May 2009 Archives

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I was overwhelmed by more than 80 responses to my recent Seeking Reader Input for "Patriots" Sequels post. I now have more than enough volunteers! (The only subject area where I still need some more input is Belize.) My apologies if I don't send all of you immediate replies. In many cases, I won't be replying with follow-up questions until I'm actively engaged in writing those particular parts of the manuscript. My sincere thanks for your input, folks!


Today we present the final entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. (BTW, I have some others that recently arrived now in the queue, but those will be considered in Round 23.)

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Introductory Proviso from JWR: The following article is intended for educational purposes only. DO NOT attempt to administer anesthesia without the proper training. There is a very fine line between unconsciousness and death, and this path should be tread only by a trained specialist. This is a very delicate art (and science) that requires advanced training, constant practice, and some advanced monitoring equipment. All vital signs must be closely monitored closely. Even for someone with an "MD" after their name, it is EXCEEDINGLY EASY to mess up, and the consequences of doing so are tremendous. (In short: If you are untrained and inexperienced and try to anesthetize a patient with diethyl ether or chloroform, then the odds are high that you will be more lethal to the patient than the trauma that you are attempting to repair!

Survival medicine requires thought given to pain relief and anesthesia. It is all well and good to have sutures and skin staplers in the SHTF kit, along with instruments for debriding wounds sustained when the nearest doctor is buried under 50 tons of rubble. But how can we do minor surgical procedures without effective anesthesia? If a survival group member sustains a bad fracture, how can we relieve their pain with only aspirin and head off stress ulcers?

We can just put on our hearing protection, give the patient a thick stick to bite down on, and set that bone or debride that wound, while hardening our heart to their cries of agony. This way we save some expense and eliminate the need for several hours of extra intense study by the group's designated medic, and maintain a very low profile. But few would forgo stocking tools which can reduce the suffering of a wounded comrade.

We can, of course, talk our friendly family doctor into writing us prescriptions for local anesthetics, morphine, and for ketamine. The local anesthetics will probably be fairly easy to get obtain if we can show our doctor that we can competently utilize the agents. But the DEA will probably want a word with you and your doctor after you fill those prescriptions for morphine and ketamine both of which are DEA Scheduled drugs.

But what if our doctor is scared of the DEA, and refuses to help your group obtain any of the above agents? You can read this article and find alternative anesthesia and pain relief medications that are either “over the counter” (OTC) or non-Scheduled drugs.

So what can we easily stock for pain control and basic anesthesia? I have some ideas, based on my eighteen years as a chronic pain patient as well as some training as a dental assistant and EMT, including some specialized anesthesia training.

What follows is a simple “anesthesia module” for a group survival medical kit that can be put together with minimal legal difficulties and for modest cost. It will enable the user to deal with acute and chronic pain issues such that the patient can be well cared for. It will also allow one to provide good analgesia/anesthesia when perform basic minor surgery procedures such as wound closure, wound debridement, or bone setting. Even, in extremis, used to facilitate care for a gunshot wound as described in"Patriots" ..

This article will certainly not enable a layperson to become a skilled anesthesiologist. What it will do is point out possible solutions, possible agents and references to learn more about this subject. It will provide a list of agents which will facilitate providing simple anesthetic care to injured group members who require minor surgery or who have sustained significant, painful injuries.

This article will cover basic anesthesia definitions. “OTC” agents, divided into chemicals/meds and herbs, will be covered for both oral and inhaled use. Then a few relatively easy to obtain prescription agents will be described. An annotated bibliography follows the article.
For the purposes of this article, anesthesia is defined as a state in which the patient does not react to surgical activities in a significant physiological way, has amnesia for the procedure, and feels no pain or “touch” sensations during the procedure. Analgesia is defined as a state of reduced to no awareness of the sensation of pain, though awareness of pressure and stretch may remain.

The state of anesthesia is traditionally divided into four Stages. The agents, with few exceptions, described in this article enable putting our wounded comrade into only Stages 1,2, and the 1st Plane of Stage 3. This is fine, as our concern as survivalists will mainly be with performing minor surgery . The 1st level of plane 3 equals light surgical anesthesia; deep enough to enable us to safely and comfortably perform these minor procedures for our injured companion, light enough to avoid significant respiratory or circulatory problems from the agents used.
The first Stage is analgesia and amnesia; it lasts from the start of relative pain relief and drowsiness to the loss of consciousness and loss of the eyelid reflex. The second Stage is excitement, marked by delirium, breath holding, and, likely, regurgitation. The third Stage is surgical anesthesia. It consists of three Planes. We will only be working with the 1st Plane, light surgical anesthesia. Note that at this Plane, our patient may move in response to surgical manipulation and their heart/respiratory rate may change, though they will not have any memory of the procedure. The 3rd Plane is the level needed for major surgery, such as abdominal surgery. The fourth Stage is the time from complete paralysis of the chest muscles until the time of shutdown of the circulation.

Anesthesia requires some basic tools and capabilities. Suction must be available to keep the airway clear, especially if any of the ethers are used. Manual powered units are widely available from such suppliers as Moore Medical. Oxygen is very useful and should be considered along with the masks and tubing necessary. Oxygen can make a great difference in the outcome for patients and is relatively inexpensive, so consider adding an oxygen rig to your group kit.

Masks for administering inhaled agents and simple vaporizers must be bought or locally fabricated. The absolute minimum for patient monitoring is: precordial stethoscope and a BP cuff. Having a pulse oximeter is recommended though the precordial stethoscope will give more “advanced warning” of breathing issues. The oximeter would be most useful when used with an oxygen rig to track improvement in oxygen saturation.

One must be able to recognize developing severe allergic reactions, bronchospasm and other medical emergencies and have the meds and skills necessary to save the day. Study of respiratory and circulatory systems, coupled with a good grasp of the basic principles of pain control and anesthesia will enable the designated medic to use these drugs and equipment to improve the patient's situation, and not generate additional medical problems. Only then can one put together a useful anesthesia kit for Survivalist Field Hospital.

OTC Agents
We start with the classics here. Aspirin, , ibuprofen and naproxyn will see us through most needs for pain control and reduction of inflammation from sprains, tears, or arthritis. All are non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and work very well. For pulled muscles or arthritis pain, we can also add in such roll-on or “smear on” agents as Biofreeze, a very versatile, herb-based agent which works surprisingly well for arthritis pain, or use such venerable creams as Icy Hot or Ben Gay.
A few cautions with these. Avoid giving the patient multiple NSAIDs at the same time as chance of side effects such as bleeding tendencies, slowed blood clotting, and stomach damage increases greatly. Also, beware of using other salicylate-containing meds, such as Ben Gay cream or Pepto-Bismol along with an NSAID as overdose can result easily.

Other OTC pain relievers include Tylenol, which will lower fever and relieve pain. But it will not reduce inflammation . Tylenol is very toxic to the liver and kidneys so it is vital to not exceed the maximum 24 hour dosage. Menthol, applied topically, is useful for relief of the pain . Biofreeze is a good menthol-based product which can currently be obtained from physical therapists, sports medicine clinics and the like.

What if our companion needs a dislocation reduced? How can we ease the process by relaxing muscle spasm? We could use standardized, to 0.8% valerenic acids, valerian root capsules or liquid extract. Valerenic acids are mild sedatives and skeletal muscle relaxants. Valerenic acids will not be anywhere as effective as giving the patient Valium or other benzodiazepines to facilitate the reduction. But valerian root is OTC, while benzodiazepines are Scheduled drugs.
A quick note on alcohol for pain relief and anesthesia. Alcohol provides pain relief in the same way a punch to the jaw can assist one in going to sleep, by deranging the brain's functions. Only in Hollywood can a patient be anesthetized with alcohol for the simple reason that alcohol is a very weak anesthetic such that the anesthesia dose is functionally equivalent to the fatal dose.
All the agents below can cause some nausea so don't forget to include some Benadryl or Dramamine in your medical kit. Either will help reduce the nausea and also provide some sedation for the patient. Dramamine will also help reduce the copious secretions that occur especially with usage of diethyl ethers.

We now get into our OTC anesthetic agents. All three are relatively common chemicals which can be used in simple inhalers, such as drip masks or simple vaporizers. All are general anesthetics which means they can be used to put the patient “completely under”. Note that it is vital to do the necessary study before using any of these agents as there is always the potential for death or serious problems when using general anesthetics. In addition, none of these three agents should be allowed to contact the skin as they can cause bad dermatitis.
There are three “OTC” inhaled anesthetics available that fit our needs; for safety, for efficacy, and for ease of use. Diethyl ether (DEE), is the safest inhaled anesthetic for “lay usage” as it has a very slow onset, with very clearly defined “descent” through the Stages of anesthesia. Divinyl ether, DVE, has a shorter induction time and less incidence of post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) than DEE. It is also less irritating to the throat and lungs than diethyl ether. Trilene, TCE (trichloroethylene), provides excellent analgesia at low doses, is non irritating to the airway, and is non flammable . Careful monitoring of anesthesia depth for more extensive procedures is critical with usage of trilene. All three of these agents were widely used up until the 1950s, even the 1960s for trilene and diethyl ether.

These three agents are not equal in capability. Trilene can only be used for such things as debriding wounds, suturing, or tooth extraction as it is a very potent agent that sensitizes the heart to stress . This could result in heart problems if Trilene was used for a long or extensive procedure or the patient was given epinephrine. Trilene provides anesthesia only to Stage 3 Plane 1, light surgical anesthesia, because it cannot be vaporized to a high enough dose for extensive procedures. TCE must not be used with a closed circuit system as it forms phosgene, a war gas, when it contacts soda lime.

It has the great advantage of quick recovery time when only used for short procedures. One surgeon mentioned that his patient was [by observation only] fully recovered 10 minutes after surgery. It was successfully used for wound repair, bone setting (some reports), childbirth (the most common usage), and dental procedures. It is “tailor made” for “self-administered” anesthesia and is associated with less incidence of PONV than with the two ethers.

On the downside; it is a known teratogenic and carcinogenic chemical. It also cannot be used in simple “drip masks” as it doesn't vaporize well below body temperature. But a trilene vaporizer can be made by any handy person with a basic grasp of how carburetors work.
Divinyl ether is only for short procedures, though it does provide good surgical anesthesia (up to 2nd Plane of 3rd Stage), as it is toxic to the kidneys and liver if used for long procedures. Induction doses and recovery time will be a little less with DVE than with DEE.
On the downside; it requires very careful storage, away from light and moisture, or else it will polymerize easily into [literally] a useless lump. DVE is fabulously expensive, up to 30+ fold the cost of the other two agents.

Diethyl ether is usable for procedures of any length, provides excellent analgesia at low doses, muscle relaxation, and anesthesia to 3rd Plane of Stage 3-and beyond if you aren't paying attention! It also improves cardiac efficiency and stimulates breathing so it is useful in the shocky patient. Theoretically it is the ideal anesthetic for our use.
DEE administration does elicit heavy secretions and coughing so it is makes more work for the “survivalist anesthesiologist” and her assistant than Trilene does. It is highly flammable and can cause explosions, so all sources of ignition must be far from the surgery. It must be stored in the dark, with moisture absorbers, and preferably with oxygen absorbers. Recovery times for the patient will be long, over 6 hours. Diethyl ether and Trilene are roughly the same low cost (ca $34/500ml).

Chloroform is not even considered here even though it seems to be an ideal agent for our use at first glance. Sure; it is not flammable, it doesn't induce the heavy secretions and coughing that the ethers above do, and it is a potent agent. But it has serious disadvantages. First, it has a very narrow margin of safety and requires a true expert in anesthesia to use it safely. Second, it strongly sensitizes the heart to stress, so if the anesthesia is too light and the operator starts the incision, the patient could go into nearly instant cardiac arrest--something we will not be able to treat.

The herbs described below are widely available in most jurisdictions and can be used for pain relief and the induction of light anesthesia in survival situations. However, they are also “evil” in the eyes of the DEA and the like. Some fools have used these herbs irresponsibly and ruined it for legitimate researchers and survivalists. I strongly encourage those who use these to use them responsibly, otherwise we give our friends at the DEA more targets.

These herbs are psychedelics, some call them hallucinogens or even entheogens. They provide pain relief and [very] light anesthesia by two mechanisms: making all sensory input “equal” so that pain becomes no more important than the fact that the sun is shining and these agents facilitate a disassociative state in which the patient's interpretation of pain or pressure signals can be radically altered by simple measures such as playing music, reading of Bible verses or the like.

Extensive research in the 1950s and 1960s on LSD, for example, found that the drug provided much better [for disassociative] pain relief than morphine, with few, if any, side effects. The few formal studies done on salvia, the second agent below, found that it also offered strong, albeit short-lived pain relief and has the potential to be used as a general anesthetic.
In using these herbs, one must pay special attention to two vital factors; set and setting. Set refers to the state and focus of the patient's mind; a relaxed patient who is focused on positive thoughts will be unlikely to experience an anxiety attack whether given one of these herbs, ketamine, or morphine. Setting refers to how pleasant, or at least non-chaotic the treatment or convalescence area is. Operating in a quiet, clean room will help allay patient anxiety and thus reduce the need for additional meds during the procedure.

The first herb might be as available as your garden; morning glory seeds, preferably Heavenly Blue or Flying Saucers. Yes, these are the real names. But the truth is that the active agent in the seeds, lysergic acid amide, is a strong analgesic that can provide six or more hours of pain relief with a single dose of roughly 150 seeds that are chewed thoroughly and swallowed. The downside is that tolerance, of about three days duration, develops quickly. So that a second dose given for pain control 10 hours after the initial dose must be roughly twice as large and so on. The total effects last for upwards of 12 hours. The seeds must either be non-treated or must be washed free of the arsenical which is commonly used on the seeds.

The taste is vile and tends to induce moderate nausea and vomiting, treatable with mild anti emetics such as Benadryl, so the patient will probably never want to repeat the psychedelic trip. This agent will permit wound debridement or closure as long as the patient's attention is captured by music, art, or a deep discussion about whatever interests them at that millisecond. It would provide good relief of pain for bone setting but careful monitoring of the patient's blood pressure and heart rate would be required because this agent is a poor anesthetic and provides little, if any amelioration of the patient's body's response to the surgery. Used in conjunction with one of the strong pain killers described in this article and/or one of the inhaled agents, then bone setting becomes possible.

Salvia divinorum, a member of the sage family, is an herb which could be useful in Survivalist Hospital for pain relief and in easing the pain and discomfort associated with minor surgical procedures. In terms of the Stages of anesthesia, salvia enables Stage 1 (analgesia). At very high doses, it produces a profound disassociative state, coupled with a stormy Stage 2 of anesthesia that barely reaches Plane 1 of Stage 3. It could be used when setting bones when combined with an inhaled agent. Salvia frequently produces a calmness and “afterglow” for up to a few days post-usage that will help greatly in reducing post-op pain and anxiety.

It also produces a slowed reaction time and coordination side effects so the patient should not operate the retreat's armored car or tractor for several hours after salvia dosage. Since it acts on the kappa-opiod receptor in the brain, rather than the mu-receptor affected by morphine and the like, salvinorin A is highly unlikely to turn the patient into a raving, addicted, member of the Army of Darkness. Euphoria is very uncommon with salvia use, indeed people do not tend to ever take it for “kicks”. It also has potential for treatment of addiction as the kappa-opiod receptor is key in addictive behavior.

Overdose will not kill per se, but it will result in a dangerous agitation of the patient though of short, under 30 minutes, duration. The patient can leap up and charge about, resulting in secondary injury. Salvia is usable for our purposes only if the operator pays very close attention to dosage, using only enough to enable the surgical procedure, but not so much that the operation suddenly becomes catch-the-delirious-staggering-patient!

My personal experience with salvia has been with use for relief of chronic and acute pain. It has reliably relieved pain of level 8 (roughly the pain from a leg being shattered in a bike wreck) completely for 1.5 hours, and kept said pain at endurable levels for three hours or more from a single salvia dose. Tolerance does not develop so analgesic doses of salvia can be given consecutively.

A salvia researcher, Daniel Siebert, has published a good on line guide to salvia which includes his model of “planes of the salvia experience”. As “survivalist anesthesiologists”, we will be getting our patients to Siebert's “plane” 4 (vivid visionary state-with eyes closed, outside world is “gone”) to 6 (amnesiac state, also high movement potential!).
Salvia can be purchased as a live plant which grows very well in the Northwest USA as an indoor plant. It is also available as dried leaves. Dried leaves are only marginally usable for our purposed though. It is also available as a crude 5x or 10x concentrate, or as a standardized extract. The standardized form is obviously the best choice for our purposes.
It can be administered by mouth, by chewing 15-20 fresh leaves and holding the chewed leaves in the cheek for 15 minutes. The effects then last about 45 minutes. Ingesting the leaves or concentrate is useless as the agent is inactivated by stomach acid. Or it can be "smoked", (inhaled as a vapor). Vaporization allows the best titration to effect, it also is associated with a high “failure rate” as it is very technique sensitive. When vaporizing salvia concentrate, it is vital that the concentrate be heated as much as possible, the smoke drawn deeply into the lungs, and held there as long as possible. Throat and lung irritation can happen when using the vaporization method . I have asthma; salvia vapor does not induce bronchospasm for me, but “your mileage may vary”.

The active agent, salvinorin A is extremely potent, being effective at 200-500mcg for an inhaled/vaporized dose. Its effects begin in under 30 seconds which makes titrating an analgesic dose fairly easy. It provides good analgesia, being about as potent as morphine, though it only provides, at best, two hours of strong pain relief. After inhalation, drug effects begin to fade within 3-5 minutes of dosing.

At higher doses of 500-1,000mcg, it provides relative disassociative anesthesia for about 5 to 7 minutes. However, at these doses the drug causes severe “motor hyperactivity”. Think a PCP zombie who also drank three double espressos! Titrating the dose to true disassociative effect, Siebert's “plane” 6, without the patient lashing about and injuring herself can be tricky.
If used for just relieving the pain of simple wound debridement, having the patient “smoke” small amounts of concentrate until they report no sensation when the intact skin is pricked with a sterile needle . If possible, capture the patient's attention while the wound is cared for. Patient will probably still be somewhat aware of pressure and stretch sensation, thus the need to capture their attention elsewhere.

If a bone must be set or extensive wound debridement is required, then a higher dose of salvia must be used, preferably along with one of the inhaled agents listed above. This will mean a brief excursion back to pre-19th Century surgical practice; the use of sturdy assistants to hold the patient in place. The purpose here is to keep the patient from moving about and injuring themselves or facilitating a horrible surgical disaster.

By Prescription:
There are some useful prescription pain killers that are not on DEA lists and should be fairly easy to obtain. All have the potential for significant side effects so thorough study is required before using these drugs.

Toradol (ketorolac) is the strongest drug in the NSAID class and is available in pill , eye drops , and injectable forms. It provides excellent relief of post-operative pain. It is also an anti coagulant so any bleeding must be under good control before giving Toradol. It also can cause serious liver or kidney problems. Because of these “side properties”, Toradol cannot be used for more than 2 days of continuous dosing for injection or 5 days of oral dosing

Tramadol is a pain killer which works well for moderate to moderately severe pain. Or in layperson's terms, it will do for pain relief for most of the common injuries the survivalist might deal with . It is available as both a pill and in an injectable form. It does not elicit as much nausea as other opiods such as morphine and unlike morphine, will not completely shut down the drive to breathe at high doses. Another bright spot is that Tramadol is rarely associated with addiction as it relieves pain without euphoria. If needed, it can also be used for your dogs or cats.

On the downside, it does lower the seizure threshold so it is a poor choice if the patient has a history of seizures or is taking other drugs which lower the seizure threshold.
Nubain® (nalbuphine) is a very strong pain reliever that is only available in an injectable form. It is incompatible with ketorolac and is an “opiod effect reverser”. This means that giving Nubain to someone who is addicted to opiods will result in withdrawal symptoms. I was told by an Army medic, who had completed the US Army Field Anesthesia course, that Nubain is ineffective for bad war wounds.

There are a few prescription “para anesthesia” drugs which should be stocked. For reversal of overdoses of opiods, stock Narcan (naloxone). It has significant side effects, be aware, be proactive.

Murphy's Law says that the group member who requires emergency surgical care will have a full stomach, risking aspiration of vomitus, a serious complication. Reglan (metoclopramide) is an anti-nausea/vomiting drug and it accelerates stomach emptying. But do not rely solely on Reglan in the patient who ate or drank within a few hours pre-surgical need. Phenergan (promethazine) is a venerable anti emetic and sedative that also helps dry up secretions. It is available in both pill and injectable forms. If injecting it, dilute and give slowly and carefully as it can cause tissue damage and pain on injection.

Anesthesia and pain control must be factored into planning a survival medical kit. I hope this article has helped point you in a useful direction. With the items described in this article, you can provide better, more comfortable medical care to your group members in a crisis environment. In a 96 hour crisis, you will have the ability to perform exigent minor surgery. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, you will have a solid base for providing general anesthesia care to your group members.


Introduction to Anesthesia ; 9th Edition; Longnecker, edited by: David E. and Murphy, Frank L.; Saunders; 1997. Good coverage of the theory and practice of anesthesia from the ground up.
[Textbook of Military Medicine] Anesthesia and Perioperative Care of the Combat Casualty; edited by: Brigadier General Zajtchuk, Russ and Grande, Christopher M., M.D.; GPO; 1995. Thorough coverage of the practice of anesthesia in a military setting. If you need to know how to handle the anesthesia for a wounded comrade, this is the book. Slanted toward more “high tech” care than usual survivalist group can deliver but good for its explanations of procedures and caveats. Also available online, as free PDFs.
U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook ; Citadel Press; 1982. ISBN: 0806510455 A very good general reference. Good, simple chapter on anesthesia using the inhaled agents discussed in this article with excellent charts showing signs of anesthesia depth.

Internet Resources:

New York School of Regional Anesthesia. How to do regional blocks if you have local anesthetic agents in your kit. Thorough, with very good illustrations.
Several Power Point lectures on various basic anesthesia procedures as well as presentations on wound care, orthopedics, and womens' issues.
All the volumes of Textbook of Military Medicine are available online; for download as [free] PDFs or as hardcover books for purchase. Lots of useful information for Survivalist Hospital on anesthesia and wound care, care of environmental injuries, NBC issues, etc. A very informative site that deals with psychoactive chemicals and herbs. It can be a good research tool for the survival anesthesiologist. Use the site for research, and be responsible.

Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink

GG flagged this: Silver poised for biggest monthly gain in 22 years; gold rises

Items from The Economatrix:

Economy Shrinks 5.7% in First Quarter

Taxpayers Could Lose Billions in GM Revamp
"GM expected to file bankruptcy on Monday."

Ford's Top Supplier Files for Bankruptcy
"Visteon bankruptcy protection filing is another blow to auto supply base."

Bond Markets Defy Feds as Treasury Yields Spike "The US Federal Reserve may soon be forced to launch fresh blitz of quantitative easing whatever the consequences for the US dollar, or risk seeing economic recovery snuffed out by the latest surge in long-term borrowing costs."

Oil is Plentiful, Demand is Weak. Why are Gas Prices Going Up?

Countrywide Can't Dismiss Mortgage Lawsuit "Federal judge rejects bid in case that alleges racketeering, conspiracy, unfair mortgage practices."

Fed Dilemma as Property Recovery Falters

Ireland Set to Go Bust, Claims Economic Historian

"Peak Silver"

FDIC Fund Running Dry

Advanta Bank to Close All Credit Accounts This Week

How Manipulated Markets Really Work "Daily the corporate media trumpet them to lull the unwary into believing the global economic crisis is ebbing and recovery is on the way. Not according to longtime market analyst Bob Chapman who calls green shoots "Poison Ivy" and economist Nouriel Roubini saying they're "yellow weeds" at a time there's lots more pain ahead."

The Second Crash: On the Way and Unstoppable. (JWR Adds: I should mention that this essay includes the same alarming chart on mortgage rate resets that I pointed to in SurvivalBlog a few weeks ago. Once again, we are nowhere near the bottom of the real estate market in the US! This summer will later be seen as just a lull in the storm. Do not hang on to any extra properties "waiting for the market to recover." Dump them at break-even, if need be, but get rid of them, pronto!)

Bond Vigilantes Confront Obama as Housing Falters "Washington is really out of control and that there is no fiscal discipline whatsoever.”

Bill N. sent this great tip: Something Down The Drain? Retrieve it Without a Wrench

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Safecastle's semi-annual 25% Off Mountain House storage food sale ends on June 5th, so get your order in soon! Buyers will get a free copy of the novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen if they purchase four or more cases of Mountain House foods.

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From Florida Guy: Mormon lessons in self-reliance can help families survive tough times. JWR Adds: While I'll never see eye-to-eye with the LDS Church doctrinally, I give them nothing but praise for encouraging food storage. They have also been very gracious in opening up access to their canneries to folks that are not LDS members. Kudos!

"Today, prayer is still a powerful force in America, and our faith in God is a mighty source of strength. Our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are 'one nation under God,' and our currency bears the motto, 'In God we Trust.' The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril." - Ronald Reagan

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

It's been said, “It takes a village to raise a child”. While I do not agree with much of anything else Hillary says, that was certainly true in my case. My upbringing consisted of guidance and council from a rather diverse group of individuals, a large segment of whom were 1970s-era survivalists, (How many of you remember Mel Tappan's “Personal Survival Letter?). These were self-sufficient, hard-money, common sense, salt-of-the-earth type people. A few even had underground bunkers, (I mean “root cellars”). Given the mind set of my mentors, you might assume that I’m all stocked up on beans, bullets, and band aids. Regrettably, I am not as well prepared as I should be. As I analyzed why this is so, I was forced to admit that I had fallen prey to a fault that could prove to be uncomfortable or even fatal, if not corrected. Please bear with me as I illustrate with personal experience.

I was raised in rural America, and have hundreds of hours in canoes. One clear October morning, my friend and I took a hankering for some fresh trout, and we knew of a lake a couple of hours paddle downstream from his house. October is nigh winter in the North, and we figured since the bugs had been frozen out for a week or so, the trout would be ravenous.
We arrived at the lake after a leisurely downstream paddle, and were delighted to find only half the lake's surface in winter's early grasp. Our strategy was simple, we would cast our lures onto the edge of the ice, reel them back ever so slowly, until they slipped into the water with hardly a ripple. With such a quiet entry, the unsuspecting trout were inhaling our spinners. We sure had it our way; no bugs, no bears, no tourists, and the fishing was hot! In my mind's eye, I could see my wife's beaming smile, she loves fresh trout.

Then, while netting another candidate for the skillet, my friend leaned over a bit too far. The canoe tilted and several gallons of water poured over the side. My fast-thinking (but clumsy) friend, realizing that he was going to capsize us completely, rolled over the side, into the lake. The canoe righted itself but, all the water that had poured over the side seconds earlier, now ran to my end of the canoe. The combination of my body weight plus several gallons of water was enough to submerge my end, and water poured over the bow into my lap. Having no recourse, I (gracefully) floated out of the swamped canoe, into the lake. We stayed with the canoe, and kicked our way towards shore, however, the closest “shore” in this case was a raft of muskeg several yards away. (Muskeg is a thick mat of vegetation so dense it floats, common in the North country).We clawed our way onto the muskeg, and it immediately started to sink beneath our weight, so once again the water came pouring in. Everything reached equilibrium and we stopped sinking at about knee deep, so we stripped down and wrung out our clothes, dumped the canoe out and headed for home. The upstream paddle was a blessing in disguise because the hard work kept us relatively warm.

We made it back, and even managed to save the fish. And yes, my wife did beam a brilliant smile; she loves fresh trout you know. But legend has it that, every October, the animals gather at lakeside. They tell a tale of a couple of hapless fisherman, who stood on the edge of the muskeg, naked to the waist, knee deep in icy water, hyper-ventilating while they wrung the water out of their clothes, and then disappeared upstream, never to be seen again.

My point is simply this, through no fault of my own; my situation had deteriorated from relatively pleasant to a little chilly, and a lot life-threatening. Never before, or since, have I been unintentionally thrown from a canoe. Just that once... but that's all it takes, right? “Just that once”. I suspect you and I are a lot alike. Despite our experience, (remember my “village”), we keep living our lives as though the “canoe is never going to tip”. It's called denial.

The people who study the psychology of survivors, tell us that the mental progression in wilderness survival situations is similar to that of someone who has just received some disastrous news. Countless situations have devolved from rescues to recoveries because the participants refuse to acknowledge that they were in a dangerous situation. The survivors are the ones who get through the denial stage the fastest. The don't waste a lot of energy wondering “Why has this happened to me?”. They get over it, and get on with the business of surviving.
The preparedness process can seem overwhelming at times. There are so many necessities that, deciding where to commit time and/or resources can be disquieting. The truth is, its way easier and cheaper to stay in denial, because after all, the canoe is never going to tip, right? To help get you off high center, I'd like to offer a decision making matrix; a method to help you decide where to expend your time and resources to your best advantage.

Industry has developed a procedure called "Process Hazard Analysis". If you’re responsible for the safe operation of a facility of some kind, you gather your engineers, technicians and operators together and discuss the risks involved in running your plant. Big picture it works like this; you pick an event, and rank how likely it is to happen, the severity of the consequences if it did, and any safeguards in place to prevent that particular event from happening. With this prioritized list you are able to see where to put your maximum effort. If you’ve never had the joy of sitting through this procedure... I’d suggest a mid-October swim instead. But, if you think of an “event” as a condition that produces an undesirable result, then you can see how we can apply this process to our preparedness efforts.

Make 6 columns down a piece of paper. Title the first "category/event", the second "Likelihood", the third "Consequences". "Safeguards", "Total" and "Action" are the titles for columns 4, 5, and 6.
The rankings for the “likelihood” and “severity” columns will be 1 through 5, with 1 representing "highly unlikely" (for likelihood) and "Insignificant" (for consequences), 3 representing "Probable" and "Serious but Repairable", and 5 representing "Highly Probable" and "Financial Ruin/Fatality". (I'll include a complete list of the rankings I use in an appendix at the end of this article).

So, for example, if I picked a category of "Civil Unrest" and an event of "Riots", my thought process would go like this: There has never been a riot in my hometown and it's very unlikely there ever will be, so "Likelihood" would get a rank of 1. I live a ways out of town so, even if there was a riot in town, it's very doubtful that it would spread to my place, so "Consequences" gets a 1. I have locks and an alarm system and a big dog, so I'm "Confident" in my safeguards, I'll give them a 3. You can see that I don't need to spend a lot of resources preparing for riots. On the other hand, you may live in a neighborhood that has experienced nearby riots. You rankings would come out different and perhaps indicate that you should spend some time thinking about how to mitigate that risk. Note however, that a category of "Civil Unrest" with and event of "Burglary" would rank higher in my situation, because that particular event has happened in my area.

Had I chosen a category of "Natural Disasters" and an Event of “Forest Fire", my likelihood rank would be 5 (because forest fires have occurred in my area). The consequence rank would be 5, because the worst case consequence is a fatality. My safeguards, (detectors, and extinguishers) are adequate but could use improvement, so safeguards get a 2. Add column 2 (likelihood) and 3 (severity) and subtract column 4 (safeguards) and I have a total of 8 out of a possible 10, a high priority. You can see through this extreme example that, it makes more sense for me to focus my efforts on upgrading my fire plan, than it does preparing for a riot. I should probably place a higher priority on fire extinguishers than firearms, hard to do given the emotion of today’s situation. Examination of your situation may well result in a different conclusion. The important thing is that emotion is removed from the decision making process.

We all have a tendency to “lock up” when faced with an intimidating task. It is my hope that, by introducing this decision making process, you can remove the paralyzing emotions from the decisions that must be made. By thoughtfully following the process, you’ll create a touchstone that will anchor you when self-doubt or well-meaning friends criticize your actions, and you are tempted to procrastinate or worse. If your beliefs don't impact your actions then they're just worthless mental baggage. How many times have you heard the word "unprecedented" lately? That means that we have never been in this situation before, not in all of mankind's history. So we really have no idea how this will end. There is still time to act, the canoe hasn't tipped yet. Use this matrix to assess where you are in the preparedness process and, most importantly, act on your decisions.

Suggested Definitions of Rankings

1. Has not happened to you, or in your local area
2. Improbable, unlikely
3. Possible
4. Probable, likely
5. Has happened to you or in your local area.

1. No significant consequence
2. Disagreeable, minor physical/financial loss
3. Significant but repairable
4. Major injury, financial hardship
5. Financial ruin, fatality

1. None
2. Low confidence, needs improvement
3. Confident, has been adequate
4. Extremely confident
5. Absolute confidence

Add the Likelihood and Severity numbers, and subtract from that the safeguard number for a personalized risk ranking of a specific event.
You can see that, events with high likelihood, severe consequences and low safeguards are going to require action, say any event with a total risk ranking of 8 or more. Total risk of 5-7 deserves some serious consideration. Total risks of less than 4 are low priorities. If you decide an event requires action, it may be possible to add safeguard points, and diminish the risk, with simple lifestyle changes before committing resources that could be better used elsewhere.

The following is an example of a Crisis Decision Matrix. (Modify to fit your particular situation.)

Crisis Decision Matrix

Category Event Likelihood Consequences Safeguards Total Action
  1. Has not happened to you or in your area
2. Improbable/unlikely
3. Possible
4. Probable, likely
5. Has happened to you / in your area.
1. No significant consequence
2. Disagreeable, minor physical/financial loss
3. Significant but repairable
4. Major injury, financial hardship
5. Financial ruin, fatality
1. None
2. Low confidence, needs improvement
3. Confident, has been adequate
4. Extremely confident
5. Absolute confidence


+ Consequences


= Total

Civil Unrest –Riot 1 1 3 -1 None
Civil Unrest – Burglary 5 3 4 4 Look into improving my security system with cameras and a DVR
Natural Disasters – Fire 5 5 2 8 Need to improve fire detection ability and devise family contingency plans for specific fire scenarios. Research “Firewise” principles for structures in high risk areas.


Hungary's Economy Minister warns of currency crisis, "social collapse" without deep reform

GG sent this Los Angeles Times piece: From deflation fear to inflation panic, so soon?

Items from The Economatrix:

Exploding Debt Threatens America With no change in policy, US debt will equal US GDP in just five years.

Coming Dollar Bust--All But A Few Have No Clue "The failure of the housing market is only 40% to 50% over. All this is happening as policymakers, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citicorp, etc., and the rest of the elitists are shifting all the debt from the financial sector to the American people. Virtually no one talks about what is really going on. The same people at the Fed, in banking, on Wall Street and in government are supposedly solving the problems they created. We have news for you; they are not solving anything. They are just pushing judgment day a little further out. That is costing us $2 trillion in additional debt a year, which we can ill afford. The bomb gets bigger every day and you won’t want to be around when it explodes."

Dollar is Dirt, Treasuries are Toast, and AAA is Adios

Meltdown 101: Why is the Dollar Weakening?

Moody's Affirms US AAA Rating Despite Rising Debt

Yield Curve Steepens to Record as Debt Sales Surge

Rise in Rates Jolts Markets

Mortgage Nightmare: Who Owns My Loan?

GM Bankruptcy Filing Could Shake Up Dow Index, GM Could Be Delisted

Cheryl spotted this on a Israeli news site: WWIII Has Started

   o o o

JHB sent is a link to a new variety of self-contained fingertip pulse oximeter. Being able to monitor heart rate and blood oxygen saturation will be crucial, especially if you are handling a trauma case or severe illness case where respiration is shallow and your supply of medical oxygen is scant.

   o o o

In the "signs of the times" department, comes this from Powder Valley: "At this time we are not taking any new backorders for primers that are not listed here. We currently have over 50 million primers on backorder..."

"Frugality may be termed the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Liberty." - Samuel Johnson

Friday, May 29, 2009

If you have any favorite quotes that relate to survival, preparedness, faith, patriotism, Constitutional rights, or perhaps something on economics, then please e-mail it to me, and I'll likely post them as Quotes of the Day. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Something you may not have given much thought about in your planning for long term food storage is Pest Control. All the hard work, preparedness and money spent on stockpiling and storing food can be quickly ruined by pests. You need to protect your investment. As a former exterminator I have seen my share of these pests and can share my experience and knowledge of control measures. While some of these measures are just ordinary common sense, we all know that common sense isn't all that common.

A few things to consider:
Most infestations come home from the store with you. You would be surprised to learn what I've found in the average, clean looking big name grocery store!
Dry pet food is notorious for being infested. Pet food is not processed and packaged with the same standards as "people food".
90% of Stored Product Pest Control is not about chemical treatments. We will use poisons sparingly and effectively.
Some, but not all, pests are disease carrying.
While there are hundreds (or thousands!) of individual species of pests you could have to deal with, we will focus on the three main problem pests when it comes to Food Storage: Pantry Pests, Rodents and Cockroaches.

Pantry Pests generally include Moths, Beetles and Weevils. There are too many species to list individually, but luckily the identification, prevention and control measures are all similar enough to lump into one category. Most Pantry Pests have a similar mode of action: the adult bores a hole into the grain/kernel/meal, lays its egg and repeats. The larva hatches inside the grain/kernel/meal, then eats it's fill until ready to pupate. The pupa hatches out of the grain/kernel/meal as an adult, and the cycle repeats itself.
They usually appear after bringing home a product from the store that was already infested, however some indigenous species do infest crops, and so may infest the grain in the field first.
If you spot moths, beetles or other stored product pests in your home or food storage areas, it's already too late. As mentioned above, the adults are not what will be eating your food, it's the young inside your rice, corn or wheat that is destroying it. While it's fine to eradicate the adults you see, the real problem is in the food itself. Once cut off from the food source, the adults will die off without having reproduced.

All stored product should be removed from storage and inspected for infestation. Do not skip over anything just because it's an unopened box or what you think is an airtight container, go through it all. You may see webbing (like flat spider webs) inside a heavily infested product. You might see active adults working to lay their eggs, or holes bored through packaging like waxed paper and plastic bags. If you can afford to, throw this infested product out. While not the most economical approach this is what most homeowners will do.

Sanitation and Exclusion
Once your cupboards are bare it's time to get cleaning. All cracks, crevices and corners should be vacuumed clean of dust, flour and food stuffs that may have fallen in. In absence of a vacuum, wipe out everything you can with a wet rag, then blow out the voids and repeat until as clean as possible. You can treat the cracks and crevices with a general purpose pesticide at this point if you like, but it is not necessary. The cracks and crevices should now be filled with caulk, or something similar. This serves the dual purpose of both sealing out future food spills and pests, and sealing in anything you may have missed.

As mentioned above, throw out all known or suspected infested product if you possibly can. If that is not an option, there are things we can do to kill the critters inside without losing the grain. Please note that while these bugs might seem disgusting to us, and they are eating your food, you can eat them without adverse consequences as most are not disease carrying. How shall we cook them? Let's bake!
An oven set to 130 degrees for four hours is the minimum standard for killing the larvae and adults. No promises on the eggs as they can be extremely tough. A slightly higher heat and more time will likely net better results, but use caution not to damage the grain.
Freezing the grain can also kill the larva and adults, and again, no promises on the eggs. This method is not as effective as baking, and may be impractical.
A professional will use fumigation to treat a large amount of infested product, say a grain silo full of weevils, but it’s very expensive, and may not always be available to you. In any case, you can’t just go pick it up off the shelf, you need a Pest Control Operators License to purchase the chemical, and rightly so, it is highly toxic.

The packaging your food comes in from the grocery store is not good enough. These pests can bore a hole into the toughest shell nature can provide, do you think a cardboard box or waxed paper will stop them? Of course not. The best containers are glass or metal and airtight. Tupperware/Rubbermaid type containers are second best. Ziplocs and plastic bags are not acceptable for long term storage at all. It's not a bad idea to store bulk food in many small containers rather than one large one. Don't put all your eggs in one basket!
Check your food stuffs regularly. Periods of dormancy are a part of an insect’s life cycle. Just because you don't see them now, that doesn't mean they're not there!

Mice and Rats are some of the most damaging creatures we have to deal with. They eat what we eat, live where we live and carry parasites like lice and fleas. Because they are very similar to us biologically (one reason they are used extensively in research laboratories) it is easy for them to transmit disease to humans.
Luckily, control is actually very simple.

The only important reason to differentiate between a rat and mouse problem, is to choose what trap to use. A rat trap is just too big to effectively kill mice (something akin to killing an ant with a sledgehammer), they sometimes completely miss the mouse, and mouse traps only serve to make the rats mad.
The telltale signs of mice and rats are holes chewed into objects and food packaging, droppings, odors and noise.
As with all rodents, both mice and rats have large incisors (front teeth) that never stop growing. Because of that fact, they must constantly chew anything and everything in order to keep them ground down (I've seen pictures of a rat, not allowed to chew at all in a laboratory, whose lower teeth grew up over his head and into his skull!). You may see two parallel scrape marks in some materials from these teeth, the size will tell you if it's a mouse or rat. They will chew electrical wiring, and are the cause of a surprising number of house fires (they are actually attracted to wiring because it looks and feels like one of their natural foods, grass shoots).

They both leave droppings wherever they go, black in color, tube shaped like a grain of rice. Mouse droppings are about the size of a grain of rice, and rat droppings are naturally bigger than that, about a half inch long by a quarter inch wide. Both species also urinate everywhere they go, and so will leave urine trails and odors behind.
A sound at night like someone scratching their nails lightly on the wall indicates a mouse problem. People with rats in their homes describe it as sounding like "elephants in the attic". You may not hear anything at all, though, and still have a problem with either pest, sounds are just an indication. Rats love to nest above the water heater and furnace where it's always warm, especially in winter. There is usually a screen vent above those appliances, where you may see nesting materials like candy wrappers and snail shells (a favorite food). Rats do, but mice do not drink water, they get all the moisture they need from their food.

You may mistake a baby rat for an adult mouse, you can tell the difference by the tail, a rats will be thicker and almost as long as its body. A baby rat will have very large feet as well, all ages of mice have small, delicate feet.

Exclusion is the first step. Seal any and all openings into the house. A rodent’s skull is the only solid part of his body, if he can squeeze his head through, he can flatten the rest of his body out to squeeze through, too. A mouse's head is about the size of a dime, or you're little finger. If you can fit a finger in a hole, seal it up. The smallest rats head is about the size of your thumb, but we're going to seal up all the holes we find anyway, right?
Check and seal all vents to the crawlspace, especially around the air conditioning tubing, with steel wool, expanding foam or other inedible material. Do likewise to the soffit (attic) vents. You don't have to make it bulletproof, just enough to discourage them. The bottom of a side garage door is almost guaranteed to be a problem, it's required building code -to allow carbon monoxide gas from cars to escape. While I would NEVER suggest you break the law or bypass any safety measure, some people install a weather-stripping door sweep to keep the mice and rats outside where they belong. Trim all tree limbs that overhang, or worse, touch the house, as this is the Roof Rats favored method of entry. Anyplace two roof lines come together, climb up and seal the gaps in the soffits. Clothes lines and the like should not be attached to the house in any way. Ensure that any fences or other structures don't come within several feet of the roof, rats are excellent jumpers. Think of squirrels, they are basically just cleaner rats with furry tails. Keep ground-cover, especially ivy, trimmed back from the house, at least 2 feet. Wood piles should not be stacked against the house, you're just inviting trouble. Check the entire footprint of the house for tunnels, Norway Rats like to tunnel in, I've found many getting in that way.
Rats and mice do not live exclusively in your home, they come and go as they please.
Once the structure is sealed up, one of two things has happened: You have sealed them out, or you have sealed them in. If you've sealed them out, great, you're done! If you've sealed them in, how should we get rid of them?

Trapping is hands down the preferred method of killing them. There is no better mouse trap! The standard mouse and rat snap traps are exactly what you need, and they can be used over and over again. Use a very small amount of peanut butter underneath the trigger for best results. A big glob will soon dry up and a crafty rodent can just gently pick it off. Smear a little underneath, and he has to jump up there with both feet to dig at it and, well, you get the rest. An old trick is to use a wire twist tie to secure a nut or a snail to the trigger for an especially tricky rat. Both size traps should be slid in perpendicular to the wall (skinny end with the trigger goes against the wall), mice and rats both travel in straight lines against the wall (they use their whiskers to feel their way along in the dark). Trapping also insures that you control where the bodies will be for retrieval and disposal. You can place traps anywhere you've had activity that is convenient for you. The mice and rats sealed in will eventually get hungry enough to explore and find your trap, I promise.
Do not bother with live traps or glue traps, you risk getting bit and infected, and if released from a live trap they will probably just come back anyway.

Once you have stopped catching mice and rats, and you're very sure the problem is solved, then you can consider using baits (poisons) as a prevention measure. If a rodent somehow gets in later, he will take the bait, which are all slow acting (several days) and leave when he starts to get sick. Mice are small enough that they don't cause too many problems if they die in a wall, they just don’t have the body mass. Rats, on the other hand are horrible to deal with in a wall. If you don't follow my advice about trapping and go right to using a poison with a rat, I promise you will regret it, I've learned this the hard way. The stench of death (rotting meat in your walls), the brown goo leeching through the drywall, the flies and maggots will remind you of these words.
Be extremely careful using baits outdoors. In fact, I don't recommend it. There is nothing you can do to keep pests out of your yard, all you can control is the structure of the house. Most baits today are pretty safe, but I have had a customer kill her own dog by not following my advice and putting her own store bought bait under a wood shed. Can you imagine if a child had gotten into it? When a professional has to bait outdoors, he uses a tamper-proof metal or plastic box. These can be purchased if needed.
This last statement is going to upset some people, but cats are NOT the best rodent prevention and control measure. Yes they will kill mice and rats, and they can thin the herd, but they will never eradicate them all. Mice are a staple food to scores of predators like birds of prey and snakes, and the mice still manage to be the second most successful mammal on the planet! Have all the best mousers you like, they will help, but follow my advice above for best results.
And please, don’t leave pet food out at night! Keep dry pet food and the like in metal cans with tight fitting lids, and far from where you store your own food.

Cockroaches are filthy, disease-ridden creatures. All species thrive in unsanitary conditions. They breed incredibly fast, that's part of the problem. A male and female German Cockroach, given an ideal environment can produce 1,000,000 offspring in one year. They are typically brought home from somewhere else like the grocery store, in someone's luggage, etc.
In the old days they were extremely hard to get rid of, today, it's a piece of cake.

There are many species of cockroach, but we will gear our attack toward the German Cockroach, as he is the main culprit in ruining foodstuffs. Outdoor Roaches like the American or Oriental are not usually an infestation problem inside the house, they are just a nuisance.
The German Cockroach is about a 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch long. Tan or brown colored, usually with two distinct black parallel lines on its head. They will hide in cracks and crevices under a sink, in cabinets or the baseboards, behind wall paneling, etc. (in the wild, they live under rocks and tree bark). As with other pests, it's not a bad idea to fill these cracks and so eliminate their habitat. They will leave droppings that look something like black pepper, egg sacks after hatching, and their shells after they molt (shed their skin, so to speak). They avoid light, and will scatter for cover if you turn on a light while they're out.

Clean grease and spills thoroughly, especially under the stove, oven and sink. Be sure to clean all surfaces well, including the cracks and crevices. Keep your food in pest proof containers. Do not give these guys an inch. Without proper sanitation it is impossible to get rid of them, you must take away the food sources (clean up spills)!
Do not bother with any kind of spray, use a Bait Gel. It's safer and much more effective, in fact, in my opinion it revolutionized the Pest Control Industry. It will come in a mini syringe with the active ingredient Hydramethylon. My experience is that it kills about 75% of a population in 2 weeks. Then 75% of what's left in another 2 week follow-up visit. After 6 weeks, I can call a job done. For contrast, using conventional sprays, I could kill about 10% of a population per visit, and slowly make ground on them over many months.

It would be wise to stock up on pesticides just as you would medications. They are just not something you can replicate yourself. None of these products are terribly expensive, you can probably pick up everything you need for about $100. Note that these products do have a shelf life, so use them or give them away before they expire, and replace as needed.
You can see that 90% of Pest Control is not about chemical warfare, it's about common sense and cleanliness.
Here's the top ten things I recommend you stock up on:
1. General Purpose Pesticide like Malathion or Diazinon. Try to find a "Wettable Powder", it keeps longer and can be mixed to whatever strength required. It also sticks better than liquids after application. In addition to a powder, try to find a Granular product, it is applied with a seed spreader and activated by water.
2. Ant Bait Gel with the active ingredient Fipronil. Combat brand is a good “over the counter” choice. The ants will carry it back to the nest to feed the other 99% of the ants you don't see, including the queen, workers, soldiers and the "babies".
3. Wasp Spray aerosol cans. This stuff shoots a stream about 10 feet away and will drop them dead in the air. Use on wasp nests, yellow-jackets and bees. While not specifically labeled for them, it will kill just about any insect you don't want to get too close to (like Black Widows and scorpions). Any brand will do.
4. Flea Spray. Fleas are tough. Bathe and treat your pets first, clean your carpets and then treat the house.
5. Bug Bombs. These are not terribly effective, even the "prescription strength" ones in the industry are not that great. Still, I'd keep a few in stock.
6. Snap Traps for rats and mice. A dozen or two of each size should last many years, maybe forever. Try to find the ones with the big, yellow triggers. Much safer to set than the older metal ones, trust me, I've broken a finger setting a rat trap, they are no joke.
7. Rodent Bait. Decon will work, but the Combat brand (big, waxy blue blocks with the active ingredient Bromadiolone, an anti-coagulant) are better. It keeps longer and can be thrown into far corners of attics and crawlspaces.
8. Roach Bait Gel. Maxforce or Combat brand, active ingredient Hydramethylon.
9. Termiticide. A liquid will kill more than just termites and so is more versatile, but the commercially available baits (wood stakes impregnated with a stomach poison) are much more effective.
10. Building Repair Materials. Screening, caulking, steel wool, foam, etc.
Please, follow all warning labels on each product you use!

I recently signed a contract with Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) to write two sequels to my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" Unlike traditional sequels, the storylines of these novels will be contemporaneous with the economic collapse and invasion described in the first novel. There will be some overlap of characters, but most of the action will take place in different locales. My goal is to use these two books to write about a lot of different tactics, techniques, and technologies for survival.

I'd greatly appreciate getting some tidbits of information from readers that would help add realism and authenticity to the next manuscript. I have fully outlined the book, but have thusfar only written three draft chapters. I'm hoping that there are some subject matter experts out there in the SurvivalBlog readership that can help me out with:any of the following information and insights:

  • Commercial fuel distillation, and how it might continue (localized) if the power grid goes down.
  • Details on natural gas "drip oil" collection and its use in gasoline engines
  • Experience with a 30-foot to 38-foot blue water sailboat
  • Raised in the Creole culture
  • Knows the current aggregate value of the Property Book of a Stryker Battalion. (Yes, I know that Strykers cost $2 million each, but...)
  • Recently lived in the Four Corners region
  • Done bicycle touring in France and Germany, preferably with winter bike touring experience
  • Lived in Belize for several years
  • Experience with reconstructive facial surgery, following trauma. (Surgeon or patient)
  • An F-16 fighter pilot within the past 10 years.
  • Experience with Laron Starstreaks or similar "Light Experimental" class aircraft
  • Lived in or near Prescott, Arizona
  • Worked in a commercial cornmeal processing plant, preferably "old school", small scale
  • Recently stationed at Luke AFB
  • Owned a Lahti 9mm pistol
  • Raised in the "Texas-German" culture (such as New Braunfels)
  • Lived in Wisbech or a similar town with a yacht harbor in southern England
  • Experience using compact QRP 40 meter band HF transmitters.(Paperback book size or smaller, preferably DC-powered)

If you can answer "Yes!" to any of these, please send me an e-mail. I'll try to keep my queries brief, and not pester you too much. In exchange, you are welcome to equivalent consulting time in any of my areas of expertise.

