 [per month] in the winter maybe less if your really frugal. You have to keep your vehicles plugged in. In a diesel that is like running a 1,500 watt electric heater. Wind power is a possibility if your turbine can withstand the wind. Closer to the mountains it has been 100 mph. The wind here isn't steady it is really gusty, not good for turbine. Rent is running around a $1,000 and up for a three bedroom home. Certified sewers are from $6,000 to $16,000 depending. Cost to build is running around the $150 per square foot range and going up.

If you don't know how Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) will affect you, then you's better find out before you try to make a permanent move here. Cabin fever has been the demise of many people who move here and plan to live the wilderness experience. The only cure for it is to be outside. It don't matter what the the temp is you got to get out side when it's light. SAD has be the cause for suicide, alcoholism, and drugs. People do the latter two to cope. I personally have never had it. I have too much work to do. People who don't procrastinate and get all there chores done and food stores in order for the winter and plan to stay in the cabin for the winter suffer the worse. We don't procrastinate but we don't stay in either. The cabin is only a place to warm up, eat and sleep. Living is done outside the cabin. We trap, mush dogs, care for the horses, cut more fire wood when it's not too cold, fire up the blacksmith forge, build some log furniture. It is easy to get lazy and lethargic during the winter. You have to fight the urge daily. We had a couple move in not to far from us. I told the lady to make sure she kept the windows uncovered in the winter. Well, they were the lazy type and didn't ever have enough wood cut so they covered the windows and blocked out some of the cold but mostly the light. They made it though one winter but the next one they didn't. They pulled up [stakes] and left middle of the winter.

As much as I love living here, if I were looking for a retreat locale this late in the game then it would be some place more hospitable. We did move here for the lack of people and when things get even worse I expect people to start migrating out of Alaska especially the interior. It requires a lot of hard work to live here more especially so if your living off the land. How would you like to cut 20 cords of wood with a hand operated saw and axe when you run out of gas and or you saw goes down? Running chain saws in the sub-zero weather is hard on them. Better get extra clutches for them. What about when the mosquitoes bloom and you have run out of bug dope?

Hunting is decent here. The Russian community poaches a lot of the moose in the Delta management area. They do it to eat. I am not knocking them for that. When the SHTF it will be even worse therefore even we will have to start going further into the bush to hunt using sled teams to get there. If you plan to have dogs and sled they require a lot of food. [Here they eat mostly] fish. The salmon that makes it this far inland is [best -suited for] dog food. It is pretty beat up by the time is gets here. The flesh is a faint pink to gray color as they are close to the end of the life span. Anyone planning to come to Alaska to survive the upheaval better have there you know what together or they won't make it. This land is unforgiving and the least mistakes get big in a hurry. Sorry that my letter has gotten so long but I want people to know what they are getting into if they come here thinking it's paradise. It ain't. but it's the life we love. People here are willing to help if you are not stupid. Our favorite saying around here is "If you gonna be dumb then you'd better be tough" - C.B.


I worked for 20 years as an analytical chemist and was responsible for running experiments to determine the expiration dates of our medicines. We were always conservative when setting limits.

There are many factors that affect the stability of medications. The most easily controlled by the end user is temperature. As a general rule for biological compounds near human temperatures the rate of decomposition approximately doubles with each 18° F rise in temperature and is roughly halved with each 18° F fall in temperature. So if the shelf life of a medicine is six months at 90° F and about three months at 110° F. That same medicine is expected to decompose about the same amount during four years in a refrigerator as it would in one year at room temperature or 16 years in a freezer.

Once a package has been opened oxygen, water, or microorganisms may enter the medicine and dramatically shorten it's shelf life. In general

Hello Mr. Rawles,
There's a better product than the Cansolidator [that Michael Z. Williamson reviewed], but very few people know about it. It's made by a local company in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I use to live near there, and visited their store several times. The store is Pharaoh's Storehouse.

The reasons that the Pharaoh's Storehouse products are better than Cansolidators:

Made of metal, not plastic!
No wasted airspace between the cans, like Cansolidator, so you can store a lot more food in a very small space.
Made in America [JWR Adds: But FYI, so is the Cansolidator]
Their wall units [are shallow and hence] can easily be hidden by false walls.

Sincerely, - Garnet

JWR Replies: We should also remind readers that are budget-conscious: Don't overlook the do-it-yourself alternative,using cardboard material that A. in Texas mentioned in a January 24th letter posted in SurvivalBlog.

Thank You Mr. Rawles,
My husband and I are new readers of SurvivalBlog; we have been so encouraged/convicted/moved/enlightened/blessed by your wisdom.

Gertrude's "Bloom Where You're Planted" article, for me, was amazing. It's the "if she can do it, anyone can do it' - I am encouraged. I don't really have words for what I'm trying to say, just that I don't feel so overwhelmed now after reading her words.

We are just in the baby beginning stages of preparedness. My amazing husband is leading us in the most right direction, and is a very steady purposeful man. I trust him and his ability completely.
I think to sum up this attempt at an email to you Mr. Rawles, is that hearing Gertrude's calm direction and wisdom has changed my entire approach, or my thinking....does that make sense?

Ultimately, my trust rests in my most Gracious God, and then, He knows my fears and doubts and places folks like Gertrude in my path. I am grateful. Blessings on you, - Kristy in Oregon

Bob at Ready Made Resources wrote to tell me that they have just one BP-Solar 190 Watt Solar Module in stock, that a customer had canceled after it already shipped;. (It was re-routed back to RMR but the panel is still brand new.) Because of the circumstances, they are selling this one panel below wholesale cost at $750, plus shipping. (Additional panels are available at RMR's normally-discounted price.) Call RMR during normal business hours (Eastern time) for the special price 1(800) 627-3809.

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Our friend Art suggested that those interested in a gun-friendly nationwide alternative to Craigslist, should try SwapGiant.com. It's new in most areas.

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HPD recommended this piece by Mish Shedlock: Employment Cycles During Recessions

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Rourke mentioned that the French wire service piece on SurvivalBlog is still getting plenty of mileage. Most recently it was picked up by a Jakarta newspaper.

"For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are." - Niccolò Machiavelli

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The following are my experiences with a product called a Cansolidator. My order for two Cansolidators was filled very promptly, and they arrived within the week.

These racks are a common concept for people storing canned goods in bulk. This is a first in, first out (FIFO) rack. New cans go in the top, old cans dispense out the bottom.

The Cansolidator is modular, made of a very sturdy and flexible plastic, and the rails are numbered to make it easy to set consistent widths. Each unit contains four top and four bottom rails, and five vertical rails/spacers. You can extend the rails to make wider units, and use additional bottom rail sections to build vertically. It was just slightly too tall for my kitchen cabinets--it wouldn't quite fit under the shelf, but may fit in newer ones. It's also fairly deep. Shelfreliance also sells smaller units intended for inside cabinets, and larger, freestanding units up to "The Harvest" that will hold up to 600 cans, and can be adapted to fit a smaller number of #10 cans.

I managed to adjust the unit to fit three slots for standard cans and one for smaller cans (fruit cocktail and beanie weenie sized cans). A standard modular plastic shelf system will fit a Cansolidator section six cans wide, with enough room atop to fit a flat of additional cans between it and the next shelf up. This dramatically improved the cubic efficiency of our canned goods storage.

My only criticism is that a basic unit is not quite wide enough, by about 1/2 inch, to fit four rows of regular cans. I will definitely be getting more of these, and one of the larger freestanding racks, to improve our food storage.- Michael Z. Williamson

Hello JWR,
I hope everything is going well for you and your family! Every day that passes makes me realize how blessed I am to be out of the states and living at a great retreat location in Chile.
I was reading your site yesterday and saw your article asking for information about foreign gun laws. I recently purchased a new shotgun in Chile and will share that experience with you. First, I don't think most Chileans follow the gun laws here. The law is that you must register every weapon you own, and registration is limited to three per person, but no limit per family. That means I could register three in my name, three in my wife's name, etc. Laws state you must keep your weapon in your home and if you transport in somewhere else, you must ask for permission and get a form to do so. If you are stopped by the police and have a weapon without the transport form, they have the right to seize it. (I have been stopped many times for a registration check, and they have never searched the vehicle or asked about weapons, so this is a very remote possibility in normal times, IMHO).

From those restrictions, you can see why I feel most Chileans don't follow the law. I wanted to ship down my grandfather's old Mossberg, but since it didn't have a serial number, and the associated government paper hassle, I just bought a new one here. When buying from a dealer, you have to follow the rules, and being a foreign national residing here, I went along (for my first). I wanted a basic Mossberg pump action 12 gauge, and the dealer informed me I had to pass a hunting exam before I could buy the gun. He gave me some example tests, true-false questions, and I went to register for the test. Not being a native spanish speaker, I was a little worried about the exam. It cost about $24 US to get a study book and pay for the test. The exam covered all the separate hunting laws for the country, broken down by state. I had to know the dove daily limits for a region 1,500 miles from my house! Unbelievable. I managed to luck through the test and pass with a 70%, even though none of the test questions given to me by the dealer were on the test- wouldn't you know it!

Once I had my hunting license I returned to the gun dealer/ sport shop. I paid for the gun, and then they took me to the local Chilean army office to register it. On the way, the dealer casually mentioned I had to take a test there to ensure I knew the proper care and maintenance of the shotgun I was buying! I had no idea what those names were, so I had about 10 minutes to learn what a sight, breach, stock, etc were called in spanish, and I lucked my way through another multiple choice test on basic maintenance, and how many shells I was able to buy at a time, etc. What a pain! Now you see why I think most chileans skip this law. Everyone was quite nice and helpful, it was just the process that stank.

The next step was needing the police to check my residence on the application to ensure that I lived there. Well, I live 150km from this town, and I could not take possession of my gun until my residence was checked. For this reason I used a friend's residence in the town. I was checked out and returned the next morning for my shotgun. What an ordeal. Total cost, not including the shotgun itself, was about $60 US. Fortunately, now I have my legally registered shotgun, even though it is registered at a residence far far away, so it would take some searching to find me if the officials were so inclined. Obviously my next weapons purchase will be from an locals to skip the whole bureaucratic nightmare. Since I live way off the beaten path and know the local police, I am not worried, but the national system here is set up for potential confiscation if necessary- remnants of the 1970's and the civil war/Pinochet days.

Hope you find this informative. Chile is a great country for old German rifles and such like. I look forward to getting a Winchester .44-40, .357, and other weapons off of the grid. I've actually had my folks bring down boxes of rifle shells and deer slugs in their airline luggage- no problem with customs. In other news, I now have my pigs, chickens, and the sheep are on the way! Fresh eggs and ham through any crisis! Best wishes. - Bruce

I am soon buying my first shotgun and wanted to know if you would recommend it. It is a Remington 870 Express Super Magnum which handles everything from light 2-3/4" loads to heavy 3-1/2" magnums interchangeably, in a ribbed 28" barrel. I am looking at it for home defense. Best regards, - Greg

JWR Replies: The 3-1/2 inch chamber is only an issue here in the US when shooting at high-flying ducks and geese, using the now-mandatory steel shot. For home defense, a 3" chamber, or even a 2-3/4" chamber on the older guns is sufficient. Don't pay extra for a gun with a 3-1/2" chamber. Spend the difference on getting a spare 20" barrel with slug sights. That is the barrel that you will want for home defense. OBTW, for the greatest versatility, try to get all barrels with "Rem-Choke" screw-in choke tubes.

Our Editor at Large (Michael Z. Williamson) sent this evidence that the MOAB will continue to grow, unchecked: A $15,000 gift for home buyers?

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Reader Leon H. suggested this great video segment: Peter Schiff: Stimulus Bill Will Lead to "Unmitigated Disaster"

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Bob McC. flagged this: California, Georgia banks are latest to be seized. Bob's comment: "These bank failures were in Southern California and Atlanta, Georgia, no doubt being dragged down by failing real estate, in two of the formerly hottest markets. Is it me, or do the bank failures seem to be coming at a steadier pace now?"

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Cheryl sent us these: Financial Coup D'Etat -- UK: 38,000 Companies Expected to Go Bust -- Three More US Banks Shut By Regulators

"Thus says the LORD:
'Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the LORD.

For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit." - Jeremiah 17:5-8

Saturday, February 7, 2009

For the survivalist planner determining actual prescription drug shelf lives is a critical subject. Yet little discussion or research has been submitted survival web sites.

The following are some concise and factual sources with information on this critical survival planning subject.

Congressional investigation: Extending The Shelf Life of Prescription Drugs

Military Stockpiles 'Expired' Drugs

Shelf Life of Prescription Medications (from Mickey Creekmore's blog, July, 2008.)

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Drugs may outlast label date

Many Medicines Are Potent Years Past Expiration Dates
(a Wall Street Journal article, re-posted by The End Times Report)

From Associated Content: Drug Expiration Dates: How They Benefit the Pharmaceutical Companies

Additional sources are welcomed. Regards, - Sam A.

JWR Replies: This topic was covered fairly well in SurvivalBlog in 2006, but it bears re-visiting. Expiry dates marked on both prescription and non-prescription medicines are very conservative, for two reasons: 1.) Legal Liability, and 2.) Profit. By having early expiries, the pharmaceutical companies sell more drugs (replacing "expired" stocks), which means more profit.

Tetracycline is one drug that has often been cited as being unsafe when out-of-date, but that reputation has largely been overcome by events. As it was explained to me by by a SurvivalBlog reader that is a doctor in New Zealand, in the 1980s tetracycline had an unstable composition. It broke down 6-to-12 months post-expiry date and became potentially toxic from the degradation products of the binder. But since late-1980s, the new binders have been much more stable.

