June 2009 Archives

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Some great news! Because book sales have remained strong, Amazon.com placed a huge-re-order for thousands of copies of my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse". The economies of scale allowed them to drop their price to just $6.96. (They had previously sold it for more than $10, and its official cover price is still $14.95.) If you are planning to buy a few copies for birthday and Christmas gifts, then this is now your chance to get some for under $7 each!

Hi Jim,
I’m new to your site and books but not to the concepts and precepts. My dad had a survivalist/self-sufficient mindset with a cool mix of Native American philosophy and know-how. I didn’t eat store bought meat or baked goods until I was 10 or 12 and thought processing shoulders of venison in the kitchen was the norm. We had a huge garden and fruit tree orchard. My mom was a master at canning; although I think it should be called "jarring" because you’re putting it in jars, not cans. He collected, traded, and rebuilt guns and amassed quite a collection. I grew up reloading cartridges and sanding/staining stocks and thought nothing of it at the time. He taught us to hunt, fish, camp, garden, live off the land and many other things that I took for granted at the time. He passed away last year but his lessons and way of being in the world still guide me to this day. From reading your novel I now know why he left us a 25 pound bag of really, really old silver coins.

As I have been reading your book and the blogs posts, I keep jotting notes to myself of things that have expanded my knowledge or ones that I would “pipe-in” on. I keep thinking I should read the entire archive of blogs first before piping in but realize that might take a very long time. I get bogged down in all the heavy duty technical talk and find myself putting it down or signing off for awhile. I feel very simplistic compared to a lot of the bloggers and find that I’m beginning to questions my own philosophies and preparedness. I’ve been stashing stuff for 20+ years but it has always been with the mindset of whether it can fit in a backpack or the back of my truck. I’m more of the Doug Carlton type. I can fill a backpack and disappear into the woods for many, many months and live very comfortably. And yes, shock-shock, I am a woman of small/lean stature.

I spent 10 years working for Outward Bound and 25 years backpacking/exploring North America . I’ve extensively scoped out where I would head and have created some caches along the way. I lived the majority of two years “out” and was amazed when I returned to “civilization” how much I appreciated instant fire, instant hot water, instant heat, real beds, not camping in snow, and not having to sleep with my boots in my sleeping bag to keep them from freezing overnight. Still, with all my experience and skill, the more I read of your book and blogs the more I’m wondering: Did I miss something?

I was reading through the Retreat Owner Profiles and kinda felt inadequate until some thoughts started hitting me. Could these people live/survive without the majority of all this stuff? If they had to choose 10 items, other than what they were wearing, to survive what would they be? (Hint: one of mine is heavy duty paper clips). If they had to choose three items what would they be? Do they know how to find dry wood and start a fire when it has been raining nonstop for two days? Could they curl up under a Ponderosa Pine without a tent and sleep a rainy night away? How would they react around bears, mountain lions, and the sorts? What if they got hurt out in the woods, could they handle it? How “tough” are they without their guns? The questions just kept coming and I started feeling less inadequate.

Since discovering your web site and starting all the reading my thoughts are definitely evolving. At my house I have been stashing for years what I call “luxury” stuff that would be part of a stable retreat. Within a year I will be getting a healthy inheritance and you now have me seriously considering creating a retreat at one of my “finds” from all the years of exploration. Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and British Columbia have been my playgrounds for years. Over the last 20+ years of “playing” I have been honing in on where my bit of wilderness would be.

Also, thanks to you and your web site, I am now going to go back and take my brother up on some of his recent offers. One of which pertained to my dads extensive gun collection. I was home a couple of months ago and my brother took me into the “secret” room that housed a lot of my dad’s “toys”. We grew up calling them “toys” because my dad was somewhat adamant about people outside the family knowing anything about his extensive collection of guns, knives, arrowheads, old coins, et. cetera. I was staring at a room full of guns (amongst other things) and he told me take whatever I wanted. All I took was one small handgun because most of them are what I call “guy guns”. They were big, beefy, heavy, etc. Now I am thinking even if I can’t use them, I can trade them for something more my size. Without having me ingest an encyclopedia on guns, what would you suggest? I’m 5'5", 110 pounds, with small bones. I have access to most any new gun at cost or below cost. My brother would tell me not to by new but to go with unregistered older models, but some of the newer ones are seriously slick.

I have lots of thoughts and tips about living/surviving in the woods but it seems a lot of your web site is devoted to established retreats and I’m not there yet. So, I will keep reading and evolving my thoughts. You got me digging out all my old topo maps of the western states and going back through my experiences there. I am going to Oregon in a week, Utah in three weeks, and northern Montana in a couple of months. I had planned on just doing more re-exploration but will now have a more focused approach. So, thanks! Take care and keep your socks dry, - Sharon

JWR Replies: It is a pleasure hearing from a reader with extensive backwoods experience. You will find that invaluable. I often say that there is no substitute for hard-earned practical experience. It comes with some years, and with putting one foot in front the other, over hill and dale--chalking up considerable mileage off of pavement.

As for your firearms question: My wife is 5'4" and is under 100 pounds. Her primary rifle is a Valmet Hunter .308 semi-auto, which is a rifle generally carried by much larger shooters. The trick was having both the stock and barrel shortened, so that the rifle would fit her properly. She also had a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad installed. That rifle has taken a lot of deer in the past 15 years, since it has also been used by our teenagers, while growing up. Don't miss some of the letters in the SurvivalBlog archives about gun choice for smaller shooters. Just type "small-statured and shooters" into the "Search Posts on SurvivalBlog:" search box at the top of the right hand bar.

Good luck with your search for a suitable retreat. For my selection rationale, and some detailed locales suggestions, see my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation".

I agree with your writer that Muay Thai and Grappling (wrestling, BJJ, etc.) are essential fighting skills. I even admit that my two black belts in traditional arts were not worth much compared to a good grappler or kick boxer.

However the idea that avoiding the ground is rule #1 is not necessarily true. A grappler can control a situation very effectively on the ground and it is often then case that you can't avoid going to the ground in a fight. Further, people of smaller stature (women especially) who cannot run from an encounter have an advantage on the ground vs. trying to duke it out with a much stronger opponent. By getting close to your adversary to engage them on the ground their primary weapons (hands and feet) are severely degraded in effectiveness. Further, a ground fighter can quickly and more reliably dispatch an opponent in a way that trying to slug it out hoping for a knock-out can never do (have you ever tried to really knock someone out who didn't want to be knocked out? It isn't like television, I can assure you).

Also, the idea that ground fighting should be avoided because of broken glass on the ground, etc. is not realistic. Someone who is a skilled (or even not that skilled but just average) ground fighter knows that when/if the fight goes to the ground it's going to be the person who doesn't know how to grapple that's going to be on their back getting their rear end kicked. A grappler who has spent many hours fighting from their backs, on top, etc. does not worry about going to the ground. They know how to deal with it, how to prevent it, how to reverse it and how to use it to their advantage.

Think of it this way. If you are going to fight a wrestler, who do you think is going to end up on their back on the ground? You or the guy who has spent thousands of hours training to take people down to the ground and put them on their backs? Further, you hear all the time about fighting multiple opponents on the ground is a problem. But if you can't beat a single guy standing up, what makes you think you can beat multiples of them standing up? Bare knuckle brawling against one guy is hard. Doing it against two is incredibly difficult. Fighting three guys is just about impossible unless you are very lucky or they are incredibly inept. (See below). Fighting four or more people bare-handed? I think that's just Hollywood stuff. You should focus on getting out of there or making sure you are carrying a gun to defend against multiple opponents.

Also being on your back is not great , but in a fight it is not necessarily bad with multiple opponents if that's where you end up. One guy I know got tangled up with several people and was almost certainly about to get beat, but he was able to get to the ground and ended up on his back (not optimal, but it happened). He was able to hold the guy he was fighting on top of him and move back and forth using him as a shield against the others while on his back on the ground. The attacker's friends were trying to kick and stomp but they kept kicking and stomping their own buddy and the guy I knew was able to get out of there unscathed!

In these cases of multiple attackers you want to stay on your feet and get the heck out of there. Ground fighting, ironically, gives you the best training to stay on your feet because you train so much to avoid being taken down on your opponent's terms.

I encourage a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) style program, but avoiding the ground is not a requirement. Sometimes you have to go where the fight goes so you need both standing and grappling skills and I'd put more emphasis on grappling personally. - Craig R.


Dear Jim & Family.
Concerning the recent article, what Brick has described in his final recommendation is [essentially] Krav Maga. This is an Israeli system of self-defense, not a martial art per se, developed from the various disciplines that he mentioned and others. It is brutal, effective and efficient. My suggestion is that if you can find a school that teaches Krav, go for it first. Krav Maga Worldwide is the best place to start. Classes are for adults, but they have a version for children as well. I believe that this system is actually much more useful than mixed martial arts (MMA) training.
My whole family has been involved in this training for over two years. - Doc Gary

I would like to comment on the post “The Survivalists Guide to Martial Arts” that appeared on Saturday.

I have been a practitioner of various martial arts since I was three years old living in Japan – 41 years ago. I also have been a part-time teacher of martial arts for 15 years now. And yes, I have the “love me” wall to prove it.

The basic divide in martial arts is between “hard” styles and “soft” styles:

Hard styles are built around punching and kicking. Soft styles are built around joint locks and throws of various sorts. But, over time, and as you advance in rank, you begin to find that all hard styles incorporate soft techniques and soft styles begin to incorporate hard techniques. And in the end, the human body only moves and reacts in so many ways and so at the highest levels you find that all the arts are really the same – they just arrive there by different paths.

You also have to individually decide what is best for you to start with. If you are not going to put in hours each week working out, then a soft style is probably better for you to start with. On the other hand if you plan to put in the time (or are young and energetic) then a hard style might be good for you. I have studied both hard (Okinawan Karate, Silat, TaeKwonDo, etc.) and soft (judo, hapkido, aikido) and “balanced” (some styles teach a balance of hard and soft techniques – and while they are few and far between they are probably the most effective) styles (some of the Kung Fu styles and Kun Tao Silat). You need both in a real fight.

While I am big and relatively strong there are those that are bigger, stronger, and faster. So I need to know how to fight like a “little person.” You also need to think about the legal aftermath of using martial arts in the streets – being able to show a steady progression (or the ability to steadily progress) through the force continuum (presence, verbal commands, soft force, hard force, impact weapons, lethal force) is a big plus in the courts. Or, not every situation requires you to haul off and deck somebody.

The secondary divide is the “stand up” versus “ground” that the letter refers to. However, when I was working in Brazil for a while I had the opportunity to work-out one on one with a member of the very large extended Gracie family. His basic take was that while going to the ground does eventually happen, do everything you can to avoid it. He learned the hard way after being jumped by a gang of attackers that going to the ground might be good against one person but against multiple attackers it does not work as well. The good thing about Gracie Ju-Jitsu (GJJ) (or BJJ) is that it works standing up as well as on the ground IF you know what you are doing (and have had the right teacher).

That being said, in a true SHTF situation you will find yourself prone a lot in a fight (nobody comes to a fight without a gun these days …) and this is where knowing ground fighting comes in handy. (That being said, the longer you can stay up and mobile the better off you will be in a gun fight.)

So in the final analysis, study a blend or a mix of arts – hard and soft, standing and on the ground – in order to get the most out of your training. While I have my personal favorites, after teaching martial arts for so long I can say that the style has to fit the student, and not the other way around. Keep a balance, and find a good, open minded teacher. - Hugh D


Hello Jim,
Regarding The Survivalist's Guide to Martial Arts by "Brick", I agree with most of Brick's comments. In terms of choosing a style or gym/dojo, I would say that the particular style is not very important. Rather, it's important that you train with [what Matt Thornton terms] "aliveness". That is, as much as possible of the training time should be allocated to sparring or otherwise training with resistance, "force on force".

While I prefer MMA training, I think that any style in which there is a lot of live training will serve the trainee well. Conversely any style in which there is little live training is a waste of time.

For purposes of self defense, I would much rather train at a Tae Kwon Do or Karate school and spar a lot, than to train at a MMA gym and never spar. You see this a lot with women who take non-sparring kickboxing classes and think that this prepares them to fight. It does not, even if they are learning legitimate techniques taught by a world champion. Also for self defense, I would rather train at the karate school where they spar a lot, versus some 'reality based self defense' class where they spend all their time practicing eye gouges and groin strikes and rarely spar.

The most important things in being able to fight in any style are:
- Keeping your breathing under control, even when under pressure
- Maintaining appropriate posture at all times(e.g. for striking, you want to keep your hands up, chin tucked, shoulders shrugged, and never put your head down or look away even when getting hit in the face)
- Being able to keep your balance and maintain appropriate distance even when there is an attacker trying to throw you off balance and moving in and out.
- Applying techniques with appropriate timing. If the opponent makes himself vulnerable somehow, usually the window of opportunity to exploit the error is very small.
- Having a certain amount of toughness and ability to ignore pain and discomfort. For example, most people who have never been punched in the stomach will drop both of their hands to cover their stomach, leaving their head wide open.

These things are only developed through hours of training with live resistance. It's worth noting that you can train grappling styles like Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, or wrestling at 100% resistance every training session, since there is no striking and the chance of injury is low.

A good video clip on this subject is: Matt Thornton on Aliveness - Drew in California


Mr. Rawles,
I agree with most of what Brick has to say about the various arts. He left out my art of choice though, which is the filipino stick and knife arts. [Also known as Filipino Martial Arts (FMA).]
These are variously known as escrima, kali, or arnis, depending on where in the islands a particular style originated from, and are distinguished from most arts by starting you out with a weapon. Most of the techniques you learn in these arts (I'll call them kali), are applicable to both sticks and knives, and to a lesser extent to empty-handed fighting.

This doesn't necessarily mean you can circumvent sidearm carry laws with a knife. In my state at least, knives are actually more strictly regulated than guns. But it does mean you can effectively use a variety of everyday objects to protect yourself against someone who, let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they just forgot to read the knife laws before robbing you.

Okay readers, thinking exercise time: How many everyday objects can you think of that have the same approximate handling characteristics of a knife or a short stick?

Start with actual knives and move quickly to, swords, nightsticks, batons, ordinary sticks, half pool cues, traumatically shortened pool cues, glass bottles, baseball bats, hammers, small crowbars, flashlights, e-tools, damn near any wrench, screw-driver, hammer, chisel, or small gardening implement, metal tub ed ball-point pens, stout umbrellas, tire irons, etc etc etc.

Add some styles for quarter staff sized sticks and axe shaped objects, and maybe a touch of training on using flexible objects like whips, belts, and garrotes, and it will be hard to think of a situation where you can't find something you know how to bash someone with. Beware though that this will give you the ability to instantly escalate the level of violence in any situation, and may look bad in a court of law. It will also let you carry many innocuous objects that you can be proven to be trained to use, even in weapons free zones. This can also look bad. I would not advise advertising that you study this stuff (or really any art).

You should also not neglect to study forms of unarmed striking and grappling/locking/breaking, but most decent Kali schools incorporate that as well, often by teaching Kali in conjunction with other arts.

Finally I will say I have been impressed with the simplicity of Kali to learn, and the practical mindedness of the students and masters of it that I have met. This will depend on the school though. If a school for Kali, Arnis, or Escrima (all basically the same thing) can't be found in your area, you might also look into Silat (from indonesia) which is related, or into wing chun or muay thai, both of which have a lot of similar motions and mentality--or so I've been told.

One last observation is that if you follow the advice of the author and look at Muay Thai, be sure you're getting the real deal, and not American kickboxing, which is the watered down for American competition version. In fact, try to stay away from anything geared towards sporting competition, but look for something that does have lots of contact sparring. You need to learn how to hit and get hit, and how to fight through moderate pain or shock. John McCain suggests that people should familiarize themselves with pain before they have to endure it for real, and for once I agree with him completely.

As always, hope it helps. I'm no expert, and YMMV, so take it with a grain of salt and do your own research and experimentation. No art will do you any good if you don't like it well enough to practice. - JJ in North Carolina

The June 25, 2009 InfraGard meeting was on the pending pandemic. The speakers were Robin K. Koons, Ph.D., epidemiologist for the Colorado Emergency Preparedness and the Director of FEMA for the State of Colorado. This InfraGard meeting was non-restricted, so these notes may be shared:

[begin transcript]

It is anticipated that 30% of the working population, 42 million people, will become ill. 70% of the working population, 150 million people, will not get ill, and will have to run the country. In 1918 out of the 30% that became ill, 2% died.

Infrastructure may not meet human needs. Supply chain resources (warehousing, trucking, grocery store stocking, fuel deliveries) could break down because of current just-in-time inventories. Grocery and convenience stores may not have product for sale. Police, fire and rescue services might be restricted because of manpower shortages. Hospitals may run out of patient room.

How do you know if you have the H1N1? You wake up with a fever of 102-103 degrees and you do not have the energy to lift yourself up so you can get out of bed. You are horizontally stuck.

Preparedness in general:

* Social distance is six feet. Inside six feet you can receive a droplet from a sick person. Keep your distance!
* Avoid people with coughs.
* Wash hands frequently.
* Have available hand sanitizers, masks, disposable rubber gloves.
* Don’t stick your hands in your eyes, nose or mouth.
* Masks help you not put your hands on your face. Glasses keep your fingers away from your eyes.
* Stay away from humans.
* Everything you touch can kill you (grocery store items, filling station fueling nozzle, building door handles, restroom faucets and doors, customer service pens, credit card machine pens, grocery carts, restaurant menus, arm chairs in the doctor’s office, magazines in customer waiting rooms).
* Establish a family care plan. See www.ready.gov for additional details.
* If you live in a city, arrange for window shade alerts. A specific window shade always pulled down at night, always put up upon arising in the morning. Watch each other’s windows to make sure your neighbors are OK!
* If you live on a ranch, coordinate with multiple neighbors for backup support for feeding. Set up a telephone call system to check on neighbors. Consider GMRS, multiple mile radios (change the default code), for communication in case you can’t get a telephone dial tone. As in any emergency, too many people checking up on each other can overload the phone system.

At work:

* Hold meetings by teleconference instead of face to face.
* Spread workers out. Keep distance between them.
* Quarantine critical workers to keep them away from people.
* Have paper towels available to be used for opening restroom doors. Have a waste basket outside the restroom door so the towel can be thrown away after exiting.
* Have hand sanitizers available.
* Cross-train employees to make sure each task in the business can be done by at least three people.
* Provide for a backup authority for making decisions in case all decision makers are out sick.
* If the influenza comes back in January, decide when you reach the point where you shut down for “X” number of days.
* Companies can expect 25% absenteeism for 4-8 weeks.
* Workers may need time off to take care of themselves or their family. They may be gone for five days more than once.

The influenza could come in waves of 2-3 months and could mutate so you get it a second time.

People who have been exposed to H1N1 are contagious before they are sick. If you have been exposed to H1N1, you may be contagious even though you are not yet sick. If you have been exposed, keep your six foot social distance and watch what and how you touch objects.

Prepare for 30 days of water, fuel, groceries, vitamins, medications. Prepare to survive without help from the outside.

The Pandemic Rule: No one is coming to help.

[end of meeting notes transcript] - John S.

Swine Flu Multi-Shot Vaccine May Overwhelm States "Two injections will be required three weeks apart for swine flu, also known as H1N1, and a third will be needed for seasonal flu, health officials said at a meeting today at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta. Children younger than 9 years old will need four shots, the CDC said. ... People older than age 50 are getting swine flu at far lower rates than younger people, evidence they may have some immunity from prior exposures to a similar virus, and will only need one shot, the CDC said. ... The agency estimates that at least 50 million vaccine doses will be available in the U.S. by Oct. 15, and enough vaccine to immunize everyone in the country will be available later in the season. ... William Schaffner, an influenza expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, said in an interview at the flu conference, “one shot probably gives you very little immunity, 10 to 20 percent at most.”

98% of US Flu Cases are Swine Flu

How to Legally Say "No" to Vaccinations

Two more swine flu deaths in Victoria

HHS Extends Liability Shield to Antivirals Used for Swine Flu

Winter begins in the southern hemisphere: Swine Flu Emergency Declared in Buenos Aires

Soaring Death Rate in Argentina From Swine Flu

Four Fresh Cases of Swine Flu Found in India; Total 93

Thailand Confirms First Swine Flu Fatalities

UK: Glastonbury Festival Hit By Swine Flu

New Hampshire's Senator Gregg slams the growth of the Federal Debt on an IBD editorial: A Debt The Founders Wouldn't Believe. (Thanks to GG for the link.)

GG also suggested this piece: Depression 2.0 by Michael S. Malone

Patrick M. like this one: The Great American Bubble Machine

Items from The Economatrix:

Banks Reap Record $9.8 Billion Trading Derivative in First Quarter "The U.S. banking industry said it made $9.8 billion during the first quarter trading derivatives and securities as investors started returning to the markets amid signs the recession bottomed."

States Form Committee to Oppose GM Sale to US, Voiding of Dealer Contracts

Bonds Beat Loans For Banks Driving Down Yields "Deposits at the San Antonio-based bank are growing a record 20 percent this year while loans shrink for the first time since mid-2007. Business owners are “being extremely cautious,” said Evans, who is pumping depositors’ money into Treasuries and municipal bonds."

China to Buy $80 Billion of Gold

Analyst: Gold Still a Safe Haven

The Coming Economic Cold War Will Be Obama's Challenge

A Stake in the Heart of 25,000 California Small Businesses

Breaking The Bank

New Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly to 627,000
Continuing claims rise to 6.74 million; 2.4 million are receiving extended benefits

After Spending, GOP Asks: Where Are The Jobs? "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said early this week that the president expects the nation will reach 10 percent unemployment within the next few months. In January, President Barack Obama's economic team predicted unemployment would rise no higher than 8 percent with the help of $787 billion in new government spending. The unemployment rate in May reached a 25-year high of 9.4 percent. Obama aides have said that the economy took a turn for the worse since their initial forecast. Republicans concerned about the Obama administration's big spending on economic stimulus, energy and health care are asking, "Where are the jobs?" "It's about to get worse for middle-class families and small businesses," [Boehner] said. "Democrats are pushing a government takeover of our health care system that will cost at least a trillion dollars."

Obama Advisor Not Ready to Back Second Stimulus Axelrod says we are going to go through rough times, unemployment to jump

There was a good article recently posted over at The Silver Bear Cafe: Help! The Grocery Store Shelves are Empty

   o o o

Andrew D. sent us this video link: Flooded River Destroys Road In Minutes. This illustrates hydraulic power--in this case circumventing an under-engineered culvert. Roughly the same thing happened at our old ranch, where the previous owner's three-foot diameter culvert on the creek was washed out by springtime floodwaters. I replaced it in 1994 with a six-footer, and so far as I know it is still there, and the road above it is still intact.

   o o o

A reader in New Mexico wrote to ask if I prefer grid-tied or standalone photovoltaic (PV) systems. My general preference is for standalone, because they have less vulnerability to EMP. But the new 30% Federal tax credit on grid-tied systems tips the scales in that direction. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in the tax code that says that you cannot take the tax credit, but then make the system standalone, at a later date. Oh, and speaking of PVs, don't miss out on the sale price on REC 220 Watt modules from Ready Made Resources. They have an amazing price.

   o o o

More than three years after we first mentioned it in SurvivalBlog, The New York Times finally paid some attention to the NAIS issue : Rebellion on the Range Over a Cattle ID Plan

   o o o

R. mentioned this page at the LifeHacker site: Build a Cheaper Backyard Greenhouse. Needless to say, this design is not intended to take a snow load, and hence must be disassembled seasonally. And since PVC eventually degrades and get brittle in sunlight, it is best to paint the tubing (and any connectors, if used), once you've finished constructing the framework.

"...the Constitution does not repose in the Congress the power to bail out individuals or private industry: Bailouts violate the Equal Protection doctrine because the Congress can’t fairly pick and choose who to bail out and who to let expire; they violate the General Welfare Clause because they benefit only a small group and not the general public; they violate the Due Process Clause because they interfere with contracts already entered into... Worse still, Congress lacks the power to let someone else decide how to spend the peoples’ money. "- Judge Andrew Napolitano, November 25, 2008

Monday, June 29, 2009

The folks at Ready Made Resources mentioned that they have reduced their prices on many items, and now offer free shipping on most items. I also noticed that they've re-designed their web site. In the nearly four years that they've been advertising on SurvivalBlog, I've heard nothing but good things about the customer service provided by Ready Made Resources. Whenever there has been a glitch--and that has been rare--they've always gone the extra mile to make things right. In one instance, back during the severe shortage of Mountain House foods in 2008, a large storage food order was delayed, and an angry customer cancelled the order, stopping payment on his check. But the staff of Ready Made Resources shipped out his order anyway, even after knowing that they wouldn't be paid for it. That sort of "returning kindness for wrath" is indicative of the integrity of the people that run the company. They've earned my trust, and they deserve your patronage.

My consulting clients often ask me me for predictions. "What's your timeframe, Mister Rawles?" I hear that in almost every consulting call. My clients ask: "When will the US economy crater?" I tell them that is impossible to predict, because there are so many variables and interdependencies, and because the markets are so heavily manipulated. They also ask me: Is the H1N1 Flu sure to mutate in to a more virulent strain, and if so, when?" I answer: "That is impossible to predict." I'm also often quizzed about the Ug-99 wheat fungus (aka "Durable Wheat Rust", or simply "the stem rust"). Clearly, it is advancing , but without a specific timeframe. Scientists are now calling the advance of Ug-99 around the globe "inevitable". My greatest fear is that instead of just being spread gradually by the wind, the stem rust will make "leaps", via the cargo holds of ships, and hence end up in the world's "bread baskets": Australia, the Ukraine, the US, and Canada. In the long run, containment is seen as almost impossible. Thusfar, attempts to create a rust-resistant wheat variety have been thwarted by the rust's rapid mutation rate.

Let's look at some numbers: 20% of the calories consumed by the human population of our planet currently comes from wheat. That means that there will likely be a caloric shortfall for a number of years--until either wheat fields are re-planted in some different crop, or until a viable rust-resistant wheat variety is developed.

I encourage readers to study the Ug-99 threat, and think through its implications on a macro (global) scale. Then think through the implications of a wheat famine at a personal level. Where will you and your family get your daily bread? Have you stored up for seven lean years?

I cannot more strongly urge SurvivalBlog readers: Get your food storage squared away, immediately. Supplies are plentiful now, and prices are still reasonable. But the threats that we are facing are numerous, large, and all too likely. And, of these, UG-99 is almost a certainty in the next decade, and it will directly affect the global food supply. Stop dawdling and get ready. You owe it to your family to do the best that you can to prepare.

In a recent exchange of correspondence abut Ug-99 with reader Jim M., he wrote: "I think stored food should be viewed more as a supplement, especially wheat in view of UG-99. Alternative sources of complex carbohydrates should be sought by preppers. Other grain seed should be planted and replenished by those with land and climate to do so: oats, barley, rye, spelt, millet, maize, quinoa. A few thousand square feet of each suitable grain type would provide continuous seed viability as well as training for larger-scale crops and harvests in the future. Starchy tubers could also figure greatly in extending long-term food stores. Anyone with even a sunny balcony should be able to grow their own potatoes for instance and there are plenty of other tubers they can try."

Preparedness is keyed to trends and to the emergence of general threats, not specific dates. It has not been since Y2K that we've had specific date target. And that was clearly an exception to the general rule. Perhaps we'll someday read about a large asteroid with a predicted earth-crossing orbit (like Apophis), and have a multi-year countdown to disaster. But otherwise,we just have to be ready at all times for a variety of potential situations.

Dear James:
I recently purchased a book that may be of interest to my fellow SurvivalBlog readers: Hanna Diamond's book Fleeing Hitler: France 1940. This book is currently being remaindered at the Canadian Internet bookseller Chapters.ca. The jacket copy states: "In June 1940, as Hitler's armies advanced on Paris, the French people became refugees in their own country. This is the story of their tragic flight".

It describes what's probably the largest, best-documented mass evacuations of a major Western city in modern times. Invasion by Germany certainly constitutes the Schumer hitting the fan in most people's opinion; the French certain thought so; millions of them bugged out ahead of the Wehrmacht. In a nutshell, their experiences validate current survivalist thinking about bugging out; the importance of getting out early, what to bring and what to leave, having a reliable Bug-out vehicle (BOV), Bug-out location (BOL) a well-planned route, etc.

The French experience in 1940 is also an interesting contrast to what might happen under similarly desperate circumstances in modern-day North America; there's be far more motor vehicles and guns, and fewer draft animals. It's a sobering prospect. Diamond also highlights the ineptitude and helplessness of a government in turmoil; in 1940, waiting for help, let alone useful information from the French government was not a viable option, and notes the surge in lawlessness as the refugees became increasingly desperate.

I'd recommend the book to anybody contemplating or planning an eventual bug out. Sincerely, - R.E., A Somewhat Prepared Canadian

We love your site. It is part of our daily must reads. While driving to view possible retreat locations today, we printed out your advice on retreat locations and read it again as we drove to the determined area. After looking most of the day, we literally stumble upon (because it was not visible from the road – only a for sale sign) a nearly perfect location, several springs, trees, hillside with level areas, in the top three in all categories of your retreat lists, etc.

In looking to make an offer we wanted your advice regarding financing the purchase. Would you recommend selling gold reserves, home equity line of credit (HELOC) on debt-free primary residence, seller financing to the extent available or institutional financing? Why and/or why not for each? Thank you so much for all you are doing. You are providing an extremely valuable and much appreciated service. - Ken I.

JWR Replies: I can understand the temptation to to hang on to your gold and take a mortgage, but to be conservative and low-risk, my advice is to be debt free. We will probably experience another year or two of deflation before inflation re-emerges. Avoid debt in deflationary times! Mortgage debt is a killer when layoffs occur in droves. So go ahead and sell your gold. But, if possible, wait for a short-term rally.

Dear Editor:
John M.'s letter was excellent, polite, and to the point.

The following are my rules for townies:

1. If your water comes out of a faucet or a bottle, and you can not safely walk to a permanent backup source in less than 10 minutes every day, then you will die.

2. If you do not raise your own food, or personally know the family that you bought it from, you will either die, or be forever controlled by someone with a clipboard and a list, and you will wish you were dead.

3. If you live in the city because your job is more important than your life, then don't bother bugging out. The only Job you are likely to get out here in the country is digging graves for people that think like you.

4. A centuries old rule of farming: It takes a minimum of 10 years of farming a piece of ground to know it. So, you're going to compress a decade of intimate knowledge into a weekend, because you read a book? We'll send the guy mentioned in Rule #3 out to your shack next spring.

5. Unless you have a fully stocked and equip 19th century-style working farm to escape to, with food for two years stored in place for humans and livestock, you are simply a well-intentioned refugee, or an unwelcome house guest.

6. [Forget "foraging".] In the 1850s, (for the purpose of sizing reservations), it was determined that a skillful Native American needed 100 square miles (10 miles x 10 miles) minimum, to live off the land, per person. There was a lot more game back then, and less afraid of humans. You're going to be competing with around 300 million hungry human bellies, every morning.

7. Ten cases of canned food fits in a 2'x2'x2' area. Around 30 cases will give you one meal a day for a year, and fits under a [tall] bed. The gear, tools, food, and clothing needed for a family of four for a year in the wild would fill one or more semi-trailers. So you think that you're going to effortlessly bug out with a truck and trailer at O-Dark-Thirty and survive? Stay home, or become breakfast for less dainty bellies.

Finally: There are two terms you hope never appear in your obituary: "unfortunate accident", or "shallow grave".

If you and your gear are not already pre-positioned on your own homestead, and your city job is just seasonal or part time for the Gov.Bux, you are probably bound to end up in one of these two categories by bugging out.

Prepare, but stay where you are, unless the emergency is a temporary natural event - Feral Farmer

JWR Replies: I concur that taking halfway measures is an invitation to becoming a statistic in a societal collapse. As I've stressed countless times, the best approach is to live at your retreat year-round. A marginal second choice is to maintain a fully-stocked retreat that is constantly under the watchful eye of a trusted friend or relative that can also keep your fruit nut trees watered and look after your livestock. But even then, you'll likely lack the requisite large-scale gardening experience in your retreat's particular climate zone. You will also lack having developed trust relationships with your neighbors--something crucial to survival. It is incredibly naive for anyone to anticipate that they can "bug out" with everything that they'll need. Even if you are fortunate enough arrive with your vehicle and trailer intact, as "Feral Farmer" points out, you will be way behind the power curve: under-equipped, and under-provisioned. And as, John M. mentioned, those that are under-prepared will probably end up in a life of thievery, rather than watch their families starve. The goal here is to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

I also concur with Feral Farmer's observations on foraging. The hunting and even the fishing pressure will be tremendous. I've heard from consulting clients in California' Coast Range that deer harvest have dropped to pitifully low numbers in the past five years, because of the depredations of Mountain Lions. (Which have been elevated to protected species status in the People's Paradise of California.) The chances of filling just one deer tag, they say, are now slim except for anyone that has the time to willing to "hunt hard" throughout California's short deer season. So, I ask: If this has happened when there were just a few thousand excess mountain lions, then what will happen when there are an extra 5-to-10 million deer hunters wandering around California, shooting at anything that moves? (The California deer population has already dropped from more than one million to an estimated 485,000. That is not a lot of deer to go around, WTSHTF. And what will happen to the freshwater fishing stocks, when there are hundreds of thousands of set lines being worked, year round?

New H1N1 flu not going away: U.S. health agency (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

Mike McD sent this: Western Australia woman fifth to die of swine flu

A news item sent by Karen H.: Britain suffers 2nd H1N1 flu death

Thanks to Richard S. for sending this: Canada to Vaccinate Entire Population

From Ben M.: Bad news for GM; China 'to block' Hummer takeovei

Currie and GG both sent us a link to a piece over at Zero Hedge: Here Comes Russian Bank Nationalzation "Russia is considering a banking bail-out that will go further than measures taken by the US, as fears grow that bad loans could paralyse the economy." Oh, by the way, GG dubbed the Russian bailout "The MOABsky"

David R. flagged this data point: Dresdner Kleinwort Securities Withdraws as Primary Fed Dealer. David's comment: "This is important because being a primary dealer was the equivalent of having a license to print money (under fractional reserve lending rules). For Dresdner to be withdrawing is bad, bad, bad news for the dollar. This is just an early warning sign but the signs are piling up. The dollar is in trouble."

And here are four items, all courtesy of Karen H.:

China's ships idle but Shanghai port charges ahead
"This is the first time Shanghai's shipping container business declined since it went into full-scale operation (20 years ago), it shows how deeply the financial crisis has affected the real economy," Huang told a maritime conference in Shanghai.

Unemployed Hit the Road to Find Jobs

Romer upbeat on US economy

Selling toothpaste to Tehran

Reader "PD" pointed me to an interesting video segment on Russian survivalists.

   o o o

FG mentioned a great news segment about an 89 year-old woman and her 1964 Comet that she has driven 540,000 miles. FG notes: "She even drove herself alone to her 70th class reunion, a 3,000 mile trip! She also knows how to protect herself on her long journeys. (Check out what she carries in her handbag!)" JWR Adds: This octogenarian demonstrates the virtues of both good preventative maintenance and situational awareness!

   o o o

H.O.F. e-mailed me to mention that all 36 episodes of the post-pandemic societal collapse television series Jeremiah are now available as video streaming "instant plays", from NetFlix subscribers. H.O.F. notes: "The MGM series was filmed in and around Vancouver, Canada, which explains why so many scenes are cold, rainy, and snowy'" And he added this warning: "There is some crude language, violence, and gratuitous bare chests, so this series is not for the kids. Oh yes, it also has a couple of anti-religious rants, but that is to be expected from the denizens of Hollywood."

"The paper system being founded on public confidence and having of itself no intrinsic value, it is liable to great and sudden fluctuations, thereby rendering property insecure and the wages of labor unsteady and uncertain. The corporations which create the paper money can not be relied upon to keep the circulating medium uniform in amount. In times of prosperity, when confidence is high, they are tempted by the prospect of gain or by the influence of those who hope to profit by it to extend their issues of paper beyond the bounds of discretion and the reasonable demands of business; and when these issues have been pushed on from day to day, until public confidence is at length shaken, then a reaction takes place, and they immediately withdraw the credits they have given, suddenly curtail their issues, and produce an unexpected and ruinous contraction of the circulating medium, which is felt by the whole community. The banks by this means save themselves, and the mischievous consequences of their imprudence or cupidity are visited upon the public." - President Andrew Jackson, Excerpt from his farewell speech on March 4, 1837

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Today we present a guest article by two Stratfor editors. You may recall that Fred Burton is one of my contemporaries. (He was workig in the CI/HUMINT world when I was in the SIGINT world.)

In recent months, several high-profile incidents have raised awareness of the threat posed by individuals and small groups operating under the principles of leaderless resistance. These incidents have included lone wolf attacks against a doctor who performed abortions in Kansas, an armed forces recruitment center in Arkansas and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Additionally, a grassroots jihadist cell was arrested for attempting to bomb Jewish targets in the Bronx and planning to shoot down a military aircraft at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.

In addition to pointing out the threat posed by grassroots cells and lone wolf operatives, another common factor in all of these incidents is the threat of violence to houses of worship. The cell arrested in New York left what they thought to be active improvised explosive devices outside the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Community Center. Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. Although Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad conducted his attacks against a Little Rock recruiting center, he had conducted preoperational surveillance and research on targets that included Jewish organizations and a Baptist church in places as far away as Atlanta and Philadelphia. And while James von Brunn attacked the Holocaust Museum, he had a list of other potential targets in his vehicle that included the National Cathedral.

In light of this common thread, it might be instructive to take a more detailed look at the issue of providing security for places of worship.

Awareness: The First Step

Until there is awareness of the threat, little can be done to counter it. In many parts of the world, such as Iraq, India and Pakistan, attacks against places of worship occur fairly frequently. It is not difficult for religious leaders and members of their congregations in such places to be acutely aware of the dangers facing them and to have measures already in place to deal with those perils. This is not always the case in the United States, however, where many people tend to have an “it can’t happen here” mindset, believing that violence in or directed against places of worship is something that happens only to other people elsewhere.

This mindset is particularly pervasive among predominantly white American Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations. Jews, Mormons, Muslims and black Christians, and others who have been targeted by violence in the past, tend to be far more aware of the threat and are far more likely to have security plans and measures in place to counter it. The Jewish community has very well-developed and professional organizations such as the Secure Community Network (SCN) and the Anti-Defamation League that are dedicated to monitoring threats and providing education about the threats and advice regarding security. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has taken on a similar role for the Muslim community and has produced a “Muslim community safety kit” for local mosques. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) also has a very organized and well-connected security department that provides information and security advice and assistance to LDS congregations worldwide.