D.S. suggested this Gerald Celente audio clip "When this Bubble blows - it's over"

Also from GG: U.S. Inflation to Approach Zimbabwe Level, Faber Says

Yet another from GG: Roubini says U.S. economy may dip again next year

Items from The Economatrix:

About 12 percent of U.S. homeowners late paying or foreclosed

Signs of More Trouble For Housing "Wall Street is so hungry for good news that stocks rallied at the barest hint of upbeat indicators several times this month."

The Greatest Swindle Ever Sold

Insanity Gone Rampant
(Mogambo Guru)

Stocks Down Amid Worries About US Debt

1Q Home Prices Fall By 19% to 2002 Levels "It is unlikely that we are anywhere near a bottom."

UAW Trust to Get Up to 20% of GM Shares
"GM will give the UAW up to 20 percent of its common stock, $6.5 billion of preferred shares and a $2.5 billion note to fund a trust that will take over retiree health care costs starting next year. The funding is part of a tentative agreement that union members will vote on this week as GM tries to pull together the remaining pieces that would allow it to restructure outside of bankruptcy."

Virgin: No Airlines Will Make Money This Year

Obama: The Stimulus Bill Has Created or Saved 150,000 Jobs (Has anyone told him that jobs are being lost at the rate of over 600,000 per month?)

Dallas Federal Reserve $99 Trillion in Unfunded Liabilities

GM Says Bondholder Committee Supports Sweetened Deal

The Fed's Balance Sheet Very soon America's largest creditor will be ... America

Hitmen Contract to Bust COMEX

April Truck Tonnage Plunges 13.2%

It Is Failing--ALL OF IT!

Rail Traffic Hits Year's Low

US and South Korea On High Alert After North Korea Renounces Truce

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Jim Wiseman (a pseudonym), the prepper that was featured in the recent AP wire service article on survivalism was interviewed for three show segments (45 minutes) on the nationally-syndicated Marc Germain Show, and he will soon be be featured on CNBC, as well.

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Clearly, the preparedness movement seems to have struck a chord with America's collective psyche. Even assorted Greens and left-wingers are jumping on the band wagon, as evidenced by this article from Philadelphia: Survival of the Fittest (not just for white right-wingers anymore). Ditto on popularity in Australia, where we read: Survivalists stock up ready for the worst

"Globalization creates interlocking fragility, while reducing volatility and giving the appearance of stability. In other words it creates devastating Black Swans. We have never lived before under the threat of a global collapse. Financial Institutions have been merging into a smaller number of very large banks. Almost all banks are interrelated. So the financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks – when one fails, they all fall. The increased concentration among banks seems to have the effect of making financial crises less likely, but when they happen they are more global in scale and hit us very hard. We have moved from a diversified ecology of small banks, with varied lending policies, to a more homogeneous framework of firms that all resemble one another. True, we now have fewer failures, but when they occur ….I shiver at the thought." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Welcome to the thousands of folks that have discovered SurvivalBlog because of the recent AP wire service article on survivalism that was picked up by umpteen news outlets. In the two days since, our number of web site visits has almost doubled. To come up to speed, I recommend that you read the SurvivalBlog About page first, ad then my page on my Precepts. Keep in mind that there are now nearly 7,000 archived articles and letters, all searchable and available free of charge. If there is a topic related to preparedness that interests you, odds are that you can find what you need in our archives, with the "Search Posts on SurvivalBlog:" box at the top of the right-hand bar. Welcome aboard!

Good evening Mr. Rawles,
My name is Ignacio, I'm a Cuban-born American. The three best days in my life were when I married my wife, when I became an American citizen and when my daughter was born (in this country). I am an avid reader of your blog, and working hard to get prepared, we bought a small place (1.5 acres in southwest Florida, it's in the woods) it was the only thing we could afford to get ready. But I am very concerned that my neighbors might not like us because we are Hispanic (although my wife is blue-eyed and has blonde hair.). I can assure you that no one loves this country more than we do, but I understand that most of the Hispanics do not like our country.

What would be a good way to approach my neighbors? Sincerely, - Ignacio R.

JWR Replies: I recommend that you do your very best to get to know your neighbors, and make it clear that you are are part of the community. Get involved in community activities. For example: join the local volunteer fire department (they offer great training, by the way!), make the effort to introduce yourself to your neighbors, invite them over for barbeques and other social events, join the local church, Rod and Gun club, ham radio club, and so forth. I also recommend joining (or forming) a local Community Watch organization.

It takes time, but with effort, you can make yourself an insider in a community. I am confident that you know in your heart that you are "an okay guy", but you just need to demonstrate that to the folks in your new community. If you work hard enough at it, they will consider you not just a neighbor, but an indispensable neighbor and a genuine "go to guy".

Several times in SurvivalBlog, I've mentioned what sociologists call the We/They Paradigm. The bottom line is that you need to immerse yourself into the collective "we" (insiders), so that you aren't seen as part of the "they" (outsiders). In my experience, race and even religion need not be barriers to becoming part of the "we". It is clear from your letter that you love our Nation. Just make it clear to your neighbors that you love your community, just as much.

Cementing your relationships with your neighbors can take years. Or, in the case of South Florida, just one hurricane season. If a time of deep trauma or deep drama comes up (such as severe weather or wildfires), then jump in and help out with disaster relief, starting with your nearest neighbors. Check on every one of them, and ask if there is anything that you can do to help. Based on what you demonstrate of your character, your neighbors will quickly learn that you are someone that can be trusted when the Schumer Hits the Fan. And, BTW, it will give you a chance to size them up, as well.


Regarding storing baking powder. Reader LCHS wrote:

• Baking Powder does not have a long shelf life and will let you down if it’s old or improperly stored, but some things cannot be made without it.
• Baking Soda has multiple uses; besides the original anti-acid and an ingredient in toothpaste, adding some to the filling of pies will cut the need for sugar as it cuts the acidity. It cannot, however, be substituted for Baking Powder.

This suggests that availability could be a problem post TSHTF. A quick web-searching expedition confirms that Baking Powder does not, as LCHS states, store well. However, it can be made on demand with the following recipe found at the Frugal Living web site:
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
• 1 teaspoon corn starch (optional)

A little more research suggests that if baking soda and cream of tartar are put up individually that they will store "indefinitely".

I am not a chef or student of the culinary arts, nor have I played one on television. I do enjoy problem solving though and would enjoy reading if others have practical experience with making their own. - Robert W.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that valuable information. OBTW, SurvivalBlog reader PWO sent us a link with a bit more detail on making your own baking powder, from Wise

Hi Jim,
Here is a bit about the progress of Swine Flu in Australia with this article about a quarantined luxury cruise ship.

We now have a cruise ship, the P & O Pacific Dawn, being quarantined at Willis Island on the Great Barrier Reef – with 2000 people on board. Yesterday the ship was photographed flying the yellow quarantine flag! Our “brilliant” state health departments let 20 infected people disembark at Sydney and they [then] flew throughout Australia .

[Some background:] 13 of these people turned up at the Robina Hospital at the Gold Coast and the staff at the hospital had no idea what to do with them. The people were put in a single room with a single bed and most of the family was made to sleep on the floor. Authorities seemed to be clueless.

They (the New South S]Wales government) then let new passengers embark on the infected ship and let the ship leave Sydney on a trip. They also let three infected staff sail on the new voyage. No prizes for guessing what happened next. All people on board now exposed to the swine flu and the ship has been quarantined.

I really enjoy your web log and I have been sharing it with my friends. Keep up the great work and my prayers and best wishes to your wife with her illness. Yours sincerely - Jamie in Queensland, Australia

Hazardous WHO Phase Daze "The constant rewriting of the phase system to avoid calling a phase 6 pandemic a phase 6 pandemic does significant harm in the monitoring of the pandemic, as well as raising public awareness of the seriousness of the evolution and spread of swine H1N1."

NYC Confirms Two More Deaths

56 Cases Confirmed In New Jersey

Frequent content contributor GG sent this Los Angeles Times article: Early retirement claims increase dramatically

Cities disincorporating? Towns Rethink Self-Reliance as Finances Worsen. (Thanks to GRK for the link.)

I found this linked at The Drudge Report: IRS tax revenue falls along with taxpayers' income

Items from The Economatrix:

Carmakers' Woes May Cost Six Million Jobs

Oil Down to Around $61 Ahead of OPEC Meeting

Stunning Reversal: Russian Economy Shrinks 23%

Is the US Dollar Heading for a Mighty Crash?

The Credit Default Swaps Cancer Inflicting the Financial System
"CDS is the root-cause of systemic risk which connects hundreds of financial institutions together in a lethal daisy-chain that threatens to crash the entire system if one of the main players goes under."

Stock Market Rally Over, Prepare for New Bear Lows " would appear that a sizeable proportion of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds not thus far deployed have been used to drive up the stock markets in order to create a positive environment for the banks to issue secondary shares and thus raise equity. While this is perfectly understandable, it also means that once the banks have finished selling this stock to the public, or the market is simply exhausted by being soaked in this way, it is likely to go into reverse in a big way."

Marty Weiss: Memorial Day Disaster--Foreigners Dumping Dollar Assets, Stocks & Bonds

Stock Market Rally Red Flags

Fed Admits No Credit Crisis, Bailout, TARP Exit Strategy

Global Debt Deleveraging Recession Gets Worse as Government Deficit Grows

GM Says Bond Offer Fails, Bankruptcy Likely

Chrysler in Court For Key Bankruptcy Hearing

Survey: Most Economists See Recession End in '09 (Gee, you've gotta give them points for their optimism. Perhaps they think that Disco will also make a comeback, later this year.)

Governments Pay More Burial Costs in Bad Economy

Roman suggested an article that ties in nicely with my suggestion of the "Three Ks" concept for recession-proof jobs: The Case for Working With Your Hands

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Cheryl mentioned this book review: Vaccines: Crossing Immunological Boundaries

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I recently had an Internet retailer contact me about advertising on my blog. I made some inquiries, and it turned out that about 60% of their merchandise is made in mainland China.
Unless or until China does away with the laogai system of prison factories, I will not accept advertising from any companies that have a more than 20% of their products made in mainland China. (These days, it is difficult to avoid having some Chinese content, especially at the component level, even if you try.) I'll be updating my advertising policies web page, to make this long-standing policy abundantly clear.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." - Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Would you like to be on NBC's Today television show? A producer of the show contacted me and asked for some background information on the growth of the preparedness movement, and for help in locating a guest for a taped interview. They are looking for a "typical suburban survivalist" somewhere within 200 miles of New York City, for an interview. E-mail: Josh Weiner of NBC.


Today we present two more entries for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When my companion and I began our 18-month transition period of moving to and living in the woods, we also began a period of education. We discussed and planned much. We bought books and magazines and took classes on everything from solar collecting to gardening.
One subject evaded me: cooking on a wood-burning stove. Every time I saw a magazine that flashed headlines on wood stoves, my hands would tremble in anticipation as I reached for it. However, the wood stoves in question were for heating, not for cooking.

Since we were looking at a self-sufficient lifestyle and wood on our 160 acres was virtually free, there wasn't even a consideration to use anything but wood for heating and cooking. Our land is approximately 95 percent maple, a steady source of excellent quality hardwood. Labor intensive yes, but since we were quitting our jobs, we had the time.
Initially, we tried to find a real antique stove for our kitchen. Since the 20' by 24' kitchen/dining/living room was to be the main focus of our new house, we wanted the stove not only to be functional but attractive as well. The antique stoves we found were either attractive but of questionable functionality, or functional and downright ugly.

Deborah's wood-fired cook stove
We bit the bullet and bought a brand-new, old-fashioned looking Enterprise King from Lehman's (if you ever have the chance to visit there, do it!). To this day, I'm glad we spent the extra money. Not that there aren't good old stoves out there, but we never found one.
Our stove has a warming oven overhead, a tip-down butter warmer, a washable porcelain clad oven with thermostat and an optional water jacket. The firebox has a side lifter lid and easily takes a 20-inch log. And it looks good.
But I still didn't know how to cook on it.

Being an experienced cook (translation: I love to cook), I figured I was tough. I was smart! I was inventive! I was lost. So I learned the hard way, by trial and error, lots of practice and even more patience. I've burned a few things, but only because I wasn't paying attention.
The functioning of the stove is really quite simple. They will last for generations with proper care, since there is so little that can go wrong with them.
One end has a firebox, and outside the firebox are vents. Mine has four "dials" which regulate how much air is fed to the fire. The more you open the vents, the hotter the fire. The ash door can also be opened for a surge of air, but this needs to be watched very carefully.

There is a sliding mechanism towards the back of the firebox. This diverts the smoke coming from the fire to go around the oven box before it escapes up the chimney. This heats the oven more consistently. The position of the slide unit is most important before lighting the stove.
Because a draft needs to be created when first firing up, the slide needs to be directed to the chimney. The positioning for my stove is to the right to light, to the left to bake. If you forget to reposition the slide, the result will be a roomful of smoke.

You can't set it at 350 º and walk away! The biggest challenge is keeping the oven heat even. Unlike a gas or electric stove, when you put something in the oven to cook and the temperature drops as the food absorbs the heat, nothing kicks in to compensate. What to do? Feed the fire wood that will burn quickly and offer more heat.
As the food begins to cook and its internal temperature rises, a longer, slower-burning piece of wood will maintain the heat. Open the oven door if it gets too hot - but not for long. Your oven may even have "hot spots" like mine. During baking, I turn bread or cookies 180 degrees halfway through the baking time. Stay in the kitchen when there is cooking to be done. In winter, it's the best place to be.

Range top cooking is similar to a gas or electric stove, but you have more room available. The entire surface is hot, not just four little burners. No, those circles are not burners, as I once thought.

The surface area can be divided into three major temperature zones. The hottest is right over the firebox, whether it is on the right or left. The next warmest would be in the center, and the coolest is the front of the side opposite the firebox. After the coffee perks over the firebox, it stays warm sitting on a far corner.
Everything needs to be watched carefully, as the heat can drop or flare in a very short time. Don't be discouraged. Once you get used to the heat always being there (it doesn't shut off with the twist of a knob), cooking on a wood stove is easy

Grilling takes some patience, but it can be done. You can get pretty good results by removing one of those little circles over the firebox and placing a heat-resistant grate over the flame. I use half of a hamburger basket meant for grilling. I also lay aluminum foil around the opening to keep splatters to a minimum. Since most barbecuing is done inches above hot coals, some adjustment is necessary. I let flames do the grilling rather than coals. Since the grate is so much further from the heat, I use a hotter fire.
The cleaning and care you give your wood stove is important. Most cook stoves have three types of surfaces. There is cast iron, porcelain or enamel-finished sheet metal and decorative trim. A wet rag or sponge wiped daily on the decorative trim should suffice. For baked-on spots, a bit of non-abrasive cleanser like Soft-Scrub works very well. Prevention is the best approach to cleaning. Avoid spilling or splashing, since you can't wipe it up right away.
Don't put a wet pot on the stove. Remember, the surface is cast iron and will rust, even when hot. The least of your cleaning worries will be the rust ring, but the worst will be the ring underneath the rust that is there forever. Spots that are left on too long will pit the cast iron. By first taking a razor blade to spills, you can scrape up lots of gunk and save your buffing pad and shoulder.

Scotch Brite Very Fine is a metal sanding pad that is unsurpassed for cleaning even the toughest spots on cast iron surfaces. Always buff back and forth in one direction, from front to back, or you will get a scratched look. Always let the surface cool before buffing, or you will melt the cleaning pad.
Once the entire surface has been buffed, use a soft flannel cloth and wipe a thin layer of cooking oil over the whole surface. This seasons the top and makes it easier to clean the next day.
A word of caution: The oil has to be spread thinly. I've used too much, and when I lit the stove the next morning, the kitchen smelled like cooking popcorn.
When necessary, you will need to wipe down the metal back splash and warming oven. Warm, soapy water or a non-abrasive cleanser will do the trick. Clean the soot from under the oven monthly in the summer and weekly in the winter when the stove is constantly running. There is a small opening concealed by a decorative nameplate directly under the oven. Use a long-handled scraper to remove the blackish soot and hardened chunks. It's best to do this when the stove is cool, or the draft will keep pulling the soot back in. Don't forget the sides of the ash compartment. Cinders don't always fall into the ash pan.

One of the most overlooked areas for cleaning is the top of the oven box. Remember, you keep diverting smoke around the oven. If enough ash collects there, it will have an insulating effect, and your oven won't heat properly.

A friend and neighbor (around here, a neighbor is anyone who lives less than 10 miles away) complained that her recently purchased antique stove was giving her fits when she tried to maintain a steady temperature. I didn't hear another complaint after making this suggestion: The cooking surface is made up of two to four panels of cast iron. Remove these panels when the stove is cold and set them on newspapers, as they are sooty. This exposes the top of the oven box. The first time I did this was after a year of cooking, and I had over two inches of ash. Carefully brush this ash into the firebox, where it can fall into the ash pan. Do this too quickly and you'll raise an ash cloud.

Then take your long-handled scraper and scrape the sides of the oven box. Soot will fall to the bottom, where it can be removed through that little hidden door. The whole process should take about 15 minutes, and it will make a world of difference in your oven temperature. This cleaning should be done monthly or bimonthly in the summer and weekly in the winter.
The gasket around the top of the stove should be carefully inspected every year and replaced if it is too worn. I never concerned myself with the gasket. Two and a half years later, there was no gasket left! My stove had lost its air tightness, and I hadn't even noticed.

Most stove gasket packages I've seen include 84 inches of material, but my stove requires 100 inches. There is no loss of efficiency when material is pieced together. Just scrape the old stuff off, lightly sand, wipe off, glue and install the new gasket. This takes only 15 minutes and a few dollars, but what a difference it makes. Back when we started thinking about Y2K, we realized that it would be wise to keep a few gaskets in storage. You never know if they'll be available in a few years.

Cast iron pots and pans are nice, but certainly not necessary for wood stove cooking. Ceramic casserole dishes are great. Use common sense with pots that have plastic or wooden handles. Don't put anything into the oven that wouldn't go into a conventional oven, and don't position handles over the cooking area that you couldn't expose to a gas burner. Never put a plastic bowl on the stove, even if you think it's cold.

I purchased two pieces of cast iron cookware for $5 at an estate sale last summer. They were valued at over $80 new in a catalog. The old pieces cleaned up quickly and are among my favorites. One major advantage of cast iron is that it stays hot. That might not seem like a big deal until you serve a pot of stew or spaghetti on a cool evening.
Use the warming oven to your advantage. I keep four plates (two meals) and two soup bowls in my warmer. Having a pre-warmed plate at mealtime can make a big difference. I also have a biscuit stone (a terra cotta disk that is heated and put in the bottom of a basket of biscuits or rolls) that I rarely remember to heat up on time, so I just leave it in the bottom of the oven.

What I cook since we moved to the woods has changed, but that's because we've changed the way we eat. We eat less meat and more home-grown vegetables, more soups and bread. I now have the time to bake, and homemade, fresh-baked bread tastes like heaven. Soup is easy to simmer on the stove.

We have very little waste, because everything goes into a soup jar. This is something every cook can do. If you open a can of mushrooms, pour the juice into a jar and freeze it. After you cook vegetables, pour that liquid into the jar. I even save the liquid from soaking the roasting pan. To prevent overeating, put the last few mouthfuls of veggies, rice or potatoes in the soup jar. It makes for some very interesting, economical, healthy and work-free soup. For me, it's a conscientious thing to do, as I care about not wasting things.
Here in the Upper Peninsula, the weather is fairly cold all the time, so the stove is always running except in mid-summer. The first thing I do in the morning is light the stove. While the kindling is catching, I feed Muffin, our 15-year old cat. Then I add three or four pieces of wood, light the kerosene lamp, check the temperature outside and add larger logs to the fire. Now it's time to put the coffee pot over the fire box. Then it's back to the warmth of the bed. It takes about 20 minutes for the water to boil and another 20 minutes to perk. By the time the coffee is ready, the room is also warm.
I bake something almost every day. Since our refrigeration (an antique ice box) is limited, I bake only one loaf of bread at a time. Cookies and biscotti are favorites around here. Dinner is usually started around 4 P.M., and I let the fire go out. The coals are ready to be knocked down into the ash pan by 9:00. Since I don't want to mess with all the details when it's cold in the morning, I lay a new fire, clear the stove top and fill the coffee pot at night. I'm ready for a new day.

Note: This article was first written more than 10 years ago. Here is an update: the cat is gone, the companion is gone, but the stove and I are still together!
- Deborah in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Solar and wind electric generation systems are affordable and efficient, but there are a many areas of the U.S. where wind systems are not feasible, and few localized areas where solar systems are not feasible. A diesel powered generator with a large underground tank is reliable, but under adverse conditions the tank could run dry. Fortunately there are two systems capable of generating electric power with wood, a fuel readily available in most parts of the country.

Gasification is a process of burning wood or other solid biomass in a specialized combustion vessel (basically an upside-down wood stove) that generates hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO) gases as by-products of the high temperature combustion. The exhaust gases can then be used to fuel an internal combustion engine. Gasifiers were used across Europe during WWII to power tractors, trucks and buses when gasoline was not available. The return of gasoline after the war caused gasification to drop off the radar. A group of American pioneers have revived the technology and made great strides in bringing this lost technology back to the market.

All Power Labs in California sells do-it-yourself kits and complete gasifier systems, known as gasifier experimenter's kits (GEKs). GEKs have been used to power cars and generators, it is potentially a complete solution. GEKs are operating around the world. GEKs is an open source project, that is, the plans are free and users are encouraged to experiment and share their knowledge. The design and operation of the gasifier requires wood blocks/chips, pellets or similar sized fuel. Split firewood is not an option when operating on a small scale.

The other option is small scale steam. Steam engines powered the industrial revolution and were in use well after the advent of petroleum products and the electrical grid. Mike Brown in Missouri manufactures a range of small scale steam engines, from 1-to-20 horsepower.

Operating a steam engine requires specialized knowledge and skills, steam is dangerous in inexperienced hands. Mike Brown has a package of instructional materials for sale and will insist you do your homework before purchasing of one of his engines.

Steam engines require a boiler to generate the steam to drive the engine. Boilers can be made from copper tubing and junkyard scrap for a few hundred dollars providing there is a metal worker in the neighborhood; plans and a how-to video are available from Mike Brown. ASME-certified boilers are available in limited quantities.

Both systems will generate electricity when gasoline, diesel and propane fuels are unavailable, the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing . These systems are best suited for short term backup power or as a supplement to a solar/wind system. Neither system is “off the shelf” ready, they both require back yard engineering skills and American ingenuity Both systems require a stock of wood or other solid fuel to operate for any extended time. They both require tending and maintenance. Relying on steam or gasification for a year-round supply of electricity for a retreat is unrealistic in most cases . Note however that life in the future may become very unrealistic.

But will these systems power a retreat? If you had a 3 hp steam system the answer is yes. I did some rough calculations; in which I could be off by ±25%. I am assuming a battery bank for storage. A 3 hp system steaming for 6 hours per day for a month would generate approximately 400 KW. For comparison, 400 KW is less than one half of what the average American household uses in a month, but far more than most solar or wind systems will generate. We get by on less than 400 KW per month and the retreat is all electric, including hot water, range and refrigerator and I run many power tools in the shop. 400 KW is a huge amount of electricity in terms of the creature comforts it can provide. Under emergency conditions 100 KW/month would drive a well pump, laptop, lights, radios and cell phone chargers.[JWR Adds: Don't forget that when drawing DC power from a battery bank, that inversion to AC with a modern inverter is about 80% efficient in typical use, and they can be about 90% efficiency under optimal conditions. To understand the concepts of kilowatts and kilowatt hours (KWh), see Wikipedia.)

If oak were used for fuel it would take 13 cords of firewood per year (that is a lot of wood). At $225 per cord it would cost approximately $3,000 per year plus many hours of manual labor. This is not what the modern American considers convenience, but under lock-down conditions you may be the only one within 100 miles that is powered up after a week. Under emergency conditions you will be at home with enough time on your hands to stoke the fire every hour. I have not done a similar analysis of the gasifier. A gasifier is a very efficient use of biomass, I would expect you can achieve much the same results as a steam system. GEK users will be happy to share what they know.

Pros: Technically within the range of the do-it-yourselfer. Will power many internal combustion engines. Will burn chipped/blocked wood and forest scrap, walnut shells and more. Waste heat from the gasifier and IC engine can be used to heat water (which can be used to heat a home). The exhaust gas from the IC engine is water vapor and there is no smoke, the smoke has been converted to a combustible gas.
Cons: Requires small, consistent-sized fuel such as dry wood chips. Generates carbon monoxide (CO), a deadly gas although this gas can be used to fuel an outdoor stove. Cannot be installed within a living space (same with steam). Limited supply, however plans are free and a gasifier can be built with scrap steel and junkyard parts by any welder/metal worker.
Cost: Approximately $1,000-3,000 (not including engine, generator or storage batteries).

Steam Engine
Pros: The most reliable and simple of backup systems. Quiet. Steam can be used for multiple purposes including space and water heating and making bio-fuels, including alcohol. Can be powered with both solid and liquid fuels.
Cons: Requires a good bit of self-study. Potentially hazardous. Limited source of supply for engines and boilers although both should last a lifetime and be worth their weight in silver should it come to that.
Cost: Approximately $7,000 for 3 hp engine and boiler (not including generator or storage batteries), the greater part of the cost for a manufactured boiler.
Steam engines are precision machines available in limited quantities. Cost aside, it could be months before you take delivery, but remember patience is a virtue. If time and money is of the essence then the GEK is the best bet; a team of garage mechanics could have a GEK up and running in a week. GEKs can be manufactured from plans without royalties, potentially a great business opportunity.

Hello Jim,
I recently finished reading [the recently-released novel] One Second After [by William R. Forstchen].The potential realities of this story can grab you. [In the novel] a young girl who dies because her insulin supply deteriorated. Lack of adequate refrigeration degraded the quality and effectiveness of the insulin.

I was reviewing some bug out literature and ran across a list of equipment that included a portable 12 VDC cooler unit. This would be great for transporting heat sensitive pharmaceuticals during a move of some distance.

My question is this: What effect would an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack have on this kind of machine? Does it contain modern circuitry that would be susceptible to the EMP effect?

The second question:
Are solar panels susceptible to EMP effect?
I am referring to just the panels and not associated secondary storage, control and electrical connections.

The third question:
The chargers that come with solar panels, spotlights, hand held radios, scanners and the like seem to be simple transformers.
But do they contain any circuitry that an EMP wave would destroy?

I read your site every day. Cordially, - JWC in Oklahoma

JWR Replies: In answer to your questions:

Even if your refrigerator has some microcircuits, it is probably not at risk to an EMP waveform, especially if it is running from a stand-alone 12 VDC power system. (Generally, devices that are connected to grid power are at greater risk of EMP coupling.) But just to be safe, when your compact refrigerator is not in use, you should store it in a galvanized steel garbage can (with a tight-fitting lid), to act as a protective Faraday cage.

Solar panels themselves are not at risk, but charge controllers and possibly inverters are, because they use microcircuits. Since protection via zener diodes is not always reliable, the most practical solution is to buy a couple of spare charge controllers, and store them in ammo cans.

Scientist: UK Swine Flu Really 30,000

Swine Flu Spreading Wider Than Official Data Shows So, if just 1 in 20 confirmed cases are being reported in the US, then there are possibly now 100,000 US cases

Reader Mike W. sent this: At Estates of the Fabulously Rich, Gilded Era is Going, Going, Gone

D.S. recommended the ShadowStats primers series. D.S. comments: "Most folks that read SurvivalBlog are economically savvy - still, the 'primers' by John Williams at are excellent and help us understand the systematic distortion (okay, bald faced lies) about the real US Economy ... I think this may aid folks as the economy 'sails off the map' or as flat earth maps stated 'beware, beyond here lye Dragons'. Hmmm, think there is a correlation between 'flat earth cartographers' and today's sheeple?"

From Jack B.: China Warns Federal Reserve Over 'Printing Money'

Items from The Economatrix:

Global Collapse in Milk Prices Wipes Out Dairy Farmers' Profit

America's "Pink-Slip" Capitals

Job Losses Push Safer Mortgages to Foreclosure

This Crisis Isn't California's Alone 47 states have budget gaps and not many solutions

Why a GM Bankruptcy Would be a Disaster

US Bonds Sales Faces Market Resistance "The US Treasury is facing an ordeal by fire this week as it tries to sell $100 billion (£62 billion) of bonds to a deeply skeptical market amid growing fears of a sovereign bond crisis in the Anglo-Saxon world."

From veteran analyst Richard Maybury: What Obama Does Not Know

Federal Reserve Holding Over $2 Trillion in Darkest Balance Sheet in Financial History

Last Hope for Survival (The Mogambo Guru)

There is an excellent thread of discourse in progress over at TMM's Gulching/Self-Sufficiency Forum titled, Burn a CD with survival and gulching information on it, what would you include?

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As you've doubtless already heard, the "rogue state" nuclear threat index just increased. I consider "Kim Jong Il " and "Unstable" synonymous.

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Florida Guy sent a news article on the latest manifestation of hoplophobia: New York. proposes new bill to register and track all state ammo sales

"Unlike any other nation, here the people rule, and their will is the supreme law." - William McKinley

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Associated Press just ran an article on the survivalist movement that briefly quoted me: Crisis spurs spike in 'suburban survivalists'. Meanwhile, ABC news ran a similar article: 'Recession Apocalypse': Preparing for the End of the World" Economic Survivalists Hunker Down for Doomsday; Recession Triggers Movement Toward Self-Sufficiency. Okay, its official: In the eyes of the mainstream media, we're now a "Movement".


Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Cooking as you once knew it, from cabinets bulging with a variety of packaged items, store bread and cookies, or a quick trips to the store for box cereal and meat in a neat packages, with an armful of deli tubs and rotisserie chicken – just ended. Think about this statement for a minute. If you have never learned to cook with simple ingredients and don’t have the right kinds of cookbooks you’re not only going to have trouble using that stored grocery staple food, it’s going to mean a steep learning curve at a time when you need it the least. You’ll have a houseful of kids usually in school, perhaps people sick; sporadic or no electricity and few of the conveniences modern kitchens run on, but the ‘three squares’ will be marching on every day and need to be nutritious enough to keep everyone healthy and keep a breath of normalcy in life.

The family that has allowed everyone to ‘do their own thing’, eat whatever and wherever they like with no care for anyone else in the family, will have a far worse time than the family that has learned to cook, wash and dry dishes together, help each other, compliment good cooking and pitch in as things get hard. These traits are made, not born, and can be worked on now, before the need is critical. The scariest thing about life after TSHTF for me is not home invasions, it’s the homes already invaded by selfish, unskilled individuals used to having someone else stock the larder, who are allergic to work and worst, have no loyalty to the family or its well being.

My first recommendation: start cooking now and learn to make breadstuffs especially. Then set a date with your family for a home-cooked meal at least once a week and stick to it. Solemnly determine that these will be good times, with no arguments, ‘tudes and volatile subjects – make a separate time for family ‘meetings’. Make it old fashioned – get out the kerosene lanterns and wash the dishes by hand. After the Disaster, especially if it means being stuck at home (as in a quarantine or bad storm scenario) this will be one of the hubs of normalcy for family life if you’ve made it that way before you needed to.

Recipes included in this article are mine, come from the cookbooks recommended at the end of the article, or (in the case of simple breads, muffins and dumplings) can be found in any practical, pre-1970 cookbook. I have used all the techniques and recipes listed.

If you’ve been awake to issues in modern America, you’ve stored what your family can and will eat, thought through simple family recipes and have the ingredients on hand. Rotation of old to new goes without saying.

Know about your ingredients: what they can do and how to use them.

  • Baking Powder does not have a long shelf life and will let you down if it’s old or improperly stored, but some things cannot be made without it.
  • Baking soda has multiple uses; besides the original anti-acid and an ingredient in toothpaste, adding some to the filling of pies will cut the need for sugar as it cuts the acidity. It cannot, however, be substituted for Baking Powder.
  • Vanilla will cut the need for sugar in recipes such as cornbread, in half. Vinegar is a good cleaner as well as essential for pickling (see below). Spices aren’t really optional if you hope to lessen the sense of deprivation, and some, like cinnamon, have medicinal uses (it is an anti-fungal). Spice merchants will tell you storage time is one year, but I have used older ones to good effect. They don’t seem to go bad but flavor may fade.
  • Besides the many cooking uses of Kosher salt, it can be used to make normal saline for[medicinal] irrigation (1/4 tsp to 8 oz water plus 1/4tsp baking soda). .
  • Sugar is a molecule almost miraculous in its ability to produce many different things. The same 2 Cups of sugar is a staple of fudge, the basis of fondant, the icing on a cake, the basic ingredient of peanut brittle, mixed with alcohol will preserve a fruitcake for over a year, keep fruit from oxidizing and make fruit last for a long time in the form of jams and jellies. See the book ‘On Food and Cooking’, listed below, as a primer for knowing your ingredients and what they can do.

Although we have long-term grain storage, I have a year’s worth of flour stored in large, air-tight, screw top containers for convenience and because one family member is on a low-fiber diet. I wrap each bag of flour separately to segregate any infected with grocery store meal moths from rest (although this has never actually happened), marked each one with the date bought, and NEVER stored any other item (especially ones with a strong smell) in the containers, as the entire batch will absorb the smell over time. We learned this by storing soap with other items. FYI, the best plastic bags are the oxygen-impermeable ones that cereal comes in. Although it’s hard to find ones big enough for a 5 lb bag of flour, other items keep well in them if your budget doesn’t extend to a machine for extended storage. Wash these, discard any that still smell of fruit, etc., after a washing, and use the rest.

We have several 1940 era cookbooks, Mennonite/Amish cookbooks and a thin book of ingredient substitutions as well as good, basic ones at least 30 years old. They’re priceless for simplicity, economy and few ingredients. This will mean going to the used bookstore or surfing Amazon. Avoid modern cookbooks that assume access to lots of ingredients and avoid cookbooks from the 1800s because they do not have standard measurements and assume things you might not about how to assemble ingredients, cooking times, pans and temperatures.

We’ve stored sugar for years in airtight containers, buying it when it is on sale. But don’t store white and brown sugar together, since brown sugar tends to begin to smell as if it’s fermenting after a while and will make the whole lot smell the same. Instead store molasses and make brown sugar if you need it by adding about 1/8 C molasses per cup of white sugar. Molasses is useful in many other ways, too, for syrups, for flavor and for pies. Sugar is also a preservative – fruitcakes made and glazed properly will keep a very, very long time – I used to make them for two years storage when the family was larger and keep them in an old fridge in the cellar, tightly wrapped. That last cup of canned fruit, mixed with an equal amount of sugar and simmered, will make a quick jelly. Simple candy is easy to make and good therapy for bored and frightened kids.

Soured milk products are easy to make from starters and will last a very long time if kept cool or made often – this is why they were originally invented. The ‘good bugs’ keep ‘bad bugs’ at bay as long as conditions are kept constant. A cup of buttermilk put into a quart of fresh milk will thicken, in a day or so at room temperature, depending on how hot/cool the ambient temp is. A new starter is made with the last of the old and put into a jar newly sterilized with boiling water and then allowed to cool a bit so as not to fry the starter. This is where you get buttermilk for pancakes and myriad recipes from your old cookbooks that call for ‘sour milk’, and the bonus is that all ‘sour milk’ recipes use baking soda. Heating homemade ‘sour milk’ makes it ‘clabber’ like starting the process of cheese making and it can be drained to make a simple cheese very like ricotta. Yogurt is a bit trickier, requiring more careful temperatures to make it thick like the commercial product, so I no longer make it.

When everything has to be made from scratch, get used to less variety. You’ll be baking bread for sandwiches, for example. To conserve fuel, plan your baking with the items that need the hottest temperatures to be cooked first, and multitask, i.e., start the yeast dough that needs to rise before beginning quick breads. Cook in the cool of the day in summer; use the stove to augment heat in the winter. Consider dual bread recipes, i.e., those usually sweeter sandwich bread doughs that can be made into sweet rolls, sticky buns, coffee cakes, etc., to get two birds with one culinary stone.

With no refrigeration and no preservatives, your baking should be used up before the next batch. The leftovers are never wasted: crumbs from the end of bread become the topping for a casserole, (grate the bread like a lemon on your hand grater) or can be used to thicken a dish, made into croutons or added to stewed tomatoes.
Some items last well in air-tight containers: biscotti and springerle for example, or bagels, and can be made less often. The same dough will make French bread or bagels; the difference in texture and shelf life is in the boiling bagels get before baking. Careful rotation of your recipes will help keep the sense of deep deprivation at bay.

Let’s say, that in your store you have Crisco, flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, yeast, and powdered milk, potato flakes and eggs. Beginning with those things that use the simplest ingredients here are some suggested products: from flour, salt, yeast, water and a small amount of sugar, you make French style bread to bake for bread and rolls. Add a boiling to formed ‘donut’ shapes and you have bagels. Same dough: roll out flat, top with whatever you have to make pizza or focaccia – these can be baked on a covered grill, by the way. Keep them small and bake on the highest rack, remembering that these types of breads don’t have to be round. Don’t forget doughboys, fried in oil, for quick energy if you have hungry people working the land or keeping the perimeter of your homestead safe, especially in cold weather.

Flour, yeast and water in a different ratio gives you soft pretzels. The addition of potato flakes, milk and an adjustment of proportions gives you English Muffins. Adding more sugar and milk gives a silkier, sweeter dough for sandwiches, coffeecakes, etc., as previously mentioned.

. So far we’ve used no shortening, except perhaps to grease the pans or fry bread we needed in a hurry. So, now, with Crisco, flour and salt you make piecrust, which can also be dusted with sugar and cinnamon and baked or rolled up, slashed and baked to make a delicious, primitive cookie. Add milk and you have biscuits or dumplings. Add sugar, eggs and cinnamon, and you have the basics for quick breads, muffins, donuts and simple (one egg) cakes, plus non-fruit fillings for pies. (Lancaster Crumb, Chess). Add potato flakes (or leftover, sieved potato) and you have English Muffins and can also make light, sweet breads. Some of these doughs will keep in a cool place for a few days. Check out ‘refrigerator dough’ in your old cookbooks. Since boiling and baking are major cooking techniques, be prepared for several ways to do these. I have an old tin oven that belonged to my grandmother. It looks like a big black box with a thermometer in the front, (similar to those round ones people have on their wood stoves), and some grates inside. Special small pans were made to go in it. The box sits over the burner on a stove and creates an environment one can bake in. Very handy if your gas stove has an electric glow-plug and you don’t have electricity, or you have only the cook top on your wood stove.

English muffins are made on a grill, like the one used for pancakes, or in a large fry pan. I’ve done this when it was too hot to bake. A big, cast-iron pot with a grate in the bottom and a small pan that fits inside will also serve as a makeshift oven. We college kids made Bisquick coffee cake in small quantities using the old style popcorn popper, with the ‘popper’ as the ‘oven’, a piece of wadded up tin foil to keep a small pan off the bottom and a careful eye through the glass lid as it baked. (This was a fire hazard, but it shows what can be done in a pinch.) If you have to resort to this, you will have to bake in small quantities or the item won’t be done in the center before it starts to burn.

If you want to boil food at various heat levels on a wood or coal heating stove, you’ll need a set of graduated trivets to move the pot closer or farther from the heat source. Just before Y2K I suggested this in a ‘back to basics’ magazine and created a run on trivets. Now, I see that a couple of the main suppliers stock them in more than one height.

People have lived through disasters before, have eaten tough meat, have gotten along without eggs or milk. Your 1940s-era cookbook will have wartime recipes for these circumstances, and your substitutions pamphlet will tell you how much water or applesauce to substitute for an egg if you don’t have one and what recipes will take this and which ones won’t.

Old time recipes make food go a long way, deliciously. Example, you have a chicken that you’ve decided to sacrifice for a dinner for 6, or some tinny chicken in cans you bought during a stock up phase. Impossible? Try croquettes. Simmer the old girl slowly until somewhat tender about two hours. Use the broth for soup. Pull off the meat and grind, chop or otherwise process until very fine, the texture of tuna. Add fresh breadcrumbs (your bread, grated on an old-fashioned flat grater, the kind used for cheese) in a ratio of 1 to 2 of meat (you can go up to almost 1 to 1) and chopped, cooked leftover or canned vegetables, hold all together with your basic white sauce, season carefully. Form into balls or patties; fry. Make enough extra white sauce for a ‘gravy’ to go over (don’t forget that broth can substitute for milk). Rolling the balls in egg and more crumbs is nice if you have them. It’s incredible how far that bird will go, and it tastes good because the old chicken makes up in flavor for what she lacks in tenderness.

Venison cookery is an art I don’t pretend to, but we make a simple tasty stew here by browning the meat in oil, deglazing with wine or broth, then covering the pot tightly and cooking at the lowest possible setting until tender. (Think trivet here.) Since most lids don’t fit tightly, I use a folded strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the pan, then press the lid down tight. I find this an essential cooking technique for tough meats. Add veggies later.

Don’t forget you have the ingredients for pickling, if fresh things become available, and it only takes minutes to get a batch going. Green Beans, for example, in a solution of vinegar and sugar, will last six months in a cool place. (The ‘Three Bean’ salad. It can be made from just green beans, green and wax, or add cans of drained shell beans and a small amount of onion.) Not only are such recipes big time-savers when you have to cook everything from scratch; they are a quick way to preserve items if you have storage of 40 degrees. On our little homestead, pickling cucumbers, beans and fish have become valuable additions to canning and freezing because they are quick to prepare at a time when we have a glut of the food, but then keep until the following summer if not eaten, first.

I will include here the recipe for pickling fresh fish, because we could not find one and developed it here with the help of some elderly Swedish ladies in our church. We used herring until our state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said you couldn’t take them, now we use small bluefish. The result is like Vita herring you get in a jar. The main problem with the Swedish recipe was that it called for salted fish, and we had fresh. We had to find a way to safely salt our fish and did it by borrowing from the techniques for making corned beef.
Read the whole recipe before starting. Obtain 14 –15 fish 8” to 12” long. Clean fish very well, fillet and scale them. Bones don’t need to be removed from the fillets. Salt them liberally with Kosher salt in a large glass container, alternating fillets and salt. Let stand overnight, weighed down with a plate. Liquid will form. Mix: 1 gallon water, 2 Cups Sugar, 1 Tablespoon baking soda. Pour this mixture over the fish and weight down again. Let stand 7 days at 38 degrees. Turn the fillets every day or so. Some salt will just lie on the bottom, this is okay. Remove fillets, rinse. Fish will now be translucent on the edges like gummy candy and skin easily, and the side bones should come off with the skin. Skin fillets and cut into pieces on the slant. Mix: 1-/1/2 Cups White Vinegar, 1 Cup Water, 1-1/2 Cups thinly sliced Onion, 1 Cup Sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. You will also need: 7 whole allspice, 6 bay leaves [remove after cooking], 8 peppercorns, and 1-/1/2 teaspoons mustard seed. Place herring and spices divided between large jars and pour the solution over them. Place one clove at the top of each jar (this makes a big difference in the final flavor, adding sweetness.) Make sure no fish or onions are above the liquid level – I use cut up plain (clear) plastic lids for this and weigh them down. Let stand at 38 degrees for at least two weeks. Fish will become softer and more flavorful with time. After 6 months, fish will become soggy, so use it up. Don’t use any plastic container for brining or storage you don’t want ruined, and do not use metal lids unless you put plastic over to protect the lids from the brine or they will rust.

My favorite picks for cookbooks:

  • Mennonite Country-style Recipes and Kitchen Secrets by Esther H. Shank, Herald Press.
  • Substituting Ingredients by Epstein/Klein, Globe Pequot Press, Old Saybrook, CT.
  • The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cookbook, Culinary Arts Institute by Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago, 1942 ed. with Wartime chapters.
  • Amish Cooking, Deluxe Edition, Herald Press, Scottsdale, PA.
  • On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, Collier Books, MacMillan Pub. Co. (useful for understanding ingredients and cooking methods.)


The June / July 2009 issue of Outdoor Life magazine is out, and they again rate the top 200 towns to live in based on the following data:
1. Gun Laws
2. Huntable species
3. Fishable species
4. Public-Land access
5. Trophy potential

Their top Five? Lewiston Idaho, Marquette Michigan, Idaho Falls Idaho, Rawlins Wyoming, and Pocatello Idaho.
They also rate the 30 places to live for hunters and fisherman based upon the cost of living index. (Your dollar goes further there.)
This magazine is out now, and also has an excellent review on many current binoculars and spotting scopes.
Look for the big: "200 Best" on the cover.(BTW, I am not associated with this magazine.)

Regards, - FloridaGuy

JWR Replies: It is no surprise that Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have held prominent positions in the Outdoor Life rankings for two consecutive years. After all, some of their criteria is quite similar to what I used in my Recommended Retreat Areas state-level rankings.

Dear Mr. Rawles
I would like to add one last letter in response to “Uninvited Guests” and to let your readers know that the only effective means to control head lice is by “mechanical” removal. We were unfortunate to live, for a time, in an area of the country where head lice had become resistant to the OTC treatments. This is because most people did not realize that in addition to the application of something such as Rid, one must also clean one’s living quarters, as well as systematically go through the lice sufferer’s hair—strand, by strand, by strand…. Now this may seem very laborious, but it is amazing how easy this becomes if you do this once a day for at least a week along with the essential oil treatment that I have listed below. It took my daughter having lice twice, and the school where my children attended to tell me that they had, during certain times of the year a 45% infection rate! Through several conversations with the local health department, and doctors, the conclusion was reached that the lice had become resistant to the OTC preparations, which are also not good for anyone—this stuff is poisonous! Once I came up with my own treatment, my daughter never had lice again, and thankfully we moved back to Texas away from the lice infested area that we had lived in. Here is the treatment that I recommend, and have given to several people I know. For the most part, the supplies are readily available and plentiful—for now and everything is non-toxic!


-One very fined tooted comb—a metal one with a handle (like a rat-tailed comb) if you can find it-plastic will not hold up as well
-One regular comb(don’t use this one for lice removal)
-A set of metal hair clips (about 4 or 5)—like the ones hair dressers use to separate hair when they are cutting it
-Plastic wrap or a hair cap
-a coffee can with a lid-- with olive oil in it—so when you find a bug or a nit, you can place it in the can to smother it
-a pair of pointed hair trimming scissors
-a pair of pointed tweezers to pick up individual hair strands
-a bright light to shine on your work
-a couple of bath towels
-Essential Oil Mixture- 1 oz of olive oil, 5 drops of tea tree oil, 5 drops rosemary oil, 3 drops oregano oil
-Plain Olive Oil

When I was going through my daughter’s hair, I would have her sit on the floor with her head resting on a pillow covered in plastic on the coffee table. That was she was comfortable, and could read a book, or watch a video—we are not connected to trash TV). I would sit on the couch with her body between my legs

Step One: Infuse the hair with the Essential oil mixture, making sure to coat the scalp, and all the hair strands. Place the plastic cap on the coated hair and leave on the hair for 30 minutes. This has a two-fold purpose-the body-heat helps the oil to soak into the strands of hair for ease of running the very fined toothed comb through the hair, and the heat also helps to kill the bugs.
Step Two: Part hair down the middle and clip each side with the hair clips
Step Three: Beginning with one side of the head, separate and comb out a very small section of hair from the clip (it is better to go through fewer strands of hair at a time), and run the fined-toothed comb through each strand of hair
Step Four: As you inspect each strand of hair, look for nits at the base of the hair near the scalp. Lice lay their eggs at the base of each hair strand—it is important to get all of these since these are the viable ones and missing one may start the lice-cycle all over again—any nit higher up is more than liking not a viable one, but these should be removed as well.
Step Five-If you find a nit on a hair strand single it out with the tweezers and cut it as close to the scalp with the scissors. Same for a bug( adult lice) No you will not make your child bald—even if the infestation is severe! Lice attach their nits with a glue that makes it almost impossible to remove without losing the nit in the environment—it is best to clip the hair strand with the nit attached and place it in the olive oil in the coffee can.
Step Six- After each small section of hair has been inspected, use another clip to twist the hair and separate the now “clean” hair from the rest of the hair that needs to be inspected. Depending on the amount of hair—my daughter has very thick hair—you might need to use several hair clips
Step Seven-after finishing with the first half of the scalp, repeat steps four through six on the other half of the head

When I got the hang of it, I could go through one half of my daughter’s head in 20 minutes

Step Eight-when the process is complete wash hair a couple times to wash out the essential oils. Then massage a few drops of plain olive oil into the hair and comb from the scalp to the tips (Remember—don’t use the nit picking comb—you do not want to accidentally re-infest) If the child’s hair is long enough braid very tightly! The one thing that I was told that lice do not like oily hair, or hair that is tightly bound—they cannot attach themselves as readily!
Step Nine-clean and vacuum your house. Any stuffed animals placed an airtight plastic bag. Any nits that hatch have to have a human host soon, or they will die. Keep non-washable items in a plastic bag for about three weeks. Wash bedding daily, and if possible, hang out on the clothes line in the sun to drive.

Repeat this process daily for one week, and then do a preventative once a week. It is better to catch an early infestation, than to have to deal with a full out battle! The olive oil also makes hair very shiny!

Although lice infestation may seem like a curse, my daughter and I certainly made the best of it, and enjoyed our “nit picking” time together! Best Regards, - Susan M.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
As a Registered Nurse, during my tenure at a local hospital, a nurse practitioner showed me a simple test to determine if scabies were present in a patient showing possible symptoms of an infestation.

Use a Sharpie marker to draw lines between a person's fingers. Allow this to dry. Take an alcohol wipe and wipe off the dried ink. If dark, narrow lines are left after the surface ink has been wiped away, it likely indicates the presence of scabies. The reason is that the critters tunnel under the skin, leaving a narrow track for the ink to penetrate.

All the best to you and yours, - Publius

GG sent us this: Gold bugs at last have their perfect trinity

Also from GG: The American peso. JWR Adds: As I've mentioned before in the blog, 72 is the crucial level to watch for in the US Dollar Index (USDI) . Anywhere south of there for more than two weeks could signal a collapse in international confidence in the dollar.

Mike W. flagged this piece by Caroline Baum: Inflation ‘Cure’ Exposed When In-Laws Move In

Also from Mike W comes this Wall Street Journal article on self-employment: Ready to Be the Boss?

From HPD: Jesse's Café Américain: Bernanke's Wager with the US Bond and Dollar

Items from The Economatrix:

Rising Unemployment Raises Threat of Social Crisis

Unemployment 20% Higher in Democratic Strongholds

Californians Revolt, Slash Governor, Officeholders' Pay 18% Arnold asks for $6B bailout, may set precedent for other states

Governator Proposes Terminating Welfare Benefits For California Residents

Recession Suddenly Humbles High Tech Sector "When Google is laying off you know something is going very wrong."

Novel Ideas Surface for Bank Execs' Pay They arre moving away from stock options (I wonder why?)

G8 Leaders Urge Oil Price Stability

China Economist: Yuan Should Be Regional Currency to Rival Dollar

Investors Await Housing, Consumer Confidence News

Are Liberal Arts Degrees Worthless in This Economy?