This letter to SurvivalBlog from 2006 is worthy of re-posting:

Regarding your blog entry on the subject of prescription medications, I wish to provide you with information regarding expiration dates: I work for a pharmaceutical company. While profit is a reason why expiration dates can be conservative, it is not due to "planned obsolescence."

Here is the way things work in the U.S.: drug companies are required to put an expiration date on all drugs. Companies are required to prove to the FDA that the drugs will remain safe and effective through the expiration date on the drug (when stored as described on the label). Generating that proof is expensive, and it gets more expensive the farther the expiration date is from the date of manufacture. So the drug companies don't want to spend money on expiration date studies (known in the industry as "stability studies") any further in the future than is necessary, but must spend money on stability studies (at a minimum) that will avoid an expiration date that is too close to the date of manufacture (defined as expiration dates that could be reached prior to the drug being sold, or would cause customers to avoid the purchase of drugs that will soon expire).

What does that mean for consumers who want to store drugs beyond the expiration dates? There is not one answer for all drugs. Some drugs are truly ineffective or unsafe very soon after their expiration dates. Others can be almost "as good as new" for decades after the expiration dates have passed. Thanks for the great novel, and a great blog. - Mr. Pharmacopoeia


I'm giving really serious consideration to a move to the north-central Ozark area of Arkansas. My reasoning is that the weather is fairly benign - average temps are 40-to-80 F, good [length of] growing season; land is still pretty reasonable. Acreage at $1,000 per acre - sometimes less - is not unusual. The area has springs/lakes/creeks/caves; many smaller towns; living costs are very reasonable; a strong family orientated population; fairly well-developed medical services even in the smaller towns.

I realize that this area is more suited for people who do not work or who are not looking for work, but I'm only seven months from retirement and so far have managed to keep most of my retirement funds from tanking. I hope to have in the area of around $4,000 per month coming in to fund my retirement; and this without resorting to IRA withdrawals. I should hopefully be able to off-load my house in Florida for around $150,000 - mostly because of the location. After paying the minimal balanced owed, I hope to pretty much be able to put up ~$100,000 as purchase money. Looking through the current realtor's ads from the area, that money could buy me anything from 50-to-80 undeveloped acres at one end, to a three bedroom house on 20-40 acres on the other end.

The biggest negative in the area appears to be that the in-place governmental infrastructure occasionally is not up to the job, a state income tax, and jobs are not very plentiful. But again for me these are really almost pluses. I plan to use trusts to handle most of my transactions there and by limiting my visible income I hope to keep pretty much off both the state and Federal radar screen. All taken together the pluses - at least from my perspective - seem to far outweigh the negatives.

I would like to build a semi-underground house on a southeast exposure to minimize heating and cooling costs as well as reducing security issues - both personal and disaster related.

A big downer there is that it is in the Mississippi earthquake zone, but sometimes you have to flip the coin, and I worry more about the caldera of Yellowstone than I do a [local]earthquake. Regards, - Doug D.

Mr. Rawles,
Although being an avid reader, this is the first time I have written your site. The letters posted on your site today respecting Alaska as a retreat locale raised a few possible issues in my mind. First of all, let me say that Alaska is my favorite place in the world, and I wouldn't have it any other way. However, as a retreat locale, one may want to think twice unless the situation forces their location there. Also, it is important to remember that the conditions and terrain in Alaska are very wide ranging, depending where you are. The climate can range from arctic in the north to relatively mild in the south. I have heard the climate in the south compared to that of the mid-Atlantic states on the East coast.

Most parts of the state are totally without agriculture, but there is some in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. The growing season is usually around 100 days long, and can produce huge vegetables because of the length of the days. Some vegetables do well there, such as potatoes, carrots and cabbage.

Therefore, if one intends to do any kind of farming in Alaska, the "Mat-Su" Valley is where it is possible. However, there is a major drawback to this fact, from the perspective of retreat logistics. The Mat-Su valley is one of the most densely populated areas of the state. It has, as of late, been converting to suburban communities for workers who commute to Anchorage. As we all know, the suburbs are a bad, bad place to be WTSHTF. And even if one were to build a retreat in a section of the valley not yet suburban, there is no way to know that it would remain so for the next five years or more.

Prepping before the SHTF is made more difficult by the state's isolation. Building materials, fuel, food, guns, ammo, medical supplies and any other product must be shipped in from the [continental] US or elsewhere. This makes these products not only more expensive, but generally less available, especially outside of the urban centers. Ordering off the web makes them easier to get, but the shipping is still expensive. Fuel of any kind is the most expensive in the nation, and ammo is pretty over-priced, too.

Fuel, as one letter pointed out, is a major problem. Getting by without fossil fuels is a main goal of most preppers, and it may prove more difficult in Alaska. Solar is out, at least during the winter. Not only is there very little light, but it is less intense than elsewhere, due to the oblique angle at which it hits the state (as it is so far north). I don't know a lot about wind, so that may be a possibility. If it was, any parts would be difficult to get. As K.L.'s letter says, firewood is a possibility, but this raises three issues.

As he says, with no gas or diesel = no power tools to cut [and haul firewood]. Any broken hand tools would be irreplaceable, and even having extras is likely not enough when you plan to cut by hand and burn firewood for a very extended period of time. Hand cutting firewood is also time consuming.

Since it would need to be done in the summer, it would take up time for farming and other chores. This might not be a problem if you are part of a large retreat group, however. Also, felling trees, in any way, especially by hand, is extremely dangerous. I would strongly recommend a logger certification class for anyone planning to possibly use firewood as a retreat fuel. Although the course will focus on mechanical forestry, the safety principles are the same universally.

Third, unless one has a retreat on a very spacious lot, it is possible to run out of firewood to cut. Trees grow much slower in Alaska People who do not heat their homes in this manner would be surprised at the amount of fuel a wood stove can use in a winter. For instance, to heat the house on my family farm, it takes roughly 10 to 15 cords to get through the winter, with a little to spare for safety's sake. And that is back in New York, not Alaska. Imagine cutting that much firewood on a 25 acre lot for five years or more. One may be able to cut off of their property, but that is a bad way to meet the neighbors, especially after TSHTF.

This letter ran much longer than I planned, and I would like to go on further, but time prevents me from doing so. In short, think twice about a retreat in Alaska. It is absolutely possible, but would present much greater difficulties than other feasible places. In the lower 48, one can find the same type of isolated area, but with:

Better farming conditions
Lower prices in general
A climate not requiring huge amounts of fuel for the winter
Ability to travel through the US without crossing international borders (If they still exist after TSHTF)
And so forth...

If you think you can do it, then go for it. My wife thinks I'm trying to keep it all for myself. - J. Galt

JWR Replies: Thanks for that input. I have my doubts about the viability of the Mat-Su Valley in worst-case collapse. Its proximity to the hungry, teeming masses of Anchorage is troubling. Alaska cannot feed its population, even in today's economy, and one can only wonder what it would be like grid-down, with no fuel available.

I encourage anyone serious about living in Alaska to look at the Delta Junction area, in Alaska's interior. I haven't been there since the summer of 1980 (when I attended the U.S. Army Northern Warfare School), but it struck me as a very productive agricultural region.)

Dateline: Nanny State, Hawaii: Now they want to ban pocket knives! What is next, pencils? ("You might put your eye out!") And speaking of over-reaching paternalism, Chad from Colorado spotted this: Schoolteacher Suspended for Facebook Gun Photo. My, how times change! My maternal grandfather, an Army Reserve Major, was a Junior ROTC instructor that taught marksmanship at a California public high school, before his untimely death in 1943. It was not uncommon for students to bring their own rimfire rifles from home to shoot at the high school's indoor shooting range. And nobody blinked an eye...

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Reader D.S. mentioned a useful resource for diesel vehicle owners.D.S. says: "They have a great frame-by-frame how to tutorials on how to work on your Mercedes and other diesels and have produced a set of DVDs on the many facets of restoring, repairing, maintaining your diesel."

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Sam A. sent us this link: President wants U.S. nuke arsenal slashed 80%.

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In economic news: The silver rally continues. There's that "D" word again: GE chief warns on US depression threat. (Thanks to several readers, led by John S., for that link.) Ben H. sent us this: Worker Anger Sees Brown Facing Winter of Discontent. Here is a quote: "They've sold us down the river," said Charles Hilton, 61, an electrician from Hull in northern England who was out on strike yesterday with local oil-refinery workers. "We're going to see civil unrest in this country. It's already started. It will grow unless things are sorted." Cheryl found all these for us: Wall Street Shrugs Off Unemployment Data; Dow Up 200 Points -- States Can't Go Bankrupt -- Bush Overpaid Banks in Bailout, Watchdog Says -- Banks Sitting on Inventory Timebomb -- US Unemployment Expected to Rocket -- UBS Predicts Gold to Hit $1,000 -- UK Company Collapses are Up 124% in Three Months -- UK: Personal Bankruptcies Hit New Record -- Jobless Claims Surge to 626,000 -- Grim January for Most US Retailers -- Bill Gates Sees 3-5 Tough Years -- Biggest Job Loss Ever for Retail Sector -- News Corps $6.4 Billion Loss; Cuts Looming -- Jobs Problems You Don't Know About -- Six Companies Born During Downturns

"Why had they been so anxious to believe that any government could solve problems for them which had been pridefully solved, many times over, by their fathers? Had their characters become so weak and debased, so craven and so emasculated, that offers of government dole had become more important than their liberty and their humanity? Had they not known that power delegated to government becomes the club of tyrants? They must have known. They had their own history to remember, and that history of five thousand years. Yet, they had willingly and knowingly, with all this knowledge, declared themselves unfit to manage their own affairs and had placed their lives, which belonged to God only, in the hands of sinister men who had long plotted to enslave them, by wars, by "directives," by "emergencies." In the name of the American people, the American people had been made captive." - Taylor Caldwell, from her novel The Devil's Advocate, 1964

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm pleased to announce few new milestones for SurvivalBlog:

  • 6,000 archived posts
  • 315,000 distinct visitor ISP dotted-quad domains logged in the United States
  • Visits from readers in 158 countries
  • 126,800+ unique visits per week!

Please keep spreading the word! Putting a link to SurvivalBlog.com in your e-mail footer will mean that there'll be thousands of new SurvivalBlog readers, and more importantly thousands of people that will be prepared in the coming hard times.


Today we present another entry for Round 21 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 ends on March 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 write this to encourage everyone to begin preparing right now, whatever your financial situation and physical location in life. We are one of the many families that don’t live in a sparsely populated western state and don’t have a retreat that is fully stocked, off-grid and off-the beaten path. But we are very aware of the precarious situation that our country is in and we are trying as best we can to be prepared. Doing a little bit consistently every day will add up very quickly and you will be better prepared every day as you go along. Doing this will also do wonders for your mental outlook.

To give a little background: our household consists of my mother and myself, along with four cats, three dogs and a flock of chickens. My mother is 79 years old and I’m a retired 57-year old woman. My sister and brother-in-law live about a half-mile away and our niece and her husband live next door. Both of my parents grew up on farms and we always had a big garden and plenty of fruit trees when I was a child. We live in a semi-rural area about three miles from a small town. There are no interstate highways nearby.

The people here in our community are pretty self-reliant. People still hunt, fish, and grow and preserve their own vegetables and fruits (although not as much as in the past). We have about five acres of land with a small fruit orchard and garden area. We don’t have any mortgages or car payments to worry about, but we also don’t have the financial resources to retreat to another location. Are we fully prepared? Of course not. I don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared, but we are much better prepared than we were last year and we were better prepared last year than we were the year before that. This is because of consistently doing something every day to prepare.

As I sit here typing this, our supper is cooking on the wood stove while my mother is in the living room quilting and our alarm systems--our three dogs--are outside keeping an eye on things. The coffee pot is ready to go on the stove for supper later. The chickens are happily occupied in their area. Our pantry is stocked with wheat, rice, beans, store-canned goods as well as home-canned vegetables, fruits, and meats and various other food and non-food items. We have another separate storage area for paper products, medical supplies, batteries, cleaning supplies, etc.

We didn’t have the wood stove, chickens or bigger-than-average pantry storage a few years ago. Back then I would have said we were above-average in “preparation mentality” but my eyes were opened when I began doing research on the subject of preparedness. It began when I wanted to be prepared to survive a possible flu pandemic. I quickly learned of other things, such as the possibility of EMP strikes, electric grid going down in general, Peak Oil problems, you name it. My first reaction was one of panic, but that subsided as my mother and I began “putting feet on our prayers.” We started small, buying more food each week when grocery shopping. Then we decided to go “whole hog.”

The first thing we did was buy a wood stove. We now have three heating systems: [a heating] oil furnace, gas logs operated on propane and the wood stove. We use the wood stove most of the time in the winter now. Although it’s not a [broad-top] cook stove, we do very well cooking meals on it. We perk the coffee for supper most nights even if we don’t cook the main meal on it. We have lots of wood on our land, but aren’t physically able to cut the wood ourselves so we buy it locally, and my brother-in-law has supplied us with wood (my sister and he have a wood stove too). We have three able-bodied men in the family (brother-in-law, nephew-in-law and nephew) who can and will cut wood if need be.