There are no functional equivalents to the SCN or the LDS security departments in the larger Catholic, evangelical Protestant and mainline Protestant communities, though there are some organizations such as the recently established Christian Security Network that have been attempting to fill the void.

Following an incident, awareness of the threat seems to rise for a time, and some houses of worship will put some security measures in place, but for the most part such incidents are seen as events that take place elsewhere, and the security measures are abandoned after a short time.

Permanent security measures are usually not put in place until there has been an incident of some sort at a specific house of worship, and while the triggering incident is sometimes something that merely provides a good scare, other times it is a violent action that results in tragedy. Even when no one is hurt in the incident, the emotional damage caused to a community by an act of vandalism or arson at a house of worship can be devastating.

It is important to note here that not all threats to places of worship will emanate from external actors. In the midst of any given religious congregation, there are, by percentages, people suffering from serious mental illnesses, people engaged in bitter child-custody disputes, domestic violence situations and messy divorces. Internal disputes in the congregation can also lead to feuds and violence. Any of these situations can (and have) led to acts of violence inside houses of worship.

Security Means More than Alarms and Locks

An effective security program is more than just having physical security measures in place. Like any man-made constructs, physical security measures — closed-circuit television (CCTV), alarms, cipher locks and so forth — have finite utility. They serve a valuable purpose in institutional security programs, but an effective security program cannot be limited to these things. Devices cannot think or evaluate. They are static and can be observed, learned and even fooled. Also, because some systems frequently produce false alarms, warnings in real danger situations may be brushed aside. Given these shortcomings, it is quite possible for anyone planning an act of violence to map out, quantify and then defeat or bypass physical security devices. However, elaborate planning is not always necessary. Consider the common scenario of a heavy metal door with very good locks that is propped open with a trashcan or a door wedge. In such a scenario, an otherwise “secure” door is defeated by an internal security lapse.

However, even in situations where there is a high degree of threat awareness, there is a tendency to place too much trust in physical security measures, which can become a kind of crutch — and, ironically, an obstacle to effective security.

In fact, to be effective, physical security devices always require human interaction. An alarm is useless if no one responds to it, or if it is not turned on; a lock is ineffective if it is not engaged. CCTV cameras are used extensively in corporate office buildings and some houses of worship, but any competent security manager will tell you that, in reality, they are far more useful in terms of investigating a theft or act of violence after the fact than in preventing one (although physical security devices can sometimes cause an attacker to divert to an easier target).

No matter what kinds of physical security measures may be in place at a facility, they are far less likely to be effective if a potential assailant feels free to conduct preoperational surveillance, and is free to observe and map those physical security measures. The more at ease someone feels as they set about identifying and quantifying the physical security systems and procedures in place, the higher the odds they will find ways to beat the system.

A truly “hard” target is one that couples physical security measures with an aggressive, alert attitude and sense of awareness. An effective security program is proactive — looking outward to where most real threats are lurking — rather than inward, where the only choice is to react once an attack has begun to unfold. We refer to this process of proactively looking for threats as protective intelligence.

The human interaction required to make physical security measures effective, and to transform a security program into a proactive protective intelligence program, can come in the form of designated security personnel. In fact, many large houses of worship do utilize off-duty police officers, private security guards, volunteer security guards or even a dedicated security staff to provide this coverage. In smaller congregations, security personnel can be members of the congregation who have been provided some level of training.

However, even in cases where there are specially designated security personnel, such officers have only so many eyes and can only be in a limited number of places at any one time. Thus, proactive security programs should also work to foster a broad sense of security awareness among the members of the congregation and community, and use them as additional resources.

Unfortunately, in many cases, there is often a sense in the religious community that security is bad for the image of a particular institution, or that it will somehow scare people away from houses of worship. Because of this, security measures, if employed, are often hidden or concealed from the congregation. In such cases, security managers are deprived of many sets of eyes and ears. Certainly, there may be certain facets of a security plan that not everyone in the congregation needs to know about, but in general, an educated and aware congregation and community can be a very valuable security asset.


In order for a congregation to maintain a sense of heightened awareness it must learn how to effectively do that. This training should not leave people scared or paranoid — just more observant. People need to be trained to look for individuals who are out of place, which can be somewhat counterintuitive. By nature, houses of worship are open to outsiders and seek to welcome strangers. They frequently have a steady turnover of new faces. This causes many to believe that, in houses of worship, there is a natural antagonism between security and openness, but this does not have to be the case. A house of worship can have both a steady stream of visitors and good security, especially if that security is based upon situational awareness.

At its heart, situational awareness is about studying people, and such scrutiny will allow an observer to pick up on demeanor mistakes that might indicate someone is conducting surveillance. Practicing awareness and paying attention to the people approaching or inside a house of worship can also open up a whole new world of ministry opportunities, as people “tune in” to others and begin to perceive things they would otherwise miss if they were self-absorbed or simply not paying attention. In other words, practicing situational awareness provides an excellent opportunity for the members of a congregation to focus on the needs and burdens of other people.

It is important to remember that every attack cycle follows the same general steps. All criminals — whether they are stalkers, thieves, lone wolves or terrorist groups — engage in preoperational surveillance (sometimes called “casing,” in the criminal lexicon). Perhaps the most crucial point to be made about preoperational surveillance is that it is the phase when someone with hostile intentions is most apt to be detected — and the point in the attack cycle when potential violence can be most easily disrupted or prevented.

The second most critical point to emphasize about surveillance is that most criminals are not that good at it. They often have terrible surveillance tradecraft and are frequently very obvious. Most often, the only reason they succeed in conducting surveillance without being detected is because nobody is looking for them. Because of this, even ordinary people, if properly instructed, can note surveillance activity.

It is also critically important to teach people — including security personnel and members of the congregation — what to do if they see something suspicious and whom to call to report it. Unfortunately, a lot of critical intelligence is missed because it is not reported in a timely manner — or not reported at all — mainly because untrained people have a habit of not trusting their judgment and dismissing unusual activity. People need to be encouraged to report what they see.

Additionally, people who have been threatened, are undergoing nasty child-custody disputes or have active restraining orders protecting them against potentially violent people need to be encouraged to report unusual activity to their appropriate points of contact.

As a part of their security training, houses of worship should also instruct their staff and congregation members on procedures to follow if a shooter enters the building and creates what is called an active-shooter situation. These “shooter” drills should be practiced regularly — just like fire, tornado or earthquake drills. The teachers of children’s classes and nursery workers must also be trained in how to react.


One of the things the SCN and ADL do very well is foster security liaison among Jewish congregations within a community and between those congregations and local, state and federal law enforcement organizations. This is something that houses of worship from other faiths should attempt to duplicate as part of their security plans.

While having a local cop in a congregation is a benefit, contacting the local police department should be the first step. It is very important to establish this contact before there is a crisis in order to help expedite any law enforcement response. Some police departments even have dedicated community liaison officers, who are good points of initial contact. There are other specific points of contact that should also be cultivated within the local department, such as the SWAT team and the bomb squad.

Local SWAT teams often appreciate the chance to do a walk-through of a house of worship so that they can learn the layout of the building in case they are ever called to respond to an emergency there. They also like the opportunity to use different and challenging buildings for training exercises (something that can be conducted discreetly after hours). Congregations with gyms and weight rooms will often open them up for local police officers to exercise in, and some congregations will also offer police officers a cup of coffee and a desk where they can sit and type their reports during evening hours.

But the local police department is not the only agency with which liaison should be established. Depending on the location of the house of worship, the state police, state intelligence fusion center or local joint terrorism task force should also be contacted. By working through state and federal channels, houses of worship in specific locations may even be eligible for grants to help underwrite security through programs such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

The world is a dangerous place and attacks against houses of worship will continue to occur. But there are proactive security measures that can be taken to identify attackers before they strike and help prevent attacks from happening or mitigate their effects when they do. - Scott Stewart and Fred Burton, Stratfor

James -
We think along similar lines, as my wife and I relocated to Central Idaho in 1995, raising and homeschooling our four children here. We're electrically functioning off the grid, engage in animal husbandry, grow what vegetables we can, and stock up on essentials we cannot produce and always meticulously rotate the stock. And we hunt, big time.

I read the entry on your site today about the fellow who intends to travel ore than a thousand miles in a blink of an eye, and use this blur to make a life-changing decision based on distorted glances at sixty miles an hour. Though I agree with essentially every bit of advice regarding location considerations, and in particular what to avoid, perhaps you should suggest to this fellow to split his trip into two or three, perhaps even four excursions so he can really evaluate what he is looking at.

I've lived in the west my entire life, a witness to the destruction of Colorado as we finally fled the far reaches of the West Slope for here. Knowing that one simple mistake in terms of selecting a location can be fatal in and unto itself, we began looking in 1993 and through 1994 before making our selection. Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Distance from population centers was number two on our criteria list, but as you well know, the number one priority must be water.

People in the cities haven't really a clue as to its relative scarcity. Turn on the tap. Our criteria was "live, year-around creek" on the prospective dirt, or it was scrubbed from the list. At 8.37 pounds per gallon, you can't realistically haul enough any distance for survival if survival means growing food if TEOTWAWKI actually occurs. Maybe not enough to use just to satiate thirst if you are too far from the source.

Let's face it. If people have to actually "Bug Out", the "End" is happening, right there and then. Think: water, water, water, and location, location, location.

I wrote a piece about "relocation" a few years back for a Peak Oil web site that generated several thousand comments, the vast majority of them were positive. The negatives were from the Gold's Gym-type jerks who thought I was trying to come off as some kind of tough guy, which I wasn't. "Realism" offends people. You cut one cord short on firewood before winter and the snows get hip-deep, you are dead. Sometimes you have "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" with large critters equipped with teeth and claws. I killed a damned lion at six feet inside my barn who was upset that I was upset that he had killed my milk goats. A bear at thirty feet on top of one of our sheep who was none too happy with me either. The wolves are here constantly, and that's just a time bomb waiting to go off. We've had jerks from cities show up on the place acting, and to be kind here, just a little "weird". Occasionally and unfortunately what followed were "in your face" armed confrontations, required to convince them getting the hell out of here was a damn good idea.

Which leads to another situation that is always notably absent from writings about "Getting out of Dodge". Why isn't it mentioned that people are already "out there", and even if a person chooses to relocate before the fan is blowing manure that it takes a couple of years before the indigenous outlanders accept your presence. These pre-existing folks, as you well know, traded off the easy living the cities offer for a harder lifestyle that almost guarantees austere living. The F.N.G. is a newcomer, and no one knows whether her/she is a curse or a blessing. The number of drug-laden scum that has floated in and out of here over the years is pretty amazing, let alone the flood of retirees who ain' t worth knowing. A third of them want sidewalks along Forest Service Roads.

And then when things go south, some guy, regardless of what color collar he wore to work, abandons his 52" widescreen HDTV, his Budweiser and the N.F.L. Package, throws his "Git-R-Done" stuff in the 4-Runner. Off he goes, carrying just enough with him to guarantee that where he ends up, thieving and murdering is going to be happening. Why? Because he's in a panic regardless of how "cool" he thinks he is. In truth, if you don't already live "out there", you aren't prepared. City folk are waiting to run, and they are running to nowhere. For that matter, half the people who are already "out there" aren't really prepared. But City Folks simply cannot take with them what is needed long-term to survive, and even short-term if winter is upon them. So, he is going to become a thief and a murderer. Where he's headed he doesn't own dirt, has no roof over his head, and he hasn't got the food to last a month. The most moral man in the world will become the worst of sinners when facing starvation. Add a man with his woman and a passel of kids, and you've got a desperate man. "Honey, I starved the kids!" I don't think so.

So, what do you think folks around here are thinking anyway? Putting out the "Welcome Wagon" for an exodus of people who refused to sacrifice ahead of time? Those who have been living easy and going to Applebees every Friday night? The wife blowing money at the mall every Saturday with the rest of the "girls"? People who thought, "I'll stay here doing the 9-5 because the woman insists, and then we'll go if we have to." Here's another good one: "We didn't want to move and have to change schools. The kids really liked it there."

The foregoing mean that the "Old Lady" and the "kids" have been dictating his life anyway, right? You ever seen these women go through "Mall Withdrawal"? Good God, it's a terrible sight to behold even under good conditions! At least when things are "normal" they can head over the pass for a methadone-like "Mall-Fix" up in Missoula or head to Idaho Falls. Shoot, you go and "Cold Turkey" a mall-dependent woman and h**l doesn't even begin to describe the price that must be paid! It's viral too, I swear.

Seriously though, is there some assumption that such "exodus scenarios" aren't discussed by the locals down at the cafe's in Salmon, Challis, and Elk, Bend, and North Fork over morning coffee, as well as at the Sheriffs Departments around here? My understanding is that the roads in and out of here are to be closed, which is fine by me. There isn't much bounty here to begin with, and adding a bunch of instant vagabonds will simply be making meager pickings that much slimmer.

Fools rushing for the hills. There's a steep learning curve and most aren't going to make it. Best regards, and keep up the good work - John M.

Dennis flagged this: Regulators shut 5 banks; 45 failures this year.

From Dr. Housing Bubble: Alt-A and Option ARM Economic Disaster Update: California Solution?

Ben M. sent this: China argues to replace US dollar

Qantas cancels Dreamliner order

Items from The Economatrix:

Financial Crisis Considered Top "Security Threat" to US "...the most immediate fallout from the worldwide economic decline for the United States will be "allies and friends not being able to fully meet their defense and humanitarian obligations." [Blair] also saw the prospect of possible refugee flows from the Caribbean to the United States and a questioning of American economic and financial leadership in the world. But Blair also raised the specter of the "high levels of violent extremism" in the turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s along with "regime-threatening instability" if the economic crisis persists over a one-to-two-year period."

Stocks Bear Market And Financial Crisis Not Over, US Regional Banks Next To Go

Epidemic of Bankruptcies Symptomatic of the Deflating Bubble

Schoon: Financial Crisis: And The Winner Is...GOLDMAN, SACHS "News of Goldman’s Sachs’ triumph arrived when Reuter’s newswire reported on June 22, 2009: “Goldman Sachs on pace for record bonuses”. At a time when the US is struggling with the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, Goldman Sachs has triumphantly weathered the crisis. That should be no surprise for Goldman Sachs created the crisis in the first place."

Unemployment Crisis Grips US States
"There is general agreement, moreover, that employment levels and conditions of labor will not return to those that prevailed prior to the financial crisis. This is no accident. The ruling elite, led by the Obama administration, has seized on the crisis as a long-awaited chance to restructure class relations to its advantage for decades to come."

US Economy Trending Towards An Inflationary Depression "While simultaneously supporting the Fed's actions, which amount to little more than using chewing gum and bailing wire to keep the money and credit markets from collapsing as it creates and distributes, in arrogant, secretive, crony-capitalist fashion, a gargantuan pile of counterfeit monopoly money in an amount on par with total US GDP for an entire year, you can just sense and feel that there is now a runaway, hyperinflationary freight train rumbling down the tracks at ever greater speed that is soon going to derail and create a train wreck out of our economy."

No "Green Shoots" of Economic Recovery with US Debt at 700% of GDP

Deflation May Derail Japan's Recovery

The Bond Saga: It Gets More Odd

Conspiracy Surrounds $134 Billion Bond Find

This has "arbitrary enforcement " written all over it: Alberta police can now seize armoured gang vehicles.

    o o o

A Fraud Bigger Than Madoff "In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125 bn (£88 bn) in a US -directed effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein."

   o o o

I tend to downplay American politics in my blog , since I have a worldwide readership. But the recent Democratic Party pushes for both a huge socialized healthcare system and a massive new tax system to "stop global warming" have me at my wit's end. Here were stand, at the begriming of a deep and prolonged economic depression, the National Debt has more than doubled in the past year (to finance the MOAB), and yet the Wizards of Washington want to now run us even deeper into debt and encumber us with a trans-national tax? No Thanks! State secession is looking better, every day. As for the the new Globotax, reader H.S. summed it up nicely: "Instead of 'Cap and Trade', they should call it the: 'Cap and-trade-our-jobs-to-China bill"'. This bill was ramrodded through the House of Representatives before congressmen even had the opportunity to read the final text of the bill. I am thoroughly disgusted.

"The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail" - Isaiah, 58:11, NKJV

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 23 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 at least $350.

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

Round 23 ends on July 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.

There is focus placed on proper firearm training and the most appropriate weapons to have for various scenarios – and rightfully so.  But equally important is the ability to defend yourself in a situation when you are unarmed.  For example, in my state, even though I am licensed to carry a concealed weapon, legal restrictions prevent me from carrying most of the time.  For example, any business can post a sign forbidding concealed weapons on their premises, as my place of employment has done.  Also, firearms are not allowed in any place licensed to serve alcohol.  Fine, you might think, just avoid the bars – until you realize that this also covers any restaurant that serves beer or wine with your meal.

For these reason and a hundred others, I feel that no preparedness training is complete without learning to defend yourself while unarmed.  But even if you agree and would like to get started on martial arts to complete your preparedness training, where to begin?  What style should you study?  What type of training best suits the survival mindset and goals of protecting the lives of you and your loved ones?  In this article, I’d like to help you answer a few of those questions.  For more than a decade I’ve trained consistently in a combination of martial arts, approaching it from the mindset of not just wanting to be in better shape or win some competitions, but rather with the goal of transforming myself into a more durable survivor.  

Primer on Major Styles

To start your martial arts education, it is a good idea to get a basic idea regarding the most common types of martial arts.  There are dozens of different types of martial arts originating from every region of the globe.  In this section, I’ve focused on those arts that you will most commonly encounter in an available training format.

Karate – This is a traditional Okinawan/Japanese art dating back for centuries.  The focus tends to be on efficient, powerful strikes with the hands and feet.  There is usually very little “flash” to these techniques – the focus is on inflicting damage and getting out of there.  Karate students often engage in various types of body hardening to turn their knuckles, forearms, thighs and shins into formidable weapons and shields.  For example, a makiwara is a wooden striking post that a student will hit thousands upon thousands of times, enabling the karate practitioner to eventually punch through wood and concrete (as you’ve no doubt seen on television) with no harm to the fist.

Tae Kwon Do – A Korean martial art that gained widespread popularity after the 1988 Seoul Olympics, causing schools to pop up all over America. [Present-day] Tae Kwon Do is primarily a sport-centric martial art, with heavy emphasis placed on competition and tournaments.  Tae Kwon Do practitioners are known for their formidable kicks, as this is a major focus of the art (so much so that practical self defense is sacrificed – for example, under Olympic Tae Kwon Do rules, punches to the head are not allowed.  Not exactly a rule conducive to  practical self-defense application).

Kung Fu – Often considered the “granddaddy” of other Asian martial arts, Kung Fu has roots in ancient China and is considered to have influenced many other arts which followed.  There are dozens of different Kung Fu styles, often named and patterned after movements of different animals.  Movements tend to me more fluid and less “hard.”  Often, Kung Fu tends to venture more into mysticism with attention to direction of “chi” or “life force” to create powerful techniques (compared to karate, which is more based on the physics behind inflicting damage with your body).

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) -- Jiu-Jitsu is a traditional Japanese art, but over the past several decades the art has been transformed and evolved in Brazil, due largely to the efforts of the Gracie family.  BJJ is a grappling martial art, focused on controlling your opponent, maintaining favorable position, and finishing your opponent with a “submission.”  Submissions involve any number of chokes or joint locks.  The term “submission” derives from the fact that in competition, the opponent must “submit” either verbally or with a tap, or face going unconscious or suffering a broken limb.  Of course, in a real life situation, the survivalist who has applied an arm bar is not interested in whether or not the opponent has decided to give up – take their arm home with you.

Boxing – By far the most popular and well-known western martial art, boxing is entirely focused on hand strikes (in fact, only punches) limited to the waist up.  Due to the number of restrictions placed on boxers for sporting purposes (extremely limited in types of strikes allowed and targets permitted), boxing leaves a lot to be desired as a comprehensive self-defense art.  However, the hand striking techniques exhibited by elite level boxers is second to none, meaning that incorporating boxing into your martial arts training certainly has value.

Wrestling – Often overlooked as a martial art because it usually conjures image of high school and Olympic competition, wrestling is certainly both a combat sport and martial art.  Like boxing, learning only wrestling would leave you severely disadvantaged in a life-and-death situation, but when it comes to controlling your opponent and keeping yourself out of a bad spot, wrestling is extremely valuable.

Muay Thai – If you’ve seen clips of small Thai men absolutely brutalizing each other in the ring with lightning fast punches, kicks, knees, and elbows, then you’ve seen Muay Thai.  Often confused with regular kickboxing, the inclusion of knees and elbows separate the men from the boys, as these joints can be used to inflict massive amounts of damage.  Muay Thai fighters also master the art of the clinch, which is a series of techniques to get in close to your opponent and hold him in such a way that he is susceptible to any number of devastating strikes.

My Opinion on Survival Applicability

So, that’s some information on a few of the more common styles.  A common question is “which one is ‘best.’”?  This is a very difficult question to answer, as each has advantages and disadvantages.  Also, we are just speaking in general terms here, as the type of training you undergo within, say, Tae Kwon Do will vary quite a bit in different schools under the direction of different teachers.  So, based on my experiences, here is my admittedly subjective opinion regarding applicability to real life, actual defense of yourself and those you care about.

Stand-up styles (fighting on your feet):  If you are looking for one art to focus on and one art only, I’d go with Muay Thai.  The range of weapons and techniques is sufficiently broad that if you rise to the level of Muay Thai expert you will be a formidable fighter indeed.  Fist, feet, knees, elbows, shins, even your head – all available, all trained.  You may not have seen many Muay Thai schools in your area, but it is becoming more popular all the time due to success of Muay Thai techniques in popular televised Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitions.  In second place I would put karate.  The focus on real, direct, simple fighting techniques is perfect for real world application, as is the attention given to hardening and strengthening the body.  Next I would rank boxing.  Most fights start out simply enough – exchanging blows with fists.  An elite boxer can end the fight at this stage very quickly.  Lastly, I would rank Tae Kwon Do and Kung-fu.  These arts tend to have too much focus on sporting competition (and the associated technique restriction) or “forms” demonstrations.  That’s not to say you can’t find a school that focuses on effective self defense applications of these arts, but Tae Kwon Do and Kung-fu schools of that nature are the exception rather than the rule.

Ground fighting styles (grappling):  These days, it has become quite apparent that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is the king of the ground.  A combination of success in no-hold-barred competition and techniques that are readily adaptable to real life situations has propelled BJJ to become an international sensation.  Wrestling teaches some great ground fighting techniques as well, but for adults it may be hard to find a school or gym that teaches wrestling fundamentals, so finding a good BJJ school is the way to go (and these will usually teach some wrestling as part of the curriculum, as natural supplement to BJJ training).  However, if I had a child in school, I’d encourage him or her to pursue wrestling.  Learning those techniques during your early years can serve as a martial arts base upon which to build for the rest of your life.

Stand-up or ground fighting?  A natural division has developed among martial arts studies:  those who prefer to keep the fight standing and finish it on their feet, versus those who want to get their opponent on the ground as quickly as possible as choke them out or break a limb.  So which is better for the survival-minded student?  In my training group, we train extensively in BJJ and wrestling as part of our curriculum; however, we have the following set of rules:
What’s the first rule of ground fighting?  Don’t go to the ground. What’s the second rule of ground fighting?  Get up.

But Bill, you may ask, you’ve described how these techniques can be very effective.  Also, in the major televised full-contact MMA competitions, fighters who focus on ground fighting techniques have done very well.  This is true, but the street is not an organized competition.  It may be a great idea to spend the fight on your back working for a submission on a nice padded floor, but try it on broken glass in a parking lot.  Also, these competitions are exclusively one-on-one battles.  If I’m fighting an attacker, take him down and apply a great submission hold, that all counts for nothing when his friend comes up behind me and kicks me in the temple with a steel-toed boot.  No, in the real world, rather than be tied up and immobile on the ground, I’d rather be on my feet and aware of my surroundings, and able to run like h*** if necessary.

So, for self-defense, your focus should be on staying on your feet, fighting when necessary, and getting out of there when possible.  That said, I still HIGHLY encourage you to also learn the ground techniques.  While it may not be your focus or intent to get the fight to the ground, the fact is that the battle may well go there.  And, if it does, you do not want to be lost because the difference between someone who knows what he is doing in ground fighting and someone who doesn’t becomes apparent in about three seconds.

What I’ve described in the paragraphs above is basically the philosophy of Mixed Martial Arts.  If you can find a school near you that teaches MMA, that is the ideal situation for those looking for a comprehensive system of self-defense techniques.  Generally, these schools will have courses in a variety of the arts I’ve described above, so you can get your stand-up and ground fighting training all in one location, usually with a heavy dose of physical condition (addressed below).  If no MMA gym is available to you, then consider what I’ve said about each individual martial art and evaluate what is best for you.  But if you can expose yourself to several different disciplines at a place that is focused on combining together everything that works to defend yourself – well, I can think of nothing more applicable to someone interested in survival.

Dear Jim,
I didn't need a major nationwide SHTF moment to learn a lesson this week. (Why didn't I listen to your advice before this happened!)
On the 15th, someone intercepted my new debit card before it reached my mailbox and cleaned out my checking account at a gas station in another state at 3:00 AM. I didn't have much in there, as it went into overdraft, but it was all I had and I needed it to get to the end of the month. When the bank called at 10:00 AM, I assured them it wasn't me who overdrew the account. I was told it would take 10 business days (two weeks) before they could straighten it out. In the meantime, I am locked out of my checking account and the savings account as there wasn't enough to cover the overdrafts plus fees and my credit card through the bank is frozen. Even if someone gave me a check (loan) to cover my family over the next two weeks, the bank won't let me cash it.
The lesson? Keep cash on hand at home!

Well, at least I learned it this month, and not later in the year when it's possible bank holidays may occur! As panicked as I was on the 15th, I don't know how our friends will get through it if it happens to them! (notice-they offered checks, since they didn't have cash on hand, either)

I am happy to say that other then being penniless at the moment, I was prepared with a deep larder and enough gasoline stored to keep the car going. No one starved and we made all our appointments although there was an awkward moment with a pay-now co-payment. (if only I had started the nickel collection!) One more week to go before this gets straightened out, but we will be okay. I'm actually grateful we're going through this now so lessons learned have the chance to be applied later when it will really count. (Cash-cash-cash-cash!) - A.C.

Mr. Rawles,
[To follow up on TANSTAAFL's letter,] I have worked for several engineering firms as a GIS technician, then manager. Counties will advertise when they will be re-flying parts or all of the county. Most county engineers, auditor, or Property Valuation Administrator (PVA) offices will tell you what the schedule for mapping is out a couple of years (usually the department in charge of tax assessments). A give away that it is happening is when you see large X's painted in intersections with a metal spike sunk in the middle of the X (these are control points), with survey trucks with GPS receivers sitting in intersections or other open ground. Most orthophotography is done in late winter or late fall, when the leaves are off the trees and there is no snow on the ground. Evergreen trees are good for masking what lies on the surface. Not much you can do to hide any earth work that changes contours. There is another means of gathering contour information, LIDAR. Basically a laser that oscillates and paints the ground. Even trees won't fully obscure it.

On a side note, the old USGS quadrangle maps are now almost supplanted by FEMA's flood insurance rate maps, which are all digital. There is all kinds of info available through those maps for interested parties.

On the non-government side, Google Earth is getting better resolution all the time, farther and farther away from population centers.

Your best bet to avoid attention is anonymity. That is true for all sorts of things. - School Dude

GG sent us this: Is inflation our next big worry?

Don't let the rally fool you: Insiders Exit Shares at the Fastest Pace in Two Years (Thanks to Karen H. for the link.) Here is a quote: “If insiders are selling into the rally, that shows they don’t expect their business to be able to support current stock- price levels,” said Joseph Keating, the chief investment officer of Raleigh, North Carolina-based RBC Bank, the unit of Royal Bank of Canada that oversees $33 billion in client assets. “They’re taking advantage of this bounce and selling into it.”

Also from Karen: California, Vegas Home Prices Drop on Foreclosures “In California and the West and, really, a lot of the country, we have to be ready for more waves of foreclosures coming through for at least the next year,” Andrew LePage, an analyst with MDA DataQuick, said in an interview. “And no one really knows how big those waves are going to be.”

GG recommended this NPR report: Money Goes Haywire. "We continue our series on the nature of money, with economics professor Steve Hanke. The Johns Hopkins fellow studies what happens when money goes bizarre, as it has with hyperinflation in Zimbabwe."The discussion on inflation starts at [minute mark] 4:45. (GG notes: "This was recorded before the Fed announced it would directly purchase Treasury bonds and toxic assets. Hanke specifically warns against monetizing the debt.")

Items from The Economatrix:

FedEx is Fuming

California to Shed 1 Million Jobs During "Recession"

California to Issue IOU's Starting July 2nd

Bernanke Says He Didn't Bully BofA Into Buying Merrill Lynch

Jobless Claims Rise, GDP Dips at Lower Pace in 1Q

China Should Buy Gold to Hedge Dollar Fall

John Galt in Florida: Bernanke Remains In The Box, America Continues To Crash "The problem is the agency debt is just being recycled so Fannie and Freddie can buy the Chinese holdings back at a profit to them and to insure they will not nuke our dollar. The reason monetary velocity is in the toilet is that the funds allocated to purchase so-called toxic assets are being used to repurchase the bad MBS from certain foreign owners to prevent a run on the dollar at this time. Thus the reason the Federal Reserve could care less about the population as long as the fiscal appropriations provide a minimal safety net to prevent civil unrest. The fallacy of this statement is that by failing to inflate and commit to it now with any voracity, the danger of any unforeseen event will force another panic response in the near future which destabilizes the economy or the nation further and creates the fuse for hyperinflation immediately removing all controls from the Fed’s hands."

$100,000 A Year Will Make You Go Broke on the California Tax System

Even Cops Losing Their Jobs in the Recession

Dr. Art Robinson: Bricks Without Straw

Smith & Wesson Profit Doubles, Beats Street View

   o o o

North Korea Threatens "Fire Shower of Nuclear Retaliation" Against South Korea

   o o o

Kim Jong-un (the youngest son) Made Head of North Korea's Spy Agency

   o o o

Reader G.E. recommended a site with some "real world" ballistics data: Ballistics By The Inch. (OBTW, don't miss Box o' Truth and the other web sites that I've bookmarked under the "Ballistics" header at the SurvivalBlog Links page.)

"Never in the history of the world have we faced so much complexity combined with so much incompetence in understanding its properties." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007)

Friday, June 26, 2009

One bit of retreat architecture that I've often recommended to my consulting clients who are designing (or retrofitting) retreats is the inclusion of a protruding entryway foyer, that I call a crushroom. Passing this advice along to you gives me the chance to employ one of my horrible puns: The Meme of Crushroom. A crushroom is a controllable confined space, typically an entry foyer, that can be covered with small arms fire or subjected to irritant or obscurant smoke or sprays. The outer door (or barred gate) to the crushroom is normally left open, but has a spring loaded self -closure device, and an automatically-engaged remote-controlled lock release mechanism. Think of it as a box trap for Bad Guys. Have you ever visited a Big City apartment with a communal door where you need to get "buzzed in"? In this case, the Bad Guys will have to be buzzed out of your crushroom

The home invasion threat can only be expected to increase in coming years. I anticipate greater use of dynamic-entry tools by home invaders. For instance, they will soon use commercial or improvised door-entry battering rams and Hallagan tools—like those used by firemen and police entry teams. This means that standard solid-core doors by themselves will be insufficient. In a worst, case, thugs might even use vehicle-mounted battering rams. In such circumstances, it will be wise to have the extra layer of protection afforded by a crushroom.

You should position the outer door to your crushroom one of its side walls, rather than lined up with the entrance door to the house. Having this 90-degree turn and allowing just a four foot space in front of the house entrance door has several advantages: First. it makes it impossible to use a long battering ram--since it limits the length and "throw" of a battering ram. (Even a very stout door, hinges, and doorframe will not withstand the impact of a 10-foot-long battering ram that is manned by a team of thugs). Second, it removes direct line of sight into your house. This is useful for light discipline, in a grid-down situation. (When you are likely to have electric lights in your house interior, but your neighbors won't.) Lastly, the crushroom wall opposite your front door provides another layer of ballistic protection--it would have to be knocked down before your front door could be attacked.

Picture this: With your intrusion detection security system, you see one or more thugs approach your house. They are acting "hinkey", or outright aggressive--perhaps rushing in to conduct a home invasion robbery. Then they proceed to try to kick down your front door. But lo and behold, they don't succeed, because you've built your door and barred it to Rawles specifications. (Strong enough to resist even a small battering ram, and armored against small arms fire.) Using your intercom-loudspeaker, you sternly warn them away. But since they have bravado to spare and have never before encountered a door that they couldn't kick in, they persist with their futile leg exercises. At that point, you already have your telephone in hand, and have dialed 911. (That is assuming your are in pre-Schumeresque circumstances, when there still is a police or sheriff's department willing and able to respond.) You then flip the switch, releasing the crushroom's outer door. It slams shut, and locks. Now, the thugs feel trapped, crowded, or crushed in the close confines of the foyer. They will then almost surely turn their attention to kicking at the outer door (or barred gate). At this juncture, you have several "continuum of force" options:

A.) You shout a stern warning and then hit the switch releasing the outer door and "buzz them out." This is effectively just letting them go,, with a warning. Such a course of action is recommended only in current day "peaceful" circumstances.

B.) Using your exterior loudspeaker, you spend five minutes sharing the Gospel with the thugs, then you hit the switch to release the outer door.

C.) You pull a wire that is attached to the pin on a smoke grenade in the decorative "overhead light fixture" in the foyer, and simultaneously start playing your retreat's PSYOPS tape over your exterior loudspeaker, at around 60 decibels. This combination (especially a violet smoke grenade and a tape of Jimi Hendrix playing Purple Haze) is sure to make the thugs think twice about coming back.

D.) You pull a wire on that is attached to the pin on a CS tear gas grenade, and simultaneously start playing your retreat's PSYOPS tape at around 90 decibels. This, (especially a tape of Credence Clearwater Revival singing Bad Moon Rising) will probably make the goblins soil their trousers and reconsider their life of crime.

E.) You slide open an armored gun port, and protrude the muzzle of your favorite large-caliber lead dispenser.

F.) Any combination of options B, C, D, or E, in whichever sequence seems apropos, given the day's relative Schumer Index and the prevailing exigency of the circumstances.

Alternatively, your crushroom could normally be kept locked from the outside. This will provide a valuable delay for even the most ambitious dynamic entry by home invaders. It will also provide you a safe place for you take delivery of mail and packages with some "stand-off" distance.

Four Important Provisos:

1.) Only build a crushroom if you are also going to first upgrade your front door and doorframe to very stout specifications, and the surrounding wall is of similarly stout (i.e. masonry) construction. The last thing that you want to experience is a bunch of enraged bad guys actually entering your home.

2.) Do not mention the purpose of your crushroom to friends, neighbors, or even relatives. It should outwardly just look like either a "mud room", a "weather airlock", or perhaps a "Spanish style" foyer, with "decorative" heavy wrought iron bars. If you are indiscreet, word of it may get around, and then at best you'll get labeled as the local survivalist whacko. Or at worst, word will get as far as the local band of goblins, and whilst sharpening their knives they will deviously plan to bypass your crushroom entirely. They may decide to either bushwhack you while you are out splitting wood, or invade your house via your roof, with a chainsaw or a fireman's metal-cutting rescue saw.

3.) I most strongly encourage readers to use your crushroom's outer door as a mantrap (and any of the other active measures that I've mentioned) only in truly post-TEOTWAWKI circumstances. As I've noted many times before in SurvivalBlog, we live in an extremely litigious society. Displaying the audacity to actually hold bad guys in place until the gendarmes arrive could be grounds for civil lawsuits (for false arrest, excessive use of force, mental distress, etc.,) and possibly even criminal charges. In essence, if you hold someone in a citizen's arrest in excess of what a jury of your peers deems justifiable and reasonable, then you could conceivably be charged with felony kidnapping. Here, the "Reasonable Man" standard will probably be applied. (Black's Law Dictionary defines citizen's arrest as: "The apprehending or detaining of a person in order to be forthcoming to answer an alleged or suspected crime." See: ex parte Sherwood, (29 Tex. App. 334, 15 S.W. 812).

4.) Be sure to provide yourself a way out of your crushroom, in the event that the outer door closes unexpectedly when you don't have a door key in your pocket. Perhaps a spare key that is very well-hidden behind some molding.

For further background, see this letter in the SurvivalBlog archives on "man trap" architectural features.

Some Suggested Suppliers:

Door closing springs. Check your local Yellow Pages for "Fire Door" hardware suppliers. Your local locksmith probably knows of a supplier, or may have a pile of used one in his back room. For a man trap, the faster the action of the door closure, the better. Hence, a traditional coil spring action is preferable to the more modern, slower pneumatically-dampened springs. Think in terms of cattle chute hardware, rather than what you'd likely see on shopping mall doors.

Door release solenoids. (You've probably seen these on fire doors at hospitals and other public buildings.) Note that in circumstances where grid power is iffy, you can substitute a mechanical release, activated by a simple pull-cable and cotter pin.

Door lock & release solenoid ("buzzer lock") mechanisms. Search for local suppliers with a the web search phrases "mantrap" or "common door buzzer lock". To provide sufficient "hold the goblins in place" strength, you may have to use multiple locking solenoids--at the top, middle, and bottom of the door--that are engaged and disengaged simultaneously.

CS tear gas grenades. These are available from police supply houses. In most states it is not illegal for citizens to possess them. But by their company sales policy, most police supply houses will only sell these to orders placed on police department letterhead. But I've occasionally seen gas grenades sold at at gun shows, and they also come up from time to time on firearms auction sites like GunBroker.com and AuctionArms.com. For example, see this current GunBroker auction. Be sure to consult your state and local laws before buying these or similar pyrotechnic devices.

Gun Ports. You might luck into some of these at a scrap yard (from a retired bank armored car), but more likely you will have to fabricate these yourself, or have a welding shop make them for you. Remember: Gun ports work both ways, so you will want a thick, well-braced, sliding backing plate that latches securely. Specify everything for the ports very thick and very stout. Any exposed hardware should be large-diameter and welded in place, once assembled.