I was disappointed to see that my novel "Patriots" has slipped from the 4.5 star rating that it consistently held on for the past nine years, down to just 4 stars. The reason? It is obvious that several readers who just don't "get it" when it comes to the concept of preparedness bought copies of the novel from the racks at their local bookstores. Perhaps they thought that it would just be another in the endless parade of Tom Clancy clones--formulaic "techno thrillers", which seem to invariably be set in either New York City, or inside the DC Beltway. These novels most typically portray the protagonist saving the day just short of an economic meltdown, or de-escalating a full-scale armed international conflict. Perhaps my novel is just a bit too jarring for the psyches of some readers. They don't want to be confronted with the prospect of an actual economic meltdown, or an actual global war, and the nitty-gritty consequences that will thence ensue. The other group of vocal critics are clearly folks that are horrified to see my protagonist characters actually praying and honoring Christ. Clearly, I've offended someone's sensibilities. ("How dare they repent and beseech God for for guidance, providence, and protection?") Perhaps actually practicing Christianity is too far removed from their world view. Oh, and I must also mention that a couple of reviewers that panned the book admitted to never even reading it. That is hardly fair. Now, I don't claim to be a literary genius, and I'm not begging for Brownie Points here, but if you have a different opinion of the novel, then I'd greatly appreciate seeing your review posted at Just a paragraph or two from you would balance out the strident voices of the anti-survivalists and the anti-Christians. Thanks!

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The Great Ethanol Scam (Thanks to Cheryl for the link.)

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Farms Downsize With Miniature Cows More sirloin and less soup bone.

"A radical does not mean a man who lives on radishes," remarked Crook, with some impatience; "and a Conservative does not mean a man who preserves jam. Neither, I assure you, does a Socialist mean a man who desires a social evening with the chimney-sweep. A Socialist means a man who wants all the chimneys swept and all the chimney-sweeps paid for it."
"But who won't allow you," put in the priest in a low voice, "to own your own soot." - G.K. Chesterton, in his novel 'The Innocence and Wisdom of Father Brown'

Monday, May 25, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

[Introductory note from JWR: I have made some changes to the following text, regarding safety issues. ]

Storing food is an important part of preparing for disasters, natural or man-made. Much has been written about survival foodstuffs: what to store, how long it can be stored, and what foods are needed to form a balanced diet to aid in living through a TEOTWAWKI scenario. How to prepare food is almost as important as what sorts of food to store. In a disaster scenario, circumstances will change radically from the every day life of today, and food preparation and consumption will also change.

One common characteristic of many crisis scenarios is this: fuel shortages. In any significant societal collapse, economic breakdown, or military conflict, re-supply of fuels will be difficult or even impossible. Grid power and piped-in gas might be intermittent or unavailable. All cooking will be done using wood fires, wood stoves, camp stoves, solar ovens, and other “non traditional” (for 21st century first world individuals) methods. Unfortunately, the staple foods of survivalists, which are beans and rice to that make a complete protein source, usually require long cooking times. These long cooking times mean that large quantities of scarce fuels would be needed to prepare them.
This is where a handy and mostly unconsidered item is most useful: a pressure cooker.

Water boils at 212 degrees F (100∞ degrees C) at sea level. When the air pressure is higher than it is at sea level, water boils at a higher temperature. The pressure lowers the boiling point, but enables higher temperatures. (Liquids won't generally go above their boiling point because they turn to vapor.) This creates superheated steam that forces heat through the food to be cooked. A pressure cooker at usually has fifteen pounds of pressure inside it when in use; at these pressures, water boils at 257 degrees F at sea level. This super heated, steam filled, environment inside the pressure cooker quickly cooks the food.

Pressure cookers have the following characteristics: A four-, six-, eight-quart, or larger saucepan has a clamp down lid; it may, or may not, have a rubber gasket used to generate a seal between the lid and the saucepan body; a ‘vent pipe,’ a small weight known as a pressure regulator [or "bobbler']; and a special plug that serves as an over-pressure valve.

A small amount of water is placed in the cooker, along with the food to be cooked. For foods that can ‘foam,’ such as rice and beans, they may be placed in a small bowl inside the cooker. Food and liquid will be placed in the bowl, and additional water placed outside the bowl, to a depth of at least half the height of the bowl. Be sure to use a metal bowl, or a glass bowl that can easily handle the thermal shock of cooking, such as Pyrex or pre-1999 Corningware dish. Before sealing the lid on the cooker, look through the vent pipe and be sure it is clear. This step is extremely important; if the vent pipe is not clear, pressure can build up dangerously. This will cause the overpressure valve to release, spewing the hot contents of the pressure cooker over the walls, ceiling, people, stove, and anything else in its range. The lid should be sealed on the cooker, the pressure regulator placed on the vent pipe, and the cooker set on a heat source. The heat source may be a stove, a camp-stove, a barbeque grill, or a wood fire.

As the liquid heats, it boils and then makes steam. The steam fills the cooker, and pressure builds in the pot. When it reaches a level where it is equal to the force needed to ‘rock’ the pressure regulator, it will start to do so. A steady (but not fast) rocking of the pressure regulator indicates that the cooker is up to temperature, and so timing of the recipe may begin.
The pressure regulator should have a steady rocking motion. If the regulator stops rocking, and the heat under the pressure cooker is constant, immediately turn off the heat and leave it alone until it cools. The vent pipe may be clogged. Once the cooker cools, it should be opened and checked. If the vent pipe is clogged, clean it with a threaded sewing needle; pass the needle through the vent pipe and remove the clog.

After the cooking time is finished, the pressure cooker must be removed from the heat and cooled so that it may be opened. The only safe way to cool the cooker is to set it aside, where it will cool slowly. [DO NOT it in cold water or under a running cold water faucet, which could cause a dangerous rupture.] Typically, items such as green vegetables, which need only to cook for 1-2 minutes, should be cooled quickly. Root vegetables, such as beets, may cool slowly. If you are using a pressure canner, it should be cooled slowly. If it is cooled quickly, the contents of the jars in the canner might be drawn -out by the rapid change in pressure inside the canner. The cooker is cool when the pressure gauge bottoms or when no pressure is indicated by the bobbler.

This article is not an article about canning and much more information is needed before you can pressure can safely. Please consult other reference material that will explain the process for pressure canning in detail, including the precautions needed to do it safely.

A pressure cooker is useful in a survival situation because it saves a huge amount of fuel and may be used with ‘canned heat’ sources that were mentioned previously. If you are trying to maintain a low profile, you want to avoid much smoke from a cooking fire, the odor of cooking food, and cooking fumes, and other byproducts of every day life.

Rice and beans are considered a staple food for survival situations, as together they supply a complete protein. To cook rice and beans in a pressure cooker is straightforward:
Take a small bowl of the type described above, and place 1 cup of white rice and 1 1/2 cups of water in it. Add salt as desired. Place the bowl in the pressure cooker, add water around the bowl, seal, and place on the heat. When the pressure regulator begins rocking, start to time for four minutes. At the end of this time, remove the cooker from the heat, and place to one side, allowing the pressure to drop naturally. To cook beans such as navy beans or cranberry beans, soak one cup of beans in 4 cups of water overnight. Place in the same metal bowl, cover with 1-1/2 inches of water, place in the pressure cooker, seal, and heat. When the pressure regulator starts rocking, cook for ten minutes. Let the pressure release slowly. It is possible to cook beans without pre-soaking them, but presoaking them yields much better results. If you do not pre-soak the beans, they may not soften properly no matter how long you cook them. An additional tip: do not salt the beans and rice until after they are cooked. Adding salt to cooking beans makes the skins tough.

If not using a bowl to contain the beans, do not fill the pressure cooker more than half full, and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil per cup of beans to prevent frothing and subsequent clogging of the vent pipe.

It is possible to use bowls that will nest, to cook the beans and rice at the same time. Experiment with this, to discover what tastes best to you, as it is easy to end up overcooked rice or undercooked beans.

Total time required for cooking when cooking rice and beans separately: 14 minutes, with time required to allow the cooker to cool.
Brown rice and navy beans both take ten minutes to cook – but as brown rice gas a shorter shelf life than white rice, many people concentrate on white rice in their long-term food storage setup.

The fuel savings in using a pressure cooker is huge: It takes 20 minutes to cook rice, and several hours to cook beans with a ‘conventional’ stove and pot. But by using a pressure cooker, you can both the beans and the rice in less time, using less fuel, than conventional cooking of the rice alone.

Additional Resources:

Numerous pressure cooker cookbooks may be found in your local library, or at an online bookseller such as Popular cookbooks such as Joy of Cooking (Rombauer, Becker, and Becker) often have sections on pressure-cooking.

Note: Most pressure cookers come with recipe leaflets when you buy them. If you find a pressure cooker second hand, such as at a Goodwill store, then contact the manufacturer and they will more than likely send you all instructional material free of charge.[JWR Adds: Many of these manuals are now also available in PDF, and can be found with web searches.]

Food Preservation:
Greene, Janet, Hertzberg, Ruth, and Vaughan, Beatrice. 1992 (Fourth Revised Edition).Putting Food By. Plume Books: This is the best reference that this author has seen on the topic of food preservation. It covers many types of food preservation, including boiling water bath canning; pressure canning of meats, vegetables, and seafood; freezing; curing with salt and smoke; drying; root-cellaring. .

Hupping, Carol. 1990 (Revised Updated Edition). Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide Fireside Books: Another invaluable reference to home preserving of foods. More recipes that use honey, rather than white sugar to sweeten canned items. Not my favorite flavor, but others may like it. Very complete work, covering canning, freezing, juicing, drying, root cellaring, and preserving dairy products.

The Ball Blue Book of Preserving may be found where canning jars are sold. This book is another ‘bible’ of home preservation.

Internet Resources: This web site has many pressure cooker recipes, and ‘Beginner Basics.’ It is an excellent resource.
There are many other useful canning and cooking web sites, too numerous to list! Use your favorite search engine to seek them out.

Available Brands of Pressure Cookers:
Two classic US companies, Presto and Mirror, have made Pressure Cookers for many years. In researching this article, I discovered that both companies have moved their manufacturing to Asia.
The All American company makes a pressure canner that may also be used as a pressure cooker, in sizes from 10 to 41 quarts. Their web site indicates that they are still made in the USA., and "[u]nlike other cooker/canners, these do not have rubber gaskets that will eventually wear out, but instead are machined to have a metal-to-metal seal and a positive action clamp to lock the cover to the base."
Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in any of these companies or suppliers.

JWR Adds: Used pressure cookers and pressure canners are often available quite inexpensively, or even free, through Craigslist and Freecycle. One important proviso: Make sure that your pressure cooker's "bobbler" (weighted pressure release valve) is working properly. Without it, you essentially have a bomb on your stove. If your cooker has a pressure gauge, make sure that os functional.

It also bears mentioning that a pressure cooker is particularly useful in extending the life of stored dried beans. Once beans have been stored in excess of six years, they become so hard that even days of soaking beans will not soften them. But two viable solutions to this problem are grinding them, or cooking them in a pressure cooker.

Mr. Editor,

I've purchased ammo for self protection and for future barter. Is it best to keep the ammo in the original boxes (e.g. the nice green UMC boxes with the plastic insert that holds the rounds in place) and put those boxes into ammo cans? Or should I just dump all the ammo into an ammo can loose? I could fit many more rounds in each can by dumping them in loose, but I'm concerned about impacting the future barter value of the ammo. And also, if I end up selling some of the ammo before TSHTF, I would imagine keeping the rounds in the box would make the seller happier. Any thoughts?
Thanks for what you do. - Alex

JWR Replies: Unless space is at an absolute premium (such as for someone on a live-aboard boat) I recommend that you leave ammo in the original factory boxes, as it will be worth far more in barter, or in an eventual cash sale. Just as importantly, you will also be able to keep "like lots" together. (Usually lot numbers are printed on the inside of the box flaps.) There are sometimes subtle differences between lots, and the point of impact can vary a bit. This particularly important for long range rifle shooting. Also, although they are rare, ammunition recalls are not unheard of. Without lot numbers you'll have no way of correlating ammo lots to recall notices. And, needless to say, store those in mil-spec ammo cans with soft seals.

I try to keep a gun shot trauma kit with my shooting range supplies; when I was ordering some new medical supplies from North American Rescue I was informed that the public can no longer purchase Quikclot ACS+ or any other such hemostatic from them. The operator proceeded to tell me that the [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating these products mid-May because "they go inside the human body." I was able to order some of my other products in the "scrape and light cut" size" but none of the larger quantity hemostatics. Perhaps some other SurvivalBlog readers might have some insight into this situation and can offer some advice. Regards, - "Pop N Fresh"

JWR Replies: That is a most unfortunate development. Much like last year, when Polar Pure iodine crystals were taken off the market, it sounds like another window of opportunity is closing. I strongly encourage readers to stock up on Celox and QuikClot while there is still some remaining inventory available from individual retailers. Several of our loyal advertisers-- including Safecastle and Ready Made Resources--carry these products, and probably still have some left on hand. I'm sure that they would appreciate your patronage. BTW, please mention SurvivalBlog whenever you contact any of our advertisers. Thanks!

Kevin A. sent us the link to a video clip about Mandelbrot protege Nicholas Taleb, of "Black Swan" fame: The Risk Maverick: Present Economy Worse than Depression.

Mac F. recommend this basic, commonsense article: Money Shaky? 10 Ways to Get Your Financial Footing

Items from The Economatrix:

Fed President Says Inflation To Increase

GM Borrows Additional $4 Billion From Treasury Didn't publicly disclose how it would use the money.

Fed Changes Rules to Benefit Government Carmakers

California Faces its Fiscal Day of Reckoning

Propane Suppliers Quietly Reduce Size of Refills Consumers unaware they are getting less for the same price

Recession Turns Malls Into Ghost Towns

Brent F. recommneded a site that focuses on Third World technology: How to Make Everything.

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A Sunset magazine article flagged by reader LRG: Make your own backyard adobe oven

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William Atkin has posted a very useful guide to sprouting. There is also a PDF available for download.

"In a pandemic, if it's worldwide, you realize in the first five minutes of studying it that you're on your own" - Bob Kennedy

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mr. Rawles,

I have read and enjoyed your blog for some time now and thank you for it daily.

Regarding the recent post on control of head lice, I have found simple light cooking oil to be startlingly effective. Massaged through the afflicted's hair and scalp and left for a few hours the oil is meant to suffocate the lice and eggs. I have used this several times, once I needed to repeat the processes to be effective, but in most previous infestations, once was enough.
This treatment can be made apparently more effective by including some Tea Tree oil in the mix. Hope this helps, - Regards, JeMe.



I keep getting such great info that I would not usually think of. Thank God that your readers are thinkers as well. Regarding, the letter dealing with uninvited guests I saw in my local Florida newspaper about using Listerine for lice. It reportedly works the first time. SurvivalBlog readers should do Internet searches on herbal or all natural cures for dealing with these uninvited guests, for the pets as well. Thank you for the web site. - Dawn



With reference to "Dealing with Uninvited Guests", there is an easy way to get rid of head lice. Using copious amounts of cheap hair conditioner on hair, then leaving it in, stops the nits from being able to cling on to the hair shaft. You must comb it through well to ensure every hair is coated. Once they drop off they don't survive long without a host (a matter of hours). You need to treat the whole family otherwise it just passes on the problem. When my daughter was young, we spent a small fortune on head lice products and nit combs, until my local hairdresser told me about the conditioner trick.

To help prevent infestations, add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to a final hair rinse.
Blessings and prayers for your Memsahib, - Luddite Jean



I have "been there, done that" with head lice and my daughter. Toxic concoctions like “Rid,” “Kwell,” etc are costly and worthless. When my daughter was 8 years old she would come home from school scratching her head. We finally figured out it was head lice. I went on internet and read up and decided that getting “Rid” or some Permethrin based solution would be best so we tried it. The lice would just swim around in the “killer” liquid on my daughter's scalp. We tried another brand with Lindane and the same result. Be aware that many of the “Lice Information” web sites are fronts for a particular (useless) product. I went back to the internet where there were many “kook” solutions like suffocating the lice in olive oil – what a waste of olive oil. There were other “green” concoctions which were designed to suffocate or poison (naturally) the head lice. I concluded that all the kook remedies were worthless and were debunked on most of the mainstream web sites as worthless – good luck trying to suffocate the nits and adult lice. It really drove me mad to think of my beautiful daughter with her beautiful long hair having “bugs” crawling around on her head. I wanted them dead and I wanted them dead now. I was desperate. Then I read some where about merely using plain old hair conditioner – i.e. putting it on after a shower in copious amounts and leaving it in – and mechanically removing the noxious lice with a metal nit comb. I was tired of poisoning my daughter (read the labels – it is poison) and from what I read the prescription medication was way more toxic. So we tried it - we bought two quality metal nit combs and slathered on the hair conditioner and carefully followed the instructions that came with the nit combs. We mechanically removed the nits and the live adult head lice. You get a cup of hot water and dunk the nit comb and watch the “body count” of the adult lice add up. It is satisfying to physically remove them one by one. After two days there were no more adult lice to be found. The nits were another matter and for the next couple days we went through my daughter’s hair strand by strand and pulled out each nit with our finger nails as the nit combs were ineffective in removing all the nits. It took a total of three to four hours over the course of three or four days to remove the adult lice and all the nits. Victory – free at last. A few months later when we found the early stages of a new infestation we knocked it down quickly in just two days.

Another aspect of this is the extensive instructions on the web sites and written instructions about how to treat bedding etc. If you followed all the recommendations you would spend hours on decontamination and spray toxic poisons around the bed and house. Thankfully. head lice can only live in hair/scalp otherwise they die fairly quickly. We found that merely washing the pillow case and sheets was sufficient without spraying poison in the carpet and all over the place another bad toxic idea. I shudder when I remember one of the coaches of my daughter’s baseball team spraying lice “killer” in the batting helmets and when I asked it was because of widespread lice in the local school. Nice. My daughter had her own helmet and we told all the other kids it was only for my daughter to use. Notes: Where we went wrong – we took our daughter to her pediatrician early on to have her head checked out and we told that the nits were old and there was no current problem. Wrongo bongo. The full blown outbreak occurred days later. We called back to request the heavy duty prescription medication and were told to try the over the counter stuff as the prescription medication was really toxic and they only prescribe it when absolutely necessary. Lice have adapted and have developed immunity to the over the counter medication so aside from it being toxic it is worthless and expensive – I saw this with my own eyes. I tried it over and over - to the limits on the warning instructions. Also, when you go on the Internet you read a bunch of politically correct nonsense about how kids who spread head lice are not “dirty and unkempt” but some parent(s) at my daughter’s school were sending a kid(s) to school with head lice – It’s not the kid’s fault but I disagree, the parents were dirty, inconsiderate slobs in my opinion.

So, bottom line – get two or more quality nit combs, slather on the (non-toxic) hair conditioner, follow the combing instructions and remove the adult lice and as many nits as possible and then physically remove all the remaining nits one by one with your finger nails as those nits really glue themselves to the hair. Carefully dispose of the adult nits you remove – I treat them as if they were black plague contagions – and wash the bedding every day until you don’t find any more adult lice and have removed all the nits. Mechanical removal has several advantages – it is non-toxic, it uses common hair conditioner (easily stored), it is inexpensive, and most importantly it works. It may be the only method that actually works. In a true survival situation you could substitute olive oil or some other similar substance in place of the hair conditioner. Hopefully we will never have to deal with the problem again but all the dread is gone and we are equipped, once and for all to deal with this problem because we have lots of hair conditioner and three quality nit combs. Simple solution – the best solution - Keep is simple.

On another note, I just finished reading "Patriots". It was a great read, and I could not put it down. Thank you - John California

Cattle Rustling on the Rise as US Recession Bites

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Credit Bill OK'd with Gun Provision

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With the Economy Tough, the Tough Go Camping

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America's Poor Are its Most Generous Givers

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SF in Hawaii mentioned the Local Harvest web site, and their map of family farms. SF's comment: "Thinking about relocating? Take a look at this map. It might be nice to have some small farm neighbors.".

"Today, prayer is still a powerful force in America, and our faith in God is a mighty source of strength. Our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are 'one nation under God,' and our currency bears the motto, 'In God we Trust.' The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril." - President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I laughed heartily, reading this Times of London online article about the mainstreaming of survivalism: Swine flu...recession...should we all be reading Neil Strauss to survive? It must be bad: survival manuals are racing up the book charts. Ordinary folks are preparing for the worst. The author started out describing the book "Emergency" by Neil Strauss, but then took a hard right turn and went on to spill copious ink--or should I say bits or pixels--about my novel.) The reviewer has a real gift for comic writing.


Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. A proviso: It is strongly opinionated and overtly political--so not everyone will agree with him--but despite our differences of opinion, I believe that it has some good food for thought.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I believe that America is facing a perfect storm…A rapidly cooling climate, a committed socialist president taking over during an economic crisis, and an unfinished war with fanatical murderous thugs. I am only 49 years old, but I think my Father’s generation faced a similar storm starting in 1929. I believe we could handle any one of these problems by itself, but maybe not all at once. I wish I could suggest that we have more time and perhaps our economy will recover before a second crisis event occurs. Since the banking crisis started in August of 2007, and recessions typically last 2 -to-3 years, it should right itself by late 2010 if our government does not do something stupid. However, they are stupid and I believe we only have five months left to prepare.

I believe the climate is turning much colder due to a drop in sunspot activity. The most recent climate data shows this even if Al Gore insists on a recount (apparently Al flunked both math and science). I mention this because during the last Little Ice Age (1300-1850) global temps dropped by 3ÀöC, the farmland north of where Interstate 80 now transits reverted back to frozen marshlands, the Pacific Ocean cooled, and the resulting drop in moisture caused a prolonged drought in the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau. Perhaps a change to the climate of the primary agricultural areas of the US may affect your personal survival planning.

The drop in sunspot activity will also decrease the Earth’s electromagnetic field (Van Allen Belts) and ozone layer so in addition to cooling the planet it also and makes us more susceptible to solar induced damage to our nationwide electrical grid. If you here warnings about Solar flares or Solar mass ejections, wear sun block and a hat, and unplug your sensitive electrical equipment. If you are using solar panels expect a reduced output and be prepared to unplug and protect them as well.

Recently-elected President Obama is an immature Pollyanna with disturbing Marxist/Socialist friends and tendencies. He is taking over as the economy is rapidly contracting due to the falling stock market and declining home values. This crisis was actually caused by 25 years of expansionist policies of the US Federal Reserve, the US Treasury Department, and the US Congress. The massive bailout bill will not stop this, but instead will continue to feed the debt-based economy and currency expansion that caused it. Federal nationalization of the commercial banking system is just the beginning. Obama is loading up his cabinet with the most partisan members of the Clinton Administration. While Government intervention into banks and businesses is already occurring, it is likely that they will also nationalize/regulate individual retirement accounts, taxable investments, and individual rights and choices of work, travel, and association. This is not what he tells us he plans to do, this is what socialists always do, this is the change you can not afford.

We have fought to contain the terrorists in the Middle East and are finally winning in Iraq. However, keeping them there will require a continual military presence. Obama has promised to pull back the US military from Iraq, perhaps worldwide, and may reduce the size of the regular Army to fund his civilian defense force. What we learned about terrorist is that any pull back in our military posture will encourage them to strike us again. The only way to win is to aggressively pursue them and the only way to loose is to pull back and let the extremists take over the Iraqi and Saudi oil fields.

The President and the people now running DHS, FEMA, the Justice Department, and Interior Departments believe in the power of the Federal Government like a prostate religion. While they would not think this far ahead, it is inescapable that when they meet with resistance from the people the will use the US patriot act against us. Since he will be so busy spying on the vast right wing conspiracy, I expect a terrorist attack on major US cities could again occur within 6 – 8 months of Obama taking the oath of office and turn the economic crisis into a full blown depression.

No matter what the trigger event, President Obama, and his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, stated that they will use this crisis as an opportunity to turn the county socialist. Some of the conditions I have described have distinct warning signals, such as censorship of the internet and talk radio or onerous gun control laws, but some of them are naturally occurring and completely unpredictable. I don’t believe it much matters what the event is, I believe that the result will be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Civil War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death).

Scenario 1: Collapse of the Banking System, Devaluation of the US Dollar, and Civil War.
The US credit market has already frozen up once (Oct 08) due to the failure of several investment banks and credit insurance companies. Without a systematic effort to draw down the risk exposure of these banks to bad home loans and derivatives it is nearly certain that many of the largest commercial banks will fail as well. The FDIC does not have the money to pay off account holders, so the US Congress will just print more money and effectively nationalize the banks.

I expect that the world economy will continue to slide into a multi-decade depression with the Dow dropping to 2,000 and unemployment reaching 20%. I expect this to cause rioting, starvation, and civil war occurring in every state and country. If we can not feed them, I expect that over one third of the world population could die due to starvation and disease.
The US may literally split politically between the urban dominated cities of the Northeastern states trying to tie themselves to Europe and the rest of the US dominated by the Midwest, Rocky Mountains, and Ohio Valley which will tie themselves to domestic agriculture and re-industrialization. Only the far western fringe will remained tied to trade with China and the Pacific Rim. There should be no expectation of receiving by Federal Retirement, Social Security, Medicare, or 401(k) money. In fact, I expect that the US Dollar will be abandoned by most folks long before it is officially replaced by silver coins. Before this time most folks will prefer to trade using storable food, ammo, and labor as the coin of the realm.

Scenario 2: Multi-City Terror Strike and Loss of Constitutional Rights.

It is also very possible for a deeply planted terrorist cell living in the US pull off a coordinated strike using conventional explosives to rapidly disperse a chemical or radioactive agent. They may attack the large cities, the critical Military bases, shipping channels, ports, and locks, and our remaining overseas Navy and Air Force Bases. These strikes will kill a few civilians, but mostly they will force the permanent evacuation of our major cities and ports.

They will cripple Washington DC, but will not kill off many of our politicians. The initial reaction from the Obama Administration looks like suspending the Constitution and our rights to gun ownership, private property, free association and travel. I believe they will quarantine the cities, suspend air travel, limit interstate travel by citizens, and turn the electronic eavesdropping ability of the NSA on the American people.

What is left of the economy will crash. Few people will have jobs and no one will be able to buy food and fuel on the open market. We will have to survive on what we have stored, what we can grow, trade, or what little the government can supply.

While rolling blackouts are inevitable, maintaining natural gas and at least the semblance of electrical power will be a priority. No doubt maintaining power in the remaining cities will come first. Most of the oil refineries will be affected and the gas and diesel that is refined will not be distributed evenly. Our system of intensive, almost industrial scale farming will collapse, and that year’s crop will fail due to the loss of irrigation. People will starve while crops rot in the fields.

Preparedness Measures

SurvivalBlog is full of detailed advise on preparing so I will only hit a few highlights.

Prepare yourself physically:
Every possible scenario will be physically and mentally stressful.

Have a Plan B:
Have a bug-out kit ready at all times, store fuel, and maintain your ride.
Have a hard copy of important papers, account and insurance numbers and phone numbers.
Have portable weapons and ammo ready to haul.

Logistics and Planning:
Route selection is very, very important.
What to drive, what to pack.
Avoid the swamps (the inner cities).

Long Term Considerations:

Build a survival retreat in a viable agricultural area.
Plan on needing a lot more supplies than you think you might.
Plan and decide how to deal with the Feds (hint: lie, lie, lie).
Plan and decide how to deal with unprepared people

Mr. Rawles
I have been a faithful reader for about a year now and would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your contributors for the wealth of information found on this site. I would also like to thank Anon T. for his article on quarantine procedures, though I'm wondering if it should be expanded to include "debugging". I'm referring to head lice, body lice, crabs, bedbugs, mites, and fleas. Nobody wants to believe that it will happen to them. It doesn't even have to be a WTSHTF scenario. In today's economic environment many people are losing their homes and moving in with family or friends. With more and more people and their belongings under one roof, personal and residential cleanliness may begin to suffer. In a SHTF scenario, add to this stressful situation, not being able to properly bathe, wash hair, clothing, and bedding as often as they should, and the possibility of "unwanted house guests" rises.

About 8 years ago, my then two-year-old brought head lice home from day care. Before I realized it, I was also beset by lice. My mom said "getting lice isn't a sin, keeping them is." But getting rid of these little bugs was just short of impossible. As soon as you think they're gone a nit that you missed hatches, and it starts all over.
Hopefully this won't be a problem for most of your readers, but they should be prepared and informed.
Treatment products like "Rid" won't be easily rotated before they expire, so it may be cost-prohibitive to stock it. are there any natural or more cost affective alternatives? I'm wondering how we will deal with this in the future when products like "Rid" might not be available. and maybe someone out there could explain identification and treatment for those readers who have never been through this. - J.C.M.

JWR Replies: I agree that it is wise to stock up on anti-parasiticals (pediculicides and scabicides ) The active ingredients in Rid and Lindane ("Kwell") can be effective for several years. Most of the Rid variants are a 0.5% solution of Permethrin. The Lindane solutions (typically 1%) are sold under trade names such as BBH, Bio-Well, G-well, Kildane, Kwell, Kwildane, Scabene, and Thionex. Some traditional treatments for lice that were used in the 19th Century and early 20th Century might still be viable, but most of them are harsh an potentially toxic, so they should be considered only in absolute worst case disasters, when modern anti-parasiticals are unavailable. The 1996 article titled Control of Human Lice Infestations: Past and Present (in PDF) from American Entomologist provides some interesting history on lice control, including some lousy methods from the 19th Century. It might sound severe, but when modern anti-parisiticals can't be found, head shaving is a good starting point. (But it will give you the Sinead O'Connor "I'll never be accused of being infested" look.)

Reader GG suggested: Uncle Sam's 'F'-rated bonds

GG also mentioned this piece by Mish Shedlock: FDIC to Open a Temporary East Coast Satellite Office. (Could they be expecting more bank failures or perhaps bank runs?

The MOAB keeps expanding: Feds give $50 Million in aid to towns hit by auto layoffs. (Thanks to Tony Y. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Here Comes the Option ARM Explosion

Russia Dumps US Dollar as Basic Reserve Currency

Fannie and Freddie in "Critical" Condition

Real Unemployment, GDP, Etc. Numbers

Britain's AAA Rating Threatened by S&P's Stark Warning

Conjuring Monster (The Mogambo Guru)

Eric wrote to mention that the Survivalist Groups Listing Page URL has changed.

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Chris--the editor of the LDS Preparedness manual that I recently mentioned--wrote to say: "Version 6.00 of the manual is almost complete and will be released in June.
But for now, you can get a printable PDF copy of the Preparedness Manual for LDS Members, Version 5.01 (Nov.1, 2008) There are also hard bound printed copes available--rather than downloading and printing 200+ pages. It can also be found on my homepage."

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GG spotted this: Spam sales soar as buyers seek value.

"Once each May, amid the quiet hills and rolling lanes and breeze-brushed trees of Arlington National Cemetery, far above the majestic Potomac and the monuments and memorials of our Nation's Capital just beyond, the graves of America's military dead are decorated with the beautiful flag that in life these brave souls followed and loved. This scene is repeated across our land and around the world, wherever our defenders rest. Let us hold it our sacred duty and our inestimable privilege on this day to decorate these graves ourselves -- with a fervent prayer and a pledge of true allegiance to the cause of liberty, peace, and country for which America's own have ever served and sacrificed. ... Our pledge and our prayer this day are those of free men and free women who know that all we hold dear must constantly be built up, fostered, revered and guarded vigilantly from those in every age who seek its destruction. We know, as have our Nation's defenders down through the years, that there can never be peace without its essential elements of liberty, justice and independence. Those true and only building blocks of peace were the lone and lasting cause and hope and prayer that lighted the way of those whom we honor and remember this Memorial Day. To keep faith with our hallowed dead, let us be sure, and very sure, today and every day of our lives, that we keep their cause, their hope, their prayer, forever our country's own." - President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Friday, May 22, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Because I recently dropped Front Sight as an advertiser, the list of contest prizes for this round has been revised:

First Prize: A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I've been working on getting prepared for about 20 years now. During that time, I've collected a large amount of information. Let's face it, there's a lot of information out there, and to this day I'm still collecting. I currently have four sets of encyclopedias (including 1947 and 1954 editions). I have a fairly good library of books that encompasses a wide variety of topics and, of course, I have lots of information from the Internet. First, I'd like to tell you why I collect it (and why you should too) and then the “what and how”.

One reason why I collect information is because the source of the information may not always be there. How many of you trust that our government will always allow information to flow about freely? Do they now? How many of you can get information about how to build a nuclear weapon? I can't, and I don't want it. That information wouldn't do me any good, but in a worst case scenario, information on building a small IED may be very valuable. What happens if that information is censored between now and TEOTWAWKI? Also, when TSHTF, the power grid and therefore the Internet may be down. Libraries and bookstores may be closed or burned to the ground. You get the picture.

Another reason why I collect information is that I may not be alive when the stuff hits the fan. Most of my preparations have been so that I can keep my family safe. If I've passed on before, or maybe while the stuff hits the fan, then having the information available (in a handy location) for my family may help them survive. Maybe it won't help my wife or kids, but maybe my grandkids or my greatgrandkids.

The third reason why I collect information is that I can't remember everything. (hard to believe, isn't it?) I try to remember the type of information that can quickly save a life and I practice those skills. The quicker it can become life threatening, the more you need to know the skill (like emergency first aid or armed self defense). However, things like how to construct a foxhole, how to make hard tack, what radio frequencies to listen to, how far apart to plant cabbage, etc., can all be documented and the information retrieved when it is needed.

As a word of caution – Just because you have the “information”, doesn't mean you are prepared. Collecting the information, and making sure it is available when it might be needed, is just a small part of the preparedness process. Remember to actually learn those skills that may instantly save lives and remember to gather the supplies that can keep you and your family alive over the long haul.
Okay, now you may want to know “what” type of information you might want to collect. I break it down into groups, just like you would with your preparedness supplies. With the supplies, you can think “worst case scenario”, but it's not always possible to be “supplied” for the worst case. In other words, most of us can't buy a 400 acre ranch, with a totally underground bunker, which is supplied with goods and equipment to keep your family and friends in safety and comfort for a year or more. It is, however, feasible to gather most of the “information” you might need for any worst case that you think you could possible survive. With that in mind, I focus my information on food, gardening, shelter, water, transportation, defense, energy, medical, and communication.
Most often, I ask myself questions about how to do something. If the answer is not very obvious (and most of it isn't) then I collect information on it. I don't just ask if the answer is obvious to me, but is it obvious to everyone. I must remember that the information might be needed and used by my children or their children.

Often, when you've gathered the information to answer your question, it will bring to your attention an additional item you may need to purchase, or another skill you need to learn. Consider the following questions, as starting points for your research and information archiving project:

FOOD – What do I need to eat to meet my nutritional needs? What type of recipes might I need? How do I make a meal from what I have stored? How do I make the very basic breads? How do I make sourdough? How do I make yeast? How about other ingredients? Can you make your own mustard if needed? What are refried beans made of? How do I make oil for cooking? How do I make jerky? How do I make pemmican? How do I make a root cellar? How do I dehydrate food? How do I trap animals? How do I hunt and fish? How do I butcher an animal? What parts can I eat? What native plants are edible? Can I plant a garden (see below)?

GARDENING – What seeds grow best in my area? What changes should I make to the soil? How do I compost? What plants are the most nutritious? How do I keep pests away? What plants yield the most food? When should I put seeds into the ground? What plants produce the food that I can store for later? What can I use for fertilizer? How do I use urine as fertilizer? What tools do I need? How do I save seeds? How long will my seeds stay viable? How do I keep weeds to a minimum? How much area do I need? What plants give me seeds that I can extract oil from? What tools do I need?

SHELTER – How do I make a shelter from a tarp? How do I make an effective Foxhole? How do I shelter from radiation? How do I build an underground shelter? How do I make a perimeter alarm? How do I build or maintain a shelter with no power-tools? What hand-tools should I keep? How is my shelter protected from fire? How do I secure my shelter from intruders? How do I keep my shelter warm? How do I keep my shelter cool? Do I know basic carpentry, welding or electrical skills?

WATER – How many places can I get water? How can I transport it? How can I store it? How can I make it safe to drink (from bacteria, viruses, chemicals, or radiation)? How do I dig a well? How can I pump water?

TRANSPORTATION – If I have a retreat, what vehicle should I use to get there? Which route should I take? What are alternate routes? How do we get there if the vehicle breaks down? Can I hot-wire a car? Do I know basic mechanics, or even how to change a tire? If I travel across wilderness, how do I find my way? Do I know how to use a map, compass and GPS? Do I know how to pack a backpack? What items should I take, given the type of transportation I have available?

DEFENSE – What do I need to defend against? What guns might I need? How much ammo do I need? How do I store it all? How much force can I legally use? Do I know unarmed combat? What intermediate threat weapons do I need (pepper spray, etc.)? Do my morals justify my use of force? How do I maintain my weapons? Do I have schematics for them? How do I make an “early detection” alarm system? How do other common weapons operate? How do I use camouflage? How do I use cover and concealment? How do I communicate? How do I make a booby-trap? How can I successfully block a road? How can I avoid a confrontation at all?

ENERGY – How can I make electricity if there is no “grid” power? Do I know how to operate and maintain a generator? Can I build a windmill? Can I make a mini-hydro out of an automotive generator? Can I construct a solar electric system? How do I maintain a bank of batteries? Can I make a solar water heater? How do I disconnect my house from grid power? How do I store extra fuel? How long will stored fuel last? Do I know how to make a small steam engine?

MEDICAL – What items should I have in a properly stocked First Aid Kit? Should I have an advanced medical kit? If so, how do I store antibiotics? How long will they last? What are the dosages for each medication I have stored? How do I suture a wound? How do I start an IV? How do I put in a catheter? How do I give an injection? How do I deliver a baby? How do I diagnose an illness? How do I sterilize instruments? How do I help prevent illness in the first place. How do I meet basic sanitation needs? What maintenance medications does my family need? What is the blood type of all my family members?

COMMUNICATIONS – Do I have written plans for my family? How do we communicate if we become separated? How many ways can we communicate? What hand signals should we learn? What Ham frequencies should we listen to? What local (police, fire, etc.) frequencies should we listen to? Do I have a written list of relatives, and their contact information, in my three-day pack? Do I have supplies to educate my grandchildren if they are no longer public schools?

Other Considerations
Think through how you will collect and store your archive of useful information. First, I'd highly suggest that you try to get your information from a wide variety of sources, so you can be more confident the information you've stored is accurate. So what sources should you use? I use just about everything but the radio.

Books are a great source. If you can buy them, then that's great. Maybe you can only check them out of a library. If that's the case, then maybe you can photocopy the parts you really need. Better yet, scan and print those parts. That way you can have a digital and a hard copy of the information. Sometimes, with some topics, the only information you can find is from very old books. Information you find in an old encyclopedia might be left out of a newer set.

Another source of information is the Internet. Not only can you find lots if it, but often it's free. If you look hard enough, you can find entire books that can be downloaded. Because some of the information you store will be in digital form, don't overlook the value of video clips. There are programs such as Replay Media Catcher that can automatically capture a video as it's being played from a web site, such as You then have a “stand-alone” file that you can play in your media player, even when the Internet is down.
If you wanted, you could record information from the television. Programs such as Survivorman have a lot of good information.

Don't underestimate the information you get from direct contact with a person. I'm lucky enough to have a very qualified emergency room doctor as a close friend, who has the same preparedness mindset as me. He has given me valuable information. If it's given to me verbally, then I go home and write it down so I can preserve it. The information might come from a hunting buddy, your mechanic, or your grandfather. There are lots of people out there who have a lot of expertise in their field. Take advantage of it.

Regardless of where you get your information, make sure you store it so it's there when you need it. My system is to try to keep as much, as reasonably possible, in a printed form, especially the important stuff. Keep the bulk of that at the location you plan to need it. For instance, you don't need printed information about how to insert a catheter or snare an animal at your home in the big city, but you will probably need it at your mountain retreat, where you have those supplies located. All printed material needs to be properly stored so rodents or moisture don't destroy it. Be sure to put some of the information you've printed into your Bug Out Bag (BOB).

Tons of information can be stored, digitally, on your computer and on a DVD. Don't keep it only on your computer or you may loose it if the computer crashes. With the information on a DVD, you can keep copies at your home, in your BOB, and at your retreat. The DVD is fairly easy to store and common sense should tell you where to keep them.
Clearly, the type of information you gather is up to you and your individual situation. Again, keep in mind that the information you don't think you'll need, may in fact be what you need in an unforeseen future. That information may not be easily available at that time, or you might not be the one who actually needs the information.

JWR Adds: Keep in mind that there are now nearly 7,000 archived SurvivalBlog articles and letters. The blog content is copyrighted, but it all available free of charge. I strongly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to make electronic copies of the posts that you find useful, or print out hard copies, and organize them by topic in a file folders. In essence, as long as it is not being sold or being re-used without proper attribution, then I am glad to see the information from SurvivalBlog put to good use. If you find it too time-consuming to delve into the archives and do umpteen "copy and paste" operations, then keep in mind that I self-publish the book SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1. That book covers the crucial first six months of SurvivalBlog, where I covered lots of "core" topics. Also, be advised that in October, 2009, Penguin Books will be releasing my new book "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It. That 352-page book is also sourced primarily from my writings in SurvivalBlog, over the past four years. BTW, it also includes a special chapter on medical topics, most of was guest-authored by numerous subject matter experts in the medical field.

It is noteworthy that the price of non-volatile memory USB Flash Drives (commonly called "pen drives", "thumb drives", or just "sticks") has plummeted in the past couple of years. (I was recently astounded to see USB thumb drives for under $4 each). So there is no reason why you can't buy four or five 2-Gigabyte capacity sticks and store copious quantities of reference information from SurvivalBlog and other web sites, for your personal, non-commercial archive. If possible, keep three copies: One at home, one at your retreat, and one in your Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D. backpack.)

Dear Mr. Rawles,

This sale ends Saturday so maybe it's too late to share it, but True Value Hardware stores around the country are selling boxes of six (6) solar powered pathway lights for $11.99.

These would be great to use for an extended power outages - just bring them in inside each night without the pole. There's two LED lights in each one, and they will shine for 8 hours. I tried them out last night and was able to read with two of them. Using all six lights in the box lit up my small house enough to where I wouldn't need a flashlight or lantern to get myself safely around.

I just thought I'd share since the price was so low. Wouldn't this be great for those living in apartments? - Rod McG. in Virginia

Safecastle has announced a 25% Off Mountain House storage food sale that will be running from May 23 to June 5th. As a bonus, you'll also get a free copy of the novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen if you purchase four or more cases of Mountain House foods

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Struggling Families Look at Adoption

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Peak Phosphorous? GG sent us a link to a summary of a new Scientific American article: Phosphorus: A Looming Crisis. (The full text of the article is not yet available on-line.)

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Brian H. was the first of several readers to mention this interesting wire service story about new ATMs that dispense gold: Gold To Go.

"Surely, The Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets." - Amos 3:7 (NKJV)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Please keep The Memsahib (and her doctors) in your prayers. Her health is still quite precarious.


Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Because I recently dropped Front Sight as an advertiser, the list of contest prizes for this round has been revised:

First Prize: A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When either you or your group is confronted with a biological threat [such as a pandemic or biological warfare], you must determine the following before making decisions either for yourself or for your group.

1) What is the threat?
2) What is the incubation period prior to showing symptoms?
3) How contagious is the threat?
4) By what means is the threat contagious?
5) What is the morbidity rate?
6) What is the mortality rate?

Once you have determined these things, you can make sound decisions that can get you and your group through a trying time.

In the event that you are forced to deal with new members joining your group, [during a pandemic] you will need to quarantine them for a set period of time. This will assure you and your group that the new-comer's presence does not cause harm within your group.

To set up quarantine you will need the following items which will be detailed below:

Food & Water
Communication equipment -or- Another pre-determined way of communicating with the quarantined.
Symptom measuring devices and charts.
Rules that the quarantined must follow if they wish to become part of your group.
A plan should the quarantined not follow those rules.
A plan should the quarantined show symptoms and/or become sick.
A way for the quarantined to expel waste that does not pose a risk of infection to other members of the group.
There is not a single point above that can be neglected for any reason. Having to survive a biological threat has nothing to do with niceties or with comfort.

A place [that is downwind,] away from all group activity for the person(s) in question to be quarantined. How far away is far enough? Miles would be great but it is probably not economical so do with what you have to ensure that your group never gets within a 1,000 feet of the quarantined.

Food & Water:
Whatever the food and water that you supply or that your possible guests bring, they must have means of making it safe for human consumption.

You and the quarantined must be able to protect yourselves from the environment and the biological threat. A strong bleach solution, a rag and a bucket would be fine for disinfecting everything. Alcohol sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap are luxuries if you can afford them.

The group and the quarantined must be able to communicate for numerous reasons. Humans get pent up if they are left in a confined place to their own devices for long and to limit the risk of the quarantined coming too close to the group, they must be able to communicate with the group from a safe distance.

Two-way radios with rechargeable batteries and a way to recharge them at the quarantine site make the best answer to the communication problem, the only problem is that they are expensive to have spares around and impossible to outlast the quarantine if power isn’t available to recharge them.

In the absence of two way radios, your group should have a pre-determined plan for communication should anyone be at risk for the threat, including any quarantined individuals.

The group should never risk entering a place of possible contamination if it can be avoided in any way, so a group should have a Communication Center set up some distance away from the quarantined and a further distance away from the group.

To allow the best ventilation, Communication Centers should never be indoors so a tree, a table or a large rock, all make adequate places.

Each member (the group and the quarantined) should have a pen and multiple sheets of paper (A dry erase board for each group would do fine) of their own to write on and leave at the communication center. Each member should understand the nature of the quarantine and the time at which the papers will be picked up, read and possibly replied to that is consistent with the length of time that the biological threat is thought to stay active on paper.
(e.g: Every 3 hours from __ a.m. - __ p.m.)

Your group should have medicine that can be used to treat common pains and injuries so that the quarantined can be comfortable and it will be easier to gauge their symptoms if they should have any.

Symptom Measuring Devises:
You should include devises that allow the measuring of all symptoms familiar to the threat. Some adequate symptoms measuring devices include a Thermometer, a watch for checking pulse and blood pressure and so on.

Your group should have rules that everyone in the group must follow and separate rules that the quarantined must follow if they wish to eventually enter your group. These rules must include items like; Staying at least _00(0) feet away from every member of the group at all times, keeping the quarantine area clean and free of infection, following proper communication procedures, washing all contaminated clothing upon entering the quarantine area and being honest with the progression of any and all symptoms including minor symptoms that may or may not be related to the threat.

Contingency plan for symptoms within the quarantined:
This plan needs special consideration because the quarantined may be members of one’s own family or close friends and particular thought must be given to how they will handle the onset of symptoms and how the group must handle the quarantined should they become less than complacent including delivery of proper medication to treat the threat.

Contingency plan if the quarantined does not follow the rules:
This plan should be relatively simple. Anyone who puts your group’s health and safety at risk by not following the rules is not a valued member of any group and should be avoided like the threat itself.

Waste Expulsion:
Human waste is possibly a carrier of the threat and since it cannot be avoided it should be taken into consideration.

If there is a working toilet and sink at the quarantine site, by all means use it.

In place of a working toilet and sink, the quarantined will have to take special measures to not endanger the group. In an outdoor environment, the group will have to dig a hole at the quarantine site (Prior to the visitor’s arrival) at least 5-6 feet deep and mark that area with a flag easily visible to both the quarantined and the group. The quarantined will then need to expel all human waste in that hole and only in that hole (to limit the exposure of contaminants to the quarantine site) and then kick a little bit of the pre-dug dirt back into the hole covering the excrements.

This is the time where a little lime would go a long way. If at all possible to acquire, get some lime prior to the threat to have on storage for just such a need.

Quarantine Items:
2 - 5 Gallon bucket(s) or the equivalent.
Anti-Bacterial soap
Food that does not need cooking (Min. of incubation period worth of food if able to spare) and additional food left at communication center every day.
Water or a clean water source
2 way radios with rechargeable batteries and a battery charger
Paper and Pens should the 2-way radios give out
Flag(s) for marking human waste site
Watch for keeping time for communication and symptoms
Toilet Paper (If available)
Quarantine Item Set Up:
All should be able to fit within the 5 gallon bucket with the exception of food and water (Though a little will be placed in there in advance) including the following items placed on the top:

Rules of the group
Expected quarantine Time
Rules of quarantine
Rules of communication

This will be a pre-printed or pre-written page that will be given to the prospective guests to read and decide whether they are willing to do the things necessary to join the group.

We are very glad to see you healthy and well and are taking the health and wellness of our group extremely serious. In doing so, we have implemented rules that you must adhere to without exception if you wish to join our group.

These rules may seem tedious but we are not taking chances when human life is at stake just as we will not take chances in protecting your health or the health of any new members to our group.

Firstly, we will not be having any face to face communication. In place of this, we will provide, among other things, a 2 way radio, rechargeable batteries and a battery charger so that we may communicate with each other at all times (or another way of communicating as described later).

The current known incubation period of the threat that we face together is ____ hours or __ days. If you wish to join our group, you will be forced to quarantine yourself in a location that we provide or set for ____ hours or __ days to ensure your safety and the safety of our group. If you are not willing to follow these rules including duration of quarantine, kindly set down this sheet of paper now and walk away.

At no time will a group member come within 500 – 1,000 feet of you during your time in quarantine. This is for the protection of all members of the group and yourself. Do not violate this rule – Use the radio or the aforementioned way of communicating in it’s place.

Once you enter your quarantine location, you will be required to stay within _00(0) feet of your quarantine location until the time of quarantine is over. If you breach this _00(0) feet marker which we will set or determine, you will no longer be eligible for joining our group. Please follow this rule.

If you do not have food and water with you, food and water will be provided for you at a drop point that we will disclose later.

Human Waste:
There will be a pre-dug designated latrine that will be used for the disposal of all human waste. Human waste, which already poses a health safety hazard is not to be expelled into any container but dropped directly from your body into the designated latrine as you “go to the bathroom” after which you are required to kick dirt or shovel lime back into the latrine to cover the waste.

Food disposal:
Only prepare as much food to eat and you are going to eat. Any food that is not consumed is to be buried with the waste as noted above.

Self evaluation and symptom reporting:
We will provide you with the tools necessary to evaluate yourself. You will be required to evaluate yourself twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. You must answer all items honestly. You are to report the following items to the group:

Appetite: None, Normal or Excessive
Vision: Clear, Blurry or Normal
Fluid Consumption: Normal, Heavy or Low
Physical Well-Being: Tired, Energetic or Normal
Medications taken within the last 24 hours:
Pain: None or on a level of 1 – 10 with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt.
Stress Level: Low, Moderate or High
Symptoms: ________
Urine Excretion: Yellow, Cloudy or Clear (Was there a hot or burning sensation when urinating?)
Waste Excretion: How many times a day and; Loose, firm, normal or painful.
Staying Healthy:
We expect that you came to us healthy and we want to see you remain that way. Please eat 3 meals every day, drink plenty of liquids, busy yourself with items you brought or by writing a story (not involving the current situation but rather one that is purely fictional) and following the listed daily exercise recommendations:

Walking: Even in a confined area, walking moves the blood through your system and will provide a healthier you.
Arm and leg stretches: Stretching your arms and legs is a fundamental need that every body has.
Not staying in one spot or position for an extended period of time.
Brushing your teeth daily with or without toothpaste and brushing your body down (dry shower) with a rag are two essential ways of staying healthy.
Please do not perform any muscle building or muscle retaining exercises during this time. Muscle building exercises break down your current muscle to rebuild more and releases toxins into your system. Refrain from any such activity during this time so as not to confuse the symptoms of muscle breakdown with symptoms of the threat.

Positive Thought:
Negative thought will not be tolerated in our group. You are a strong person and you will get through this. Please do not let the dire nature of this threat overwhelm your sense of self worth or the free will that God gave to you. If the threat seems overwhelming, know that you are strong and pray for the endurance to see this through.

Carried Item Quarantine:
Please understand that the items that you brought with you may carry the threat on them for an unknown amount of time. The group will decide which items can be cleaned, used or disposed of without hesitation or regard to personal feelings. You may at no time keep an item that the group feels is dangerous.

That is it. Those are the rules required by anyone who wishes to join our group and anyone who leaves our group for any amount of time.