The next thing we did was install a manual well pump. We’re on well water but we needed a way to get the water if the grid goes down. I began researching manual well pumps and my brother-in-law installed one for us. Last summer, we worked on what has probably been the biggest project of them all: building a chicken house and fenced-in chicken yard. Our chickens are what I suppose you’d call semi-free range. They have a 24x24 foot yard to roam in. My mother was the chief architect. She designed the chicken house herself. We first had to clear the land, then we prepared the foundation for the house. After that came the actual building of the chicken house.

Although we have a pick-up truck, my nephew was using it at the time, so I would go to the local Big Box building center and buy as much wood as I could fit into the car and bring it back. We’re proof that you can pretty much do what you set your mind to do if you’re determined enough. We worked steadily every day except Sundays at building the chicken house and got it done. Then we had to clear the land for the chicken yard, and after doing that we began digging the holes for the fence posts. The only thing we had any outside help with was installing the poultry wire for the fence. We needed my niece and her husband to help us get that pulled tight enough. We finished the entire operation by putting netting over the entire chicken yard to keep out hawks. We now have a great flock of chickens. As I write this, we have about eight dozen eggs in the refrigerator. We share [the eggs] with my sister and husband, my niece and her husband and my nephew and his wife. The dogs also get a scrambled egg dinner about once a week. We haven’t bartered any eggs yet, but we know that’s a possibility down the road if economic conditions warrant it.

Somewhere in the midst of all this preparation, we bought a Country Living grain mill (the manual kind). Mother has done most of the grinding so far. She’s baked whole-wheat rolls and loaves of bread with the wheat we bought and ground ourselves – yummy!

Our garden suffered last summer, because we were so busy getting the chicken flock project set up. Our goal for this summer is to have as big a garden as we can manage. We do have a stock of garden seed laid back. We’ve already stocked up on lots of canning jar lids. We already had a good supply of canning jars and rings but I plan on stocking up on those, as well.

One of the big things we need to do next is prepare in the area of self-defense. We have a rifle and recently bought a S&W 9mm handgun. We also have my late father’s 38 Special revolver. We have magazines and ammo and plan on stocking more ammo. My brother-in-law (a former Marine) is going to train me on the handguns and rifle. If there is one thing I regret in life it is that I didn’t take advantage of the fact that my late father, who was a police officer, wanted to train me in the use of firearms, but I was a wimp. I’ve always believed in the right to bear arms, but was actually a little afraid of using guns, mainly because I’m so nearsighted. But I’ve gotten over that now. After one very short session with my brother-in-law going over firearm basics with me, I’m excited about getting proficient in their use because I can actually understand how the darn things work now!

I believe we’re doing pretty good at blooming where we’re planted. We can garden, sew, quilt, cook (don’t laugh – a lot of people don’t know how to do that!), crochet, can and preserve food, and we’ve don pretty well at carpentry. In addition to my retirement pension, I also have a second stream of income doing manuscript typing at home.

To summarize, I encourage anyone who feels paralyzed by current events to get up and get going. Start small: buy a few extra groceries each time you shop; stock up on non-perishables; prepare a first aid kit; and take a first aid course. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. And, most importantly of all, never stop learning. Before you know it, you’ll be a lot more prepared than you ever knew you could be. - Gertrude


As an Alaskan survivalist I concur with everything Brad in Texas had to say. Alaska has many distinct advantages as a retreat location. However, it also has some major disadvantages. First and foremost is the amount of work involved. You must have a way to get fuel for heating. If you can't use vehicles and chain saws, most of your summer will likely be taken up getting ready for winter. The same applies to food. You would have to grow enough vegetables during the short summer to last seven or eight months. Thankfully, game is available all year, so you probably won't starve. Alaska is great for people who are able and willing to work really hard.

As for the spirit of Alaska, what Brad says is true outside the major cities. I would estimate that only 5% of Juneau and Anchorage residents and 20% of Fairbanks residents have any concept of survival in hard times. Most people in the cities essentially live in a bubble, with no real contact with nature at its harshest. Even in Alaska! Juneau is jokingly referred to as "Seattle North" and Anchorage as "Los Anchorage." If you consider Alaska as a retreat location, it would be wise to avoid the major cities. In a SHTF scenario, the helpless refugees would overwhelm the surrounding countryside just as in the lower 48.
K.L. - Alaska



We lived in Alaska for almost three years, we miss it. Here is our Wish List for our next trip:

Snow machines [called snowmobiles in some parts of the US], purchased in the Lower 48
More gear
More guns
More knowledge of the laws going in and out of the borders
Have a gun shop picked out up there ASAP for weapons you will not be able to carry into Canada or back into the US (handguns and [so-called] assault rifles)
All records for animals
Go on the ferry to avoid Canada

Some of the larger problems facing newcomers in Alaska is the lack of light in the winter, the lack of fresh fruits and veggies, activities in the winter, the isolation, the cold....
The suicides are on the average 20% higher in Alaska than anywhere else in the US. The alcohol abuse is so rampant that in some of the more desolate towns there is rationing of alcohol or there is none period.
Most go up there totally unprepared for the struggles of everyday life. We lived in Anchorage and it wasn't that bad. There are a few books that can give you a rundown on the worst (Death Stalks the Land is a good reference). The people who went there unprepared and paid for it with their lives. Even those who lived there 20 years are not immune to getting caught unaware.
Everything thing you need to get has to be shipped overseas including grain for livestock and hay, milk, tools, some building supplies and clothing. The natives do produce some things. However, most do it for the tourists that show up.
There are many tales of those that made it up there but for each one of those there is one or more that lost limb or life trying.
There is a book on the last homesteader to go to Alaska and it is a real eye opener.

The plusses: The constant daylight in some areas [in summer] makes for incredible food and if you can fruits and veggies, you'll be better for it.
The Icelandic Horses can and will eat dry or fresh fish and there is plenty of that.
You can't beat the hunting and fishing.
It is incredibly beautiful, summer or winter.

I will leave you with this - It's a very long way to go for help or to help anyone while there, if you go you will truly be on your own. - TD


By way of profession, I am a CPA (M.S. in Taxation), economic survivalist by persuasion. One thing you may want to caution readers about is the Internal Revenue Services' position on bartering income. Always, always, always talk to a competent tax advisor regarding your particular situation. Under the current administration, self-sufficiency activities such as bartering with others for services or goods may be considered a reportable and taxable activity on the part of both parties.

Just a "heads up" to all, we all want to stay within the letter of the law. Thanks for the listen - C.



Craigslist can be frustrating, for example, you see a super deal, you call early, have the cash and can buy now, but the seller says, "well, some guy called at 6 a.m. and is coming to buy it this Sunday. Sorry." Out of politeness, you didn't want to call at 6 am, but because you didn't, you lost the ability to buy the item because the seller is a "first call-first serve" seller, and not a "first cash-first serve" seller.

On the other hand, it is irritating when you set an appointment, spend $20 on diesel to drive to the seller's home, and arrive to find someone else loading the item in his truck. Maybe sellers ought to put a Terms-of-Service in their ads! (I personally am a First-Cash seller, but cancel later appointments immediately upon sale). - Willow, in Texas



[Because of their posting rules], one must be very circumspect in listing or putting a "Want to Buy" (WTB) ad on Craigslist.com if it concerns guns, ammunition, or reloading.
They will delete your posting in a "New York Minute". - D.O.

JWR Replies: I've seen the same thing happen, many times. Do not mention firearms in the title line of any Craigslist post, even if you live in an ultra-conservative state like Wyoming. Some hoplophobic do-gooder will indeed zap your post almost immediately. I've heard that it is best to "bury " mention of your willingness to swap "sporting goods" in posts on other topics. For those that specifically want to trade a firearm or ammunition, I recommend advertising on a regional gun board, such as the Northwest Firearms Board. , or in one of the many local newspapers or advertising giveaway papers (such as the "Nickel" and "Penny Saver" type papers) that offer free or low-cost classified ads.


Mr. Rawles:

Even though Craigslist does not allows firearms and ammunition advertisements, it is still beneficial sure to check the Sporting Goods section. In my my local Craigslist there are "47 speed bicycles, AK brand", and similar items regularly for sale. - J.M.

David V. recommended the latest essay from commentator Charles Hugh Smith's Of Two Minds blog: Pandemic, Drug Resistance and Natural Selection

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As the red ink continues to spread across the globe, here is today's economic news: Some Deep Schumer talk in the UK: Gordon Brown suggests world heading for a 'depression'. SF in Hawaii suggested this: Afshin Rattansi talks to Max Keiser about the Dollar. Max Keiser says: "Free market capitalism in America is dead", and: "The technical strength of the Dollar will be short-lived." Reader H.P.D. sent us a link to Mish Shedlock's latest commentary: The Game is Up. Reader G.G. suggested this essay by David Roche: Blight of capital protectionism will give rise to dollar crisis. And from The Economatrix comes all these items: Circuit City Ripples to Be Felt for Years -- 500,000 More US Jobs Lost in January -- Major UK Retail Investor Collapses -- Now Russia Gets Caught Up in Credit Crunch -- How to Play the Coming Gold Price Jump -- Rising Unemployment Hits 98% of Metro Areas -- Bad News Means Bad News (The Mogambo Guru) -- Riots Around The World Because of Skyrocketing Unemployment

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Thanks to G.G. for two encouraging news items, first from The Financial Times: Demand for seeds, canning supplies boom, and from The St. Louis Business Journal: Olin Q4 profit triples on ammunition sales. And linked from that article was this: Dealers: Assault rifle sales up; long waiting list for handguns

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Several readers have written to mention HCR 6, which will hopefully soon be considered by the New Hampshire legislature. I first mentioned it in SurvivalBlog on Monday. The resolution is a step in the right direction, but keep in mind that for now it is only a proposed piece of legislation. Until it is passed and signed by the Governor, it is not much more than the source of conjecture. I hope that the sovereignty reservation movement catches on in other states. I'll continue to publish updates.

"Listen, this whole [heat and air conditioning] system of yours could be on fire, and I couldn't even turn on the kitchen tap [to put the fire out] without filling out a 27-B Stroke 6 [form.] Blo**y paperwork!" - Robert DeNiro as Harry Tuttle, in Brazil.1985. (Screenplay by Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I've read your novel "Patriots" and I feel compelled to mention that it was the first book I ever defaced. I've always loved reading, but I read (and in some cases even re-read multiple times) books but never highlight or mark up the books. I don't know why, I just don't. It was almost immediate, like a lightning strike... that I needed to change what I was doing when I started reading Patriots. It even occurred to me that I needed a couple different colors to distinguish separate types of information. I absolutely loved the story line, not because of the happy ending, not because of the advice, but a combination of identifying with the characters and with the events they were in, and how they dealt with them which was your actual message... the readability of your Patriots novel is 5 stars in my opinion and I thank you greatly, I'm actually starting over again tonight, because even with hi-lighting the key elements, I still enjoy the story and still need to reinforce the lessons they are teaching me.

I am in complete agreement that the decline of our economy is not only assured, it's gaining speed as I type this. While our paid legislators hammer out details on which political action committees and which unions will receive how much money, the country is being destroyed, willingly.
I'm not willing to sign up for that! but I'm one person in California, the state that is driving this insanity!

I've spent a bit of money recently in various purchases of both hardware and consumables, and I have perhaps 10 months [of food and supplies] right now, ready to go food if the Schumer hits the fan, (in my opinion wisely since investments are libel to crash even further when liberal politics affect wall street) but I have short comings...
I have friends here who are like minded about preparedness, but are unable or unwilling to sacrifice to make the retreat happen
I have money myself to to put down some money on a few acres in my home state of Arizona and I plan to buy in heavily militia territory, but I don't want to be forced to be co-opted into a "must join" as you described in Patriots when the two groups first met. But I don't want to be alone on my land, and I don't know how many of my friends might actually be able to make it there if the "zombie invasion" occurs... Added to which, an A-frame cabin as my "secured" retreat means to me that I need two or three or maybe even four back up plans and pre-positioned caches.

Do you host any sort of "getting to meet ya" events of like minded folks?
Do you have any suggestions for me, outside of the obvious... pick the best tools for the job and then take with what you can. I have a 4x4 truck and I'm storing currently enough fuel to get to where I want to buy a few acres, but it's going to get awful lonely in my A-frame cabin--or awfully exciting--and I hope I make it if the full zombie invasion takes place and I have to defend against looters. An A-frame cabins (not even built yet) are very poor protection and unfortunately prone to theft and who knows what when left unattended, like I'd have to do here in California.

Your suggestions would be great appreciated, and if there's people that would be looking to recruit me without me knowing who they are, I'd appreciate you forwarding that as well. I can not do this on my own, I don't have all the answers and I never will, but I must find folks who are at least willing to ask the questions and even look at the unpleasant answers.
Thanks! and please keep writing! - Brent

JWR Replies: You mentioned your intention to build an A-frame cabin. I encourage you to pick a better design. This post from the SurvivalBlog archives (August, 2007) sums up my objections to A-frame designs.

Sorry, but I don't host "get-togethers". In fact, given the OPSEC concerns created by my high media profile, I don't even publicly mention the state that I live in! (Sorry to be so circumspect , but I 've made solemn promises to family members that I can only mention that I live in TUWS, somewhere west of the Rockies, on the bank of TUR, on a ranch in TUROM. All this dissimulation might seem odd to some readers, but please put yourself in my shoes. We had some odd stalking incidents when we were living at our previous ranch, so when we made or last move we took some unprecedented OPSEC measures. I even have cousins that don't know where I live.

Your situation, feeling unable to link up with other that share your preparedness goals, is fairly typical . See my static web page: Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area. The advice there will probably be very helpful. May God Put You in the Right Place, at the Right Time, with the Right People.