Exterior (weather resistant) loudspeakers. Rather than buying new (and expensive) speakers, try placing a "wanted" ad in Craigslist. It is amazing to see what people have salted away in their garages and attics.

I've been in construction and construction management on projects all across the country since the 1970s. Generally, I try to maintain good relations with the local zoning and building authorities. You really don't want the inspector to come out and stop a scheduled concrete pour because he caught you trying to cut some stupid corner, or sneak something by him when you thought he was not looking. Having been an inspector, I am always looking...

But...when the time comes to build my little citadel out in the middle of nowhere, I have mixed thoughts about how completely truthful I want to be when I go to the county building for the plan review session. The house, partially buried and bermed for insulation and energy efficiency, and the basement workshops and storage areas and garages and greenhouses and solar panels and windmills and top-of-the-hill cistern and irrigation piping for the vegetable garden will all show up on the stamped plans that I will submit for review.

However, I'm not so certain that I want the locals to have any inkling about some of the more important underground facilities. Only a few adult family members and the most trusted co-conspirators know about the soon-to-be-buried weapons development and manufacturing facility, the chemistry lab, the hidden escape tunnels, and certain other items that only a paranoid survivalist would want to have.

I know the county flies photomapping sweeps every so often to compare what was there last year with what is there now, so the proper property taxes may be assessed on any obviously new construction. The nice man drives up in the county pickup truck and looks around the property, but usually doesn't ask to see what's inside the new building; it's all just how many square feet and how many bathrooms do they need to assess.

If I remove a hundred cubic yards of clay from the future location of my new commo bunker (actually a steel shipping container with a Faraday cage to block out the EMP --you gotta read Forstchen's new novel One Second After--I can spread it around in a fairly thin layer that won't trigger any alarms in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) system or cause any head scratching at the USGS when the time comes to update their contour maps, or it could just be backfill material trucked in from off site to berm up around the buildings that are on the official plans.

So, it is theoretically possible to present what looks like a small homestead (to be assessed at a fairly low rate for property tax) to the county authorities for their review and approval, but also stick in a few added features that absolutely nobody outside of the group must know about. If nobody knows about the hidden stash of weapons, food, medical supplies, fuel, toilet paper, etc., then nobody with even bigger guns is going to come looking for all our most valuable loot. But, if the building inspector tells his boss at the county building that the new survivalist nuts at the end of the road have what looks like Blofeld's secret command center from a James Bond movie... well, all bets are off, aren't they?

So, here's my question to all you good folks who've been at this for a few more years than I have:

How have you approached this issue? Completely open and up front? Mostly up front but with some secret hidden facilities? Have you completely ignored the local authorities and just hope that they don't bust you? And what do you do about visitors to your home accidentally stumbling across the hidden access tunnel entrance under the basement stairs? A nd don't tell me the thought hasn't crossed your minds. - TANSTAAFL

JWR Replies: In several western states there are no building permits required, at least outside of city limits. In these states, all that the tax officials seem to care about is the aggregate square footage, and the number of bathrooms. Beyond that, what you build is your own business.

Greg C. sent us this: Fading of the Dollar's Dominance; Other Nations See Opening to Boost Their Currencies

Also from Greg: ECB Injects $662 Billion into Banking System

Reader A.C. contributed this: Buffett: U.S. Economy in Shambles

Spotted by JHB: Unemployment: The Hardest-Hit States

Items from The Economatrix:

Fed Says "Recession" Easing, Inflation Tame. [JWR Adds: My Barbra Streisand Meter is pegging.]

AAA: Weak Economy Will Zap Holiday Trips

UK: Pensioners Kidnap Financial Adviser and Torture Him

Ron Paul: Obama's "Goal" Is Economic Collapse

As China Hoards, Concern Grows About Recovery

Longshoremen Running Idle at Newport News (Virginia) Port "There's nothing," said P.K. Bransford, 55, one of the terminal's few full-time workers. "We used to have an average of a vessel a day. Now we're lucky to get one every two weeks."

Nightmarish Financial Numbers
(The Mogambo Guru)

How The Wall Street Bankers Bought Congress "You would think that causing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression might have repercussions. You would think being a major factor in the destruction of around 40 percent of the world’s wealth might get you in trouble. You would think being the cause of the worst housing crisis in history — with millions of people losing their homes because of you — might force a restructuring of how Wall Street does things. You would think that. But you’d be wrong."

From Nanny State Scotland: MSPs get power to fine over climate change

   o o o

North Korea Threatens US as World Anticipates Missile

   o o o

From Cheryl: Plan to protect D.C. from nuke EMP attack

   o o o

Bill Buppert mentioned a controversial video that uses movie clips to illustrate a point: The Four Stages of Revolution: Part 1 (and Part 2)

"There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous." - Cormac McCarthy (author of the disaster novel The Road )

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 23 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 at least $350.

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

Round 23 ends on July 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.

One core tenet of the Survival and Preparation (S&P) culture that is often misunderstood, misapplied and has a high probability of failing, and that is “the bug-out”.  I am prompted to write this after reading so many S&P-related books, blogs and forums where individuals are indicating that their primary plan, and the focus of their preparations, is bugging-out.  The common discussion topics of bug-out vehicles (BOV), bug-out bags (BOB), bug-out land, etc, and the overall S&P lexicon confirm the importance placed on the bug-out concept.   Although well organized and executed, a 1,600 mile bug-out is portrayed by some of “The Group” in the novel "Patriots".

Don’t misunderstand, bugging-out does have a role in S&P: if your residence becomes completely uninhabitable, for any number of reasons (earthquake, radiation, toxins, fire, destruction, war, etc.), then relocation is mandatory.  In these cases, being prepared to mobilize and relocate yourself, your family, and some resources is vitally important.  Such situations force the prepper to implement Plan B.  The problems with bugging-out are both numerous and severe, and are to be avoided or countered, if possible:

  • Only a small, finite quantity of supplies can be transported
  • Dependency on replenishing supplies is created
  • A good place to relocate may not be found or actually available even if prearranged.
  • It may not be possible to travel (impassable roads, vehicle failure)
  • You may not be welcomed by the residents of where you relocate or in the territory that you pass through
  • An operational BOV creates an attractive target if it appears to be transporting anything of value and due to the minimal security that can be provided

It has been well established by this blog and many S&P de facto leaders that outside of a few specific circumstances, the primary plan, Plan A, should always be to bug-in.  Staying at your primary home has many advantages:

  • More food/fuel/shelter resources can be available
  • The facility can be better maintained due to your frequent access
  • Better established social connections and greater access to shared resources
  • Less need for transportation and transportation fuel
  • Avoids health and safety risks associated with travel
  • Higher levels of security are possible

The problem arises when lack of adequate, fundamental preparation results in the need to bug-out, when it otherwise could have been avoided.  In other words, Plan A (bugging-in at your primary home) must be abandoned unnecessarily and prematurely, and Plan B (the secondary and far worse choice) becomes the only option, due to the prepper’s own actions or inactions.

People frequently write about how their urban home would be unsustainable, over-ran, or likely destroyed in many potential scenarios.  Therefore their preps focus on bugging-out.  When times are good and relative tranquility prevails, there are many attractions to an urban lifestyle, with job availability at the top of the list.  Recognizing the added risk and difficulty of post-SHTF survival in the urban setting, preppers often abandon bug-in preparations, relegating themselves to bugging-out.  Different life choices, such as small town or rural living, or taking extraordinary efforts to prepare their urban home, increase the viability of Plan A.  For me and many others, the post-SHTF advantages of rural life are secondary to the quality of life enjoyed in these slower-paced environs. 

The math doesn’t support bugging-out.  If one assumes that there are 305 million Americans and about 2.3 billion acres within the US, it sounds promising that there are 7.4 acres available to each American to which to bug-out.  So a family of four should get almost 30 acres, right?  Taking a closer look, inhospitable open cultivated farmland, open pasture, desert, wet lands, and bodies of water can largely be eliminated as places to which to relocate. Although these places could be inhabited, they are less attractive than “heading for the hills” as is often cited as the bug-out plan.  What about the nation’s forests? There are about 747 million acres of forest that appear to be available for relocation.  Data suggest there are 50 million “rural” Americans, and 255 million “urban” Americans.  So we have some part of 255 million people that currently reside in about 60 million urban acres, looking to relocate on something like 757 million forested acres, which is about 3 acres per refugee. Not only is this not much space in which to live and forage, but:

  • There will be great demand  for suitable locations close to urban centers
  • Space will not be assigned, so there will be competition for choice space
  • In a hunting-gathering mode, refugees will be forced to cover a wide area (hundreds of acres) in search of sustenance
  • Rural folks already are there, feel (and have legal) ownership, and are willing to protect their Plan A bug-in position

In conclusion, I advise that one of two actions be taken to reduce the need for depending on a bug-out strategy:

  • Commit to and prepare for bugging-in, regardless of your current residency.  Fortify your home, stock up on supplies there, and implement countermeasures to unique urban challenges. “Improvise, adapt, overcome” as necessary.
  • Relocate to a place where bugging-in can be more practically implemented in as many scenarios as possible. 

Mr. Rawles,
At one time or another I have driven every mile of the trip as you described in your reply. Like you, I have encountered those who [are unfamiliar with the driving distances in the western US]. I've even met folks that cannot discern the difference in scale on a road atlas from switching the pages between Montana and Massachusetts.

I see this regularly with Army inspectors who call me and say that they want to fly into Billings, inspect Army Reserve units in Billings, Butte, Helena, Great Falls, Missoula & Kalispell all in two days and then fly out on the third day. :-)

Not counting any of the half-day side-trips that you mentioned, Mapquest estimates a driving time of "19 hours, 31 minutes, and a Total Estimated Distance: 1,114 miles". Regards, - Ed in Montana

Grandpappy isn't comparing apples to oranges correctly. His reloaded ammo pricing is for premium self defense bullets, which cost $150 or so per thousand. Most people are going to reload cast lead, which would cost $50 or 60 per thousand for a .40 S&W for example. If you price new premium self defense ammo, like Doubletap, it is going for around $700 a case. If you purchased new brass (why?) Hornady or Speer premium SD bullets, you would still be able to build your own (which we supposedly should not due to legal concerns) SD ammo for half the cost. And practice? Much, much cheaper with lead bullets.

Recent online ammo vendors (who have in stock) are trying to charge almost $500 for a case of .45 ACP 230 grain hardball (look at Natchez). You can load 230 grain lead roundnose (LRN) and duplicate the factory load for maybe $130 or so with good hard cast bullets included. Compared to today's ridiculous ammo prices, you can make up the cost of your reloading setup in a case or two of ammo. Anyone who wants to shoot more than 500 rounds a year should be reloading. Thanks! - M.S.

Grandpappy had a great article on reloading, but what about time? Time is money. Reloading is very time consuming. Between [the time required for] collecting the fired brass, sorting the brass, cleaning [or tumbling] the brass, de-priming the brass, adjusting brass specs to factory (sizing, case length, primer pocket, etc…), this alone is a huge labor and use of time.

This, and my worsening eyesight that keeps me from enjoying precision hand loads, is why I gave up on reloading and sold all my equipment and supplies. BTW, I made a bundle of cash selling my new and used brass and primers. Wow! I quadrupled my money.

No one seems to factor in time. I don’t know about you, but have a long list of to-do projects and brass prep is not one of them.

I’m sure glad I bought hard and heavy in ammo back in the old days. I’m set for my life and probably the life of my kid too. - Robert

JWR Replies: I agree that reloading is time-consuming, but it is a valuable skill. For anyone that makes a six-figure salary, it is probably not worthwhile as a hobby at the present time. But for the rest of us, that don't make that much money, and a have a bit of time on our hands, it is well worth doing. It is particularly worthwhile for students and retirees. I love listening to music, and find that since it is a relatively quiet activity, reloading is a soothing, almost cathartic experience. But, of course, "your mileage may vary." Regardless, it is a valuable skill. I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers at least take the time to learn how to do it, and lay in the appropriate tools and supplies. Reloading capability might prove invaluable in a long-term collapse.

OBTW, don't overlook taking the same humidity precautions for powder and primers that you do for loaded ammunition. On that note, I should mention that I prefer using used Tupperware boxes for storing primer and percussion caps. They are airtight, yet they pose less of an explosion risk than metal ammo cans, in the unlikely event of a house fire. (I look for Tupperware containers whenever I go to garage sales, thrift stores, and farm auctions. Powder cans seal quite well by themselves. Again, for the sake of fire safety, they should be stored in a "blow open" plywood cabinet. Again, resist the temptation to store it in something confining like a 20mm ammo can.

GG spotted this article: The Real Crisis Is Food: Beginning of the Bull for Agriculture

Udo sent this: U.S. Home Prices Drop [Another] 6.8 Percent in April as Foreclosures Rise. JWR's Comment: We are nowhere near the bottom! I don't expect that for another four to seven years. With the exception of retreat properties, it is best to stay on the sidelines and rent, while you are waiting for the market to bottom. Then you can buy for perhaps 25 cents on the dollar.

Reader HPD liked this piece by Mish Shedlock: US Approves IMF Gold Sales; What Does It Mean?

Items from The Economatrix:

Asian Stocks Decline On Growth Concerns; BHP, Honda Motor Fall

States Turning to Last Resorts in Budget Crisis

Can the US Government Allow California to Fail?

Auto Industry Workers To Make Solar Products? Obama names another "czar" to help retrain employees

US Loans $8 Billion to Ford, Nissan for Green Vehicles. JWR's comment:. This MOAB thingy juz gits bigga an' bigga. Nissan? Is that an American company? (Not!)

BoA Resurrects Home Mortgage Advertising "Lender rebrands ex-Countrywide business, looks to restore trust" (Restore trust? With the same trustworthy "experts" at the helm?)

California Cuts Tax Exemptions For Kids Will increase a family's amount due for 2009 by about $210 per dependent

Stock Market Gains (Wednesday) Ahead of Fed Decision on Interest Rates

May New Home Sales Dip 0.6%

Citi Boosting Salaries to Offset Lower Bonuses

Why Obama Must Bail Out California, But Won't

The US and UK Will Both Default on Their Debt By Summer's End

Cheryl flagged this: North Korea's Strong New Threat

   o o o

Reader Kevin A. suggested this piece over at LewRockwell.com: Survival Training: Be Armed, Store Food, Use Real Money, Secede

   o o o

Kevin also noted that his regional newspaper, had a "how to" feature on building rainwater catchment barrels. Kevin's comment: "While it focused more on the possible conservation aspects of using such a device, it's becoming more and more evident that many preparedness tactics are entering the mainstream."

"How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values?" - Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, December 5, 1996

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today's first item is an article that was kindly contributed by Grandpappy--a past winner of SurvivalBlog's ongoing nonfiction writing contest.

There are some significant cost differences between reloading shotgun shells and reloading pistol and rifle ammunition. 

The following cost summaries illustrate these differences (all cost data collected in June 2009):

Pistol Ammunition Summary:
$0.270 = Total Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 40 S&W 165 Grain Pistol Cartridge.
$0.206 = Total Material Cost to Reload one Used 40 S&W 165 Grain Pistol Cartridge.
$0.064 = Cost Savings of Reloading one Used 40 S&W 165 Grain Pistol Cartridge.

Rifle Ammunition Summary:
$0.800 = Total Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 308 Caliber 165 Grain Rifle Cartridge.
$0.480 = Total Material Cost to Reload one Used 308 Caliber 165 Grain Rifle Cartridge.
$0.320 = Cost Savings of Reloading one Used 308 Caliber 165 Grain Rifle Cartridge.

Shotgun Shell Summary:
$0.240 = Total Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 12 Gauge 2.75-inch #7.5 Shot Shotgun Shell.
$0.410 = Total Material Cost to Reload one Used 12 Gauge 2.75-inch #7.5 Shot Shotgun Shell.
-$0.170 = Additional Cost to Reload one Used 12 Gauge 2.75-inch #7.5 Shot Shotgun Shell.

Shotgun Slug Summary:
$0.631 = Total Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 12 Gauge 2.75-inch One-Ounce Shotgun Slug.
$0.738 = Total Material Cost to Reload one Used 12 Gauge 2.75-inch One-Ounce Shotgun Slug.
-$0.107 = Additional Cost to Reload one Used 12 Gauge 2.75-inch One-Ounce Shotgun Slug.

A more detailed cost analysis that supports the above numbers appears at the bottom of this article.

The above data is based on average costs as of June 2009.  I did not select the lowest possible cost nor the highest possible cost for each item.  Instead I used the average cost. 

If a person wanted to prove a specific point then he or she could easily select a set of extreme cost data that would support his or her point of view.  For example, a person could compare the cheapest reloading materials to the most expensive factory-loaded ammunition and show a large savings.  Or a person could compare the most expensive reloading materials to the cheapest factory-loaded ammunition and show a loss.

Since I am not trying to encourage or discourage reloading I used the average cost numbers for each material to provide a more balanced perspective.

The above data suggests that the average person could save a little money by reloading pistol and rifle ammunition. 

On the other hand, the average person would save money by purchasing new factory-loaded shotgun shells instead of reloading empty shotgun shells.

The above conclusion is the same one I reached in 1974 when I first investigated the costs of reloading ammunition.  In 1974 I could save money reloading both pistol and rifle ammunition but I would have paid a premium if I had tried to reload shotgun shells.

The above analysis does not take into consideration the cost of the reloading equipment.  If a person were to invest $290 in reloading equipment plus $40 in one set of reloading dies in a specific caliber, then that person would need to reload the following number of empty cartridges to recover the cost of the total investment of $330:

5,156 Pistol Cartridges = $330 divided by $0.064 savings per pistol cartridge, or
1,031 Rifle Cartridges = $330 divided by $0.320 savings per rifle cartridge.

This clearly illustrates that a person would need to reload a lot of ammunition in order to break even on his or her investment of $330 in reloading equipment that includes one set of reloading dies.  Therefore, the average person would probably be better advised to invest in new factory-loaded ammunition if he or she can still find it available for sale.

However, if factory-loaded ammunition becomes increasingly difficult to find, or if its price continues to increase, then a person might want to consider the reloading option as a viable alternative.

Some additional information about the reloading process is at the following page on my web site.  This following web page also discusses the art of bullet casting and how to reduce your lead bullet cost to approximately $0.05 per bullet using clip-on lead wheel weights and ordinary solder that contains tin:

How to Get More Ammunition During Hard Times.

A general discussion on how to improve your marksmanship ability when shooting at paper targets is at the following page on my web site: How to Hit the Target Bull's-Eye.

The following detailed cost information is provided to support the cost data at the beginning of this article. This cost data is based on the average costs for each material as of June 2009:

Pistol Cartridge (40 S&W 165 Grain FMJ):
$0.030 = Primer Cost ($29.99 per box of 1,000 divided by 1,000).
$0.016 = Average Powder Cost ($15.79 per pound divided by 959 cartridges per pound).
$0.160 = Average Bullet Cost ($15.99 per box of 100 divided by 100).
$0.206 = Total Cost to Reload one Used 40 S&W Pistol Cartridge.
$0.270 = Average Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 40 S&W Cartridge ($13.49 per box divided by 50 rounds per box).

Rifle Cartridge (308 Caliber 165 Grain):
$0.030 = Primer Cost ($29.99 per box of 1,000 divided by 1,000).
$0.120 = Average Powder Cost ($21.99 per pound divided by 184 cartridges per pound).
$0.330 = Average Bullet Cost ($16.49 per box of 50 divided by 50) .
$0.480 = Total Cost to Reload one Used 308 Rifle Cartridge.
$0.800 = Average Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 308 Cartridge ($15.99 per box divided by 20 rounds per box).

Shotgun Shell (12 Gauge 2.75-Inch #7.5 Shot):
$0.039 = Primer Cost ($38.99 per box of 1,000 primers divided by 1,000).
$0.049 = Average Powder Cost ($18.49 per pound divided by 378 Shells per pound).
$0.290 = Average Shot Shell Cost ($50.99 per 11-pound bag divided by 176 Shells per bag).
$0.032 = Average Wad Cost ($7.89 per bag of 250 Wads divided by 250).
$0.410 = Total Cost to Reload one Used 12 Gauge Shotgun Shell.
$0.240 = Average Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 12 Gauge Shotgun Shell ($23.97 per case of 100 shells divided by 100 shells per case).

Shotgun Slug (12 Gauge 2.75-inch One-Ounce Slug):
$0.039 = Primer Cost ($38.99 per box of 1,000 primers divided by 1,000).
$0.107 = Average Powder Cost ($18.79 per pound divided by 175 Shells per pound).
$0.560 = Average One-Ounce Slug Cost ($13.99 per 25 Slugs divided by 25).
$0.032 = Average Wad Cost ($7.89 per bag of 250 Wads divided by 250).
$0.738 = Total Cost to Reload one Used 12 Gauge Shotgun Slug.
$0.631 = Average Cost of one New Factory-Loaded 12 Gauge Shotgun Slug ($9.47 per box of 15 slugs divided by 15 slugs per box).

The cost of the empty metallic brass shell case and the empty plastic shotgun shell is not included in the above figures because those items are being reused and therefore they may be considered a “sunk cost.”  A sunk cost is an expense that was incurred in the past and it is not relevant for future purchase decisions.  In other words, after you have paid for the factory-loaded ammunition, and you have fired that ammunition, then you have the choice to either: (1) discard your empty shell cases, or (2) re-use those cases.  If you decide to re-use your fired shell cases then you do not incur any new additional expense.

Sales tax and/or shipping expenses were not included in the preceding data.  These costs would be unique to your geographical location and they would equally impact all the above costs by the same ratio.

The above costs for new factory-loaded ammunition are based on the cost of that ammunition at a Wal-Mart in the southeastern United States as of June 2009. 

Mr. Rawles:
I am planning a trip to the Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming area the first week of October. Is there any area to avoid at all costs? Is there any area to "must see"?

We will only have 6.5 days on the ground so must make every minute count. Your knowledge and help is greatly appreciated. Thanks, - Mr. Falsch

JWR Replies: Wow! Covering three states in six days? That will really be pushing it. Given that incredibly tight time constraint, I'd recommend this itinerary:

Fly in to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and rent a four wheel drive SUV. But don't look around there--it is a resort town. Drive south and start looking in earnest in the Star Valley of Wyoming, then drive down to Montpelier Idaho. Then zoom through (skip-over) most of southern Idaho, and head north on Highway 95. Start looking in earnest again when you get to about 20 miles south of Riggins, Idaho. Then take a half-day side-trip to see any available ranch land up on the "Island" plateau (a must)--that sits west of White Bird, Idaho. Then proceed to Grangeville, and drop down the south fork of the Clearwater river. You'll pass right by a property that I used to own, near Stites. Spend some time looking around Kooskia (a must), and be sure to take a drive out Clear Creek Road. Next, drive down the Clearwater River Valley to Orofino, and then Lewiston. Then drive up to Moscow and perhaps take a short side-trip to Troy. Proceed north on highway 95 and then take a side trip to St. Maries (a must), then after skipping over the resort town of Coeur d'Alene, check out the area from Athol up through Cocolalla. Then, skipping over the resort town of Sandpoint, check out the vicinity of Bonner's Ferry and take a half-day side trip up the Moyie River Valley. Crossing into Montana, check out the Yaak River Valley, and then up the Kootenai River Valley to explore the Libby, Montana area. Finally, drive up to the vicinity of Eureka, Montana.

Even with only brief stops to talk to real estate agents to pick up brochures and to buy some Huckleberry ice cream cones, you will be hard pressed to do all that in six days. If you had just a couple of more days available, then I'd advise taking a side trip to the Salmon, Idaho area (especially driving the nearby River of No Return Road, as far as the wide spot in the road called Shoup), and perhaps another side trip Driggs, Idaho.

Places to avoid: Skip by all of the arid regions (wherever you see mostly sagebrush-dotted hillsides), skip all the trendy resort towns, and skip all of the high-elevation towns like McCall!

For much greater detail, see my book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation". There, you will find some useful maps and details on the locales that I mentioned. That book ($28) will give you the equivalent of several days of my consulting time, that is normally $100 per hour.

There are also numerous suitable retreat properties listed at our spin-off SurvivalRealty web site. (You will note the Idaho, Wyoming and Montana are featured prominently.)

OBTW, mid-October will be the peak of the fall colors through most of the route that I described. So bring lots of film or a high capacity digital camera memory card!

Also, BTW, October is deer and elk season in all three of those states, so expect to find only skeleton crews manning the real estate offices. It is best to make appointments with agents in advance!

Next Question in Swine Flu: Who Gets Vaccinated?

Swine Flu Epidemic Escalating in Middle East

Fatal Swine Flu Cluster In Buffalo, NY "The above comments describe two students of magnet schools in Buffalo, NY that are a mile apart. Both students were on life support yesterday, and the middle school student (15) died after life support was withdrawn. The elementary school student (9F) remains on life support. The clustering of two critically ill students raises concerns about the emergence of a more lethal strain of Pandemic H1N1. ... The 2009 Pandemic is tracking with the 1918 Pandemic, which produce mild disease in the spring, and was more lethal in the fall when previously healthy young adults."

Swine Flu Could Infect Up to One-Half the Population

Southern Hemisphere Bracing for Swine Flu Winter

More Fuzzed Up Numbers Being Reported by CDC

From The Daily Bell: David Morgan explains why silver remains the 'people's metal' and why it may be a better investment than gold

Karen H. sent this: Numbers on Welfare See Sharp Increase

DD sent a piece about British ex-pats: Global downturn dashes retirees’ dreams

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to this lengthy piece: Still Researching Corruption at The Treasury

Items from The Economatrix:

US Says Bonds Seized In Italy Are "Clearly Fake"

Bearer Bonds Saga: Resolution?

Employers Are Undermining The Economic Stimulus Plan "Reports are starting to appear suggesting that laid-off or underemployed Americans, and the long-term unemployed, are losing patience with the Obama administration’s and Congress’ economic stimulus plan, which thus far has not done anything to arrest the growth of unemployment, now at close to 20 percent of the US workforce, at least as unemployment used to honestly be counted in the 1970s and early 1980s."

Marty Weiss: California Collapsing
"State officials continue to insist that a state default is unthinkable … much like GM executives said their bankruptcy could never happen. In my view, there is a very high probability that California will default. It’s obvious its debt merits a junk bond rating from every Wall Street rating agency. And it’s equally obvious that the ratings agencies are artificially inflating the rating, stalling downgrades, and grossly understating the risk to investors."

The Recession Tracks The Great Depression

Is American Indebtedness Worse Than Reported?

A Credit Squeeze For Small Business Owners

The Danger of Unemployment

Stocks End Day (Monday) With Worst Losses in Two Months "Dim World Bank forecast for global economy helps sink markets."

Employers Cutting Back on 401(k) Plans

Mystery Still Surrounds The Ponte Chiasso Affair

The Surreal Life of The US Dollar

Trent H. forwarded us this: Government Land-Grab Moved Forward

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michaelll Z. Wiiamson sent this: FTC plans to monitor blogs for claims, payments. Gee, you don't suppose that TPTB are starting to see the new Internet media as a threat, do you? Oh, and for the sake of full disclosure. I do make money from advertising. So do most magazines and newspapers. I also have an Amazon store, so when you follow one of my links and order anything thee, I get a little piece of the action. But that hardly makes me a shill for Amazon. Also, rest assured that I have never accepted cash or gifts in exchange for a positive product review. The threat of a revived Fairness Doctrine was already cause for concern. But at this rate, there will soon be umpteen Federal alphabet soup agencies seeking to scrutinize, tax, and even exercise editorial control of blogs. If this gets too oppressive, then I'll just vote with my feet, most likely to someplace tropical. Just give me a reason...

   o o o

The latest canard from Lautenberg, Schumer, & Co.: More than 800 gun buyers on terrorist list. This use of the "no fly" list would be laughable, if they weren't so serious about doing this. First, terrorists don't often buy their guns at gun stores. Second, the No Fly list is horribly mismanaged, has opaque oversight, and results in countless "false positives." Parenthetically, I have an acquaintance that by an accident of birth has nearly the same name as someone on the No Fly list. And, FWIW, it isn't even an Islamic-sounding name! Since he is a Naval Reserve officer that lives in a different state than his unit, he is a frequent flyer. He has told me that he has to allow an extra three hours before each flight for "the usual harassment". He has petitioned to have his name removed from the list, to no avail. Essentially, there is no proper system for redress. Clearly, expanding the use of the TSA's troublesome list as a "No Gun Buy " list would be a travesty.

   o o o

Paul B. and Jasper both sent us the link to this Arizona newspaper article: Survivalism grows popular in Valley Jasper's comment: "Well, I guess there are worse things to be called other than, 'educated professionals (that) understand the huge potential crisis that could come from economic collapse', but who still 'recognize their eccentricity.'" That's funny, I feel well rounded."

"And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." - Nathan Fillion as Captain Mal Reynolds, Serenity , 2005. (Screenplay by Joss Whedon)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 23 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. I think that you'll find this one both informative and quite entertaining.

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 at least $350.

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

Round 23 ends on July 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.

Inside the trunk of my vehicle is a near duplicate of the “jump kit” or “Green Bag” used in my days with the Detroit Fire Department's Emergency Medical Service Division. When I come across a roadside collision before the local medics, everything I need to start patient care is in the green canvas bag I sling over my shoulder. The supplies in my personal vehicle are very much like those I carried in my street medic days, and reflect a strong basic life support/trauma bias.

Basic life support includes those interventions that do not go past the skin, and generally do not require physician direction to implement. Advanced life support, on the other hand, includes therapies that do go past the skin, and include medications, intravenous fluids (IVs), electrical counter shock, and airway intubation.

I do not include intravenous fluids or medications in my green bag for a couple of reasons. First, these items have a limited storage life under the best of conditions, and the rear of a passenger vehicle in Northern Michigan is not calculated to prolong it. Second, the statutes under which paramedics practice here in Michigan requires systematic physician supervision of advanced patient care. Fundamentally, that means that if you are not functioning within an established paramedic system, you are out of bounds should you perform advanced procedures on the street. Third, advanced patient care procedures are occasions of peril even in the hospital, let alone in the rear of an ambulance. This is so, even within a system of continuing education, continuous quality assessment, supervision, and the backup of both your partner, and the physician and clinical staff on the other end of the telephone or radio. Soloing at the roadside provides neither you nor your patient with these safeguards.

Firearms owners are likely acquainted with the “gun shop commando”, classically braying about the bogus “shoot 'em and drag 'em inside” philosophy of home violence management. Likewise, you might consider the existence of the “parlor paramedic”, who seems to reason something like, ”wait until the Schumer hits the fan, and I'll come out of the closet, birthin' babies and saving lives!”

In order to entertain this fantasy, you will need the tools of the trade. Medications are not without risks, do not keep forever, and are expensive. Additionally, there is the issue of convincing a physician that he or she ought to prescribe for you and that you can differentiate your Barneyfrank (ass) from a hole in the ground. If the expense is no problem for you because you have money to burn, please see me after class! If you think that the utility of your medication stash outweighs the other concerns, please contemplate these points: 1) In the absence of a catastrophe the likes of which America has never seen, it is both illegal and immoral to withhold professional medical care required by an ill or injured person. 2) During Schumeresque times, it is unlikely that the infrastructure will be in service which allows the delivery of complex, highly skilled care to those in need. Particularly, you will not have access to that infrastructure, and (if you have your head screwed on straight) you will have no desire to perform skills you are not trained to do, in the midst of a disaster, upon your vulnerable, hurting and injured loved ones.

By way of example, I have 30 yeas of EMS and nursing experience (in ICU, CCU, and ER), as well as licensure as a Physician's Assistant. I have used Dopamine, along with other invasive therapies, innumerable times to support the blood pressure of critically ill or injured patients. Dopamine has potent effects upon the heart, among other systems, and these effects are monitored by a cardiac monitor. I found a Zoll Automatic Cardiac Defibrillator, after a brief internet search, for $3,000, which appears after a casual review to allow monitoring. The question, however, is whether you can make sense of the tracing the monitor displays, identify adverse changes in cardiac rhythm, and respond appropriately. Additionally, do you know the adverse effects Dopamine may have, and how they must be managed? If not, you have no business trifling with it. I have done all these things for years in my Nursing practice, and I do not have Dopamine in my personal stores. You need to assume the risks you both understand and are comfortable with. I am reluctant to assume this risk for myself and my family.

My bias toward trauma derives from the fact that the stabilization and management of the medical patient, in contrast to the trauma patient, calls for assessments and interventions that I generally do not find appropriate outside of the hospital or advanced life support ambulance. Determining the source of the patient's distress will identify what treatment is required. While there are a few medical conditions that are responsive to basic life support interventions, I am not about to pretend that a few thousand words will equip you to make such judgments. Find an American Red Cross first aid class and master it. Better yet, become an EMT.

Just the other day, I came upon a rollover as my girlfriend and I were en route to attend some family function. There were half-a-dozen civilians clustered about, and things seemed well in hand. The first firefighter arrived shortly after me, and I deferred to him. Offering him wound care supplies, I was surprised to discover I could not find any gloves in my kit! Returning home, I undertook an inventory. Here is the result of that tally, and some discussion of my view of why each item belongs in my kit.

Training comes first. There is a story told of the early days of the Israeli state, when the emergency response planners had the budget required to train their personnel to stabilize and transport spine injured patients, or buy the splints (called backboards), but not both. The story relates that the planners elected to train their personnel, and subsequently noted a spine injured kibbutznik transported to the hospital by his comrades, secured effectively to an entire barn door.

I place a priority on training for several reasons. First, neither vermin nor adverse storage conditions have ever ruined training and rendered it unusable. Secondly, “they can have my training when they can pry it from my cold, dead mind”. Third, I have never ever (in my disorganized life) failed to pack my training. Fourth, there is nothing that will be displaced from my supplies in order to make room for my training. Fifth, in contrast to supplies, ability improves with use, and becomes more abundant when you share it with others.

Begin with CPR training. Three or four hours of your time will equip you with the skill that may save a life in the here-and-now. You will gain an introduction to patient assessment, and learn some of he fundamentals of first aid, and whatever dilemma confronts you, your response cannot fail to be more effective with some training to guide you. Effectiveness saves lives.

Look into local outlets for first aid training. The American Red Cross, the National Safety Council, your local community college, as well as perhaps others offer credible training which may serve as an introduction to further studies. The justification for the further expenditure of additional hours may be found in the preceding paragraph. Additionally, if you are more acquainted with what the medical conversation is about, the health care decisions made with regard to yourself and your family will be less mysterious to you, and better informed decisions tend to be better decisions. The better your health, the better your chances of coming out the other side of Schumer times intact, and therefore the better chance of bringing your family with you, likewise unscathed.

Consider EMT schooling. You will learn more emergency care skills (a good thing), and an introduction to elementary anatomy and pathophysiology (how things go wrong in illness and injury). Such education gives you the opportunity to be a more informed participant in your health care decisions, and that is itself a good thing, as well.

It really doesn't matte what sort of container you employ for your emergency supplies, so long as it meets your particular needs for security, identification, accessibility, protection and convenience.

Some fire departments use plastic “totes” to organize supplies required for specific types of calls. For example, haz-mat supplies are packed inside specific totes, and the top secured with a cable tie or some such device. An inventory is attached to the top (sealed in plastic) to identify what is inside, as well as out dates of time sensitive components. When properly closed, such bins are drip and dust resistant, resist crushing or jumbling of the contents, and can be convenient to carry when not overfilled. On the other hand, they will not conveniently fit beneath a vehicle seat, may be unwieldy to retrieve and place into action, and may get buried beneath other stuff in a trunk or truck box.

Others of my acquaintance use ammo cans, or plastic fishing tackle boxes. These are generally more convenient to shlep about (unless your tastes run along the lines of a 20 mm ammo can) and are more drip/dust/duh! resistant than the tubs mentioned above. On the other hand, they may overturn with disappointing ease, spilling your supplies into whatever noxious fluid is abundant on your particular scene.

I use a green canvas musette type bag. It is not water resistant, is not neatly compartmentalized, and does not have an IR glint Star of Life embroidered upon it. On the other hand, I know how my stuff inside is organized, it is convenient to sling over my shoulder when the scene requires that I do so, and the local military surplus store will sell me another for $10-20 when that becomes needful. It will fit beneath a van seat, or in a tub in my trunk, and I can work out of it when I have it slung.

Items that I am likely to require promptly are either in the outside pocket or immediately inside the top flap of the bag. These are things that I do not want to be fumbling for as I approach a scene. I will not list what might be considered “everyday carry” items like pocket knife, flashlight(s), CS spray, sidearm, and a cell phone. While these tools help keep the rescuer from becoming a victim of an ambush laid for a 'Good Samaritan” , particularly when employed in concert with a Condition Orange mindset. (I did mention I started out in Detroit, didn't I?) These items do not seem to me to be rescue/first aid/emergency medical tools.

First up is several pairs of gloves. (well, now, anyhow!) I am allergic to latex, so I have nitrile gloves. Current practice is to wear gloves anytime you might reasonably anticipate exposure to blood or other bodily fluids: tears, urine, stool, saliva, gastric contents, or any other moist, body-origin material you might imagine (and perhaps a few you might not!). I have so thoroughly incorporated this into my life that I get uneasy caring for my own children (or, at my advanced age, grandchildren!) without gloving first. These are in a zip-lock bag, safety pinned (now!) just inside the top flap of my green bag.

The upside to all this is that scrupulous gloving and thorough hand washing have so far proven highly effective at preventing the spread of the most common blood-borne infections. Diseases spread via airborne droplets (for example, Legionnaires disease), of course, require additional precautions. Others are spread by organisms coming to rest upon environmental surfaces and then accessing a vulnerable host (just like you and I are vulnerable hosts to “the common cold”) by means of unconsciously touching our faces after touching a contaminated surface. For myself, after 30 plus years of patient contact the worst I have brought home has been an occasional upper respiratory infection due to my conscientiously applying the glove/hand wash/hands away from my face regimen.

The next item I'll feel a burning need to have in my hands is a bag-valve-mask (BVM). This is a manually operated ventilation tool. It is employed by sealing the mask over the unbreathing patient's face, squeezing the self inflating bag, and thereby forcing air into your patient's lungs. Repeat at a rate of approximately 12-20 times a minute. Advantage: no kissing strangers, required for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. You are able to maintain situational awareness of such things as evolving environmental hazards (like leaking gasoline), or indicators of your patient's improving condition (...he said, thinking positively!). On the downside, using a BVM is difficult in untutored hands. It is easier (compared to mouth-to-mouth) to force air into the patient's stomach, which will elicit vomiting. Aside from the aesthetic issues this presents, vomiting in a profoundly unconscious patient (such as one so unconscious as to have stopped breathing) presents the opportunity for aspiration into the lungs of that which has been vomited, which may be deadly.