If you are not 100% sure that this move is right for you and 100% sure that you will abide by these rules, there will be no hard feelings between us. Please put this paper down on the ground, wave a goodbye and walk away now.

We thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times that we all must face.

If you are positive beyond doubt that you will abide by these rules and any rules that the group may impose in addition to these, please fold this paper up and place it in either your shirt or pants pocket. At this time we will disclose the location of items that we will be providing you and further our communication together.

Go on to Document #2

Document #2 – On a separate sheet of paper


We are very glad that you have chosen to quarantine yourself from our group before joining it. This shows that you care as much about our well being as we do yours and proves your willingness to put the group’s needs ahead of your own. In no way does quarantine mean isolation, we look forward to communicating with you using the two way radios that we will provide or the use of a communication center that we will set up.

We know that this can be an emotional time. Please do not let your emotions run your self control, will for life or care for others. We are here to communicate with you throughout this entire time and we look forward to spending time with you once you join our group.

The location that you will be staying in during your quarantine is:


We will provide the following items for you if you do not already have them on hand.
2 - 5 Gallon bucket(s) or the equivalent (for the cleaning of clothes and items.)
Anti-Bacterial soap
Food that does not need cooking (Min. of incubation period worth of food if able to spare) and additional food left at communication center every day.
Water or a clean water source
2 way radios with rechargeable batteries and a battery charger
Paper and Pens (In case the 2-way radios give out or for story writing)
Watch (for keeping time for communication and daily health evaluations.)
Toilet Paper (If available)

Radio Operation:
Provide instruction for radios here

Communication Center:
The communication center will be at the following location.


We will be using the communication center for the supply or re-supply of all goods including the items that you will get once entering quarantine. We will also use it for communication if the radios fail to work properly. We will be checking for communication every ___ hours (1 hour beyond the time that the threat is thought to survive on paper) from ____ a.m. to ____ p.m. daily. Please flag a new communication by placing __________ over the paper or dry erase board for the group to see.

Proper Communication Etiquette:
As you can probably tell, we are limited by the items that we have on hand including paper. Please write legibly and please tear off the paper at the bottom of your communication so that the rest of the paper may be saved for later use.

To limit the risk of exposure, we will not be touching any communication items at the communication center. It will be your job to dispose of all paper used for communication by placing it in the latrine.

Emergency Communication:
A true emergency is something that is life threatening and that cannot wait until our next communication. We will never cry wolf to you so please express the same care and respect for us.

If the need should arise for emergency communication, the universal distress code that we will use is 3 of anything, 3 seconds apart. That means 3 loud whistles 3 seconds apart, 3 bangs on the bottom of a bucket, 3 shouts using the word “Emergency” or 3 blows on an air horn.

We will continue to use this code every 3 minutes until visual confirmation can be made of the person issuing the emergency code and the group.

Example use of the Emergency Distress Code: Whistle Whistle Whistle – Wait 3 seconds - Whistle Whistle Whistle – Wait 3 seconds and then finally Whistle Whistle Whistle now wait 3 minutes and repeat.

That covers it. We are so glad to see you well. Please fold this paper up, place it in your pocket and follow the schedule below:


Gather your items and bring them with you to the quarantine site.
Leave all items well outside of the quarantine site until proper decontamination can be fulfilled.
Before entering the Quarantine Site: Remove any outer clothing which may be contaminated and place all items inside the bleach/water solution that is in the bucket provided for you at the site.
Next, take a rag and rinse your body over with the bleach and water solution from head to toes. Bleach will not hurt you at the strength it is diluted to. Please wash well your hair, face, hands and all exposed body parts.
Dry off with clean rag provided.
Enter Quarantine site

Dear Mr. Rawles,
As an avid SurvivalBlog reader since '05, I've got to say, the quality of your blog continues to go up and up. Just when I think I can't possibly absorb anything more, new posts appear that make me think, plan, and act.

Upon your blog's advice, I have begun taking an EMT class at a local college to expand my medical knowledge base. What the Paramedic teacher said today in class gave me the chills. We were discussing all manner of diseases and then he touched on H1N1, the Swine Flu and its possible affects upon the EMS system. He said that during the SARS crisis, which in our neck of the woods was just a brief scare, the volume of calls into the 911 center went up 10% for several weeks due to everyone that had a cold thinking they had SARS. The EMS crews were advised that if they transported a patient with symptoms consistent with SARS, that they were to disinfect the entire truck with a bleach and water solution from top to bottom and then allow the truck to air dry for three hours
before it was placed back into service. He noted that in our county of around 1/2 million people, there were 20 to 30 ambulances on duty at any one time. He dryly noted that it would not take much of a crisis in public health to bring the EMS system as we know it to it's knees just based on the increase in call volume,not to mention the ambulance down-time to disinfect the vehicles.

One solution [that the instructor] hypothesized, was a system of 911 triage in a pandemic that said to callers, we will not transport you if you have the flu; you are on your own to get to the hospital. I think this point should be obvious to most SurvivalBlog readers but it dovetails nicely with the pharmacist's postings regarding securing your anti-viral drugs now.
All the best to you and your family, - B.H.I.

JWR Adds: For anyone that missed my May 1st post about getting ready for an influenza panic, this portion bears repeating:

I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers seriously think through the implications of successive waves of Mexican Flu sweeping around the globe for the next three years. From what we've already seen of its virulence after the normal "cold and flu season", then the next couple of winters could bring very high rates of infection and overwhelm the healthcare system. Please take the time to watch Dr. Henry Niman of Recombinomics discussing"Swine" flu. His projections are disturbing, to say the least! Think this through folks, on a macro scale: How would a pandemic impact your work? Commuting? Grocery shopping? Church activities? School? (If you are not yet homeschooling, then you should plan on it!) Your vacation plans? Summer camp? Family holiday get-togethers? Sports and cultural events? These implications are enormous. As SurvivalBlog readers, you are already accustomed to contemplating abstractions at this level and getting "ahead of the power curve." You also likely have the benefit of superior training and a deep larder. And, hopefully, many of you took my advice three years ago, and began to develop home-based businesses. (Mail order businesses will undoubtedly flourish, as people shun face-to-face sales.)

There are no guarantees, but you have a better chance of getting through this unscathed than most of your neighbors. Hopefully, all of you read the backgrounder on family flu preparedness, that I've had posted here are SurvivalBlog for more than three years. But if not... Now is time to make the requisite adjustments to your daily routine and to top off your logistics:

  • Now is the time to order several boxes of N95 masks and rolls of bandage tape (for sealing any mask edge gaps )
  • Now is the time to buy a steam vaporizer (new, or used -- Try Craig's List for used ones)
  • Now is the time to approach your family doctor, and ask for a scrip for Tamiflu.
  • Now is the time to lay in a supply of Sambucol (Elderberry extract.)
  • Now is the time to lay in supplies of hand sanitizer (with aloe) and latex gloves--or nitrile gloves for those with latex allergies
  • Now is the time to stock up on Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Guaifenesin expectorant
  • Now is the time to buy a couple of Bag Valve Masks
  • And lastly, for this and umpteen other contingencies, now is the time to acquire an honest one year supply of storage food (or more) for your family. Buy some extra, for charity.

If you wait too long, then those supplies will either be non-existent, or exorbitantly priced. By the time most of the sheeple think this through (or have it explained to them by the talking heads on the Idiot Box), you will have long since "topped off" your preps. But not if you hesitate. As my friend Bob in Tennessee is fond of saying: "Panic now, and avoid the rush."

Mark my words: A true pandemic will disrupt supply chains, starting with relatively exotic items (such as antivirals), but eventually working down to basic commodities. Be ready.

The Economy's Search for a "New Normal" (Thanks to Richard S. for the link.)

Currie sent us this: Europe in deepest recession since War... "...The declaration was made as it emerged that Europe's biggest economy has now suffered a worse "lost decade" than Japan and is deeper in recession than any other major economy."

Also from Currie: Japan - Major banking groups report massive losses

Items from The Economatrix:

From the French think tank: When The World Steps Out Of A 60-Year-Old Referential Framework

As Detroit Crumbles, China Emerges as the Auto Epicenter

Don't Count On China to Rescue the World Economy

Was The Bank Bailout Even Necessary?

BofE Makes 1 Billion Pound Profit Off of Financial Crisis Worst financial crisis in modern history = biggest profit in BofE's 300-Year History

Companies Face Higher Derivatives Hedging Costs

Time to Get Out the Wheelbarrows? Another Look at the Weimar Hyperinflation
"It was horrible. Horrible! Like lightning it struck. No one was prepared. The shelves in the grocery stores were empty.You could buy nothing with your paper money."

Goldfingers Wonder When to Switch to Assets

Japan's Economy in Record Plunge

Mark A. sent a link to a LDS Preparedness Manual in PDF. This is a 222-page manual about food storage and some other topics.

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Farming and Hunting magazines among very few to increase advertising revenue. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

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The folks at the Ancient Pathways outdoor survival school mentioned that they have expanded the survival gear section of their web site and are now offering two new instructional DVDs.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -President Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For the past few weeks I've let the news headlines speak for themselves, but I now feel convicted to comment on the deteriorating economic conditions. The global economy in general, and the economies of the English-speaking nations in particular are in deep, deep trouble. A massive credit bubble has popped, and all efforts to re-inflate it have failed. National congresses and parliaments, are throwing trillions at the problem, but they have done no good. The policy wonks in government, and their cronies at the central banks are essentially clueless. Their uniform reaction to each failed "stimulus" policy seems to be: "Well, that money creation didn't work, so it obviously wasn't enough!" This is something akin to a frustrated Emergency Room doctor, trying to resuscitate an obese cardio patient that has suffered a massive myocardial infarction. This fat blob lays torpid on the gurney, with a"flat-lined" heart monitor. The first three attempts to revive the patient didn't work, so all that the doctor can think to do is keep increasing the voltage and slap on the paddles again. Whether the doctor is Ben Casey, or Ben Bernanke, doesn't matter. All attempts to revive the patient with the tools at hand have failed.

As I mentioned in a recent interview with a German journalist, the central banks are using the public treasuries to attempt to re-inflate the credit bubble. This will only make the situation worse, and it will most likely turn the recession instead into a lengthy and deep depression. We are witnessing a complete meltdown of the global credit system. More credit is not the solution, and in fact loose credit via artificially low interest rates was actually the cause of the problem.

In my estimation, the only genuine long term solution to the continuing boom-bust cycle is to do away with fractional reserve banking. What we needed instead is traditional warehouse banking (without interest), and currencies that are fully-backed (1-for-1 redeemable) in gold and silver. (The only difficulty there might be the eventual drift in the ratio of the relative values of silver and gold.) Another part of the solution is in the creation of private credit clearing circles. It is noteworthy that private credit clearing has been done successfully by WIR Bank in Switzerland, for more than 60 years.

On a personal level, I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers get ready for the worst. Be prepared to hunker through a depression that may last a decade. As I've written before, we are are likely to see general price deflation for a couple of years followed by a nasty bout of high inflation. The latter will come once the huge cash injections work their way through the economy. Let me explain: Currently, bankers are terrified of risk, so they are refusing to lend. But eventually, realizing that because of Treasury loan guarantees that have come hand-in-hand with the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB), most bank lending will no longer have any risk or real consequences. So they will begin to lend money lavishly. The trillions of dollars in new "out of thin air" money in circulation will benefit from the multiplier effect, and mass inflation will ensue.

Given the misguided government intervention that is perpetuating widespread malinvestment, I can foresee many years of trouble ahead. Don't consider any of the following to be firm predictions, but here are some possibilities for the next decade, in brief:

  • Declining residential real estate prices, perhaps as much another 50% in some markets
  • Declining commercial real estate prices, perhaps as much another 65% in some markets
  • A chronically weak consumer market.
  • Very few retail stores will prosper--mainly just "second hand" sellers.
  • A substantially higher personal savings rate
  • Huge corporate layoffs, resulting in a high unemployment rate
  • High property crime rates, characterized by waves of home invasion robberies in the cities and suburbs.
  • Further spikes in the foreclosure rate, most notably in 2011.
  • Higher taxes and fees at all levels, as legislators scramble to make up for lost revenue
  • Huge new "make work" programs similar to the WPA and CCC in the 1930s
  • Severe restrictions on expatriation of currency, precious metals, and gemstones
  • More frequent and larger bank failures,and possibly some bank runs
  • Major dislocation, as millions of out of work families move to find work or move in with relatives that still have reliable income
  • Crowded colleges and universities, as out of work young people gamble on increasing their marketable skills
  • The military "full up", and turning away thousands of would-be enlistees
  • Huge pension fund failures, both private and public.
  • Huge municipal bond failures
  • Drastically scaled-back city, county, and state services--including police and fire departments
  • A stock market roller coaster ride, with multiple "sucker" rallies
  • Enormous over the counter (OTC) derivatives failures with many counterparty risks not revealed until post-facto (post-schumero)
  • Employment benefits and perquisites scaled back drastically
  • Collapsing prices for fine art collectibles, vintage wines, vintage cars, and other luxury goods.
  • Spectacular hedge fund failures
  • Traumatic bankruptcies for airlines, auto makers, newspapers, truck manufacturers, cruise lines, aircraft makers, and many other industries
  • Many major department store chains merging or going out of business
  • Consumer price deflation, followed by high inflation, with multiple currency changes
  • Wage and price controls
  • A nationalized health care system
  • Tighter immigration controls
  • A continuing and ever-expanding Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB)
  • A few bright spots in the economy may include entertainment, firearms, home security, precious metals, storage companies, some aspects of healthcare, and gardening/home canning products

In summary, we are headed into some very bad times. Be ready to hunker down and be able to fend for yourself.

Mr. Rawles,

Regarding the filter design suggested by "Dim Tim": Consider replacing the modified stockpot with a sink. A deep stainless utility sink would be ideal, would require little alteration, and could be set up outdoors at the downspout to drain directly to a retention barrel or bladder. In a SHTF scenario, an existing indoor sink could be modified by removing the trap underneath the sink. Collected water can then be poured into the sink, filter through, and drain underneath (a food grade plastic five gallon bucket fits quite nicely.) Regards, - Tamara S.


I want to publicly commend “SH from Georgia” on his excellent and concise article on stocking prescription drugs for a TEOTWAWKI scenario. I agree with just about every point that he has made. Adding metronidazole to the list is a great addition, and his comment about having medications on hand so that a physician might use them to your benefit is a point that I was contemplating, as well. Of course, the list of “med-prep” logistics that one could store is lengthy, and will be limited by 1. budget; 2. knowledge base, and 3. storage ability. SH’s list is very doable from all of these angles. If I were to make my own list, my only point of departure would be to emphasize again that these drugs will be quite precious. Most of the upper respiratory infections that are currently treated with antibiotics would resolve spontaneously without them, e.g., acute sinus infections, mild ear infections and a sore throat not accompanied by fever. I purposely left out amoxicillin because it is a wimpy antibiotic that is currently rarely effective for the sort of infections that will unequivocally require antibiotic therapy in an austere environment. A final recommendation: for anyone stockpiling prescription meds, having a current copy of the Physicians Drug Handbook (Not to be confused with the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR)) would be indispensable. - RangerDoc, MD, FACS

A quick note on one of the medications that SH from Georgia mentioned: Metformin does not usually work until you reach 1000-to-1500 MG dose. Also, it is important to note that the tablets [of this particular medication] should not be cut. Everyone should always double check everything concerning medications. All the drugs [in this family] are also now going to have black box warnings soon for possible heart problems! - Russell M.


I am a retail pharmacist in Philadelphia. The letters with regard to stocking up on medication and medical supplies were great. I'm glad to see other Pharmacists into preparedness. There are a few other things I thought I would mention.

A good topical anti-fungal cream could prevent a lot of unpleasantness. Generic Lotrimin (clotrimazole) applied twice daily for a week or two can treat ringworm (a fungal skin infection), athlete's foot and jock itch. Lamisil and Lotrimin Ultra are a bit more potent but probably aren't worth the additional cost.

SH's letter was great and he really knows his stuff. Another antibiotic that might be useful in people who are allergic to amoxicillin/penicillin, etc (those same people can also be cross-sensitive to cephalosporins (keflex, etc)) is azithromycin (z-pak) or erythromycin (ery-tab). They are broad-spectrum and are usually tolerated well (some G.I.side effects like cramping and diarrhea).
If someone is unable to find a like-minded prescriber there are plenty of veterinary medicines that can be used by people available at pet supply/agricultural stores. I have seen tetracycline, amoxicillin, and sulfa drugs which were to be used on everything from fish to horses. These would be fine to use in post-SHTF circumstances. They go by different brand names but are the same medicine. One would just have to take care to use appropriate dosing as they are usually in different strengths than human dosage forms. Ragnar Benson has some books on these topics.

Another thing is to have a good supply of natural medicines available(grow echinacea as an antibiotic and elderberry as an antiviral (flu prevention/treatment). There are many others.
Staying in good health and thinking "preventative" is a good way of decreasing the effects of some of the major killers. It seems as though the American way of life conditions many people to wait until a problem occurs to start thinking about their health, but you wouldn't wait until your engine locks up to change your oil. Diabetes, heart disease and cancer risk can be reduced by proper diet, exercise, stopping smoking, etc. This will allow you to be free of any "maintenance medications", insulin, etc. that might be difficult or expensive to stockpile.
I just finished reading "Patriots" , it is awesome work! Take care, - S.T. in Philly

Readers "Bigbird" and Trapper Mike both sent this: Brazil and China eye plan to axe dollar

John Hussman warns: Inflation Ahead! The Destructive Implications of the Bailout - Understanding Equilibrium (Thanks to GG for the link)

Frequent content contributor GG sent us this: Tax Revenues Tanking. Yikes! Look at the tax receipts for April of '08 versus April of '09. I suspect that the panic reaction in Congress will be raise the marginal tax rates.

Thanks to DS for sending this: Stocks waver after surprise drop in housing data (This leads me to ask: Why are journalists so surprised that the housing numbers are continuing to decline?)

Items from The Economatrix:

GM Bankruptcy Seen as All But Inevitable

Notes from Another Credit Card Crisis

Economy Limiting Services of Local Police

Obamarket Update #80: Jussssttt a Bit Outside

New Rules: Work 'til You Die

Condo Associations Dying as Fees Dry Up

Chrysler Expands Buyouts, Early Retirement Packages

Geithner: Economy Expanding But Jobs at Risk

US Workers Paying More For Healthcare

Hotel Crime Rises In Recession, But Hotels Say They Are Still Safe "The current downtrend is associated with significant cuts in security."

Stocks Waver After Surprise Drop in Housing Data

Housing Construction, Permits Hit Record Lows

Oil Prices Bounce Above $60 in New York

American Express to Cut 4,000 Jobs

Jobless Horrors (The Mogambo Guru)

Reader RTK recommended a New York Times Op-Ed piece: All Disasters Are Local

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Here is a link to a brief YouTube segment on how to seal foods in Mylar bags, using a Foodsaver

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Big-Box Stores Comparisons

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Disaster risk increasing, says UN

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From Trapper Mike: GPS system 'close to breakdown'; Network of satellites could begin to fail as early as 2010

"The difference between truth and fiction: fiction has to make sense." - Mark Twain

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Because I recently dropped Front Sight as an advertiser, the list of contest prizes for this round has been revised:

First Prize: A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Personal Background:
I am 65, have never been active duty military, nor in law enforcement. I have, however, legally (licensed CCW) carried a concealed handgun on a regular, daily basis, for most of my adult life. This includes CCW permits in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Indiana. When specific circumstances justified doing so (in my personal opinion at the time), I have also carried concealed in California "from time to time" without a CCW. I helped teach a concealed weapons class when living in Alaska by demonstrating how to carry effectively, regardless of weapon size. I have also had no fewer than seven instances in the last forty years when I have had to legitimately use a concealed handgun for personal defense of self or others. These include a home invasion attempt, an attempted "run my wife and I off the road" on a dark, deserted stretch of highway one night, two serious mugging attempts, two cases of effecting citizen's arrests at gun point for attempted thefts while working as a late night cashier at a convenience store, and (most recently), intervening in a domestic dispute gone bad where the male half attempted grave bodily harm on his (ex)fiancee by taking a shot at her in front of my house. Please note my use of "attempted" in all of the above cases. Thanks to my being legally armed at the time, none of them were successful. Equally fortunate, all were successfully resolved without my actually having to fire a shot in any of them (although three were really, really close). The above is just to support that my personal opinions below are based on many years of actual street experience as a civilian carrier of a legally carried concealed weapon.

Legal Considerations:
There was a recent post about an individual in Washington State who was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Said individual happened to have two loaded, concealed weapons in his vehicle, one handgun and one rifle. What said individual did not have was a CCW. In addition to whatever resulted from the traffic stop itself, both weapons were confiscated and the individual ended up with a conviction for carrying a concealed weapon without a license.
I too been pulled over for routine traffic stops while carrying concealed, once in Anchorage, Alaska (failure to signal a lane change) and once in Seattle, Washington (cracked windshield). In Anchorage, I immediately informed the officer that I was licensed and carrying and asked if he wanted to secure the weapon. His reply was "No. You have done what you are required by law to do - inform me that you are carrying. It is safer for both of us if you just leave it in the holster."

The difference between Anchorage and Seattle is that the two officers in Seattle did want to secure any weapons. By the time I was done divesting myself of any questionable items, there were two J Frame S&W .38s (both with Crimson Trace laser grips), a Colt Mustang Pocketlite .380, a Benchmade lock-back folder, a Leatherman Wave, a Swiss Champ knife, a canister of Pepper Spray, and an ASP tactical baton on the hood of my car. Reaction to what the liberal media would describe as a walking arsenal? One officer turned to the other and said "S***, he's got better gear than we do."
In both cases, I drove away with nothing more than a verbal warning, one to watch my lane changes and the other to get my windshield fixed. I have always suspected that my being legally armed and cooperative was a factor in receiving verbal warnings instead of written tickets.

I am a Life Member of the NRA, as pro Second Amendment as anyone reading SurvivalBlog, and personally believe that the only two states that have "got it right" are Vermont and Alaska, both of which allow concealed carry, with no permit required [even inside city limits]. Having said that, I also recognize that the remaining 48 states DO have restrictive laws governing the carrying of concealed weapons. I also recognize that, at least for the time being and immediately foreseeable future, they also have functioning law enforcement and judicial systems. While I may agree with the sentiment that no law abiding citizen should be required to have a license to exercise rights guaranteed under the Constitution, I also have no sympathy for anyone who assumes that position, gets caught, and ends up paying the legal price.

The question I would ask anyone who is considering carrying concealed without the necessary legal permit is this: Is the exercise of your principles worth the risk of losing the weapon(s) you are carrying, a criminal conviction that will probably result in failed background checks for any future purchases requiring Federal paperwork, and the distinct possibility in today's political environment of the stop/conviction triggering a search warrant of your home (and subsequent confiscation of any weapons found there) because DHS criteria suggests that you are obviously a dangerous extremist, if not an outright terrorist? Let your conscience be your guide. Just be sure to very carefully think through the potential ramifications of your actions.


The absolute Rule Number One of gunfights is simple and basic: Have a gun. Not only do I totally agree with Rule Number One, but without exception, all other considerations in the concealed carry decision process are insignificant compared to Rule Number One.

Rule Number Two generally involves weapon choice - revolver versus semi-auto. Depending on who is on the soap box at the moment, myriad reasons will be

Rule Number Three generally involves the best caliber. As with the revolver versus semi-automatic decision, one size does not fit all. While there is much truth to the old statement that a 9mm may expand but a .45 will never shrink, the size of the hole is of far less importance than the location of the hole. Bore diameter is nowhere near as critical as shot placement.

Rule Number Four deals with the How and Where to carry. The vast majority of gun writers/instructors teach/preach strong-side hip, preferably in an inside the waist band (IWB) holster. This is an excellent choice. But as with Rules Two and Three, one size does not fit all. There are numerous reasons why this may be a less than optimum method of carry, depending on specific circumstances at the time.

Rule Number Five is to always carry at least one reload of spare ammo in either a spare magazine for a semi-auto or some kind of speed loader for a revolver. I totally agree about carrying spare ammo. I just don't necessarily agree on the best way to do it.

Rule Number Six is to always use "aimed" fire by focusing on your front sight.

Rule Number Seven is the true weapon isn't the gun; it is the person holding it.

Rule Number One: See above. No disagreement here at all.
Rule Number Two: See Rule Number One. Whether it is a revolver or semi-auto, your first choice should be the biggest (in terms of both caliber and capacity) that you will always have with you. A $2,000 tricked-out custom [Model] 1911 with all the latest bells and whistles is worthless if it is back home in your gun safe (you do have a gun safe, don't you?) when you need it on the street. Having a carry gun that you don't carry all the time because it is too big, too heavy, interferes with your clothing style, or any other lame excuse you come up with, makes no sense at all in my book. If you have made the decision to carry, then do so. Period. No exceptions. It makes not one whit of difference if that choice is a revolver or semi-auto as long as it is one you will always have on/with you. It makes a whole lot of difference if it is at home and you aren't, regardless of type.
Rule Number Three: See Rule Number One. Years ago (before the days of high performance JHP bullets) caliber choice did make a difference in terms of proven street performance. After many, many years of documented shootings, the 125 grain JHP .357 Magnum still holds the position of number one, one shot stop performance. It is followed very closely now by the .40 S&W, with the .45 ACP marginally behind the .40. Today's high performance loads for .32 and .380, however, are vastly superior to the old 148 grain lead round nose .38 Special police loads, which were notoriously poor stoppers.

The point is that the caliber itself is not the key factor. What is the most effective (note that I said effective and not largest) caliber that you can comfortably handle and reliably control? My daughter and a personal friend of ours both have a medical condition which makes it physically impossible for either of them to control any semi-auto chambering more than a .380. "Muzzle flip" with heavier loads will literally dislocate their wrists because most of the recoil force is transferred directly to the wrist joint. Both of them, however, can very easily and comfortably control full frame .45 revolvers. This is because grip angle on the revolver transfers recoil into the web of the hand between the thumb and pointer finger and then in a direct line through the wrist and down the forearm. Not only is perceived recoil considerably reduced, actual recoil force applied to the wrist joint is in fact reduced.

Re-stating Rules Two and Three: See Rule Number One. What works best for you? You need to stop caring about what works best for someone else. Concentrate instead on what works best for you and in a type/caliber configuration that you will always have with you. Front Sight's motto of "Any gun will do, if you will do" is absolutely true.
Rule Number Four: Are you ready? Can you guess? See Rule Number One. There is no question that a good IWB holster is one of the most effective ways to carry (and more importantly conceal) any handgun, especially full frame revolvers or semi-autos. Because the holster and lower portion of the weapon are inside the pants, nothing is visible below the level of the belt. Being inside the pants also allows you to cinch your belt tight, pulling the entire gun frame into your body instead of allowing it to flop outward, "printing" on your shirt or jacket. This is especially important if you are carrying a small revolver in a belt holster because they are "top heavy" with a tendency to have the butt of the gun flop or sag away from the body. But unless the IWB holster is properly designed to stay open with the weapon removed, it is virtually impossible to re-holster the gun one-handed.

But as effective as it might be, an IWB is not always your best choice. Do you spend most of your working day behind the wheel of a vehicle? Try drawing from a strong-side hip IWB holster some time while you are sitting behind the wheel, with your seat belt going over your jacket. Under these circumstances, a good shoulder or cross-draw holster would be infinitely more practical. Or maybe you work in an office that doesn't have air conditioning in the hot and humid summer months. I can guarantee you that your co-workers will find it odd or strange that you are the only one in the office who never removes your coat. Been there. Done that. Switched to a different carry method.
Rule Number Five: Again, See Rule Number One. Given the proliferation in recent years of high capacity semi-autos using double stack magazines capable of holding 15 or more rounds, there is a tendency for the neophyte (and even some with more experience who should know better) to assume that spare ammo is unnecessary. The logic runs "If I can't resolve the problem in 15, or 17 or 19 rounds, I won't need spare ammo anyway." I don't care who the manufacturer is or how high the quality of the product, if it is mechanical, it can break or malfunction. Or, as I read recently, "Anyone who tells you they have never experienced a breakage is either lying or they don't shoot enough." With proper training, you can very quickly clear typical semi-auto jams or malfunctions. But if the magazine itself fails (like having the floor plate come loose, dumping all remaining rounds on the ground), the only way to get back in action (short of picking up one round at a time from the ground and hand feeding it in the chamber), is having a spare reload.

In spite of the argument that revolvers are more "functionally reliable" than semi-autos, they are not immune to problems. Older style firing pins can break. Inadequate crimping can cause bullets to pull forward from the case, locking up the cylinder. The early-production Model 586 L Frame S&W .357 Magnum had a design flaw that would cause primers to back out of the primer pocket, which would also lock the cylinder, preventing cylinder rotation. There is no "rack and tap" clearance drill for a locked up revolver cylinder. The only remedy is disassembly, which is best left to a qualified gunsmith. I was fortunate that my 586 locked up on me while testing it at the range and not in the middle of some serious social interaction. Or I should say, the 586 that I used to own.
Where I personally differ from Conventional Wisdom is that I don't carry spare ammo for my primary strong side hip holstered weapon (either a Browning Hi-Power in .40 S&W or a Kimber Gold Match 1911 in .45 ACP). I carry a spare gun (Taurus 605 .357 Magnum with a 2-1/2 inch barrel). What I give up in the way of spare rounds (5 rounds of. .357 vs 10 .40 or 8 rounds of .45) I more than gain in speed and versatility. This is what is known as a "New York Reload" based on NYPD's famed Stake-Out Squad. Simply put, the fastest reload in the world is a second gun.

That by itself is enough reason for me to carry a spare gun instead of spare ammo for my primary. But there are other reasons that, again for me, are even more important. If you are ever faced with multiple assailants and are with someone, tossing them your spare magazine won't do either of you much good. Tossing them your spare gun might. What if you are out with your family some dark and rainy night and your car breaks down in a questionable area, requiring you to walk for help? (Yes, you should have a functioning cell phone for those situations. Is it fully charged? Do you have a charger in the car just in case it isn't? Are you in a dead zone with no phone reception?) If it is necessary for any reason for you to leave them while you seek help, do you take your gun with you (leaving them defenseless), or do you leave your gun with them (leaving you defenseless)? This becomes a non-issue with a spare gun.

What if you are assaulted (mugged) on the street and your assailant grabs your gun hand/arm, preventing you from accessing your strong side weapon? This also becomes a non-issue if you are carrying two guns, strong and weak side, allowing you to quickly access a weapon with either hand. One of the two previously mentioned mugging attempts involved two assailants who positioned themselves in front and behind me while I was walking down the street one night. The only reason the lead assailant was unable to pin my gun hand/arm was that I had deliberately positioned him to my left when passing him. When he suddenly lunged at me, grabbing and pinning my left arm against my side, I was still able to access my weapon on the side away from him. Needless to say, he did a very quick "oopsy two-step" while disengaging from the encounter. That was forty years ago and when I first started thinking through the wisdom of carrying a second gun.
Before anybody says/thinks that the other reason is that this acts as my back-up gun, no, it does not. I refer to it as my secondary/spare, not my back-up. I do so for a reason, that reason being that my true "back-up" is either one of those previously mentioned J Frames or the Colt Mustang in my left front pants pocket. If you are beyond remedial math skills, you quickly realized that 1+1+1 = 3. The small J Frames or the Mustang are my always guns. I switch between the J's and Colt based on the pants I'm wearing at the time. If the pockets are deep enough, I carry one of the Smiths. If not, I carry the Colt. Either way, if I am wearing pants, I will always have one or the other on me, even inside my house.

As an aside, legality of carrying multiple weapons (even with a CCW), varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some states, the CCW allows the holder to carry whatever make/model/caliber and number of guns that suits their individual fancy. Not so in others. Some states are so restrictive that the CCW is weapon specific, including right down to make, model, and serial number. You are allowed to carry the exact weapon shown on your CCW and nothing else, period. Act according to what is allowed in your jurisdiction. The best advice if you live in one of the more restrictive jurisdictions is this: Move.

Rule Number Six: Once again, see Rule Number One. There are a number of very good "pocket" (Always) guns that don't even have effective front sights. Full size weapons that do have decent "standard" sights may be very effective in well lit situations but become virtually worthless in the dark. Sorry, but you simply can't focus on your front sight if you can't even see it in the first place.
There are three effective ways to address this potential problem: glow in the dark "night sights," laser grips, and "pointer fire." Higher end (read more expensive) guns may come already set-up with night sights, or more recently, even Crimson Trace laser grips. Decent after-market night sights can be picked up for between $70 and $100, depending on brand, plus installation cost if you have it done by a gunsmith. Crimson Trace grips will run, on average, plus or minus $300 depending on make and model of the gun. Of the two options, there is no question that laser grips are the more versatile choice. You have to be looking down the top strap of the gun to see and use your night sights. Not so with lasers. Lasers are also an effective "force multiplier." Putting that red dot on someone's chest will almost always immediately cause them to "reconsider" whatever it is they are doing. End result is problem solved without your having to actually pull the trigger. Believe me, you really don't want to have to pull the trigger if you can avoid it. I am such a huge fan of Crimson Trace grips that my Hi Power, Kimber, Taurus, and both J Frames are all equipped with them (as do my son-in-law's three and my daughter's two carry guns). My only carry gun that doesn't is my Mustang. And the only reason it doesn't is that always doesn't make grips for it.

Pointer fire doesn't work? Tell that to Bill Jordan, one of the fastest and deadliest real gunfighters of the last century. Or Thell Reed and Arvo Ojalla, both of whom were almost unbelievably proficient at "hip shooting." Remember the old Gunsmoke television program, which always started with Matt Dillon having a classic "walk and draw" face-off on Main street? His "opponent" in that clip was Ojalla (who spent much of his career training Western actors). Ojalla's "trademark" trick was to place a target 21 feet away. He would then, in one continuous motion, throw a knife at the target, draw, and fire a single action Colt - from "the hip." The bullet would hit the target first, followed almost immediately by the point of the knife going into the bullet hole.

I personally "honed" my gun handling skills in the days before it became common knowledge that "pointer fire doesn't work." My "test fire" procedure for any new carry gun is six full loads (magazines in a semi-auto or cylinders in a revolver) at a standard silhouette target 21 feet down-range. I use 21 feet because contact to 21 feet is the distance at which the vast majority of actual gunfights take place. My first load is aimed fire, center of mass. My second is aimed fire, head shots. My third is slow and deliberate strong hand pointer fire. This is followed by the fourth load of rapid fire strong hand pointer. The fifth and six loads are slow and rapid weak hand pointer fire. If I cannot consistently keep all of my rounds on target at 21 feet, I don't carry that gun. I do the same basic drill whenever I add laser grips to a new carry gun, with two modifications. I eliminate the two rapid fire sequences and move the target back to 25 yards. All "sighting" is then done using just that red dot on target. It should be obvious, but I will say it anyway. Pointer fire becomes even more effective if you have the added visual benefit of a red dot on target.

In this regard, weapon choice can and does make a huge difference. Some guns are "natural pointers" in that the grip angle naturally aligns the bore with the shooter's hand, wrist and forearm. The gun "points" where the shooter points. Probably the two best grip designs for "pointability" in the history of firearms are the Colt Single Action Army and the High Standard Sentinel. As a general rule, with some exceptions, most revolvers are reasonably good natural pointers. This is not at all true for semi-autos. Some are excellent while others are absolutely horrid. You test this by holding the gun naturally in your hand, waist high, and point it at a target. Does the bore follow a straight line through your hand, wrist, and forearm? Or does the muzzle point up (or down) from a line running down your arm? If it does, you would have to make an unnatural compensation in your grip by "cocking your wrist" to bring the gun "on target" with pointer fire. Learning to be able to consistently do that, especially while under stress, isn't worth the time, trouble, or ammo expense. Choose a different gun to carry.
When time and distance are appropriate, absolutely follow conventional wisdom. Focus on your front sight and use sighted/aimed fire. But I would strongly suggest that you have an effective, workable, fall-back option for those situations where conventional wisdom might be found lacking in real life.

Rule Number Seven: Don't ever bluff with a loaded gun. Under the law, you will be held to a higher standard of conduct just from the mere fact that you are armed. If you are not mentally and emotionally prepared to pull the trigger if put in a situation that justifies doing so, then don't carry a gun. And don't ever make the mistake of thinking that someone is going to immediately comply with your wishes just because you pull a gun on them, because an uncomfortable percentage of the time they won't. What are you going to do after you draw down on them and they then tell you "You don't have the (whatever) to use that" and keep on coming? You are either justified in using deadly force or you aren't. If your immediate situation does not justify deadly force then keep your gun in your holster.
Besides, it isn't the gun itself that compels compliance, it is how you present yourself. Do you come across as confident or fearful? Resolute or timid? What does your manner and attitude convey to the other person? And I don't mean acting aggressively, either. Very often, the difference between having to actually pull the trigger or not hinges on the other person's perception of your willingness to do so if necessary. Or stated differently, if they believe you will, you probably won't have to.
One of the two late night convenience store incidents involved two very "mouthy" individuals who proceeded to tell me "You think you're such hot stuff with that piece? You better remember that there are two of us and just one of you." And this was while they were being held at gun-point. Their attitude suddenly changed when I held up the J frame in my hand and said "Two to one? No. I count it five to two."

An even stronger example of the impact of "presentation" wasn't even included in my list of seven incidents. That was the night I backed down seven Gypsy Jokers (outlaw Biker gang) without ever giving the slightest indication that I was even carrying. After a fairly tense few minutes that included numerous threats concerning what they planned to do to me (during which I never once raised my voice or even flinched), one of them talked the rest into leaving the store. That particular individual came back to the store by himself a couple of nights later. I thanked him for defusing the situation. That's when he told me "You should have been making wet spots on the floor. You weren't. I didn't want to find out why not."

Two weeks later, he came back in, by himself. Only this time, he cornered me in the back room when I had both hands full of empty six packs of bottles. He also pulled a knife on me with the comment "Now I've got you where I want you." I simply said "Whenever you're ready, make your play. All I'm going to do is open my right hand and then put two just above your belt buckle before the first bottle hits the floor." He responded with "You're not that good." I answered with "You think not. I think I am. Whenever you're ready to find out which of us is right, go for it." His parting words before he left the store (after putting his knife away) were "You're not worth it." I never saw him again. He may not have believed that I was good enough to pull it off, but he knew I was sure going to try. He also knew the other side of the coin to Rule Number One: Never bring a knife to a gunfight. "Presentation and Perception" were the keys that kept a bad situation from getting worse. Oh, and this incident was also not included in the list of seven because I didn't actually "use" the gun that I was in fact very mentally prepared to.

Since I have already pretty well belabored Rule One (it does not really matter what you carry, as long as you carry something), I am not going to spend any more time discussing weapon or caliber specifics. Instead, I am going to focus strictly on Rule Number Four - the How and Where of carrying in a less than conventional or textbook manner.
There are essentially just two basic ways to carry a handgun: With or Without a holster. There are, however, numerous specific ways to do both.
True holster carry includes strong and weak side hip (inside and outside the waist band), cross-draw, shoulder (vertical, horizontal, and upside down), ankle, and pocket. There are also variations, such as groin and belly band, that technically fall within the "holster" category but which are not in fact actual holsters in the traditional sense. There are also multiple different ways to attach a holster to a belt (clips, snaps, slots, paddle), as well as many different styles of belt holster. Depending on specific circumstances at the time, I have experimented with every one of the above (and others) over the last 45 years.

Whichever type is used, however, the crucial factors are comfort, concealment, and accessibility. All three are important. Which of these is most important, however, depends entirely on individual circumstances. As with Rules Two and Three, there is no pat answer. It all depends on the individual and their reasons for carrying in the first place. For someone who would be fired on the spot if caught carrying, absolute concealment is obviously more important than comfort or accessibility. By the same token, if you work in a high risk environment, accessibility will have the greatest importance. If neither of these circumstances is present, you would probably be more likely to opt for comfort first.

If the carry method isn't comfortable, you will violate Rule Number One and leave the gun at home when you should have it with you. You will also have a tendency to constantly readjust or reposition it, which is a classic "tell" that you are carrying. If the carry method doesn't adequately conceal the weapon (gun is visible because it is carried too far forward on the hip, allowing it to be seen if the covering outer garment is moved aside when retrieving something from a pocket, it is worn such that the gun butt "prints," or the barrel can be seen beneath the bottom edge of the covering garment, as examples,) two less than desirable results occur. The first is that you immediately lose any surprise advantage should you be put in a position of actually needing to use your weapon. The second, depending on jurisdiction, is that you very well may also lose your CCW. My Indiana CCW allows either concealed or open carry. With my CCW, I am still legal, even if my weapon should become visible (such as having my shirt catch on the back of the chair at the restaurant recently, exposing my weapon). This is not the case in all jurisdictions. Exposing your weapon in public in some jurisdictions is grounds of and by itself for automatic cancellation of your CCW. The third, accessibility, should be obvious. If you can't quickly and easily get to it if you should need it, strict observance of Rule Number One won't do you much good.

The two key determining factors in holster selection can be summed up as lifestyle and dress code. What do you do to earn a living? Do you work in an office behind a desk? Drive a truck or taxi for eight hours? Stand on your feet all day long working retail behind a counter? Are you retired? Are you required to wear a uniform at work (company logo type thing?) Suit and tie? Coveralls (mechanic in a shop for example?) Casual attire? How can you best achieve the three critical factors (comfort, concealment and accessibility) in your specific situation? A holster that works extremely well in one scenario may not work at all in another. You may prefer a particular mode of carry but your job or required dress may prevent it. What works best for you for your specific circumstances at the time?

I have already mentioned the difficulty of drawing from a strong side hip holster when buckled up behind the wheel of a vehicle. You can encounter similar problems when seated at a desk, even without a seat belt. If you are sitting close to the desk (legs under the desk, hands and arms on the desk), the gun barrel will come up under the front edge of the desk when you draw it, unless you first push yourself back from the desk to give yourself adequate clearance.

There are four realistic holster options for desk work: ankle, cross-draw, shoulder, and Cavalry. The "best choice" depends on a number of factors. Do you wear your suit/sport coat while working at your desk or do you take it off? Do you (for whatever reason) only carry one gun? How much of your working day is spent at your desk versus out and around? What is your commute situation? Do you drive or take public transportation? Best choice? The reality is that answers to these questions may determine your choice for you. As I said earlier, what works extremely well in one scenario may not work at all in another. You need to balance the totality of your carry requirements in making your carry decisions.

If you work in shirt sleeves all day long at your desk, an ankle rig may be your only truly practical choice for concealment and accessibility. Your desk will prevent anyone from the front or side seeing it and it will be instantly "at hand" if you need it. It becomes increasingly less practical, however, if you don't spend all day in the office and/or commute by driving.
Wearing a "covering garment" greatly expands your options, whether that garment is a coat or sweater, preferably with front buttons. Either a cross-draw or shoulder holster will put your gun very close "to hand" by allowing you to sit with your elbow on your chair's arm rest, arms crossed in front of you, and your hand inside your coat or sweater. A cross-draw holster lessens the risk of catching the gun barrel on the front edge of the desk compared to strong side hip, but it is still a potential if you are sitting too close. You avoid this by simply "rocking back" in your chair as you draw. As your upper body goes back, your gun easily clears the front edge of the desk as you draw.

The "type" of shoulder holster directly affects both accessibility and draw. Horizontal rigs naturally position the gun above the desk edge. Simply execute your draw. An upside down rig has the same potential for catching under the front edge of the desk as strong side hip or cross-draw. You avoid the desk edge by doing the same "rock back" as with a cross-draw. A typical vertical shoulder holster, however, presents its own little twist to the draw depending on how tall you are and your "torso length" relative to positioning with the front edge of the desk. Draws from a vertical shoulder holster are executed with a "forward and down" motion. Unless you sit high enough, the front edge of the desk will also interfere and get in the way of your clearing the holster and acquiring your target. If you are tall enough to clear, simply execute the draw. If not, again do a "rock back" in your chair to gain the needed extra clearance.

My personal preference if I am wearing a coat or sweater, however, is a Cavalry draw. It is called this because that is the way Cavalry troops carried their handguns in the 180os - strong side hip, gun butt forward. The classic picture of Wild Bill Hickock also demonstrates this method of carry. He wore a sash with a pair of Colt 1851 Navy Cap and Ball revolvers stuck butts forward in the sash. As a point of historical trivia, this method of carry is the fastest known way to draw and fire a single action revolver while seated at a poker table. With modern weapons and holsters, use a left hand holster for a right hand draw (and vice versa). The gun/holster is worn high, butt against your side (lower rib cage). You draw by simply reversing your hand (palm out, back of your hand against your side). Grasp the butt of the gun and then snap your elbow back in against your body. This action brings the gun out of the holster in a horizontal sweep above the edge of the desk. Pull the trigger when the muzzle goes "on target." I prefer this method because it works equally well for sitting at a desk, driving, or walking down the street. [JWR Adds: From a safety standpoint, be advised that this carry and presentation method also "muzzles" your legs if you you use your strong side hand, which is a no-no.]

Ankle holsters can be a practical option, but other than for desk work as described above, I personally feel they should be reserved strictly for deep cover back-up guns and not for your primary gun. They may or may not be comfortable because they have a tendency to chafe on your leg and ankle. To assure concealment, you also need to pay strict and careful attention to the cut of your pant leg for both tightness and length. If your pant leg isn't long enough, it will ride up and over the holster, exposing your weapon. If your cuff is too tight, accessibility will be excessively (dangerously) restricted. My main objections to them, however, are speed and vulnerability while drawing. Of all of the holster options, an ankle rig is probably the slowest from initiating your draw until time on target. And I really don't like the idea of having to either kneel or bend over to get at my weapon if I am in a literal face-to-face encounter with someone.

The only holster style that I have absolutely no use for is Small of the Back (SOB). They are effective for concealment. They are also just as accessible (for speed) as a strong side hip holster, and probably faster than a shoulder or cross-draw rig. The down-side is that they are not particularly comfortable when seated because the gun rests right against the spine. And this is why I don't like them. I don't dislike them because they are uncomfortable. I dislike them because they are dangerous. If you ever slip and fall flat on your back (or get pushed violently against a wall in a physical confrontation) while using a Small of the Back holster, you run an extremely high risk of having your back broken from the impact of hard steel directly against your spine.
There isn't much that needs to be said about shoulder holsters, except for the upside down (old Berns-Martin) style. This is one of only two holster styles I personally know of where you can access and draw your weapon just as easily (and quickly) with either hand. In one sense, it is a vertical rig because the barrel points straight up, with the gun butt pointing toward the rear. If worn on your left side, you simply reach across with your right hand, bringing it up to grasp the gun in a natural grip. You access it with your left hand by reaching up under the covering garment, curling your hand/wrist to also grab the gun with a natural grip. The draw itself is executed by "rolling" your hand in a circular motion toward the rear, down, and then forward and up. Another thing I like about this design is that you can stand with the gun already grasped in your left hand (the outer garment drapes over your wrist and conceals your gun hand) and no one facing you has the slightest clue that you are in fact armed. They just think you are standing with your hand on your hip. At least they did when I "demonstrated" this very draw while working at the previously mentioned late night convenience store. An upside down shoulder holster also tends to conceal better than vertical or horizontal rigs because the top strap of the gun is forward, reducing "printing" potential compared to the butt making obvious bulges under the covering garment.

I mentioned that the upside down shoulder holster was one of only two styles allowing quick and easy access with either hand. The other is a cross-draw holster where you reach across with your strong side hand or use a Cavalry draw with your weak hand. The problem with this approach (and cross draw in general) is that positioning the holster far enough forward on the hip for easy access with your strong hand too often places it in a position where the covering garment no longer adequately conceals the weapon.

Pants pocket carry can go under either category - with or without a holster. Conventional wisdom is to always use a pocket holster because it keeps the gun in a constant position, preventing it from shifting around in your pocket, as well as breaking up the outline of the gun. The other aspect of conventional wisdom is to never carry anything else in the same pocket at the same time - just the gun and holster. While I can understand the logic of both points, and agree in principle, I personally don't care for and therefore do not use a pocket holster myself. I also carry a money clip and small change purse in the same pocket, which I personally use to break up the outline.
Either way (with or without a holster), do not carry any gun with a standard "spur" hammer in your pocket. There is excessive risk of the hammer spur snagging on fabric when you draw the gun. The only way to avoid this is to place your thumb against the back of the hammer and doing so prevents getting a proper grip while drawing. You want either a round hammer like the Colt Mustang and some Browning models, or a hammerless model (the correct technical terminology is internal hammer but most people just call them hammerless) like the S&W 442 or 642 revolvers, something with a hammer shroud like the S&W Bodyguard, or one of the smaller double action only semi-autos that don't have an exposed hammer.

I mentioned earlier that a J Frame or Colt Mustang is my "true back-up" gun. The reality is that it is actually my primary, in that it is the one I would probably be most likely to draw first. The reason is that surprise equals (or beats) speed. Most people stand around with a hand in their pocket, just looking relaxed (or slovenly depending on how fastidious you are). Well, when I am standing there with my hand in my pocket, there is a gun already in my hand (which takes care of any shifting around problem from not using a pocket holster.) Someone might anticipate, and block, a sweeping motion to draw my strong side hip weapon. They wouldn't even see it coming when I pulled the gun out of my pocket because it would be totally unexpected. The surprise factor is also one of the reasons why, contrary to conventional wisdom, that I personally keep my money clip in the same pocket as my back-up gun. If I have been targeted for a strong-arm or mugging attempt because someone has observed me putting my folding green in that pocket, then that is what they are going to expect to see when I remove my hand from the pocket - not their worst nightmare. At contact range (which is when this scenario would go down), I feel just as adequately armed with a properly loaded .380 as I would with a .45.

There are also two particularly effective ways to carry without using a holster at all. One is if you are wearing a suit or sport coat and the other is if you are wearing a vest or coat with flap front cargo pockets. When I used to work in an office where circumstances pretty much dictated taking my coat off during the day (hanging it on the back of my chair), and I therefore could not use belt or shoulder holsters, I carried the gun upside down in my strong side inside coat breast pocket. I would place my checkbook in the pocket and the gun in behind it, using the checkbook to break up the outline. With the barrel pointing up, the butt would be toward the rear (same as an upside down shoulder holster). To draw the gun, grasp the edge of the coat with your right hand, just above the pocket opening. Then reach in with your left hand and pull the gun straight up out of the pocket, using your right hand and the coat to shield the gun from view. Once the gun clears the pocket, simply flip it out with your left hand into the palm of your right hand. If you are being mugged when doing this, make your motions slow and deliberate while saying something like "Take it easy. I'm just getting my wallet." That's the Teddy Roosevelt approach to Diplomacy - saying "Nice doggie" while you reach for the big stick.

For cool and cold weather, my carry number (since I can) more often than not goes from three to five. I still carry strong side, weak side, and pocket. But I will add an outer garment with two flap front cargo pockets, into each of which will go one of the previously mentioned J Frame Smiths. Now when I am standing around, keeping my hands warm in my pockets, I am hanging onto two guns, not one. And I never carry anything other than hammerless J Frames this way. The reason I will only use hammerless revolvers is that, like the fastest reload being a second gun, the fastest draw is no draw at all. It would definitely ruin the vest or coat, but with the hammerless revolvers at arm's length distance, I can shoot right through the pockets without needing to first draw the guns from the pockets. And I can keep on shooting them until they run dry with no fear of either a hammer or slide catching on fabric. If you try that with a semi-auto, you will get one shot before the gun jams with fabric in the action [or short cycles]. You might not get any with a regular revolver if the fabric gets between the hammer and the frame. Like I said, you will definitely ruin the coat. In addition to bullet holes, you might (probably will) also set the coat on fire. But if you ever are in this situation, a ruined coat will be the least of your concerns.