While re-reading my recent post concerning survival gardening, I realized that I have completely forgotten to point out some important info.
While living through a crisis you are going to need to eat more calories than normal [to provide adequate nutrition with the extra exertion, stress, and physical labor], perhaps twice as much. I am planning on 4,000 calories per day.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are important as a source of vitamins, however most green veggies do not contain enough calories to keep you going. During a crisis you are going to need several sources of protein, oils, and starch.

I believe the best way of storing red meat is to raise livestock. Naturally you want them to reproduce and raise enough young for you to enjoy fresh meat for the duration of the crisis. Rabbits, Chickens, and Goats are particularly easy to raise. Having fish in your agricultural pond is perfect.

Two acres planted to Wheat, Corn, Dry Beans, Potatoes, and Winter Squash will produce more food than a typical family can eat in a year. We used to plan our sweet corn, pinto beans, and potatoes in field rows and use the tractor to cultivate them.

An acre of winter wheat planted in good soil should yield 50 bushels (2,000 lbs) of easily storable grain. A second acre of open pollinated field corn should yield 80 bushels (4,000 lbs), but requires more fertilizer and more effort devoted to weed suppression. A full acre of pinto beans would be way too much, 35 bushels (1,400 lbs).

A native pecan averages 50 - 80 lbs of nuts which store for a year or more. Each acre of pecan trees would contain 15 large trees or 30 smaller trees and provides a rich source of calories, oils, and protein. Since you are hoping to avoid too much attention you might plant your fruit trees and a variety of hardwood nut trees scattered across your pasture or mixed in with your wood lot. Less attention and [given their wide spacing,] fewer insect pests. [JWR Adds: Some of us that live in high elevation or northern climates where most pecan trees are unlikely to survive (even the Hardy Pecan). But there are other nut trees such as as Carpathian Walnuts that do well in all but the most severe climate zones.]

I hope this helps explain my emphasis on trees, small livestock, row crops, and field crops. - H.I.C.

SF in Hawaii mentioned this: Australians rule, when ranked for elbow room. But I can be proud of the fact that I live in a part of the US with one of the lowest population densities-- about 5 people per square mile, and most of those are squeezed inside city limits. ("Give me land, lots of land, and the starry skies above...")

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On the economic front: Pointing the finger of blame at credit derivatives: What Cooked the World's Economy? (Thanks to Charley for the link.) And all these came from Cheryl: The Whole World is Rioting About the Economic Crisis--Why Aren't We? -- Layoffs Spike as Recession Rips Through US -- Most Carmakers' Sales Plunge; Hyundai, Subaru Gain -- Motorola $3.6 Billion Quarterly Loss -- Cutbacks in Consumer Spending Hits UPS (JWR Adds: But for some reason there are still lots of long, skinny boxes getting shipped...) -- UBS to Merge with Wachovia? -- Spain's Downward Spiral Spooks Investors -- Kazakhstan Devalues Currency -- Fitch Cuts Russia's Debt Rating to "BBB" -- Dow Has Fallen 44% in the Past 16 Months -- US Auto Sales Plunge 37% -- Can Countries Really Go Bankrupt? -- It's Not About Change, it's About Personal Survival. JWR Adds: A key quote from that article: "The US Treasury on Wednesday opened the floodgates of government bond issuance, revealing plans for a record debt sale in February and more frequent auctions in the months to come. The announcement came amid growing fears about US government deficits and sent the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rising to 2.95 per cent, up from just over 2 per cent at the end of December." This confirms my prediction that interest rates will have to rise sharply to lure foreign investors to buy US Treasury paper. This is a stagflation precursor, folks!

   o o o

Tamara's Books, Bikes and Boomsticks blog has recently became one of our favorites, filling the void of clever and humorous Schuetzentrix POV that was left when Kit got married and stopped blogging. In a recent post, Tamara mentioned another incredibly useless gadget for the Mall Ninja crowd. What is it about M4geries that attract these gee-gaws, jim-cracks, do-dads? Is it some strange magnetism? Is it those empty handguard rail sections, begging to be filled? Who comes up with such idiotic "accessories", and even more importantly, who is naive enough to actually buy them?

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The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,460. 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.

"When we reflect that the eyes of the virtuous all over the earth are turned with anxiety on us as the only depositories of the sacred fire of liberty, and that our falling into anarchy would decide forever the destinies of mankind and seal the political heresy that man is incapable of self-government, the only contest between divided friends should be who will dare farthest into the ranks of the common enemy." - Thomas Jefferson to John Hollins, 1811. ME 13:58

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My novel "Patriots" just got mentioned by Prof. Glenn Reynolds in his popular Instapundit blog. That briefly pushed my book's Amazon.com sales rank from it's usual +/- #700 all the way up to #149 (out of 3.5 million titles.) And in the "Contemporary Fiction" category, its rank reached #23. That's not bad for a self-published novel that has been in print for almost 11 years.


The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,400. 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 21 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 ends on March 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 do not consider myself an expert on Craigslist.org. However, I do cruise our local Craigslist several times a day as I am fascinated with what people are buying, looking for and selling. It helps me keep a pulse on our local economy that I don't get through the Mainstream Media. To that point, I have noticed a strong uptick, since the New Year, of people selling anything of value that they can. This tells me people are really starting to hurt from this incipient Economic Depression.

On items I have an interest in I call or e-mail to enquire. Lately, the conversation has veered towards why folks are selling stuff. "I am getting rid of my 'stuff' as I don't know what the economy is going to do." "My husband lost his job." "I have a small business but my clients are not paying me what they owe me."

What has also started happening, at least from my perspective, is more and more folks want to barter goods than simply accept cash. 120 bales of horse hay sounds better to them than $1,200. Firewood has become huge as a barter item as has quality hay and, of course, firearms. Quality reliable cars for less than $2,000 are very desirable. Items like Sterling silver tea sets and Grandma's china are falling fast.

I am not sure when I began doing this, but in the past few months I started offering folks alternatives to fiat money. 'Would you prefer payment in firewood, Sir, or some other item, or is cash what you are looking for?' I had no set protocol, I made it up as I went along, but pretty soon I started crystallizing some thoughts on bartering on Craigslist. Here they are:

1. Say what you can do and do what you say.
2. "No, thank you." is a great response. Never be afraid to say "No" if the deal does not work for you.
3. Craigslist is not a community in the sense that one seller does not (often) hear directly from another on your reputation. But still, people can tell if you are honest or are looking to skin them. Act Honorably always.
4. Get clear on what your natural assets are that you have to trade. One of mine is firewood.
5. Timing can be everything - scan Craigslist frequently in your desired categories since you want to be (to use an old Army Cav expression) 'the firstest with the mostest!'
6. When I see a particularly nice item in the 'free' category I often inquire if I might make a small charitable contribution to the charity of their choice as appreciation of their item. I do this for one primary reason - it is the right thing to do. It has had the ancillary benefit of having 'jumped me to the front of the line' on some items. I offered my desire to donate to a Craigslister for three free garage doors. He responded quickly that I was the only person to do so, and that it touched his heart. He even delivered the doors to our ranch (I can no longer drive as a Disabled Vet). I subsequently donated to the local food-bank.
7. Always say please and thank you. Honest and sincere appreciation is a scarce commodity today.
8. Never begrudge folks an honest profit. If someone makes great money from an item you swapped or sold - congratulate them!
9. I use Ronald Reagan's motto: 'Trust, but verify.' I start off assuming I can trust folks. But I always verify that what they are telling me is so.
10. Have fun! As long as you are helping others get what they want, you'll likely always get what you want. That is satisfying from a servant's heart perspective, and you meet a lot of nice people (not all though) while you are building up your supplies and stores for your retreat.

The following are not a 'bragging' example. I hope you will simply see these as examples of what is possible:

Four weeks ago I found a Mercedes 300TD wagon for sale ($3,000) or trade. I enquired to see if it was still available, and to my happy surprise, it still was. The young man (a survivalist) was moving to Belize with his wife and young son and needed 'camping gear.' I asked what he really wanted and his reply was 'a really good tent to live in while we build our house, and some nice backpacks.' I have been a Boy Scout Leader for 20+ years and have way too much camping gear. I offered him a Golite backpack (acquired from Craigslist for $40 - originally retailed at $190) and a [US Army surplus] GP Medium Tent (like the tents one would see in the old television series MASH)
I paid nothing for the tent as I had bartered, through Craigslist, for two of these GP medium tents for allowing a fellow to come hunt Elk on our property. Very nice man, very generous, two amazing high quality canvas tents with all the poles. As an aside, he never came to hunt though I wish he had.

As I type this, I am waiting for a fellow (a Senior NCO recently returned from Iraq) to come over for three cords of firewood. He is giving us two barely-used Australian saddles and two snowmobiles. The snowmobiles may need a good cleaning and rebuild, but I have 30 acres of dense woods that need to be cut back for fire safety - I suspect I can find someone to help rebuild the snowmobiles in trade for firewood.

Bear in mind, please, that I don't actually do the cutting of the firewood. My left arm is pretty weak from nerve damage and holding a chain-saw really hurts. So, again, I barter. If folks need wood I ask that they cut and split a cord for me and they, may then, cut a cord for themselves. Sadly, I used to offer firewood to folks if they'd come help me put some up. After they got their firewood I never saw them again. So, now, I get 'paid' up front.

I may be close to closing a deal, today, for a beautiful Savage shotgun that looks like a Browning A5. My cost? Giving the owner permission to come hunt on our property for Elk. We both get something we really want and would be tickled that the other loves what they get!

Reloading equipment 'grab bag' I had a gentleman over this past week looking at antiques I had in our basement that had simply been gathering dust. He mentioned, that right before he came over he had picked up a box of RCBS dies (new in the box) and three reloading presses. I swapped an antique table of my grandmother's for the box of reloading gear. . After going through it I'll have several dies I won't use (.243 Winchester, 7mm Mauser, etc.) that I can trade for items I do want (clean brass, Nosler or Barnes bullets, etc). I met the man by looking through Craigslist collectibles to see who was selling items similar to what I had to sell.

Final example: A small herd of registered purebred Longhorn Cattle. A lady listed four Longhorns for $1,300 on Craigslist. She was willing, according to her listing, to barter for items other than cash. After talking with her on the phone I offered her any combination of hay, firewood, firearms,etc. The two cows are bred and expected to calve this spring around May. So, with items I have accumulated from others by bartering, and maybe $300 in cash, God willing, I will own six purebred Longhorns.
I have helped others heat their house, hunt for meat for their family, feed their livestock hay, and house their family while they build their home.
That is pretty cool! The satisfaction I receive from helping those folks is immense.

Here is a tally of what I have received (or am about to) :

4 registered Longhorns (two due to calve)
An 1987 Mercedes 300 TD wagon
2 snowmobiles
A beautiful Savage shotgun
Reloading equipment
2 Australian saddles

Bartering is a very valuable skill to learn for a grid-down world. It is far better to learn it now when the stakes are not nearly as high. Be willing to make mistakes and have fun. And please, if there are bartering skills that you think should be mentioned to supplement those that have already been discussed in SurvivalBlog, please e-mail them to Jim.

Go out and barter now, and do well by doing good! - D.S.

When it comes to real-world advice that applies to real people, Kathy Harrison's article ranks right near the top of the list. There is a sizable portion of the survival community (including my family) that believes that the community retreat model outlined in this article is, for most scenarios, the single best strategy for survival. While there are certainly some scenarios in which a remote retreat would be advantageous, those (in my opinion) are relatively few and unlikely. The community retreat strategy is one that can be used by just about anyone regardless of family or occupational requirements. It takes full advantage of the very reason that people have always congregated together. It's followers are well positioned for recovery efforts that leave out the isolated retreater, and it incorporates one of your key points - live at your retreat.
I look forward to more articles of this type by Kathy Harrison and others. - Stephen in Florida

Dear Mr. Rawles,
The recent post “The Community Retreat, by Kathy Harrison” prompted me to write with some comments about municipal retreats. Her comments are about a community retreat that is privately operated. I recently had an opportunity to see how a municipal shelter/retreat functioned. It was illuminating.

Recently we had a pretty severe ice storm here in the American Northeast. Many folks feel that it was the worst since 1987, when a storm knocked out power for two weeks. I wrote about my experiences with that storm here.

One thing about this storm that was new to me was that it was the first time my municipality had activated its Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP).

I live next to a municipality of 1,600 people. The Village covers a little under two square miles and has 386 households.

Like most municipalities these days that receive Federal grants, the Village must meet certain eligibility conditions. One of those conditions is that there must be a municipal Emergency Preparedness Plan. This plan describes the village chain of command, who is responsible for what (fire, police, DPW, etc.), how to contact those departments/individuals and what resources they have. It also lists resources available in adjoining municipalities and what resources (fuel, water, etc.) are available within the village.

Another aspect of the EPP is that the village has to have a facility to shelter residents during an emergency. That is what I wanted to address here.

This was the first time the village had activated their shelter plan and I thought it might be useful to describe how it was supposed to go and how it actually went.

When the village wrote the EPP, the plan was that the American Legion [Hall] would be used to shelter residents. The Legion had large open spaces, a large commercial kitchen, was located on high ground and had ample parking. There were large bathrooms with many toilets and sufficient storage for reserve food and cooking items. To this end a trailer mounted military generator was permanently acquired from the Federal government and the buildings wiring slightly modified so that all one had to do was plug the generator into the building, throw a transfer switch and you were good to go. Sleeping cots were stored in the building as well as assorted small items that would allow for sheltering a large number of people. The American Red Cross would set everything up.