Training in use of a BVM will be part of the EMT class I mentioned earlier. I'll wait here while you go find out when your local community college or rescue squad will be having their next class. Plan on being a part of that class. You will be making your community, and thereby your family, safer.

You can buy your own, and Gall's will ding your for around $15 for a disposable model. In the hospital, we use these once and discard them. You might choose to meticulously clean yours and re-use it. Your local rescue squad or ambulance may shop locally, and you might want to do likewise. Ya know, if you were to volunteer with your local rescue squad, you might be able to obtain things like this at your agency's cost. All this on top of the good karma from helping to provide a necessary community service. And,, besides, becoming known to the locals (police included) as one of “the good guys”. Your phone book likely will provide the contact information you require. I'll still be here when you get back.

One of the adjuncts to using a BVM is called an oral airway. Oral airways come in sizes, which may be selected according to the size of the patient. Their purpose is to hold the flaccid tongue of a profoundly unconscious patient forward, so that it does not sag against the rear of the throat and thereby block the passage of air into and out of the lungs. The problem it may trigger is, should your patient be other than profoundly unconscious, he or she will vomit. Among other disasters this may cause, the enzymes from the stomach, designed to digest proteins, will (unsurprisingly) begin to digest the proteins found in the delicate tissues of the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs, with effects you are likely to be able to imagine on your own. Very Bad Thing. [JWR Adds: Plastic airways usually come in sets of six sizes, and usually color-coded these days, available for less than $5 per set on eBay. Buy a couple of sets. Someday you may be very glad that you did!]

Another way to fail when employing an oral airway is to bunch up the patient's tongue in the rear of the throat. This blocks air flow, strangling your patient. This device must be restricted to only profoundly unconscious patients, and only if you are schooled in its use. You can buy them individually, or in sets. Before shipping, they go for around $5.00/set. You might elect to buy them one at a time, but at $5 a pop, they aren't a particularly major investment.

When I'm confronted by an actively bleeding patient, I reach for a Carlyle dressing. Mine are the old style The Carlyle iteration includes muslin (cloth) ties to secure as any other tied bandage. The 21st century version is called an Israeli Dressing, and is available from various sources. (see my shopping list/spreadsheet for representative sources) It consists of a sterile dressing incorporating an elastic bandage to secure the dressing to the wound. Should you shop gun shows or surplus stores for your equipment, be wary of old dressings. They present potential issues of failed sterility as well as mustiness or mildew occasioned by improper storage or imperfect packaging. The contemporary Israeli Battle Dressings are available from Cheaper Than Dirt or from Gall's for $9.00 or $10.00 each.

Another wound care product is QuikClot . This is a mineral product, bound to a dressing, which enhances clotting, and thereby slows and limits blood loss in the bleeding patient (common in trauma, surprisingly enough!) One article (QuikClot Use in Trauma for Hemorrhage Control: Case Series of 103 Documented Uses. Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care. 64(4):1093-1099, April 2008.) reflected the occurrence of burns in several patients, but the manufacturer's web site reports that changes in packaging and delivery system have addressed this issue.

An alternative you might consider is Celox. It appears perhaps to be a reasonable alternative to QuikClot. It is derived from shrimp shells, although it seems to not produce allergic reactions in folks otherwise allergic to seafood. I have no personal experience with either product, but the reports are interesting. This goes on my “further research” list!

The preceding items are to be found in the outside pocket or very top of my jump kit. I don't want to be searching for them when I feel the need for them Right Freaking Now. Beneath the don't-wanna-wait-for-them items, I have supplies of somewhat lesser immediacy. These allow me to assess the situation in greater detail, or address issues that may come to light that are of less time sensitivity.

Triangular Bandages are useful for slings of injured arms, or may be folded into narrow strips and then used as a means to secure splints or dressings (as “cravat bandages”). If we were to consider them as a backpacker might, they may be used as expedient dust masks, bandannas, head coverings, or washcloths. I buy muslin by the yard at Wal-Mart, and cut it from one corner to the other, forming (surprise!) 2 triangles approximately a yard on a side. I keep 6 to 8 in my kit.

Bandage shears are the most obvious of the prehospital medic's tools. You can go with Lister style bandage scissors, often found as “nurse's scissors”, or the plastic and steel “super shears”. Prices range from $4.00 and up. Frequently employed to trim dressings to the proper size, cut away clothing from wounds, and to cut bandages.

Did you ever notice that a tongue blade/tongue depressor is almost exactly the width of a finger? And just a bit longer than your Mark 1, Mod 0 finger? Exactly like it were designed to be a finger splint, isn't it? In addition, should you tape three of them together one on top of the other, you have a dandy tool for tightening that “Spanish windlass” you are going to learn about, when your EMT class teaches you how to apply and improvise a traction splint for a fractured femur (thighbone). Finally, if you are unhappy at the thought of wiggling somebody's fractured femur (broken thighbone) so you may place ties (cravats: remember them?) for a splint, tongue blades are thin, stiff, and very helpful at limiting the wiggling as you place ties beneath the broken bone of your choice. I keep a handful handy.

You can pay a couple of bucks for them at the corner pharmacy, or you might be able to talk your way into several for free, like when you are volunteering at some public service event with your local volunteer fire department, emergency medical service, or amateur radio club.

Stethoscope/Blood Pressure Cuff. A stethoscope allows you to hear the sounds made as air moves into and out of the lungs, and note changes from normal. These changes might occur because your patient has a collapsed lung, or has pneumonia, or heart failure. When you get that far into your EMT class (hint, hint), you will learn how to evaluate these changes, and what sort of treatment decisions you ought to consider when you notice them. In addition, you will learn how to measure, and interpret, your patient's blood pressure.

I am certain you will know somebody who will go out and get the cardiology deluxe stethoscope, with the multi disc cd player, mag wheels, and gold trim. Do not join them in this folly. Spend $10-40 at the same place the local student nurses get their stethoscopes, and spend the difference on your spouse, whose enthusiastic support you will require, anyhow. If you can show your spouse how your expenditure of family money and time on supplies, education, and volunteering promote values that you both agree upon, the both of you will thereby make your family more crisis resistant. If your family is more crisis resistant, then you are not only NOT a drag on community emergency services during an emergency, you all might even be an affirmative community asset during bad times. That cannot fail to be a Good Thing when you get to explain yourself to The Jewish Carpenter. Me, I'm going to require all the help I can get. I'm volunteering!

Adhesive tape (1 inch, 2 inch) secures dressings, holds loose ends of bandages, and provides a single use notepad (tear off a length, tape it to your thigh, and jot notes. You will not lay it down somewhere to be forgotten). If you listen to some friendly and knowledgeable athletic trainer, you can learn how to use it to support sprained ankles or knees if the preferred treatment (rest, ice, elevation) is not possible. Before you employ these tricks, bear in mind that physicians frequently cannot differentiate a sprain from a fracture, even after an x-ray. In my view, except under the most dire possible circumstances, walking on a fractured (or sprained) extremity is a Very Bad Thing. Two rolls each are at hand when I open my green bag.

I keep 12 to 15 Gauze pad, sterile, 4x4 in my kit. I employ them as eye pads, padding beneath splints, or as (oddly enough) dressing for wounds. Occasionally I encounter a wound bleeding so enthusiastically that a couple of gauze pads will be overwhelmed. Fortunately, I haven't come across such a wound off duty, but in the hospital we use a “boat” of sterile gauze. This is a plastic tray of ten sponges in one pack. The tray also may be used as a clean basin for wound irrigation/cleansing solution. In the hospital we use sterile saline, you may elect to use the water from your retort pouch, or fresh from the bottle as you purchased it for storage. I would certainly give it some thought.

If you happen to be the purchasing agent for your entire survival community, ambulance service, or the entire Boy Scout Council, you might find the case price from Galls to be a useful bit of information. 1200 sterile 4x4 pads for $89.99 works out to around 7.5 cents each.

Triple padding/ABD padding, sterile, 5x9 inch. These multiple layer absorbent dressings are designed for wounds producing a lot of drainage of either blood or other fluid. They are my first choice for a bulky dressing or splint padding. I keep 6 in my kit. The frugally minded may note that “sanitary napkins” are designed to absorb drainage, are “medically aseptic”, and are available nearly everywhere.

And, on a related note, tampons from the “feminine hygiene” shelf at your local store are also constructed to absorb fluids, and contain them. Should you confront a penetrating wound, “tamponading” a wound is a widely known concept among inhabitants of the medical world. Packing such a wound with a tampon using sterile technique might prove to be life saving, and provide hemorrhage control options not otherwise available. (http://snopes.com/military/tampon.asp)

Roller Gauze, 4 inch is typically used to secure a dressing (see Gauze Sponge, above) to the wound. I pack 6 in my kit, and they have “found careers” as bandages to secure dressings, securing splints when I run out of triangular bandages, and upon occasion as packing/dressings for vigorously bleeding wounds. In fact, when one is employed as the dressing, and another as the bandage, I can not only dress the wound, but also (since the bulky roll provides a pressure point) apply direct pressure to the bleeding site. This provides an alternative to the Carlyle or Israeli Dressing, cited above

Vaseline Gauze (sterile, 3x9 inch) is intended to seal wounds penetrating the chest, in order to prevent collapse of your patient's lung(s). When you seal the defect in the chest wall, your patient will not draw in air through the wound when s/he inhales, and thereby not fill the space between the lung and the chest wall (the pleural space) with air. When you can avoid this, inhaling draws in air through the mouth, trachea and bronchi, and that inflates your lungs, and we think that is a good thing. Myself, I pitch the gauze and tape three sides of the foil package, sterile side towards the wound, forming a flutter valve sort of effect. In this way I allow excess pressure in the pleural space to vent to atmosphere (stopping further lung collapse, I hope), and seal the hole when the pressure inside the chest is less than atmospheric pressure (like when the patient inhales). The only way left to equalize that pressure is by inflating the lungs, already described with approval above.

The other use for Vaseline gauze is when my lips or hands are dry, in which case I use the Vaseline to remedy that little problem.

We all can think of uses for the common elastic bandage, 4 inch and 2 inch. Two inch is useful for sprains of your wrist or thumb, and the 4 inch is used for an ankle twist/sprain. In addition, I can use them to secure a splint (there is that rule of threes, seen in other posts on this blog, again!), as the “swathe” part of a sling-and-swathe to immobilize an injured shoulder, or as part of a pressure bandage over a dressed wound that does not want to stop bleeding.

Large Bulb Syringe (for which you can substitute a turkey baster) functions as an expedient means of removing fluids from the airway of someone who is not managing to do so effectively on their own. It will not work nearly as well as a battery powered or pump action suction, such as you might find on your local rescue squad rig, but it won't cost you $50-$60 (for the manually pumped version) either. Second best is superior to nothing.

Mylar “Space blankets” protect you or your patient from the hypothermia-inducing effects of the wind, slowing heat loss. Generally colored bright orange on one side and silver on the other, there are signaling opportunities as well. In a pinch, you can improvise shelter from one or two. Amazon sells the "Space Brand" blanket inexpensively. Equip your jump kits, and each member of your family with one or two.

Any accident so severe as to convince suspicious old me (alumnus of Detroit's EMS) to stop and offer assistance will not be fixed with a couple of Adhesive Bandages (aka “Band Aids”). I have six in my jump kit, two entire boxes at home (and parceled out among my camper, car, and household kits).

I keep a couple of Ice Packs around, as assorted adventures may bring on modest orthopedic injuries. Ice is helpful for strains, sprains, or overuse of an over aged joint (...not that I would know anything, firsthand, about that...). Choices include “instant cold packs”, or that old picnicker's standby, a zip lock bag full of ice from the cooler.

Either option has drawbacks. I do not generally drive about with a cooler of ice at hand, although when camping I am likely to do so. Instant cold packs are kind of fragile, and you might find, when you go to place one in service, that you have a leaking mess on your hands. On the other hand, they are more likely to be there when you want one.

The foregoing lists the contents of my “jump kit”. I keep one kit in my vehicle, and another at home. In addition, there are Subordinate Kits, kept in camper, car and home, for lesser sorts of occasions. I have customized each by adding more dressings, triangular bandages, roller gauze, and gloves. In addition, I improved over the baseline “Wally World” $15 first aid kit, by adding zip lock bags of various household medications. I labeled each bag with the name of the med, the out date of that particular bottle, directions for use, and date of packing. I made my selections by inspecting my own medicine cabinet, and pondering which meds I had wished I had kept handy the last time I was out camping, for example. Most everything commonly needed is therefore in the Camper Kit, Car Kit, or House Kit.

The jump kits are reserved for “Holy Fertilizer!” sorts of events. They are not mere “boo-boo boxes”. Reserved in this way, I will not find myself hunting (and swearing) in crisis, as I need this or that widget, which some child (or adult) has used, and not restocked.

Some of us might contemplate longer term medical preparations. For those, I recommend Dr. Jane Orient's article. Once I get beyond the 20 year old pricing, the are only a couple of improvements I could suggest. One is in the arena of recently developed antibiotics (as in quinolones). Even in that light, it seems to me to be a very good basis for developing a longer term medical kit (and training plan) for your particular circumstances.

Another substitution I would make, is to delete surgical masks, and substitute NIOSH N-95 masks. I found a carton of MSA Safety Works No. 10005403, Pack of 20 Harmful Dust Respirator Model 10005043 for $18.97/each carton at Home Depot. You may find similar products locally.

Additionally, I would add loratidine (you may recognize the brand of Claritin) as a non-sedating antihistamine. (Personally, I would prefer my personnel pulling OP duty to be non-sedated.) I'd also add the most frugal of the following : ranitidine, famotidine, cimetidine, in lots of 1,000 tabs, as a superior stomach acid blocking medication, to supplement the antacid Dr. Orient suggested over 20 years ago. As the “big gun” for acid stomach problems or GERD, I'd lay in a supply of Prilosec OTC. This class of stomach medication is the yardstick against which all others are presently measured.

If you are planning establishing a longer term medical cache, it is imperative that you do so only in concert with a physician, or other personnel licensed to prescribe. The guidance you will receive will help you avoid causing more illness than you relieve. Medications are a double bitted axe, and may cut on the upstroke as well as on the downstroke. Be aware.

Mr. Rawles,
I'm a new SurvivalBlog reader, and your blog goes along a lot with many of my own thoughts and precautions; things many people these days consider ridiculous, but that an old instructor of mine (from a gov't agency that shall go unnamed) would probably call "maintaining a healthy level of paranoia".

In browsing your blog and its archives, I have been surprised to find no mention of the Albanian crisis in 1997. I believe that it offers a strong example of how quickly and unexpectedly a (relatively) advanced society can descend into chaos, and how drastic the consequences can be.

For your readers (should you see fit to post this), I'll sum up. This is very basic information on the subject, and those readers who want to learn more can easily find more detailed info online.

Coming out from under the Iron Curtain, Albania was a fairly well-ordered nation. Obviously it was much less developed than the Western European nations, but it wasn't sub-Saharan Africa either. With the fall of communism, new ways of conducting business opened up, and new means of finance came about as well. Over a few years the economy became dominated by Ponzi schemes, and when these collapsed, the nation descended into complete chaos.

That's the quick and easy version. There are a few relevant things to learn here.

1. The people were taken in by a form of finance that they did not fully understand, or that had implications that they didn't grasp the magnitude of:
Ponzi schemes are a classic form of financial shenanigans, but don't dismiss the mistake of the Albanians as hopeless naivete. Ponzi schemes and related "investments" are alive and well today, and while we do have some safeguards against them now, many legal forms of investment can also have severely disruptive effects. Everyone knows about the problems stemming from failure among even the "experts" to grasp the problems in the American financial system, and anyone who thinks that the system is going to become significantly more stable and easily understood in the near future is deluding themselves.

2. The resulting collapse came quickly and was severe:
I believe that from the first indications of collapse to the complete breakdown of society took about a month. When society collapsed, it went really bad, really fast. The most vivid memory in my mind (from news broadcasts, I wasn't there myself) is of an 11 or 12 year old child leading his younger brother by the hand, with an AK type rifle over his shoulder for defense (or possibly predation). That's the kind of chaos we're talking about here. About 2,000 people out of a population of 3 million were killed in the chaos. That's a fairly small percentage, but it all happened over a month or two. Assuming two months, that's about a 0.4% fatality rate, if it were annualized (if I'm committing a mathematical or statistical fallacy here please feel free to correct me).

3. The chaos was for a limited time, and order was restored:
Those who survived the initial period of turmoil were able to rebuild. However, before someone looks at examples like these to plan how long they should prepare to hold out for, bear in mind that this was a relatively disarmed society, very small, located near many larger stable nations, and the recipient of an international (UN) stabilizing/peace keeping operation. In a nation like the US, a complete collapse could be more severe, harder for the world to halt or repair, and could in addition cause such severe economic disruption worldwide that no one would be able to help. The point I want to make here is, even if you can't move full time to the countryside and become self sufficient, you can still make preparations to survive a lot of situations in the short-term. And all things come to an end. There will be bad times to weather, and just as surely they will be followed by less bad times in which to prosper.

Hope this provides helpful food for thought.

May God bless you all, and keep you and yours, - JJ in North Carolina

JWR Replies: I appreciate you reminding our readers of the Albanian Crisis. This did, indeed come very close to a full-scale societal collapse death spiral. In my estimation, the reasons why it didn't get more prominent attention in the western media was because it took place in what could best be called a "backwater" region, and happened at the same time as the Kosovo crisis, which was considered the "bigger" story. (Read: The news camera crews were busy elsewhere, interviewing people that speak English. It is just human nature for journalists to prefer staying in a nice hotel in Belgrade, rather than some dump in Tirana.) Nor did journalists descend on Albania after the fact, to try to document what had happened. No, they were busy droning on and on about the death of Princess Diana, and the then-pending British handover of Hong Kong.

This timeline and these photos are indicative of what the media failed to properly cover.

I was puzzled by the piece by Chris Hedges (The American Empire is Bankrupt, from truthdig.com) that you linked to in Friday's SurvivalBlog. There are two huge, crucial, inestimable, incredibly fundamental flaws in Hedges' article:

* One is his assessment of the primary cause of the American national bankruptcy,
* The second is his conclusions as to who will be causing the greatest social disruption in our nation as that bankruptcy starts impacting our daily lives.

First, the fundamental causes of the American bankruptcy. Hedges quotes heavily from an article from & interview by The Financial Times' Michael Hudson. So that I don't take anything out of context, here is the text direct from Hedges' article, mostly quoting Hudson:

  • "The balance-of-payments deficit is mainly military in nature. Half of America’s discretionary spending is military. The deficit ends up in the hands of foreign banks, central banks. They don’t have any choice but to recycle the money to buy U.S. government debt. The Asian countries have been financing their own military encirclement."
  • "There are three categories of the balance-of-payment deficits. America imports more than it exports. This is trade. Wall Street and American corporations buy up foreign companies. This is capital movement. The third and most important balance-of-payment deficit for the past 50 years has been Pentagon spending abroad. It is primarily military spending that has been responsible for the balance-of-payments deficit for the last five decades."
  • "To fund our permanent war economy, we have been flooding the world with dollars. The foreign recipients turn the dollars over to their central banks for local currency. The central banks then have a problem."

These statements are partially true...as far as they go. But what is left out is more important than what is said. No discussion (in fact, not even a mention) of spending for the U.S. welfare state? Not even the slightest consideration of the fact that American military capabilities are clearly authorized as Constitutional responsiblities--but not our welfare state? This is, simply put, looney toons logic and math.

· Reasonable people can argue over costs, scope and effectiveness of U.S. military budgets/overseas operations (not to mention declared and undeclared wars) since 1916. But that's not where all the big money has been going. The serious spending increases in our budget are in domestic nanny statism, welfare, circuses and feasts—since at least 1965. You don't have to be a degreed economist to figure out that military spending constitutes "half of America’s discretionary spending" is because welfare state spending has been made non-discretionary! After all, that is why they're called entitlements!

o We could defund every military capability we have...but not a single welfare payment can be stayed legally by the hand of the President, his Cabinet, or the U.S. Congress. Welfare and nanny-state benefits are literally entitlements, and by law cannot be left unfunded.

· Things like welfare benefits, Section 8 Housing, etc., especially in this age of electronic payments, must be paid, even if the Congress does not pass those parts of the federal budget. (I believe this was written into law soon after the Clinton-Congress budget train wrecks in the 1990s.)

· If you cut the entire U.S. military budget in half, you only dent the deficit. But if you cut just 25% of the sum total of all welfare state benefits, there would be a huge annual federal budget surplus.

o I conclude Hedges' illogical placement of blame for the budget situation, and all of the impending consequences, are based on his political leanings... which are decidedly leftist, judging by this article. So, what is he trying to accomplish, since he is blaming the wrong folks for the crime?

Second, I completely and absolutely dispute (verily, even dismiss) Hedges' conclusions as to who will be causing the greatest social disruption in our nation as the U.S. bankruptcy starts impacting our daily lives. Hedges states that:

* "If [other nations] succeed [in dumping the U.S. dollar as the world's primary currency], the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a savior, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose."

Hedges is saying, politely, that those crazy religious people clinging to their guns are already going nuts, and they will get even worse once they start starving! And all of the "proto-fascists," which presumably means all of those folks recently described in Department of Homeland Security memoranda as being "risks" [read: pro-life, pro-balanced budget, conservative, libertarian, pro-2nd Amendment, Christians, ministers, bishops, Ron Paul supporters, Republicans, etc.], will be using the opportunity to enact "vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal." What Hedges fundamentally has done is blame all the victims for being raped!!!

* I'm surprised he didn't go further and blame it on all of those evil "survivalists," but even looney tunes logic has trouble blaming the preppers for the very situation they've been predicting for a couple of decades now.

Personally, when TSHTF I won't be nearly as worried about "working and middle class" folks as I am about the welfare-dependent, “entitlements-R-us” folks. The working and middle class folks have the brains to figure things out--we've had a number of neighbors start quietly storing food and gear over the last six months--even the ones who (now regretfully) voted for Obama. But, as proven repeatedly during and after the Katrina crunch...it is the welfare-dependent underclass that will tear the cities and countryside apart. Can things get ugly among "working and middle class" types?? Of course. Still, I think most folks who actually work for a living will quickly band together for security and burden-sharing purposes to endure and survive. However, I'm far more skeptical about those who think "the government" owes them a living, no matter what the situation--survivalblog.com fans are well aware of the many violent examples of that syndrome following multiple disasters over the last decade. (If not, try a couple of internet searches for "Katrina violence" or "Katrina gun confiscation" or "Katrina looting" or...well, you get the idea.")

Bottom line: Hedges's article borrowed the language, analysis and conclusions of the prepper/survivalist/fiscal conservative movements--to use as a tool with which to attack them indirectly. Indeed, Hedges appears far more interested in painting the impending social unrest (read: welfare & food riots) as a tool of the another evil right wing conspiracy, than in acknowledging them as the inevitable consequence of the social policies he has supported and championed.

Many of us were taught in our youth that we should "dance with the girl what ya brung." I think Hedges has concluded his "girl" (read: politics) is darn ugly, emits foul body odors, suffers from multiple social diseases, and has bad teeth to boot. Not surprisingly, he now wants to switch partners while blaming it on all the other, far more circumspect squires at the Preppers' Informal Dance--but we shouldn't help him get away with it. Respectfully, - Gentleman Jim in Colorado.

Harry Schultz warns Bob Chapman's newsletter readers of a possible upcoming "bank holiday."

From KAF: A Fake Financial Fix

Glenn M. recommended this article and the accompanying video clip: Thirty Years of Inflation Coming, But "Deflation Scare" Not Over Yet, Cycle Maven Says

Karen H. sent this: Derivatives Get Second Look From U.S. Congress That Didn’t Act. I warned SurvivalBlog readers almost four years ago about the threat posed by derivatives.(Please take tee time to re-read that article.) The frightening thing is that we have not yet seen the derivatives bubble fully implode--just one sector..

Also from Karen:
States Turning to Last Resorts in Budget Crisis. "With state revenues in a free fall and the economy choked by the worst recession in 60 years, governors and legislatures are approving program cuts, layoffs and, to a smaller degree, tax increases that were previously unthinkable."

If you have been waiting, then here is a good dip in silver. (Spot silver was over $16, just a couple of weeks ago.) Buy low!

Items from The Economatrix:

10 Quirky Economic Indicators

Moody's Warning On California's Debt Stuns State
"California, which is struggling to close a $24.3 billion budget gap, faces the prospect of a "multi-notch" downgrade in its credit rating if the state's legislature fails to act quickly to produce a budget, Moody's Investors Service warned on Friday."

Numerous Cracks Found in States Hiring Freezes Exemptions, exceptions, outright violations...

Discover CEO: Obama's Credit Card Reforms Will Raise Rates

Top Senators Question Obama's Plan for The Fed. Geithner takes heat at hearing on financial reform

Democrats to Push Through Banking Overhaul Quickly

Stocks Log First Weekly Loss Since May

US Homes Recovery "Distressingly Slow"

Gas Prices Coming Down?

California Unemployment Hits Record 11.5% in May

From frequent contributor KAF: This gardener grows enough to share

   o o o

Pets Pass MRSA Superbug to Humans
(Thanks to Jim F. for the link.)

   o o o

Sam L. sent an interesting article about potential catastrophic earthquakes in Southern California

   o o o

Reader Susan K. flagged this: In a St. Paul lab, scientists race to defeat a wheat famine 'time bomb'

"Economists were created to make weather forecasters look good." - Rupert Murdoch

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 23 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 at least $350.

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

Round 23 ends on July 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 really enjoyed reading the great novel "Patriots". In reading it, I picked up lots of good tips along the way. But I felt it really had very little contemporary information about communications, other than the chapter "Radio Ranch" which finally touched on an individual with a serious interest in radio communications. The use of Single Sideband (SSB), Citizens Band (CB) 27 Mhz radios, along with slightly modified "old" style low cost hand held "cheapo" radios really leaves a lot to be desired regarding how it could be done, on a fairly low budget.

It is my sincere belief that anyone even remotely interested in being prepared for what may come should obtain a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Amateur, or "ham" radio license.

While years ago, It was difficult to learn Morse code and pass the written exam for such a license, the code requirement has now been totally eliminated from all classes of amateur radio licenses.
These days, several companies sell printed books that contain the entire question pool (along with the answers) that will be on the written exams. Simply "highlighting" the correct answer to each question only, And then reading the question along with the highlighted Correct answer (only) After a few short weeks of about 10 minutes per day of such reading will easily allow most anyone to pass the written exam. Sample test runs are available online, free of charge.

The "Technician" class test is very easy to pass, which allows unrestricted operations on VHF and UHF). But I suggest spending the extra effort to get the "General" class license which also permits HF (High Frequency) world-wide communications. For general background on licensing see this site, and this one.

The main "bands", or [ranges of] frequencies that can be used by a ham operator range all the way from 160 meters (1.8 MHz) Up through 1.2 GHz and above. For more information about ham radio operation, A simple Google search will bring lots of results and information about this neat hobby, That could very well turn out to be a life saver in times of disaster. (In fact, Amateur radio does provide the main links in and out of disaster areas when normal modes like cell phones fail. This is proven time and time again. Most every large hurricane in the U.S. finds ham operators being the only means of communications in and out of the hard hit areas until normal services are restored.)

Once a person has talked halfway around the world with nothing but a radio, A piece of wire strung in the trees for an antenna, and a 12 volt car battery, with no infrastructure. (Like the commercial cellular or land line phone, Internet, etc systems that WILL fail at the worst possible time.) They will be "hooked" on the newfound ability to communicate without any outside help whatsoever (The commercial cellular and land line telephone systems fail during times of disaster as much because of simple "overload" (everyone trying to call someone at the same time) as the do because of infrastructure failure.

Many modern-day amateur radios are now designed to receive not only the "ham" band frequencies, But a wide range of other frequencies. So a VHF/UHF mobile type radio is also capable of receiving the AM aircraft band, FM Police, Fire, Ambulance, Business bands, Marine band, Including the NOAA "Weather" channels, etc etc. (But they may not decode some "big city" police trunked, and or encrypted communications) The lower frequency ham grade radios (HF) will also receive most everything from the AM broadcast band right up through VHF low band radio. This includes the international short wave broadcast stations like BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.), etc.

What many do not know is that with the simple "snip" of a diode or resistor inside these radios, They can be made to also transmit over that very wide frequency range! (This is the so-called MARS Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) or Civil Air Patrol (CAP) modifications, and is public knowledge all over the Internet. It is not illegal to thus modify these radios. It is illegal to use them to transmit outside of the ham bands unless you hold a valid MARS license, and then only on authorized frequencies for that use. (I have used old dental "pick" type tools to do this modification. (BTW, when you go to a dentist, ask for old used dental tools, Usually they are happy to give them to you.) to remove the [transmission mode blocking] resistor or diode mentioned. (The online sites will provide nice photos, I suggest a very bright light and a big magnifying lens. However, in a life-threatening emergency, FCC rules provide that pretty much "anything" goes........ So even though your radio that can now also operate on the 27Mhz CB band, it would not be legal to use it for that under normal circumstances, unless a genuine emergency exists.

There are a few radios that I have owned and experimented with and can confirm such operations. One of the very best mobile radios available is a Yaesu FT 8800 "dual band" VHF/UHF. This radio, After the simple snip of the diode can transmit all over the VHF and UHF band. This includes the business band portion (Which also includes such services as MURS (Multi Use Radio System), a license-free system on VHF FM, the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS),and Family Radio Service (FRS). It is really neat to have but one radio that can do all these things, Even though you cannot legally transmit on those other frequencies under normal circumstances.

The Yaesu FT 8800 radio will also "Cross Band" repeat, Right out of the box with no modifications. This means a person can set up two channels and talk through the radio from a small low power hand held radio, At the full power of the mobile radio. (Cross band repeat means to talk to the radio on one band, VHF for example, and the radio will automatically retransmit your signal on another band, For instance UHF, and vice-versa)

Speaking of hand held radios, My current favorite is the little micro size Yaesu VX 3. A tiny radio that can receive a very wide range of services, including commercial AM and FM broadcast. The simple snip of one little diode allows it to transmit on the GMRS band, Marine band, etc. A major advantage to the little micro size VX 3 is that it uses very common digital camera batteries that are available everywhere for a very low cost. (less than 5 bucks each for a nice Lithium ion battery including shipping!)

For a few dollars more, The Yaesu FT 60 has the full 5 watt power of larger hand held radios, Along with the full touch tone pad, (But is slightly harder to "snip" that diode..... The radio needs to be taken apart to get at it....)

Other good hand held radios include the Yaesu VX 7, VX 8, And the Icom T 90. These are all proven workhorse radios that will do the job.

For a base station type HF radio, The very best "Do it All" radio is the Kenwood TS 2000. The TS 2000 covers 160 meters through 440Mhz UHF, And even goes up to 1.2Ghz with an optional module. The same simple modification will allow the TS 2000 to operate all over, and the TS 2000 can "Cross Band Repeat" from not only VHF to UHF, But from HF to UHF! This means a person can monitor (And or also talk back) on HF through the TS 2000 from out in the field with the small hand held radio! Really neat to not being "stuck" indoors in front of the radio. You can be out in the garden monitoring your HF (or VHF) frequencies from the tall base station antennas, With nothing but the little shirt pocket size hand held radio! The TS 2000 is selling brand new right now for under $1,500.00 if you shop around. (Yes, Such radios after the aforementioned snip of the diode ARE capable of talking on 27Mhz CB etc in the event of a true disaster)

If a "better" quality HF radio is desired, Check out the Icom 756PRO series (PRO II, PRO III) The original PRO sells good used for $900 and up. These are high quality radios with a wide range "spectrum scope" that shows other signals on the band. But the Icom 756PRO series is HF only, no VHF/UHF, and it cannot crossband repeat.

There are lots of other radios that can operate on a wide range of frequencies, And have certain advantages (Along with disadvantages) For example, the Icom 706 series will do HF through UHF, And is a small light radio very capable of mobile operation. (The Icom 706 series is also a proven good radio). However, such radios cannot dual receive like the TS 2000 (Ability to monitor two frequencies at the same time, or cross band repeat) There are many others, such as the Yaesu FT 857, et cetera.. They all mostly operate from "menu" driven operation. (Not nearly as easy to operate for old timers like myself as a radio with more "knobs and buttons" Maybe younger computer types would enjoy them more.)

It is possible to operate on both the ham bands and your business band with one radio and not violate the law on a daily basis, but t needs to be done the "other way around" . You could take a commercial radio certified for the business band in question and simply program in the ham frequencies you want. This is 100% legal to do and operate on a daily basis. The drawbacks are that commercial radios are single band only. So if you wanted to have one on the two meter ham band and your VHF business band, And you also wanted to operate on UHF, then would need to have a second radio.

(All of these base or mobile radios operate from 12 volts DC (or 13.6 VDC) So will work fine from your solar panel battery bank) Speaking of which, I have been running all of my radios for many years now on just a single 12 volt "Marine" Deep Cycle type battery, Kept on a fully automatic 10 amp charger connected to commercial power--- In the event of a widespread and long term "power grid failure" that same battery can be kept charged with a solar panel. (I have several panels and have experimented with them, They do work well, But I have not resolved the overcharge regulation problem yet. (I have not yet spent the money for a commercial grade voltage regulator ["charge controller"] that will work with solar panels. Quality ones are expensive. Of course wind generators and other means of producing 12 volt power will work as well.

I suggest LED (Light Emitting Diodes) If electric light is desired, for their very low current consumption, to save precious battery power.

All radios need an antenna to be effective. All that is really needed to operate on the HF bands is some wire and some simple plans to cut dipole antennas. Stock up on electric fence wire and insulators from your local farm supply store for cheap antennas for the low HF bands! Although copper wire will work better than galvanized steel or aluminum fence wire, it costs lots more. And the cheap stuff will do the job.

For VHF and UHF radio operations, It is also possible to build your own antenna from scratch, But in most cases it is lots easier to just buy a decent VHF/UHF dual band antenna along with some good quality coax feed line cable. (For VHF/UHF, Keep the coax length as short as possible. TIMES LMR 400 is the coax of choice by the professionals for shorter runs of less than 70 or so feet)

For those on a real budget, It is possible to ask for "spool ends" of cable television "drop wire" from your local friendly cable TV guy. (Offer him a bag of donuts.). Even though that coax is 75 ohm and not the 50 ohm suggested for ham use, In most all cases it will work just fine, especially when you consider the very low cost! (On the lower HF frequencies, Coax cable "loss" is not really a [significant] factor or problem. Most any skinny cheap coax should work just fine. But as you move higher in frequency, coax feed line loss becomes critical- Use only short lengths of the very best at VHF and UHF.)

All antennas should be installed as high as possible. Which of course kind of makes them a lightning target. There is an article in the May 2009 issue of Popular Communications magazine on how to protect from lightning on a low budget.

You may have read or heard about the threat of EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) from a nuclear event. This is a real threat. However, not nearly as much of a threat to most of us that many would have you believe. If your radio station is well protected from lightning, and you are more than a few hundred miles away from the nuclear event, unless that is a special high intensity EMP device then you should have
no problems. (EMP acts like lightning, with a faster rise time). I plan to address EMP and lightning more fully in a future article.

Like owning a firearm and lots of other things, It is not enough to just buy the above mentioned radios and equipment and leave them in a box. It is important to use them on a day to day basis to really learn how they operate, And all that they are capable of.

Amateur radio is a fun hobby, and it provides you with some real communications when the other services fail.

Get yourself a license and enjoy it today!

Besides the advantages of being able to talk with friends, neighbors, your [preparedness] "group" if you have one, And other "ham" operators, Just think of the ability to also be able to talk to others on the marine band, Business bands, GMRS, etc with the same radio if TSHTF!

In addition to ham radio, I suggest getting a number of GMRS small hand held radios (UHF FM) for all unlicensed family members and friends and neighbors. I got a number of "store return" Motorola 9500 series GMRS hand held radios on Ebay for just over $20 per pair, complete with drop-in chargers! Do monitor the channels in your neighborhood and choose a channel with little activity, And then also change the "privacy code" (Which is actually a subaudible tone) to something other than what they came programmed for to
further make your system a little more private. While I would never consider any of the GMRS frequencies of much value for "tactical" use, These little radios do work very well,
And can provide good communications and teach youngsters (And oldsters alike) the ins and outs of radio communications on a very low budget.

This article concerns me: Cuban spies' shortwave radios go undetected: Low-tech transmissions no big deal for U.S. intelligence. The journalist mentions: "The International Amateur Radio Union said there are more than 700,000 amateur radio operators in the United States." I hope the governmental paranoia does not try to constrain the best method of rural emergency communications. - KAF

JWR Replies: Without mentioning anything classified, I can safely say that they are describing clandestine operatives in in the US. receiving the old-fashioned HF "Numbers" broadcasts from Cuba. These are typically code groups of five numbers, read aloud by a woman, in a monotone, such as : "Ocho, Cinco, Cinco, Uno, Nueve..." These codes are very hard to break without a huge sample for brute force computer cryptanalysis.

This modus operandi has been used for 40+ years, and is well-known to both amateur operators and the signals intelligence (SIGINT) community. To the best of my knowledge, receivers are a non-issue vis-a-vis regulating amateur radio equipment. But clandestine transmitters may be another matter. Given our fluid borders and the ubiquitous "diplomatic pouch" it is absurd to think that regulation on the possession of HF radio transmitters would have any meaningful at stopping clandestine traffic. Licensed radio amateurs are largely self-policing. They fairly quickly identify and locate unlicensed broadcasts in their their vicinity.

The Cuban DGI is an odd anachronism. While most intelligence agencies have leapfrogged their communications to exotic methods such as steganography to imbed messages in in photos sent as .gifs via the Internet and using low-power spread spectrum transmissions, the DGI's modus operandi is at least 30 years out of date. It is somewhat analogous to Cubans still driving around cars that were manufactured in the 1950s. The last I heard, the DGI still had offices that primarily used typewriters made in the former Yugoslavia. Picturing that, you can practically smell the Cuban tobacco smoke.

Skill is critical, parts and tools can be improvised.