The other mode of holster-less carry that needs to be mentioned dates back to frontier days and is typically called the Mexican Carry: shove the gun in your waistband. I only have one word of advice for this method: Don't. There simply is no way the gun will stay in the same position. It will shift around, slide down inside your pants (and maybe even down your pants leg), or simply fall out onto the ground. And this is just with normal activity. Add running or wrestling to the equation and it will go where it shouldn't even faster. The only guarantee is that it won't be where you put it when you need it.

One final aspect of carrying concealed needs to be discussed and that is how movement affects concealment. Before you start carrying, you tend to not think about how various movements affect the drape and fit of your clothes. That instantly changes as soon as you strap on a gun. For discussion purposes, I am going to assume a coat as the covering garment in all cases.
Example one is a strong-side belt holster. Assume you are in a store and have to reach something on an upper shelf, such that you have to stretch to get it. If you reach for it with the same hand/side as your gun, that stretching action will cause your coat on that side to "ride up," potentially exposing your weapon. This is a perfect example of why an IWB is particularly effective for concealment. But if you reach with the opposite hand, the same action will cause your coat to ride even lower on the gun side, maintaining concealment. Now you want to get something on the bottom shelf. If you simply bend over at the waist to get it, your covering garment will pull tight over your weapon, causing it to "print." You quickly learn to avoid bending over under any circumstances. Instead, kneel down, keeping your back as straight as possible while doing so.

Do you spend much time around people who like to "hug?" If you do, it is important that you initiate the hug. If you hug them first, their arms will be forced to go around, outside of, yours. This prevents them from feeling your concealed weapon when they hug you first with their arms inside of yours. Also protect your "personal space" when in crowds to minimize/avoid detection from someone bumping into you.

Proper positioning of belt holsters just rearward of the body's mid-line greatly reduces potential exposure from a frontal view. But it doesn't eliminate it. Minimize the number of things you carry in your strong-side front pants pocket to reduce potential for exposing your weapon when retrieving something from the pocket. Also learn to "sweep" your covering garment into a blocking position, locked in place with your arm, when you reach into the pocket. The other high potential for frontal exposure is if your coat gets blown open by the wind.

My personal approach is to carry something else on my belt in front of my weapon. I use a .45 caliber double magazine pouch on my left side. I have a Streamlight Stinger flashlight in one pouch and my Leatherman in the other. I wear a double Swiss Army pouch with my Swiss Champ and miscellaneous small items on my right side. Both are worn just to the rear edge of my front pants pockets, far enough back to avoid blocking easy access to my car keys and wallet on the right and my money clip and small noise maker on the left. The concealment advantage of doing this is that both are thick enough to cause my coat to drape over them, thereby reducing potential printing of the two holstered guns. They also shield the guns from frontal view by being in front of the guns. Someone's eye will be drawn to them first and not see the guns. You can further reduce potential for the wind to blow your coat open by carrying a tube of fishing split-shot weights in your outer pocket. The added weight greatly reduces, if not outright eliminates, the wind from flipping your coat open when you least expect it.

As for actual "fit," there are some other things that need doing, depending on your chosen carry method. If you choose a shoulder rig for use with a suit or sport coat, you need to have the carry side tailored for extra room to prevent printing. If you choose an IWB belt holster, you need to wear pants one size larger than normal to provide adequate room for the gun and holster. If you don't, your pants will be uncomfortably tight. You also need to use a belt one size longer than normal. Speaking of belts, avoid fancy leather dress belts. They are too thin and do not provide sufficient support. You want thick, reasonably stiff leather, and preferably 1-1/2 inches wide in most cases. Narrower does not provide enough load bearing support and wider may not fit your belt loops. You also want the belt to fit as snugly in the belt loops as possible to reduce shifting.

The preceding are just a few thoughts and ideas from an old Maverick with close to half a century of walking heavy. Always remember Rule Number One - and do it in a way that works best for you and not what someone else who doesn't know your circumstances tells you is "the best" way to go.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I recently purchased a Kel-Tec P3AT [.380 ACP pistol] and I am having problems physically pulling back the slide and loading/pushing down ammo into the magazine because I have moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. My doctor advised me to wear wrist splints to decrease the pain of my carpal tunnel syndrome and the numbness that goes along with it. Wrist splints have helped me greatly (in combination with several other approaches), but they have also significantly reduced the strength I have in my wrists and hands.

Do you have any specific advice regarding building up hand and wrist strength in order to overcome this issue? Unfortunately, I do not feel comfortable talking with my doctor about owning a Kel-Tec and my need to have stronger hands and wrists. Also, if you do give me advice, please keep in mind that I am a 5' 5" female who weighs about 110 lbs. (Bench pressing 250 lbs is not a viable option for me.) Carpal tunnel is fairly common within the general population and I wouldn't be surprised if other Survival Blog readers are having the same problems I'm having. Thank you.
God Bless!, In Christ Jesus, - Heather

P.S.: The You Tube clip on Archie Bunker and gun control [that was posted yesterday] was priceless. I laughed so hard that my stomach ached

JWR Replies: First, I must ask: Are you trying to pull the slide back by grasping it with your thumb and forefinger? Forget that. The method now preferred for all shooters is to cup your entire hand around the top of the rear-half of the slide, grasping with your whole hand, and pull it back sharply. Use plenty of force, "as if you are trying to rip the slide off the pistol." (That is how one of my pistol-shooting instructors described it ) If need be, you can actually use the combined strength of both forearms by pulling backwards with your non-shooting hand, and simultaneously thrusting slightly forward with your shooting hand.

Consult your local physical therapists about hand and arm exercises. They'll have advice on specific exercises and frequency/duration of training sessions in a regimen that will avoid repetitive stress injuries. .

If that doesn't work for you, then you need to go to your gun shop (or better yet, for the chance to do private transactions, to a gun show) and try "racking" several other brands of pistols, the same way as I described. Ironically, depending on the spring tension, some larger guns may actually be easier for you to manipulate. Find one that you can handle better than the Kel-Tec, and do a trade-in. (Hopefully, BTW, that will be a .40 S&W, since .380 ACP is a marginal man-stopper, at best, and 9mm is only a bit better)

New flu virtually everywhere in U.S. now, CDC says

WHO chief kept flu alert level at phase 5+

New York school vice-principal dies from swine Flu (Thanks to KAF for alerting us to this news story)

A New, New H1N1 In Mexico?

Nations Urge WHO to Change Swine Flu Assessment They want pandemic called only if lots of people are dying (not because it is widespread) because of money: "A pandemic announcement would likely have severe economic consequences: it could trigger expensive trade and travel restrictions like border closures, airport screenings and quarantines, as countries not yet affected struggle to keep the virus out."

Transmission of Swine Flu In Japan = Phase 6

CDC: Swine Flu Virtually Everywhere in US

Military Implications of Pandemic Flu

From frequent content contributor GG: China holds sway over US Dollar "The U. S. should be afraid, very afraid. China is questioning the dollar's status as a reserve currency and, at US $1,000 an ounce, gold has become the world's de facto currency." - John Ing, Maison Placements in Canada

Mike S. suggested a piece titled "Obsessive Housing Disorder" on Michelle Malkin's blog, that describes the history of our dysfunctional housing market.

HPD sent us a link to a piece by economic commentator Mish Shedlock: If You're Not Petrified of Obama, You're Not Paying Attention

Items from The Economatrix:

AP Economic Stress Index: Measuring Financial Strain By County

US Backing for World Currency Stuns Markets

Goldman's $10 Billion Payback

House Price Drops Leave More Underwater

Stocks Jump on House, Bank Optimism

Asia will author its own destruction if it triggers a crisis over US bonds

Investors: Bull Market Has No Legs

From Marc Faber: Lookout! Capitalism Dead. US Going Bankrupt. There Is Going To Be War

Long and Short of Bond Insanity (The Mogambo Guru)

EMB suggested this blog piece: Root-cellar plan

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Thanks to Scott N. for this link: Critics Deride Bill Designed to Keep Weapons Out of Terrorists' Hands

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JRH Enterprises is running a $2,995 special on new 3rd Generation PVS-14 night vision scopes, with brand-new factory-original image intesifier tubes, complete with certified factory data sheets. If you want the ultimate in retreat security, buy one. Most other dealers sell these same scopes for close to $4,000. You won't regret it!

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Police: Man said 30,000 bullets were for target practice. Did I miss something,? Where is the "crime " here? OBTW, I suppose that is a good thing that we don' have Massachusetts-mindset cops here in The Unnamed Western State. Otherwise, they'd come and arrest me, too. (If you include all my rimfire ammo, I have this gent beaten, by a wide margin.) Oh, and will somebody please explain to the newspaper nincompoops the difference between a bullet and a cartridge? Their utter nomenclature ignorance nearly drives me to fits of apoplexy.

"Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives." - Ulysses S Grant

Monday, May 18, 2009

I provided the manuscript to the publisher just a week ago, but Amazon is already taking pre-orders for my new book "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It". Penguin Books plans to release it in late September or early October. BTW, that is considered a lightning fast turn-around for one of the big New York publishers. I suppose that all the economic and H1N1 flu headlines have them quite anxious to publish a practical preparedness book. OBTW, I am tentatively planning on a "Book Bomblet" Day, so please hold off on ordering. Thanks!

In regards to stocking up on prescription medicine your readers may want to use the book "Wilderness Medicine" by William Forgey, M.D. as a good starting point. A couple of other "beginner books" are "Where There Is No Doctor" by David Werner and "Where There Is No Dentist" by Murray Dickson. is running a special on all three books for $42. [JWR Adds: The latter two books are available for free download, but I recommend getting hard copies for your survival reference library.]

I took the book "Wilderness Medicine", to my doctor's office and discussed the list of medicines Dr. Forgey recommends and my doctor advised it was a very good reference. Our doctor advised a lot of the medicines listed were included in his supplies that he keeps at home.

Included in the book is some information on multiple uses of the medicines as well as alternatives if you run out of one of them.

My doctor also recommended the following prescriptions: Cipro, Tamiflu, and Relenza.

We had to search for a preparedness minded doctor but they are out there if you seek them out. Thanks, - Art


Mr. Rawles,
In response to Bryan’s request for a list of medications that may be worth adding to your preps, the following is my humble reply. I am a pharmacist, of the clinical variety (the kind that works in hospitals and clinics helping docs manage acute drug therapy, as opposed to the community pharmacists, who dispense drugs and valuable information to the public) with 27 years of hospital pharmacy experience. Please don’t think that my recommendations are the “gospel truth”. This e-mail is off the top of my head, and I’m sure many others will add to, or detract from, my suggestions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my career, it’s that there are very few definitive answers to medical questions.

Now, it should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that these recommendations are in no way meant to suggest that you should self-medicate under normal circumstances. The safe and effective use of medications is a risk:benefit game, best assessed by your doctor. No drug is absolutely safe, and the proper diagnosis of illness and treatment with medications is an endeavor that consumes lifetimes of study. Having said that, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, the risk:benefit equation shifts, and sometimes the risk of doing nothing will exceed the risk of using some drugs without the oversight of a physician.

To get started, as my good buddy and I always say, “you must define your goal before you can hope to decide on the appropriate action”. So here’s the goal: suggest some commonly available drugs (prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)) which could be stored in preparation for foreseeable calamities in an extended SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation – either for self-medication, or for selection by a “country doctor” who has the knowledge, but not the drugs. I will focus on drugs that may have a chance of making a difference in acute situations without heroic measure beyond the ken of most non-medical folks; that is, no designer drugs for the syndrome of the week will be included. Also, I will stick to generically-available drugs in order to seek cost feasibility. I will avoid “controlled substances” (those federally regulated by the DEA) – a difficult obstacle when it comes to pain management, because we must exclude all of the opiates. Also, though I use mostly intravenous medications in the hospital, this list focuses on oral medications, for obvious reasons. Finally, in TEOTWAWKI, we will simply have to accept that certain conditions lead to shorter life spans, so drugs for the treatment of chronic diseases are not included. Nutrition, trauma, infection are about all we can hope to impact – and surgery is more important than drugs in trauma. Those with diabetes, severe hypertension, heart disease, and other all-too-common chronic maladies will have to wing it….not to say that it isn’t a good idea to have several months of your specific medications on hand to get through a temporary interruption in our normal flow of life.

I will resist the urge to get into details about bacterial resistance patterns, differential diagnosis, viral vs. bacterial infection, dosing, duration of therapy, etc. It would be much better to chat with your local medical person about the specifics. These are just the very basics – I’m sure a rational argument could be made for almost any drug.

ANTIBIOTICS – the breakthrough that promoted chronic diseases and cars to the top of the mortality list

Ciprofloxacin (common brand name: Cipro) – usually dosed 500 mg twice daily, this wonder drug covers a broad spectrum of pathogens, and is reasonably effective in treatment of urinary tract infections, pulmonary infections, skin infections, and gut infections. Bonus: can treat or prevent pulmonary anthrax infection, prophylaxis against bacterial meningitis, and has a fighting chance against gonorrhea. Sold by prescription only.
Cephalexin (common brand name: Keflex) –usually dosed 250-500 mg every six hours. A reasonable choice for upper respiratory (ear, nose, throat) infections and skin infections, including prevention of infections secondary to lacerations. Small risk of problems in folks with severe penicillin allergy. Sold by prescription only.
Metronidazole (common brand name: Flagyl) – usually dosed 250-500 mg every six hours – This oft-overlooked drug has good activity against the class of bacteria called “anaerobes”, and is useful in treatment of diverticulitis, some gynecological infections, and would be a welcome addition to cephalexin in the event that a “home appendectomy” is to be tried on the kitchen table (just kidding…sort of). This drug can also treat (or cause…go figure) a severe, and oft-fatal type of diarrhea, called Clostridium difficile colitis (aka, pseudomembranous colitis). Don’t mix alcohol with this one! But then, who will have booze in TEOTWAWKI anyway? (no offense to the home distillers out there!). Sold by prescription only.
Amoxicillin (common brand name: Amoxil) – usually dosed 500 mg every eight hours – Good for ear, throat, urinary tract, and some soft tissue infections. If started immediately, may prevent bad infections secondary to animal bites, including humans, but if the infection has already begun, bigger guns are usually needed (different bacteria are problematic with various species, but we’re talking generalities here). Bacterial resistance has cut into the effectiveness of amoxicillin over the last 20 years, but it would sure be better than nothing, especially in a more rural setting (the nastiest bugs always hang out in crowds!). Sold by prescription only.

Other possible generically-available antibiotic candidates include good ole penicillin (G or VK), ampicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate (common brand name: Augmentin), sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (common brand name: Bactrim or Septra – a “sulfa drug”), and doxycycline (common BN: Vibramycin)

ANTIFUNGALS – just one
Fluconazole (common brand name: Diflucan) – About the only reason to have this on hand is for vaginal candidiasis. (Ladies, you can probably diagnose that one as well as your doc!). Other uses would be difficult to diagnose at home. A single 150 mg tablet shows very good efficacy in this indication – but I suspect that the 200 mg tabs would be cheaper to obtain in quantity, since the 150 mg tablet is individually packaged for the indication. In this scenario, an extra 50 mg won’t hurt. Perhaps one of my community pharmacist colleagues could confirm or deny my suspicion. Sold by prescription only.

VITAMINS – much more important when on survival rations!
Multiple Vitamins – get several of the biggest bottles of a generic multi-vitamin that you can find at the warehouse club. If you’re eating white rice three times a day, a vitamin a day (or even three times a week) may dramatically extend your chances of survival. OTC
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – Very good to have around when citrus and greens are not available…remember scurvy? (Though I hear you could eat a pine tree). A couple of big bottles of Vitamin C 500 mg could stave off scurvy for your family for quite a while. A quarter of a tab a day would be sufficient, probably less (Dietitians should fill in the details here). OTC
Vitamin D – If you’re expecting a nuclear winter, you’ll need this in the absence of sun…but then again, after reading [Cormac McCarthy's novel] “The Road”, I’m not sure I would want to stick around for that one! OTC

Antihistamines – Of course, seasonal allergies will have to be tolerated, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some diphenhydramine (common brand name: Benadryl) on hand for particularly bad cases of poison oak and bad (but not anaphylactic) bee stings, etc. Available OTC
Corticosteroids – Along the same lines as above, perhaps a few methyprednisolone dose packs (common brand name: Medrol Dospak) would be good for more serious allergic reactions. Sold by prescription only.
Epinephrine – Though I promised to “stay oral”, I must mention Epi, because it is probably the only thing that may save someone experiencing a bona fide anaphylactic allergic reaction (tongue swells, throat closes down…can’t breathe). The injectable form in ampoules (1mg/ml) is much cheaper, but the Epi-Pen product is a pre-filled syringe that is ready to go. Sold by prescription only.

ANALGESICS (pain control)
Ibuprofen (common brand names: Motrin, Advil) – Pretty good for what ails you, since we’re not talking about narcotics. Strengths are headache, bone pain, tooth pain, and general sprains/strains. It’s a good anti-inflammatory (unlike acetaminophen) and will bring a high fever down. Available OTC
Aspirin – Still good for headaches and fever (except in children--do a web search on Reyes Syndrome), but beware the enhanced risk of bleeding if used for pain secondary to traumatic injury. Though ibuprofen theoretically can cause a similar problem, it’s much rarer than with aspirin. Bonus: Though heart attack mortality will undoubtedly go back up to early 20th century levels in TEOTWAWKI, a chewed aspirin tablet (325mg) at onset of chest pain may improve your odds in the absence of any other medical intervention. If an old bottle of aspirin smells strongly of vinegar, it is probably kaput…but it wouldn’t hurt you to try it.
Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen (Common brand names: Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, etc.) – I said I wouldn’t include controlled substances, so this one is not included….but just so you know, this combination of an opiate and acetaminophen (Tylenol) is probably the minimum analgesic intervention that would help much with traumatic visceral pain. But the laws involved and the risk of misuse complicate the issue greatly. Be sure you’re not putting yourself at legal risk before deciding to get prescriptions for this, or the more strictly controlled analgesics such as oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet), morphine, meperidine (Demerol), and others.

GASTROINTESTINAL MEDS – “Keep it movin’ – slow it down”
Soluble Fiber (common brand names: Metamucil, Citrucel, Fibercon) – May be essential to keep things moving in the early days of survival rations (though, as it is oft pointed out on this blog, eat what you store and the transition will be much smoother). Available OTC
Docusate Sodium (common brand name: Colace) – stool softener…’nuff said
Loperamide (common brand name: Imodium) – this antidiarrheal could save a life, but be sure to study up on when, and when not, to use it. In bacterial enteritis it may do more harm than good. Available OTC, though if you have a pharmacist friend, they may be able to order a bottle of the caps much cheaper than the OTC boxes.

TOPICALS – Cuts, burns, and scrapes
Antibiotic Ointment (“triple” bacitracin/neomycin/polymyxin or “double” bacitracin/polymyxin) Good to reduce the risk of infection in minor cuts and scrapes. Many folks suffer a contact dermatitis when exposed to neomycin, so many docs are recommending the double formula these days (common brand name: Polysporin).
Silver Sulfadiazine cream (common brand names: Silvadene, Thermazine) – A lifesaver in severe burns, but you’ll need a big jar of it.
Eye Wash – It’s basically just sterile salt water, but good to have when you need it!

Obviously, this is a starter list. I will apologize in advance for the glaring omissions that I’m sure friends and colleagues will point out.
A word on stability – as we’ve discussed on this blog before, the manufacturer’s expiration date has been found to have quite a bit of wiggle room by our Department of Defense, that has, commendably, conducted their own degradation studies in order to extend the shelf life of the military drug stockpile, and thus save us poor taxpayers a buck or two. For obvious reasons, this [Shelf Life Extension System (SLES)] data is closely guarded, so we don’t know the specifics. A few details have leaked out, and it seems that most drugs are “good” (meaning within a reasonable range of their original potency – usually 90%) for years beyond the labeled expiration date when stored appropriately. For most tablets and capsules, cooler, darker, and dryer is better (low oxygen is also good). I would suggest that you ask your pharmacist to add the manufacturer’s expiration date to your pill bottle for a frame of reference. Many pharmacy computer systems default to one year from the fill date on the prescription label, irrespective of the actual date on the stock bottle. The bottom line is this: the drugs on this list (with the possible exception of doxycycline) do not degrade to a toxic compound; they only loose potency over time. If you refer to Mr. Rawles’ excellent novel, "Patriots" , you will note how the characters titrated the dose up to allow for potency loss post-expiration date. When to do this, and by how much is a crap shoot, but in TEOTWAWKI it is better to have tried and lost, than never to have tried at all!

Here’s hoping and praying that we all die in our beds at 101 years of age, with our wives (or husbands) lilting voice in our ear, saying, “I told you that you were wasting money on all that survival stuff!!!” Regards, - SH in Georgia


Mr Rawles,
I'm a retail pharmacist working in Louisiana and am new to prepping. Many of my patients come to me asking for advice on low cost medications that will still yield positive outcomes. As a result I've gained valuable insight into the potential for stockpiling medications on a budget. I hope this helps:

Stockpiling mediations for WTSHTF can be a daunting task, even for those with an idea of their current medicinal needs. For those currently taking prescription medication, the question is usually affordability and accessibility. Most insurance plans will not pay for supplies larger than 90 days, and paying cash for prescriptions is usually cost prohibitive. While greater accessibility exists in countries such as Mexico or Canada, crossing the border with large quantities of medication is usually asking for trouble, thus requiring multiple trips. And while the lower costs of medications outside of the US has been frequently touted, quality can be suspect. Internet pharmacies in places such as India or even China will ship to your front door, but only after paying a "doctor" for your required by law "consultation", usually costing anywhere from 75 to 125 dollars. So what are the options?

There is a two fold strategy regarding lowering your drug cost to allow for cost efficient stockpiling. First, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about generic medications. Generics save as much as 80% over their brand name equivalent, are covered on every insurance plan, and because of the cost will allow for bulk purchases. A prescription is good for one year from the date it is written, so unless the medication is a controlled substance, you may purchase as much as a years worth of medication at a time(provided your doctor has authorized that many refills). Second, for those taking multiple medications, talk to your doctor and pharmacist about decreasing the number of medications you are taking by increasing the dose of others or changing the medications altogether. This strategy can best be illustrated in the following example:

Patient "X" is a 55 year old Type II (non-insulin dependent) diabetic with a history of coronary artery disease. His current medications are as follows:
Drug Condition Cost/month
Actos 30 mg diabetes $240
Zetia 10 mg cholesterol $110
Plavix blood thinner $170
Cardizem LA 240 blood pressure $125
Total medication cost/ month= $645
After consulting with his doctor and pharmacist, the following changes were made:
Drug Condition Cost/month
Metformin 500 mg diabetes $4-$10
Simvastatin 20 mg cholesterol $4-$20
Warfarin 5 mg blood thinner $4-$10
Atenolol 50 mg blood pressure $4-$10
Total medication cost/month= $16-$50

These are cash prices, not insurance co-pays. Insurance plans would not allow you to purchase medication for stockpiling purposes.
Also, in the same manner that firearms and ammunition should be purchased in "common calibers" to allow for ease in buying or bartering, so should medications. Even if you do not take maintenance medications it might make sense in the long run to build up a supply. In much the same way as we seek out kindred survival spirits in firearms,food storage, etc, it is possible to find doctors that may write prescriptions for conditions that you could potentially (wink,wink) develop. Medications used to treat blood pressure or diabetes will be in short supply post-TEOTWAWKI, and it will take several growing seasons for herbal remedies to make their way through the production pipeline. Also, family members, friends and other "guests" will undoubtedly forget their medications in their attempt to G.O.O.D.. Of the top 20 drugs prescribed in the US in 2007, four were for blood pressure, three were for cholesterol, three for GERD (heartburn/ulcer), three for depression, three for asthma/allergy, and one each for thyroid,osteoporosis, sleep and blood thinning. For the sake of brevity, let's focus on the three conditions typically undeserved by over the counter medications:

1) Atenolol: A common beta blocker medication used to treat blood pressure. Common dosages begin at 25 mg daily to twice daily. Purchase the 100 mg strength and cut them in fourths.

2) Metformin: Sulfonylurea class medication used to treat non insulin dependent diabetes. While other drugs such as glipizide or glyburide are less expensive they can also lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if dosed incorrectly. Metformin does not have that problem. Can also help lower LDL (cholesterol) and tryglycerides- but so will the average post-TEOTWAWKI diet. Dosages begin at 500 mg, twice daily. Where possible, buy the 1,000 mg strength and cut them in half.

3) Tramadol: Non-narcotic pain reliever. Does not have many of the sedating side effects of Lortab, Vicodin, Norco, etc and is not a controlled substance. Tramadol also does not cause the stomach problems (reflux, ulcerations) commonly seen with ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)). This will make them easier to obtain as most physicians are more comfortable writing prescriptions for non narcotic pain relievers. Typical dosage is 50 mg up to four times daily as needed.

There are thousands of over-the-counter medications used to treat an unlimited variety of ailments. This can make stockpiling medications difficult. Every health care professional has their personal recommendations, but the following are the five OTC items that should be bought in bulk. They are cheap, effective, and each covers a wide range of potential maladies:

1) Aspirin
Can be used to relieve pain, relieve inflammation, thin the blood and lower fever (do not take on an empty stomach)
2) Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
Can be used to treat itching, rash, allergic reactions, and is the most common ingredient in over the counter sleep aids (will cause drowsiness)
3) Pepto-Bismol
Can be used to treat indigestion, nausea, heartburn and diarrhea.
4) Neosporin
Antibiotic ointment for cuts, scrapes and burns
5) Primatene Mist
The only over the counter inhaler capable of minimizing the symptoms of or stopping an acute asthma attack.

No first aid kit is complete without those five. - LA, R.Ph .

JWR Adds: In several places, "LA" mentioned cutting pills in halves or quarters. This is best accomplished a with a tray-type pill cutter, since cutting pills with a knife --especially those that are not pre-scored for cutting--tends to be messy and inaccurate. Note that many drug companies give away plastic pill cutters marked with their corporate logos as promotional items, so the chances are good that your local retail pharmacist will have some available, free for the asking.


I understand your comments on Alaska's [poor] potential for survival retreats .Your logic is sound and I have to take seriously someone who has thought about these issues longer than I have. But there is always a but...What about Prince of Wales Island, Alaska? Backwoods Home magazine published an article written by a Jon Stram that I have not got out of mind. The article sold Prince of Wales Island very well, so [for counterbalance] I need an unbiased, expert opinion Thank you, - Russell:

JWR Replies: You aren't the first to suggest that locale to me. it. I must admit, that as Alaska goes, it is captivating and has one of the best climates. The island is bigger than Delaware!. In my estimation, it would be a fine place to be during an economic depression comparable to the 1930s, but not in a full scale collapse where it would be isolated from transport--especially liquid fuels. (Chainsaws, power boats, generators, float planes, and snow machines "no worky".) There are 6,000+ people on the island. That is a lot of people for an island with essentially no large scale agriculture, especially when there is no gasoline, diesel, propane, or kerosene available. The accessible four-legged wild game would probably be cleaned out in short order. After that, things might get ugly. In an absolute worst case, your neighbors might start hunting two-legged game.

CDC: Up to 100,000 Are Probably Infected in US US Deaths at five, all reportedly with underlying health problems. Globally, 7,000 (which means many more cases than have been confirmed)

Swine Flu Cases Continue to Rise But No Pandemic Called Yet "Fukuda notes a pandemic has nothing to do with the severity of the disease, but rather with its geographic spread."

Avian Flu Beaten By Cold Noses

WHO eyes swine flu transmission rates, new vaccine

GG sent us this: CBO admits for first time chance IMF may default

From The Daily Bell: Jim Rogers: Food prices will skyrocket. Raise rates soon or face inflation disaster, experts warn...

Items from The Economatrix:

Hot In Recession: Cheaper Wine, Chocolate, Running Shoes, Spam

GM, Chrysler Dealership Cull to Cost 100,000 Jobs

The Return of the Banker's Bet

$3 Trillion Later... "Could there be a better time to be a bank? Governments are endorsing high leverage and guaranteeing huge parts of the financial system, so you get to keep the profits and palm off the losses on the taxpayer."

US Prices Fall Most Since 1955

German Slump Drags Europe Down Deeper

FDIC: Some Bank CEO Jobs on the Line

Dead Receive Millions in Stimulus Money

California State Workers Outraged at Possible Layoffs

From Jobs to Food Stamps in One Week

Thanks to Kevin A. for sending this: Navajos largely unscathed by recession. Hmmm... Owning livestock, living self-sufficiently, and living debt free. Does this sound familiar?

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Cheryl sent us this: NRA Thrives Amid Fears of Heightened Gun-Control Efforts

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A herd of common sense, from a Cody, Wyoming newspaper: Pioneer spirit needed during tough times.(I was pleased to see that the article quotes my top five states for retreats locales.)

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KAF sent us links to two interesting pieces on the 1930s: The Great Depression: 'We were all in the same boat', and, The Great Depression through Callie Stanley's eyes

"Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value -- zero." - Voltaire (François Marie Arouet, 1694-1778)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 22 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Because of the recent shake-up at Front Sight, the list of contest prizes for this round has been revised:

First Prize: A course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day OnPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have had this idea floating around in the back of my mind for some time now, and with all the posts on the subject here lately, I decided it was time to share it with everyone. I hope some of you find it useful.

What got me started to thinking about this was a movie on DVD that I watched recently, titled Twenty Years After. (2008) It is about people that have survived a nuke war, the disease and death that follow, and the hope that humanity will still survive. It is not the best post-SHTF movie that you can watch, but as I watched it, I had little flashes of insight to some aspects of survival and preparedness that I thought would be useful, and this is one of the ones that I want to share today.

In the movie, a mother, and her very pregnant daughter, have claimed a house for their place, only to find that the owner has returned to claim some of his things. He makes his presence known to them by pouring a bit of water down a downspout that they have rigged up to send the rainwater to their living space in the basement, where they collect it and store jars of water on some large shelves.

This got me started thinking about the subject of rainwater catchment, and I have a good number of files on the subject, so I did some extra reading on the subject. There is a lot of information out there on it, and all the commercial products that go with it, but what do you do when you have ZIP to start with ?
Start at the beginning.

So, the rain falls on the roof of a building, it runs down the roof to the gutters, then down the downspout to be flushed away from the building. And now you decide to catch the runoff, and put a barrel at the end of the downspout to catch the extra water. So far so good. But what about the bird poop, asphalt chemicals, etc, that are going to be in the water, not to mention all the other germs and nasty pathogens that occur naturally ?

This is where the diverters come onto play, you divert the first couple minutes of the rain water, to get rid of the grit, dirt,etc, and then divert it back to catch the rest. I see this as a waste of water that could be used to keep you and your family alive a bit longer.
You will most likely be filtering the water to drink anyway, so the dirt and germs are going to be dealt with in the filtering process. The filter will only be able to deal with so much in the way of contaminates, so there are a lot of folks who agree that a pre-filter is a good idea to extend the life of the main filter itself, and here is where my idea came from. I know that there are commercial pre- filters that may be a whole lot cheaper to buy from the point of view on the cost of this subject, but this is about constructing your own from found, scavenged, and recycled materials in a SHTF type situation.

The list of materials that you will need is as follows :

A large stockpot.

Cheesecloth or fine mesh nylon or brass window screening.

A dozen bags of kids marbles or flat marbles used for decoration.

A couple shovels full of builders sand. ( Children's sandbox sand is a different type of sand, and has some questionable chemicals in it, so do not use this type of sand. Builders sand is just that, SAND. so be sure to use only this type for your pre-filter )

And a good supply of charcoal.

Tools that you will need are:

  • A drill, and a good assortment of drill bits.
  • Center punch.
  • Heavy machinists hammer or a small, one-pound or two-pound sledgehammer.
  • A piece of 2x4 scrap lumber, about two feet in length.
  • A good pair of safety glasses [with side guards]. This is the most important piece of equipment you should have when you build this, because your eyesight is very important to your survival. Wear them!
  • Four bricks, or 2x4 blocks.
  • A large funnel.

To start, place the stockpot on the bricks or 2x4's like you were going to build a fire under the stockpot for cooking or heating water.
Then, take the two foot 2x4, and your hammer, and place one end of the 2x4 into the center of the inside of the stockpot and give a couple of good sharp blows to the top of the 2x4 to make a depression in the center of the pot to allow for complete drainage of the filter. A slight depression of the base is better than a flat bottom, because it will allow the water to drain at the lowest point and not to run all over the bottom and drop off the edges instead,

Now, take the stockpot, and turn it over so that the outside bottom is now face up. Take your box of drill bits, your center punch, and your drill, and use the center punch and your hammer, to make a punch in the approximate center of the stockpot. Now take and punch six or seven more around the center, remembering to space them about an inch and a half apart from each other. These will be drilled out with a half inch drill bit to form the drain for the filter, and the whole thing needs to have an area of holes about the size of one of the downspouts. This will allow for good and proper drainage of the filter. Once all the holes have been drilled, take a larger bit, and use it to ream out the holes, so that there are not any sharp edges or metal shavings to cut your fingers, etc, and the screen material.

Once you have this done, take the stockpot, and turn it right side up again. Now take the cheesecloth or screen, and mold and form it to fit in the bottom of the pot, and going up the sides, and over the top, to form a sort of inner bucket of screen.
Now you are ready to fill the filter with the filtering medium.

Start by grinding up the charcoal to make charcoal powder. !00% pure charcoal should be used only. If you lay in a supply of bagged charcoal, then you will have to determine how much that you will need for further replenishment of the filter, as well as the other materials needed to make it, so that you will be able to replace or repair any of the components as time goes on. If you don't have a good supply of charcoal laid aside, you can always make your own using these sites to help you.

Place about 3-to-4 inches of the charcoal in the pot, tamp it down firmly and evenly as you go. Then once you have that done, form another set of screen material like the first one for the charcoal, and place it in the pot on top of the charcoal filter medium. Fill the pot with 3-4 inches of the sand, just like you did with the charcoal, tamp and level as you go. Now, make one more screen set to go on top of the sand, and place it in the pot.

Now you are ready to add the marbles. Same thing as with the charcoal and sand. Place enough in the pot, to get about 3-4 inches of marbles on the top if the filter mediums.The marbles break up the churning action of the water as it hits the system, and the sand and charcoal act as the filtering agents. By separating all the component mediums with the three screen elements, you are able to lift the materials out separate from each other for refill and repair as needed.

Now that you have the filter completed, you are ready to install it into your system. You can install it at the front of the system, where the downspout pours into the marbles, and the drain fills into your storage barrel, or the barrel drains into the filter, before you send it to the main purification filter. Either way will work fine, and if you want to, you can make two of these and do both. It is your choice on this one.
When you set the filter into place for either one, you can take the large funnel, and set it under the pot to catch and direct the water draining off the filter, so that you catch every drop.

After you have filtered the water through this pre-filter, you can then send it on to the main filter, and know that the main filter will not have to try to strain out the extra dirt and germs that would come without doing this pre- filter first. A good one like the Berkey filters will last a lot longer before you have to replace their filter elements, just by making and using one of these. The most important part to remember about this filter construction, is to use as fine a screen material as you can find. Double or even triple up your cheesecloth or screen if you have to, or even use a combination of both if you want. It is up to you, but you need as fine a screen as you can get.

Here are a couple of sites that I found for material source reference. These are not set in stone type of suggestions, they are for visual aid only, to give you an idea of what to look for. Marbles can be found in all sorts of places, and the same goes for the pots. Stainless steel would be the best choice. The ones to stay away from are the ones with the non-stick surfaces.

A source for marbles:

Glass Gems & Marbles from Wholesalers USA

A source for stockpots:

Stainless Steel Stock Pots @ Yahoo! Shopping

When you use the pre-filter, remember to change the sand and charcoal in the system from time to time.
A recharge every 1-to-3 months should keep everything working fine, and you should be able to make the thing work and last for a very long time to come. Hope that this helps some of you out there doing the rainwater catchment thing to add to your survival and preparedness plans. Watch for a couple of other posts that I will send later, on some other thoughts that I had for some other items that will come in handy after a SHTF event.

Be Prepared! - Dim Tim

Yishai was the first of several readers to mention this "must read" piece: US speeding towards financial crash


Jimmy G. sent this: Stocks still face deflationary collapse: Prechter. I agree that there will be deflation, but only in the short term. I still see Uncle Sugar's only viable option is inflating their way out of this mess. This leads me to coin a new motto: Never underestimate the ability of governments to print money.

Items from The Economatrix:

Six Insurers to Get Billions in Bailout Money (JWR Notes: The MOAB won't stop growing!)

GM to Close 1,100 Dealerships

Consumer Prices Flat, Industrial Production Dips

Exchanges Sense Bonanza In Derivative Regulations. "Exchange trading of all derivatives has not been made mandatory, which is a big relief for the industry,” said an executive at one large derivatives dealer."

US to Roll Out Latest Phase of Rescue Plan

If Consumers Won't Kick Start the Economy, What Will?

Doubt No More (The Mogambo Guru)

New Jersey's Public Pension Bomb "For years, states all across the country have been starving their retirement plans. Here's a look at how the crisis is playing out in New Jersey, where the bill is coming due, and the state doesn't have the money to pay it."

401(k) Investors Can't Get Any Money

Sour Commercial Real Estate Loans Threaten to Hurt Regional Banks

Forensic Examination of the Gold Carry Trade?

Denny Z. sent us a link to a YouTube clip of a comedy classic: Archie Bunker on Gun Control

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"John Smith" suggested a You Tube clip of a James Burke "Connections" documentary episode from 1978. Burke's description of the 1965 New York blackout illustrates the interconnections and fragility of urban society. It is rather prophetic. Given our far greater tecnological dependence these days, it some serrious food for thought.

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Cheryl sent this: Another 1,225,980+ Guns Bought By Americans in April 2009 This number is based on just the background checks by FFL holders--not most private sales, so this is a low number.

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George M. sent an article from Oregon's Capitol city that illustrates the need for security and situational awareness: Man handcuffed, hit by Taser during Salem coin shop robbery

"All who profess Christianity believe in a Savior, and that by and though Him we must be saved." - Andrew Jackson

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Congrats to M.G., the high bidder in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction that ended last night.
I've decided to at least temporarily discontinue the auctions, since a few readers have complained that my mention of the auction bids is too distracting and "too commercial." If you'd like to support the blog in other ways, see our Support page. Thanks!


My experience with [US Mint] Silver Eagles is similar to your description [of their lack of widespread recognizability]. I traded 1 silver eagle for some merchandise at $20 USD per Eagle.
The person was happy. I explained to them that this was 1 oz. of silver and at the time of the trade it was equal to the amount that I told them. A few days later I went back seeking to trade again and they told me that since the face value [marked] on the coin was $1 USD that it was all the value they would exchange it for. So then I refused to trade. They were insistent that it was only worth $1 USD . I said sorry you think that way and went down the road. Your point that most Americans wouldn’t know about Silver eagles is correct. I have found that trading Eagles for value is best
done with professional, more educated people. I partially paid for the delivery of our three children with 1-oz Gold Eagles [for each delivery]. The doctor was very eager to settle our bill with that in his hand. Of course the balance due was close to the value of the coin. My chiropractor also will accept Silver Eagles for payment.

Yes it is possible but discuss with the person you wish to trade with before hand, if they are not sure don’t push. You could also get in trouble with the local law if you try to push the issue as the trade nay have second thoughts and make a call on you. Also you might want to look into 10 oz bars of silver with the same rules of purchase as 100 oz bars. Hard times come quickly be prepared! - Jeff B.

This news article was published yesterday: Business as Usual? Front Sight Assets Seized. Please take the time to read it. I haven't yet been in touch with the new management at Front Sight to get any additional details.

Last night, I dismissively posted a piece to SurvivalBlog, castigating the plaintiffs in this case. But then I spent several hours later last night doing web searches about the various Front Sight lawsuits, and it was an eye opener. Up until yesterday, I had thought that only one of the lawsuits had any merit, and that Naish Piazza was merely a convenient target for "deep pocket" lawsuits. Please forgive me for not taking the time to do this research before! I can now see that Naish Piazza had indeed been doing business unethically. I'll be removing the Front Sight ads from my web site, and will discontinue using Front Sight course certificates as writing contest prizes.

I won't promote Front Sight again unless or until it can be established that A.) Naish Piazza has no influence whatsoever with the new Front Sight management and will not profit from the operation, and B.) The existing Front Sight course certificates will be honored by the new court-appointed management.

Please accept my humble apologies for my lack of due diligence about one of my advertisers.

I have no idea about what will happen with the course schedule at Front Sight, and the status of the Front Sight course certificates that are presently in circulation. I will post details as soon as they become available. I must mention that none of the preceding comments detract from the reputation of the outstanding staff at Front Sight, and the quality of the training. It is still one of the premier firearms schools in the country, and I still highly recommend them.

As for the current round of the SurvivalBlog writing contest that was to have had a pair of Front Sight course certificates as the "first prize", I will be substituting other prizes.

Dimitri Orlov on The New Money (A hat tip to Ruby and Vlad’s Mom)

The truth escapes the lips of BHO: Obama Says U.S. Long-Term Debt Load ‘Unsustainable’ I'm praying that he does the right thing, but given the composition of Big Government/Big Taxes/Big Deficits policy wonks that were picked for his Cabinet, I have my doubts.

Thanks to B.H. for this video link: "The Worst Is Yet to Come": If You're Not Petrified, You're Not Paying Attention

GG sent us this: China's yuan 'set to usurp US dollar' as world's reserve currency

Items from The Economatrix:

Even BoE Has No Idea What Will Happen

UK: BT Doubles Job Cuts to 30,000 "BT has slumped to an annual loss for the first time in almost a decade and doubled jobs cuts to 30,000, as the former state-owned telecoms company struggles with a disastrous performance of a key division."

Sony Reports Record Loss Amid Consumer Slump "Sony today confirmed the worst about its performance through the global economic slump by announcing its biggest group operating loss of Y228 billion, (£1.6 billion). The Japanese company also predicted another year of losses for the period ending March 2010."

OPEC: Oil Demand Still Declining

Dubai: No "Green Shoots" in the Desert

Beware of a Premature Return to "Normal" "Forgiveness is wonderful. But if it is granted too soon, miscreants tend to go back to their wicked ways. Markets risk giving some parts of the financial system just such a premature pardon."

Roubini: Prepare for the Demise of the Dollar's Status as a Reserve Currency. "This would have serious costs for America, as our ability to finance our budget and trade deficits cheaply would disappear."

Stock Markets Battle Poor US Retail Sales Numbers

Geithner: Bailout Repayments Will Be Used For Smaller Banks (That is, if it is legal. As the law is presently worded, "...whatever is returned to the Treasury goes into the general fund.")

College Graduates Struggle to Repay Student Loans

Toledo's White Collar Workers Recalibrating Their Lives After Layoff

Economist: Michigan Jobless Rate May Rise to 20%

Japan "Would Avoid Dollar Bonds" "Japan's opposition party says it would refuse to buy American government bonds denominated in US dollars, if elected."

"It's Going To Get Worse Before It Gets Worse"

Inflation Unavoidable (The Mogambo Guru)

KAF flagged this article: U.S. Has Plan to Secure Pakistan Nukes if Country Falls to Taliban

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Jason mentioned that Ammoman is selling brand new original Colt-made 30 round AR-15 magazines for about the same price that most gun show sellers are charging for generic USGI contract magazines.

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Cheryl saw this video clip and recommended it: Lou Dobbs: Obama Pushing Anti-Gun Treaty

"Whole nations depends on technology. Stop the wheels for two days and you'd have riots. No place is more than two meals from a revolution. Think of Los Angeles or New York with no electricity. Or a longer view, fertilizer plants stop. Or a longer view yet, no new technology for ten years. What happens to our standard of living?... Yet the damned fools won't pay ten minutes' attention a day to science and technology. How many people know what they're doing? Where do these carpets come from? The clothes you're wearing? What do carburetors do? Where do sesame seeds come from? Do you know? Does one voter out of thirty? They won't spend ten minutes a day thinking about the technology that keeps them alive." - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Lucifer's Hammer

Friday, May 15, 2009

As a follow-up to my recent Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper interview, a German blog for ex-pats (and would-be ex-pats) called Auswandern - Adieu Deutschland! posted an interview, in both a German edition, and an English edition.


The bidding ends at midnight (eastern time) tonight! The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $1,350. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes:

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. Bidding ends at midnight (eastern time) tonight! Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Dear James,
We're currently busy in the beginning ground laying of the construction phase of adding a large greenhouse onto our enclosed garden plot, which is completely enclosed with 12 foot high fencing with a solar security system.
This addition was decided in consideration of the foreseeable need for us to be able to add a winter season grow room for year long vegetable growing and over-wintering of our heirloom stock.
It will also allow us to save our best heirloom plants and clone them, from season to season to jumpstart the spring grow times and yields.
I am sharing the attached helpful items we needed to consider before adding this greenhouse to our garden. One major issue you may want to expand on in your thoughts of planning for it's location, is on OPSEC. Of course it is not covered here in this literature. A greenhouse should not be plainly visible to others, unless you intend to sell plants or produce from your site. However, I encourage people to have a selling stand which is not at your home or, instead to sell at the local farmers market or area flea market.

Also, consider photovoltaic panel-powered grow lights and gardens that can be operated for sprouting and growing vegetables year round in your basement or an enclosed work shed!

And, here is a link to some free construction plans for several different designs for outdoor greenhouses. These come from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Happy Year Round Gardening, - KAF

I have just visited with our family physicians about a stockpile of prescriptions medications. Seems that two of them are "preppers" and are putting a plan together for their families.

They physicians are more than willing to write scripts for meds, they really are supportive of the plan and like the Wal-Mart list. For some reason, they will not recommend specific drugs, they will prescribe but not recommend.

I wonder if a pharmacist and Ranger Doc might be willing to put together a specific list of recommended prescription items and you could put it in the blog. This would be a great help.

Thanks. Your blog is my #1 read every day. - Bryan W.

JWR Replies: You are fortunate to be associated with like-minded doctors. Just keep in mind that legally they can only prescribe drugs that are within "the scope of practice" of their respective speciailties.

Mr. Editor:
In regards to EM Joe's post regarding "That Post Die-Off Fragrance," I too spent 30 years in Public Service as a Forensic Investigator attending and investigating numerous death scenes and autopsies involving decomposing bodies. I used to use copious amounts of Vicks Vapor-Rub, both on my upper lip and even stuffed up the nose. One day, while attending an autopsy on a real "stinker", the pathologist conducting the post mortem exam observed me and my faithful jar of Vicks and informed me that if I used enough of the stuff I would eventually erode away the mucus membranes in the sinus cavity. Just Dandy I thought to myself, soooo I asked what would be a good alternative? He responded by saying that a good activated charcoal filter mask would do the trick for a short time. However, for long term the mask and a small single drop of Oil of Clove on the exterior front portion of the mask, between the nose and mouth would work wonders. I employed this method for approximately 25 years with no side effects. A caution when using this method is to use only a single drop of oil and not make direct skin contact with the Oil of Clove. It has a tendency to burn the skin. Regards, - Surfin' Cowboy

I worked in around Gulfport, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina as an insurance adjuster. Most of the deaths occurred next to the ocean where the storm surge killed people and animals. You could drive down the interstate 6 to 8 miles north from the kill zone and still smell decaying flesh. This came from all the dead pets, wildlife, sea life, and a few dead people. (a warehouse full of frozen chicken didn't help either)

If it is summertime, the problem takes care of itself in about 2 weeks. We pulled out of the worst area for a week or so to let nature take its course. Obviously the duration depends of the time of year. In the summertime in the deep south we have 100 degree weather and near 100% humidity. Bodies quickly decompose to little more than bones in a very short period of time.

Like anything, you quit smelling it and will not notice it unless you leave the area and come back - J.

Dear Sir,
Regarding comments made in the letter on which form of precious metals to buy, readers should be aware that numerous Chinese fake silver dollar coins exist in today's market. I recently became aware of these by an honest seller who identified the fakes as such, and sold me a couple for comparison purposes.

They are available as common Morgan and Peace dollars as well as more numismatically valuable styles such as draped bust and trade dollars. They look surprisingly realistic and appear to have normal aging and wear consistent with what you would expect. Believe me when I tell you that only a practiced eye would distinguish them by sight only! Clues to their identity exist, but more thorough examination is required. Weight is slightly low but might not be noticed by many buyers unless a scale is used. They are also a little thin, but again might not be noticed without a known good coin next to it or a micrometer measurement. Another method which can be used to identify real silver coins is by balancing the coin on a finger tip and tapping it with another coin. A real silver dollar gives off a low clear ring like a bell. The fakes give off a higher pitched ring which is not as clear and does not last as long. (Try this with a few real coins to hear the correct note.) The biggest tip off is that the coins are magnetic, being made in part from steel, and can be readily identified by their attraction to a magnet. No legitimates silver [or gold] coins will be attracted to a magnet

You's better believe that I am now a much more intelligent buyer, and will be carrying a magnet with me (at least) for all future silver dollar purchases. I would have never thought that it would be worthwhile for someone to counterfeit a relatively inexpensive coin like a Morgan silver dollar. - William L.


recently you responded to a young gent about silver purchases. i forwarded your discourse to my sister who brought up a valid point -- you never mentioned in your response where you see the use for Silver American Eagles. I responded to her that maybe your advice was to use/purchase silver in this order: 1) junk silver; 2) Silver American Eagles; and lastly 3) silver bars.Ii chose that order due to the purity of the metal and its recognizability. Is this your opinion?

As far as the silver bars are concerned, I think that you have a point. Will Grigg once wrote of how his father had received payment once in silver bars, and when the 1980s [bull market in silver] hit, he was able to use them to keep the family going. Thanks in advance, - Rick B.

JWR Replies: Unless you have the opportunity to buy some Silver Eagles on the secondary market at a price that is close to the spot price of silver, then I do not recommend buying them. In most circumstances, they are over-priced. Why pay as much as 35% over their physical (silver ) value? This just plain bad investing. Some would argue that Silver Eagles are "readily recognizable? My question is, recognizable to whom? I'd guesstimate that 90% of the American population has never seen an American Eagle, and that 95% of the American population has never held one in their hand. In contrast, at least half of the population is familiar with pre-1965 mint date US silver coinage. (Although I wonder how many people know with accuracy that 1964 wa the last year of their minting.) I stand by my advice: Get pre-1965 "junk" silver coins for barter, and a 100-ounce serialized bars for investing.

Just as I envisioned three years ago, derivatives are now in thes spotlight: Treasury Seeks More Financial Regulations in Shadowy Markets. (Thanks to Danny S. and KAF, for the link.)

From the Appenzell Daily Bell: Beginning of the end? Fed cannot account for $9 trillion

KAF sent us this: David Frum: Quick fix today, crisis tomorrow in Obama's White House

Redaer GG flagged this: Strong appetite for silver boosts coin production "Mints around the world almost doubled their silver coin production in the first quarter in response to a surge of investor interest in the metal."

Items from The Economatrix:

Chrysler Moves to Eliminate 789 of 3,200 Dealership

Celente: The Bailout Bubble: The Bubble to End All Bubbles

Stock Optmists Need to Read a History of the Great Depression

EU Plans Bank Stress Tests in Europe

Asian Stock Markets Edge Up as Spring Ralley Loses Fizz

Hardship Bites in Toyota City

Luxembourg: Angry Steelworkers Storm ArcelorMittal (World Biggest Steelmaker)

Obama: Credit Card Bill Critical to Fix Ailing Economy

US "Sham" Bank Bailouts Enrich Speculators

GM Plans to Export [Chinese-Built] Cars to the US "General Motors is planning to build cars in China and import them into the United States, a strategy that could trigger further job losses and union anger in the US."