Like most municipalities, the village worked very hard on the EPP, sent copies to all the right people/departments, filed it with the Feds and States and then put it on a shelf and never paid attention to it until this ice storm hit. They –never- updated it. The plan was 2.5 years old.

The Legion hall is privately owned. About 8-10 months ago a decision was made by its owners to put it up for sale. When the time came to implement the EPP, the building was no longer available and a replacement had to be immediately found.

The –only- other building available was the Village Hall. It had emergency power and water and as a village owned property was immediately available. The downside was that it was considerably smaller; only about 25% of the capacity of the Legion [Hall]. The Village Hall contained both the police and fire departments so it was being used as a command & control facility. The Red Cross switched gears from Legion to Village Hall. A space was found for about 20 cots but fire and police personnel had to go through this area to meet with their commands. The radio room was right next to the sleeping area and the sandwiches and coffee for the firefighters and cops and everyone else was also in the same room. I don’t see how anyone could have slept.

While there was no disorder or major crime, the police maintained a presence in the shelter that did seem a bit ominous. People were allowed to come and go freely, but it would not have been a stretch of the imagination to foresee a time when people, once entering the shelter would not be allowed to leave. Commander Zero [, the editor of the excellent Notes From the Bunker blog] commented on the New Orleans, Louisiana authorities doing this at the Super Dome: They said that the citizens had [effectively] signed an unwritten contract with the authorities by entering the Dome and that they were being prohibited from leaving ‘for their own safety’. Commander Zero called this the "Guantanodome."

The food supplied to those people seeking shelter in the Village Hall was limited to grilled cheese sandwiches and coffee and water. There were no diapers, no provisions for pets, no toys or distractions for younger children. The bathrooms were small, each containing only two toilets. There was a single television but it’s volume was kept low so as not to interfere with radio communications.

Finally, there was no guidance or protocol from higher authorities on how long to keep the shelter open. After five days or so, staffing the shelter (all the staff were volunteers) became more difficult and a decision was made to close it down. By this time only about 10 people remained and they were directed to shelters in another town. I don’t know what became of those people when those shelters closed. I like to think that power was restored to their homes by then and they went home.

It would be very easy to say that this shows that an individual really should not rely on government in an emergency. In a large way, that’s correct. While I advocate that the goal of being prepared is to prevent having to go to this type of shelter, I do not think one should ignore the need for a municipal shelter. While I will still prepare and strive to not need to leave my home, I will work with the Village hierarchy to update and improve the plan that they have. If I know the village residents have a place to go and resources to draw upon then there will be that many fewer people out scavenging for what I have put aside for me and mine. - RMV.


Hi Jim...
It never ceases to amaze me how the majority of US survivalist wannabes adamantly contend they must live in the major cities. Fully 80% of all survivalist wannabes want to hunker down in their urban or suburban homes according to our polls.

Yet, they subscribe to and post 'survivalist' articles to survival forums like my Surviving The Day After list at Yahoo Groups], Rourke's Survival Retreat and Secure Home [list at Yahoo Groups], or Brad's HunkerDown06 [list at Yahoo Groups]. Their topics are often centered around a socialist/communist theme of a secure, remote survival retreat paid for by pooling money and resources of would be members and living a communal existence after TSHTF.

None of that is a viable plan, especially with the coming economic collapse of the USA, worldwide depression, and World War III. But, they won't even consider getting out of the cities now! It's frustrating to survivalists like me.

BTW, I am in West Texas and we are developing a problem here in such a sparsely populated area. Pecos, Texas is about 5,000 people around mile marker 40 on Interstate Highway 20. They have a 3,000 bed county-run prison that houses 3,000 Federal prisoners. Last Saturday night the prisoners rioted and burned out the R2 unit. About 45 days ago they had rioted and burned out R1 unit. My brother is a prison guard there and called during this riot to warn me the inmates were expecting help from MS13 [gang] contact/associates from Mexico.

The night before, a Hispanic youth gang called Brown Pride Gang torched six homes in and around Pecos. Two of those homes had Hispanic families asleep inside. Those responsible have been apprehended and are facing attempted homicide by arson charges. These gang "youths" were organized and incited to commit this attack by MS13 members in Pecos.

Glenn Beck was saying on Fox News that the border violence is intensifying and yet neither the Democrats or the Republicans are willing to close and regulate the border with
Mexico. And to top that off, Beck was warning that Texans will soon get fed up and take matters into their own hands, arming themselves and protecting their families and property from invasion.

This all has an effect on my personal survival plans long term of course. The lack of population, the distances involved here in the desert of West Texas, and the proximity of our paid-for mountain retreat to our paid for farm in the valley puts us in a much better prepared position than 95% of the populace. It has taken years of preparation and planning, though. And, none of it came cheap.

I am still a voice in the wilderness crying: Get out of the cities, now!

Regards, Lawrence R.
List Owner, SurvivingTheDayAfter at Yahoo Groups

I have read your list of recommended retreat areas and agree for the most part. My wife and child and I are leaving Texas in March and heading north. Idaho and Alaska are the only places we are considering because they are the only two western states that have 100% parental autonomy on homeschooling.

As for Alaska not being recommended, I would have to disagree somewhat. Yes, it is not for everybody. Some people don't like cold and that's fine by me. However, the issues of supplies and resource shipment I think may become moot. When TSHTF the shipment of goods will be disrupted everywhere, and in the lower 48 there will be more people fighting for what is left. For those of us looking to get off the Made-in-China Wal-Mart matrix, these are changes we are preparing for and will welcome.

In Alaska there will be an advantage not found anywhere else. First, it's cold climate and geographic separation from the lower 48 will keep it very well protected against the roving bands of thugs and immigrants already overpopulating the lower 48. People simply won't be able to get there, and borders will likely close to all such traffic. Second, Alaska has a long and well-ingrained tradition of self-sufficiency and the character of the people there will be more immune to the shock of having to get back to basics. Additionally it is the most likely candidate to be the first state to secede. The crime rate statistics are misleading as well, due to the low population and the fact many "crimes" are not crimes at all, or they represent alcohol-related petty crimes, eskimo tribal feuds, bar brawls, etc. All in all, I believe the spirit of Alaska will prevail and people will get along better than the lower 48 on many levels, regardless of whether or not there is a Wal-Mart. On another note, [Governor] Sarah Palin has also proposed the creation of a new natural gas line just for the state residents. - Brad in Texas

I just heard that JRH Enterprises (one of our first and most loyal advertisers) has a very limited supply of new, genuine AN/PVS-14 night vision monoculars with Gen III tubes (complete with ITT factory data sheets) on sale for $2,995.

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Heather H. found this article from El Paso, Texas: Mexico collapse unlikely: Experts say government stable despite mounting border violence. The journalist/pianists in El Paso are obviously standing on the soft pedal!

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I hope that folks took my advice and stocked up on full capacity magazines. It is amazing watching the prices escalate, much as I predicted. DPMS 19 round AR-10 magazines were $26 just before the election, $40 the week after the election, $65 two weeks ago, and $90 today.

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More Gloom und Doom news and commentary, courtesy of Cheryl: Senate GOP Blocks Extra $25 Billion in Stimulus Bill -- Central Bank Tested as Rouble Hits Floor -- Beijing Rocked by 26 Million Lost Jobs -- Hitachi Set for Biggest Japanese Firm Loss -- California Crisis Deepens; Other States to Follow? -- California Pension Funds Close to Bankruptcy -- Bailed-Out BofA Drops $10 Million on Superbowl -- Macy's Cuts 7,000 Jobs, Slashes Dividends -- Workers Scramble for Safer Jobs as Layoffs Rise -- Consumer Spending and Incomes Fall, Savings Rise -- Treasury Needs to Borrow $493 Billion this Quarter -- The Lag Between Cause and Effect

"There are two kinds of fool. One says, ‘This is old, and therefore good.’ And one says, ‘This is new, and therefore better’" - John Brunner

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 21 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 ends on March 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.

This article describes so me simple and practical methods for providing drinkable water in disaster situations. They fit with my motto: "Keep calm, and carry on!"

According to the EPA, if you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Do not use non-chlorine bleach to disinfect water. Typically, [when freshly-purchased] household chlorine bleaches will be 5.25% available chlorine. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection. Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers. There are two big disadvantages of treating water with chemicals. First chlorine can be potentially dangerous if used improperly and it may not be readily available when you need it. But there is a safe, chemical-free, and inexpensive option for disinfecting your water.

Cardboard and aluminum foil are unlikely tools for disinfection water until you factor in sunshine. Solar water pasteurization uses the heat of the sun to raise the temperature of water to a point where microbial pathogens are destroyed. Disease-causing organisms in water are killed by exposure to heat in a process called pasteurization. Water that has been heated to 165 degrees F is free from living microbes including Escherichia coli, Rotaviruses, Giardia and the Hepatitis-A virus. [JWR Adds: The water need not be "held" at a boiling point for ant period of time. Just make the water reach 165 degrees F, and it is done]

Although traditional fuels can be used to pasteurize water, on sunny days solar energy is the better choice. A major problem with boiling water for disinfection is its energy consumption in relation to cost and availability of the fuel supply. If you do not have electricity you might not be able to sanitize your water..

With full sunshine, it can takes up to two hours to reach 165 degrees F pasteurize two liters of water. In order to determine when water has reached pasteurization you will need to invest in a simple device called a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI). The WAPI is a simple reusable device containing a special soy wax. The wax melts at the same temperature as the water is pasteurized. The tube hangs on a string inside the container with the wax end up, and once the water around it becomes hot enough to kill the bacteria the wax melts, running from the top part of the tube to the lower end. Although it is designed for solar pasteurization, the WAPI can be used for pasteurizing over most fuel sources including gas, wood, and charcoal. WAPIs generally cost between $5 and $10.

As described previously in SurvivalBlog, SOlar water DISinfection (SODIS) involves filling clean PETE (Polyethylene Terephtalate) transparent plastic bottles with water and exposing them to full sunlight for six or more hours. [JWR Adds: Do not use polycarbonate water bottles, such as those made up until recently by Nalgene, since that type of plastic blocks ultraviolet (UV) light!] The combination of UV-A radiation and raised water temperature disinfects the water. There are a few drawbacks to this method. SODIS efficiency depends on the physical condition of the plastic bottles, with scratches reducing the efficiency of the SODIS process. There has been some concern over the question whether plastic drinking containers can release chemicals or toxic components into water, a process possibly accelerated by heat. A solar cooker will make the SODIS process more efficient.

While pasteurizing will solve a lot of disease problems, it does not remove other things found in the water such as chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals.

You can purchase elaborate solar cookers or build one using simple materials. You can find a large number of solar cooker building plans at SolarCooking.org. I have included instructions for a simple windshield shade solar cooker as an addendum to this article. I have also included instructions from Needful Provision, Inc. on how to construct a simple solar water-distilling unit.

Building and testing a solar cooker also makes an excellent school science project. The last project I worked on with my child was, “Can you bake cookies in a solar oven in North Carolina in the month of January?” The conclusion was yes. Solar cookers should certainly be one the items at the top of the list for TEOTWAWKI. They are portable, use only the sun as an energy source and they work!

This is one of the easiest cookers to make and it works great. You can make it for less than $10:

Kathy Dahl-Bredine's Auto Windshield Shade Solar Cooker

Materials Needed
Reflective accordion-folding car sunshade
Wire frame or grill)
4 inches of Velcro
Black pot
Bucket or plastic wastebasket
Plastic baking bag
1. Lay the sunshade out with the notched side toward you.
2. Cut the Velcro into three pieces, each about one inches long.
3. Stick or sew one half of each piece, evenly spaced, onto the edge to the left of the notch. Attach the matching half of each piece onto the underneath size to the right of the notch, so that they fit together when the two sides are brought together to form a funnel. If using stick-on Velcro, you can align the two pieces easily like this: Stick down one side of the Velcro, then press the two pieces of Velcro together, fold the shade into the funnel shape and stick down the second side.
4. Press the Velcro pieces together, and set the funnel on top of a bucket or a round or rectangular plastic wastebasket.
Place a black pot on top of the rack, placed inside a plastic baking bag. A standard size rack in the U.S. is 10 inches. This is placed inside the funnel, so that the rack rests on the top edges of the bucket or wastebasket. Since the sunshade material is soft and flexible, the rack is necessary to support the pot. It also allows the suns rays to shine down under the pot and reflect on all sides. If such a rack is not available, a wire frame could be made to work as well.

1. The funnel should be tilted in the direction of the sun.
2. A stick placed across from one side of the funnel to the other helps to stabilize it in windy weather.
3. After cooking, simply fold up your “oven” and slip the elastic bands in place for easy travel or storage.

Source: SolarCooking.org (A modification of a design by Kathy Dahl-Bredine, Oaxaca, Mexico)

[JWR Adds: As Reader William B. pointed out, distilled water is NOT good for you, for any length of time, as the minerals your body needs, have been effectively removed! Consider it a very short term contingency method!]

The Needful Provision Solar Water Distiller:

Select a place with good access to sunlight. Dig a hole in the ground about the size of 2-bushel basket, then smooth the bottom of the hole, and add about an inch of sand as necessary to cover any objects that have sharp edges. Line the hole with black plastic (10 mil if possible), and leave about 10 to 12 inches of the plastic around the outside edge of the hole. Use rocks, gravel, or course dirt to hold this edge to the ground. Fill the hole half-full of polluted water (or salt water). Then float a clean, potable water-tub, with open top, on the water. Use ropes and ground-anchors to secure the tub in a center position while floating on the polluted water.