While I agree with C.A.Y.: "... the combination of skills plus tools plus parts is what's needed", there are important exceptions. In some south asia villages, a highly skilled artificer [with a few assistants] can create a self-loading pistol, per day, without parts, and only the most primitive tools of drills, belt sanders and files. The steel is recycled from wrecked cars and trucks. The skill is what makes this possible. This town near the Khyber Pass makes one thousand guns per day. Look at minute marks 3:33 and 3:46 for the ammo and gun fabrication.

During WW2, Allied POWs [in German Stammlagers and Oflags] fabricated metal cutting lathes, shortwave radio receivers, photographic darkroom developing equipment and offset printing for counterfeit documents - all without the appropriate tools or parts - it was all improvised. The skill with working with the original equipment back home showed the way to the objective.

Conversely, in my fully-equipped machine shop, I have seen freshly graduated mechanical technologists and machine tool operators wreck instruments and equipment, ruin dies, moulds and tooling - and occasionally remove necessary appendages from their bodies. It was the skill [and common sense] that was lacking.

Skill is critical, parts and tools can be improvised. - Richard S.

I live in a rural farming area east of the Mississippi and can tell you that cutting a gate or fence would be a very bad choice (in this area).  In 99% of the cases you would already be on private property, so cutting the fence or gate would be considered a “hostile” act.   Most of the folks I know would shot first and ask questions later . . . these folks all hunt, so they are not likely to miss . . . and trust me they know when someone is on their property.   When the police are called, you will find they are a relative or friend of the local (we are very rural) . . . and the “strangers” will be just “bagged and tagged”.    If you must cross a gated or fenced area, stop, honk your horn, jump up and down, o anything to get the property owners attention, he is probably watching anyway . . . who knows you might turn out to be an asset to him instead of a liability.

I do not want to make this sound all negative.  We all know that living at your retreat full-time is the best option, but circumstances may make that impossible for you; your job or just the finances to make that kind of a move.   The real question is do you believe bad things can and will happen?    If so what are you going to do that is practical and realistic?    “Borrowing” a plane might be a cool idea, but it is far from realistic. Several have already commented on this point and I happen to be a retired Naval aviator with more hours and experience than I care to remember, and flying to my retreat would be the last option I’d consider (we live at our retreat full-time, but do travel).    If “your” plan involves some exotic way of escaping the metropolis you live in then you are planning to stay too late (that includes having to take back roads)!   You will have to establish “trigger events” that make the decision to execute “your” depart plan (what those trigger events are up to you, based on your analysis and understanding of events.) If you wait until it is obvious to everyone then you are “way too late”.   And that is the rub: are you willing to give up your comfortable city life for a survival existence, on a “chance” that “this is it”?   If the answer is “no” then best of luck to you, you will need it.  If the answer is “yes” then you had better figure out a way to preposition your items, at a location that involves more than just your family . . . and then maybe you will have a fighting chance to survive the transition.   None of this is easy, but if you really want to provide for and protect your family then what other options do you have. You can rely on the government to see to your basic needs (it’s called being a refugee), or you can do all within your power to provide realistic options for them yourself. The choice is yours. - RH in Virginia

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:
I want to preface my comments by saying that I have the utmost respect for JWR, his work, and all the readers and contributors to this site. I understand and hold close the essential tenets of independence and preparedness, living as I have my whole life in the heart of Southern California earthquake country.

That said, the recent string of essays about escaping a city when TSHTF is complete nonsense. The thought that if you get out early you’ll leave everyone else behind is fantasy thinking. The fact is that in such a situation just about everyone will be thinking about getting out and many will act on that impulse. That means that EVERY freeway, EVERY back road, EVERY intersection, and EVERY town will soon be filled with hoards of roaming people, all of whom will be unprepared, scared, and desperate. You might – MIGHT – actually get a jump the situation and beat the hoards out of the city but a human tidal wave will be right behind you, spreading out in all directions, many thousands of which will be heading right to wherever it is you’re going.

Further, a good percentage of the roaming hoards will be street criminals and gang members. Many will be military vets who had advanced training in tactics and equipment and they’ll all be heavily armed – in many cases, better equipped than the local law enforcement. In the short-to-medium timeframe, these groups will be the most dangerous threat and sooner or later they’ll be coming to your hideout. I don’t care how many rounds of ammo you’re carrying on the way or how much you’ve got stashed if you actually make it to your refuge. No matter how much you’ve got it won’t be enough, especially if you get in a firefight with a group that’s shooting back with high caliber, armor-piercing ordnance. And let’s not forget about the really heavy stuff – RPGs or plain old dynamite that they’ll find along the way. If you look like you’ve got equipment and food, you’re going to be a target, simple as that.

JWR is right – the safest strategy is to move away now and get established long before the crisis hits, preferably far enough away that it’s just too difficult for city hordes to get to you. (A tip of my hat to Frank B – 15 miles from the nearest asphalt road.) You’ll still be in danger from unprepared locals and groups that do make it out to the frontier but the farther away and better prepared the better.

Meanwhile, what about the millions of us who can’t relocated and are stuck in the cities? After 30 years of survival thinking related to earthquake preparedness I determined that the only effective strategy is to stay put and lay low. Don’t fire up your generator, blast your radio, and light up your house will the oil lamps you so carefully stashed for just the very event. In fact, leave all your survival equipment stashed for a couple of days until the first big wave of refugees passes by. Camouflage your place and your family to look like you’re destitute – that you have nothing, just like everyone else. With a bit of luck, the hordes will pass you by and you can then join up with neighbors, pool your equipment and resources, and develop a defense strategy. Meanwhile, whatever governmental resources exist will be directed at the cities first so there’s a likelihood that some form of law enforcement will be imposed. It’s the rural areas that will be the most lawless and there won’t be anybody out there to help enforce the peace, at least not for a very long time. Once the peace is secured in your city you can implement your long-term strategies of off-grid living, food production, bartering, and practical skills - machinery repair, welding, auto and home maintenance - that will always be in demand.

One final thought – as mentioned so often on the site, survival skills have a very steep learning curve and there is no substitute for hands-on experience and training. Read the books but then go practice! Can you find, set up, and operate your equipment in the pitch dark at 3 AM? If you’ve had a beer of two? Can your spouse, if you’re hurt? Can your kids if you’re not home? Have you ever eaten freeze-dried food? Can you take down and repair the Coleman stove? Bake biscuits? Operate a chain saw? Jury-rig a DC power cable from the car battery to your living space? Successful preparedness means that you continually ask – and answer – such questions. - Patrick C. in Southern California

I think using an aircraft as a bug-out vehicle would not be a good idea. If you look back at the emergency following the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States, you'll remember that all planes were grounded. I a 9-11 situation a small aircraft flying low or even flying at all would attract unwanted attention. Probably in a bug-out situation in a aircraft you would have to leave early before things got hot and and you risk being forced down in a strange location or being shot down. Both not good options. On 9-11-2001 my wife and I were scheduled to fly home on a commercial airline at 13:30 from half way across the country. Needless to say we found we were grounded before we finished breakfast. When I heard the news we headed to the nearest electronic teller and withdrew as much cash as was allowed. Since we were traveling by air we were traveling light and had little survival gear and virtually no weapons. First we checked the trains and found they were all stopped, same for busses. I next zipped over to the local truck rental and reserved a rental truck for a one-way trip home with a credit card. After the truck reservation was secured I went to a local car dealer and secured financing for the purchase of a late model used SUV and put a small deposit down for them to hold the vehicle. Had I had my own plane I may very well have considered hedge hopping home and would more than likely not been allowed to refuel reroute and maybe risked being arrested if I did manage to land of my own accord.

Because of the help afforded us as total strangers stranded in a strange town, far from home, we moved to the area the following year and have lived here on our small farm at the end of the gravel road ever since. - P.B.


I knew my letter regarding escape in a light plane would end up attracting the criticism of one or more experts on the subject... I'd like to address Larry in Pennsylvania's response.

First I'd like to point out that I never suggested using a Cessna 172 for anything. I merely mentioned that my father-in-law recently purchased one and that's what got me thinking about it. There are any number of light planes available, from ultralights to Cessna Caravans, and some are better suited to the task than others, depending on how far you need to go. I, for example, have friends who own a 450 acre ranch 250 miles from here. I could easily make it to their ranch in virtually any airplane without having to refuel.

I addressed some of Larry's points in my original letter. Yes, fuel is an issue, that's why I mentioned it. I think Larry might have misunderstood what I was saying. I was not suggesting putting autogas into any random airplane. There are a ton of light planes that have been STCed (Supplemental Type Certificate qualified) for autogas and many more with the same engines that could burn autogas but whose owners haven't asked for an STC. In a 1998 letter to the Experimental Aircraft Association (of which I'm a member), the FAA said "Autogas use has been extensively compared, tested, and analyzed. Autogas has been shown to be an acceptable alternative to avgas for the airplanes and engines approved for such use. Airplanes and engines approved for autogas use have met the FAA certification requirements for engine detonation, engine cooling, fuel flow, hot fuel testing, fuel system compatibility, vapor lock, and performance." More information and a copy of the letter above can be found at AviationFuel.org. What I suggested and what I'm suggesting now is research. Know ahead of time what your airplane can burn and either have it on hand or have solid plans for how to obtain it.

I also addressed Larry's concerns about overloading so I won't rehash that here other than to say again that yes, payload is an issue but it can be planned out ahead of time. I thought I was very clear that leaving by airplane was for those who had pre-positioned supplies [at a retreat].

As for obstructed runways or runways cluttered by looting, etc., I seriously doubt it in any realistic situation that would require emergency evac by air. Here is a perfectly realistic situation: Terrorists bomb the nuclear power plant that sits 150 miles upwind of my (very large) city. A fallout cloud is approaching at 15 miles per hour. The authorities screw around for four hours and then declare an evacuation of the entire city. We've got at most six hours to evacuate a huge city and its suburbs - a feat that the Gulf Coast cities can't pull off in two days! Interstates immediately become parking lots and before long are totally stopped by broken down cars. A mere fraction (5%) of the population decides to take state highways and county roads - that's 315,000 people - and the same thing happens to those roads. Whatcha gonna do?

In this scenario, do you think looters are really going to head for the airports to steal gas and oil? I doubt it would even occur to them, especially in the hours immediately after a disaster. They'll be in Best Buy and Wal-Mart stealing televisions and beer - we've already seen it happen!

My airplane suggestion was laced with caveats and the weather was certainly one of them. During many parts of the year, large parts of the country enjoy nice weather with only isolated storms. You don't need forecasts and radar to avoid bad weather. God gave you eyes and the ability to make a 180-degree turn. Pilots did it for years before these services were widely available. Further, except over congested areas, there are few places where you'll have no options for an off-field landing. Have plans 'B' and 'C' constantly in your mind. When I was flying my solo cross-countries, there was never a moment when I hadn't identified somewhere I could land if the engine quit 'right now' - my instructor beat that into my head constantly. As Larry points out, an off-field landing could invite looters but remember, the emergency is only hours old and people aren't hungry yet, and probably aren't desperate enough that the normally law-abiding become a danger.

As for Navaids such as VOR, ADF, and even GPS... Ever heard of a chart, a pencil, a stopwatch and a compass? It ain't rocket science. If the weather is good you don't need any outside help to get from A to B. Again. pilots did it for years before these were available - and for many years after, since many couldn't afford to equip their aircraft with fancy gadgets and nav radios.

Finally, once again I'll say this is a very unlikely scenario. If it happens it depends on having good weather and solid pre-planning, at least to the extent possible. The wisest course in my hypothetical situation above would be to bug out by car at the first hint of a problem - before the full extent of the problem was revealed to the masses. But if for some reason the news was delayed or something (car problems, missing family member) delayed your departure for even a few hours, leaving by car would be impossible. At that point my "Plan B" starts looking better than radiation sickness, despite some well-identified problems and risks. It's all about options. I think keeping options open is important. - Matt R.

An important note to remember if one plans to use an aircraft during some type of emergency is that the control of the National Airspace System may have been handed over to the military. If that is the case, and I think it would be as the government attempted to maintain control of things as the cascade of events progressed into TEOTWAWKI, something called SCATANA (Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids) could be implemented. This plan closes down all aircraft operations save a few fixed wing fighter interceptors under the direct control of the National Command Authority. Here’s the bottom line. Under SCATANA if you fly, without positive control from the right folks, you die. No warning, no identification passes. An example of how serious the blanket authority is enforced is illustrated by the instructions given to a USAF C-130 on 9-11-01. This aircraft, full of soldiers from one of America’s front line Divisions was over the Great Plains on an exercise. They were ordered to land at a small municipal airport immediately. These soldiers, and they weren’t just Privates, ended up renting a bus for the day long ride back to their unit. Agree desperate times may call for desperate measures but ensure you have adequate information to make the decisions. As always, planning is the key ingredient for success. Using an airplane is a possible Get Out of Dodge solution, especially if used early on in the event. Just know all the second and third order effects. Keep up the good work. Excellent site - Redcatcher21

E627K Acquisition In Swine H1N1 Raises Pandemic Concerns "The acquisition of E627K creates concern that the virus will evolve into a more lethal agent that will be associated with an increased case fatality rate in previously healthy young adults, as was seen in the 1918 Pandemic."

The first death from swine flu in Australia

Old People May Be Immune to Swine Flu

KAF found this one: Standard & Poor's cuts ratings on 18 banks

Also from KAF comes this item from Foreign Policy: What Does the End of the Recession Look Like?

Another week, another three banks bite the dust: North Carolina, Georgia, Kansas Bank Seizures Cost $363 Million. (Thanks to Karen H. for the link.)

Dr. Gary North on Inflation Versus Deflation. (Thanks to OSOM for the link.)

Another from Karen H.: Port of Los Angeles Inbound Shipping Container Traffic Down 18%

Krys in Idaho sent this: Is this the death of the dollar?

Reader Jonathan B. and SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Mike Williamson both sent this video clip that displays utter stupidity. (I cannot believe that so many people on the firing line acquiesced to being part of this!)

   o o o

Ferdinand recommended a great piece of common sense journalism by Patrice Lewis, over at WND: Calling All Kooks.

   o o o

"Dim Tim" mentioned these YouTube videos: Solar Car and Tractor, and John Howe's Solar Chainsaw.

   o o o

KAF flagged this: Absolutely prefabulous: Eco-living has never looked this good thanks to a new wave of prefabricated palaces

“He doubted whether they could survive the winter, even though they piled broken furniture into the fireplace. Some accident would quite likely overtake them, or pneumonia might strike them down. They were like the highly bred spaniels and pekinese who at the end of their leashes had once walked along the city streets. Milt and Ann, too, were city-dwellers, and when the city died, they would hardly survive without it. They would pay the penalty which in the history of the world, he knew, had always been inflicted upon organisms which specialized too highly.” - George Stewart Earth Abides , (1948), a classic pandemic novel

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Please let your friends and relatives know that SurvivalBlog is available as an RSS feed. (Just click on the "RSS" button in the top bar.) Also, be sure to mention that the entirety of the SurvivalBlog Archives (almost 7,000 articles and letters, thusfar) are available free of charge.

Hi James,
There is a mission-oriented web site with a tutorial on making valve leathers at this site. There is other useful water well-related information on the site, too.

Where John C. is living, if the static level is 400 ft., then he will be looking at needing a fairly deep well. If he gets by with less than drilling a 500 foot well I'd be surprised. Water wells here locally have a 350-400 foot static level and run 700-800 feet deep. The depth, quantity, and quality of water you find all depends on the area you live in, the underlying geology, and hydrologic conditions within the aquifer.
I agree that the submersible pump is the best choice for a deep well. In a grid down situation, a wind mill is probably your best bet. It is possible to install both systems in one well. Basically, you set the submersible some distance below the wind mill's pump cylinder. One thing you'd need to do is adjust the submersible pump so that the water level in the well is not drawn down past the top of the pump cylinder. One very important aspect to keep in mind when using a deep well with a sucker-rod type pump: use a open top pump cylinder (working barrel) where you can pull the rods, replace valve leathers and/or work on the pump valves, without pulling all of the tubing from the well.

As you mentioned, pulling up 400+ feet of 2-inch pipe from a well by hand is a challenge. It can, however, be done. Keep in mind that a 400+ ft. deep water well is actually much deeper than many early-day oil wells. Searching through old oil field related documents, photos, and museum displays can provide a wealth of very basic, mostly home built, technology that a water well owner can utilize.
Need a derrick to pull rods or pipe from your deep well? Check out what the Canadians used.

Tripod derricks were used in Canada and the U.S. in early oil fields. They were made from peeled trees, power poles, or pipe. Simple winches were used to hoist the rods and pipe from the hole.

Need a pumping jack to lift the rods in your deep well? You can't get much simpler than these or these.

Once the jack is balanced, it doesn't take a whole lot of power to lift the rods and pump the well. - Jeff B.

Hi Jim;
My wife and I are the founders of Woodhenge, an intentional community in the northern, rural part of New York State. We practice and teach self-reliance skills. One of the products that I've designed is a deep well hand pump that can be built from mostly off-the-shelf parts found in a hardware store. I sell the complete instructions for $20 and a pre-machined parts kit for $250. The kit contains all of the parts necessary for the 2" PVC cylinder and the modified pitcher pump. One of the things that makes this pump unique is that it doesn't use a rod to connect the piston in the lower part of the well to the handle but
a stainless steel cable and return spring. I do not include the cable or draw pipe...I don't know the depth of the well. I do not know if my pump design could handle the static depth of 400', but it easily handles depths of 150'. I recommend that the draw pipe diameter be reduced to keep the weight in the column of water to a manageable amount. I recommend that shallower deep wells (over 30' to the static level of the water) use 1-1/4" draw pipes, over 100' dropping to 1" diameter, etc. I will offer a big discount to the guy with the 400' well if he wants to experiment with my kit. The frictional losses of water in a smaller diameter pipe are the only factor I don't know how to calculate. My pump easily delivers about a cup of water per stroke. Further information on my pump as well as other things
we're trying to do are available on our Woodhenge web site.

I am "the King of Scrounge" mentioned in your blog a few months ago. My book "The High Art and Subtle Science of Scrounging" is now available through me. Inquiries and information are available by contacting me at jsjuczak@gisco.net. Thank you for what you do. - James S. Juczak


I've a reasonable amount of experience in electrical engineering and pumps in general so perhaps could give John C. some additional advice on deep wells.

First just a general note:
The work an electrical pump or any other electrical device needs to do requires a certain amount of electrical power which is Voltage X Current measured in Watts. As James correctly points out, a 24 volt pump requires considerably larger wires than does a 240 volt pump (to deliver the same amount of work) since wire size is determined by current (amperage). In this case figure a 24 volt system would need roughly 10x the circumference of the wire that a 240 volt system would need. Note: It's the circumference of the wire that's at issue not the area since current flows mostly along the outside of the wire. A simple way to think of electricity is to compare it to a river. The speed of the river flow is the voltage. The size of the river bed is the amperage. Both together determine the power.

Now, regarding deep wells:
Most deep wells in the west have low infiltration rates so my advice is to use a fairly small size 110 or 220 volt AC submersible pump of good quality (Grundfos make the best). The water pumped out of the well goes directly into a cistern which can be most any tank of a few hundred gallons. Mine was a 1,000 gallon fiberglass tank in the basement, which I installed before the floor was put in. Anyplace is fine as long as freezing temps are taken into account.

A simple automatic fill system is installed in the tank to turn on the submersible when you use some part of the tank up. This system allows the well to refill and also allows the pump to work better and last longer by avoiding frequent starts.You also have a ready source of stored water, if needed. You have to know your well infill rate and the depth of water over the pump inlet to determine how much to pump at any given time. Never allow a submersible pump to run dry and always install protection in the pump start control.

Since the cistern tank is unpressurized [, unless you can position it up on a hillside] you'll have to provide a centrifugal pump to charge the household lines. You can then either pump out of the cistern tank into a small pressure tank or use a demand system that turns on a small centrifugal pump every time you open a faucet. Either way works fine and all of it is cheap to buy and easy to get at to maintain.

If there are any bacterial contamination issues a small ozone generator can be installed in the cistern. They killed 100% of bacteria and spores such as Giardia when I used one to clean a Colorado stream water source. They add nothing to the water itself since the ozone turns back to oxygen within seconds of it's being generated. An ozone system does need constant power, but it's a very small amount. Essentially it's just a small UV light in a box with a tube into the water. A venturi off of a tiny pump like those used in ornamental fountains pulls the ozone into the tank.

In this system the submersible pumps into the cistern tank at "zero head" and you can get away with a smaller pump motor than you would normally use for a pressurized system. That's not only a cheaper pump, but it's easier to pull if needed. Also, since a well pump is frequently the largest power requirement in a household if you go off grid a smaller pump means a smaller generator- or something like this http://www.solarpumps.com.au/category7_1.htm.
Don't forget that a pump requires a larger starting amperage than its nominal rating. Again check with the supplier. It's important to have the pump operating in it's ideal range which is based on total lift (head ) and water (GPM) required, so check that yourself too. The charts are easy to read.

In John C's case, the water is at 400', so he'll need a well that's around 500'. Put the pump at the bottom and that's a safe 50 gallons of water available to be pumped.
Based on a 5 minute Internet search, a Grundfos 10SQ 1/2 HP pump costing $600 retail would give around 6 GPM pumping into the cistern. A 1,200 watt generator could drive it. Add a 400 gallon tank, 1/4 HP centrifugal pump for pressure, controls and it's a done deal. The well itself is going to cost around 10 grand, and hopefully you'll find water down the bottom of it.
Kind Regards, - LRM, Perth, Western Australia


I have some experience in this area in that our well has been solar powered for 5 years at our off the grid ranch.

We elected to put our well on top of a hill about 120 feet in elevation above the house. I did this because I did not want to pump my water twice and deal with a pressure tank in a separate building that I would have to heat and use additional solar power to keep up the pressure. Our four water tanks, 2,600 gallons each, are on a step, just below the well. A Pitless Adaptor allows water to be pumped into the water tanks at a depth of four feet underground for freeze protection. All pipe on the ranch is 3 feet underground, with freeze proof hydrants at key locations. There is enough thermal mass in the tanks that they do not freeze. There is 50 pounds of pressure at the house from gravity. Remember, it is always cheaper and easier to store water rather than electricity. Big water tanks are a good thing.

Our well is 300 feet deep and the pump is set at 240 feet. Static water level is 185 feet.

Having said that, a 400 feet deep well on solar power is no problem. There are two types of solar pumps I would recommend, www.lorentz.de/ and www.grundfos.com . I have a Lorentz pump. The Grundfos is also a very good pump. The Grundfos has the advantage in that besides solar power, you can hook up a wind turbine and have both wind and solar power going to the same pump. There are plenty of solar dealers selling these pumps. I have been served exceptionally wall by Dennis Austin at Solar Power and Pump Company. He always has time to help you out via phone with any questions. He does not publish his prices because they beat everyone else.

The controller on the Lorentz pump converts the DC power from the solar panels to AC power to go down the well to the pump. I am not sure how the Gurndfos system operates. Both these pumps are used extensively by aid organizations around the world to provide clean drinking water for less fortunate people in third world countries. They are pretty fool proof.

One additional consideration is that putting your solar panels on a dual axis solar tracker, will increase water output as much as 40% in the summer when you need water the most. We have a Wattsun dual axis tracker from www.wattsun.com . Their company has been around a long time and since they are active trackers with gears, they are not affected by wind like the Freon-balanced trackers.

Thanks Jim for all your hard work in helping us all out. - PD

My water has been off the grid for 12 years and while my well depth is shallower I offer my experience. The system described provides 5 GPM at 50 PSI for household laundry, bathing, and kitchen needs but I would not recommended for lawn or garden use.

I have 360 watts of solar panel and 340 amp hour of batteries [storage capacity]. The head of my well is 160 feet and I use a Sunpump SDS series well pump that draws 2 gallons per minute (at 0 pressure) to fill an 1,100 gallon cistern. The current draw is 2 amps at 24 volts. The current price for the pump is approximately $900.

The matching pump controller/current booster is a must. Note that the Sunpump SCS series is rated for 700 feet. The good news is the water pipe is ½” plastic roll pipe, bad news is the pump will need major service after about eight years.

The house is pressurized by a Dankoff Flowlight booster pump that draws from the cistern. Standard well system pressure tanks and switches complete a very reliable system. You can find the recommended 10 micron intake filters here.

The Cistern is a tank made of potable water grade plastic (made from the same mold used for septic tanks). This gives me 1,100 gallons of water that is not hot in the summer, freezing in the winter, safe from bullets, and was a fraction of the cost of an elevated water tank.

Extra battery power feeds a Magnum Energy inverter that saves some on the electric bill. - Jon in Texas

Hey Jim,
I would like to throw in my thoughts on pumping water in a power grid down situation.the wide variety of situations with water sources makes for a wide variety of solutions. I am a retired water well contractor, over twenty years residential, farm and public supply, doing both the well drilling and pumping equipment installations.

First off, if no one reads further, the best [short-term] solution is a generator powering your present system, it's how it's done, by the homeowner, farmer, by contractors, and small utilities. Larger utilities use a direct drive to the gear head on a line shaft turbine, but you won't see that on smaller systems.

To get to the situation discussed in the article, a 400' water table is considerably deep, so many times, folks think that the depth of the well is related to the depth of the water table, that's just not so, I have drilled wells 300' with static water levels 20 or more feet above the well head, hence, a naturally flowing well, and by contrast, 300' wells with 150' water tables, but generally, most levels in the 60' range in deep wells in my neck of the woods. However, water wells are as varied as the land and aquifer you are looking to get the water out of.

So to go after the logistics of getting water out of the ground and then out of your faucet, you'll have to start with the source, deep well, most common for private water systems, and the subject here, but don't write off shallow wells, cisterns, lakes and rivers or rain catchment, it's just that water out of a deep well will be free of organic compounds and safe to drink, but you should have it tested, another subject all together.

Well depth is part of it, but most important for using that well is the water table and capacity in gallons per minute. The diameter of the well will affect production to a certain extent, but mostly the diameter will determine what pumping equipment you can use, deep wells for private use will tend to be 4' or 6' steel or plastic casing, with open hole in the rock below that picking up water by capillary action and fissures, or even a screen for loose formations that produce water. A typical well install for me would be around a hundred foot of 4' well casing, down to the bedrock, then open hole down into the floridan aquifer, ending up around 200', to produce 20 gallons a minute or better with a water table about 50' and a submersible pump set at least 10 feet below the water table, and another variable, if you pump more water than your well delivers, called "drawdown", you'll be setting your pump below that drawdown level of the water table.

Submersible pumps are a great way to get water out of your well, they "push" the water to the surface, and produce good "head" with their many impellers, "head" translating to how far up the pump is pushing the water from the water table, to theoretically how far above the point of use is, that's your water "pressure"a pump that makes 300' of head will pump from a 100 foot water table and be able to pump 200' more feet above ground level, that would be more than enough to provide you with 50 or 60 pounds of pressure in your tank and at your faucet. Very efficient, generally run on AC current, and either filled with FDA-approved oil or sealed with epoxy and such to keep the electricity isolated from the water. I have heard of DC submersible motors, but never saw one, let alone installed one, something to research, I guess, may be as much to do with having an AC power grid as the the drawbacks inherit in DC motors in general. Last word on that is submersible pumps can pump from very deep water levels and are reliable, but replacement would be tough without specialized equipment,

Above-ground pumps are less efficient, but easier and cheaper to fix, especially for the do-it-yourselfers, which would be very important in a grid down economy. most common are jet pumps, one or two impellers and a jet either installed below the water table or on the face of the pump if the water level is within 30' of the surface, very important distinction there, you can only lift water, "suction" 33 feet "'one atmosphere"} vertically. Beyond that, the vacuum required will cause air bubbles to separate out of the water and you'll lose the ability to pump the water. So, the "jet" a nozzle and venturi are placed in the well, with the pump cycling most of the water thru it, lifting an additional amount of water and producing the head pressure at the same time. I could envision a DC motor on a an above ground pump, imagine they're available, if even to have one as a standby, but then again, do the math, if you're wanting run a one horsepower DC motor that'll turn the needed 3,400 rpm and to do it on twelve volts, you'll soon see the cost and sizing differences are huge.but at least everything is right there where you can work it. again, a generator or a very large solar or wind system would work as well.

In a grid-down situation, a properly sized generator would run it, but to look to solar or wind power, just do the math, I did, by the time you size something that will start and run that pump, you've got a ten thousand dollar or more system, if you want to do your house or other uses, you could use the same system to power your pump when the need arises.

If you are lifting the water less than thirty feet, the possibilities wide and varied, a straight centrifugal pump or positive displacement pumps, such as diaphragm or piston, etc. which don't need the rpm's of the impeller pumps and can even be hooked up in multiples or series, depending on power source or what you want to do with the water. To have the ability to pump out of a shallow well, or even a surface water source, this would give you water, if only for irrigation or other uses, or to be purified and then used for drinking water, "potable water".

The most viable pump system in a grid down situation, in my opinion, would be a sucker rod pump, or a pump jack, I worked on many of them, but generally just pulling them out and replacing them with submersible or jet pumps, or to abandon the well by pumping it full of grout. They are the pump systems you generally see under the old Aermotor windmills, the tall long levered hand pumps, and the much larger pump jacks used in the oil fields. The smaller sucker rod pumps are very simple, the up and down motion of the rod is transferred down the well and into [a pump cylinder under the static level of] the water, where it lifts the water one stroke at a time, very simple, with multiple power options, directly from the wind, human power, or motor driven electrically, or other, which could include about anything you could dream up as you only need to turn a pulley, the amount of power required would be widely varied as the rpm can be varied so much and it'll still pump, less water, but water. One particular model I was looking for, but didn't find is the old Crane Deeming pump jacks, a staple on the old farms, designed more for a power source other than the windmill or pump handle, although you could hook it up if the power was off. it would run on about any motor you hooked to it, as far as horsepower and rpm, "revolutions per minute" within reason, including electric, piston, or even the power take off (PTO) from your tractor. Also of consideration is that with a very low yield well, the ability to pump to a cistern or other holding device, and then to pressurize the water from there with another pump, old technology from when people made do, before our era of throwing technology and money at it till you're happy.

Here's a link to an article on building a pump jack. It drives the sucker rod that's in the well, but depending upon where you're at, the terms are kind used interchangeably. Go to the home page, browse around, or do your own search, lot's of choices out there.

My thoughts on this, if I wasn't going to use a generator if the power is down, is to have a separate well with a pump jack, or if you have a six inch well or larger, with a submersible pump in it, install a pump jack right beside it, no, I have never done that, and the easy way would be to call your local well driller or pump man, but dual pipe well heads are available, and the two systems shouldn't interfere with each other, the two possible problems would be with the submersible pump itself, or the power wire to the pump, but then, I imagine I would set the submersible pump and then the sucker rod and pipe above it,
Anyway, if you're wanting alternatives, they are out there, sounding complicated, but actually quite simple, especially if you prepare in advance, the simplest power alternative is still the generator, I know I said it again, but I also have six solar panels at 175 watts each, and a wind generator at 400 watts, with all the controllers, battery bank six by 120 Amp Hour 6 volt and a 2,400 watt inverter, which would not be adequate to run my 1hp 220 volt submersible, but a 1/4 horsepower motor on a pump jack would work, too bad I didn't keep any of that old stuff, but anyway, short of the generator, or fuel for it, would have to go with the pump jack, or for shallow water, a positive displacement pump. Would be willing to continue this discussion, if you'd like. - Mickey

I am a recent "convert" to the survival mentality. Thank you for this blog. All I can say is that it is excellent. On to my point: I too am grappling with this conundrum of how to pump water out of my deep well for my house water, although mine is more shallow (200ft). I currently have a 220 VAC 1/2 HP Gould deep well pump with a 33 gallon pressure tank to round out my water system. I've been researching the deep well pump made by Grundfos. The model is called the SQFLEX. According to the manufacturer, it can run on either AC or DC and will pump from depths of 650ft. Whole systems can be bought here http://solarwellpumps.com/solar.htm . I'm not sure if these are the real deal or not, but they have definitely piqued my interest. I spoke with one of the reps and she indicated that these pumps are used for residential use with a pressure tank (mine is 30gal). The pressure tank is also a problem. I would rather have an elevated storage tank like you recommend. The only problem with that is, for "flat-landers" such as myself, those who live in the midwest without hills. Then what do you do? Do you build a tower for all your neighbors to see (forget about OPSEC) or do you use a water storage tank and place it amongst your house rafters/trusses (which definitely won't hold up because they are of 2x4 construction and once you cut a large "idiot hole" [for post-construction passage of a large tank] you lose the structural integrity). So there I am. Not sure what to do. I would like to hear some thoughts. "Patriots" was an excellent and fast read. Sincerely, - JJ

JWR Replies: My only brief comment on installing a water tank in an attic is: watch out! When you calculate the weight of just 55 gallons, at 8.33 pounds per gallon, that is 458.15 pounds, not counting the weight of the tank itself! Definitely consult an engineer before installing any tank of substantial capacity.

Marc Faber: 10-20% Inflation Coming to US (Thanks to Mark H. for the link.)

HPD sent us a link to Mish Shedlock's commentary: Flow of Funds Report Offers Hard Evidence of Deflation

Hawaiian K. spotted this in an Australian newspaper web site: Cash to become extinct as chips take off

Items from The Economatrix:

The Cumulative Impact of Three Rogue Waves

Why Deflation, Not Inflation, is the Order of the Day

US Banks Operating Without Reserve Requirement

China's Got a New Currency...And it Sure AIN'T the Dollar "China has already begun moving into a new currency, one that is neither fiat nor flawed. And they did it in their usual manner: under the radar with great focus and determination. That new currency is natural resources."

What if The Fed Had a Sale and No One Came? "The Federal Reserve received no requests from investors for loans to buy new commercial mortgage-backed securities under an emergency program aimed at reducing borrowing costs and reviving U.S. economic growth."

Stupidity Without Borders (The Mogambo Guru)

“[The fallout in subprime mortgages is] going to be painful to some lenders, but it is largely contained." - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, March 13, 2007

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Several readers mentioned the video clip available of Sean Hannity's recent special report: Urban Survivalists. OBTW, you will note that just over three minutes into the YouTube clip that Neil Strauss (the author of the poplar book "Emergency" ) displays his survival bookshelf a copy of "Patriots".


Today we present a guest article by Axel Merk. Be sure to check out his new blog.

Russian President Medvedev suggests the dollar is on its way out; Russian Finance minister Kudrin says there is no substitute for the dollar. The Chinese see a need to diversify out of the dollar; the Japanese say their trust in the dollar is unshakable. Let’s look at this puzzle and make some sense of it.

It’s usually more productive to look at what policy makers do rather than what they say. Having said that, this time around, the talk also speaks volumes. Notably, world leaders have expressed their concern about the U.S. dollar and a need to diversify, to reduce dependence on the U.S., to build new alliances as well as to strengthen domestic markets. This is the strategic perspective. Conversely, when a finance minister speaks, it is the realistic perspective. There is simply no substitute for the U.S. dollar today; no other market is as deep and liquid, or able to absorb the cash that needs to be deployed by central banks around the world. The eurozone is (a distant) second, with no clear third contender in line. When China announced it sharply increased its gold holdings, their gold holdings actually decreased as a percentage of total reserves. That’s because the gold market is tiny compared to the money markets (or even compared to most other economic sectors) and China has mostly been acquiring domestic gold production, to avoid causing disruptions in the world markets.

Does that mean the dollar is safe and one should forget about gold as some suggest? Before you exchange your hard money for freshly printed Federal Reserve Notes (the U.S. dollar), think about the dynamics: the CEO of a country says we need to change course; the CFO says we don’t have the tools to get from A to B today. Any CEO worth their salt (and arguably some might not be) will tell the CFO not to whine about the obstacles, but come up with a solution. If you don’t have the tools, get the tools! Turning a large ship around may take some time (in the case of General Motors it took too long), but the ship will eventually change course. Circling back to the greenback, its value is set by supply and demand; more importantly, the marginal buyer or seller sets the price of the day. If, on the margin, countries increase their non-dollar holdings, odds are high it may have a negative impact on the dollar. Everybody hopes this adjustment process will be slow and gradual; with due respect, however, hope is not a strategy.

To put substance behind the hope, we believe countries around the world are racing to put the “tools” in place to be less dependent on the U.S. dollar. In Asia, for example, after the 1997/1998 financial crisis, Asian countries realized they needed to bolster their countries’ reserves. In the latest crisis, they realized that holding almost exclusively U.S. dollar reserves was a risky strategy. The solution is all too obvious, namely to develop domestic markets. This isn’t just about developing domestic consumption to create a more “balanced” world economy, this is about creating domestic infrastructures, fixed income markets in particular. Currently, many global investors invest in Asian markets by buying U.S. dollar denominated securities plus derivatives. This makes Asian issuers – governments, supranational and corporate issuers alike highly dependent on the U.S. dollar. This will only change if global investors have confidence in the stability and maturity of the local markets. The message to “CEOs” of countries around the world is to show that they are open and ready for business. Such trust is not earned overnight. In Asia, Singapore is a leader; not surprisingly, Singapore has a healthy domestic fixed income market. China is on its way, but needs to do more to provide access to its domestic markets (also see our recent analysis Geithner & China: Who are You Fooling?).

Global imbalances typically refer to the fact that the U.S. is responsible for much of the world’s consumption and spending; whereas Asia focuses on production and saving; this is quantified in the current account deficit. Historically, when the current account deficit reaches too high a portion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the currency serves as a valve to help level the playing field. To understand the dynamics, one has to realize that global imbalances will always be with us – the world is not flat. However, dangerous imbalances can be built up if the valves are disabled. Of the smaller countries, New Zealand has shown that it is willing to keep its valves open – during the boom years, interest rates were raised in an effort to calm an overheating housing market as the current account deficit approached 10% of GDP; New Zealand suffered in the bust, but unlike most countries, allowed market forces to play out. The currency suffered substantially, but the country is now better positioned than most to participate as the world tries to reflate. At the other end of the globe, take Latvia, which has a current account deficit of about 26% of GDP while insisting on pegging its currency to the euro. Not only has the Latvian economy been wrecked, possibly for years to come, it may pull Sweden down with it, because Swedish banks have substantial exposure to the Baltic country. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others are rightfully concerned about what may happen to neighboring countries if and when Latvia devalues its currency. Ask anyone in New Zealand and the response is that the roller coaster of its currency has been no fun and painful to many businesses; however, these are rough economic times and New Zealand has swallowed its medicine. When countries resist, far greater harm can be caused.