"Green Shoots" Wither on Poor US Retail Sales Figures

JHB mentioned this article about survivalists in Russia: Survivalists stock up for End of Days

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SurvivalBlog regular Bill Buppert was recently interviwed for the podcast. The topic was state secession.

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SF in Hawaii mentioned these two sites: Everyone Deserves a Roof and The Bike Trailer Blog (which includes some tariler tents).

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A trailer for the movie The Road has been released. Gee, this makes SurvivalBlog readers look like relative optimists.

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The bidding ends at midnight (eastern time) tomorrow night! (May 15th.) The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $1,325. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes:

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. Bidding ends at midnight (eastern time) tonight! Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Dear Sir,
During a discussion with a friend today, we chatted about which format of silver would be most viable as a form of a tangible asset. We discussed the recognized value of Silver American Eagle coins versus"silver rounds", and found ourselves asking more questions than being able to provide reasonable answers. The conversation was based on my recent decision to convert US currency into silver rounds at a price of $0.90 over spot price (at the time $11.91 per ounce). This was a much lower price than the $3.59 over spot price for Silver American Eagles, so it seemed a logical choice for me at the time but my friend pointed out that the silver round may be questioned by others in TEOTWAWKI times.

To that end, I'm turning to your expertise for input. Can you please provide your comments on the following questions (or other matters as you see fit):

1. Best form of silver [for] investments?
2. Silver bullion versus junk silver--why one versus the other?
3. How can a common person test silver (or even gold) for purity/legitimacy?

God Bless, - Craig from Wisconsin

JWR Replies: As I've mentioned before in the blog, I recommend using maintaining two distinct hoards of silver, and that your do not co-mingle them:

A.) The first is your designated "barter" silver stockpile. The barter portion of your silver stockpile should be in small divisible units, ideally pre-1965 circulated "junk" 90% U.S. silver dimes. (Or the country specific equivalent, for our foreign readers.) This "barter" silver should be considered a core holding, and never sold for the sheer sake of profit. If you don't ever have to use it for barter, then count you blessings and just pass it along to your children or grandchildren so that they will will have something to use for the same purpose. As previously mentioned, if you can afford it, I recommend buying one $1,000 face value bag for each member of your family.

B.) The second is your designated "investment" silver stockpile. The best way to buy this--with the lowest dealer premium per ounce--is serial number-stamped 100 ounce bars, from a well-known maker such as Engelhard, A-Mark, or Johnson-Matthey. This stockpile is designed as a time machine to protect your wealth from one side of an currency crisis to the other. You buy it in current day dollars. After a currency collapse has come and gone, when a new stable currency (hopefully backed by something other than hot air) is issued, then you can convert part or all of your investment silver stockpile into the new currency. Odds are that most if not all of your original purchasing power will be preserved by this method.

The chances of a one-ounce silver round being counterfeited are fairly low, but the chances of 100 ounce bar being faked are statistically significant. So...

  • Buy only from a reputable dealer.
  • Buy only bars minted by a well-known maker such as Engelhard, A-Mark, or Johnson-Matthey
  • Buy only serialized bars.
  • If in doubt, have an assay conducted. This is the norm for 1000-ounce industrial silver bars, but can also be done with serialized 100 ounce bars if they are being offered by a dubious seller. (A local bonded assay company can be located with a web search.) The traditional method is to drill a small diameter hole into one of the bars to insure that you aren't buying a lead bar that has been silver plated. Then, those drillings are tested using nitric acid and silver chloride.
  • In the unlikely event you don't have access to an assay company, then at least weigh the bar on a very accurate scale and compare its dimensions (using calipers) with a "known good" bar from the same maker. (There will be minor variations, especially with cast bars, but it is difficult to create a counterfeit bar that will have both the correct weight and dimensions. You can also do an Archimedean water displacement test.

The chance of gold coins being faked is substantially higher than silver coins. Anyone that plans to buy gold coins should get a set of the precision coin calipers made by Fisch Instruments of South Africa. It is also wise to invest in an acid test kit that includes a touchstone.

Mr. Rawles-

I sincerely appreciate your site and all of your efforts. In researching rain water collection recently, I came across a manual on rain water harvesting published by the Texas Water Development Board. While some of the data is Texas-specific, I found the overall information and descriptions of various harvesting systems to be extremely helpful. I suspect some of your readers may as well.

In addition, I have received notice from the good folks at Safecastle that their next Mountain House [long term storage food] sale will take place between May 23 and June 5 and will include a 25% discount for [Safecastle Royal] members. I have done business with Safecastle in the past, and was quite pleased. Please note, I will not receive anything for making this sale known, so I have nothing to gain. Respectfully, - Hunkajunk

Just an update on your book from here behind enemy lines in Chicago.

I ride the "EL" [elevated railway] to work each day and on Monday saw a man reading your novel "Patriots" . I asked where he purchased it, expecting the answer to be Amazon, and was stunned when he said that he picked it up at Borders on State Street in downtown Chicago. I wandered over to the store at lunchtime and, lo and behold, there were two copies in the the new "Mystery and Thrillers" section right next to Ian Rankin's latest book. There were plenty of copies of Rankin's book but only two of yours remaining. I asked the clerk if there were any more copies available and she said that they had five that morning. Only two left. Wow! Unfortunately, they were asking $14.95 for the book. I have a new Kindle Reader (I love this thing) so I'm planning on buying the Kindle version of "Patriots" this time.

I bought my first copy of "Patriots" about four or five years ago (I got an autographed copy to boot) from a used book dealer on Amazon and have purchased that latest two editions. I can't wait for your [two planned] sequels. You've developed into a terrific writer. I once read a review that described "Patriots" as a "how-to manual disguised as a thriller."

My thoughts are with your wife and yourself during her difficult health situation and I hope that all things work out well for your family. Semper Paratus - Bill L.

Greg C. mentioned some commentary by Howard Rich: The United Fiefdoms of America. “For the first time ever, federal aid – not property, sales or income tax – is the top revenue source for state budgets, the paper reported.”

GG flagged this by Karl Denninger: Nothing Suggests We're Anywhere Near the Bottom

CJB suggested this article: Social security to run out of money...

And, in a disturbing echo, GG suggested this: Medicare already in the red

Items from The Economatrix:

Social Security and Medicare Worsens (since yesterday's article) "The trust funds -- which exist in paper form in a filing cabinet in Parkersburg, West Virginia -- are bonds that are backed by the government's "full faith and credit" but not by any actual assets. That money has been spent over the years to fund other parts of government. To redeem the trust fund bonds, the government would have to borrow in public debt markets or raise taxes."

Oil Hits $60 on Global Recovery Hopes

April Foreclosures Rise 32%
More than 342,000 people received at least one foreclosure notice.

Gasoline Prices Jump in California and US

Breathing Easier After Bank Stress Tests? You Shouldn't
Here are a couple of quotes from the article: "Largely unnoticed in last week's government report on the condition of the nation's biggest banks was the disclosure that five of them, topped by Bank of America, could lose $99 billion from the kinds of exotic bets that sank the global economy." and, "The banks' financial reports to regulators for the quarter ending March 31 also tell a potentially ominous story about their holdings of derivatives, instruments whose value is tied to an underlying asset, such as a pool of subprime mortgages. Seventeen of the 19 largest banks reported that, in the event of an economic catastrophe, they face combined derivatives losses exceeding $568 billion."

Is Anyone Minding the Store at the Fed

Treasury Wants More Oversight of Derivatives

UBS Suggests Gold Could Go to $2,500

Credit Card Companies Piling on Fees, Raising Rates Ahead of New Federal Rules

Dollar Rally Will End, Rogers Says; May Short Stocks

Stocks Drop More than 2% on Economy Worries

Home Prices Drop Most on Record Per Quarter Dropped 14%

Soda Tax Weighed to Pay for Healthcare

Trade Deficit Widens in March to $27.6 Billion

Citi: $45 Billion Goes to Loans

Any of our readers living in Norway (and Norwegian ex-pats) will want to bookmark this blog: Ingen fare...Undergangen er skremmende nær!

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More about Pakistan, the Taliban, and The Bomb: Experts predict Pakistan’s collapse. Speaking of Pakistan, here is a prime example of lack of planning and lack of the survivalist mindset: Pakistan's 'displaced deluge'. Do your best to never be a "refugee " It is just one short step away from "casualty statistic." (Thanks to Ben M. for the second link.)

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Tamara mentioned that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is continuing their Free Membership promotional campaign.

"Procrastination is attitude's national assassin. There is nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task." - William James

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. This auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

I have read many [preparedness-oriented] web pages and other scenarios of the impending collapse as they see it. A common theme in most of them is there will be a sudden and short lived phase of total chaos. In your novel "Patriots" I remember the couple who took to a storm drain while the blood ran in the streets overhead.

So let's say we are unfortunate enough that this really does happen, and at least half the people on the planet get wiped out in short order. Meanwhile, the other half can do nothing more than fight, run, and hunker down. And those survivors of the great collapse are all very careful about cooking odors, no perfumes, plain soap only, etc. The survivors are just dang busy setting up their means to survive, because its a new, tough world. But just weeks earlier, it was a much more sanitized world. In my 30 years as a Paramedic I was called out many times to check out "that foul odor" coming from somebody's house or apartment.

I can't even begin to imagine what its going to smell like with about three billion fresh corpses scattered around rotting without a single funeral home open for business. I can tell you its probably not going to smell too good! Heaven help us who are down wind of a major city!

Sure, in time the problem will fade away. But let's face facts, most people don't have any real exposure to the possible stench "The Big Die Off" will conjure up. So, what are some recommendations to get through "The Big Stink" while you are trying to survive the post social chaos event? Vicks Vapo-Rub under the Nose? I can tell you from first hand experience that it offers only minimal relief. I became quite good at putting on a Fire Fighters Self Contained Breathing Pack. Some of our Tactical Team Medics who went to New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina can tell you a little about how its going to smell. Most of them ordered new uniforms after their deployment, since the old uniforms had taken on a new fragrance. - EM Joe

Hello Jim,
Of [your oft-mention triad a of] Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, I want to share some thoughts about the "Beans" category

I read that a lot of folks prepping for the future. That's great, we all should. The day after Hurricane Ike, I saw people in huge lines to get into grocery stores, hours of waiting. The day after! They did not even have one day worth of food in their homes.

Then I read lots of info and blogs about people getting their emergency supply of food stored. There is a place for the MREs, beef jerky and all the dehydrated food in cans. It is a very important part of food storage and preparation. I personally don't want to live on it, and quite frankly I can't afford it. I am a strong believer in the "store what you eat" concept. My family and I have a supply of red and white wheat, but we eat some fresh made wheat bread every week. Therefore it gets rotated. We are using it.

Does someone really want to wake up one day after the SHTF scenario, open a bucket of wheat and ask, "now what"? The food that you store should be a part of your regular diet. About five years ago we started home canning. This almost forgotten art. It is a wonderful way to store food you actually want to eat. Stews, soups, meats, chicken, chili, spaghetti sauce with meat can all be canned in glass jars by any average joe. And for a lot less money than the freeze dried emergency foods. And it will be rotated regularly because it's good and therefore you will eat it.

I hope people don't have a false sense of security because they have a bunch of boxed-up dehydrated food under their bed [that they have never used]. Store what you eat, eat what you store, and continue to stock up! - T.

Mr Rawles,
I am brand new to this mindset so I hope the that my questions are not redundant. I am a self-employed construction worker in Idaho. I would really like to start prepping and stockpiling. Do you have any suggestions as to a home based business that might prove fruitful? I appreciate your time. - Micah

JWR Replies: I have posted several lists and commentary on suggested home-based business ideas. Just search through the "Self Employment and Home-Based Businesses" posting category, starting at the bottom,a nd work you way up.

In today's economy, especially with the prospect of an influenza pandemic, I think that mail order businesses are probably the best possibilities to pursue. Anything related to home security should sell well, even in a full-on Depression. Ditto for DVDs.

Cheryl sent this: How Gardening Became Fashionable Again

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Also courtesy of Cheryl: USA Today Poll: 96% Affirm 2nd Amendment

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Now that I've successfully met my manuscript deadline with Penguin Books, I can come up for air. For the first time in many weeks, I'll have the time for some quasi-recreational reading. I'm about to begin 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century. (Yes, I'll post a review.)

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Mike Williamson (our Editor at Large) mentioned that Survivalblog advertiser Shelf Reliance now has a "monthly budget plan"--set up payments with them, and they'll deliver the goods on your schedule. This is a great way for people with limited financial resources to build up their emergency food supplies without having to save up a
bunch of money all at once. Set up a plan, make payments, get the foodstuffs you want, delivered.

"All over the world, interest rates have been cut and budgets padded. France's deficit is running at 8% of GDP. England is running a deficit of more than 12% of GDP. And the U.S. is mobilizing as if it had been attacked by Martians. On the credit side, the feds have cut rates more than ever before, for a monetary boost equivalent to 18% of GDP, according to Grant. As to spending, $13 trillion has been amount equivalent to a full year's annual output of the United States of America. This response is three times more (adjusted to today's dollars) than the U.S. spent to fight WWII. It is 12 times more (relative to GDP) than the total committed to fight the Great Depression." - Bill Bonner, The Daily Reckoning. May 4, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Any SurvivalBloggers with a Kindle Reader may be interested to know that there is now a Kindle edition of my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" available.

Today's first article comes from frequent SurvivalBlog content contributor "OSOM.". His moniker, by the way, is an acronym for "Out of sight, out of mind."

Published in 1989 to educate US businessmen on how to cope with hyperinflation, Gerald Swanson's book "The Hyperinflation Survival Guide: Strategies for American Businesses" contains a wealth of lessons for non-business folks as well. If you run a business or have investments, do yourself a favor and read the book. For the rest of us, here is a concise adaptation (and updating) of Swanson's business lessons for the individual / family.

Hyperinflation is defined as “rapid, debilitating inflation that leads to a major devaluation of a country’s currency”. Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil in the 1980s were used as case studies to extract lessons for the US. In all cases government overspending, and paying for deficits with printed money is the underlying cause - sound familiar? The fiat money supply supply was grown exponentially, and the foreign exchange value of the currency plummeted. Foreign exchange, and wage / price controls followed.

Are We Facing Hyperinflation Now?
With almost a doubling of the adjusted monetary base since August 2008, serious inflation is already “baked in the cake” as those clever folks at Casey Research put it. The M1 has already spiked 10%.

With ongoing multi-trillion dollar deficits, hyperinflation is a distinct possibility. The prescient economist Dr. Gary North is of the opinion that the Fed will be smart enough to pull back and keep it confined to mass inflation. When push comes to shove, he thinks they will choose a full-blown depression over the horrors of hyperinflation. Of course this assumes no major mistakes from the Fed in a situation where past mistakes, and a rickety mal-investment economy make the path between hyperinflation and depression increasingly narrow. As government regulation, taxation and inflation has distorted the natural order of the economy more and more, the mal-investments made become more and more severe. The endgame is an economy so distorted and arthritic that it can only sink into depression to correct the mal-investment, or be stimulated into hyperinflation. We are a long way down that road - how much further we will go is a matter for debate. Bottom line, the lessons of this little book are worth internalizing, as we are going to have serious inflation - the only question is how much, and for how long. The following are lessons from Swanson's book:

Time Eats Money
Lesson Numero Uno - keep repeating the mantra “time eats money” - over even short time periods. Ingrain this in your thinking. If you continue to act as you have in the past, your wealth and standard of living will be eaten… Cash in the bank, or currency in hand, is a rapidly depreciating asset - a “hot potato“.
A 1% per month inflation rate means the purchasing power of $100 in the bank or currency is reduced to $88 in one year. But at 10% per month inflation, $100 goes down to $31 in 12 months! At 20%, just 11 cents of purchasing power left.


As Rawles keeps repeating - get out of cash and into tangibles, Tangibles, TANGIBLES.

Get your income into another currency, precious metals, or tangibles EARLY and FAST to preserve purchasing power. (2009 update to the book - are there really any hard currencies left outside of gold and silver? Even the Swiss are inflating now.) Stockpile goods you are sure you will need before they zoom up in price - part of John Pugsley’s Alpha Strategy.

When, and what price you buy at, may become as important to your standard of living as how much money you make. Stockpiling is even more important as governments often resort to the economic snake oil of wage and price controls. This pushes legitimate transactions onto the black market, and cripples the economy with shortages. Don’t expect a normal availability of goods. Low profit margin goods are often the first to disappear, as price controls wipe out the small profit and make production uneconomic. Imported goods will become much more expensive with currency depreciation, and/or largely unavailable with foreign exchange controls. Having your own inventory will help cushion the shortages.

If you have cash you must shop around and negotiate hard to get a high rate of interest - to at least partially keep up with inflation. Diversifying your deposits over different banks is a good idea as some banks likely will go bankrupt. Even if you are fully reimbursed by the FDIC, you will have lost a lot of purchasing power by the time the bureaucrats cut you a check.

Forget historical costs, it’s not what you paid in the past - it’s the REPLACEMENT cost in the future. Example - unless your insurance specifies replacement cost it‘s worthless. Selling anything, you only make a real profit if you cover the replacement cost, plus an inflated profit margin. Budget for what it will cost, not what it costs now.

Decision Making
Once it is underway, inflation can accelerate frighteningly quickly. When money loses value by the day or week there is no time for procrastination. You have to make decisions fast to stay ahead of the curve. Do your research, and make plans NOW. You want to be one of the first to react - not caught in the herd‘s stampede.

Information Sources
You have to pay close attention to foreign exchange rates, and the price of gold and silver to get a handle on what is happening in real time in real markets. Relying on government statistics that only tell you what happened in the past is like driving using your rear view mirror. Even worse, government statistics on inflation are bald-faced lies understating the REAL inflation rate.

Relying on US government numbers is like driving looking backwards - using the side mirror with that little warning “Objects are CLOSER than they appear.”
Stay ahead on the information curve - read Survival Blog daily, and follow Austrian economists who foresaw this crisis, and have made consistently good predictions, e.g.: Gary North, Richard Maybury, and Casey Research. (They all offer a lot of valuable, free information to motivate you to become a subscriber.)

Your Job
Your wages will probably NOT keep up with inflation:
You get a cost of living increase to catch up on last year’s inflation, so you are always playing catch-up
The actual inflation rate is accelerating so you never get a full catch-up on the rate.
You will probably not get a full cost of living raise from your employer due to the fact that they are being hurt financially as well.
Your cost of living will probably be based on government statistics which understate the true rate of inflation.
Combine all this with possible wage and price controls, and your job income will not maintain your standard of living

Coping Strategies:
Get paid by your employer weekly or even daily so you can get your earnings into tangibles right away before more purchasing power is lost. When inflation really gets rolling, even a week or day’s delay can be significant. Keep contract periods short so you can renegotiate as needed.
Try to get your pay increases tied to something real in a free market - an interest rate, foreign exchange rate on the real (“black“) market, or the price of gold or silver. Be prepared to document the basis for your request with hard evidence.
Become more valuable to your employer now. Non-essential staff will often lose their jobs. Gary North, to his credit, hammers on this theme relentlessly - “Fireproof Your Job”

You will need to be constantly negotiating with your employer about pay raises, and payment schedules to try and keep up with inflation. Be a model employee if you want your employer to help you when they are under extreme stress. Imagine trying to get a raise of more than the official inflation rate the government admits to… - “not gonna happen” unless you are a vital part of the team. Similarly, if wage controls are slapped on - you will be asking your employer to get very creative about working around regulations to compensate you - you had better be worth it…

Credit - Forget It!

Even if available, the interest rate will be horrific. Who wants to lend money that is paid back with dollars depreciated at an unknown, but accelerating, inflation rate? You’re probably on your own to finance purchases. If you have any variable rate debt, e.g., credit cards, get rid of it now before the interest rate is jacked up. Your income will probably not keep up to make the payments. If you are owed any money, better collect it fast (and have a high interest rate to at least partially compensate for projected future inflation).

On the bright side, your pre-hyperinflation fixed-rate mortgage can be easily paid off with gold or depreciated dollars - if you still have an income that has even partially kept up with inflation. Who said hyperinflation wasn’t fun? It’s great to be a previously indebted homeowner - until the riots hit your neighborhood.

Seriously, the good news is that forewarned, and acting on the knowledge, you have a big head start to survive financially, when most folks are being wiped out. You must take big, speculative risks if you want to profit, but coming out the other side with most of what you have now is a good goal, and will put you far above average.
I‘m not so optimistic about the larger society, or world in general. Read FerFAL’s blog. [JWR Adds this Proviso: Be advised that there is some crude language at his site, and some anti-Semitic statements.]

FerFAL's blog will give you an idea of what economic desperation did to the crime rate in Argentina. Being in a safer place, with good security, and a strong team is advisable.

The truly scary part of a hyperinflation is that wiping out the life savings of the middle class tends to erode their moral base and the foundations of society. This often results in scapegoat wars, and guys like Hitler becoming more popular. To get a feel for Weimar Germany, read When Money Dies

As they say, history doesn’t repeat exactly, but it often rhymes, and we aren’t starting off with an overabundant moral base…

The Uncle Howard's web site doesn't come right out and say "Hey, these buildings make a great place to store your preparedness gear!" or "Be sure to ask about our bullet-proofing upgrades!", but Howard is all about filling the needs of land owners that want to build. There are plenty of off-the-shelf models, but they are willing to have extended conversations to get a one-of-a-kind perfect-fit design. Uncle Howard's has a drafting department that takes a conceptual sketch all the way to engineered and stamped plans to satisfy buyer with specific needs.

The site has some general information stuff that would be helpful to anyone looking at a construction project, even if they choose a different company, such as their Glossary (What do you call walkway along the top of a wall?) They also have some very informative FAQs. (What is the difference between engineered plans and "wet stamped" engineered plans?), and links to sites for each state so you can find your local info, for permitting, equipment rental, etc. I highly recommend the printable Homework page(Quick: which seismic zone are you?) and the Total Cost Estimator which helps you run through the total cost of the project, not just the structure. (Did you remember the outhouse for your workers?)

If yo 're thinking about building, you'll find a whole lot of great information and planning ideas. Oh and if you do call to ask about their floor plans or kits, be sure to mention that you read about Uncle Howard's on SurvivalBlog, because they have sales, discounts, and offers that don't always get posted to their web site.

In response to today's post, I would like to offer an alternate method to avoid going outside in the rain to flip the value after five minutes.

Cut the down drain pipe into about 5 feet from the discharge elbow. At the elbow end install a blank over the opening. Drill a small hole in the blank, perhaps 1/8th inch diameter, and reattached the outlet ducting to a container to catch the runoff.

At the above cut in the drain pipe, install a "T" and an ell to move the water downward into a barrel.

[During each fresh rain shower,] the pipe that is blanked off should hold the initial water that would contain bird droppings and other unpleasant things before it starts to run out the "T" above into the clean water receptacle. This method gives you clean water for drinking and dirty water for the garden. Of course run your clean water through the Berkey before drinking.

I wish I could take credit for this method, but the thanks will have to go to Mel Tappan. - JH in Arkansas


I found a rainwater diverter that looks interesting. It can be turned on and off in seconds so you can let the first few minutes of rain wash the bird poop off the roof before you start collecting water. I imagine with a rain sensor and a little effort, it could be made to start diverting water automatically a few minutes after it starts raining. - Matt R.

Now, the truth comes out: Banks Won Concessions on Tests. I figured the "tests" were rigged, but not quite so blatantly. And here are some more details on the "Buddy-Buddy" Creative Accounting: Fed cut banks' deficits after negotiations: report. (Thanks to Roger Y. for the links.)

Reader D.D. sent his one: Next challenge for banks: Credit card losses Number usually tracks unemployment, but this time it may be worse

Items from The Economatrix:

Global Financial & Economic Crisis: How Much Time Do We Have Left? "The US-Dollar has been technically hyper inflated, even though no one is saying "the king is nude!!"... Not yet, anyway..."

Imminent Global Stock Market Crash to Support US Dollar

The Clock is Ticking on the US Dollar and Bond Markets

BofE Braces For Third Wave of Financial Crisis

Desperate Baby Boomers Return to Work

Peter Schiff: Don't Be Fooled By Inflation

Short Sales: Banks Block Way Out of Foreclosure Crisis

Experts Say GM Bankruptcy is Almost Inevitable

Real Estate Crash Shifting to Commercial Properties

Welcome to the Frozen Economy This is a flashback of a piece from July of 2008. It shows how tough the times were in Maine then, before the big crash. Very interesting reading. "My neighbors are like deer caught in the headlights: frozen in fear as something sinister, implacable, and wholly unanticipated lurches toward them. A reckoning has begun to unfurl like a dark flower, slowly at first, then gathering urgency and force. This is not a short detour after all, but an untraveled road to an unknown place from which there is no return, no escape…and we are not prepared."

On The Subject of Bottoms "Also worth noting is the fact that the yield curve is steepening in the U.S. and in other countries where governments are cranking up the printing presses, signaling that investors are losing faith in those who control the public purse strings."

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

Monday, May 11, 2009

Only in America! The Weaponizers (A hat tip to KAF for the link.)

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I heard that Midwest Outfitters just received just under one full pallet of 5.56 NATO 55 grain FMJ ("ball"), fresh 2008-production ammo. This ammo is newly-manufactured to military specifications by Bitteroot Valley Ammunition Components in Montana.This is not re-manufactured but made with all new components. The head stamp on this batch is BVAC 08 and the NATO symbol. Right now, just for SurvivalBlog readers they are offering a case of 1,000 rounds for $500 with Free Shipping. At last count, they had only 83 cases left.

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I heard from Gary up in Montana that clones of the recently-enacted "Made in Montana" guns bill are about to be introduced in the legislatures in Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Washington. Yee haw!

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Reader PNG mentioned the DHS Radiation Event Medical Management web site. PNG noted: "The [content of the ] entire site can be downloaded for Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux, etc.:nd a subset of the site can be downloaded for PDAs and many smart phones."

For SurvivalBlog readers that are conversant auf Deutsch, there was a review of my novel in the widely-read Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper: Amerikanischer Bestseller: „Patriots“ Wie das Ende unserer Welt zu überleben ist.


The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $1,100. This auction ends in just four days. It is for a large mixed lot, which includes:

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. This auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Mr. Rawles:

How about washing clothes without electricity? One way that works fairly well is to take 5-to-6 gallon plastic buckets and cut a small hole in the center of the lid just big enough for a toilet plunger. Fill 3/4 ways with water add soap (you did remember laundry soap for a year right?) add clothes for about one person pants, shirt t-shirt, under wear and socks, plunged for 1 minute let soak for 5 minutes plunge again for 10 seconds. Dump out water, fill with fresh water again plunge for 1 minute dump out, fill again with clean water plunge for 1 minute dump out. Hand wring the clothes, hang out to dry or hang near wood stove in the winter to dry.

Clothes washing was something I had thought about. I was going to buy one of those old fashioned double tub sinks to wash clothes outside. The "bucket method" sounds much easier AND I already have all of the items I need.

I did think of a few things to do in addition to this. Here is how I plan to use this method. There are three in my family, so we will have three buckets and three plungers. On wash day each person will have their own bucket. The person with the cleanest clothes gets water and soap first and does the above. That water is put in the next cleanest person's bucket and then that water goes into the dirtiest bucket. By cycling the water down the chain, we should be able to use much less water. Of course the dirtiest bucket would get an extra rinse job. We will also have laundry soap that will not harm plants, so we will use the water for the garden.

I have become an avid reader of your site. I've gotten more helpful information from your posters than many books and sites I have used for years. They seem stuck at the basics and have never moved on to fine tuning. Thanks for your work. - Jennifer G.

There are simple old time solutions to the possible problem of collecting and using "polluted" roof gathered rain water.

Add a splitter, (an upside down Y shaped piece of pipe), to the downspout before the pipe runs into your cistern or rain barrel. One side of the "Y" goes to your catchment, the other to the ground or drain. Add a simple flip value to the inside of the splitter. During the first 5 minutes of any rain, turn or flip the valve to run the water out onto the ground or into the usual drain. Once the roof and gutters, (and air), have been washed clean of any dirt, debris or pollution, flip the value over to fill the rain barrel or cistern. Keep the barrel or cistern tightly covered so animals or mosquitoes can't get in. At least once a year completely drain the barrel or cistern and scrub clean with bleach and water. Rinse well and drain. Then refill. This ensures a clean supply of "soft" water that should be safe to drink, (and incidentally is especially good for using in steam irons and washing hair ). - Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment, Ohio

Good post about Lyme Disease today. I live in Connecticut and caught Lyme in 1995. Took me years of antibiotics to get it into remission. Also, please note that on 50% of people get the classic "bulls eye" rash. I didn't, and as a result I was misdiagnosed for five months while it established itself in my neurological system.

I recently purchased some special undergarments from Rynoskin which the ticks and other bugs can't get though. Maybe some of your readers would be interested. Cabela's sells their own version, called Bugskins but I'm not as familiar with it.

Keep up the great work. I enjoy the blog out here in Blue country!
All the best, - Joe from Connecticut



I found your post on deer ticks and Lyme Disease of much benefit. I would like to share with you a brief account of a man I knew who contracted a very peculiar illness. He suffered from severe malaise (general weakness) which was misdiagnosed by the local doctors a number of times.He was diagnosed with anything ranging from influenza to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and even cancer. As it turned out, he had Lyme disease contracted via a deer tick

His symptoms were not much different from what Bill S. described in his letter but apparently at the time, it was not recognized for what it was. there was as much early suspicion of Lyme disease as there is now.
My point is that we cannot be too cautious when it comes to our health. even with competent doctors, things can get missed.
This gentlemen endured quite a long recovery, partly due to lack of early recognition and partly because Lyme disease is a nasty one. It was years before he was "right" again. - M.D.T.


Hello Mr. Rawles,
The definitive studies on ticks were concluded in Oklahoma some 30 years ago, in detailed deer habitat/population studies. (See the reference below.) The results of the studies indicated that 90% of the ticks occur only in a small portion of the outdoor habitat. Perhaps as little as 5% of the habitat. That particular habitat is the area where deer bed down regularly.

I live on five acres and in contact with the vegetation outside daily, in waist high shrubs, knee high grass and under some heavy growth of trees. Rarely do I find a tick on me, here in western Oklahoma.

Generally the potential occurrence for ticks on humans is overstated. Because people simply do not regularly pass through, work in or visit the bedding areas of deer.

This does not however belittle the fact that just one tick can pass to a human a disease condition that can impact health negatively. Fear of ticks from outside activities is generated when warnings are described to the public. If you stay away from deer bedding areas your chances of having a tick transfer to you are very low.

The other environmental condition for ticks to gravitate to is a yard with outside penned dogs. Watering tanks serviced by windmills or solar pumps for livestock will also be used by deer, bobcats, coyotes and many small mammals. Watering places frequently will have over runs of water leaving behind pools of water on the ground.
These areas may have higher concentrations of ticks.

Beat the odds:

  • Always inspect yourself for ticks after being outside.
  • If you have an outside dog in a fenced yard treat the dog's sleeping area with insecticides.
  • Stay out of deer bedding habitat.

But for the first time in more than a year yesterday I picked a crawling tick off of my neck heading for the hairline.

If in a bugout situation stay away from deer bedding areas for sleeping or rest stops. You can spot these areas. The deer will leave behind a mashed down area of vegetation [usually] in brush and/or under low trees. You can also see the imprint of where deer rest and sleep under trees where there is less vegetation.
Distinctive well-used trails will lead to these areas.

Type of habitat that is based on ecological descriptions of a community of plants have a significant effect on the ability of ticks to maintain a population of individuals.

Reference: White-Tailed Deer Utilization of Three Different Habitats and Its Influence on Lone Star Tick Populations, by Carl D. Patrick and Jakie A. Hair, The Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 64, No. 6 (Dec., 1978), pp. 1100-1106. Published by: The American Society of Parasitologists

Understanding ticks is more complex than just understanding the potential for disease transmission. Cordially,- JWC in Oklahoma

Several readers sent the link to this BBC article: Do you need to stock up the bunker? Rawlesians are looking more and more mainstream...

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The latest from Nanny State Deutschland: German government plans to curb use of guns. (Even paintball, Airsoft, and laser tag sports may be banned!)

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KAF mentioned this: The Grandson of Vespa will have Four-Stroke Engine. Talk about fuel economy!

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Also from KAF: Tennessee House OKs Guns in Eateries|

"It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." - Epictetus (c.55-c.135)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

People who venture into the woods or fields should be aware of a very serious, but underreported, threat to their health, the deer tick. Deer ticks carry and transmit Lyme disease and a half dozen other serious diseases. Deer ticks can be found in most parts of the world. They are very common in Central Wisconsin which has a large population of deer, their preferred host. Thanks to the anti-hunting nuts and poor government management practices deer can found in residential neighborhoods, including large cities.

Most people are familiar with the dog or wood tick, a large, easy-to-spot tick that feeds on human blood and is very ugly when engorged. It is however, relatively benign. The deer tick is especially dangerous because it is very small, smaller than a match head. Their size makes it very difficult to detect on clothing or on your body.

Two years ago I was bitten a number of times while clearing land for our retreat. It was prime deer tick habitat; heavily wooded, high grasses and lots of deer. You may not know that you have been bitten by a deer tick (unless the tick is still embedded). It will however sting like a bald face hornet – and for a good 24 hours.

After I started developing the symptoms I put two and two together and did some Internet research. I suspected that I had Lyme disease. I had the classic bulls-eye rash on my hip; it looks like the Target logo. The primary symptoms were extreme fatigue and body aches. After years of outdoor work and practicing yoga I could barely get out of a chair.
I went to the local clinic. The NP took one look and said, “You’ve got Lyme”. She said she had got it earlier in the year, her husband the year before. I was given antibiotics. The symptoms went away within three days. I thought I was cured.

The following year I was not the same, better, but still lacking energy. Over the last year I have experienced the same deep fatigue as well as many other symptoms. I had previously been very healthy. The symptoms come and go and express themselves in a variety of ways. Reported symptoms include heart, lung, visual and mental problems – it can be fatal. It is one bad bug.
I cannot say for sure what the cause of my problems is or recommend a treatment. Lyme disease is poorly understood and often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. It is a complex issue and requires much research into the subject. Most physicians are Lyme illiterate; they don’t have a clue about the disease. One place to start is with a Google search for Joseph J. Burrascano, Jr., M.D. for information from one of the foremost Lyme experts. Also see for more information.

Prevention is the best medicine. When we have been in tick territory we do a complete body check in the evening – head to toe. Ticks prefer the torso; I have been bitten in the center of the back, hip and groin. I was recently bitten under my arm, my wife under her breast. Ticks live in tall grass, especially along human or deer paths. They are most active during the spring and early summer. A powerful tick repellent should be used around the ankles, wrists and neck. I wrap my socks with wide duct tape – sticky side out, to trap ticks; it works, but is no substitute for a full body check.
It is reported that if you remove the tick within 24 hours of being bitten the disease will not be transmitted and not all ticks carry the disease, this may be wishful thinking. If you do get a tick follow these instructions for removal:

Note that dogs can get Lyme. There is a dog vaccination available.

I urge everyone who visits or lives in areas with a deer population to exercise constant vigilance for deer ticks. If you are bitten you should consult a physician familiar with Lyme disease. Failure to do so can lead to serious long term consequences.- Bill S.

Swine Flu: Worst to Come in Autumn "Doctors are being warned to prepare for a second, "much worse" wave of swine flu hitting Britain in the autumn, the Health Secretary has disclosed."

Tamiflu Linked to Abnormal Behavior

KAF sent this: Economic crisis in European Union

Items from The Economatrix:

Real Unemployment 15.8%; Highest Since ADA Began Tracking

The Greatest Boondoggle in History

Skousen: Bailouts & Bankruptcy: Undoing The Rule of Law

GM Spots Bankruptcy In Rearview Mirror as it Burns Tankfuls of Gas

Toyota First Annual Loss

Stress Tests Show 10 Biggest Banks Need to Raise $75 Billion

China Fears Bond Crisis as it Slams Quantitative Easing

Markets Bet Worst is Over

Lloyds Banking Group Warns on Surge in Company Debts

Economic Casualties Pile Into Tent Cities

AIG Bonuses Four Times Higher than Last Year

The Derivatives Elephant in the Room " ...$500 trillion of outstanding derivatives, or about 10 times the total annual economic output of the whole world.... And, according to Mobius and a contact of his who works at the SEC, no-one in the financial world understands how these products really work, which means that the threat of a massive blow-up is un-measurable."

Insiders Selling at a Furious Pace "Last week there was a report that corporate insiders were selling at a faster rate that at any time since October, 2007 -- right near the top of the market. Well, the market's only raged higher since then and insider selling is only getting more intense."

Bernanke Sees Signs of Recovery But Warns Of More Job Losses

US Dollar Decline is Accelerating

JHB sent this from The Daily Sound. Couple survive Mission Canyon firestorm in bunker

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60 Million Armed Patriots...And Counting

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Ammo Hard to Find as Gun Owners Stock Up (This os hardly a news flash to SurvivalBlog readers)

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Jesusita Fire Forces Out 30,000 Residents

"Governments and central banks are going to lose the war on gold because they refuse to fight gold by the one technique that can give them victory: stop printing money." - Dr. Gary North.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

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

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.mat

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. This auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Plunging into the world of two-way radio communications and monitoring can seem daunting for newbie preppers. It is a technical field that has more than its share of jargon and acronyms. I suggest that you team up with someone that is a licensed amateur “ham” operator, and have them walk you through the basics of the frequency bands, radio wave propagation, the various equipment, and the legalities. Yes, there are plenty of legalities. Stay legal!

A ham who mentors new hams is called an “Elmer”. You can find an Elmer through your local ham radio cub. They are almost always very willing to help, and quite generous with their time.
The radio band designations can be confusing to folks who are newcomers to the short wave listening and amateur radio worlds.

One major source of confusion for newbies is hearing hams mentioning things like “…on the 40 meter band, or “I was talking on 2 meters.” So here is a link for a useful band allocation chart from the ARRL that will put the band designations in an easy to grasp graphic format.

Getting Started
I highly recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers at the very minimum buy themselves a short wave radio and a multi-band police scanner, and become familiar with their use. In a "When The Schumer Hits The Fan" (WTSHTF) situation, hard wire telephone, cellular phone, AM and FM commercial radio, the Internet, and television may be essentially unavailable. Read: Off the air. Most radio and TV stations only have enough fuel to run their backup generators for few days. Ditto for the telephone company Central Offices (COs.) After that, there will be an acute information vacuum. You may find yourself listening to overseas short wave broadcasters for your daily news, and to your police scanner for updates on the local situation--to keep track of the whereabouts of looter gangs. Be sure to buy a CB radio and few walkie talkies so that you can coordinate security with your neighbors. (The CB, FRS, and MURS bands do not require any license in the U.S.)

My favorite band for walkie-talkies is the Multi Use Radio Service (MURS) band, since most MURS radios can be programmed to operate in the 2 Meter band, and because they have much better range than FRS radios. But like FRS, they are unregulated in most private use. (No license required!) It is also important to note that the CB channels, FRS channels, and 2 Meter band frequencies will likely be very crowded WTSHTF, particularly in the suburbs, but the less well-known and less populated MURS frequencies will probably be largely available at any given time.
Once you've mastered short-range communications and public service band monitoring, the next step is to join your local Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) affiliate club and study to get your amateur license. Someday you may be very glad that you did!

General Advice on Disaster Communications and Monitoring

Your first receiver should probably be a compact portable general coverage AM/FM/Weather Band/CB/Shortwave receiver. There are several brands on the market, most notably Grundig, Sangean, and Sony. I consider the Sony ICF-SW-7600GR receiver among the most durable portable general coverage receivers for the money. It is about the size of a paperback book. I've had one (actually mine is an earlier "pre-G suffix" model) since 1992 and even with very regular use it still works great. In my experience, the secrets to making them last are to buy a couple of spare hand-reel antennas (the most fragile part), show care in putting stress on the headphone jack and power cable connections, and to always carry the radio and accessories in a sturdy well-padded case. (Preferably a waterproof case. I found that a small Pelican brand case with "pluck and chuck" gray foam inserts proved ideal for my needs.)

One low cost alternative to buying Pelican cases is to cut closed-cell foam inserts to fit inside a .30 caliber or .50 caliber United States Government Issue (USGI) ammo can. SurvivalBlog reader MurrDoc calls GI ammo cans "The poor man's Pelican Case." These steel cans are very sturdy, inexpensive (under $10 each, at gun shows), and they also provide limited protection from nuclear EMP effects. (They would make near-perfect Faraday cages if you removed the rubber gasket and replaced it with Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) gasket wire mesh, but then of course the can would no longer be waterproof. Sorry, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.)

Your first transceivers should probably be a pair of MURS walkie-talkies, such as those sold by MURS Radios.(One of our loyal advertisers.)

Next on your list should be a SSB-capable CB radio, such as the time-proven Cobra 148 GTL (BTW, this model is also readily adaptable for "freeband" frequency range modification.)

Then, before moving on to sophisticated ham gear, your next purchase should probably be a pair of military surplus field telephones, for coordinating retreat security.

Welcome to the world of communications and monitoring. I hope that you find the dozens of articles on these subjects in the SurvivalBlog Archives useful.

Good Morning,

You may have addressed this previously, but I could use your help on this issue. Our six year old daughter has significant medical needs (none requiring electricity thankfully) requiring us to shelter in place. We live outside a major metro area and probably wouldn’t want to be on the roads anyway. Any comments for those of us who fit this bill? Thanks - Jeremy

JWR Replies:
Yes, this has been addressed. See this letter in the archives, from 2007. OBTW, be sure to follow the back-links there for the previous SurvivalBlog article on mid-size photovoltaic systems for medical needs such as sleep apnea CPAP machines and small refrigerators for insulin storage.

I have been using the three Tightwad Gazette books, by Amy Dacyczn, for a few years now. While not really aimed at a survivalist audience, it sure fits the bill as preparedness and frugality. Lots of little ideas that may be important when the supply of "stuff" is cut off. The three volumes are available bound together in an omnibus edition The Complete Tightwad Gazette . Regards, - Hunter Alaska

Warren M. wrote to mention that in their 2010 planning document, the US Mint is now considering a new, less expensive composition for the US Nickel. (The five-cent piece.) The Mint document states: "...the unit costs to manufacture the one-cent coin (penny) and 5-cent coin (nickel) are more than their face value for the third consecutive fiscal year. Changing the composition of all circulating coins to less expensive materials would ultimately result in significant taxpayer savings without compromising the utility of these coins. Accordingly, the United States Mint plans to work with the Department of the Treasury and the Congress to examine alternatives to mitigate the effect current metal prices are having on circulating coinage..." Just as I warned, the window of opportunity for amassing the current composition nickels may soon close. Fill a ammo can or two with nickels now, while you can still get 75% copper / 25% nickel five-cent pieces at face value! Gee, if they made all the coins out of steel, they'll be handy to beat into arrowheads, after Helicopter Ben totally collapses the economy.

In The Wall Street Journal: Fed Sees Up to $599 Billion in Bank Losses: Worst-Case Capital Shortfall of $75 Billion at 10 Banks Is Less Than Many Feared; Some Shares Rise on Hopes Crisis Is Easing. Are they in touch with reality? Real estate values are still plummeting, and foreclosures are due for another spike in 2010 and 2011 (as ARMs rates reset), so any such "hopes" are just wishful thinking.

A reader in England noted that silver ingot jewelry which was produced in large quantity for the Queen's Silver Jubilee (in 1977) can sometimes be found selling below the spot value of silver on various Internet auction sites. My advice to SurvivalBlog readers in the UK is to watch the auctions closely, and you may find a bargain, even after the cost of postage.

GG sent this: Treasury yields soar after poor bond auction.

Reader LRG mentioned an online Directory of Primitive Skills Gatherings and Knap-Ins

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After a delay, Camping Survival has sealed cases of full mil-spec MREs back in stock.

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DS alerted us to an interesting follow-up to the "Worst Case Scenario" piece. This has implications that go far beyond just economics!

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KAF sent a very useful link What is Hardtack and How is it Made?

"Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will." - John D. MacDonald

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Inner Nerd is itching to see the new Star Trek prequel movie, which is scheduled for release tonight (May 8th). But until my latest book manuscript is submitted to Penguin Books, I can't go see it with a clear conscience. The May 11th manuscript deadline is looming! The new book will be non-fiction, titled How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It. This non-fiction book is scheduled for released in early October.


Today we present a brief but very practical entry for Round 22 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 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Spiritual Fitness
Let us start this discussion by confronting a stark fact of life: very few of us, living the life of North American citizens, are fit to survive for a generation in an austere, off the grid, world. First of all, few of us have the philosophical orientation to be survivors. I know in my bones that without God’s help, my family’s ability to survive in a prolonged state of austerity is worse than questionable. As an evangelical Christian, I understand that my own commitment to preparedness is a function of my ongoing submission to God’s will. It could have been otherwise. He could have willed me to pursue other ventures: sacrificing my own survival for the benefit of others as I helped them “escape the storm”. Is this not the philosophical basis of soldiering and of the missionary? Self-sacrifice, even to the point of death. That was Jesus’ example of discipleship. So I diverge from that example only by virtue of an ongoing conversation with my Lord and Master, and He urges me to prepare for the worst, so that my family and my “retreat posse” will survive. I know not His particular purpose in this endeavor, but I trust His will implicitly. It is my personal belief that the Lord calls all family leaders to provide deeply for the sustenance and well being of their families. But unless you have had this conversation with the Author of life, you may not be philosophically and spiritually “fit” for the challenging times to come. And God may have a different path for you to pursue, in the service of His Kingdom. Remember that Jesus has called us all to Himself and He wants you to trust Him today! Preparedness is not a hobby- it is a calling. In this vein also, I do not condone the “secret squirrel” approach to preparedness. Being discreet about the specifics of our preparedness plans is a wise tactic in these dangerous times, but failing to share our wisdom, insight and knowledge with others who could effectively use this information for good is, in my estimation, downright sinful. So much for my personal philosophical bias.

Physical Fitness

Second of all, few of us have the physical fitness level required to be 19th century farmer-builder-warriors, which is what we may be called to become. Example: Thirty five years ago, I was a carpenter and gardener: climbing, lifting, sawing, digging, hammering. I joined the US Army to become a Ranger. And, boy, did I find out how poor my aerobic fitness was. Fast forward ten years: I was then a medical student and an avid, competitive triathlete. I visited my buddy’s place (Yeah, he’s in the “posse”) and helped him cut, stack and split firewood for a day. Well, my “designer body” ala swim-bike-run was exquisitely fit aerobically, but that episode of real labor left my body an aching mess for the next three days! Now I am a 60 year old surgeon who mixes aerobic exercise with gardening, light carpentry, resistance training, hiking with the Boy Scouts, woodcutting, et cetera, so that I can be at least minimally fit for the challenging lifestyle that would be required in a TEOTWAWKI world. If you are overweight, smoking and sedentary, you are engaged in a futile fantasy to think that you will survive in a post-apocalyptic world, surrounded by your storage food, guns and ammo. These are mere possessions that will swiftly be taken from you by the ravenously hungry horde of healthy young men who have heard about your stash. Start your physical preparedness plan with physical fitness.

Preventative Medicine
Next issue: public health measures. For many years I taught and practiced medical and surgical care in austere environments. In the late 1990s I was the chief of the medical special response teams for the US Army, Pacific, and taught disaster planning and medical care in austere environments around the world as a Department of Defense consultant. If I had to choose between having access to modern medical care and having a sound public sanitation system and clean water, it would be a no-brainer. The clean water and hygienic handling of human waste as first perfected in the twentieth century have saved many more lives than have antibiotics and modern surgery. Hepatitis, polio, typhoid fever, dysentery and other waste and waterborne diseases have defeated far more armies throughout history than have poor tactics and strategy. Witness [German General Erwin] Rommel’s own struggle with hepatitis during the North Africa campaign of WWII, which he roundly lost, in spite of his brilliance as a military tactician. If you have a retreat, please remember this simple principle: keep you food and water supply as far as possible from latrine sites. Controlling mosquitoes may be important in some areas, to avoid epidemics of West Nile Virus, malaria and yellow fever. The current H1N1 flu pandemic should remind us all that we need to protect ourselves from infectious disease. There is much more to learn about field sanitation and hygiene, so please consider reviewing this comprehensive resource.

Now you have arrived at the next step. You are right with God and your body has been worked into a lean, mean, diggin’, buildin’ and fightin’ machine. You have an ample and reliable source of potable water and your latrines are at least 100 yards downhill from your water supply. You have a half ton of lime ($30-40 worth) to sprinkle in the latrine. Your food is stored securely and safely away from vermin, fungus and other pests. After 2-3 years of experimenting, your food growing skills and garden are adequate. You have established sound and reliable defense and OPSEC measures, to include perimeter defense, adequate weapons capability, mastering of small unit operations and tactics and adequate familiarization with improvised weapons and tactics and redundant communications systems. Whew!! That was a lot of work! Now, and only now, should you plan your strategy for medical, dental and surgical care.

Medical Care in Austere Environments

Number one principle: avoid injuries and illness. In practical terms that means maintaining sound health and hygiene, as above noted. It includes scrupulous avoidance of horseplay, as well. What a tragedy to break your ankle playing Ultimate Frisbee during planting season, when every able body will be needed to secure your frugal harvest for the year. Without the availability of operative orthopedic care, many of our ancestors became lifelong cripples from simple injuries such as this. Skiing and mountain biking will be absolute no-no’s unless truly necessary for operational reasons. Sorry, but fun activities are way low on the list of gotta-do’s in a survival environment.

Next: eat to survive, not for fun. No one will care what you prefer in your diet, least of all your retreat cook, who is tasked with cobbling together a nutritious meal from whatever is on hand. (As an aside, when my very wise wife and I developed the list of friends that we would invite into our “retreat posse”, the overarching selection criteria, following a Judeo-Christian moral orientation, could be characterized as “high skill, low maintenance” personality traits). Multivitamins will be most helpful, but probably can be stretched to one every other day or even two per week, if there is a shortage. Include adequate fiber in your diet. In our stores, we have large containers of Metamucil, for instance, to avoid constipation. When encountering this problem, the French Maquis (WWII resistance fighters) would ask a local farmer for some butter or lard and eat 2-3 tablespoons…like grease through a goose! We also have a simple formula for an oral rehydration solution to treat dehydration following diarrheal illnesses, heat injury, or trauma- induced hypovolemia. Please copy the data on this site of the Rehydration Project ( for an excellent and simple description of homemade rehydration remedies.

Take scrupulous care of your teeth! Floss at least three times per week and brush at least twice daily. Toothpaste is nice, but not necessary. Baking soda works almost as well and it is not only cheap, but has many other uses. Buy 20 pounds of baking soda. I strongly urge all to get a copy of Where There Is No Dentist by Murray Dickson. It is available from Ready Made Resources. This is an excellent and authoritative manual that is easy to put to use by someone with at least a modicum of medical training, for example an EMT.