Once the preceding steps are completed, place a siphon-type tube (suitable for potable water) so one end is anchored on the bottom of the tub--and one end extends a few feet beyond the edge of the hole. Now add a clear sheet of plastic over the hole, and allow enough plastic to extend 6 inches beyond the black plastic around the edge of the hole. Place a small, round rock in the center just over the above-described tub, so that the top plastic sags to within 4 to 6 inches of the tub. Now seal the edges of the top and bottom plastic using a layer of dirt at least 6 to 8 inches deep. Cut a circle of white cloth, or similar material, a few inches larger than the collection tub, and then place this over the tub, on top of the plastic, and under the rock (this covering should act to shade water in the tub).

By means of solar water distillation, pure water vapor collects on the underside of the clear plastic where it re-condenses and forms water droplets. The water droplets slide down the plastic, and fall off into the collection tub just below the rock. The siphon tube is then used daily to drain-off the daily ration (1 gallon per person day) of potable water. Hole sizes may be adjusted to meet the water demands of a particular family, as well as adjusting for changes in climatic conditions. If the same water distillation hole is to be used on a regular basis, then a tube and funnel system should be included to add more source water daily, without the need to move dirt or the plastic cover. Pure, potable water was the result of all our prior uses. We do know that there are 2 or 3 chemicals that may evaporate at about the same temperature as water. If such chemicals were present in the source water, then potable water may not always result.
Source: Needful Provision, Inc.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I was lucky when I purchased a Century Arms L1A1 (British Commonwealth inch pattern FN/FAL) Clone a few years back. Not only does it function flawlessly, it also can use both metric and inch pattern magazines reliably. I purchased the rifle at a gun show for $400. Like I said, I was lucky.

I see that in the past few years you have changed from the M1A to the L1A1 as your primary weapon. I could do the same, if I could get anywhere near the accuracy from the FAL that I get from my AR. But the accuracy of this ugly FrankenFAL clone is just okay--not great, not terrible. I'd like to improve upon that. Do you know of any reputable companies that sell accurized FAL uppers, and would it be as easy to upgrade for accuracy as to simply add a new upper (like with an AR) and maybe a trigger job?
Thanks, - Steve E., Loyal 10 Cent Challenge Subscriber

JWR Replies: Since the serialized upper receiver on a FAL or L1A1 is legally the receiver, here in the US you can't just buy one by mail order. (That is the part that is subject to FFL controls, in interstate commerce). This is often confusing, because with the more ubiquitous AR-family rifles, things are just the opposite: The serialized lower is restricted, but the unserialized upper is unrestricted. This is the case simply because one day back in the 1950s, Eugene Stoner decided to stamp the serial number on the convenient broad slab expanse of the trigger group ("lower receiver") of his new AR-10 design, rather than on the part that everyone else would consider the "receiver."--the chunk of metal where the barrel is attached.

OBTW, if I ever establish my own Libertarian Seastead or island nation out in the Pacific, I will decree that it is illegal to put serial numbers on any "Books" made there. Then, we will proceed to shower the Peoples of the Earth with good tidings of unregistered receivers, via convenient Internet mail order. (Yeah, I know, only in my dreams...)

The accuracy problem with your Franken-L1A1 is likely due to just the last 20 millimeters of barrel rifling, at the muzzle. L1A1 muzzles were often butchered by the Neanderthal gunsmith imposters at Century Arms, when they welded their ugly Section 992(r)-compliant intra-ban muzzle brakes on. So I recommend that you have a qualified gunsmith shorten your barrel by an inch, and either crown it, or install a proper American-made L1A1 style flash hider, or install a Vortex-style flash hider from "Moses". You will likely see you group size cut in half.

The trigger pulls on most FALs and L1A1s are usually decent, but if your rifle's is particularly bad, then trigger work is available from T. Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems (ARS). Since the lower on a FAL or L1A1 is a non-restricted part (unlike an AR-15 or AR-10), you can mail the lower to ARS for a trigger job with no lasting paper trail. I highly recommend their gunsmithing and metal finishing work.

Norman in England spotted this: Plight of the Humble Bee

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KI4U (the NukAlert folks) just announced a 10th Anniversary SurvivalBlog Special: In celebration of our 10th year in business, and gratefulness for the support and encouragement of SurvivalBlog readers, if you order any two of the same products using their online order form and you'll be shipped a third one free. (Buy 2, Get 3). The order form won't reflect it, but type "SurvivalBlog" in the comments section, and you'll be shipped a third extra item for every two you order. This special will be honored up until midnight CST on Sunday evening (February 8th.) Again, be sure to type "SurvivalBlog" into the comments section of the order form.

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Craig W. suggested this "must read" piece with some alarming charts: We've Only Just Begun? Craig also suggested this editorial by James West: U.S. Debt Default, Dollar Collapse. ("Imminent"???) Here is more de-leveraging news: As economy needs cash, Americans are saving. (I stand by my prediction of two years of deflation, followed by substantial inflation, as the government massive "stimulus" MOAB overspending devalues the currency.)

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The Economatrix sent all this swell news and commentary: The Next Catastrophe: Pension Funds -- Allstate's Catastrophe Bonds Face Imminent Default -- World Stocks Fall on Poor Earnings, Economic Woes -- Closing Car Dealers Stun Buyers with Liens on Trade-Ins -- Violent Unrest Hits China as Crisis Hits -- Dissent Beginning to Spread Across Russia as Crisis Bites -- US-China Currency War Eclipses Davos, Threatens World -- Don't Rely on Dollar, Putin Warns Davos -- Global Crisis Has Destroyed 40% of World Wealth -- Is it Time to Bail Out of the US? -- Banks Can Americans, Hire Foreign Workers -- Global Food Prices are Rising Fast -- 6 Billion Pounds to be Pumped Into Irish Banks -- Huge Drop in Peso Value -- 46 of 50 States Could File Bankruptcy 2009-2010 (Jim's comment: Note that three of the four excluded states are on my Recommended Retreat Locales list. Any guesses where taxes will increase the most? Can you spell N-a-n-n-y State?)

"I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, and instead of one harvest a continued one throughout the year. Under a total want of demand except for our family table, I am still devoted to the garden." - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Charles E. Peale, 1811.

Monday, February 2, 2009

We've had a big spike in SurvivalBlog site visits, after Yahoo News picked up this article from the AFP news service in France about me and SurvivalBlog: Thought things were bad? US survivalists await worse. This in turn inspired a lively discussion at the MetaFilter blog. Many folks there are having a outsider's hypercritical heyday, complete with cliched caricatures of survivalists as racist, ignorant hicks. You can see the diatribes (as well as a few well-reasoned posts) at: What if things just keep getting worse? Largely posted by entrenched unprepared urbanites, the majority of those posting obviously are not willing to accept that there may come a day when incivility will go beyond just someone cutting ahead of them in a movie theater queue, or talking too loudly on their cell phone and spoiling the ambience at their favorite eatery. And the whole concept of private civilians owning guns for self defense sends some of them into paroxysms of apoplectic horror.

To all the newcomers: Welcome! Please take the time to look at SurvivalBlog objectively, rather than just dismissively deriding the blog as a gathering place for misfits and malcontents. You will find that the vast majority of those posting are well-educated and well-adjusted. SurvivalBlog is inclusive and anti-racist. Once you start looking through the archives (now nearly 6,000 posts), you'll also see that SurvivalBlog has a wealth of well-reasoned articles and letters on practical preparedness, largely from intelligent, articulate and common-sense viewpoints.

Sometimes newcomers are overwhelmed with the scale and complexity of the training and logistics that they see described by more seasoned SurvivalBlog readers. Just take a deep breath and think through the basics: Food, water, and shelter. Make the best preparations that you can afford, take advantage of low-cost training, and rest assured that in the event of a disaster you will be able to provide for your family far better than most of your neighbors. You can start by evaluating your own locale and situation and then develop a list of lists. Whether it is just a storm that knocks out utility power for a few days, or The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI), you'll be way ahead of the power curve. - JWR

The recent inauguration of BHO and the establishment of a quasi-socialist majority in congress will have some far-reaching implications. Today, I 'm just going to focus on one of them, because it is of concern to many preparedness-minded individuals: The possibility of Federal gun laws becoming just as bad or perhaps worse than those extant in the most gun-grabbing states.

For many years I have advised my consulting clients and SurvivalBlog readers to "vote with their feet", if they live in states with restrictive gun laws. Unlike the UK, that has a uniform set of national laws, the US has always been characterized by it patchwork of state laws, which vary widely. Here in the US, if someone dislikes paying sales tax, they can simply move to a state like Alaska, Delaware, Montana, or Oregon, that have no sales tax; or someone that doesn't like income tax can move to Florida, Nevada, Texas, South Dakota, Washington, or Wyoming. Likewise, someone that feels oppressed by the gun laws of New Jersey or California could move to a mecca of firearms freedom like Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, or Wyoming . These various taxes and restrictive laws weighed heavily when I developed my ranking of 19 western states for their potential for relocation for those that want to be prepared for long term societal disruption. The recent paradigm shift in Washington, however, may change that. It now appears that Federal gun laws may become more draconian than the worst of the existing state laws. This will make those state laws essentially a moot point. So how will this affect my rankings? Depending on how things play out, this could push up the rankings of Arkansas, California, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington. I'd appreciate your comments on this issue.

Moving Offshore?
I plan to stick it out here in the States, but for the sake of showing other points of view, I'd also appreciate hearing from any American readers that have gone the ex-pat route. Please let us know you reasoning in deciding to move offshore, and a description of where you settled. Do you feel more of less free there? How are the gun laws in your new country? Are they more or less restrictive that in the US? Is registration required? Are the gun laws openly flaunted?

New Impetus to Buy Pre-1899 Guns

The other major fallout of the new Washington paradigm for gun owners is the prospect of almost universal nationwide registration of firearms. Knowing that registration is often a precursor to confiscation (as in Australia, Canada, and the UK, for example), this could be a proverbial Very Bad Thing (VBT). I predict that if nationwide gun registration is established, many Americans will refuse to comply with what they see as unconstitutional law. Then, much like in Finland and Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain, rather than register their guns, owners will simply hide huge numbers of them in elaborate wall or attic caches, hidden rooms, and underground caches. (Not surprisingly, some of the highest rates of unregistered gun ownership are in countries that were occupied by Germany during World War II, wand where there has been a fear of occupation by other invading armies. (With the reasoning being "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.")

Massive noncompliance with gun registration will lead to a predicament: If most guns get buried somewhere, then what will people use on a regular day-to-day basis for target shooting, hunting, and self-defense? Certainly, some wealthy owners might embark upon buying a "second set" of registered guns. But this is prohibitively expensive for most of us.

I predict that many shooters will begin "collecting" Federally-exempt cartridge guns that were made in or before 1898. These guns have always been outside of Federal jurisdiction, and the December 31, 1898 cut-off date has been set in stone since the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Thankfully, Federal legislators consider pre-1899 guns a thoroughly obsolete non-issue, and they will likely be exempted in any nationwide gun registration scheme. I predict that the prices of pre-1899 cartridge guns will increase substantially in the next few years, regardless of changes in Federal gun laws. But if there is indeed a nationwide registration law and pre-1899 guns are not included, their prices will likely quadruple or quintuple, practically overnight. Keep in mind that there is a very small, finite supply of these guns! Presently, you can buy a Mauser rifle made in 1898 for just 20% to 30% more than one made in 1899. But in just a few years, there might be a 5X difference! Plan accordingly. For details on pre-1899 guns and how to identify them, see The Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ, that I authored.

County and City Divergence

In addition to the sharp differences at the state level, there is also the issue of divergent county and city ordinances. For example, the state of Nevada as a whole has fairly non-intrusive gun laws, but just Clark County (home to the sprawling Las Vegas metroplex) has some absurd gun laws on the books. Residents of states without firearms law preemption laws share this predicament. I find some of the local restrictions on full-capacity magazines particularly onerous, and hard to keep track of. Here are some examples:

No magazines with a capacity over 12 rounds are allowed in Chicago, Illinois
No magazines with a capacity over 15 rounds are allowed in the state of New Jersey, South Bend, Indiana, or Aurora; Illinois.
No magazines with a capacity over 20 rounds are allowed in the state of Maryland (without a special permit), Wichita, Kansas, or the City & County of Denver Colorado

There are also some idiotic restrictions on sales of firearms ammunition at the local level. For example, it is illegal to sell ammunition by mail order (using common carriers such as UPS) to private parties in:

The city of Sacramento, California

Marin, Napa, Ventura, and Yolo counties in California

Cook County, Illinois;



The Chicago metropolitan area,

New York City

New Jersey


The District of Columbia

Puerto Rico

APO or FPO (US m overseas) addresses

But state, county and city laws also provide a few interesting loopholes. One well-known loophole was mentioned to me by reader F.G., who forwarded this article link: Old firearms given new life by restrictive New York gun control laws. I'd be interested in hearing about others.

The flip-side to all this is state reservation of rights, wherein states effectively thumb their noses at over-reaching Federal jurisdiction. A recently-introduced bill in New Hampshire is a good example. (A hat tip to SurvivalBlog reader Larry T. for that link.) Another example is HB 246, Montana's proposed "made in Montana" Federal firearms jurisdiction exemption bill. I predict that if new Federal gun laws are enacted, many more states will do their best to exempt themselves, citing the 10th Amendment and the Lopez decision. Some might even go so far as to start rumbling about secession from the Union.