This past weekend, finance ministers gave a pep talk for the dollar. They also assured the world that the focus is shifting from saving the world’s financial system from collapse to the “exit” strategy; German chancellor Merkel has been a leading voice in warning central banks that the current policies may lead to substantial inflation. Let us discuss the dynamics here briefly: a key driver of inflation is inflationary expectations – when inflation is a fear, employees will ask for higher wages; businesses will try to push for higher prices, amongst others. As a result, central banks seem to believe that printing money is no problem as long as the markets believe that central banks have an exit strategy; that central banks will mop up all the liquidity in time. To recap, why do central banks say they are working on an exit strategy? That’s what the market wants to hear. How likely is it that they are indeed going to get tough? In our assessment, it’s about as likely as a balanced budget from the U.S. administration.

We have had a lot of talk of “green shoots”, but once one looks deeper, most negative news one hears are facts, whereas most positive news appears to be subjective forecasts and expectations of policy makers. Dark clouds on the horizon include sharply rising mortgage rates (in progress); major trouble in the commercial real estate sector; a continued dislocation in the housing market where home prices cannot be sustained by income; a big wave of foreclosures yet to come as many of those who bought their houses at the peak of the market in 2007 are likely to see big challenges in the summer of 2010 as their mortgages begin to reset. In the banking sector, problems have been brushed away by easing accounting rules. In Europe, a catastrophe in Baltic countries may only be a matter of time; while the IMF and central banks around the world may ride to the rescue, does this sound like the beginning of the exit strategy? Not to us.

Add to that the amount of debt that needs to be raised by the U.S. government. According to our calculations, at least US$15 billion may need to be issued every single business day until the end of the year. This will require a substantial ramp up from the pace seen in recent weeks, a pace that saw bond prices plunge (long term interest rates rise) due to the increased supply of government bonds in the market. When considering that summer months tend to be slower months for governments to issue debt (it’s vacation time around the world), we believe long-term interest rates may have to rise substantially later this year to attract buyers. The U.S. government will be able to finance its deficits, the question will be at what cost. Interest rates are one issue; the other is whether government activities will crowd out private sector borrowers. Corporate America also needs to finance its operations, not just the government, and where is that money going to come from? What about all the other countries that are issuing record amounts of debt? Just ask Latvia – a recent government bond auction yielded zero bidders. But even established countries, say Ireland, have seen the cost of its borrowing surge.

That’s when the bad may turn to ugly: how will central banks, notably the Federal Reserve (Fed) in the U.S. react should interest rates soar? Will they allow it to happen as they currently posture? It looks to us that we risk a collapse of economic growth if the cost of financing soars. There is still too much leverage in the U.S. economy, at the consumer level in particular. At this stage, a broken system has been propped up; the housing market is seen as key to an economic recovery – and all that money printing will have been in vain if market forces overwhelm the Fed by pushing interest rates higher. Naturally, the Fed puts up a brave face. Ultimately, this may be a game of chicken where Fed talk aims to keep interest rates low. However, we believe the Fed may blink first, and increase its financing activities of the U.S. deficit; by printing the money to finance government debt, the Fed may jeopardize the U.S. dollar, in particular if the Fed, as we believe, will be “more efficient” at printing money than other central banks around the world.

Will events unfold as described here? We don’t know, but we believe the risk is real; and if investors agree this risk is real, they may want to consider doing something about it in their portfolio allocation. We have not exchanged our gold for Federal Reserves Notes.

- Axel Merk, Manager of the Merk Hard and Asian Currency Funds

Dear Jim:,
All this recent discussion by SurvivalBlog readers about hot-wiring airplanes, and cutting fences and locks is missing some basic, well, let's just say "applied ethics".

Recall the Golden Rule "Do unto others as they have done unto you". Flip the situation around and look at it from the property owner's view: How would you feel if you saw someone stealing your airplane? (Your life savings in an aircraft.)

How would you feel upon noticing someone cutting the fence or gate that keeps your cattle off the road?

Granted, in a life-threatening emergency you may morally take liberties with other folk's property that are not normally available. If a rancher saw someone drive through their fence because they were being hotly pursued by criminals - they would probably be understanding of the circumstances.

If a rancher or farmer saw someone with bolt cutters working on their fence - someone who has obviously premeditated trespassing - at the very least they are going to be confronted. In a really bad situation, perhaps after dark, it could easily end up in a situation where they will be shot.

The wise and honorable person will pre-plan ethical actions. The obvious macro solution is getting out of Dodge early. If you are going to pre-plan using an airplane, then preplan by becoming a trusted rental customer, know how to contact the owner on short notice and rent for cash, with a security deposit in gold coin.

The suggestion to cut a link and add a lock to a gate rather than cutting the lock makes sense so you have not destroyed the property owner's lock. But be extremely cautious about planning on trespassing on other folk's property... I wouldn't imagine country folk are going to take trespassing lightly in an emergency - I can't see how it could be done safely unless you can hail the farmhouse for permission. Any ranchers out there with an idea how this scenario could be handled ethically and safely? Regards, - OSOM

JWR Replies: I concur, wholeheartedly. It is just one small step from applied ethics to applied ballistics. It is of the utmost importance to respect the property of others. While utilizing BLM or or other public land in an emergency is a given, simply cutting across private farm or ranch land in the midst of a disaster is likely to get interlopers well-ventilated rather quickly. Put yourself in the position of a rancher. If in the midst of a societal collapse you saw someone breaking open your locked gate, what would you do? For many, the answer will be "shoot first and ask questions later."

As I have emphasized time and time again in my writings, the very best approach is to live at your retreat year-round. That is great for retirees and the self-employed. But for many folks that is impossible, because or work and family obligations. So the next best approach is to have a very well-stocked, very secure retreat, and maintaining your readiness to get there on very short notice. Nearly all of your key logistics should be pre-positioned at your retreat. Do not think in terms of finessing your gear into the cubic feet available in your vehicle. If you take the time to shoehorn things in, you are probably wasting precious time that should be spent on the road, getting out of town in advance of the Golden Horde. Just a one hour delay could mean the difference between smooth sail and ending up in a a monumental traffic jam that soon becomes a linear parking lot. You should simply keep one Bug Out Bag (typically a backpack) and a supplementary duffle bag ready at all times. Be ready to grab them and go. Pre-positioning your gear eliminates much of the worry and confusion of a Get Out of Dodge situation.

Needless to say, you'll need a Plan B and a Plan C. You may end up on a bicycle, or on foot.

Think things through, plan ahead, and act morally. If and when things fall apart, you want to be part of the solution, rather than contributing to the problem.


In response to our reader's suggestion of using a Cessna172 for escaping. That is probably one of the poorest choices I could imagine. It has many faults and I'll list them FWIW.
First of all I have over 2,500+ hours flying Air Charter and Air Taxi under Part 135 FAA Regs. I took the same tests flying single and twin engine aircraft as any airline pilot did with the only exception was that I was not required to have a first class medical as they did. So I am twin engine, Commercial and Instrument rated.

Problems with a Cessna 172:

It does not have a big payload especially when fully-fueled and the tendency to overload it would be great and dangerous. Automotive fuel should not be used, i.e. I would not fly one filled with automotive fuel. Tests were done with using it years ago and many problems were found.

Aircraft weather [data] would most likely be unavailable.

VOR and other navigation aids would probably also be unavailable. Okay, If you had a GPS unit you might be able to navigate.

Our lifeblood, gasoline would most likely by unavailable, especially aviation gas since it can be used in automobiles and would be subject to being stolen if the electricity to pump it out was available. I used to run a tank of 100 low lead aviation gas through my motorcycle about once a month.

Runways could and most likely would be obstructed or otherwise cluttered from looting, fuel, oil theft, etc., etc..

Without weather information what would be your chances of finding a suitable landing strip or even an open highway strip if you found yourself approaching thunder storms, icing conditions fog, or a large [weather] front. If you could or did land, especially under power, would attract the looters for the fuel and whatever else you have in the plane.

ILS, VOR or even ADF stations could or would be off the air making a bad weather approach deadly.

You could, literally, be shot out of the air by angry looters thinking the plane may contain supplies they want or just by some idiot with sufficient ammo angry at their situation. I know of a glider pilot shot through the arm by a guy who lived by the airport.

The preceding is just a drop in the bucket. I could go on.

I did consider "borrowing" an aircraft to get home should the SHTF while I was far from home but it would be just to get home and all conditions would be carefully considered and near perfect. It would not be a bug-out option should I need to bug out.

IMHO an aircraft might be an option very early on in a SHTF situation but again conditions would have to be very favorable. - Larry in Pennsylvania

KAF sent this from Newsweek: Making Sense of Stimulus Spending; How accurate is Obama's claim of 150,000 jobs "saved or created"?

Thanks to Douglas S. for sending the link to a lengthy speech by Dimitri Orlov: Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation. It is was a good and well-intentioned speech, overall, but there were elements that showed that Orlov still has a bit of residual Soviet Era collectivism that he needs to work out of his psyche. Oh, and by the way, I'm not giving up my well-provisioned bunker in an undisclosed location. (The Memsahib still jokes about doing a needlepoint that reads "Bunker, Sweet Bunker.")

From HPD: Why I Expect Serious Stagflation

Items from The Economatrix:

Fiat ("Fix It Again Tim) Money In Death Throes "He is also mistaken when he assumes that Bernanke & Co. still has one more chance. The chance they just blew was the last. We are witnessing the closing of the regime of irredeemable currency and irredeemable debt. We may not know how long its death throes will take, but there will be no other chance... ...Once the government makes the currency irredeemable, it puts itself in the position to curtail the rights and freedoms of the people as it sees fit. Constitutional government is effectively overthrown. Once the government usurps the public purse, its power becomes uncontrollable. Budget debate in Parliament or in Congress becomes an annual farce. Nothing stands in the way of unscrupulous politicians to undermine constitutional government."

How Much of Bank Earnings are Real?
Two key quotes: "The best award for accounting abuse, however, goes to Goldman Sachs. By switching to calendar year from a fiscal year ending November, suddenly the credit losses of $780 million disappeared from both 2008 report and Q1 2009 report, nowhere to be seen in the future. Of course, this has driven the stock price way up, a perfect timing to dump more shares to the public as far as there are suckers out there." and, "I indicated how banks have used CDS to book fake earnings, now they have found another way to use CDS, even better than the accounting trick of negative basis trading. The unwinding of CDS contracts related to AIG led to huge gains for the major banks for Q1.... Most [of] these “profits” are actually coming from AIG, or our bailout money given by government to AIG, now being funneled through and then recorded as “earnings” by major banks during the unwinding process of CDS wild bets between AIG and major banks in past years. This is really a special time for capitalism; public taxpayer’s money suddenly becoming private earnings for banks. It is again time to pay more bonuses out to bankers for such a great creativity."

Schoon: Death Watch
A couple of quotes: "We live in extraordinary times. Poised between the past and the future, never has the present been so uncertain. But, when certainty comes, it will be in the form of a scythe and ducking will be the only option." and, "No matter how respectable their appearance, the greatest enemies of society and freedom today are central banking and centralized government—the twin towers of monetary Mordor."

From John Galt in Fla.: The Four Horsemen of the Bond Market Apocalypse

JR Nyquist: Holding It Together
"Today’s economic troubles are part of a larger unraveling. We do not hear much talk – in newspapers or TV – about this unraveling. People are still trying to be optimistic. ... What else can they do? They dare not admit that nuclear proliferation is ongoing, that war is inevitable. They dare not admit that time is running out, that our enemy is at the gates."

North Korea May Fire a Missile at Hawaii "...the South Korean government is bracing for 'all possible scenarios' regarding the nuclear standoff. The independent International Crisis Group think tank, meanwhile, said the North's massive stockpile of chemical weapons is no less serious a threat to the region than its nuclear arsenal. It said the North is believed to have between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, phosgene, blood agents and sarin. These weapons can be delivered with ballistic missiles and long-range artillery and are 'sufficient to inflict massive civilian casualties on South Korea.'"

   o o o

Obama Lights North Korea's Fuse

   o o o

Officials: US Tracking Suspicious Ship From North Korea

   o o o

Analysts Say North Korea's Chemical Weapons Pose As Grave A Threat As Their Nukes

'There is an old song which asserts 'the best things in life are free.' Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted . . . and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears." - Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Friday, June 19, 2009

I know that I have seen posts about deep water wells, but when I search I really don't see that many applicable posts. I am looking at a property where water [static level] is about 400 feet down. In a "grid-up" scenario, this isn't really a problem, but I am looking for "grid-down" options for using a well at this depth. Not knowing much about the specifics of wells, I am not having much luck searching with Google, either. Would you be able to cover some deep well basics and some options for grid down/solar/backup pumping, specifically for deep wells?

Thanks so much for the blog. I have been an avid reader (pretty much daily) for two years and have several copies of your book to loan out to friends. - John C.

JWR Replies: As per your request, here are a few deep well basics:

Solar and wind power are the best solutions for deep wells in a grid-down collapse. If you live in an area with reliable winds, a windmill used in conjunction with a large gravity-fed tank or cistern, is relatively inexpensive and trouble-free. Photovoltaics are getting less expensive with each passing year, but system complexity is an issue, especially with systems that use a battery bank. (To maintain water pressure during hours of darkness, you will either need to store water in a gravity-fed cistern, or you will need a battery bank, so that you can operate your well pump. )

Deep wells can be pumped with submersible AC pumps, but not submersible DC pumps. This is because the "line loss" (voltage drop) in DC cabling is tremendous. Even with fat, heavy gauge DC cables, if you start out with 24 Volts DC (VDC) at your battery bank, you will likely be down to just two or three volts at 400 feet! Given that sad fact, there are two good solutions:

1.) Use a DC-to-AC inverter top-side, and run AC cabling down the well shaft to an AC well pump. (Note: Many of these pumps require 220 VAC, so you will either have to use a much more expensive 220-capable inverter, or replace the pump with a 120 VAC model. (You may be an electrical neophyte, and asking "What type of pump do I have?" Take a quick look at your AC circuit breaker box. If the breaker labeled "Well Pump" is a pair of breakers that are ganged-together with a wire loop so that they'll be actuated simultaneously, then the chances are 99% that you have a 220 VAC pump.)


2.) Install a jack ("cricket") type pump or a windmill to actuate the sucker rod pump cylinder. Traditionally, sucker rods were made from hardwoods such as white ash. More recently they've been made with metal or fiberglass. Even with ash wood, their service life is measured in decades. The pump cylinders are made of brass and will last many decades. However, the pump leathers will eventually wear out, so you should consider buying a couple of spare sets and storing them someplace safe from mice and moisture/mold. Unfortunately changing all of the leathers on a down-hole sucker-rod actuated pump means yanking the entire sucker rod and then the weight of all 400 feet of your service line. That is a lot of weight, requiring a heavy duty hoist and of course all the usual "mind your head, fingers and toes" safety precautions and protective gear. Lifting a 1-1/2" or 2" diameter 400 foot long pipe is no problem for a pump company, but it would be a challenge for a typical rural family working with an improvised hoist. I recommend that you watch your pump company man carefully as he installs the pump in your well for the first time. You will notice that the crucial piece required is the flange that catches the pipe unions on each 20+ foot long section of service line pipe as they are raised or lowered in the well casing.

I've previously owned a jack type pump, and in my experience I found them problematic. I would much rather use an AC submersible pump.

Shallow wells (say, 50 feet or less) can be pumped with a DC submersible pump. I generally advise my consulting clients to "hang" both an AC pump and and a DC pump, one above the other in the same well casing, for the sake of versatility an redundancy.

James Wesley,
I have just recently came across your blog. Thank you. I also just started saving nickels. I am a bit confused. Do you save all nickels or just pre-1965? I just finished Patriots this morning. Are the silver pieces used for barter in your novel nickels? Thanks, - Brent H.

JWR Replies: You aren't the only one that is confused about nickels, since outwardly, they appear as if they might be made of silver. To clarify: In general, it is just pre-1965 dimes, quarters, half dollar and dollars are 90% silver. The only nickels with silver content were made from 1942 to 1945, when WWII caused a strategic shortage of nickel. (These are 35% silver, and commonly called "War Nickels", by collectors.) All other post-1945 U.S. nickels, including those of current production, are 75% copper and 25% nickel.

Because the base metal value of nickels is now nearly as great as their face value, it is likely that the metals formulation of nickels will soon be changed. (It now costs the U.S. Mint more than five cents to mint each nickel.) For that reason, I recommend that my readers accumulate rolls of nickels as an inflation hedge, before any such change takes place.

The other US con that causes confusion is the half dollar. These were formulated with 90% silver up until 1964, then 40% silver from 1965 to 1970, and then nearly worthless silver-plated copper slugs ("cupronickel coins") from 1971 onward.

There are a few exceptions to the foregoing, such as Mint Proof Sets, some of which are still minted in 90% silver, but the chances of finding any of those in circulation is miniscule.

Having a lot of propane on hand has some serious issues. Homeland Security via "Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act" (EPCRA) requires anyone that has more than 10,000 pounds of virtually any hazardous material (except for explosives and radioactive materials that have their own unique requirements), to report that quantity to the State Homeland Security Office, the local Fire Marshal, and the Local Emergency Management Manager yearly. These reports are open to anybody that wants to see them. (Now you know how the bad guy knows where the stuff is, all they have to do is ask and the Emergency Manager has to give them the information by law). I am not making that up, either. I am a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (a county wide group with members appointed by the state) which is responsible for looking about, finding illegally stored material and requiring compliance. To comply with the act, I file what is known as a Tier II report to the three agencies listed above yearly listing propane, diesel, and gasoline quantities on hand and a set of plans of the operation showing where such is stored. So if being off the radar is important to you [then keep under 10,000 pound limit.] I always try to work within the system. Of course if the system fails, all bets are off anyway.

After several years of working on the project (more pointedly, working with the vendor), I have the capability to pump propane from a pair of 1,000 gallon tanks that are connected on the bottom for propane liquid connection. The skid based 12,000 pound full unit has a 240 volt power supply to the electric pump that does the work moving liquid propane from the storage to the smaller tank it is filling. If the grid is up, the pump will run on it, when the grid is down, I have an automatic generator that kicks in (that just happens to run on propane) that will power our main well and power the [electric] propane pump motor.

Of course with propane, there is always a security problem. You know, someone sitting up a high hill with an API bullet just waiting for the right time to set off the show. Big white tanks make an easy target. Hopefully, we will have our perimeter secure if there is that need. Take the advice though. Camouflage the tanks asap if Schumer gets spread by the fan. Otherwise, white or silver reflects heat very well and keeps your propane tanks happy.

I have also purchased a 250 gallon propane tank that I fabricated onto a skid using 2x6 rectangular steel incorporating a pair of forklift ports. I can pick this tank up with a diesel powered skid steer and since I had the small tank plumbed on the bottom for liquid with the proper connector, I can feed liquid propane by gravity 250 gallons at a time to any tank on the ranch. It is very difficult to talk your local distributor to participate in this kind of project because they are turning you into a potential competitor. But because I live 15 miles from the nearest asphalt road and over 60 miles to the nearest town. Power outages for a week are not uncommon. If the whole grid went down for a year, we would still have power periodically as we fill the stock tanks and keep the freezers cold. Overall, I believe we have a bit over 7,000 gallons of propane which would power our "headquarters" for many months and maybe years if used part time. It will keep indefinitely if kept comfortably cool with no additives needed.

Yes, I have a propane powered vehicle. However, if you put propane into a vehicle to use as fuel, you should be paying state tax on that propane (and federal no doubt soon). Therefore I would never suggest such an action unless you know your local state tax collector personally. I, of course fuel my propane powered vehicles at the local propane fill operation. Unlike Agricultural Diesel (Red) and Residential Fuel Oil (Green), Residential Propane has no marker to trace where it came from. The last time I filled my truck with propane, it was 2.70 a gallon with residential use propane being (summer rate) at $1.49. The trick of course is having the right nozzles. Being able to fill vehicles and small 25/35 pound tanks (BBQ tanks), is a really handy thing. Good luck getting those nozzles. They are worth more than silver by weight and they are made only of bronze. Again, the trick is to get your local distributor work with you. You can't just find this stuff on the internet, I know because I tried.

Propane fired vehicles have several advantages. Because propane is such a clean burning fuel, combined with synthetic oil in your crankcase, you don't have to change the oil very often. Perhaps several years between oil changes if you only use the vehicle sparingly. I have put over 10,000 miles on an oil change before and it really didn't look dirty though it may have lost some of it's lubricating qualities. Synthetic oil is more expensive but doesn't break down and stays much cleaner than oil in engines fired with gasoline and especially diesel fuel tanks. Propane wins hands down.

Another advantage, when there is the next mass evacuation, lines will form at any gas station that is open. There won't be any lines at your local propane distributor. Heck, if you get the right adaptor, you could hook a BBQ tank up to your vehicle. (That is illegal by the way but in a pinch......).

Most propane conversions enable dual fuel use. Either regular gasoline or propane may be used by my personal conversion. Just flick a switch, (hit the solenoid with a tech-tap once in a while) and your off running on the other fuel. My pickup has a 600 mile cruising range now. Two gas tanks, and an 80 gallon propane tank. Your power is reduced slightly but your mileage is similar to using gasoline.

Propane conversions are available for most gasoline engines including lawn mowers, boats, automobiles (there are even donut shaped tanks made to fit in the spare tire area), and trucks. Trucks enable a larger tank to be mounted forward in the bed. Mine fits nicely under a short tool box and it is impossible to see unless you look over the bed. It sort of just blends in.

Having said the preceding, it may not be easy to find someone who has the technical savvy to do an installation on your vehicle. Also, they tend to be fly by night guys who recycle many parts over and over again and do it as a sideline. (I'm not saying there aren't professionals out there, just a heads up). I would call the conversion about a 6 out of 10 if you like automobile work. About two days of dedicated "spare time" will do most conversions. Just make sure you don't route the propane hose next to an exhaust line or you might be driving a flare down the road and make the papers. So much for staying off the radar.

A good neighbor asked me if I was afraid when he saw that I was a "survivalist". I said "no, I am prepared". (My nearest neighbor is 4 miles away). Now he is also working on contingency planning with fall back plans to me if he fails. The guy shoots running coyotes at 300 yards, that skill might come in handy if coyotes become a problem. Signed, - Frank B. (15 miles from the nearest asphalt road)

Chem-Bio Daily (hosted by Anser.org) reports: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts have rejected a report that a new strain of the novel H1N1 influenza virus has been identified in a Brazilian patient.” (Thanks to NH for the tip.)

Clouded, Suspicious Baxter to Make Swine Flu Vaccine

Virus Mix-Up By Lab Could Have Resulted in Pandemic

Swine Flu Cases Spring Up in Middle East

Bird Flu Virus Can Survive For Two Years in Birds' Carcasses [JWR Adds an Important Safety Tip: Do not eat two-year old bird carcasses!]

Kids May Get Swine Flu Shots First

Readers Greg C. and FJR both sent us this "must read" piece by Chris Hedges: The American Empire is Bankrupt

KAF sent this key indicator of some incipient unraveling: Standard & Poor's cuts ratings on 18 banks

From frequent content contributor GG: China sells US bonds to 'show concern'

Also from GG: Russia's industrial output drops massive 17 per cent in May despite government reassurances

Items from The Economatrix:

Californian Hard Times Driving People Back to the "Dust Bowl"

US Mortgage Applications Plunge to Near Seven-Month Low

That Worrying Wall of Debt "...the leveraged loan market is fixated on one number: $430 billion, the amount in leveraged loans due to mature between 2012 and 2014. Despite the big numbers of the past, this might be simply too big. Indeed, the $430 billion figure is already worrying lenders, borrowers and loan-market investors alike as they struggle with the possibility that a large portion of those loans will neither be repaid nor refinanced, raising the specter of a wave of defaults among the debt-fueled LBO borrowers of 2005 through 2007."

The Hammer Drops Fiscal year 2010 starts soon for California and other states......

Roubini Sees Weeds Amid "Green Shoots" "In addition to green shoots there are also yellow weeds." Economy could expand slightly only to begin contracting again.

British Airways Ask Staff to Work for Free. [JWR Adds: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. Since this is an un-paid day for me, sort of a holiday, I hope that you don't mind if I indulge in a few aerobatics."]

Stocks Fall Mostly on Bank Downgrades, FedEx Warning

Sotheby's Rating Faces Downgrade By Moody's in Market Decline

Eddie Bauer Files for Bankruptcy

The Continuing Saga of the Ponte Chiasso Affair
If the bonds are fake, then why are the perps not in jail? If they are fake, why is there a near-blackout in the US news media? If they are fake, why has the US not declared them so (they were discovered on June 8th)?

Sssssshhhh...It's D...D...D...Deflation [Scroll down]

Total US Jobless Rolls Drop Sharply To Nearly 6.7 Million
What isn't shown is how many people have exhausted their benefits and simply fallen off the rolls, or how many people have had to accept part time work instead of full time work.

Health Care Costs [To Employers] to Rise 9% In 2010 "If the underlying costs go up by 9 percent, employees' costs actually go up by double digits," [and] "that will have a 'major, major impact' when many employers also are freezing or cutting pay."

Town-Friendly Bank Left Nasty Mess

A SurvivalBlog reader in Alaska mentioned some commentary by John Derbyshire in The National Review. Don't miss the last line!

   o o o

Backyard Chickens On Rise, Despite Neighbors' Clucks

   o o o

Popular Culture Update: Preparedness has migrated from your street to Main Street, to Sesame Street.

   o o o

A reader in Canton, Ohio mentioned a blast-hardened Microwave Repeater Facility for sale in New Philadelphia, Ohio, that might be suitable as a defendable 'bug-in" group retreat.

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. - Will Rogers

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I liked JC in Oklahoma's reply to Escape From (Fill in Your City Here), 2009 but with all due respect, I would not cut someone else's lock. Most gates that I have seen around where I live, have a chain with a lock. I would advise cutting a link out of the chain and attaching your lock, like a replacement link. This way you keep the owner somewhat happy and still accomplish the task of passing thru the gate as well as being able to cross back through.

Now I need to get out and check what routes I might use to leave in a hurry. - Jim B

My father-in-law just bought a Cessna 172 [single engine light aircraft] and that got me thinking about this. An option folks might consider is getting out by air. Depending on the nature of the emergency, escape by light airplane might be a very viable option for those who learn to fly and stay current enough to be relatively safe (that is to say, maybe not totally legal but good enough to pull off a single long trip in good weather). I say relatively because in a SHTF scenario, some things just don't matter quite as much. I'd much rather risk my life flying while not totally current than wait in my single-story house for a fallout cloud to arrive.

It has been almost twenty years since I took the bulk of my flying lessons. (I had logged 45 hours total and needed only my last cross-country and a check ride when I ran out of [flight training] money) but I've flown a number of times since and have no doubt I could get from here to a thousand miles from here if the weather was good and I could carry or otherwise obtain enough fuel.

I figure a guy has two options for getting a plane if TSHTF. The first, and ideal, option is to have a cultivated relationship with the flight school owner or operator. If TSHTF, you call him at home and rent the plane. The second, and it is doubtless you (Jim) won't like it, is to "borrow" a plane using a key you cut the last time that you rented it. Cycle through renting all of the planes during your instruction and you'll have your choice of aircraft... Of course taking a plane without permission is theft, but the intention is to return the plane. If it's life or death I'll deal with the ethical questions later. Remember, these are flight school planes rented to students, not "another man's food" and if it really did hit the fan, people aren't going to be lining up for flying lessons today anyway. [JWR Adds: While I cannot condone theft, I should mention that is common practice, particularly with flight schools at small airports, to have all of the yoke or throttle locks keyed-alike, for the convenience of the instructor pilots. Also, most throttle shaft locks are not very robust. In an emergency, a pair of bolt cutters can be used to remove a lock. And furthermore, on many aircraft models, the throttle knob is held in place with one or two Allen head set screws, or made of molded plastic, and can therefore be cut, crushed, or otherwise removed, allowing a throttle shaft lock to then be slid off.]

There are a couple logistical considerations here. One is fuel. Some light planes can burn autogas (car gas) but many require leaded Avgas. In either case, you'll need to be prepared to carry enough fuel to get you where you need to go. It is doubtful that in any situation that requires that you 'borrow' a plane that fuel pumps will be operational at your intermediate stops. Even if the automated pumps work, the credit card networks could be down. You might be able to siphon gas (more theft) from other parked planes bring. a self-priming siphon!) but to be safe you're going to have to carry full gas cans. Research into lead substitutes might be useful, though I'm unsure if any suitable products exist. Better perhaps to concentrate on planes that can burn automotive gasoline.

[JWR Adds: Tetraethyl lead (TEL) is sold under the trade name Octane Supreme 130 (and other names, sold at some General Aviation flight centers, FBOs, and at automotive speed shops.) It can be used, but it must be carried in a container that has a perfect seal, even with pressure changes. Do NOT carry it in an aircraft passenger compartment. Parenthetically, there is "TEL Tale" in the biography of Charles Lindbergh. A leaky cap on a large can of TEL stowed behind his seat once almost killed him, while on a flying tour of South America. (He very nearly passed out and crashed.) Keep in mind that when used in ground vehicles, TEL will foul oxygen sensors very quickly, and of curse cannot be used in vehicles with catalytic converters. Its use would also violate Federal Clean Air standards, so it would not be legal for use on public highways. Keep in mind that TEL can be used to extend the useful life of "elderly" stored stabilized gasoline, as well as of course mixing your own high-octane blend from stored low-octane gas, so I recommend keeping a couple of bottles on hand.]

The second logistical problem is payload, and it is greatly affected by the fuel problem. Most light planes cannot safely carry a full load of passengers and bags plus a full load of fuel. If you're carrying jerry cans of gas, don't count on taking much in the way of baggage and there's no way you'll be able to fill every seat with a passenger. Most of the weight and balance calculations with regard to fuel, passengers and baggage can be worked out ahead of time though, so you'll know what you can pull off. In the end this will only work for someone who has pre-positioned their supplies [at their retreat.

This approach has advantages: Zero traffic jams. Zero river crossings. Zero chance of being looted on the highway. Again, I'm only suggesting this as a last-ditch SHTF way to get out of Dodge. I would not steal food if doing so could potentially cause someone else to starve. Same thing on a weapon, vehicle or any other item. But in my mind the the equation is simple here: My life is worth more than a flight school's airplane. In the end this is an extremely unlikely scenario, but it's an arrow in your quiver and a fun one to prepare for. - Matt R.

I would like to whole-heartedly second Chris M’s article that skills are more important than stuff. A wide basis of knowledge provides you and your family new options as you develop courses of action to solve a specific problem during a crisis. While I’ve been stuck as a suburbanite in the Washington area for the last two years, I’ve exploited my access to military and civilian training to more than make up for my vulnerability. I’ve joined local weapon/hunting ranges, significantly improving my pistol, rifle and bow skills. I’ve become certified as a Level I Combatives Instructor. I’m scheduled to attend EMT training and certification in September. I’m getting my first batch of vegetables out of my garden in a few weeks….and then I’ll start some canning. To top it all off, I’ve gotten a basic workshop set up and I’m doing my best to do all my own small repairs. In the last two weeks, I’ve fixed problems with my car, my lawn mower and then my house. Hunting, well, that will probably be next year.

Besides the obvious benefit of saving money, I want to emphasize the feeling of self-empowerment every time I solve a problem myself. Sure, nothing goes right the first time, but I learn a lot and I do get it done (my wife would add the work “eventually” here). I recommend re-reading Mr. Kilo's “Letter Re: Learning the Details of Self-Sufficiency” and his description of the “conscious competence learning model.” It’s all about working towards self-reliance as much as possible. After twenty-plus year in the Army as a leader and supervisor using “soft skills”, I am working hard to build up many of the practical “hard skills” that Chris already has. Hats off to you Chris! (OBTW everyone, don’t forget physical fitness!) - Conn

A friend of mine reminds me that skills are important, but also are tools. Hard to dig a hole without a shovel.

As a practicing locksmith, I discovered during a service call, that the combination of skills plus tools plus parts is what's needed. I can go to a locksmith call, and leave my hole saw home. Can't install deadbolts. Or, I can have my van, but not the right lock. And many people have tools and locks, but can't do the job. - C.A.Y.

On Monday you noted reaching the 9 million unique visits mark. Congratulations! You also noted having readers on "every continent except Antarctica". As a former employee of Raytheon Polar Services working in the United States Antarctic Program, I was able to visit two of the three permanent U.S. stations on "the Ice". Whether the [SurvivalBlog] Clustmap will register it or not, you occasionally have had, and may continue to have people reading your blog in Antarctica.

Thanks for the great work that you do, and I am praying for your family. Regards, - J. in Texas

Obama unveils broad financial oversight plan; blames current financial crisis on ‘a culture of irresponsibility’. New powers for the Federal Reserve? Wait a minute! Weren't they the private banking cartel that got us into this mess, with artificially-low interest rates?

AIG Refuses Crash Claims "That division [airline insurance] didn't get any bailout money."

Black Swan Trader Bets Reputation on Inflation

This one is a "must see": Peter Schiff on The Daily Show (Thanks to GG for the link.)

GG also sent this from Barron's: Will Bad News Be Good for the Dollar Again? Foreigners exited U.S. assets in April as the rally took hold. Will they return if correction hits?

Chuck H. flagged this AIM article: The Plan For Socialist World Government

Items from The Economatrix:

FBI Targets Fraud In TARP, Stimulus Fund "With billions of dollars at stake ... even a small percentage of fraud would result in substantial taxpayer losses," Mueller said. The FBI has been bracing for a wave of fraud and corruption cases stemming from the government's multitrillion-dollar effort to stimulate the economy and help ailing banks."

Federal Reserve to Get New Powers

California Gas Price Passes $3 Again

Retail Gas Rises For 49th Straight Day

Report: Stimulus Program Fraught with Waste For example, a $3.4 million tunnel for turtles.

US Debt is at $250,000 For Every Man, Woman and Child in US

Russia Challenges US Dollar

The Surprise is on Silicon Valley, Thanks to Obama. Silicon Valley did a lot to help Obama get elected "and Silicon Valley naturally assumed that the new president would do the same in return. It hasn't quite turned out that way. The first surprise to many Valleyites is how innately anti-entrepreneurial the new administration has turned out to be. Candidate Obama looked like a high tech executive -- smart, hip, a gadget freak -- and he certainly talked pro-entrepreneur. But the reality of the past six months has been very different. "

Stocks Bear Market Rally Over "The U.S. Dollar is rising from the dead for yet another intermediate-term rally, commodities are about to plunge deeply, and stocks are set to re-test the lows of March, 2009 and/or November, 2008.... Housing hasn't bottomed, bank failures are set to accelerate, international trade is falling off a cliff, unemployment continues its rise unabated, and earnings are dropping precipitously around the world (except for the Gold mining sector). Get out of the stock market unless you are short or a long-term Gold stock holder. Continue to hold physical Gold as an insurance policy, cash equivalent and hedge against a geopolitical crisis that dethrones the U.S. Dollar."

The Coming Stock Market Crash: Time To Review
"The bottom line (in this writer’s view) is that we are heading for a stock market crash as a precursor to a credit crunch and a further savage contraction of the world economy. Our leaders sowed the wind and we – the voters who put them into positions of power – will reap the whirlwind."

Obama Vows Wall Street Risk Regulation, Sees Unemployment at "10%"

US Stocks Fall, S&P 500 Have Biggest Two-Day Drop Since April

Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge

Retailers Exit Detroit: No Grocery Chains Left!

SBC and "Shrike" both sent this piece from an Australian newspaper: Melburnians urged to have Go Bags ready in case of evacuation

   o o o

KAF sent a link to some glimpses of a gentler time: Retrolife. (Seeing that, I couldn't help but think of some of Merle Haggard's song lyrics.)

   o o o

US Battlefield Superiority For Sale To America's Enemies (Thanks to Cheryl, for the link.)

"Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do this or that. That's nonsense. Make up your mind, you'll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible." - Sir Douglas Bader, (1910-1982), The legendary British fighter pilot who lost both legs in a flying accident, but went on to fly as a fighter pilot in World War II.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
Concerning the article: Escape From (Fill in Your City Here), 2009, by Bill in Chicagoland, I would like to add to these comments. My 20 years experience driving the county roads and the farmer ranch roads with the Soil Conservation Service have given me a perspective of the potential for choice this road system presents.

I have a considerable amount of experience driving cross country.

I have driven from the Northern Texas panhandle across the Oklahoma Panhandle into southeastern Colorado and north to the Colorado Springs area on mostly gravel and dirt roads.

Several times I have driven the 250+ miles from Denver Colorado to Salina Kansas mainly on dirt/gravel roads or county blacktop roads. This particular trip is paralleling the major river valleys throughout this area. The interstate roads basically follow the uplands/highlands avoiding the river/creek valley bottoms. That portion of the drainage system between rivers called the upland or divide area. Up on these area you have minimum drainage systems to cross. Only when the rivers and major creeks make a jog south or southeast do you find a major drainage system to cross.

Why are drainage systems death to bugging out? You can cross them only on bridges, and bridges are [logical ambush sites and hence potentially] death traps.

Here is an example: West of Oklahoma City, you'll see that I-40 strikes out to the west.

Now, let's clarify something. [Even in most plains states,] there are no paralleling roads to interstates that extend for extensive distances. Yes, there are some that may parallel for 20 to 30 miles. But as soon as the interstate jogs you get the paralleling road intersecting the interstate or its diverting away in a direction you may not want.

If you do not know your area well, you can get boxed in quickly.

West of Oklahoma City striking in a southeasterly direction is the Canadian River. The interstate crosses the Canadian river in the Hinton/Geary area. That is some 35 miles west of Oklahoma City. The next Canadian river crossing on the north side of the interstate is just northeast of Thomas. That is 23 miles west and 13 miles north of the interstate.

So…you come barreling out of Oklahoma City and find the interstate clogged. Look again at the map. The city of Oklahoma City has a major river running through it. The North Canadian River. You cannot get on the Interstate. The bridges going over the North Canadian River south are filled with traffic. You opt to set out west through Oklahoma City on a street that will take you west to El Reno and then on to points west following the Interstate. But you cannot do this on the north side of the interstate.

And the south side of the Interstate is closed off because of the bridges across the North Canadian River are jammed full.

The road system on the north side is a maze of closed roads, dead end roads that all end up down in the Canadian River valley. And in the 60 miles west of Oklahoma City only one bridge crosses the Canadian River on the north that can keep you on any kind of westerly tract. That’s at Thomas. The closer bridge only gets you down to the interstate and it will be clogged full at that point.

So you make it to Thomas overland on the secondary roads.

What now?