Now the fun part you were all waiting for: interventional health care, i.e., the practice of medicine and surgery in an austere environment. To start with, I strongly recommend getting a copy of the list of $4 prescription medications available at Wal-Mart pharmacies. The array of inexpensive medications is astounding. Antibiotics, antihypertensives, hormone replacements, topical medications, eye and ear preparations- they are all on this list. Ten to fifteen years ago, most of these items were very expensive “designer drugs”. If you need antihypertensives, see if your doctor will prescribe drugs off this list and then get him to write you a 6-12 month prescription. Also ask him to write you prescriptions for the antibiotics that I recommend below. You should also get several bottles of eye and ear antibiotic drops. Admittedly, this may be an uphill battle. Hopefully you can educate your physician about the importance of preparedness and make him an ally. Tell the Wal-Mart pharmacist that you are going on a mission trip to a distant land without access to pharmaceuticals. This would not really be a lie, would it?! Don’t worry about your cholesterol- it will drop on your new diet…but then, my guess is that the survival lifestyle will also “cure” most hypertension and non-insulin dependent diabetes. But, please, try to get to that level of lean fitness prior to encountering the “SHTF” dilemma. I recommend a stockpile of four antibiotics that will treat most conditions that will really require them: pneumonia, anthrax, urinary tract infections, skin infections, and wound infections: Cephalexin 500 mg, Ciprofloxacin 500 mg, Doxycycline 100 mg, and Septra DS (SMZ/TMP DS). These can all be taken by folks with penicillin allergies, with the possible exception of the cephalexin. The number of tablets that you need will be based on the size of your group. All of these are dosed for adults but can be split or crushed for children. Echoing the advice of Jim Rawles, having a retreat member with significant medical experience, e.g., an advance practice RN, a PA or, ideally a practicing physician, will enable you to utilize these medications optimally. In my humble estimation, about 30-40% of antibiotic prescriptions currently doled out by my colleagues are unnecessary, and often done to placate demanding “health care consumers” because it is often too frustrating and time consuming to educate folks in the office. Although these medications are inexpensive now, when you have a limited supply that must last months or years, they will become precious allies in your fight for survival that must only be used when life or limb are at risk. The expiration dates on the bottles of meds that you receive at the pharmacy are really made up, since no pharmaceutical company really studies the time-related efficacy and safety of these drugs carefully. The expiration dates are always much earlier than the true degradation dates, except for liquid and injectable medications. Almost all medications are probably still safe and effective for at least 1-2 years after the printed expiration date. Almost every doctor friend of mine gives his/her family expired medications from their sample shelves! If you live within 200 miles of a nuclear power plant, a large military base or a major urban center, it is prudent to stockpile a 1 month supply of iodine supplements for each member of you family, to avoid the long term carcinogenic effects of a nuclear fallout emergency. These are really cheap, have long shelf lives, and can be purchased from several of the advertisers on this web site.

Wound and Trauma Care
Let’s start by making life simple: any soap with water works as an adequate antiseptic for scratches and scrapes, and good ol’ Vaseline works nearly as well as a wound dressing as the expensive antibiotic ointments. Large second or third degree burns are another story, however. Having worked in the developing world as both a military doc and as a medical missionary, I have observed for myself the well known fact that flame injuries are a major cause of death and disability in primitive cultures. Open fires are often used for heating and cooking, resulting in frequent flame injuries, especially to children. Children are neither wise nor well coordinated, and they fall into fires. Get several large jars of Silvadene cream for extensive burn use only. Keep it refrigerated, or even frozen as long as possible to extend its shelf life. This stuff is somewhat expensive, but not easily replaced. OTC topical antibiotics like bacitracin ointment could be substituted in a pinch. Extensive burns (larger than the palm of your hand) should be cleaned with soap and water and dressed with antibiotic ointment and sterile gauze reapplied daily until fully healed. When you run out of Silvadene, use Vaseline (get 50 lbs of it- it has many, many practical uses).

I currently teach advanced tactical medics for the US Army, SWAT teams and the U.S. Border Patrol. We teach them suturing techniques. But, unless you can really clean a wound within 12-24 hours of its occurrence and close it surgically with a truly aseptic technique- sterile gloves, drapes, sutures and instruments- it should be left open to heal by itself. Otherwise it will likely get grossly infected, pus out, and require you to take out your precious suture material and use your precious antibiotics to treat the now deep wound infection. Soap and Water will take care of this wound better, along with copious irrigation with previously boiled water (allowed to cool, of course). “The solution to pollution is dilution!” Clean the wound with a 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and sterile water if it gets crusty or develops a thick discharge and change the dressing daily. If large vessels, tendons, nerves or bones are exposed, the wound will require suturing, but only after extensive cleaning and irrigation, followed by several days of sterile dressing changes and the administration of oral cephalexin three times each day, and then only with the cleanest, sterile technique.

Orthopedic Injuries
Basic first aid techniques are most important to acquire for all preppers. This is especially true for injuries to bone, joint and spine. The first aid techniques that I learned as a Boy Scout almost 50 years ago are still relevant today. Taking a Red Cross First Aid course is really important as the minimum medical training for anyone seriously facing a survival situation. However, when there is no doctor available, you will be required to go several steps further. Fractures must be set into their normal , functional positions and then casted or splinted effectively when you are the final medical authority. Additionally, if the fracture is open, i.e., there is a break in the skin where the bone had poked through, this wound must be thoroughly washed and irrigated, dressed with a sterile dressing and antibiotic ointment, and broad spectrum antibiotics given for a week. Serious spinal injuries may be a death sentence in this situation, invoking the principle of expectant care (see “Triage principles” below).

Pain Relief and Anesthesia
Okay, so this part comes easy to me. Not only is my wife a former marathon runner, triathlete, and cross country cyclist, she is also a total Christian babe. And an anesthesiologist. She has taught me how to perform total IV anesthesia, using relatively inexpensive drugs given by injection, thereby not requiring the use of inhalational agents. Most of the procedures that can be done outside of the hospital are short- under one hour in duration. In the austere environment, the group surgeon would ideally be prepared and equipped to perform the following major surgical procedures: Debridement of dirty wounds; open ligation of major bleeding vessels; appendectomy; cholecystectomy (removal of a diseased gall bladder); cesarean section. Although endotracheal intubation may be required, the presence of a ventilator and oxygen can be circumvented. A bag-valve device will be necessary for manual ventilation. Intravenous equipment and fluids are required. Again, the amounts of each will depend upon your situation, but I would recommend having at least four liters of normal saline IV solution for each member of your group. Ignore the expiration dates: salt water does not degrade. Avoid using this precious resource for routine causes of dehydration. Use the rehydration solutions instead. Put up an ample supply of Tylenol, Motrin and Aleve. If possible, store a supply of stronger narcotic pain medications, such as Vicodin.

Triage Principles
Triage is the function of rationing medical care in the context of limited availability. This may mean a limitation in supplies, time, facilities, transportation or professional medical providers. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, all of these factors may be in short supply.
The four triage categories are as follows:
1. IMMEDIATE: These victims have life threatening conditions that will a) result in death if not promptly addressed and b) can be remediated with the judicious use of assets on hand. An example would be a deep laceration to the groin with arterial bleeding from the femoral artery. The immediate application of pressure or, if necessary, a tourniquet, will save a life. This could then be treated with definitive surgery later.
2. DELAYED: This describes serious conditions that are not immediately life threatening, but that will require medical attention in hours to days to avoid serious disability or even death. An appropriate example would be a humerus fracture sustained while having piggy back chicken fights in the back yard (you’ve already forgotten: no horseplay!)
3. MINIMAL: This category includes illnesses and injuries that are self limiting: small lacerations, a non-displaced finger fracture, a short episode of diarrheal illness, etc. These folks need to keep working!
4. EXPECTANT: When medical resources are severely limited, they must be used to derive the greatest survival benefit for the community. That means that using a lot of medications, supplies and manpower in attempts to resuscitate profoundly ill or injured patients is unethical. These unfortunate folks will be unlikely to survive regardless of your best efforts. They are triaged as expectant, meaning that they are likely to die. Examples include severe shock, quadriplegic injuries, or multiple gunshot wounds to vital organs. They should be treated for pain if possible, and given comfort and affection until their demise. This will save resources for those who are salvageable and can continue to contribute to the group’s survival.

Medicolegal disclaimer: Please do not use any of the above advised techniques or methods unless you have no possible access to professional medical care. This advice is not at all applicable, and may in some instances be harmful, if you have access to professional medical care. - RangerDoc, MD, FACS

Mr. Rawles,
I searched the forums to no avail on this topic. In the Pacific Northwest, a common roof setup is untreated wood shakes with copper ridge caps and flashing. The rain hits the copper which leaches chemicals onto the wood shakes to inhibit moss growth.

On other sites I'm reading conflicting thoughts on whether this amount of copper renders the water unsuitable for rain catchment into a water barrel for vegetable garden irrigation or a cistern for human consumption. Some folks seem to think there is more danger from the concentrated nitrogen in the water (bird droppings, raccoon feces) than the minute traces of copper. Others believe any amount of copper renders the water useless, no matter what purification steps one might take (filters, Aerobic 07, etc). - What is your take? - Scott J

JWR Replies: The copper itself is not the issue, since after all most residential water pipes are copper. But if lead solder was used for any joints, that would be cause for concern. Personally, I'd be much more concerned about any wood preservative treatment chemicals impregnated in the shingles. Some of those chemicals, such as copper naphthalate, are nasty! But if your roof was built with plain, untreated cedar shingles and copper sheeting without lead joints, then the catchment water should be fine for domestic use, once it is properly filtered and treated for microbes.

Heather sent a link to an article was featured in Seven Days (an ultra-liberal newspaper in Burlington, Vermont: The Pandemic Pantry; Stocking up on staples, just in case. Heather's comment: "I think this article illustrates the fact that the preparedness mindset is starting to reach the mainstream. Maybe the sheeple are beginning to catch on? The article on the side talks about the LDS Church. While I have theological disagreements with the LDS I think their food storage program is outstanding."

KAF sent us this: Another Swine Bug Raises Scientists' Concerns. KAF's comment: "This is particularly disturbing. When Egypt began mass slaughtering the pigs, I thought they were mad. Now I am wondering if perhaps they knew something we are just finding evidence of? "

Via K.J.'s e-mail: Confirmed US swine flu cases rises to 896

From Tricia: WHO: Up to 2 billion people might get swine flu

Decision on Flu Vaccine Looms

Does WHO need to declare flu a full pandemic? (Thanks to Ray V. for the link.)

Reader HPD pointed us to this commentary by Mish Shedlock: Preliminary Stress Test Results. What a sham! HPD also mentioned this: Futures Fall, BofA May Need $35 Billion in Capital. HP had these incisive comments: "Expect BofA (and Wells Fargo) stock to bounce after the initial decline. Geithner has taught the market that he will throw a lifeline to any large bank, no matter how insolvent. Thus is capital misallocated in a centrally planned economy." He added in a later e-mail: "Outrageous! But did we really expect anything different? ...Gee, I wonder why all the major servicers are sitting on aged REOs [Real Estate Owned] .. Notices of Default (NODs) delayed seemingly indefinitely to avoid the paper loss. What is the POA [power of attorney] exposure? Are checking accounts swept nightly to avoid reserve requirements? (Yes they are.) Is this accounted for in the "tests"? Who is holding [the] CDS [(credit default swap) derivative paper] on the US government? How is that unwound? Don't worry, you're already on the wrong side of the swap. [Some rantyness snipped.] We live in a centrally planned economy, the long term ramifications of which we cannot predict. How many times can a dead cat bounce? Does the government have the wisdom to manage such an economy?"

M.W. flagged this from The Wall Street Journal: 401(k)s Hit by Withdrawal Freezes; Investors Cry Foul as Some Funds Close Exits; Perils of Distressed Markets

LJ in England sent this: Bank holds interest rates at 0.5% as it prints extra £50 billion in cash

Obama Releases Details of $3.4 Trillion Budget Plan

A few SurvivalBlog readers have recently mentioned that they've got browser errors when trying to visit SurvivalBlog. Typically, they get this error Message: "Content encoding error - The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because it uses an invalid or unsupported form of compression." This seems to be a browser glitch, rather than something wrong with our site. A quick and easy fix: Clear your browser's cache.

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Several blog readers sent us this: Oklahoma legislators over-ride governor's veto to pass sovereignty resolution.

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"FloridaGuy" flagged this: Poll: Support for an assault weapons ban is shrinking

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GG forwarded this: Chicken owners seek free range in city

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, May 7, 2009

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

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. This auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present a guest article from Kathy Harrison, the author of the popular mainstream preparedness book Just in Case . I highly recommend getting her book to first read yourself and then pass along to any of your "head in the sand" neighbors and relatives.

Here in Western Massachusetts, with its short, cool growing season, a backyard greenhouse is a real boon for those of us concerned with providing our families excellent food, even when supply chains are shut down during a time of crisis. We have spent three years figuring how to maximize the relatively small interior space of our rectangular, rigid-walled greenhouse in an efficient manner.
Early on, we realized there were steps we could take to increase the interior temperature during our cold, windy winters. My husband rescued an old thermal pool cover that was headed for the landfill and cut out sections to fit against both the north and west sides. By doubling this cover, we now had both a wind break and heat sink that held sun-generated warmth. He also made a double 6 ply plastic cover that is raised during sunny days but can be lowered to about a foot above the ground at night. This essentially makes an interior cold frame that protects crops from frigid night air. We added a stone walkway down the middle of the greenhouse that captures heat as well as keeps the area cleaner. Our final step was to ring the exterior of the greenhouse with bales of hay, stacked two deep. It is an easy matter to move the hay away from the door so we can enter as long as we keep the area free of snow. On the coldest nights, we bring out the day’s ashes from a wood stove, captured in a metal bucket. With these measures in place, we have never had the ground freeze on the interior, in spite of nights that dip to -20 degrees.

The next step is to ensure that the soil inside is as healthy as possible. This means liberal applications of compost and bi-weekly applications of a weak fish emulsion fertilizer.
Finally, we developed a plan of crops and crop rotation that makes the best use of our available space. We were looking for crops that provided maximum nutrition and dietary bulk. We were surprised by some of the things that did quite well.

In mid February, we plant several varieties of lettuce seeds. They start slowly but by mid-March, we harvest a salad a day. This was an early spring for us and I can’t guarantee such good results every year. We started our seedlings inside in early March. My early April, we were able to harden them off in the greenhouse. We have never had such healthy and vigorous starts. As the lettuce starts to bolt in the heat, we will be removing those plants and replacing them with some miniature melons, something we could never grow in our climate, as well as root crops such as carrots, turnips and beets. We ate turnip and beet greens late into January and we were pulling the roots throughout the winter as the ground never froze. We planted hardy greens such as bok choi, tat soi, chard and spinach in August. By October, we were eating the first of those greens and they continued to produce well into winter.

As the root crops develop below ground, a shelf above hold individual pots of salad greens and cherry tomatoes grow in suspended planters. We started these later than our garden tomatoes and we were enjoying fresh salad tomatoes weeks after frost had done away with the main crop. We did not have luck growing bush tomatoes in the soil. We got all vine and no fruit.

Other important considerations are water, pests and heat control. Greenhouse plants need a lot of water. In early spring, I water seedlings every day. As it gets warmer, it is not unusual to water twice a day so having a source of water nearby is terrific. A rain gutter that drains into a bucket would be helpful. Our greenhouse has two roof vents that have to be opened early in the day, before the sun gets too high. Unopened, the temperature can reach 110 degrees by 10:30 in the morning, a temperature that will fry any tender plant. Even in mid-winter, the greenhouse is so warm we are able to eat lunch out there. Some greenhouses have solar operated vents that open and close as the temperature fluctuates. It is an upgrade we wish we had invested in. We do have a black shade cloth to keep the interior cooler in extremely hot weather. This is seldom necessary in our climate but a more southern location would find that useful.

Pest control is vital as aphids can be a real problem. We find that a squirt of soapy water followed by a clear rinse does a good job of keeping them under control although at one point the infestation was severe and we had to pull out the Asian greens, which were the biggest problem. If you plan to bring any plants from the greenhouse inside, check closely for these pests.
We have been so satisfied with the productivity of our greenhouse that we are planning to invest in another one, further enhancing our ability to feed ourselves throughout and food, energy or weather crisis. - Kathy Harrison, author of Just in Case

Dear Jim,
I'm a mom, and new to your site, but I've long been thinking that my instinct for planning should ramp up to a new level of preparedness to keep my family safe. Like many of your readers I've long felt an increased sense of alarm at the state of our world on numerous levels.

And, as many of your readers - preparing within the parameters of my normal household budget along with the current financial challenges makes preparation challenging! ... in short - I don't have lots of spare cash around to go around buying pallets of food "just in case"...

I really feel convicted that as a Christian mom who has learned a better way to shop - it's my duty to educate your readers about rethinking their normal shopping to a more frugal and economic shopping style that will allow them to create and build a food stockpile for their possible future needs. If more people are prepared, then as a community we will be able to hold each other up.

So - let's talk coupon shopping.

As I said - I'm a mom - a normal mom, married with two kids. But food is expensive and most people think. I can't go in the store and just buy 40 boxes of pasta to put on a shelf --that would be crazy. I need to buy my normal groceries! But I did just that, this week - and for free! Coupon shopping has evolved into such a crazy science that there are tons of web sites dedicated just to that.

People generally think it's great if they buy something on sale. Or if they get an item with a coupon. But what people need to realize is that they need to buy something on sale with a coupon when it hits the rock-bottom sale price. If you live in an area where coupons double, you need to use your 75 cent coupon when an item hits $1.50 so it ends up being free.

I have not spent a cent on toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant or nearly any other "health and beauty" item in the three years I've been couponing. If the only thing that enabled me besides the ability to stockpile for myself and donate to my friends and food pantries abundantly. It enables me to not spend money on those items, [and hence] to shift it to food spending. The pasta I bought today for free.: It was on sale for $1, with a coupon for $1/2 that was part of a special dollar doubling deal at my local grocery store.

I normally buy 10-15 newspapers and have delis that hold me their unsold papers and have no qualms about dumpster diving for more.

The end result of this is that I don't spend more than 50 cents on a box of cereal and get a great portion of my food needs for free. Of course there is still produce and meat so it's a work in progress.

I want your readership to realize that with savvy coupon shopping within their own shopping environment, they can start to build a stockpile. It's imperative that they do so.

To start couponing, do a Google search on "coupon shopping". Find out if your local grocery store offers any coupon cards, doubling, or tripling. Be prepared to do some Internet research on the big coupon sites. Invest in at least 10-15 papers if you have a family of four (or find a free source for newspaper coupon inserts such as a recycling center) Keep at it. Coupon savings sometimes take four weeks for the coupons you get today to come into play as a maximum savings item. This takes time, but saving money and being prepared and taking care of your family is the only motivation you should need. Regards, - Ida

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. I encourage SurvivalBlog readers to bookmark and regularly visit some of the major Internet coupon web sites, such as as and, Mommy Saves Big, and Wow Printable Coupons.

Roddy sent this from the Guatemala Times: The Great Depression Analogy

R.S. forwarded this from The Financial Times: If China loses faith the dollar will collapse

A recent column by Libertarian commentator Vin Suprynowicz: Light at the end of the tunnel: They only need another $20 trillion

DS liked this piece by Karl Denninger, over at Seeking Alpha: Independent Analyst Numbers Far Uglier than Official Stress Test Rumors. JWR's comment If we take into account that most US residential real estate will likely fall another 30%, and most commercial property by another 50%, then the "official" stress test results will be downright laughable. All those "underlying assets" are little more than sinking sand.

Dave L.sent us this piece at Bloomberg: Bank of America, Citigroup, GMAC Need More Capital (Billions more in the MOAB!)

Rhett mentioned the AOPA "Pinch Hitter" course. (Imagine that you are the passenger in a friend's private plane,when suddenly he suffers a massive heart attack. What will you do?)

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Some places you have to go well-armed, to share the Gospel. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

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Eric sent us this: Montana sovereignty bills have national scope

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Reader Don E. spotted this: Homeland agency pulled back extremism dictionary. Why haven't the biased authors at the DHS been fired?

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Another item for the "Home invasion robberies thwarted" file: College Student Shoots, Kills Home Invader. (A hat tip to Tamara's View From the Porch blog for the link.)

"Why should taxpayers who live in apartments, perhaps because they did not feel that they could afford to buy a house, be forced to subsidize other people who could not afford to buy a house, but who went ahead and bought one anyway?" - Thomas Sowell

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today we present a brief but very practical entry for Round 22 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 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

What makes our rifles fun? Shooting them! However, we have all seen first-hand the spike in ammunition prices since the 2008 Presidential election. American’s in fear that they will soon not be able to get ammunition because a possible government bans, smart bullets schemes, etc; citizens have been stockpiling ammunition causing a stress on the market. This in turn causes shortages and prices rise.

Here I will discuss a simple and inexpensive way for you to stop wasting ammunition and money; and zero your battle rifle (or any that you might “come across” during a TEOTWAWKI situation) with only two rounds. If you have been in the military, you know that the current procedure for zeroing the M16 type of rifles wastes time and ammunition. The military will allow up to eighteen rounds of ammunition (in three round shot groups) to be fired per soldier in order to zero their weapons. This allows several variables such as breathing, trigger squeeze, stock weld, etc. to affect the zero.

Borrowing techniques from expert hunters, everyone can easily streamline their zeroing procedures and only use two rounds of ammunition to quickly zero their weapon. This method works whether zeroing iron sights or scopes, and it will work on many different kinds of rifles with reliable adjustable sights (AR-15s, AR-10s, M1As, FN/FALs, etc). The purpose of this method is only to provide the shooter with a weapon that places rounds on target. It does this while saving time and ammunition.

Required Items:

  • A safe shooting location (range) providing at least 25 meter shooting distance.
  • One solid bench rest (many ranges have these for use, or they can be purchased from many gun shops or on-line, ranging in price from $50 - $150 or more, but then it is yours.
  • Your chosen weapon (for example, an AR-15 using iron sights)
  • 25-meter zero target (for example, an E-type silhouette)
  • One extra E-type silhouette (cut out from another zero target)
  • Staple gun and tape
  • Eye and hearing protection

Zeroing Method
Place the mechanically zeroed weapon (See FM3-22.9 at the link below on mechanical zero) securely in the bench rest and use the adjustments on the rest to put the rifle sights directly over the center of a 25-meter zero target, or the desired aim point and fire one round at the target. To compensate for the weapon’s recoil, you should (if needed) again use the bench rest adjustments to move the rifle sights back over the desired point of impact. Make sure that your weapon is on safe.

Now walk downrange with the extra cut out E-type silhouette and tape it directly over the impact point of the round fired. Walk back to the weapon (still secured in the bench rest) and carefully move the sight picture directly over the taped-on target. To do this, simply raise or lower the front sight post for elevation corrections and turn the rear-sight (windage) knob either left or right to make corrections.

You should now have your sights aligned precisely over the actual point of impact on the target. If you have been careful not to make the rifle slip within the bench while making the adjustments, it should now be zeroed. To confirm the zero, simply move your sights back over the original target (using the adjustments on the bench rest) to the desired point of impact and fire a second round. If the rifle is zeroed, this round should hit the desired point of impact. Get up and move again downrange to confirm the hit. If the round is not at the desired point of impact, simply repeat the procedure from the second round’s point of impact on the zero target. This simple procedure allows you to zero a rifle quickly by moving the point of aim to the point of impact.
The use of a bench rest eliminates the need to fire three rounds of ammunition to obtain a shot group before making sight adjustments. If the first round is not true, the second (confirmation) round will alert you to this fact, and you could than repeat the process.

Yes, there are other items that you can purchase that will assist you with getting a weapon zeroed. Laser bore sights for example are great and easily obtained from gun shops or on-line sites and range in price from $40 - $150 or more. With these items, you can zero your rifle quickly without even firing a single shot saving both time and ammunition. However, if you do not have the correct caliber laser or insert sleeve to change to a different caliber; or the mini-watch batteries run dead and you have no way to replace them, the laser bore sight will do you no good. If you already have one though, don’t get rid of it. Sometimes there may be a situation in which you are in an area where discharging of a firearm to zero may not be possible.

In addition, there is a wonderful company called Shepherd Scopes that developed a patented dual reticle system that gives you a point of reference inside the scope allowing you to zero the scope/weapon with just one shot from a bench rest position. These scopes however range in cost from $700 - $800 apiece. I would rather spend funds on purchasing more ammunition, as we all know from reading, that ammunition could one day be more useful than silver for the purposes of barter.

In closing, zeroing your rifle makes it more effective. This expedient two-round method will give you confidence that your sights and bore are aligned even if you happen to “pick-up” or borrow a weapon from a friend; have limited time or limited ammunition. Understand that different positions, body armor, winter clothing, etc. will change your head position, but your bore and sights will be properly aligned/zeroed. Having a zeroed weapon is a fundamental you can build on. The rest is up to you. Good-luck and God Bless!

- Ammo Price Hike Has Many Biting the Bullet
- WorldNetDaily, There was ammo on these shelves …Nationwide shortage leaves gun owners scrambling, paying extra, Zahn, Drew, March 31, 2009.
- FM 3-22.9 Rifle Marksmanship M16A1, M16A2/3, M16A4 and M4 Carbine
- Shepherd Scopes

From the Dr. Housing Bubble blog: The Paradox of Spendthrifts - Government Offering 0 Percent on I Savings Bonds and Creating Incentives to Spend. Punishing the Prudent and Savers. $115 Trillion in Total U.S. Debt

It is nice to see that the spot price of silver has bounced back. I hope that you folks took advantage of the recent dip. (I did!) It may not occur until after inflation kicks in, in the aftermath of overspending on the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB), but I stand by my long term prediction of $50+ silver.

Great Recession’ Will Redefine Full Employment as Jobs Vanish (Thanks to Eric for the link.)

Eric sent this from New Scientist: Regional nuclear war could trigger mass starvation. One billion dead?

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"Word" forwarded a NRA Institute for Legislative Action bulletin link: BATFE Reform Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate. Please ask you senator to support this much-needed legislation.

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I heard that the folks at The Old Schoolhouse magazine (on homeschooling), are offering their latest issue (Spring, 2009) for free download.

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S.H. spotted this from the New York Times: Fearful Brazilians Keep Armored Car Sales Booming

"In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all -- security, comfort, and freedom. When... ...the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free." - Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In these perilous economic times, marked by increasingly frequent corporate layoffs, I'm getting a correspondingly large number of question from blog readers and consulting clients about "recession proof" jobs. I've already mentioned quite a few possibilities, but there is one whole category that doesn't require much (if any) special training:

In Japan, these are called the ""Three-K" jobs: kitsui ("hard") , kitanai ("dirty") and kiken ("dangerous"). If you are willing to take on any of the Three K jobs, do cheerful and hard work, and have exemplary attendance, then you will likely have a job that will carry you all the way through a deep recession or even a depression. If times get truly Schumeresque and you get laid off, then please be willing to "think outside the box", and consider taking a Three K job. Some of these are low level city and county payroll jobs. And by low level, I mean things like sanitation worker, animal control officer, sewer technician (BTW, when did that become "technical?), solid waste transfer station worker, highway maintenance worker, and so forth.

Think about it: If you get laid off and can't find work in your chosen field after several months of searching, then you ought consider taking a cut in pay, to take a far less glamorous job. When corporate layoffs are happening recurrently, a steady job beats no job. Don't let your family starve, or end up homeless. There is no shame in accepting good old-fashioned hard work. If you take a job that brings in only one half of your existing income, consider that you'll actually come out ahead of any of your contemporaries that are laid off more than half of each year. Further, you will have uninterrupted benefits, such as health insurance, that they will also lack. A menial and low-paying job is better than no job.

On Sunday, I attended what is billed as the largest gun show in North Carolina and thought you and your readers might appreciate an update.
What I saw lead me to believe that supplies of black rifles and magazines are catching back up to demand but that ammunition and reloading components remain in short supply -- especially primers.

When I attended the November show, I had to wait in line 30 minutes or so just to get in. I heard the March show had a two hour wait. Today, there was no wait at all. It was crowded inside, but not jammed like the first post-election show. Still, a healthy amount of business was being conducted, far more than two years ago when I last attended as a dealer.

My first stop was to pick up the smokeless powder that I use to load .223. It was sold out at my normal dealer. They had a big sign that said "No Primers." I found another dealer and bought two pounds. The price was reasonable. He had only magnum pistol primers in stock. He told me the price as $48 per thousand, but he expected it to settle back down in three months. I did not see any other primers in the entire show. Several folks were selling bags of 100 pieces of brass, but no one was selling 1,000 piece bags of it or other large lots, and prices were up. So brass and primers remain in short supply. Possibly it is all going to commercial ammunition production.

I was surprised to see that there were lots of new black rifles available -- more than I had expected. There were plenty of AR-15s well as AR uppers and lowers. Despite wider availability, prices remain high. The cheapest plain vanilla AR-15 that I saw was $1,080, with most guns starting at $1,200 and anything with an adjustable buttstock and rails instead of the older forearm starting at around $1,600. In fact, I would say $1,600 was the average price for a Bushmaster or a S&W M&P. Of course, there were still $3,000 guns for sale, but no one was showing much interest.

Stripped lowers from the lesser-known manufacturers were going for about $139 and full lowers with an adjustable buttstock from Rock River Arms were $359. I was looking for a spare bolt and bolt carrier, but never found one. I also saw that part kits for lowers were in short supply. So if you are planning on piecing together a gun, it might make more sense just to buy one complete. You could wait weeks for parts and possibly spend even more when all is said and done.

AK-47s were widely available, as were the Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30. AKs were running in the $600 and up range while SKSes were closing in on $400. A CETME rifle with a Century Arms receiver that cost $300 five years ago was not going for a shockingly high $1,295. I only saw one Springfield Armory M1A. It had a stainless steel barrel and was $1,695. FALs were scarce and at least as pricey.

Based on this show, magazines seem to be back to reasonable availability. Used AR-15 magazines were $9. New .223 alloy magazines from C-Products or DPMS were starting at $15 at most sellers. MagPul polymer magazines were $25 to $29, depending on the model. They were some available, but limited quantities.

Pistol dealers were doing a very robust trade. I saw many more people buying pistols than I did long guns. There were dealers with 20 tables just lined up with Glocks, Springfield Armory pistols, SIGs, Smith and Wessons, Kahrs, Kel-Tecs and just about anything else you could see. Every pistol dealer had people sitting in chairs filing out paperwork.

Rifle ammunition was in decent supply. I saw at least three dealers that had stacks of 1,000 round cases of new, commercial .223/5.56 from Federal XM193 and/or PMC for $459 and up. Many others had Wolf, Bear or other Russian or Eastern European ammo. There were also folks selling "remanufactured" ammo -- 500 in a .30 caliber ammo can for $275. Since this was the second day of the show and near the end, I was surprised at this availability -- all the anecdotal evidence I had heard lead me to believe cases of .223 would be sold out. .308 ammo was harder to come by, with very little domestic production available. There was a moderate supply of Russian calibers and one guy had a pallet of 8mm [Mauser] that didn't seem to be selling.

Pistol ammunition was much more scarce than rifle ammo, especially in common calibers. I saw only one dealer with .380 (for $35 a box) and only a few with 9mm. Dealers had signs saying "No 9mm" or "No .45 ACP." Self defense ammo with a good hollow point, such as Gold Dot or Ranger SXT were going for $45 or $50 for a box of 50 rounds. There was more .357 and .40 [S&W] and good supplies of less common calibers like .44 Special. I only saw one dealer with bricks of 1,000 .22 LRs, but plenty were selling the small 50 or 100 round boxes.

If this one show is any example, I would say that the industry is doing a good job or meeting the increased demand for firearms, albeit at the expense of the secondary market. Demand remains high, but is down from the surge in the months immediately following the election, and supply is now catching up. The threat of additional legislation, assault weapon bans and magazine bans remains and is likely to grow rather than recede. As a result, this may be a good window of opportunity to buy a new firearm. While it is possible prices will drop if we reach an over supply situation, I personally think that is unlikely in the next two or three years unless the Republicans win an awful lot of seats in the next congressional election.

The strong sales of pistols and lack of availability in pistol caliber ammunition leads me to believe that many people are worried about rising crime and are arming themselves. This is consistent with the up tick in people taking concealed carry courses. One has to wonder if the same lines that produced pistol ammo have been converted over to rifle calibers and if we are destined to see shortages in one or the other for some time to come.

Finally, the recent sales explosion in firearms and the sudden lack of availability in the market should be a lesson to anyone sitting on the survival fence. Do not put off your preparations any longer. A sudden change can suck all the supplies out of the pipeline and result in months of backorders for long term storage food, water filters, medical supplies, etc. The just-in-time supply situation is a precarious one and any small shock can upset the balance, resulting in shortages and price increases. - Captain Dave

I just finished reading the book "Bicycles in War" by Martin Caidin and Jay Barbree. Caidin, of course, is a phenomenal writer, and does a great job of presenting the material. There's not a lot of technical how to, though there are some useful pictures, and comments about how the Viet Cong, for example, reinforced their bicycles to carry up to 500 pounds of cargo while pushing them.

During WWI, entire regiments moved more quickly than marching troops, and quite a few clandestine operations in both World Wars used bicycles, including some by the British Commandos and the SS, behind enemy lines.

Summarizing from the book's conclusion, the bicycle's efficiency can be explained as allowing a man to move up to fours times as fast or far than
on foot
, while carrying two to four times as much gear, for less calories expended--1/5th to 1/2, depending on load. A bicycle can go most places a walking man can, and can of course readily use roads as well. - Michael Z. Williamson

As the H1N1 flu spreads across the nation and around the globe, the key question seems to be: It the flu is spreading this quickly in warm weather, then what will it do next winter, when people are generally in closer proximity, indoors? The CDC has vowed to "...continue to get ready for a possible pandemic in the fall."

Clearly, prudence dictates that we be well-prepared, so stock up!

The latest flu headlines:

Jim S. suggested a video from an academic on the implications of H1N1 hitting Phase 5.

Chan hits back at WHO critics. (Thanks to Greg C. for the link.)

At Bloomberg: Swine Flu May Merge with Other Flu Viruses, CDC Says

Linked at Drudge: Mexico to resume business, pork row erupts

CPK mentioned a great piece over at Seeking Alpha: The Worst Case Scenario (Someone Has to Say It)

Reader Allan G. sent this: Robert Gibbs: No bailout for newspapers

Tamara, over at the excellent View From the Porch blog, mentioned an article that might be of interest to anyone who is considering setting up an offshore retreat:: Obama to introduce tax reforms that target overseas loopholes. Tamara's comment: "Ah, Chicago politics writ large: Punish your foes and reward your supporters."

U.S. Home Prices May Be Lost for a Generation: John F. Wasik

Reader GKD sent this: Pakistan Strife Raises U.S. Doubts on Nuclear Arms

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Writing at Lew, SurvivalBlog regular Bill Buppert asks more than just rhetorically: At What Point is a Traitor a Patriot?

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Ignatius Piazza (of Front Sight) ponders: 40,000 Lives Lost Per Year Must Be Worth It…

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Reader Tom W. said that we shouldn't miss the May 4, 2009 "Monty" comic strip. It has SurvivalBlog written all over it! OBTW, about a week ago , I mentioned a Dilbert comic strip with a similar theme. It seems that the survivalist mindset struck a chord in popular culture.

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The 'learned' usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer

Monday, May 4, 2009

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $1,000. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes:

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. This auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Love your site. I have a question in looking through blogs regarding M1A rifles I found some folks complaining about failures with recent M1A rifles that didn't have USGI parts and replacement with genuine USGI parts was not even offered. I wanted to know your opinions and recommendations regarding this rifle without genuine USGI parts especially the extractor. Thanks, - Joe

JWR Replies: The biggest problems with M1As seem to be the commercially-made bolts and operating rods. Some of those are fine, but at different times those produced by several makers has suffered from poor quality control. But short of sending your parts in for precision gauging and Magnaflux non-destructive testing (NDT), there is no way to be sure whether or not \your parts came from good batches. Some might suggest that if you simply replace those two parts with original "in spec" (non-reject) USGI parts then you'll have a very reliable rifle. But that is a very expensive proposition. USGI M14 op rods now sell for up to $450! I recommend that you consult the folks at Fulton Armory. They are extremely knowledgeable, and they can provide you with information on your current M1A/M14 parts (even for Norinco M14s). If need be, they can sell you genuine, top quality replacement parts.

In addition to upgrading (or confirming proper quality of) your bolt and op rod, you'll of course also want to buy some crucial spares, most notably extractors, ejectors, firing pins, handguards, and operating rod spring guides.

FWIW, six years ago I sold all of my M1As and bought L1A1 rifles. This was back when M14 magazines had jumped to $70 each, and L1A1 magazines were $12 to $15 each. I did this because the functionality of the two rifle designs is roughly comparable. Only one of my M1As had been scoped. But the proceeds from selling the M1As (and eight spare magazines for each) gave me enough cash to buy one additional L1A1 rifle, scopes for every rifle, 20 spare magazines per rifle, and two spare parts sets (everything except receivers), and a tackle box full of even more spare L1A1 parts. My family is now much better prepared. But I must admit that I do miss my Super Match M1AE2. That rifle was insanely accurate, for a semi-auto rifle.


That was a great article by "J. Paramedic" on CBRNE events. Not that any of your readers have overly rosy predictions of first responders, but I wanted to add a few points.
All in our agency are issued PPE gear. One suit, one mask, one cartridge. We are better funded. Some agencies issue individual gas masks, but issue PPE gear "per squad" (as in, kept at station, enough for squad on patrol plus some.) The decision was made that it was better to lightly equip everyone rather than heavily equip a select team, especially due to extremely large patrol area and the need to have reduced response time. We do have a better equipped response team for larger, drawn out events, but it is not big. A few of us made it a point to purchase extra canisters, and keep them with us. This came to fruition after breaking the seal on my cartridge for [entering] a meth lab. After being told that a replacement "would come next fiscal year", I was able to secure one when a fellow officer transferred agencies and turned in his gear. Policy states we "SHALL" carry our PPE gear with us. Only about half actually do.

In the event of a CBRNE event as a individual incident, the immediate response would actually be fairly decent. As the incident wore on, in the 6-8 hour range, initial cartridges would be running out. Hopefully, as a backup team arrived, etc, good scene management would be continued.

My concern is a CBRNE event as part of a larger disaster, like a chemical leak after a natural disaster, when responders are already busy and taxed, and supplies are running low. The response would be less than stellar, to say the least.

My recommendation for people is to have PPE gear on hand, and have spare. Have an extra suit. They rip. Stuff falls on cartridges. Get a Camelbak [hydration pack], and keep it with your PPE gear. Those suits are saunas, and if it is a hot day, you run a serious risk of dehydration. We write the time the suit is sealed on the persons back in large numbers with a black marker, both for reference for cartridge life and dehydration prevention.

If you need to bug out in a CBRNE event, it may be wise to gear up depending on the threat. With certain types of exposure, we are told we will get none of our gear back (guns, etc) once you go through decon. Having two sets of PPE gear, while not a priority for all, would be wise for those that are fine tuning stores, and can spare the expense. Suits are not reusable, and masks are not fun to decon. Having a "throw away" gun (something easy to operate with gloves on....) would not be bad either.

J went over it, but Decontamination is very important. Anyone who has experience of removing bloody rubber gloves understands the idea.

Thanks, and God Bless. - Eli

Reader RG in Arizona recommended this article: Scientists dig for lessons from past pandemics

Mexico: No New Swine Flu Deaths; Cases Up to 443

UK: Supermarkets Prepare For Panic Buying

Why the Flu Can Never Be Eradicated

CDC Current Statistics 21 states, 160 cases, 1 death ("officially")

More Schools Shut As Swine Flu Spreads
(430 schools) "The government issued new guidance for schools with confirmed cases, saying they should close for at least 14 days because children can be contagious for seven to 10 days from when they get sick. That means parents can expect to have children at home for longer than previously thought."

In California, Cases Suggest Border Origin

More on the Latest Three Bank Takeovers

H1N1 (Swine) Flu Cases in 15 Countries China, Hong Kong, Denmark confirm outbreaks. Now in 15 countries. "The regions hardest hit are in the western hemisphere, said a WHO spokesman. We have not seen sustained human-to-human transmission anywhere outside the Americas region," he added."

Two Human-To-Human Transmissions Confirmed in UK "Until now, cases were confined to people who had themselves recently come back from Mexico."

Reader Phil B. wrote to warn us about LBW Eyewear, for failure to deliver orders. They are a discount  mail order eyeglasses company that was mentioned previously in SurvivalBlog. As it turns out the BBB has LBW Eyewear listed with an "F" rating, with "8 resolved/closed and 8 unresolved/no-answer complaints." Avoid them! OBTW, the Zenni Optical company has a better reputation for reliability and customer service than LBW Eyewear.

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KAF sent us a Wall Street Journal link: The Taliban's Atomic Threat

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Greg C. pointed out this article on the "cleaner, greener" rhetoric of neo-environmentalism: Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus

"Properly speaking, of course, there is no such thing as a return to nature, because there is no such thing as a departure from it. The phrase reminds one of the slightly intoxicated gentleman who gets up in his own dining room and declares firmly that he must be getting home." - G.K. Chesterton.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 22 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 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

CBRNE is an acronym for Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive events. [It is most commonly spoken "Sea-Burn"] This article gives a general guideline for responding to such incidents, geared toward the individual or small group with basic medical/trauma care abilities and little to no rescue capability. Some details about each type of event are also included. Note that I am a paramedic; my training is geared toward that venue, and this essay reflects that. However, many of the same principles are relevant to anyone forced by circumstances to respond to such incidents, not just public safety personnel.

Deliberate Attacks Versus Accidents
Most CBRNE events will be accidents or natural occurrences - chemical spills, pandemics, etc. Some, however, may be deliberate attacks. The most likely candidates are explosive devices, which are relatively cheap, do-it-yourself, low-risk endeavors. Chemical, biological, radiological and especially true nuclear attacks are expensive and high-risk. For example, creating a nuclear device requires obtaining plans, a large team of scientists in multiple specialties, esoteric materials, and so on. And that is just to build the device - a delivery system is still needed. Bringing these elements together is expensive, difficult and time-consuming, and likely to attract unwanted attention. Overall, the cost and risk-to-body-count ratio is much better with conventional arms and explosives; accordingly, these are the most likely forms of deliberate attack.

The first priority must always be making sure that you and yours do not become victims. If you become injured, you cannot help others; furthermore, you require assistance, which draws resources away from other victims. Consider the following:

Scene Safety: Look for fires, unstable structures, weapons or dangerous persons. Look up, down, and all around - remember that not all threats come from ground level. If you do not have the training or equipment to help safely, then wait for those who do. Leave the area if necessary. Do not try to provide aid in an unsafe area - move victims if necessary. In some cases, you may even have to leave them behind. Remember, you cannot help others if you become a casualty.

CBRNE events pose a high risk of contamination. Do not expose yourself to chemical or infectious agents or to radiation. If you do not have appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) - do not approach the incident site. PPE is discussed in more detail later. Keep in mind the "Rule of Thumb" - get far enough away from the scene that you can completely cover it with your outstretched thumb. Remember to go uphill and upwind of the affected area.
Secondary Devices: In the case of a deliberate CBRNE attack, be aware that there could be additional threats or devices waiting for responders. While these are generally directed at police, fire, EMS or other official agencies, if you are trying to help, or have the bad luck to be at the scene, you share the danger.

In the case of CBRNE event, public safety agencies – police, fire and EMS – will have initial responsibility for scene management. Whatever you believe the long-term consequences will be, initially these agencies will be functioning. What follows is a description of their organizational model. If they are on the scene, you will be expected to function within that structure, if you are permitted to assist at all (for safety and liability reasons, you may not be). However, even if a CBRNE event occurs where public safety agencies cannot respond, the principles of this structure are still appropriate for your own use.

Overall responsibility for managing a given event will, at least initially, fall to a single person, designated as Incident Command. If the event can be managed with less than 7 or so responders, this person (and perhaps a Safety Officer) may be the only command personnel needed. However, a CBRNE event is likely to require a considerably larger response. It has been found that a single individual cannot effectively direct more than 3-7 people; 3-5 is an even better number. This is referred to as an effective span of control. Accordingly, for an event of large size, additional levels of organization will be introduced in order to maintain an appropriate span. Regional or functional divisions are used as necessary. For example, the Incident Commander may appoint a Rescue Chief, a Medical Chief, and a Fire Suppression Chief for a large-scale response. (Note that regional or functional elements and leaders are appointed by Incident Command. Some are standardized across the nation, while others will vary geographically depending on local organization, preference and tradition.) Each of these individuals will in turn direct about 3-5 subordinates. Depending on the number of responders, each of those subordinates could in turn direct a team of 3-5 responder, et cetera. The keys are that (1) each responder reports to one and only one supervisor, chief, or other leadership element; (2) each leader directs no more than 3-5 subordinates directly; and (3) overall responsibility for the scene falls to a single Incident Command. It is essential that there is no freelancing – a disorganized response can lead to inefficiency, an unsafe scene, oversights or mistakes resulting in poor outcomes, additional injuries [, needless contamination] or even deaths.

Geographically, a scene will be divided into three zones: a central hot zone, a surrounding warm zone, and a safe cold zone.
The hot zone is the immediate site of the incident, and may expand based on wind, spill or rainwater runoff, etc. Only trained responders with appropriate equipment should be in the hot zone. Depending on the incident type, this could mean fire department, HazMat or other type teams.
The warm zone surrounds the hot zone. Operating in the warm zone may also call for specialized training and equipment, but not always and not as much. Decontamination, which is discussed below, is usually performed in the warm zone.
Finally, the cold zone is the [ostensibly] safe area surrounding the warm zone. Basically this is the rest of the world. Additional resources and treatment centers will normally be located in the cold zone.

Decontamination will be necessary when it is likely that victims or responders have been exposed to chemicals, biological agents or radiation. The most common method of mass decon is gross decon. Essentially, victims are instructed to disrobe (it is estimated that in many cases this can remove up to 90% of contaminants) and are run through a large “shower” area, then given clean garments. On a smaller scale, you or your family members can self-decontaminate by disrobing and showering. It is recommended that garments that must normally be pulled over the head be cut off, instead. In some cases more detailed decon may need to be performed, for example a wound contaminated with radiological material. In this case, wash the specific site with soap and water, making sure not to contaminate others or other areas of the body while doing so (wear appropriate PPE). Note that victims should in most cases be decontaminated before receiving medical care or first aid. The exception is an immediate life-threatening condition, such as a severe hemorrhage, which may receive preliminary treatment prior to decon.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This discussion will deal with two forms of PPE: medical PPE and chemical protective gear. It is essential to wear appropriate PPE in any CBRNE event to avoid becoming contaminated or spreading contamination to others.
Medical PPE includes gloves, masks, gowns and eye protection. Follow the Universal Precautions philosophy – assume that everyone is a potential carrier of dangerous infections, and behave accordingly. Wear gloves whenever providing treatment, and change them between patients. Also be aware of the following “special” situations:

Splash protection – when “splashes” are anticipated (for example with childbirth, massive hemorrhage or vomiting) wear eye protection, a mask and a gown
Contact precautions – some infections, such as certain MRSA varieties, can be passed skin-to-skin, and call for contact precautions; wear gloves and a gown
Droplet precautions – infections spread in mucus or respiratory secretions may be transmitted over short distances by coughs and the like; wear a surgical mask when in close proximity. (The CDC says within three feet [but coughs can project droplets 10 feet or more.])
Airborne precautions – infections with airborne spread, such as tuberculosis, call for an N95 mask; ideally, the patient should be in a negative pressure room

Chemical Protective Equipment comes in four levels:
Level A calls for a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and a sealed chemical protective suit. Note that no single suit type protects against all forms of exposure. Generally, Level A protection is used only by trained HazMat Technicians.
Level B calls for an SCBA and a non-encapsulated (non-sealed) chemical protective suit, such as a Tyvek suit.
Level C consists of a filter-type respirator and chemical protective clothing, gloves and boots (same as type B).
Level D includes standard work clothes – uniforms, surgical scrubs, turnout gear – which give some skin/splash protection, and no respiratory protection.

Once proper PPE is in place, the response has been organized, and the scene has been rendered safe, care for victims can begin. After safety, preventing or minimizing the loss of life is the highest priority. A CBRNE event is likely to produce a large number of victims, and could easily exceed response capabilities. When this happens, the goal must be to do the greatest good for the greatest number.
Haphazardly rendering aid to random victims will result in chaos and poor treatment priorities, which will in turn lead to unnecessary loss of life or poor outcomes for victims. It is important to apply triage procedures. “Triage” simply means “to sort,” and refers to sorting victims into groups based on severity. The first competent care-giver to arrive at the scene of a mass casualty event should begin triaging – sorting – victims. The following categories are pretty much universally recognized:

Red or Immediate – These persons have severe injuries, but are likely to be able to be saved. The are “salvageable.” Given the seriousness of their condition, they receive treatment (and transport to the hospital, if available) first.
Yellow or Delayed – These are the people with serious but not life-threatening injuries. They are the second group to receive treatment, after the Reds/Immediates.
Green or Minimal – These are folks with only minor injuries. After all the reds and yellows are taken care of, they can be taken care of.
Black or Expectant – These victims are dead or expected to die. Any victim who cannot breathe on their own should be triaged into this category. If manpower or resources are limited, they should not be expended on these victims, who will probably not survive anyway.

Once triage is completed, treatment can begin.

Some comments specific to incident type will be included later. For now, consider the following general assessment and treatment priorities (note that this is a mere overview; detailed first aid skills should be sought elsewhere):
Mental Status – Assess whether the patient is awake, unresponsive, confused or lethargic, etc. An unresponsive patient should be considered Red/Immediate. A confused patient will probably be Yellow/Delayed, assuming no additional problems are found. Next check the ABCs:
Airway and Breathing – Check to see whether the victim is breathing. If not, open their airway by tilting the head or (if injury is suspected) by lifting the jaw forward. If the patient does not breath on their own at this point, consider them Black/Expectant. If they do, ask whether they are having difficulty breathing and listen to their breath. Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing or strange breathing sounds indicate at least a Yellow/Delayed patient. Severe or progressive difficulty breathing indicates a Red/Immediate patient.
Circulation – First, if a patient has no pulse, they are dead, and are Black/Expectant. Second, check for bleeding. If bleeding is found, it should be controlled. Place direct pressure on the site; this should control the bleeding. You may have to maintain pressure for several minutes, then place a dressing and bandage. If the bleeding does not stop, and is from an arm or leg, apply a tourniquet. In the past tourniquets were viewed with great caution, but it has been found that they can be safely used for up to several hours without long-term negative effects. At any rate, one cannot worry too much about an arm or leg when a victim – possibly a loved one – is bleeding to death. Finally, keep a bleeding patient warm (cover them with a blanket) and elevate their feet; this will help combat shock.

Those of you with CPR training will notice that I’ve omitted rescue breaths and chest compressions from this discussion. That’s because (1) in a mass casualty situation victims needing these interventions will be Black/Expectant, and will not be treated; and (2) unless high-level follow-on care – paramedic, ER and/or ICU – is available, CPR alone is unlikely to save a cardiac arrest victim. And I simply don’t have space to include such details here. I do, however, recommend that everyone seek out first aid and CPR training, at a minimum.

Finally, remember that scene safety comes before treatment. If necessary, move the victim. In general it is good to leave trauma victims in place, in case there is some spinal damage. However, when the scene is unsafe, you have to move.

Specific Incident Types

Explosives Events
Remember that explosive devices can also include some biological, chemical or radiological (“dirty bomb”) contaminant; and that there could be secondary devices waiting for responders. (Note that explosives will usually destroy any included biological or chemical material, making explosive dispersal of such agents unlikely to succeed.)
Explosives create blast-type injuries, which are classified as follows:
Primary Blast Injuries: pressure-related injuries from the blast wave, these can affect internal organs such as the intestines, lungs or inner ear without visible external injuries
Secondary Blast Injuries: these are injuries from objects (shrapnel, debris, etc.) striking the victim
Tertiary Blast Injuries: if a blast is powerful enough to throw a victim into the air, they will sustain injuries from striking the ground or other objects
Quaternary Blast Injuries: all other injuries, including burns and the like

Here are some basic treatment ideas:
Bleeding should be controlled by direct pressure and, if necessary, tourniquet.
Broken bones, sprains, etc., can be splinted
Burns should be covered with clean – preferably sterile – sheets or dressings; do not put any salves or chemicals on any but minor burns, as they will have to be washed out later – very painful for the victim
Victims with neck or back pain or tenderness, or loss of sensation or movement, should not be moved unless absolutely necessary, as they may have suffered spinal injury, which may be worsened by movement. However, this is much less likely than television and first aid instructors would have you believe.