Keep the Change, Pal

It is difficult to predict how gun laws might change at the Federal level in the next few years, and any broad implications thereof. All that is certain is that the majority of the American electorate consciously voted for change in the last election. We may soon find that we are the recipients of more change than is comfortable.

Lighting systems in a retreat home (not connected to the grid).

My home does not fit the definition of a retreat. I built it about 30 years ago in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) when the idea of a retreat location was not on my radar screen. Only by coincidence has my home worked out to fit a retreat definition, better situated them many, not as good as some. It is quite secluded, the only house at the end of a dead end dirt road. It has never had grid power run to it. The utility company wanted as much money to run the power lines through the woods back to my cabin as the cabin cost me to build. It’s not that I didn’t know that when I built the cabin, I just did not think it was anything I needed to have at the time. This is not that unusual in the UP as it may seem to most people. There are lots of homesteads too far off the beaten path to have grid power connected up here in the UP. The cabin is 2000 sq. ft. with three bedrooms, two baths, living room, kitchen and dining room. Also a full basement, not included in the square footage above. It is as modern as most houses today except for how every thing works. I will only concentrate on lighting in this essay. In later essays (if anyone is interested) I can explain cooking, refrigeration, heating, electricity, etc. I hope you don’t mind my folksy/personal writing style; it’s just the way I am.

Today we are heading into a monumental depression of historic magnitude. No one truly knows how bad it will get or how long it will last. I think it was Benjamin Franklin that said “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” and that’s as true today as it was over 200 years ago. I know the subject of lighting may seem somewhat mundane and even silly to some, put a few candles away and we will be OK, they hope. But without sustained, reliable lighting, day to day life can get pretty difficult at best. It’s important to try to keep your home as normal as possible in the hard times ahead for you, your family and whoever may be seeking refuge with you. All lighting systems take energy of some form just as cooking and heating do, this is the first thing to keep in mind when planning for your lighting systems.

As Mr. Rawles has said in the past “two is one and one is none”. I have learned this the hard way, by experiencing a failure in a system. I have four, separate, distinct and independent (from each other) lighting systems in the house. So a failure of one or even two will not make my lights go out.

The first lighting system is AC electric. The cabin is fully wired for 110/220V AC power, normal household electrical current. Supplied via gas generator, wind generator, and inverter/charger battery bank system, again if anyone is interested I can go into greater detail about the electrical systems in another essay. For the most part the electric lights in the house are compact fluorescent with a few exceptions. One of the exceptions are the under-cabinet 10 watt halogen lights in the kitchen. Ten watts is not much but there are 13 of them under the cabinets. I must admit that they are nice to have on and 130 watts is not all that much either, however I tend to forget about them being on and along with the TV and lights on in the living room, bathroom and a bedroom (kids, you know how that is) the batteries are drawn down much too fast. Well I can’t use the kids excuse anymore, it's grandkids now. We all know how electric lights work; you flip a switch and the lights come on. That is true with inverter power also, as long as you use the right inverter system.

Just to be clear about electricity, it is by far the most convenient and at the same time the most susceptible to failure of all the lighting systems I use. I have run out of gas, aggravating at the time but not a major problem, unless gas becomes unavailable? I have had generator and/or inverter system failures; yes even the best will not last indefinitely. The worst electrical failure I have experienced was lightning hitting the phone line coming into the cabin. The phone lines are underground but the lightning hit it anyway. It followed the line into the house, blowing every phone jack off the walls and ruined all three of my phones. It also crossed over to the electrical wiring and fried most every thing plugged in to wall outlets. NOTE: I have plug strips supposedly with electrical breakers built into them, so I can turn off the TV, stereo, and the like so they will not run down the batteries. All modern electronics and appliances use power even when there not in use. [JWR Adds: These are so-called "phantom loads", typically caused the microcircuits for clocks and other sub-modules.] The lightning went across these plug strips as if they were hard wired in. This was a major system failure. My homes owners insurance covered all repairs and replacements. However in a TEOTWAWKI there would be no insurance and no repairs or replacements unless I fixed them myself and, spare parts would be out of the question.

My second lighting system is propane gas. The cabin is plumbed for gas lights in most of the main rooms down stairs and the master bedroom and bathroom upstairs. These are gas mantle lights. To light them I use a Bic lighter under the mantle and turn on the gas, and I have instant light. When I first installed the gas lights, I would use a kitchen match (wooden matches), to light them. I soon discovered I was very good at poking a hole in the mantle with the match; I soon switched to a Bic lighter. Mantles cost about $7.00 each. They are about as bright as a 65 to 70 watt incandescent light bulb. I have two styles of gas mantle lights in my home. The first and the ones I started with are Humphrey gas lights; I only have two of them. These are good dependable well made lighting fixtures of sheet metal construction; the only drawback is there a little homely. As far as I know there is only one style, a wall mount fixture. Humphrey gas lighting fixtures can be found at most propane distributors and country hardware stores.

The second gas lighting fixture and the one I prefer is Falks gas lighting fixtures. These are a much more elegant lighting fixture made in Canada out of solid brass. There are three styles of Falks lighting fixtures to pick from. A single mantle wall mount, double mantle wall mount and a double mantle chandelier, I have all three styles in my cabin. Both the Humphrey and Falks gas lights use the same globes and mantles. I have several spare mantles and globes on hand at all times. Falks gas lights can be ordered from Lehman's. The cost for the single Falks gas light is about $80 US and $75 US for a Humphrey gas light. Gas lights are just as bright as electric lights.

When I installed the gas lights I used 1⁄2” soft copper tubing for main runs and 3/8” soft copper tubing off the main run for a single lighting fixture. If you put in gas lights never use hard copper tubing that requires soldering the joints. Only use soft copper tubing and flare fittings that are designed for gas applications. Use a soap swab to check for gas leaks at every connection. Never use a match to check for leaks. If there is a leak (and there will be some) at a connection you can have an instant blow torch on your hands, and that blow torch can just as well be in your face. If you do not know how to install gas fixtures have a licensed plumber do them.

Both Falks and Humphrey gas lights use about .085 lb of gas per hour per mantle. I think a little math is in order here.

One gallon of propane weighs about 4.23 lb.
A 20 lb. propane tank (type for gas grills) contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.7 gallons of gas. If you did the math you will find that it isn’t exactly 20 lbs., the numbers aren’t carried out properly to the last decimal place.

Therefore a 20 lb. propane tank will run one mantle light for approximately 234 hours of continues use. If you ran a gas light for 5 hours a night one 20 lb. tank will last for 47 days. However refilling 20 lb. tanks is the most expensive way to buy and store propane gas.

A 100 lb. tank will run one mantle light for approximately 1,176 hours of continues use. And if you ran a gas light for 5 hours a night, one 100 lb. tank will last for 235 days more or less. I’m sure someone will check my math to see if it works out and that’s Okay, I make lots of mistakes.

I have a 500 gallon propane pig (tank) for gas, which is kind of a lot for just lighting. I also use propane for other things in my cabin. The last time propane was delivered last October it cost $2.49 per gallon. At that price it cost approximately $0.05 per hour to run one light. Also propane will store for ever with no degradation of the gas (it doesn’t "go bad"). You can’t say that for gasoline, kerosene or diesel. A side note: I am told that we are in a deflationary spiral, but the only things that I can see going down in price is real estate and gasoline. Food, clothing, repairs of anything and the stuff you need day to day haven’t gone down at all. (Just a little whining).

My third independent lighting system; kerosene lights. I use two types of kerosene lights in the cabin. The first is Aladdin lamps. I have four Aladdin lamps, one is a Majestic Table lamp, and three Genie III shelf lamps one of which is in a hanging fixture in my bedroom, and the two others are on each end of the fireplace mantle. Aladdin lamps can be a bit temperamental to operate. All Aladdin lamps are mantle lamps similar to Coleman Lanterns however they use a round wick like an old kerosene lamp. The temperamental part, the wick must be trimmed evenly all around the top. If it is not you will get flame spikes (I call them horns) coming up into the mantle and if, (not when), these little fiery horns touch the mantle it will start building up with carbon. All you have to do is turn down thee wick so the horn is not touching the mantle and the carbon will burn off the mantle. However if you don’t turn the wick down, the mantle will continue to build up carbon and eventually put out copious amounts of lovely black soot, to coat your ceiling and fill the air with a witches' brew of noxious gas and smoke. On the bright side, Aladdin lamps will generate the equivalent of a 50 watt incandescent light bulb and at the same time will put out about 2,700 BTU’s of heat, that’s a lot of heat in the summer time from one lamp. In the evenings in the fall and spring of the year, I can heat my cabin with nothing but Aladdin lamps (if it’s not too cold out). A log cabin retains heat very well, and all my windows are triple glazed. If you would like to try Aladdin lamps they are available at many country hardware stores and Lehman’s by mail order. After making it sound awful, I like my Aladdin lamps, it just takes a little practice to learn how to use them. If you are going to use Aladdin lamps you will need to stock up on Aladdin Chimneys, Mantles and Wicks. There are two types of Aladdin Chimneys. The first is the Lox-On Chimney; I’ve had them last for years and also had them break in a week. In my opinion the Heel-Less Chimney is superior, it allows the glass to move as it heats up and cools off without breaking. For about $12.00 a Gallery Adapter will convert a Burner to use a Heel-less Chimney. Newly manufactured Aladdin Lamps come with Heel-Less Chimneys.

I have several table and wall mounted old fashion kerosene lamps. I also have one very ornate Victorian hanging library lamp in my dinning room. It is solid brass with a ruby red hob nail, glass shade, and lots of prisms. If it sounds like my cabin is old fashioned, it is. One rule of thumb in lighting any kerosene lamp, light the wick with a low flame and let the lamp and kerosene in it heat up. As the kerosene gets hotter its viscosity goes down and flows much faster. As the kerosene flows faster the flame will get bigger and bigger. There is no reason for the chimney to soot up if you just start with a low flame and let the lamp heat up. After the lamp is hot you can adjust the brightness. If you plan on using kerosene lamps stock up on wicks and chimneys. The wicks are consumables and no matter how careful you are chimneys break. Almost forgot, every time the lamps are filled the wick should be trimmed, I trim the wick just to clean it up flat across its top and I cut a small 45º angle off each end of the wick, so the flame will have a domed appearance. If that is not clear just experiment with it, you will learn as you go.

How mush kerosene should be stored? I am told that kerosene will last for about 15 years before it goes bad. In 2008 I used about 30 gallons of kerosene; I use more in the winter then in the summer. In a TEOTWAWKI I would be mush more conservative than I am right now. If you’re going to use kerosene as one of your lighting systems I would suggest storing from 100 to 200 gallons in 55 gallon plastic drums.

The last lighting system is just old fashion candles. Several years ago I was able to acquire about 200 pounds of wax from a company I worked for. The company applied wax to one of the products they manufactured. When they had a product change on the coating machine they had to purge all the wax out of the machine and put in a different formula for the changeover. The purged wax was pumped out into five gallon buckets and discarded. It is amazing how much stuff is thrown away that could be used in a grid down situation. All this wax I have stashed will someday have to be made into candles. There are two basic ways to make candles. The first is to mold (cast) them in a candle mold. I have had one of these for a very long time; it casts 8 candles at a time. The candle mold is simple to use. Just feed a pre-waxed string (wick) through the hole in the bottom of each candle mold, bend it over so it will not come out. Tie the other end to a rod across the top of the mold and fill the mold with wax. Let the wax solidify, dip in hot water and pull out the candles. Trim the string off the bottom of each candle and store in a cool place until needed. Candle molds can be made fairly simply to just about any length and diameter you desire. I have made 1” diameter x 14” long candle molds. Use hard copper tubing, or PVC plastic pipe would work also. Cut to the length desired and chamfer both ends inside and out side (de-burr it). Take a cap that fits over the end of the tubing and drill a hole in the center of it to fit the size of wick you have, or make. Use the same procedure for casting candles above. After the candles are cast and hardened put the molds in vary hot water to loosen the wax from the mold. Remove the mold from the water and using a wooden rod with an end on it that fits the full diameter of the candle push the candle out of the mold and let cool. The ends of the candle will be flat, but this is not a drawback in my mind.

The second way to make candles is by dipping them. This way is a little more cumbersome [and time consuming] and I don’t recommend it. But if anyone is interested in hand dipping candles, just Google the subject to learn how.

One more safety concern, never melt wax in your house and never on your kitchen stove. Melted wax is highly flammable. A wax fire is almost impossible to put out with water; it just spreads the fire over the kitchen and all over you, and anyone that is with you at the time. Do not take this warning lightly. I make candles outside away from any buildings on a nice summer day. - The Old Yooper

The Ice Storm that just plastered Kentucky brought some reminders of just how bad things can get and how being prepared - in advance - is critical. Within a few hours, everything became coated with a half-inch to an inch of ice: roads, cars, trees, power lines - everything. Throughout the night, we heard crashes as our neighbor's trees lost massive limbs. We knew it was only a matter of time before trees limbs (which are not properly trimmed back by our utility company in an attempt to cut costs) collapsed on power lines and caused widespread outages. In the morning, everything had turned to crystal. About a quarter million people were without power in our county, but almost everyone in the western half of the state had lost power.

Our county actually did a good job of plowing and salting roads. Unfortunately, it didn't help as hundreds of traffic lights weren't working. Traffic was snarled badly and travel times easily doubled. Hundreds of businesses are closed and losing money every day the power stays off. Looking for a generator at the local big box home and garden center? Forget it, quickly sold out. Ice scrapers, gone. Gas cans, gone. Driveway salt, gone. Snow shovels, gone. The sales guy told me they weren't going to get restocked for the rest of the season.