You now have a dozen or more large creeks all running southerly into the Washita River. You have to cross them if you continue cross country.

Yes, you can get on Highway 33 west but I would guess that many others will have the same idea.

You also have Foss Lake complex and its National Wildlife Refuge area to get around.

Another major obstruction.

Going west now on secondary roads you will notice the interstate drifting in a SW direction. You are getting further away all the time.

Backtrack: What did you miss on the map? By the way, what map am I now looking at?

A copy of a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer [Get one for your state, and contiguous states].

You missed the railroad bridge. Where?

Find Bridgeport between Hinton and Geary. See the railroad track symbol where it crosses the river.

Now, the following separates the men from the boys. When I was 16 my buddy’s father was the Missouri Pacific’s depot agent in Larned, Kansas. We knew the train schedules. We conquered our fears and put my 1948 Dodge car on the rails. Yes you can drive down the rails. You do not have to let the air out of the tires. Just slow down when you go over road crossings and switches. We rode the rails for miles. We even crossed over the Arkansas River railroad bridge. That was scary to think about the wheels coming off the rails way out over that 150 yard long bridge. But we drove this way, and so can you.

You will need to be very cautious doing this. Sending people ahead with radios to the top of a close high point so they can see the tracks some miles away. Giving you time to cross. What speed can you expect to make? We used to cruise 10 to 15 miles per hour. My 1948 Dodge had a traditional hand throttle that you could set.

[JWR Adds This Proviso: Hy-rail pickups and dedicated speeder vehicles have been previously discussed in SurvivalBlog here and here. Please read those article and heed the safety and liability warnings. Riding rails on car tires without supplementary alignment aids is foolhardy. There is a lot that can go wrong in a hurry! Don't attempt improvised rail travel this unless it is an total SHTF disaster situation and there is absolutely no alternative, and only then with someone playing "ground guide", and with certain knowledge of the train schedule (or by doing so only on a rail line that is known with certainty to be inactive.)]

This is dangerous. Be careful. It is also illegal.

The thesis of this presentation is several fold:

1. There are no extensive long parallel roads along most interstates.

2. You must have a set of the DeLorme atlases or similar detailed maps for where you are going. Better to have a set for every state that surrounds you. If you live in the prairie states get a set for every state within two states in every direction.

3. You also need to have a map showing just the counties and the river systems.

4. You must drive you routes in advance on both sides of the interstate.

Note that Item #3 above is necessary to have a map of the rivers. You can plot a general route that will keep you on the uplands/divide between the river/creek systems when you cross country.

The system described here is good only for the plains states between the Rockies and the Mississippi River. It will work in the area between the Missouri and Mississippi further north in most of those areas. But once you get into the Ozark highlands, the southern deserts off the Rocky Mountains and in the swampy country next to seashores and the Southern States it does not work.
Nor in the Appalachian mountains. The west coast is another whole problem.

The central portion of the US, the prairie states have a grid road system laid out in township and sections. This allows a great amount of choice for travel. Areas that do not have this system are much more constrained as to overland travel.

Driving cross country you will find [some straight] dirt and gravel roads that can be negotiated at 45 to 60 miles an hour. Be cautious and slow down at every road junction and at the crest of all hills that you cannot see over. Some where out there you will crest a hill and find a slow tractor pulling a swather or a large combine with a 20 foot wide head on it suddenly in your way. You must use caution on these back roads. Do not assume that all dangers are marked. You may find dead end roads just over a crest with a 4 foot tall wall of dirt and a deep ditch in front of you at 55 mph. Crash, end of journey. Be careful of bridges. There are still may bridges out there with wood decking. It can be weak, have nails sticking up and or tire wide gaps in them. I have also seen concrete bridges built by the WPA in the 1930s with holes in the deck more than two feet across and not marked with any warning signs.

Vital equipment for cross country driving:

1. Binoculars or spotting scope

2. Weather scanner

3. Maps

4. Jacks with wooden blocks to put under them for support.

5. Shovels

6. Tow chains

7. Tire chains.

8. Bolt cutters and wire cutters

Beware of sudden rain showers on dirt roads. Soils high in clay particles will shed rain and appear to be shiny. They are called ‘slick spot’ soils. You will not sink into them. But rather your vehicle will just want to slide over into the ditch if the road is not flat. These roads are slick! It is possible to put a vehicle into a low gear; get out and walk along the side steering and pushing or pulling sideways to keep it in the center as you walk along. Better when there are several people to help. I have accomplished this for stretches of road further than one quarter of a mile when I worked as a District Conservationist with the Soil Conservation Service.

Avoid showers in the distance. Drive out of their way if possible. Stop on a stable section of road and wait for the sun to come out. Slick spot roads can dry out in one hour or less and be drivable as if no rain fell there for days.

Genuine cross country driving:.
If you find roads blocked with wreckage, power poles, washed out bridges, trees and or a group of freebooters who demand tribute, then you need to have thought of an alternative.

There is an alternative to simply turning around and being chased.

Cut the wire on the fence and drive away out across the land. Best done out of site of the freebooters. Wire the fence back up so it is not too obvious that someone has exited the road at that point. You will need bolt cutters. A 24 inch pair will suffice. For chains at gates or locks you need a 36 inch-long set and a hacksaw blade with extra blades. Carry along several locks. If you cut off a lock replace it. If you have to come back you can open it quickly and lock it putting a good barrier between you and any belligerents that want to discuss the situation with you.

If you lack a lock that looks like the one you have cut. Super glue it shut. You can always re-cut it a second time if necessary.

Carry with you two 2x4s that are 10 feet long, each pierced with 20 penny nails arrayed close together. Drill holes that are just small enough to provide the friction to seat the nails so they will not come out easily. Drill two 5/8 inch holes in each end. Cut half inch rebar stakes 12 to 16 inches long and sharpen then to a decent cone shape on one end. You will need a 4 pound hammer to seat them into a roadbed.

So, say that you approach a hill crest slowly and glassing the road ahead, you see a group of freebooters down the road. They see your heads and cab of a pickup sticking up over the crest. Whooom, here they come. Get out the spiked 2x4 and nail it down across the road with the rebar. Leave and when they come roaring up over the crest their tires will have lunch with the spikes. Flat tires have a way of ending pursuit.

If you encounter groups of people who are belligerent but appear not to be shooters. Place a spiked 2x4 across the front of your steel safety grill and make a run for them. They will not want to get spiked as you go by. It will keep them away from the windows and doors.

[JWR Adds This Proviso: Caltrops have been used as a defensive measure for centuries. I have my doubts about their utility in daylight, but they might prove useful at night. To be useful in daylight for defense against vehicle-borne looters approaching a retreat slowly, caltrops or tire spikes would have to be concealed, which is a huge legal liability. Because we live in very litigious times, I DO NOT recommend using caltrops or tire spike strips in in anything but an absolute worst-case TEOTWAWKI situation, where you are completely on your own to defend your retreat, and there is no longer a functioning law enforcement or court system. Using them in any lesser situation is an invitation to a hugely expensive civil lawsuit and possible criminal sanctions. An ambulance-chasing attorney would have a field day, and the likely result would be that you would lose everything that you own in settling a lawsuit. Ironically, this is an example of where using deadly force against an intruder (namely, a firearm) is less likely to result in a lawsuit than a non-lethal weapon. Civil court juries tend to be very sympathetic to "maimed" plaintiffs, and are prone to award disproportionately huge "pain and suffering" damages. Caltrops and tire spikes are banned in some states in the US, and Australia. With all that said, commercially made caltrops are available, as are tire spike strips, although most manufacturers will only sell them to law enforcement agencies ordering on department letterhead. The best of these use hollow spikes, so they can defeat even self-sealing tires. And example of this type is the HOllow-Spike TYre Deflation System (HOSTYDS), manufactured in the UK.]

Crossing Interstate Highways
All interstate roads will have at some point a significant water gap.

It will be big enough for you to drive through. Be very careful. These can have plunge basins formed on the down stream side that are many feet deep. Can be clogged with old fence wire and tree limbs. They can be swampy and full of washed in silt that is solid on the top and unstable to support weight underneath. You can get stuck and never get out.

Scout these places carefully.

Remember you may be driving under the interstate that is packed above with people who have gotten desperate.

And you may be able to just drive up to the interstate, cut a fence on one side and drive across weaving through parked cars, perhaps, if you are lucky.

Get the maps. Study them. Drive the [primary, secondary, and tertiary] routes. Anything less is a modified death wish.

Rule #1: Leave early.

Rule #2: Remember, you can never schedule an emergency.

- JC in Oklahoma

F.G. sent this: Restaurants on the Ropes

Thanks to for this link: Airlines adjust as demand slides. "Nevertheless, IATA expects passenger yields to fall by 7% this year and cargo yields to decline 11%" The manufactures also expect fewer orders for planes.

Also from F.G. comes this Wall Street Journal piece: Retailers Flee a Dying Detroit

KAF flagged this: U.S. likely to lose AAA rating: Prechter

Items from The Economatrix:

German Newspaper Article Thinks [Ponte Chiaso] Bonds May Be Real.

Timeline of Events and Updates as they Happen

Weisenthal Talks the $134.5 Billion Bond Seizure on Glenn Beck
Treasury: Can't comment because of on-going investigation.

Asian Stocks Drop on NY Manufacturing, Commodity Prices

Oil Below $70 on Dollar Gain, Equity Market Drop

Wall Street Sees Worst Day in a Month

California Puts 90-Day Hold on Foreclosures

Long Beach May Inbound Cargo Down 22%, Outbound Off 26%

Projection: It Will Be Years Before Jobs Return To Much of the US

Bond Volatility and Interest Rate Swaps
"This China story was intended to mask the real events, to blame them in part for the US bond instability, and to divert attention away from a potentially important threat. Not only has the housing market stalled, with new mortgages and refinanced loans hitting a brick wall. The other major threat is to the Interest Rate Swap, those powerful credit derivative contracts that tie together the bond world in complex knitting. The instability of US Treasurys on the long maturity (10-year & 30-year) and on the short maturity (so far just the two-year) will surely unleash great firestorms of disruption, heavy losses, and raging fires for the big banks. It is next! It will be the greater second chapter to the Credit Default Swap opening salvo. Twice as many IRSwaps exist than CDSwaps, a story that bankers refuse to discuss."

GM's Deal Erased Many Average American's Savings

US Credit Card Defaults Rise to Record Level in May

Hedge Funds in Cayman Islands Withdraw from UK Banks

Heather H. sent this: A 'time bomb' for world wheat crop

   o o o

Gordon sent a link to a video clip on the enormous Cold War bunker beneath the Greenbriar Hotel.

   o o o

Shelf Reliance (one of our advertisers) is giving away a Harvest 72" food rotation system in a free drawing. Visit the Shelf Reliance blog to enter. The Harvest 72" is valued at $459 and can hold up to 600
cans, making it perfect for a healthy food storage supply. The winner will be announced on Friday, June 26th.

   o o o

Greg C. sent us the link to this Wall Street Journal piece: Imagine Breaking Up The United States

   o o o

Three gun rights articles, first from Paula: Gun Rights Groups Plan State-By-State Revolt, several readers sent this:

Twenty-three AGs tell Holder no dice on semi-auto ban renewal and Patrick M. sent this: Montana Gun Law Challenges Federal Powers

"Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind." - Leonardo da Vinci, Leonardo's Notebooks

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've heard just three complaints about bookbinding errors, in copies of my novel "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" . In all three cases, there were dozens of repeated pages, where the corresponding correct pages were missing. Yikes! (In the book publishing world, this is called a "folio sequencing error".) I suppose that this small number of reported errors is not bad for a book with more than 30,000 copies in print, but it is still troubling. If you have purchased a copy of "Patriots" with a binding error, then please call, e-mail or write the publisher and let them know which pages were repeated, and they'll provide a free replacement copy:

Phone: 1-800-377-2542
E-mail: ulysses@ulyssespress.com
Snail Mail: Ulysses Press, P.O. Box 3440, Berkeley, California 94703


Today we present another entry for Round 23 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 at least $350.

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

Round 23 ends on July 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.

The topic I will cover is one I have not seen on SurvivalBlog. Everybody is caught up in the equipment side and not concentrating on the training. I have two examples several months back our dryer started squeaking & we had to stop using it. I am a trained air conditioning technician. At first I thought about going out and purchasing a new dryer and then I had a thought: I have fixed multi thousand dollar air conditioning units, how hard could it be? After two days it was back up drying clothes and for a lot less money than a new dryer would cost.

The other example was Saturday night a week ago I killed a feral hog and with some help from the friend that owns the land where I killed the pig, we quickly had it in the chest freezer. You ask, “how do these two examples apply to TEOTWAWKI preparedness?”

I am 50 years old; things I take for granted younger people do not understand or do not have the ability to do. Can you sharpen a knife? Can you tune a small engine? How about sharpen a chainsaw? I have been trained as an equipment mechanic and then trained as a HVAC tech. I have also taken first aid training, I am not an EMT but I know the basics. I have fixed several small appliances. My father was a carpenter. He taught me the basics of construction, such as how to build a wall and how to hang sheet rock. I had a small business that repaired rental properties in Texas.

Do you hunt? And are you planning on hunting to supplement your meat supply if not how do you expect to put meat in the freezer after TSHTF? By hunting you learn where to look for game. Small game hunting can teach you where to find rabbits and squirrels are at certain times of the year. Also when you make your first kill you will have a hands-on butchering class. You can not make a mistake that can not be repaired before it gets to the table. I remember the first feral pig a friend killed I was at my parents' house when a friend called and ask if I had butchered a hog? I said no but I have sure put enough deer in the ice chest that a pig could not be that hard.
I have also gar
dened quite a bit. When I was a child some of the first memories are of working in the garden. We did not raise all of our food but we raised a significant portion. We had a cow and chickens. I helped my mother can vegetables from the garden. I have caned tomatoes I have raised in my back yard. I can make my own soap. I also know where to get the lye with out going to the store. (Wood ashes).

What do you read? Back Home, Backwoods Home, and Mother Earth News magazines--although Mother Earth News is not as good as she once was. I keep all the Back Home and Backwoods Home that I pick up. I also found several books that will be passed on once I go to my final reward. I have books on a variety of topics from engine repair to gardening and other topics.

Do you reload the ammo you practice with? You can store more powder, primers and bullets in a given space than loaded ammo. Then when you shoot some you can reload to re-supply. Shotgun ammo is very economical when you reload. I would not suggest that you use reloaded ammo to defend yourself. Use store bought. I talked about the pig I killed a couple weeks back I used a Savage model 40 in 22 Hornet. The cartridge I used was reloaded and in fact was a case that had been reloaded several times. I have reloaded a variety of calibers and presently I can keep my guns shooting for awhile. I also cast lead bullets for a number of my guns and I am planning on getting a few more molds for different calibers. Also think about this I have in my gun safe a. 22 Hornet, .223 Remington and a .22-250. They all take 223 caliber bullets. I have bought a lot of .223 caliber bullets, mostly 55 grain weight. I can use the same bullet in all three. I also I am going to purchase a shot maker and will be able to produce shot for my own use and barter. I am stocking up on primers and bullets.

What do you watch on television? I watch Discovery and the Science channel. People talk about gas powdered tractors gasoline has a shorter shelf life than say diesel or propane for that matter. I have not seen propane discussed much on the blog for a motor fuel. Propane has a "forever" shelf life. Also, you can still find Ford Model 8 or 9N tractors that were powered by propane. As long as the propane did not leak out it was good and the tractors could sit idle for a long time and did not have to have the carburetor cleaned.

The reason I mentioned television shows is this one program I watched 2 to 3 years ago had a teams on an oceanic island. The team had to do some projects, one of which was they had a diesel powered go-cart. Both teams were given some sesames seeds and a machine that could make oil out of the seeds. The first team to start their go-cart and get it to run a course distance won the event. This got me to thinking that all trucks, generators, tractors should be diesel powered. You can make your own fuel!! The inventor of the Diesel engine was Dr. Rudolf Diesel, a German who envisioned a system where German farmers were not dependant on fuel sources that came from outside Germany! Remember the pig I killed? If it had been a survival situation.  I would have rendered the fat to oil and could have used it in my truck and drove 20 or so miles or used it in a generator or plowed the garden with a tractor.

The upshot of the foregoing is that what you have in your hands is not as important as what you have between your ears. Learn all you can. Take classes at your local community college. Read all the preparedness’ magazine’s and books you can. Concentrate on survival skills. Learn to start fires without matches and to build a temporary shelters. Learn to maintain your car or truck, local community colleges are great places to learn vehicle repair and you can save money in the short run. Imagine if something broke and you needed it to survive. Could you fix it? Stockpile spare parts for the most important items. Ford 8 of 9n tractors are great and look simple. But if the clutch went out, could you replace it? I have done that and it’s not as easy as you might think. Repair manuals are not an option, in my thinking. They are a must.

To add to the Memsahib's excellent, succinct article on raising goats:

Those interested in self-sufficiency could hardly choose a better livestock animal. Might I suggest Nigerian Dwarf goats? There are several reasons why these fine animals make an excellent livestock choice for those interested in self-sufficiency:

1. Nigerian Dwarfs are fairly small and easy to handle. Their food needs are also minimal: they can graze on minimal pasture and will of course forage through wooded areas. Like most breeds, they do equally well on grassy pasture or in thick woodland, flat-land or hills. But unlike some of the larger breeds, those with only a few acres can easily raise a handful of Nigerian Dwarfs' with only minimal supplemental feed purchases. They will do well on minimal amounts of goat 'pellets' and/or alfalfa, with a good mineral supplement which they'll pick at as they need to. They'll also pick at good hay out a horse's hay net. They hay will do double-duty as bedding, or you can use shavings, or a mix of both.

2. They have the sweetest, creamiest milk of any breed - almost like half-and-half. This milk is excellent to drink, and also makes great cheese. Those who are not particularly keen on goat's milk tend to warm right up to Nigerian Dwarf milk without complaint.

3. Though small, Nigerian Dwarfs are incredibly efficient at turning forage into milk. A well-bred Nigerian Dwarf can produce upwards of 2 quarts of milk daily - not bad for a 40 pound animal.

4. Nigerian Dwarfs are very smart and affectionate - a Nigerian Dwarf goat is like a half-dog, half-goat livestock animal who will be as much fun to interact with as to it will be to farm with.

5. Those who farm, or are looking to convert woodland or pasture into field, will find Nigerian Dwarfs an excellent tool for use in deforestation, and later in field rotation.

When purchasing Nigerian Dwarfs, or any breed of goat, I strongly recommend your readers consult with a reputable breeder. When it comes to dairy goats, breeding makes a big difference. A little extra up-front investment will go a long way in the long haul - so don't be penny-wise but pound-foolish. Do your homework and acquire good, healthy stock that will keep you in delicious milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt for years to come. A good breeder can also offer instruction on health maintenance and vaccination.

I would also recommend that your readers practice disbudding (de-horning) of their goats. This will prevent costly injury, particularly as you add new goats (with new genes) to your herd. However, this does take away a natural defense mechanism. So if one lives in an area with predators, particularly coyotes, care will have to be taken in the building of their evening housing. A well-trained dog can also solve this problem. Another option for coyotes is a donkey, which will excel in keeping coyotes away.

Much has been made of the difficulty of keeping goats fenced in. While they are natural escape artists, it's really not that difficult to keep them inside the perimeter. For Nigerian Dwarfs, I recommend 5' wire fencing with metal posts every 5-to-6 feet. This flexible fencing will prevent the goats from climbing and, if properly stretched and staked down, will not yield to their natural tendency to lean into fences. Make sure there are no climbable objects or surfaces near the fence, as a goat's ability to climb will surprise you. For foraging through woodland and/or deforestation, Nigerian Dwarfs (like all goats) can be tethered. The best way to tether a goat is to use a large cinder block. Attach a chain around the cinder block (ropes will chafe). Then attach a 10-15' plastic-coated cable (commonly available dog tethers work fine) and attach it to the goat's collar. The goat will be able to move the block around if they need/want to, but won't get far and won't get away. Don't leave your goat tethered for more than about 6 hours, and make sure water is available. They'll be happy and graze until they look like they swallowed a beach ball - but don't worry - they are ruminants and will digest all that fresh cellulose! They will also turn it into milk.

Speaking of milk - unlike cows, goats do not particularly like to be milked - at least not at first.. You'll have to build a stanchion (milking stand), but there are plenty of good plans available on-line. It may take a few days or even week (or two) of twice daily milking to 'break-in' your goat to milking, but she'll get the hang of it (and so will you). Take care of utters and ensure they are clean both before and after milking. Kids can be weaned at 8 weeks. Take care to separate bucks very early - 10 weeks.

Pardon me being so direct, but if you end up with a buck, you'll soon understand the origin of the expression "randy as a billy goat". Let's just say bucks will do things that will surprise you. They will also make your milk taste funny. So keep them separate from the does if you plan on keeping them intact. Or, they should be castrated early using one of several humane methods - I will leave it to your readers to do their homework on this subject. The resulting wether (a castrated male goat) will be an excellent companion animal if you have a small herd - for example, if you have 2 does and one is with kid, the wether will keep the other doe company as goats hate being alone. Some also raise wethers for meat.

Finally, remember that goats are intelligent and playful animals. They will appreciate any type of toys you may build them - basically anything they can climb on, even if it's just a series of sturdy wood platforms. As with any animal, healthy, happy, natural livestock means healthy, delicious, natural food. - HPD

Hi James,
Thanks for the blog. I read it every day. This is in response to Memsahib's goat article. There are several web sites with information regarding making goat milk butter, while not as simple as cow milk, it is possible and in a survival situation, butter may be dear regardless of time and trouble to obtain. For example, see this article from The Mother Earth News, circa 1978.

Thanks again for all you do, It is important and the legacy your leaving will be remembered long after you and I are gone. Keep your head down and keep moving. - Tom H.

Don W. sent this: US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive. Bulldozing whole neighborhoods? This sounds like a land developer's dream come true. Talk about "stimulating demand" for new housing... Maybe we ought to crush half the cars in the country while we are at it, just to make sure that the Detroit auto makers will get plenty of business.

Oh, but wait! SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: House 'cash for clunkers' plan to boost car sales. Mike's comment: " They really are insane. The sheer conceit that makes them believe they can manipulate the economy, and that a trillion here and a trillion there doesn't matter..."

HPD forwarded this commentary from Mish Shedlock: California Foreclosure Moratoriums an Exercise of Stupidity

Manny B. sent us this: Grocery Stores Begin to Accept Silver! [JWR Adds: This may be a rarity now, but once inflation kicks in, thousands of small merchants will start taking payment in silver coinage. But far fewer will have the savvy to test scrap gold.]

Items from The Economatrix:

G-8 Chiefs Get Ready For Economic Recovery (Right after the Great Pig Air show)

Six Flags Parent Company Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Peak Soil: This Land Grab Is Just Beginning

US Homebuilder Confidence Unexpectedly Fell In June

Schiff: Property Rights Take A Hit

Proud To Be An American? You Should Be Ashamed! (Scroll down for: They Really Are That Dumb Department)

Paper: Inflation Fears Return

Ailing Factory Towns Face Tougher Roads To Recovery

A Look at the Hardest Hit Counties

Weapons Makers Look Overseas as Pentagon Cuts Back

Summer Slowdown Setting In on Wall Street

Homeowner Associations Start Foreclosures to Collect Dues

Recycled Homes, One Box at a Time

   o o o

Reader "D. from Sweden" mentioned that Sweden's biggest radio station, public service channel P3, is having an apocalypse theme and is broadcasting an interview with a gent from the Swedish Survivalist Forum. It airs Tuesday, June 16th, at 18.03 local time, which is 12.03 EST. Readers can read about it here.

   o o o

Reader Kat C. recommended two books on food storage: Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation and Putting Food By.

   o o o

The latest from Nanny State Brittannia: Banning "stabbing" kitchen knives.

"The proliferation of state concealed carry laws has evidently reduced the rate of violent street crime to a considerable extent. When the goblins do not know who is armed and who is not, their professional enthusiasm declines. Now that Britain has made sure (insofar as any law can so insure) that everybody is disarmed, the streets are given back to the bad kid with the baseball bat. We hope they are satisfied." - Jeff Cooper, Cooper's Commentaries

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm pleased to report that we will soon surpass nine million unique visits. There are SurvivalBlog readers on every continent except Antarctica. Thanks for helping SurvivalBlog become such a great success. Please keep spreading the word to relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Thanks!

The collapse of the Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) market underscored the enormous overhang of the larger over-the-counter derivatives contracts market. This is far from over, folks! For example, we have not yet to seen a full-blown Credit Default Swap (CDS) market implosion. I have been warning blog readers about CDS instruments since 2005. And even though our politics are diametrically opposed, I was not surprised to see George Soros recently chime in on the subject. Derivative instruments are essentially unregulated and they measure in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. The counterparty risk is enormous, yet the derivatives market is quite opaque and little understood, even by most of the people that work in the financial sector.

To illustrate both the potential magnitude of a derivatives disaster, and the incredibly blissful ignorance of most investors, I offer the following analogy:

You are a business traveler. It is 9 a.m. on a Monday morning and you are seated at a crowded gate at the Newark, New Jersey airport, waiting for boarding of the 9:25 Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta. You are feeling nervous, because the 20-something man that is sitting next to you is suffering from a bad hangover. You've correctly surmised that over the weekend he got fleeced at the gaming tables in Atlantic City after the casino offered him too many "comp" cocktails. He looks only semi-conscious and you are afraid that he is going to puke on your nice suit. A ticket agent announces on the loudspeaker: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have some bad news." She pauses and you think to yourself: "Oh great, two or three of us are going to get bumped." The agent goes on: " It was just announced by the chairman of Delta Airlines that the company has declared bankruptcy. All Delta flights have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Because Delta is now insolvent, no replacement tickets, vouchers, or refunds will be issued. We apologize for the inconvenience. Have a nice day, and thanks for flying Delta Airlines." There are shouts and anguished cries from the other passengers. You sit for a minute in stunned silence. Your mind is racing. You remember reading that Delta has over 1,630 scheduled flights a day, moving roughly 277,000 passengers per day from city to city. The drunken gambler shouts "Hey!" and he leans close to your face. With his breath smelling like a dog kennel and his eyes glassy, he asks: "I don't get it, man. What do they mean, "insolvent"? You take a few minutes to explain the situation in simple terms to him. But the gambler just gives you a blank stare. "What do you mean,?" he repeats. Now you are angry, and you shout at him: "Aren't I getting through to you? I'm talking about two hundred and seventy seven thousand bumped passengers!" Finally, the dazed drunk has a flash of realization across his face. "Oh. I get it. This is bad news. It'll be hours before they'll call for seating on my row!"

Getting any dairy animals is a very big commitment. However, I believe that they are a valuable part of your livestock preparedness. Even more importantly I believe goats are the best dairy animals for the survivalist.

Here are my reasons to recommend goats over cows for a survival situation:

1. A dairy goat is about one fifth the cost of a dairy cow.

2. Five goats can be fed one the same amount it takes to feed one cow.

3. If your your one cow dies you are out of luck. But the odds of losing all your goats is small.

4. Goats browse rather than graze and can make use of a wider variety of forage.

5. Goats are easier to handle

6. Because of their smaller size, goats are less likely to cause injuries or damage fences. Getting stepped on by a goat is trivial. Getting stepped on by a cow is not.

The downside is that it will take more time to milk five goats than to milk one cow. You'll have to get five animals in and out of the stanchion, Wash five udders, milk five does (female goats), strip five udders, etc. But I really believe that the benefits of having the insurance of multiple dairy animals far outweighs the extra effort.

The main drawback is that the cream does not separate readily in goats milk so that you will not be able to skim the cream off. And therefore you will not be able to make butter. On the other hand, goat milk is much easier to digest, and many people who cannot drink cow's milk can drink goats milk. And of course you can use goat's milk to make yogurt, cream cheese, hard cheese, and ice cream, as well as use it in recipes just like cows milk.

As I mentioned earlier dairy animals are a big commitment. This is because they are traditionally milked twice a day, at the same time every day. Perhaps your current schedule doesn't allow for this? There are ways to get around this and still being prepared. You could for instance milk in the morning but let the kids nurse during the day. You could also have a small herd that you do not milk at all, but instead just let them raise offspring until your family needs the milk. Or maybe have a small herd but don't even breed them until TEOTWAWKI. (Needless to say, they will not produce milk if they do not give birth.).

For greater detail on raising goats, I recommend the book: Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats: Breeds, Care, Dairyingby JD Belanger.

Mr. Rawles,
I'm new to prepping. But for some time now, when I go to Costco, I pick up peanut butter, a bag of rice, or a bag of beans to toss in the closet. I really like storing wheat, because it seems to have a much longer shelf life, but it is a little harder to find than rice. I figure I've probably got about nine months to a year worth of food for myself now. I know that the bugs will get into it eventually, and I'll throw a bunch out and start over. I've been examining rice in the super markets for years, and I can tell you that a lot of it has bugs in it before you even bring it home. The trick is to use it before they "blossom."

What happens if there is a crisis and I go to my closet, and I find out the bugs have blossomed? I figure this sort of thing must happen in the Third World all the time, and I have a very hard time believing the locals just throw it out. Is it okay to just wash it and cook it? I've noticed that most of the bugs float to the top and can easily be removed. But what about the bug excrement?

I tried a little experiment yesterday, and boiled some wheat to make soup. It had been stored for at least ten years, maybe fifteen. It was just starting to show bugs, so I washed it about 5 times, and then boiled it, seasoned it with some mushrooms, dried broth, and a can of diced tomatoes and ate it. It tasted fine, and now about 28 hours later, I'm showing no ill effects.

I'm guessing that after the TSHTF, a lot of us are going to have the opportunity of eating a lot of food that bugs and maybe rats have sampled before us. Any advice? Also, do you know of any good places to buy bulk foods (say 25 lb.or 50 lb. bags) of less common staples, like lentils, barley, or beans other than pinto beans? - Jonathan Z.

JWR Replies: Things might not be too bad now, but once your pantry starts to develop a bug infestation, you'll be will be in an escalating war that you will lose. Trust me, without better packaging, the bugs will win.

Read the SurvivalBlog archives about how to prepare rice, grains, and legumes for storage, using CO2 in food grade HDPE plastic buckets. Bugs (and their larvae) can't breathe CO2. There are also details on this my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course--including a very simple CO2 displacement method using dry ice.

A wide variety of staple foods in bulk are available from Walton Feed, in Montpelier, Idaho. Order them in six-gallon Super Pails.

Reader Ben M. mentioned: World Bank sees even worse slump. All the recent talk of a "nascent recovery" is balderdash.

China’s Commodity Buying Spree. Well, gosh , if given the choice between dollar-denominated paper assets and buying useful tangibles, which would you choose?

Jim B. sent us a link to an essay titled The Coming Economic Collapse, by Graham Summers. "To give you an idea of how big a problem these deficits are, consider that the US government could tax its citizens 100% of their earnings and not have a balanced budget."

From the Dr. Housing Bubble blog: Foreclosure Reality Check: 1.6 Million Foreclosure Filings with 5 Months of Data. California Notice of Defaults and Foreclosures Skyrocketing

Items from The Economatrix:

Protect Yourself From A Treasury Market Collapse "Fund doesn't have to have "Treasury" in its name to be vulnerable

Green Bay Lays Down Gauntlet For Obama "We're fed up with all this spending that is totally unnecessary," said Dennis Feldt of Green Bay. "Obama is assigning all these stimulus packages and demanding a vote on it a day later. No one has time to read any of this. The lawmakers don't even know what's in it. It's all because the president says we need it right now or we're going to lose jobs. Where is all this money going?...It's all gone. It makes us all very nervous."

The saber-rattling continues. We read: US Raptors Deployed to Japan, and (some crude gray propaganda from North Korea)Nuclear War Is Kim Jong-il's Game Plan and, US General: North Korea, Iran Joined on Missile Work, and South Korea sends more troops to North Korea border.

   o o o

Glenn Reynolds posted this over at Instapundit: Mark Steyn on William Forstchen’s One Second After. Why worry about an EMP attack?

   o o o

FG. sent this: Rural Michigan counties turn failing paved roads back to gravel. F.G.'s comment: "Don't swap out that truck for a gas sipping micro car just yet, folks."

   o o o

Matt B. recommended this bit of conjecture from the Shenandoah blog: Sarajevo, Ohio.

"No one realized how bad the economy was. The projections, in fact, turned out to be worse. But we took the mainstream model as to what we thought -- and everyone else thought -- the unemployment rate would be." - Vice President Joseph Biden, June 14, 2009 (Backing away from the BHO Administration's estimate that "stimulus" funds could "create or save" 3.5 million jobs, instead now promising just 600,000 by the end of the summer.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In light of the recent shooting by a Nazi whacko in Washington at the Holocaust Museum, I think it is important that we remember the victims and impact of a totalitarian government deliberately starving, looting, and otherwise dehumanizing its citizens. (The articles were published in Hebrew but the following abstracts are in English) - Yorrie in Pennsylvania (a retired physician)

Clinical Manifestations of "Hunger Disease" Among Children in the Ghettos During the Holocaust
Hercshlag-Elkayam O, Even L, Shasha SM.
Western Galilee Hospital, Nahariya, Israel.

The harsh life in the ghettos were characterized by overcrowding, shortage of supplies (e.g. money, sanitation, medications), poor personal hygiene, inclement weather and exhaustion. Under these conditions, morbidity was mainly due to infectious diseases, both endemic and epidemic outbreaks with a high mortality rate. The dominant feature was hunger. Daily caloric allowance was 300-800, and in extreme cases (i.e. Warsaw ghetto) it was only 200 calories. The food was lacking important nutrients (e.g. vitamins, trace elements) leading to protean clinical expression, starvation and death. The clinical manifestations of starvation were referred to as "the Hunger Disease", which became the subject of research by the medical doctors in the ghettos, mainly in the Warsaw ghetto in which a thorough documentation and research were performed. The first victims of hunger were children. First they failed to thrive physically and later mentally. Like their elders, they lost weight, but later growth stopped and their developmental milestones were lost with the loss of curiosity and motivation to play. The mortality rate among babies and infants was 100%, as was described by the ghetto doctors: "when the elder children got sick, the small ones were already dead...". In the last weeks of the ghettos there were no children seen in the streets. In this article the environmental conditions and daily life of children in the ghettos are reviewed, and the manifestations of "Hunger Disease" among them is scrutinized.
[Harefuah. 2003 May;142(5):345-9]

Morbidity in the Ghettos During the Holocaust
Shasha, SM.
Western Galilee Hospital, Nahariya.

The environmental conditions and daily life in the ghettos of Europe during the holocaust are reviewed, and their effect on morbidity in different ghettos is scrutinized in an attempt to construct a typical morbidity profile. The outstanding characteristics were: crowding, shortage of basic necessities (such as food, clothing and medications), harsh environmental and sanitary conditions, inclement weather, poor personal hygiene, chronic undernutrition and malnutrition, physical and mental exhaustion. Morbidity was mainly due to infectious diseases, both endemic and epidemic outbreaks with high mortality, and high infestation rates of lice and other parasites. The dominant feature was "hunger disease" with its protean clinical expressions, endocine pathology, growth and development retardation in children, and amenorrhea and infertility among women of child-bearing age. Polyuria, nocturia and increased frequency of bowel movement were common. The typical presentation of a ghetto dweller was of extreme emaciation (a loss of up to 50% body weight); muscle weakness and skeletal abnormalities; pale, dry skin with excoriations; pedal edema; anxiety and nervousness; often goiter in children. Most of the inhabitants had some, or all, of those signs and symptoms (there were times when more than half the population was sick). This syndrome complex was termed "Ghetto Sickness" or "Ghetto Fatigue" (ghetto schwachkeit).
[Harefuah. 2002 Apr;141(4):364-8, 409, 408]

Medicine in the Ghettos During the Holocaust
Shasha, SM.
Western Galilee Hospital, Nahariya.

The Health systems in several ghettos in Europe during the holocaust were studied in an attempt to construct a typical structural profile. The medical system in a typical ghetto consisted of a department of public health (sanitation) that belonged to the Yudenrat, several hospitals, outpatient clinics, first aid stations and physicians in the labor groups. The structure of the system in several ghettos is discussed and the functions of the various units in the prevention of epidemics, and health education are reviewed. Also described is the medical research that was carried out in the ghettos, emphasizing the work on "Hunger Disease" in the Warsaw ghetto, as well as the heroic endeavor to establish a clandestine medical school in the Warsaw ghetto during the holocaust
[Harefuah. 2002 Apr;141(4):318-23, 412]

I am a fan of sprouting, but I have to disagree with Roxanne on a few points:

The idea that the human body needs external enzymes from raw food and that we will 'run out of them if we eat cooked food' is a food myth that traces it's origin to the natural hygienists of the last century, along with the idea that you can live forever if your colon is clean.

Humans have been cooking food since we discovered fire. Our pancreases are bigger and we do suffer plenty of diseases wild animals don't and yes, eating some raw food is a good idea but no, you will no more run of enzymes than you will run out of saliva or any other fluid.

Eating raw food means you are more at risk for food borne pathogens such as E. Coli and parasites. Furthermore cooking vegetables allows the body to digest them. We do not possess the enzyme cellulase that vegetarian animals do so we cannot break down plant cell walls without cooking, juicing or chewing and regurgitating and chewing again like a cow.

Also, all sprouted foods contain some toxins during the sprouting phase which is how the young plants try to avoid being eaten by animals, as well as anti-nutrients (protease inhibitors etc.) Alfalfa is one of the worst offenders as:

"Alfalfa sprouts contain approximately 1.5% canavanine, a substance which, when fed to monkeys, causes a severe lupus erythematosus-like syndrome. (In humans, lupus is an autoimmune disease.) Canavanine is an analog for the amino acid arginine, and takes its place when incorporated into proteins. However, alfalfa that is cooked by autoclaving (i.e., subjected to pressure-cooking) doesn't induce this effect. [Malinow 1982, Malinow 1984]."

Add to that, the fact that many people will experience gas when eating raw food and that sprouted grains don't taste as good as cooked grain and you have a problem.

I spent a year eating only raw food. I felt great for the first little while as I cleaned out my system but over time I got quite weak. When I added in raw meat towards the end of the experiment (chicken, fish, beef and eggs) I felt better. You can eat raw meat and sprouted grains but consider it something you do in case of emergency. While raw meat now is quite clean thanks to the USDA inspection process (I still eat 4 raw eggs a day), after an event, without refrigeration, eating road kill or trading for wild meat or eating meat you hunt without cooking it first is too risky.