Chemical Events
Chemical events require proper PPE; otherwise, follow the “Rule of Thumb.” Remember that wind and water run-off can spread contaminants. Also remember that chemical events may not be immediately apparent. Multiple victims with quickly-developing symptoms, as well as dead flora or fauna in the area, are the most likely signs.

A special note should be made for organophosphates. These produce a condition commonly called SLUDGE (salivation, lacrimation, urination,
diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, and emesis), which in layman's terms is the sudden onset of soiling yourself, peeing on yourself, crying and vomiting everywhere. They merit special mention because these are the type of exposures for which Mark I kits and other atropine/2-PAM kits are indicated, as well as valium for possible seizures.

Biological Events
Biological events can be difficult to detect, and to protect against, because often there is no scene. Generally, multiple victims will present with “flu-like symptoms” or other complaints to multiple health care providers. The main signs are multiple patients with similar complaints, especially when the symptoms, the demographics, or the season are unusual. For example, large numbers of healthy young people complaining of flu symptoms in the middle of summer, clustered in certain areas, is a sign of an exposure or pandemic. Isolating the source is a matter of finding “common ground” between the victims – think of lots of people suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after eating at the same restaurant.

Speaking of flu-like symptoms, I thought it might be timely to share with you the following guidance that I’ve received from my EMS agency regarding the current “Swine flu” –

1. Suspect swine flu in a person who:
- has a cough, runny nose or sore throat; and
- has a fever more than 101.4F; and
- has been to an “endemic area” in the last 7 days
Endemic areas currently include Mexico and affected areas of the USA.
2. Distance is considered adequate protection; however, if one must approach a suspected swine flu patient, a surgical mask is recommended.
3. Only if one must be in a confined space with a suspected swine flu patient is an N95 respirator recommended.
These recommendations come from our medical director based on CDC and other agencies’ information and advice.

Victims of a biological agent (i.e., an illness) can often be treated, depending on the agent; preventing further spread within a population can usually only be accomplished by isolation or – on large scales – by quarantine.

Nuclear or Radiological Event
As noted previously, deliberate nuclear attacks are relatively unlikely, due to their expense and risk when compared with conventional methods. “Accidents” are also rare, as modern-day reactors and the like are designed with multiple redundancies and dead-man’s-switches. We are many years removed from the technologies of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, or so experts say. Smaller radiological events are more likely. Of course the first thought in most minds is the “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive with radioactive material.

Radioactive materials are usually divided according to the following types:

Alpha particles cannot penetrate clothing or often even skin; however, they are very dangerous if somehow introduced into the body
Beta particles can be absorbed by protective clothing
Gamma rays are stopped only by several inches of lead [or several feet of earth or concrete], and easily penetrate human beings, damaging organs along their paths.

The severity of radiation exposure will depend on time, distance and shielding – a shorter exposure, over a greater distance, with more shielding in between, will be less severe than the opposite. Radiation effects various bodily systems. Inhaled radioactive material can damage the lungs. Radiation can also produce severe burns; these will present as severe itching, but over time will reveal significant damage.
In evaluating the severity of radiation exposure, the easiest reliable measure is time to onset of vomiting. If a victim starts vomiting within one hour of exposure, their exposure is severe. Beyond two hours, exposure is probably mild to moderate.
You may find it useful to stock geiger counters, personal dosimeters, or potassium iodide (KI) for your family. Information on all of these topics is already archived on SurvivalBlog, so I will not go into them here.
Otherwise, without specialized facilities, the best you can do for a victim of radiation poisoning is to decontaminate and treat symptoms as they arise. Remember that with a sufficient dose of radiation the victim can themselves become a source of radiation, and pose a contamination risk.

In the case of a CBRNE event, essential include a scrupulous eye to safety, an organized response, careful use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and decontamination to prevent spread of contamination, triage of victims, and the best treatment available. Remember that you will probably not be able to do as much as you would like. You must do the greatest good for the greatest number. Finally, remember your priorities: after safety, preventing the loss of life comes first. Then you can worry about protecting property and/or the environment, and long-term recovery. These topics, however, are beyond the scope of this essay. I hope you find the information contained here useful in your preparations, though I hope you never have to use it in a true CBRNE event.

SurvivalBlog reader Laurence W. wrote to warn that it is premature to post early estimates that the Mexican Flu is mild. "It may or may not be. There are not enough data points yet to speak authoritatively.
All one can correctly say is that it is too early to tell." He cited recent some well-informed discussion threads in the Flu Wiki Forum and the Forum.

Reader Laura C. recommended visiting the US Archives Online Exhibit of 1918 Flu. Photographs and Letters.

141 Cases, 19 States "The World Health Organization is warning of an imminent pandemic because scientists cannot predict what a brand-new virus might do. A key concern is whether this spring outbreak will surge again in the fall."

Farmers Fear Pigs Might Get Flu from Us

Swine Flu Originated on California Border?

Toddler Who Died in Texas Visited Houston Mall Before Onset of Symptoms

Swine Flu Starting to Look Less Threatening

First Genetic Analysis of Swine Flu Reveals Potency

Confirmed Number of Global Swine Flu Cases: 367 and Counting

Three more failed banks taken over by regulators. (Thanks to Laura H. for the link)

Items from The Economatrix:

US Families Rely on Handouts in World's Richest Country

Flu Heightens Mexico's Economic Sickness

Government Nervous About Stress Test Results

S&P Downgrades Seven Dubai Businesses

US GDP Poised for Epic Collapse

US Empire Built on False Prosperity Collapsing

The Impending Mother of All Oil Shocks

Credit Crisis Bank Stress Tests: If You Believe the Banks are Recovering... "They allow Goldman Sachs to bury the fact that they left December out of their financial results deep in their footnotes. Shockingly, Goldman lost $1.5 billion in December. They continue to allow banks to report one time gains as part of ongoing operations, but billions in losses that are recorded quarter after quarter are not from ongoing operations. The morons on CNBC report whatever the banks say, no questions asked."

Gold Consolidation Ending as US Treasuries Paper Bubble Bursting

Stocks Rise On G20 and FASB Hopes, Can Pigs Really Fly? "Ladies and gentlemen, the Total Credit Exposure to Capital ratio is one of the most telling capital adequacy ratios known to man. If ever there was a failing grade on a “stress test” – HERE IT IS IN SPADES!!! The aforementioned measure of capital adequacy, [1,056.4] in Goldman’s case, is so TOXIC – in fact; one can only wonder if regulators might have required radiation suits and Geiger Counters to safely measure the TOXICITY of Goldman’s books. Goldman’s figures stand out almost five times worse than those of Citibank and Bank of America and 11 times those of Wells Fargo."

US House Prices Measured in Gold

US Treasury Bond Debt Bubble Bursting "Total net borrowing needs for the second quarter are now up to $361 billion. That’s up 27-fold from $13 billion a year earlier and more than double the previous estimate of $165 billion. We just learned the Treasury will start selling 30-year bonds every month, as opposed to eight times a year. And speculation is running rampant that the U.S. will soon start auctioning off 50-year bonds! All this issuance is needed to fund a federal budget deficit that’s projected to hit at least $1.75 trillion this year and $1.2 trillion in fiscal 2010."

Economy in Meltdown Due to Imploding Derivatives Monster and Toxic Debt "The Swimming Naked Prophecy - It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked - Warren Buffet (2007).", and " The name of the game in town is milking the system, using every trick possible to make some incredibly rich and leave everyone else holding the bag. According to her [Nomi Prins'] knowledge, investment banks have sold up to 30 times every mortgage in America."

A back-door multinational gun registration scheme, complete with extradition for violators.

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Ron in New York recommended this: When the Power Goes Out, Grab a Gun First

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Employee Steals $12 Million in Gold From Queens Jeweler. And she high-graded it one piece at a time, over the course of decades. I guess this rules out trying to convince a jury that it was just a brief lapse of judgment.

O praise the Lord, all ye nations; praise Him, all ye people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord. - Psalm 117

I'm a student from Singapore studying overseas in Australia and I'm also a Christian. I have been following your blog for quite awhile, and there are some things I would like to ask.
First, what advice can you give to students studying overseas? As a student, I stay on my own in a rented place, and probably will have to move every six months or so, so stockpiling food and goods are only feasible for about a month or two worth of food, as I will have to shift everything I own on my own to my new place whenever I move. That being said, I have roughly about a month's supply of food stored up, but it is mostly in rice. If things go bad, I won't be able to eat well, but will survive (I stocked up on some vitamins as well. Not healthy I know, but better than nothing.). Additionally, what kind of food should I buy and store? Currently, I am thinking about baking hardtack, as they are easy to make and store well. I also have about 20 liters of water, and am able to purify more than 100 liters of water using water purification tablets and I also have a bottle of plain bleach.

As I am not in my home country, and if anything happens, I have no 'safe' place to go. Other than going into the bush, which will not happen, as I have no bush skills, the only choice I have is to hunker down and try, if possible, to get a flight/ship back to Singapore. With such limited options, I am worried about what to do WTSHTF, which is ever more likely, given the current swine flu going around. While I do know a family staying in a relatively rural area, I do not know if I am able to get there as their acreage is quite a distance away from my place and I have no transportation. Also, I am not sure if they are prepared and stocked up for any crisis, so there is no guaranty that they will be able to take me in. I would greatly appreciate some advice over this issue, as it is the most important issue, and also advice on whatever you think I am lacking in below.

Supplies: I have managed to gather some stuff over time, some medicine/first-aid(learned some first-aid when younger, and still know the important stuff), lights (some military stuff, since I have done my national service, a couple of wind up torches as well for backup/indefinite use), fire starting equipment (lighters, matches, fire starters, candles, no flint due to being unable to find someplace that sells it), lightweight cooking equipment (billycan, metal bowls and tins, utensils). Not much, but been trying to convince my parents to send over some more supplies I have, which are mainly military stuff (nothing illegal, but will raise some questions; excuse is they are for paintball, etc). Additionally, for food I have about 10 kg of rice, plus enough canned food for a week (or more, if I ration it), 6 liters of packet milk, about 20 packets soups, cooking spices (very good for making whatever you have taste better), salt, etc. For toiletries, I got plenty of toothpaste/toothbrushes, toilet rolls (about 2 months worth), soap/shampoo, etc.

Self defence: Nothing much, since there are strict airport rules, and can't get a gun over here or in Singapore either. I keep a Swiss army knife on me all the time, but that is mainly for use as a tool, as normally there won't be any time to take it out. I learned tae kwon do when young (almost got my black belt, but was unable due to circumstances), and am trying to learn more methods and techniques of fighting. If it comes down to a fight, I am fairly confident that I can hold my own against one or two people, but I have been trying to improvise weapons that will allow me to escape. I have been trying to find a place to learn Krav Maga, which is an Israeli martial art designed to teach you to fight anywhere, any how, and any time, against multiple opponents that may or may not be armed, with various weapons. They focus on being ready to fight at all times using whatever it takes to survive (aka all the dirty fighting techniques). I think that it is a very useful martial art to learn, as it is the most realistic form of combat, and teaches you how to improvise on the spot (They have two rules: 1. survive, 2. Try not to hurt your sparring partner.). In any case, I think the most important thing to have is to be aware of your surroundings and people that are around you. An armed man is hard to be beaten, unless taken by surprise, and an alert man is hardly ever taken by surprise. As a side note, I recently bought a slingshot, not that I expect it will be of any good for defence, but rather more for hunting small animals if things really go south. Just need to get around to practicing with it.

Day to day carry: I carry with me a Swiss army knife, some medicine/first-aid, water purification tablets (for 20 liters), a small LED light, a lighter and some money in small notes in a small pouch close to me everywhere I go. Planning to add on another pouch with more medical supplies, especially for this swine flu outbreak. I also have a SOG multi-tool that I can add on, but chose not to as people will really question what I am doing with 2 knives and all those stuff. Also, wherever I go, I also bring along at least 1 liter of water, a torch, a poncho, additional first-aid supplies, hand sanitizer, a bar of soap and a couple of cereal bars. If I am on a long trip (more than a day or a few hours by car), I would bring along additional stuff, like more fire starting equipment, extra food, extra water, a spare torch, and a spare change.

Skills: I learned basic first aid when young, learned tae kwon do, crude fire making (not too good), cooking, sewing (very basic, mainly for repairing/modifying clothes) and cycling (although my area is very hilly, so I hardly cycle). I am trying to learn more skills, like bushcraft, Krav Maga, hunting (doubt I will be able to), and brush up on my fire starting skills, although in light of the recent bushfires, it may be a bad idea. Also I am handy with simple repairs (mainly a crude temporary fix), and like to innovate and make new stuff.

Swine Flu: I have been trying very hard to raise my stock of food and medicines ever since I heard about the swine flu, but due to time (university) and financial constraints, I can only stock up so much. I have been buying paracetamol tablets, aspirin, face masks (box of 100, plus various other dust masks), anti-bacterial hand gel, hydrogen peroxide, and am looking for surgical gloves, proper N95 equivalent face masks, Sambucol, more water purification tablets, antibiotics, Betadine, bandages, etc.

Economic crisis: I have been looking around for a place to purchase silver bullion with whatever spare cash I have, but have been unable to find a dealer. I am hoping to get at least 150 ounces of silver in 1-ounce to 10-ounce bars before the economy gives way, which I suspect won't be long. I pray it doesn't happen, as my home country will be hit really hard as it is focused heavily in the financial sector, but being a realist, I think eventually my family will have to move over to Australia, as at least it has farmland, natural resources and a very social welfare-focused government as well.

Thanks for all your effort to educate people about the coming world situations and how to prepare for it. What you are doing can mean life or death to many people in the future when the world crashes and burns. - DieReady

JWR Replies: By all means, do team up with a rural family, if you can. If you cache a large quantity of food with them, you will be assured of being welcome there WTSHTF, since you will be a benefactor for the family. In such circumstances, food is a much better investment than silver! If you can pre-position your storage food and most of your gear there, you can plan to bug out via mo-ped.

There are two ways of looking at obstacles to preparedness: 1.) As reasons to give up, or 2.) as challenges and opportunities for growth. For example, your hilly terrain can be seen as an opportunity to build strength and endurance, rather than as an excuse for not bicycling. And just because you can't find a local martial arts center that teaches Krav Maga, don't lapse into inactivity. Study whichever art is available locally. Just be sure to find the best full contact dojo in town. Furthermore, don't look at airport security restrictions as a the lowest common denominator for your self defense preps. If you are going to be in Australia for an extended period of time, then there is no reason why you shouldn't go ahead and purchase a few key "dual use" self defense items, such as a half dozen 15 minute road flares, a machete ., and a six-C-cell black MagLite ..You might also see if these is a local archery club--perhaps affiliated with your local university. Practice at least twice a week with your slingshot! They can indeed be quite useful if you take the time to practice. For your silver purchases, be willing to look further afield for dealers, or if need be, to buy from a reputable mail order dealer. Concentrate on the positive aspects of prepping, shepherd your available funds, train consistently, and you'll make progress!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $760. This auction is for a large mixed lot, which includes:

1.) A Three-Color Desert Camo Interceptor OTV (Outer Tactical Vest) size XL only, and a spare Woodland camouflage outer shell, kindly donated by These items have a combined retail value of $960!

2.) A vehicle detection system, which includes: one MURS Alert Probe Sensor (MAPS) with 50 foot probe cable and one MURS Alert Hand Held (M538-HT) transceiver. The MAPS unit's probe can be covertly installed under the surface of a driveway or road to detect vehicular traffic and a voice alert is sent to the hand held transceiver when a detection occurs. Donated by MURS Radio. Retails for $303

3.) Two cases of Yoder's Canned Bacon, courtesy of (12 cans per case.) A $276 retail value.

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

5.) Three Garden Security Collections, and two Garden Bean Collections, donated by With included free shipping to any US postal address, this is a $100+ retail value.

6.) Two America Stone knife sharpeners (with belt pouches), donated by the manufacturer. (A $60 retail value.)

Thus, this auction has a combined value in excess of $1,800. This auction ends on May15th. Please e-mail us your bid. Your bid will be for the entire mixed lot.

Aloha James,
To confirm your take on the need to prepare ahead of time, I realized last weekend that this current event (Mexican Flu) would be a good opportunity to actually measure public reaction to an emergency. Thus, once the government announced a health emergency on Saturday, I began watching the shelves at three local drug stores and Amazon. Here's what happened in Honolulu, Hawaii (a city of 800,000 and an international airport hub).

Saturday - all shelves full of flu meds & masks
Sunday - masks half gone, some in the back of the store, shelves full of flu meds
Monday - masks half gone, none in the back of the store, shelves half full of flu meds
Tuesday - masks gone, back ordered, shelves half full of flu meds
Wednesday - while I was sitting in my kid's dentist office, two employees of other businesses in the mall came by and asked the receptionists for masks. Both said they looked everywhere and couldn't find any. The receptionist could only spare one each. Stores still running half full shelves of flu meds.

Watching Amazon - on Saturday you could buy the surgical N95 masks (green ones), by Monday they were sold out and white N95s were $13.98 for 20. By Wed, the white ones went up to $15.99, and other merchants were selling theirs for $59.99 for 20, with one merchant advertising their "last box" of 20 for $299!

If this doesn't convince people to stock up and stock up early, I don't know what will. Three days; that's all it took for the city to run out of masks, and I can only surmise by this, that it would only take a few more days to run out of flu meds if the news reported someone locally had the Mexican Flu. I hope fellow readers get the point.

Thank you for your excellent blog. I'm on the June waiting list for my copy of Patriots and look forward to reading it. Keep up the great work! - KJ in Honolulu, Hawaii


I found out last year I am gluten intolerant, and my little girl was symptomatic with me. In our case, we found we can't tolerate any grains--not even corn or rice. Below are some ideas for those with either condition or who are on lower-carbohydrate diets for health reasons.

* In addition to beans, other carbohydrate-rich foods that you can store include potatoes, yams, peas, beets and tapioca. To avoid the additives found in some dehydrated foods, I have freeze-dried potatoes, yams, and peas. I also have some home-canned yams and plan to grow more. Beets are only available in regular cans. I have those, plus regular canned peas and potatoes. Tapioca isn't as nutritionally rich as some of these others, but it's nice to be able to have a treat and it stores well. (Most prepared puddings have problematic thickeners.)

In terms of rice, I did some research when I was eating grains. White rice is the least nutritious grain--eating it actually depletes your body's nutritional reserves, which isn't a good idea in a stressful SHTF situation (where the stress alone will deplete you of B complex). Brown rice is much better for you, but doesn't store well. So I would suggest storing more corn than rice, and using rice as a treat or as a break from monotony.

* Don't forget lentils. They aren't used nearly enough in American cuisine (mainly soups). I have found some fabulous Middle Eastern and Indian recipes for them. They store well, and are a wonderfully nutrient dense food. The brown ones don't always look that appetizing, so I often opt for the red ones. You can add these to tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce dishes to boost protein and not even realize they're there. And like most anything else, they taste even better with cheese on top.

* To avoid the corn syrup present in nearly all canned fruits, I looked until I found a local store brand that uses only pear juice. (I can't have sugar either, and won't use artificial sweeteners.) I pay extra for a couple of other fruits at Whole Foods that are also canned in pear juice. I have also canned a variety of fruit. And I store some freeze-dried fruit instead of the dehydrated, which sometimes have some unfriendly additives and aren't necessarily cheaper. Nice fruit is important when you can't have a traditional breakfast. Canned or freeze-dried can be heated and turned into a compote, or put into a smoothie for a nice breakfast shake--one of my daughter's favorites.

* Finding MREs for a bug-out bag was very difficult. One company makes gluten-free MREs, but they don't run batches every year--so the MREs may last only a year or two. I finally found one Mountain House pouch entree that looked okay (chicken with potatoes), and opted for that, plus canned meat and pouch sides of veggies (potatoes, peas, etc.).

* Coconut flour has a shelf life of 1 year at room temperature, possibly longer if you have a cold basement. I have been experimenting with recipes and found it yields a result similar to wheat flour. Coconut pancakes are similar to buttermilk pancakes. It is not cheap ($7 / lb.) but you use a lot less of it per recipe than regular flour. Bob's Red Mill makes some, and you can buy it in larger bulk quantities on the web. Due to the expense, for us it is a treat on weekends, birthdays, holidays, etc. But the results so far have been good, and the taste is scrumptious. It also works as a substitute for flour if you're making oven-fried chicken or breaded things. Coconut flour is a carb[ohydrate], but it has a high fiber content (6 g/serving), which helps with blood sugar stabilization. Those watching carbs could top coconut pancakes with peanut butter (and a dash of honey or syrup), or heat up some frozen or canned fruit to make a simple compote that's lower in carbs than maple syrup.

* Almond flour is a fabulous substitute for wheat flour, and yields results that are more similar to flour-based breads (rice and corn products tend to be dry). There are also two great books with wonderful recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (Grainfree Gourmet). However, it is twice the price of coconut flour, and is not suitable for using in a SHTF situation because it can easily go rancid if it's kept out of of a freezer or a refrigerated environment. It is also not calorie-free. But it is really nice to work with if you're watching carbs because it counts as a protein. For this reason, it's my choice for "bread" for holiday meals.

* I have also had to change a lot of my condiments and sauces. Soy sauce, for example, is wheat-based. So I use Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Most ketchups, barbecue sauces, and relishes include corn syrup. I found a barbecue sauce and ketchup that don't, and now make my own ketchup with a recipe I found on the web. I also make up my own Worcestershire sauce. It doesn't take long, and I know it's safe to consume.

* Since I can't use cornstarch to thicken, I use arrowroot--and have a lot of it on hand. I also use mashed potato flakes (the kind without preservatives that lasts about a year) to thicken soups and in place of cracker crumbs in recipes.

* Where I have been put on a lower carb diet, I have had to pay more attention to protein than many folks do in their preparations. I need protein, and can't produce it myself. So I try to have an extra deep larder of it: dehydrated eggs (for scrambled eggs), canned cheese, freeze-dried cheese, freeze-dried cottage cheese (good with canned fruit on top), lots of salmon (for salmon breakfast patties), and lots of canned meat from Best Prices Storable Foods. After Hurricane Ike, we used some of our canned meat. It was great, and I didn't get sick (unlike a friend who at store-bought meat with lots of additives). I can't buy canned beef or pork in the stores--too many additives I can't have.

* One critical change has been to play to what we can eat and truly enjoy. My husband loves pineapple. So I used the internet to find several recipes we can eat that use pineapple. They're now family favorites--and safe for me and my little girl to eat. This really helps with the sense of deprivation, which can be an issue in sticking to any diet. Focusing on these new delicious finds has helped ease the pains of missing pasta, oatmeal, etc. So for morale purposes if nothing else, I've made sure our larder includes the ingredients for the "family faves" that we can eat.

* For snacks, we usually eat dried fruit and nuts. I have a good stock of both, especially the nuts, since I can't grow them here (not enough room for a pecan tree). While they won't keep long-term, they will keep a good year and I rotate my stock. Buying in bulk from and has saved me a ton of money and yet let me make sure I'm getting fruit without syrups or sugar added.

* Another snack is fresh bananas with peanut butter on them, honey optional. I have also been stocking up on banana chips--these make a great substitute for crackers. Since I plan to nurse a new baby this summer and won't be able to eat peanuts while nursing, I have also been stocking up on almond butter.

* Instead of granola bars, we eat fruit strips (100% real fruit) or Lara bars. Since these are rather pricey, I'm learning how to dry fruit and looking into recipes to make my own bars. But in the meantime it works, and they would be great in a bug-out bag. I always keep some in my purse and in the diaper bag. (Finding snacks I can eat while "out" is very difficult.)

* For "junk" or convenience foods, we often use potatoes and sweet potatoes. We make oven-baked fries, and buy the occasional bag of chips for garnishing stir-frys or giving crunch to a soup or salad (instead of croutons or crackers).

* When sick or overheated, I can't rehydrate with Gatorade (sugar, etc.). So I either make my own Gatorade, or drink fruit juice and eat a fresh banana. We also store fruit juice in various forms (100% juice pouches for my daughter, bottles for when we're sick or going through a heat wave).

* I also can't start eating again after the flu or morning sickness with crackers or noodle soups. So I make my own Gatorade and use baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, or yams. My toddler preferred oven-baked fries the last time she was recovering from the flu.

* I have also had to change our shampoo, lotions, and even over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to avoid grain products and sugar. For OTC medicines, I usually look for the dye-free packages, and these usually have fewer troublesome ingredients.

Since my 3-year-old daughter was symptomatic with me, and the doctor indicated my soon-to-be-born son will most likely inherit the genetic tendency, our whole family has switched to my diet. (My husband is a saint! He does get bread and normal food when he eats out with his clients.) With my daughter, it is much easier to simply not have "off-limit" foods in the house.

As a postscript, I found out I was gluten intolerant because I was eating what I was storing. I was subclinical--did not exhibit any of the traditional symptoms despite eating a "healthy" whole-grain diet for years--until I tried a homemade bread recipe that called for extra gluten. In my case, the results were catastrophic. However, I am so grateful to found out before I needed to rely on my supplies (and good medical care might be unavailable). Needless to say, I am a big advocate of using what you store. - CL in Houston


After reading your post today Letter Re: Adapting Family Food Storage for Gluten Intolerance I remembered reading recently about Kamut a possible low gluten wheat substitute for individuals what are gluten intolerant. I did a quick search on your blog and could not find a previous article about Kamut so I thought I would drop you a note to let you know about it.
You can read more about Kamut at the Walton Feed web site.
Regards, - Eric in The Desert



My youngest daughter and I are sensitive to gluten. We have discovered that "alternative" grains like millet, quinoa, and amaranth are quite good. All three can be cooked as is as a side for supper or as a "porridge" for breakfast. Also, all three can be ground into flour or purchased bulk as flour from different sources. Sorghum and buckwheat are also good alternative flours. Millet would be good for anyone to investigate storing. It stores for a long time with little preparation -- one to two years. It can be stored longer with better preparation -- oxygen absorbers, etc. You cook millet like rice. You rinse then boil or you can rinse, toast, then boil. But, you use less millet than rice per cup of water. So the millet goes a lot farther. Generally, you cook 1 cup of millet per 2-1/2 cups of water. I cook brown rice at 1 cup of rice per 1-3/4 cups water. However, because of this, when grinding and baking with it, your baked item may be a bit dry from the millet absorbing so much liquid. With a touch of practice, you can remedy that.

As you mentioned, there are many good sources for cooking gluten-free. Blogs are wonderful resources. You can find a lot of practical advice from people who are dealing with it on a day to day basis.

And here is an excellent blog on going gluten-free. - Emma


Mr. Rawles,

Another place to get gluten free recipes is I hope that this proves helpful to any SurvivalBlog readers that are gluten intolerant. Regards, - Gloria


Hi Jim:
I read Tim's post yesterday about his wife being diagnosed with Celiac disease. As you may recall, I was the one who posted one year ago about my daughter being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and a month later, learning she and my other ladies having Celiac disease. I can certainly sympathize with Tim as it is daunting and overwhelming when a loved one is initially diagnosed. From our year long experience with this, here is what I can offer.

The blessing and curse of these times is Celiac. While so many foods include wheat and gluten as part of their overall production, many more foods are now Gluten Free. This is driven in part by a growing awareness of the Celiac disease, gluten intolerance in general, links of gluten and Autism and simple dietary issues. More foods than ever are gluten free. We began by eliminating all sources of gluten and wheat from the house. Any wheat or gluten in our house would cause my diabetic daughter to begin to violently throw up, causing dehydration and ketone spikes. So it all went away. What was usually a two or three grocery store ensemble has now grown to seven (7) different stores in our region in order to find the various things. One store carries some things, another store different things and so on. Our best sources for gluten free foods has been the local Fred Meyer (owned by Kroeger) and Whole Foods. Some products are now clearly marked as "gluten free" so spotting them has been easier. For instance, instead of a loaf of wheat bread, we now use rice flour bread made at Whole foods (about 65% more expensive that regular whole wheat bread). Instead of the usual wheat flour waffles on the waffle maker, it's now waffles made with rice or tapioca flour from the local health food store (Manna Mills). The treat of freezer cookies are accomplished with a brand of gluten free freezer cookies from Whole Foods. Cereals are rice or corn based. All chips are either corn tortilla or pure potato and we eat far more rice eaten as a staple.

One of the things we have encountered is that the carb load on these are typically higher, leading us to better watch our weight and how much we eat. As I indicated before, our grocery bill went up over 50% in one night when we switched. Many of these foods have a significantly shorter shelf life, especially when processed. As an example, a loaf of rice bread in my cool, dry house will spoil within 36-48 hours. But we found many, many on-line and local resources to help us in making the correct food decisions. My girls religiously reading the labels, looking for any signs of gluten, wheat or wheat family products that could contaminate. There is a very good magazine called Living Without which addresses foods without certain items such as gluten or wheat. Amazingly enough, our local Kroeger owned store was found to have a sizeable gluten free section in the natural foods section. And of course, we eat less processed foods, more fresh fruit and vegetables.
Naturally, the shift from a wheat based survival foods platform to a rice based platform was expensive. Many survival, dehydrated and MRE based foods were given away as they all contained either wheat or gluten. I bulked up on more rice and shelf stable wheat free survival foods (very little out there, I must admit).

Last November, our family took a much needed vacation to Disneyland. It was one of our most positive eating experiences as we learned that Disney (and other major theme park enterprises) takes Celiac disease seriously. They had gluten/wheat free alternatives based upon breads made in our area by Energee Foods. My girls were able to enjoy pizzas made with tapioca flour crust. We were even able to communicate with the head chef for Disneyland food service for information. That made for a more enjoyable trip. A visit to a local Von's and Trader Joe's and we had a great gluten free vacation.
For Seattle, Washinton area SurvivalBlog readers, here is a list of local stores we have been successful in finding wheat free or gluten free foods at:

Costco - Rice chips, corn tortilla chips, beans (bulk and canned refried), rice, Robert's gourmet foods like Smart Puffs
PCC (Puget Consumers Co-Op) - Commercially produced gluten/wheat free foods
Whole Foods - Wheat free bread, rolls, pizza crusts, Angeline's
Manna Mills - Bulk rice and tapioca flours
Fred Meyer - Crackers, Bob's Red Mill gluten free flours, cereal, rice cakes, soy crackers, etc.
Ener-gee foods - Local commercial based gluten free foods (products used exclusively at Walt Disney resorts)
Trader Joe's - Wheat and gluten free frozen waffles, pancakes, chips, crackers

I wish Tim and the other Celica readers great success! - MP in Seattle ( a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber)


Hi There,
In response to your reader post about food storage and gluten intolerance, I would like to add that if you plan to mill your own grains, and plan to store wheat for those that can eat it, you will need to get two grain mills and never mill grains containing gluten on your gluten free mill. Mills are too difficult to fully clean and there will be traces of gluten left from milling grains such as wheat or barley.

Every coeliac has a different level of intolerance, but it is not worth risking problems. Gluten free grains suitable for beer making are probably also suitable for substituting for wheat and barley in other foods too. Some of these are millet, buckwheat, corn, rice, quinoa and sorghum. Just remember to only use your gluten free mill to mill gluten free grains and store both the whole grains and flour in separate dedicated containers.- The Anonymous Economist

The first really good news on the flu outbreak came yesterday: Scientists See this Flu Strain as Relatively Mild. I am hopeful that the current strain won't mutate into something more inimical. But be sure to be well prepared, and get in the habit of frequent hand washing, regardless.OBTW, if I were in a position of influence, I'd recommend that the custom of handshaking be temporarily replaced with saluting, as was done during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. (But alas, these days some segments of society might see that as overly militaristic and politically incorrect.)

Reader Pat M. suggested an interesting article in Science Daily on social isolation to prevent the spread of influenza. OBTW, to minimize "casual contact", I recommend curtailing social events, and shifting to family wilderness activities such as hiking and rock hounding. If you are a target shooter, instead of going to public ranges do your shooting on remote BLM land, or on private land (with permission.)

The latest flu headlines:

The Binder sent us a link to a Newsweek article that suggests that the number of flu cases may be under-reported in Mexico: City of Fear; How the swine flu is terrorizing Mexico's capital. An on-scene report.

Queensland residents told to stockpile food amid flu fear

WHO to Stop Using Term "Swine Flu" to Protect Pigs

Vaccine Promised as US Cases Passes 100

More than 40 Probable Cases in Illinois

48 Confirmed Cases in New York State

Three New Cases Confirmed in Britain

Swine Flu Spreads to 11 States, 100 Schools Closed

Pandemic of Panic

E-mail From Trucker to Steve Quayle

Government Issues Guidance on Facility Closure: School Dismissal and Childcare

More Than 300 Schools Now Closed in US "Closing a school alone won't stop community spread. "If a school is closed, it's not closed so kids can go out to the mall or go out to the community at large," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "Keep your young ones at home."

Hong Kong Confirms Asia's First Case of Swine Flu (now known as H1N1)
Detected in Mexican man who had come from Shanghai.

Security Agent Likely Caught Swine Flu on Trip with Obama

NYC Mayor Says Many Sick People Not Tested, Number of Cases Probably Higher

Doctor in Washington State Saw 22 Patients Before Falling Ill

Ft. Worth: Mayfest, Other Events Cancelled Over Flu Concerns

Harvard Medical School Cancels Classes Over Possible Swine Flu

J.O.N. recommended a succinct and well-reasoned piece by one of the folks from The Survival Podcast: Modern Survival Philosophy

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Rob at MURS Radios mentioned that he is offering an additional $5 discount from your order total if you pay via US Postal Service Money Order (PMO). He makes this discount available because PMOs eliminate the delays for check clearance, and save him the merchant fees charged for credit card transactions. Rob mentioned that he has all his cataloged items in stock and ready to ship. (MURS two-way radios, driveway alert sensors, et cetera.)

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The latest from Nanny State Nippon: Lithium in water "curbs suicide".

"We believe fear of infection will lead to drastically altered behaviour. It may be that swine flu does not tip the human fear scale sufficiently, but if it did, with the economy already in tatters, the results could be catastrophic,...” - Rob Carnell, ING's Chief Economist, April 29, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 22 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 22 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging. But first, here are the responses to our survey:

I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers seriously think through the implications of successive waves of Mexican Flu sweeping around the globe for the next three years. From what we've already seen of its virulence after the normal "cold and flu season", then the next couple of winters could bring very high rates of infection and overwhelm the healthcare system. Please take the time to watch Dr. Henry Niman of Recombinomics discussing"Swine" flu. His projections are disturbing, to say the least! Think this through folks, on a macro scale: How would a pandemic impact your work? Commuting? Grocery shopping? Church activities? School? (If you are not yet homeschooling, then you should plan on it!) Your vacation plans? Summer camp? Family holiday get-togethers? Sports and cultural events? These implications are enormous. As SurvivalBlog readers, you are already accustomed to contemplating abstractions at this level and getting "ahead of the power curve." You also likely have the benefit of superior training and a deep larder. And, hopefully, many of you took my advice three years ago, and began to develop home-based businesses. (Mail order businesses will undoubtedly flourish, as people shun face-to-face sales.)

There are no guarantees, but you have a better chance of getting through this unscathed than most of your neighbors. Hopefully, all of you read the backgrounder on family flu preparedness, that I've had posted here are SurvivalBlog for more than three years. But if not... Now is time to make the requisite adjustments to your daily routine and to top off your logistics:

  • Now is the time to order several boxes of N95 masks and rolls of bandage tape (for sealing any mask edge gaps )
  • Now is the time to buy a steam vaporizer (new, or used -- Try Craig's List for used ones)
  • Now is the time to approach your family doctor, and ask for a scrip for Tamiflu.
  • Now is the time to lay in a supply of Sambucol (Elderberry extract.)
  • Now is the time to lay in supplies of hand sanitizer (with aloe) and latex gloves--or nitrile gloves for those with latex allergies
  • Now is the time to stock up on Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Guaifenesin expectorant
  • Now is the time to buy a couple of Bag Valve Masks
  • And lastly, for this and umpteen other contingencies, now is the time to acquire an honest one year supply of storage food (or more) for your family. Buy some extra, for charity.

If you wait too long, then those supplies will either be non-existent, or exorbitantly priced. By the time most of the sheeple think this through (or have it explained to them by the talking heads on the Idiot Box), you will have long since "topped off" your preps. But not if you hesitate. As my friend Bob in Tennessee is fond of saying: "Panic now, and avoid the rush." [The Memsahib adds: If you've been consistently panicking since 1999 with no ill effects on your spouse's mental health, then give yourself a pat on the back.]

Mark my words: A true pandemic will disrupt supply chains, starting with relatively exotic items (such as antivirals), but eventually working down to basic commodities. Be ready.

Today's flu headlines:

Panic buying and government distrust in Mexico

1st US Swine Flu Death: Toddler in Texas (visiting from Mexico) Flu also now in Austria and Germany

"Patient Zero" may have been found
. A 5-yr-old who lives near a pig farm.

Access to Safe, Reliable Food Essential in Pandemic

Swine Flu Tracking On-Line

Ron Paul: Putting Swine Flu in Perspective

Dr. Len Horowitz: Mexican Flu Outbreak 2009 Special Report

Swine Flu Worries Shut Down Three Private California Schools

US Swine Flu Cases Now Officially at 68

Schwarzenegger, Obama Boosts Efforts Against Swine Flu

WHO Warns Swine Flu Threatening to Become Pandemic

World Takes Drastic Steps to Contain Swine Flu

Biden Tells Family to Stay Off Planes, Subways

Mexico Shuts Nonessential Services Amid Swine Flu

Asia Suspected Swine Flu Cases Rise

All Ft. Worth, Texas, Schools Closed Over Flu Fears

49 Confirmed Cases in NYC

CDC Latest Facts and Figures Re Swine Flu

Obama: US May Close Schools to Battle Swine Flu

Swine Flu Could Threaten Millions with Other Diseases

The following are the first batch of responses to our survey about areas that might be bypassed by looters and refugees, WTSHTF:

There are many islands off the east coast that in my opinion would be avoided by most and are rich in natural resources. Particularly Virginia and believe it or not New Jersey--one that comes to mind that I've visited in NJ is Island Beach State Park. And don't forget Acadia in Maine.


In Arizona: The Santa Rita Mountains are south of Tucson, just east of I-17, and are used as a landmark for everyone coming across the border from Mexico. The Chiracaua Mountains are southeast of Phoenix. They are more inaccessible. Anyone wanting to make them a retreat locale needs to study up on the terrain and weather of the location. Summer highs of 110 are common and the phrase “it’s a dry heat” is a reality. A better location would be the strip of land between the north rim of the Grand Canyon and the state line. It is difficult to get to and not near any major freeway. To the north are the badlands of Utah and to the east is the Navaho Nation.


There is a nice little quadrangle of Appalachia between four interstates, also known as the Monangahela National Forest in West Virginia. Bordered by major G.O.O.D. interstates 81 to the east and 68 to the north, it's also bordered by I-79 to the west, and 64 to the south. If you have a retreat there, or have friends or relatives there, it'll be about as safe as can be this close to Washington, D.C., but if you don't, then mountain folk will take less kindly to fleeing urban zombies, If you aren't known, then you won't be welcome!


James Hancock County Tennessee is a small county near the Virginia and Kentucky line that is really overlooked. There is not one foot of rail line here and you don't go thru here to get to anywhere. No four lane roads lead into or out of the county and the total population is around 6,000. There are a few more counties west of here that are just as inaccessible. The downside is Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the fuel Plant at Erwin are relatively close ( by nuclear disaster standards ) but it a beautiful area where land is cheap and the people are friendly. We have more livestock than people and the Clinch river has the largest variety of fresh water mussels in any river in the nation.


The Illinois Valley in southwestern Oregon. Cave Junction is the "Big Town" in this area. Grants Pass, Oregon is past the northeast end of the valley, and Crescent City California is past the southwest end. Tiny towns are here and there. It is rural, open carry [of firearms] is very common, and real estate prices are presently low. Unemployment is high, but if you can bring your work with you, then you can do just fine.

West Texas (from Fort Worth to Midland/Odessa), the Hill Country (west of Austin down to west of San Antonio)

Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York

Various islands in the 1,000 Islands Region in Upstate New York (St. Lawrence River area)


I recommend the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area ("BSF") in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, roughly 40 miles west of I-75. There is very rugged terrain inside BSF, so few roads through it. The area around BSF is lightly populated with tiny settlements along rough winding roads that dead end at the river gorge. Poor access to jobs, fuel, food, medical care, etc.


The Owens Valley (US 395) corridor of the Eastern Sierra California. I believe that the military bases of the Mojave Desert is almost certainly going to be turned into a giant refugee camp due to the I-40, I-15, I-5, and US 58 interstates and associated railways. This is particularly true of the USMC logistics base in Barstow and Edwards Air Force Base. However, once one travels further north to Bishop, California, one should be able to travel all the way through the Owens Valley and into central Nevada.


In the Great Lakes region:

One good bypassed area is southwestern Wisconsin, between the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers - Crawford, Vernon, and Richland Counties in particular.Look at the topo maps - it's full of hills.

There really is no reason to go through there. Major highways are far from that area. The Mississippi has some traffic, but not the Wisconsin River - that's really just recreational.

The very small nuclear power plant in La Crosse has been long shut down. Ft. McCoy is well East of La Crosse.

Door County, Wisconsin - North of Sturgeon Bay (only 2 bridges) - Washington Island, ferry access only plus airfield. Lots of boat harbors
Problem - Nuclear Power plants to the South, Two Rivers and Kewaunkee, expensive tourist area along the Green Bay side of Peninsula

Beaver Island - Lake Michigan - A huge island, 36 sq. miles with seven lakes on it. It took me four hours to drive perimeter, two airfields, long ferry ride and only from Michigan side

The uppermost portion of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP) - North of Houghton/Handcock Michigan - the growing season here is actually better than to the South of it!
Only one bridge, and it's a raise-bridge, so it can be shut off from traffic in moments.

Bayfield/ Madeline Island Wisconsin - Remote, but cold area . (Once the lake freezes, you can drive to island, but then there is period of weeks when you can't drive and boats can't make it, so there is an ice air boat.

Wisconsin's "Northern Highlands". Wisconsin has over 15,000 lakes and is second only to Florida for fishing licenses This is an area of forest, with some agriculture, potato country (first plant patent) and wild rice - hunt, fish, camp - it's all here. If not on a lake, land is reasonably inexpensive.

This article is a response to a large and glaring preparedness dilemma for myself. Being a law abiding citizen I cannot willfully put myself or my family into a situation where we can be held legally liable for the commission of a crime. If I had a ‘run-in’ with the law because of my beliefs on firearms and freedom, it can and will put my family at risk. Unfortunately we live in a country where the liberty of its
citizens is at the mercy of the State. South Africa is for all intents and purposes a ‘Free and democratic’ country. However, our government is an openly socialist government. They require the dependency of its citizens, every law that is passed is to ensure a more conformist and dependant populace.

One of the laws that was passed was the Firearms Control Act of 2000. It is another of a long stream of attempts to remove the right to bear arms in South Africa. This act and the previous one allow for highly controlled and restrictive legislation. Below, I will give a brief overview of the pertinent points as it relates to the rights of individuals to keep arms. It is however, the root of my dilemma. No
matter how many or types arms I would like to possess, or what types and amounts of ammunition I would like to keep, I am controlled by the State every step of the way with 101 different [regulatory details.]
Before I get to South African firearms legislation, let me give you some insight as to where my thoughts stem from. Basically, after reading through the Profiles of survivalists on SurvivalBlog,
and the recommendations of the most esteemed JWR. I could see no way that I could become ‘squared away’ on the arms and ammunition side. Our laws in South Africa are just too restrictive! That however has changed, as there is a way. All it took was a little bit of lateral thinking and a copy of "Patriots" . Well actually the other way around, the lateral thought came after the second reading of "Patriots".

In this article I’m going to talk from a South African perspective and relate this information from our view. What I am hoping and intending is that it will get people to think through their firearm purchases and utilize every aspect or at least as many aspects as possible of the law for their own benefit. The South Africa situation may or may not apply to you, however this article is not intended for the US readers of SurvivalBlog, but more to people that live elsewhere and to give them the hope that there is potentially a way. The idea is to think laterally and use the rights that have been allowed you in every way possible.

Here is a brief synopsis of how the South African Firearms laws are applicable to ordinary citizens. For the ‘casual’ owner, people are restricted to a maximum of four firearms. The breakdown is as follows:

  • One Handgun
  • One Shotgun
  • One Rifle (Not Semi Auto) (With associated proof that you hunt)
  • One Casual Sports shooting firearm ([another] one of any of the above)

Only one of the first two (Handgun/Shotgun) may be designated a self defense firearm and there are legal ramifications if you shoot someone in self defense with another firearm. If you are a dedicated
sportsman/hunter/collector you are able to increase your firearm collection, but always under strict monitoring and conditions. And you have to have proof, proof and more proof.

Also we need to re-license every 2, 5, or 10 years depending on the type of license. Along with additional costs, competency tests, fingerprints, home/safe inspection and vetting of you by your family and/or neighbors, etc etc ad nauseam. The way that I see this is that the Government wants the public disarmed, and they are making it harder and harder and a real pain in the sphincter to re-apply for their licenses, so most guys just give up and hand their weapons in.

With Ammo, you may only possess a maximum 200 rounds of any of the calibers that you are licensed for. Possession of a single [loaded] round of any other caliber is illegal unless you are a licensed cartridge collector. (This is another painful exercise, and will not assist in stockpiling ammo) As for components. Bullets, brass cartridge cases and magazines are not regulated. However primers and propellants are. With primers, no more than 2,400 of any size. In addition, so are some spare parts, barrels, sears etc. (BTW, a spare barrel is considered a firearm in South Africa [, since pressurized gun parts are regulated. Effectively, the barrel rather than the frame or receiver is considered the "firearm"])

As an aside, I have watched the debate on concealed carry in the US with interest. In South Africa we are legally bound to carry [handguns] 100% concealed, no open carry, unless you are in Law Enforcement. So the question is with laws like this, how does one stockpile firearms and ammo? And what is the best way to get the maximum out of the minimum we are allowed to possess.
The only way that this can be done is to prepare for possible scenarios that may develop in the future. This is the tack that we have taken:

1) Get legally diversified with the correct calibers.
2) Keep only calibers that allow you to maximize your long term defense potential
3) Stock up on unregulated items that will allow for barter even if it’s not one of your calibers.

Okay, so I just mentioned that one needs to have the correct calibers This is, as everyone knows a very subjective statement. So how did we decide what the correct calibers are? In a scenario where there is true TEOTWAWKI then there will be a source of readily available arms and ammunition. Courtesy of our Law Enforcement and Military. Looking at these services, we see that the following calibers are the most common.

12 Gauge Shotgun,
5.56 NATO (AKA .223)
7.62 NATO (AKA .308)
and 9mm Parabellum (9x19mm ["Luger"]).

My logic and methodology here is to maximize my options in terms of usable and obtainable ‘components’ while still keeping within the framework of our legal system. I have also decided that we will not
apply for further weapons licenses as I do not want nor require the additional infringement of my privacy nor the ‘red flags’ that come with owning a ‘large’ firearms collection. So based on the highest
OPSEC possible in this situation, here is what we have done.

For a handguns I have chosen a .45 ACP my wife a 9mm Parabellum
For shotguns we have both chosen 12 gauge Pump actions
For casual Sports Shooting my wife has chosen a .22 LR pistol, and I have a scoped and suppressed .22LR rifle.
For hunting rifles I have chosen a .308 and my wife a .223
So our choices above keep us [both] at the four gun limit, no additional background checks and gives us a broad spread of calibers that will allow us to store primers, powder, and some ammunition.

On the unregulated side we have and are currently stocking up on the following. Virgin and fired brass in all of the above calibers, in addition to this we add any fired brass that we can scrounge. Various design and weight bullet moulds with the same methodology, factory made bullets in rifle and handgun calibers. Reloading dies, in any and all calibers that we can get. However we do concentrate on the dies for the brass that we have. (There is no point in having dies and no brass.) Cleaning kits and components, and lead and tin stocks, as well as reloading presses. For [rifle and pistol] brass reloading, we have standardized on Lee brand turret presses and the single stage RCBS Rockchucker as most can be had at very reasonable prices on the secondhand market here. For shotgun shell reloading we have standardized on Lee Load All.

Now the logic behind this. If ever the SHTF in a big way, we will be able to drive off most attacks, however if this degenerates into an extended and protracted “Patriots"-like scenario we should have all of the ‘makings’ to use captured weaponry as well as being able to supply and reproduce the correct ammo for such captured weaponry.

There are a few points to remember.
1.) Pressure and primer differences in military and civilian ammo. Know what you are doing or don’t do it!
2.) Always stay within the law, while the law is the law. Becoming an illegal ‘arms hoarder’ will get you into a heap of trouble, which only leaves your family at risk.
3.) OPSEC, OPSEC, OPSEC don’t brag around the braai (Barbecue) as to what you will do when TSHTF. Or what you have stockpiled, hidden, buried etc. Personally, I find that very few people in South Africa have a preparedness/survivalist mentality. If you start discussing what you are doing be circumspect in every aspect.

Finally, as an aside, Just this last week we were given detailed information about the preps of a ‘new age’ religious Doomer ("The sky is going to fall in 2012") that lives just outside a small town over
400 kilometers away. This person has told her family about her preps and this news has now traveled all over the country. We now know almost everything that she has done including evacuation and storage details. The family (rightly?) believes she is a nutcase and actively ridicule her preps. [An OPSEC breach like this presents] a very scary scenario.

Barron's mentioned a "Buy" indicator on Smith and Wesson. I second the motion, but to be more specific: Make it one of the early stainless steel S&Ws with the pinned barrel and recessed cylinder. ("Pinned and recessed.") For revolvers, you can't go wrong with an early production Model 629. I like the 6" barrel length, (except for concealed carry), but the Barron's didn't give any details. What? You say he only owns S&W stock? You can't stop a charging grizzly with a stock certificate. Invest in tangibles!

Fed is Said to Seek Capital for at Least Six Banks

Swine Flu Fear Catching Fast in Weak World Economy

Items from The Economatrix:

US Economy Shrinks More than Expected

Fed Takes Fresh Stock of Economy

Citi and BofA Must Raise Billions in Capital, Says Leaked Stress Test Stress test results and flu drive markets down worldwide

Gold Hits Four-Week High as Swine Flu Fears Grow and China Builds Reserves

Swine Flu Over Cuckoo Markets

Chrysler to File Bankruptcy as Talks with Creditors Fail

New Jobless Claims Drop Unexpectedly to 631K Continuing claims near 6.3 million

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Swine Flu Deflation

Shell Profits Skid 58% in 1st Quarter

Beth flagged this: Argentina's wheat planting lowest in almost 100 years

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"John Smith" sent this informative video link: Obama Budget Cuts Visualization

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The mainstream media catches on to the consequences on the new "Made in Montana" gun law: Montana fires a warning shot over states’ rights (Thanks to Paula for the link.) OBTW, one tip for any SurvivalBlog readers that live up in Montana: Check out Sonju International in Kalispell. Get your order in early. You'll of course need to be a Montana citizen and be able to show a Montana driver's license. They make AR-15 lowers and a nifty AR-10 lower that can accept dirt cheap HK G3 magazines. Under the new Montana law, deliveries can begin after October 1st, with no Form 4473 or FFL! Does all this inspire you to move to Montana? Then talk to Viola Moss. (A Montana real estate agent that advertises on our spin-off site.)

"Amateurs talk about strategy, dilettantes talk about tactics, but professionals talk about logistics." - Attributed to various American military officers, but most frequently to General Omar Bradley

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