My daughter called from the university she attends about a four hour drive to the West. Their whole city was without power and water. The university asked students to leave, if possible, and those who couldn't were sheltered in the campus auditorium. They didn't have any cots so you had to sleep on the floor or in the auditorium chairs. She wanted me to come pick her up, so as I headed out the next morning on a full tank of gas, my plan was to stop at each significant town on the way to check their power and gas pumping status. Each stop was the same as the next - dead. As I neared the half-way point on my gas gauge, not one city on the way had electricity. It's as if a nuclear ice bomb had been dropped on the state. I turned back.

It's amazing when you fully realize how dependent our society has become on electricity. We are being told it will take up to 7 days to completely restore service in our county, which is completely urban. Out in the rural areas, they say it will be two weeks or more. Temperatures have been dropping into the teens at night. Lots of people I know have no alternatives to heat their homes or cook food. Fireplaces, like mine, are electrically controlled gas logs. I can't even light it manually. I've learned a lesson: get what you need before you need it. Get extra. I will be buying a dependable generator once this crisis passes. My next home will be better equipped with alternative sources of heat and power. - J.S.

JWR Replies: Events like the recent ice storm underscore the need to be self -sufficient: Think things through, and prepare systematically: Wood or coal fired stoves with a horizontal cook top. Kerosene lamps and plenty of fuel, a backup power generator, again with plenty of fuel. Extra stored fuel for your vehicle (which would have allowed you to make that 8 hour round-trip). Often overlooked in winter is the need for a backup water supply, and water filtration, even if it mean melting buckets of snow--which is agonizingly slow and laborious.

This is an old story but still interesting: Lost tribe bypassed by history.

My [Cambodian] wife, who is in her thirties, still has some of these jungle/farming skills. Her younger brothers and sisters who have lived in Phnom Penh do not. Most young people only know about Karaoke and mobile phones. Many of the under 15's think the Khmer Rouge is something their parents made up.


Lost tribe leaves the jungle for brave new world of mobiles.

Help runs out for the lost tribe of Cambodia

Slide show: Lost tribe

I don't think most people want to copy their example. But their story does illustrate that long term survival is possible for people with skills even if they have little resources. Regards, - F.D.

Be advised that the 25% off special on Mountain House and Alpine Aire freeze-dried foods in #10 cans at Ready Made Resources is just a short term sale. This sale ends on February 14th, so be sure to get your order in soon! Ready Made Resource was the very first advertiser to support SurvivalBlog, and they have loyally been with us continuously since our first week of publishing, in 2005. They deserve your business.

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Bryce pointed out that Newsweek recently had an interesting article on survival in emergency situations titled: What it Takes to Survive.

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Rob at MURS Radios mentioned that starting in January, Dakota Alert (the makers of my favorite outdoor passive infrared intrusion detection systems) raised their prices up to 12% on some products. Rob has just one more shipment arriving next week at the lower 2008 prices. After this stock is sold, unfortunately, prices will go up. If anyone is interested in "getting in under the wire", please contact him to reserve inventory from this shipment.

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A couple of economic items, courtesy of Ben M.: Bill for Financial Bailout Seen as High as $7.4 Trillion, and Bank Bailout Could Cost Up to $4 Trillion: Economists. (Obviously, these is quite a divergence of opinion. But to take the liberty of updating a famous saying by Senator Everett Dirksen [best if you apply a strong southern accent]: "A trillion here, and trillion there, and pretty soon, you're talking about real money!") And here is one bit of interesting news, courtesy of Jack B.: Hedge fund to offer shares priced in gold.

"Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance. Yonder palace was raised by single stones, yet you see its height and spaciousness. He that shall walk with vigor three hours a day will pass in seven years a space equal to the circumference of the globe." - Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I was saddened to hear that "Barefoot" Bob Hardison passed way on Saturday. He was a Korean War veteran, a patriot, an outspoken A.A. member, and an influential figure in the preparedness movement. Over the years, many SurvivalBlog readers have referred to the Barefoot's World web site. I just heard that Bob's site will be maintained by our friend Michael H., as a lasting legacy and tribute to Bob's amazing collection of lore, Constitutional history, and practical skills.


We've completed the judging for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. . And the winner is: George S. for his lengthy article Field Gear on a Shoestring Budget: Ten Project Examples, posted on Jan 12, 2009. His prize is a pair of transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!

Second Prize goes to H.I.C., for his article Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, posted on Jan. 17, 2009. His prize is a three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. He can take his pick of OnPoint's three-day civilian courses.

Third Prize goes to The Army Dentist, for his article Survival Dentistry, posted on Dec. 19, 2008. His prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

The judging was so difficult that Honorable Mention prizes are being awarded to two other Round 20 authors:To Jerry the Generator Guy for Building a Low-Cost, Low-Profile Shortwave Dipole Antenna, and to Kyrottimus for Comparing the Big Three Battle Rifle Chamberings in the United States. They will each receive autographed copies of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

Round 21 of the writing contest ends on March 31st, so get busy writing, and you too may be a prize winning author!

Note to the prize winners for Round 20: Let me know your snail mail addresses for mailing your prizes. Once again, congratulations!

Today's first post is the first entry for Round 21 of the writing contest. It was authored by Kathy Harrison, whom many SurvivalBlog readers will remember as the author the mainstream nonfiction preparedness book "Just in Case."

Establishing a retreat seems to be the dream of many survivalists but realistically, evacuating to a retreat is not a proposition that is readily available to very many. There are generally problems with finances as well as family commitments to contend with. Many folks, like me, have spent years in establishing perennial food plants, compost piles, garden plots, building small businesses and, most importantly, forging important community ties that would not be easily broken. Therefore, we would be well advised to explore how to approach ways to turn our own residences into retreat communities.

The location of the community is of the utmost importance. Pulling off such a feat off in a large city or an affluent suburb would be pretty difficult. A small town in a rural location with a high proportion of families who already raise food and livestock is your best bet. Such a town is likely to have a well-developed sense of community, strong family ties and a faith-based community. You will also likely find a diverse set of necessary skills. Such communities are generally located in areas that have climates suitable to growing food crops. Hunting is often a part of the local culture so firearms ownership is not seen as a problem. It has been my experience that a large number of survival-minded folks find themselves living in this kind of locality. The question then becomes, “how do we locate like-minded families and establish a network of support, with possibility of barter arrangements and the sharing of skills and tools in such towns?”

We began by attending a film series a few years ago. Free showings of films such as The End of Suburbia, King Corn and Life At The End Of The Empire were shown. Each film was followed by a discussion group. Setting up this kind of series can happen at a library or house of worship. Out of this format, a core group formed, all with the sense that life as we knew it was unlikely to be sustainable for the long term and that we needed to take steps to prepare for the eventual change. We began meeting on a monthly basis. We are a diverse group; some more interested in the implications of Peak Oil, some with financial collapse. Others are the local growers of organic produce and the breeders of heritage breed livestock. We have no membership list, no rules of order, no dues and no criteria for coming to our monthly meetings. We do follow a loose agenda to ensure that we get some work20accomplished but much of our time together is devoted to chit chat about current topics and sharing ideas.

One of our most successful endeavors has been our "101" classes. This is a series of free workshops devoted to helping people learn valuable skills from others. We have had classes in raising chickens, canning produce, cheese making, mushroom propagation, herbal medicine, knitting and many other subjects. The object is to make all of us less dependant and share skills that might otherwise be lost.

Recognizing that energy shortages are likely, we set up a panel of people already alternative sources of energy. This was remarkably well-attended and led to a day long event where folks opened their homes to people who wanted to see each system in operation. We saw underground homes, photovoltaic systems, solar heat collectors, wind powered homes and a couple of places that had been off-grid for years. The tour ended with a pot-luck soup and bread dinner.

We consider helping each other as a given. We have helped each other get in our winter wood supply, can an abundance of bulk purchased chicken and traded off tools, vehicles and equipment. When my husband scored some very inexpensive sap buckets, he bought enough for many other group members. When I found myself overwhelmed with peaches, three of us processed 50 quarts in an afternoon. A couple of us are really interested in wild foods. Together we gathered fox grapes and put up 20 gallons of juice, harvested and dried over 100 pounds of wild mushrooms and canned 35 quarts of wild applesauce. We are still eating the fiddleheads we froze last May. Out latest project is to take a firearms safety course together.

When a major ice storm left our town without power for over a week, we saw an opportunity to check our preparedness level and hone our skills. Many of us were also able to provide help and provisions to those who were less prepared including the elderly in our small town.

We still have work to do. We realize that we are not as well prepared for medical emergencies as we would wish so some members are researching becoming EMTs and First Responders for our local volunteer fire department. We also see the wisdom in becoming more involved in our town government.

I know this is not the kind of preparedness one generally reads about on sites such as this but I think for many, this is the most realistic. Should the worst happen, we will be prepared to ride it out with friends and neighbors, bonded together with common purpose and presenting a united front. - Kathy Harrison

I definitely look forward to reading your blog every morning as I begin my day here in Baghdad. I wanted to share some perspective on what I see on a daily basis as an American GI patrolling the streets of Baghdad on the topic of begging. I think your readers might eventually come face to face with this type of behavior and it might not be pleasant for them if not dealt with correctly. When my team stops at a project site or we conduct patrols throughout the various neighborhoods of Baghdad, we are besieged by Iraqi children asking us for items such as candy, pencils, pens, and soccer balls. There are two ways these scenarios usually play out. One, if soldiers hand out any items, the floodgates open and more children appear as word spreads that items are being given away. A mob typically surrounds the soldier and/or vehicle. Even if those children get that which they ask for, they do not leave. Rather, they continue to ask for more. Fights typically break out amongst the throng of children as they fight over what is given out. When we ask our interpreters why the children are not happy with what they've been given, we are told that because they are poor (but no longer starving, mind you, since the USA put an end to the UN Food For Oil scandal and Saddam's reign of terror) and the Americans are perceived as being rich. Another way this is dealt with is the children are told "Mako Shay" which in Arabic means "I Have Nothing". If said soldier stands firm and refuses to give in to the pleas of the beggars, they usually dissipate and go on to other soldiers to beg from or go on to playing with their friends. The key here is to stand firm and tell them that you have nothing to give them. I see strong parallels between this daily occurrence here in Iraq and that which could occur should the [American] populace flees their homes in search of food and shelter.

Just some food for thought, should the SHTF. Regards, - The Survivalist

Three more down, and waaaay too many more to go, most likely.

SurvivalBlog readers and everybody else ought to keep looking at The Weiss Research ratings regularly - - just to keep tabs on their own bank, investments, insurance companies, etc. I've gone from checking once a month, to once a week, to a couple times a week now -all in the span of a year! - Bob M.

JWR Replies: The situation in the banking world has become so fluid that the ratings from Marty Weiss, et al may not be timely enough to be of great value. Their ratings are based on monthly and in some cases quarterly filings. So, in addition to watching the TheSteet.com ratings, I recommend that you watch the stock price for your bank, assuming that it is publicly traded.

B.R.H. sent an item from The Guardian that I suspect was inspired by the remake of the series "Survivors", (which the BBC aired last Fall): Life after the apocalypse. The article begins: "What if the doomsayers are right ... what if society, as we know it, really is about to collapse? Do you have what it takes to make it in a world without electricity and running water? Tanya Gold offers an essential survival guide." There is a fairly lengthy accompanying video clip of the reporter getting trained. B.R.H. commented: "A member of the 'Golden Horde' gets a taste of 'roughing it'. This is not hardcore survivalism, but a puff piece that includes some bushcraft local to the English countryside."

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I noticed Mike Vanderboegh's review the move "Defiance", posted over at the WRSA site. He makes some important points.

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Chris D. found this one: Oklahoma woman freezes to death in remote Montana cabin. Gee, how many common sense basic preparedness rules did they violate? Only an absolute newcomers to that latitude would think they could get by without laying in several cords of firewood. The story reminds me of a line from my novel: "That winter, they ate the dogs." (And these newbies didn't even have the sense to do that.) Common sense, it seems, is all too uncommon. To earn the title "survivalist", one needs to demonstrate some common sense.

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The day's economic round-up starting with this "must read" piece:: Roubini Sees Global Gloom After Davos Vindication. (Roubini speaks: “The risk of a near-depression shouldn’t be underestimated.”) And from The Economatrix comes these items: US Set For "Big Bang" Financial Clean-Up -- Caterpillar Sets More Layoffs; Weeks' Total 22,000 -- Stocks Stumble on Economy, Earnings Worries -- Japan's Markets Prepare for Horror Week -- Jobless Rate Full 10% Higher than Reported -- US Economy Sliding Fast; Unsold Goods Piling Up -- $1 Trillion "Bad Bank" Gains Favor

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The current high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is at $1,400. This auction, which ends on February 15th, 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 36 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.

"It was good to be back in the wilderness again, where everything seems as peace. I was alone -- just me and the animals. It was a great feeling -- free once more to plan and do as I pleased. Beyond was all around me. My dream was a dream no longer. I suppose I was here because this was something I had to do -- not just dream about it but do it. I suppose too I was here to test myself -- not that I had never done it before but this time it was to be a more thorough and lasting examination. What was I capable of that I didn't know yet? Could I really enjoy my own company for an entire year? And was I equal to everything this wild land could throw at me? I had seen its moods in late spring, summer, and early fall but what about the winter? Would I love the isolation then, with its bone-stabbing cold, its ghostly silence? At age 51, I intended to find out." - Richard Proenneke, Alone in the Wilderness documentary

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