As I mentioned in a article I wrote for SurvivalBlog two years ago, sprouting allows you make Vitamin C from grains (a vitamin that is difficult to store long term) but this is something that should be done as digestive capacity allows. A handful of sprouts is all you should need to take care of this.

One option is to sprout your grains and then bake with them (such as Essene bread), then you get the best of both worlds, but this type of bread is so sweet as to be like candy and will not give you the slow burn of energy that cooked grains can deliver. - SF in Hawaii

Don't Worry, It's Just a Pandemic Just redefining it so there is no panic.

Symptoms of Swine Flu and What to Do

Delayed Pandemic Phase 6 Designation Raises Pandemic Concerns "The parallels between the 2009 pandemic and the 1918 pandemic are striking; Both began as a mild infection in the spring and targeted previously healthy young adults. In the fall of 1918, the virus was much more deadly, leading to the death of 20-50 million people, most of which were previously healthy young adults....the two-month delay in the pandemic [phase] 6 declaration may prove to be quite hazardous to the world's health."

From frequent content contributor KAF: Federal Deficit Soars to May Record of $189.7 Billion

D.S. mentioned an interesting piece on the decline of collective net worth, over at Michael Panzner's blog: The Big Wipeout

Items from The Economatrix with an Emphasis on the Ponte Chiasso Bond Smuggling Case:

2 Japanese Carrying $134 Billion In U.S. Bonds Detained In Italy. "In a suitcase were 249 bonds of the ‘Federal Reserve‘ American in the nominal value of 500 million each, and 10 ‘ bond Kennedy ‘ of the nominal value of $ 1 billion each, in addition to what is described as very original banking documentation."

New Evidence Pointing to Japan

Update 6/12/09, 19:05 Seizure of US Government Bonds
"News about it initially made it to the front page of many Italian papers, but not of the international press. Since yesterday though, some reports have published by English-language news agencies. And some commentators are starting to link the story to reports in US press dating back to 30 March. On that date the US Treasury Department announced that it had about US $134.5 billion left in its financial-rescue fund, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), whose purpose is to purchase assets and equity to buttress companies in trouble. At the same time, Japan’s Kyodo news agency has reported that the resignation of Japan’s Interior Minister Kunio Hatoyama might also be related to the Ponte Chiasso affair.

Yosano Says Japan's Trust In US Treasuries "Unshakable"
"Japanese Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano said his government is confident about the outlook for U.S. Treasuries, signaling the second-biggest foreign holder of the securities will keep buying them amid record sales." And, later in the article: "We have complete trust in the fact that the U.S. views its strong-dollar policy as fundamental,” Yosano, 70, said in an interview in Tokyo on June 10 before attending a Group of Eight meeting of finance ministers starting today in Italy. “So our trust in U.S. Treasuries is absolutely unshakable.”

Judgment Day: Broke California Faces Shut-Down at Schwarzenegger's Hand

Economic Rebound? Curb Your Enthusiasm

The full length version of this show: Bizarre Foods Survival Special will air on Tuesday, June 16th, at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific time, and immediately after (11pm ET) Andrew will be doing a live chat with viewers.

   o o o

F.G. sent this: Round Up Hate-Promoters Now, Before Any More Holocaust Museum Attacks. I don't suppose that there is any point in mentioning the deep irony of this to the author. (After all, the reason that a Holocaust Museum even exists is that some seven decades ago, a national government went along with public demands that certain people be "rounded up.") Now don't get me wrong: the man that perpetrated the attack was obviously a dangerous loon. But I'm not ready to set up a Department of "Pre-Crime" Thought Police, a la Phillip K. Dick's Minority Report.

   o o o

I've been amazed at how quickly Microsoft's Bing.com search engine has taken off. Rather than anything special provided by Bing's software, perhaps their success can instead be attributed to Google's Orwellian cookies retention policy and their corrupt "Pay for Rankings" marketing strategy. Google deserves only the quiet, withering death of inattention. For greater web search privacy, use Scroogle.org's "scraper". But regardless, learn how to clear your web browser's history, and clear cache.

   o o o

This confirms one of my long-held assumptions: Some Very Interesting Statistics on Rape Resistance. Teach your daughters to shoot, get them some advanced training, and set them up to carry concealed, daily. (Thanks to SF in Hawaii for the link.)

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." - James 5:16

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Today we present a guest article from one of our most loyal advertisers. You will note that I post very few articles from advertisers, but when one like this comes along that provides useful and practical information, I don't hesitate. Also please note that our advertisers are not eligible to participate in the SurvivalBlog Nonfiction Writing Contest.

If you were to take an inventory of all your preparedness supplies, would you feel quite confident that you are in fact “ready”? Your supplies might include a good, well thought out long-term, food storage program, complete with a variety of dehydrated and freeze-dried legumes, grains, vegetable, fruits, dairy and meats. If you’ve gotten this far, you are to be commended for taking two giant steps toward emergency preparedness. But have you also considered the very process by which these foods are preserved to give you the benefit of long-term food storage? Did you know that both the dehydrating and freeze dried process destroys the essential enzymes your body needs to utilize the nutrients in the food itself? That’s what may keep the food from spoiling thereby giving you the benefit of long-term storage, but your body still needs these essential enzymes.

To give you an example of how enzymes work and why they are so important for your health, consider this: Have you ever dropped an apple and noticed a bruise form? Have you ever watched what happens to that bruise over time? Underneath the skin, enzymes are busy at work breaking down that apple until there is nothing left. The exact same thing happens with the enzymes in your digestive tract: These mighty, enzymatic “powerhouses” perform their magic – breaking down the food to its constituent parts - vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and protein - so the body can ultimately use it for life and vitality. Without them, we are borrowing from our body what it was never designed to do. To use the old adage, if I may, we are "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

Yes, the body is thankfully equipped with the means to also digest these essential nutrients with a flood of digestive enzymes, from amylase in your saliva, to gastric lipase, pepsin and rennin in your stomach mixed with hydrochloric acid. The partially digested food (chyme) then empties into your small intestine where liver bile and pancreatic enzymes continue to breakdown the food so the nutrients can be absorbed. There is a kink in this unreliable system, however. Over time and with abuse, when the body is forced to pump out all the enzymes needed for digestion, eventually the body breaks down. Hence, we see the rise of all these horrific, degenerative disease like diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer – to name a few. Instead of the food enzymes breaking down our vital nutrients, our bodies are breaking down and we wonder why.

Although this article cannot possibly cover the scope of the need for enzymes incorporated into our everyday lives, it must cover the inevitable concerns we face in preparedness. We know the time is near and we need to prepare. One only has to watch the “real” news to realize we’re headed for some tumultuous times. And for many of you who read and support the Survival Blog, you already are prepared and continue to prepare. But now you’re faced with this dilemma: Your long term food storage is depleted of enzymes. It contains all the necessary nutrients, but nothing to deliver them to your body. Now what?

That was a question we faced as individuals, and as a self reliant, emergency preparedness business: We sell good, wholesome dehydrated and freeze-dried food products from some of the best companies out there with all the necessary nutrients for survival but void of the enzymes needed to break it down. So, from our personal interest in nutrition, to my naturopathic studies, to the realization that Americans are in imminent danger with their casual approach to health, we decided to take that leap of faith. We had to do something that would not only provide the enzymes needed for everyday living, but for our long-term food storage as well. So we made a drastic shift in the way we eat now by choosing healthy, unprocessed food and incorporate a lot of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets, including sprouts.

Did I say sprouts? Could it really be that simple that we could live off our food storage and enjoy good health with the simple usage of sprouts? Sprouts are living foods packed with living enzymes ready to take food to its next level. In fact, alfalfa sprouts are one of the healthiest foods available to man with such vital nutrients as calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium silicon, zinc, vitamins B, C, D, E and K. Not only does it possess all these nutrients, it’s alive and full of enzymes. By the simple application of sprouts in your long term food storage, you too can not only enjoy the fresh crisp taste of vegetables but employ every nutrient for the health of your body from otherwise, “dead” food.

Sprouting is so easy, anyone can do it. It requires no special knowledge or complicated equipment, just the seeds, a sprouter kit, some moisture, warmth, darkness and maybe ten minutes of your time daily. They not only store well, but a little goes a long way! In fact, just one pound of alfalfa seeds can produce 10-14 pounds of sprouts. Just simply soak the seeds in water overnight, drain them and lightly water for a few days. Then watch them grow! Soon you will have a bountiful crop of healthy sprouts to incorporate into your long-term food storage plan. - Roxanne L. Griswold, Ready Made Resources

Hi Jim;

I remember reading a "review" from a survival-minded individual who raised some Guinea Pigs (cavies) as a test case for survival situations. It took some searching, but I found it on the excellent Alpha Rubicon Web site.

While I was searching for it, I stumbled upon some other sources of information as well:

An article on the pros and cons of cavies as a meat source, from the book "Microlivestock"

And here's an article (in PDF) on cavies for meat production.

And an older article about Peruvian Guinea Pig meat production. I love this line: "Today, churches in Lima and Cuzco still display Indian depictions of the Last Supper with Jesus and the 12 disciples eating roasted guinea pig." Is Guinea Pig even kosher?

Thanks again for my daily read, - JRIP

Jack B. sent a link to a brilliant little essay by "Innocent Bystander", posted over at The Silver Bear Café, titled Economics.

From Greg J.: US government seeks to rein in executive pay. Greg asks: "When will this stop? If the Benevolent State can declare both a minimum wage and a maximum salary, then what is to stop them from controlling all wages? This is madness! "Punishing" the rich will just push funds and eventually people and entire corporations offshore. As you've mentioned in SurvivalBlog, wage and price controls have an ugly history. They're indiscriminate. They're ineffective. They're anti-freedom. And they're coming soon again, to America." JWR Adds: Just wait until inflation returns, in earnest. We'll no doubt then see some draconian wage and price controls. Methinks it is time to dig out my copy of Dr. Gary North's book, Government By Emergency.

Nouriel Roubini asks: Is Eastern Europe on the Brink of an Asia-Style Crisis?

I noticed that spot silver took another substantial dip on Friday. Buy on these dips!

Items from The Economatrix:

Two Japanese Carrying $134 Billion in U.S. Treasury Notes (and 10 'bond Kennedy' of the nominal value of $1 billion each) Detained In Italy. This sounds more than a little bit fishy. If these bearer bonds weren't counterfeited, then somebody in the US Treasury has a lot of explaining to do. Oh, and here is a bit of interesting follow-up commentary on this case. (The latter link courtesy of Frank K.)

US Stocks Fall On Concern Over Bond Yields, Rising Fuel Costs

US Trade Gap Grows as Exports Decrease Geithner: "Recovery here depends on recovery abroad."

Oil Prices Near $72, Strike New High For 2009

The Media Fall PForhony "Jobs" Claims "We would never have used a formula like 'save or create,'" he tells me. "To begin with, the number is pure fiction -- the administration has no way to measure how many jobs are actually being 'saved.' And if we had tried to use something this flimsy, the press would never have let us get away with it."

Majority Now Supports Ron Paul's Fed Audit Bill "The majority of Americans are fed up with Fed secrecy."

Fed Would Be Shut Down If It Were Audited, Expert Says

Counterfeit or Just Fake? (The Mogambo Guru)

A USCCA Video Tip of the Week: Carrying Extra Magazines.

   o o o

Reader T.M.N. sent a link to an article that gives new meaning to the term "efficiency apartment": Man turns closet into living space. The space efficiency achieved is laudable, but that doesn't leave much room for prep logistics. (FWIW, the food storage shelves for my family in JASBORR take up more cubic feet than his "apartment".)

   o o o

Steve in Philly mentioned that a six-part Gunsite video on Tactical Carbine handling and marksmanship is now available on YouTube. (I'm dubious about its copyright status! (So it is best to buy your own copy, on DVD, directly from Gunsite.)

   o o o

A bit of modern wilderness survival lore at Gizmodo, courtesy of SurvivalBlog reader C.S.: SurvivorNerd: How to Start a Fire with Your Cellphone.

"The Sierra Club's unofficial motto is: 'Take only pictures; leave only footprints.' But my motto is: Take only safe shots; leave only large gut piles." - James Wesley, Rawles

Friday, June 12, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 23 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 23 ends on July 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 think as a boy my favorite stories were always about epic journeys or quests. I always saw myself as the lone hero; bravely making his way through a barren landscape overcoming impossible obstacles and having fantastic adventures along the way. As preppers I think many of us still believe that WTSHTF our trip to “Get out of Dodge” will be an adventure such as those we read in books. I’m afraid however; the reality will be much grimmer than we can imagine. I fear that it will be more like The Road by Cormac McCarthy or the recent novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen , than anything else.

I live in the Chicago metropolitan area, yes far behind enemy lines so to speak, and have been a prepper for most of the last 10 years. Like many of us I must live in a big city because of my job. I need money to survive. Living here is no big deal if you learn to ignore the local politics. My kids are grown and I have no long-term attachments here. If the world falls to pieces I always felt I could leave in an instant. I have the requisite pick-up truck, keep it full of fuel, pre-positioned much of my supplies with my son at a relatively safe location in a small town (population 5,000) about 600 miles from here. I’ve got my G.O.O.D. bag packed and I’m ready to go when ever things go south. Or am I ready?

Let’s review my bug-out plan. Wait a second, I have no plan! This blinding flash of the obvious hit me as I was stuck in rush-hour traffic last Friday evening on my way to my son’s. It took me nearly three hours to get from my apartment on the far north side of the city to I-80 on the far south side. This was the route I assumed I would take to skedaddle. Think about that; I was on Interstate highways the whole time, leaving at 8:00 PM, and it still took me nearly three hours to go less than 80 miles. What’s really scary is that I was thinking all along how light the traffic was. I had no alternative routes in mind. Yikes!

Well, I’ve got to tell you this dear readers, that realization scared the bejeebus out of me. I was so unready to bug out. I had the stuff, the means, the mindset, etc., however, in a meltdown near-panic situation, I would’ve have been just one more member in a stream of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the big city. This experience got me off my duff and forced to review what I will do when the next shoe drops in our ongoing economic nightmare.

I drew up a list of what was necessary to implement an action plan to “Escape from Chicago 2009”

1. Have a bug-out kit ready at all times
a. No problem I have a bug-out bag packed and ready to go. No last minute packing required. However; I hadn’t checked it in quite some time and when I did I found plenty of things to replace and replenish. Batteries lost their charge. Foods had expired. So did many of the common medications I packed. BTW, I also now have a 72 hour bag with me whenever I leave the house. You can never be sure when the worst thing you can imagine will happen.

2. Bring as much as you can with you.
a. Unlike many of you, I am not a man of any particular religious belief system. However, like most of you, I feel what makes us truly human beings is our compassion. I have to say that I don’t think while bugging out, I could look a frightened hungry child in the eyes and say no - nothing for you. Bring more than you need. If you don’t need to share then all the better; there’s more for you when you reach your destination.

3. No stopping to buy last minute items.
a. If it’s so bad you need to be bugging-out do you really think others don’t know that and are at that very minute stripping the local Wal-Mart clean? During the Los Angeles riots in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the grocery stores were near impossible to get to and if you could, it didn't matter; they were closed, or had been looted, and were empty. Also, shop owners, for example, may attempt to defend their stores with firearms (a la the Los Angeles Riots) and you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire. <Sarcasm on> I know, I know, Chicago has very strict gun laws so there won’t be any shooting except by a few gun-toting NRA/survivalist types <Sarcasm off>.

Finally, one interesting image comes to mind when I think of someone “liberating” goods from a Wal-Mart. During the Katrina emergency I recall seeing a video of a very obese woman wading through chest deep flood water, polluted with who knows what, holding a Dyson vacuum cleaner she had “liberated” over her head. No electricity, no home, no floor for that matter, but she had an expensive vacuum cleaner she had probably always wanted. Also, an interesting side note is the lack of bookstores looted.

4. Be sure to “Right size your bug-out vehicle
a. Simply put, don’t try to put a 10 gallon load in a 5 gallon bucket. Have a big enough vehicle to accommodate what you need to bring. If you have too much stuff, try to pre-position the bulkiest and heaviest items ahead of time. Be sure to leave enough room in your vehicle for people and pets. If you can’t pre-position the bulkiest stuff at the far end; consider renting storage space in some small town along your intended bug-out route. If necessary, keep a small trailer at the midpoint as well. Also remember that unexpected things may/can/will happen and you will need to change your plans accordingly. Therefore, only the non-essential “nice to have things”, not the essential for survival things, should be stored at waypoints along the way.

5. Don’t oversize your bug-out vehicle
a. A corollary to the above is having a vehicle that is too big. Big is not always better. We’ve all seen in footage of the highways during the Hurricane Katrina and Rita emergencies. Massive Gridlock. If/when you need to get off the highway onto a secondary road you’ll need to know if your Jumbo Superbago or SUV with the extra-long Airfoil trailer can negotiate any tight turns and/or low clearances on your Plan B, C, and D routes. I don’t even want to discuss how much fuel bigger vehicles consume.

6. Expect no fuel to be available along the way
a. My Dodge pickup gets 18 mpg fully loaded and I have a 22 gal fuel tank. For those of us who are lacking the math gene; that works out to 396 miles per tank and my destination is 600 miles away. Hmmm. That means I need an additional 10 gallons or so. Three options present themselves; get a larger fuel tank, carry gas cans, preposition fuel along the way.
b. Option one is too pricey $1,000 plus in my case.
c. Option two means using three 5 gallon gas cans. The problem here is that in order to be prepared to leave at any moment; I’d need to keep them all full. My biggest problem here is where to store them. As I mentioned, I live in an apartment so that’s really not an option I’d use except in the direst circumstances and I’d hate to leave them in my truck either. I’ll have to figure this one out.
d. Finally, Option three requires storing them at waypoints along the route. This is a so-so solution. The primary route may change and you can’t count on being able to get to it before you run out of fuel. Secondly, most storage faculties have a serious prohibition on the storage of flammable, toxic, or explosive items.

7. Enough cash or “realistic” barter goods for a few weeks
a. This is one area that I can’t really give any solid advice. Who knows what’ll be acceptable legal tender or barterable goods. You always read in the “Survival Canons” that certain barter goods will be useful. Honestly, I can’t imagine some 7-11 or Wal-Mart clerk accepting pre-1965 silver or ammo for the loaf of bread or gallon of gas I want to buy. Not in the first few days first anyway. I’d suggest that initially, good old greenbacks will do. How many to bring is the big question ($500 $1,000? Fives, Tens, or Twenties?). I can almost bet that by the time the Schumer hits the fan, most, if not all, banks will be shuttered for a "Short term-bank holiday” and ATMs will likewise be shut down . “No checks please.” Inflation may be rampant and gouging will be the name of the game. Remember Dan and TK's trip in "Patriots" ? $50 a gallon for gas may not be too farfetched.

8. Route selection
a. Take your time starting tomorrow and carefully route the best escape route you can. Note that best doesn’t always equate with fastest. If the shortest route takes you through, or by, a major urban center, you’re just jumping from one frying pan into another. Use your GPS en-rote to see what other routes are nearby. Use on-line mapping software, on-line (Google or MapQuest) or a PC or Mac-based routing program. Test different routes and compare times and distances. Most of better routing software also shows gas stations, food, Wal-Mart’s, etc., along your route. Learn to use the software now; not when it’s crunch time. Again, Dan and TKs trip in "Patriots" . Parallel routes to the Interstates perhaps?

9. Expect Societal Breakdown
a. Don’t count on your neighbor’s good intentions. Yep, you know which neighbors I mean. They’re the ones down the block with all of the expensive toys who had nothing put aside for an emergency and now are demanding you provide them food, water, and even transportation. Be prepared for incidents of aggression, attempted assault, and theft of supplies. You may need to resort to serious means to defend yourself and your loved ones traveling with you. (I hate to keep referring to "Patriots" but the description of the Laytons' harrowing trip out of Chicago will be much truer than we care to think. )
b. Be especially wary en route. When you stop for whatever reason, you may be approached by others wanting food, or fuel, or other essentials. Help those you feel are truly desperate to the best of your ability. However, you may have to be rather aggressive to deter insistent requests by overly aggressive fellow refugees. This is a good time to be traveling with like-minded, security-conscious friends, so that all concerned can provide mutual security and back-up.

10. Trust but verify
a. I was originally going to title this section “Trust no one”, however, I feel that is just a bit to cynical. There will be those you meet along the way who are true Samaritans. But, there are also those may have few if any compunction related to “liberating” a few of your items as a donation for their efforts. Or, in the worst case, there will be some full-blown predators out there masquerading as shepherds waiting for the sheep to come to them. Be wary of all help; including that from our friends in the government.

11. Be wary of Government help.
a. I don’t know what will happen if I need to bug-out; but one thing I can be sure of is that if you should stop for help at any government facility; the first thing they will do is ask if you have any weapons with you. This is pretty much standard police procedure in any case. The second thing they will do is take any weapons you have from you. It’s as simple as that. They will claim they are doing it for your own protection but you can be certain you will never see your weapons again. Confiscating weapons was illegally done in New Orleans and few of the confiscated weapons were ever recovered. As unconstitutional as it was, they still to this day, justify taking the weapons as being in the best interest of the public. Forgetting of course that they were seizing the weapons of people least likely to use them against the forces of law and order an all the while never venturing near the danger zones in New Orleans where the actual goblins with illegal weapons resided. Additionally, you can probably also be sure that they will also take whatever food, or other goods you have that they deem necessary, to redistribute it among others who weren’t quite so well prepared as you. How dare you greedy selfish people who prepared have more than others who didn’t?

I hope that you will think about what I have presented here and do your best to be prepared. I hope you all make it to your destinations safe and sound.

I recently installed an AuraGen system similar to the current listing on eBay (#330329068735) onto a customer's Bug Out Vehicle (BOV), a 1986 Chevrolet Suburban 1 ton (modified with some parts that were originally incorporated in the M1008 CUCV). This customer also is afflicted with COPD and uses a 110 VAC Oxygen generator. The Auragen, being a military designed system is far more durable, far more rugged, and most importantly, far more versatile than an inverter placed into any vehicle electrical system. Being a mil-spec unit,.EMP is also not an issue as it meets the military requirements for such use in medical units for power generation.

At around $1,700 on eBay the end user can add about another $500-to-$600 for install and miscellaneous parts. I personally have a PTO drive system in my own vehicle and have used it in several situations where, as some say "The Schumer has hit the rotating impellers", LOL, powering some mission critical communications, networking, and telecom facilities for other NGO customers. These are not cheap, but what price is reliable power when lives depend on it? Best Regards, - Bob S.

On my quarter-acre lot in California’s San Joaquin Valley, I have about 50 small fruit trees (citrus, apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and cherries) grape vines, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, squash, cantalopes, watermelons, tomatoes, eggplants, rhubarb, Armenian cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, basil, parsley, tarragon, and a kiwi vine. (And there is plenty of space left over for the house, garage, ornamental landscaping, and plain old lawn, although more of that lawn is going away next year, to be replaced with more fruit trees.) Now, I didn’t do it myself; I paid my gardener quite a bit of money to build trellises, install drip irrigation, break up hardpan [adobe clay soil] with a jackhammer, replace bermuda grass lawn with planting space, prune the grape vines, and generally give me advice. But I couldn’t do it myself, and I regard the money as well spent, not only for my own benefit, but to help employ a good, honest, hard working man with a family to support.

But my point is: you can grow [dwarf or semi-dwarf variety] fruit trees as little as four or five feet apart; you just prune them ruthlessly when they get too big. The Dave Wilson Nursery web site is very helpful.

My other point is, besides non-perishable food and necessary household items, I am buying extra fertilizer. The price is quite a bit higher this year than last year, and I expect it will only get higher in the future.

- K.C. in California

Ray T. sent this: US long-term interest rates hit high. We haven't seen anything yet! To attract bond buyers in the future, I predict that Banana Republic level rates may be coming.

I found this linked over at TSLRF: Bernanke Freaks Out About Obama's Spending and Debt Plans. Don't miss the accompanying Tech Ticker video commentary on the risk of debt monetization leading to hyperinflation.

Items from The Economatrix:

GOP Rep. Kirk Warns: China Is Investing Away From Dollar...Buying Gold And Oil

Fed Lost $5.3 Billion on AIG, Bear Stearns in 1Q

No More Federal Money Planned for GM, Chrysler

Is the US Economy Heading for a "Jobless Recovery"?

Gary North: Regional Central Bankers Blow The Whistle On The Fed

Weiss: US Debt Crisis as Treasury Bond Prices Collapsing and Interest Rates Surging

Senators Want Homebuyers Tax Credit Raised to $15,000
Dropping income cap, 3-year limit, etc. [Wasn't "loose money" what created the housing mess in the first place?]

California Nears "Meltdown" as May Revenues Tumble

New Jobless Claims Drop to 601,000; Retail Sales Rise

"Still, the number of people claiming benefits for more than a week rose by 59,000 to more than 6.8 million, the highest on records dating to 1967."

Failed Banks Dot Georgia's Vistas "The state is home to just 4% of all U.S. banks, but 20% of the nation's bank failures since August."

American's Net Worth Shrinks $1.33 Trillion in 1Q

Car Loans Are Tough to Get, Even with Good Credit "Dealers say loans have dried up, even for buyers with good credit."

Oil Price Leaps to Year's High

Economic Hell (The Mogambo Guru)

Florida Guy mentioned an insightful essay that expands on Anthropologist Jack Weatherford's book, Savages And Civilization: Who Will Survive?

   o o o

Crusher recommended a site with sets of plans and descriptions for a home-made ethanol still.

   o o o

FJ sent: Poor Man’s Guide to Rain Barrels

   o o o

A Nanny State update from Sodom By The Sea: San Francisco Makes it Illegal Not to Recycle

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." - Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
My husband and I are having a preparedness debate that we were hoping you could shed some light on. While he’s more of a conventional preparer (food, supplies, guns) I prefer to think of “things” that would help us survive if we were to ever run out of, or lose the conventional supplies. This distinct difference in preparation brings me to my story.

Several months ago I was watching a special on, I believe National Geographic, where the camera crew followed an actor on his journey through the country of Peru. On his trip he went into the Andes Mountains and spent several days with a Peruvian family. He tried to learn some of their language, customs, and try the foods they survive off of. This is where I became interested – aside from the grains and vegetables that they grow, the main staple of meat for the villagers in this area are guinea pigs. In Peru guinea pigs are called Cuy [Cuyes, Cuyos in the plural] and they are considered a delicacy in many parts of the country, and eaten only on special occasions, though in this village it seemed to be a daily occurrence.

My husband thought I was insane for even suggesting that we eat guinea pigs, and maybe you will too, but my rationale for it is this: In a TEOTWAWKI situation you can’t be picky about what you eat, and what you eat should provide more energy than you expend acquiring it. Guinea pigs are easy to breed, easy to feed, and easy to “hunt” (and by hunt I mean pick up off the ground). They are high in protein, (supposedly) tender and delicious, and one guinea pig per person provides a hearty meal.
My question to you is: would you, as the preparedness guru, consider breeding guinea pigs as a food source - a good move?
Sincerely, - M Q B.

The Memsahib Replies: I bred Cavies (Guinea Pigs) for several years. At the peak, I had about 100 of them. In my case, I was breeding them to develop genetics for good maternal instincts, easy birth, and beautiful coat colors and coat texture variations. (BTW, breeding cavies is fantastic for homeschoolers to learn about genetics, since the gestation period is so short--around 65 days.) I sold all of my "extras" (that didn't meet the strict genetic goals of my breeding program) to a wholesaler that provided young cavies to pet stores and the cavy show trade. In all, I sold about 300. Cavies are quite easy to breed, but raising them to butcher size might take a lot of time.

I never raised mine for butcher, but I did raise 150+ Rex rabbits for butcher. In a survival situation, I'd prefer cavies, since they don't tunnel (which would be an escape risk), and they can be successfully bred in colony ground pens. (This is difficult, at best, with rabbits, because of their prodigious tunneling, vicious fighting, and the tendency of mothers to eat their young, when under stress!)

In summary, I have bred both rabbits and cavies. If your goal is to have very small livestock as a protein source, in a warm climate, then I'd recommend cavies, for self-sufficiency.

Warning: While rabbits are prone to biting and kicking and scratching (I have the scars on my forearms to prove it), cavies are so adorable that there is the risk that in pre-TEOTWAWKI times, family members may prove too tender-hearted to ever be able to slaughter, butcher, and eat their cavy friends. The grateful "wheet, wheet" call of of a cavy when presented a carrot treat can melt an owner's heart! I call this Too Cute Tribble Syndrome (TCTS). But I must reiterate that we had no such compunctions when it came to rabbits! (They were cute, but they never "talked back" to us.) I've butchered almost 150 rabbits, with no remorse.


That was an excellent post by Gentleman Jim! His view of insurance is right on and should be reinforced. I’ve come to realize that the best way to conceptualize prepping is in terms of insurance. As Jim stated, just like every family needs home insurance, auto insurance, medical insurance, etc., you must also have survival insurance. In fact, this should be the most important insurance you carry. If you have a family, you owe it to your spouse and your children to ensure that they will be safe no matter what life throws at you.

There are several good reasons to use an insurance perspective. The financial obligation is easier to digest once you consider all your insurance premiums together. For example, the cost of my health, auto, and home insurance combined (family of 4, 2 vehicles, 1 house) is now running about $12,500 per year (and this keeps going up, ugh!). So, a conservative estimate of the value of survival insurance could justify spending at least a quarter of this amount ($3,125/yr.). If you think survival insurance is more important than the others (and I do, at this point in time), then consider a survival insurance premium worth 50% of your current insurance ($6,250/yr). From an insurance perspective, I hardly bat an eye over spending several thousand dollars on supplies. While my numbers don’t apply to everyone, the point is the same: look at your current insurance costs; figure a percentage that your think is fair; consider it a premium like other insurance; and work it into your budget. You simply cannot afford to not have survival insurance!

Another benefit of an insurance perspective is that helps you conceptualize the extent of your coverage. In other words, how much coverage do you have now and how much do you need/want? Take the worst case situation that all the stores are closed a/o out of supplies, and ask yourself how long you could be self-reliant? Do you want insurance coverage for 3 months? 6 months? >1 year? Each time period carries a different premium. Also keep in mind that unless you are self-sufficient, after your insurance runs out, you are a refugee. I agree with everyone who advocates having at least a 1 year policy. This timeframe is based on the minimum it would take for a disruption of the food supply to return to normal. At whatever point a disruption occurs, there will need to be at most a year of seasons to regain farming and agriculture (that’s assuming there is a quick resolution to whatever caused the disruption). Of course, as everyone is are aware, there are worse scenarios that could disrupt supplies for a longer period (possibly indefinitely). If you’re worried about that, then you need to take out a larger insurance policy that includes ways to secure your own resources and food.

I would also like to point-out a purely semantic benefit to calling your preparedness activities “insurance.” How many of you have had a spouse/sibling/friend question your sanity as you’re pouring 50 lb sacks of red winter wheat into storage buckets? At some point, after one too many boxes of freeze-dried fruit, toilet paper and ammunition enter the house, someone’s going to raise an eyebrow. I hope your acquaintances are more intelligent and mature than mine, but if they’re not, explain it in terms of insurance. There is a quarterly insurance premium for our safety and peace of mind, and we are not losing grip on reality. I understand the fragileness of society and recognize my duty to provide insurance for the family. I can usually turn the insanity perception around and point out to folks that they must be insane not to have survival insurance.

I also like the way Jim describes gold & silver as insurance. Owning gold and silver is an important part of your survival insurance policy. While I think that being self-sufficient is more valuable than money, for those of us who are not totally self-sufficient, we will need an alternate and liquid form of money. In my opinion, gold and silver American Eagles are the best insurance against the collapse of fiats because: a) they are currently the most liquid form of bullion; b) their content is guaranteed by the mint (no assay required); c) divisibility; and d) they are currently a form of legal tender. In case some readers are not aware, bullion US Mint American Eagles are legal tender, while bars and foreign coins are not. While there is commodity value in owning bars and foreign coins, as long as there is a Treasury Department, they cannot officially be used as money. Here is a link to the US code section that defines money.

On the subject of legal tender [status], it should be pointed-out that bullion American Eagles have a value equal to the amount that is stamped on the coin. For a one-ounce Gold Eagle, this equates to a $50 value in terms of money. The gold commodity is currently valued around $950/oz. If you’re considering purchasing bullion, try not to let this price dissuade you. View it like a currency exchange similar to exchanging dollars for pesos. When you exchange for a foreign currency, you don’t balk at the exchange rate. It is what it is. In terms of bullion, if you understand that the reason you’re exchanging dollars for bullion is because you believe that the fiat will ultimately lose its value, then you are simply exchanging paper for a commodity at the going exchange rate. You can help offset the rising rates by making one cash-for-bullion exchange per year. Also, if you took at look at that Weimar Hyperinflation Timeline someone recently posted, you would know just how fast cash can lose its value. $950 today might be much, much more in a hyperinflated future. Make sure your savings don’t get completely wiped-out by hyperinflation. Exchange some of your cash for bullion and insure yourself against this! [JWR Adds: By the way, the established Legal Tender status of American Eagle gold and a silver coins opens up some interesting tax implications.]

I totally agree with the opinions for owning pre-1965 coins. They are legal tender and are the lowest denominated bullion. But I would also like to point out that in terms of divisibility, gold eagles can be purchased in denominations of 1oz, 1/2oz, 1/4oz, and 1/10oz. The 1/10th oz coins have a $5 face value and a commodity value of about $95. They are smaller than a dime (so are light and easy to carry), and would be the most suitable gold coin to use for small purchases in a post-SHTF economy. Keep the larger coins squirreled away (outside the banking system) as a store of value.

If you’re looking for a storage solution besides your backyard or home safe, there is a unique security company in Idaho called Idaho Armored Vaults that stores and segregates your bullion outside of the financial system. I have no interests with this company, but am acquainted with the owner. He is extremely knowledgeable about all things bullion.

One last point along the lines of insurance: this type of policy should be perpetual. If I am lucky enough to get through life without ever using my survival insurance (apart from eating the food and using the household products), I intend to will it to my kids. It is very gratifying to know that after I’m gone they will have bullion, firearms and other tangibles to help insure their futures. (If you like the idea of inheritance, be sure to consider creating a family trust. Keep all the possessions in the trust for protection from sour relationships). If you approach this as a perpetual insurance policy, you could be setting the foundation to ensure the safety of many generations in your family. Just think of how much this policy would be worth today if your grandparents had started it!

God Bless and Good Luck. - Chris G.

U.S. dollar 'seriously overvalued'

From SurvivalBlog reader GG: The next great crisis: America's debt. At this rate, your share of the load will be $155,000 in a decade. How chronic deficits are putting the country on a path to fiscal collapse.

Another from GG (also sent by KAF): Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates. The unprecedented expansion of the money supply could make the '70s look benign

Fam sent us this: Treasury Secretary's Secret Talking Points Reveal That Banks Were Forced to Surrender Ownership Stakes to Government

From DD: Foreclosures hit the upscale market

Items from The Economatrix:

Treasuries Tumble After Auction; Russian Threat to Cut Holdings "'There are an awful lot of Treasuries being auctioned and there’s going to be more and more and more and more,' said Jay Mueller, who manages about $3 billion of bonds at Wells Fargo Capital Management in Milwaukee."

Stocks Falls After Weak Auction of 10-Year Notes

Fed Unveils Some Details on $1 Trillion in Lending, But Doesn't Identify Borrowers (Which leads us to ask: How much money is being sent offshore?)

Survey: Dollar, Government Bonds Set to Decline As Economies "Recover"

High Court Clears Way For Chrysler Sale to Fiat "The United States government has, I continue to believe, acted egregiously by taking away the traditional rights held by secured creditors."

Congress Subpoenas The Fed Over BoA-Merrill Lynch

Airfares to Fall Further in Recession

Former AT&T CEO (Whitacre) to Become New GM Chairman

More Politics in Auto Plant Closures?

Now Boarding At Gate C14: Capital Flight Airlines

Russia, Brazil to Buy $20 Billion IMF Bonds, Diversify Reserves
"Russia’s central bank said it may cut investments in U.S. Treasuries, currently valued at as much as $140 billion, a week after China said it may reduce reliance on the dollar and American bonds. Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega said his country will purchase $10 billion of debt sold by the IMF, China will buy $50 billion and India may announce similar funding."

You Just Have To Laugh (The Mogambo Guru)

Bullion and Bandits: The Improbable Rise and Fall of e-Gold

Parental Lifelines Frayed to Breaking

20-somethings having to move back in with parents

More about the proposed ban on one-hand opening pocket knives. The U.S. Government is Trying to Take Away Your Pocket Knives! Also see this summary comes from WorldNetDaily. The only thing worse than Nanny State meddling in your city, county, or state is the same nonsense promulgated at the Federal level. At least with state-level laws, you have the opportunity to "vote with your feet". After a thousand small abuses, who will go so far as to emigrate? A special note: If this new law "interpretation" is enacted, crossing state lines with one of these knives will be considered a felony. The Federal bureaucracy is accepting comments – written only – that must be received by June 21 before its planned changes could become final.]

   o o o

From Cheryl: Consumer Alert: Recycled Radioactive Metal Contaminates Consumer Products

   o o o

Naiveté and Gullibility: To some, they're not just words--they're a way of life: Now...Go Break The Windows; Crank caller wreaks havoc on Arkansas hotel, duping employees, guests. (Be sure to click on the tab down in the photo section of the article, to view the police report. At times the truth is stranger than fiction.)

"I have long had a tendency to tie marksmanship to morality. The essence of good marksmanship is self-control, and self-control is the essence of good citizenship.
It is too easy to say that a good shot is automatically a good man, but it would be equally incorrect to ignore the connection." - Jeff Cooper, Cooper's Commentaries Volume 9, No. 4 22/73

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Several SurvivalBlog readers have written to mention that they'd like to help with The Memsahib's medical expenses. That was very kind, but by God's wonderful providence, we are in no need of contributed funds to pay for her health care costs. (I recently signed a contract with Simon & Schuster to write two novels as sequels to "Patriots"). We covet only your prayers.

Hi James,

Thanks for your many years of great work. While I was enjoying and learning so much from your books and the web site, I was also growing older and have physically "lost the edge". More accurately, I reaped the unintended consequences of 55 years of smoking and now have a tough situation Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This is [best described in layman's terms as] a combination of bronchitis and emphysema. I have not smoked for three years and my breathing is now stable at 51% of normal. This ailment is not unusual in the senior community, and COPD is the third largest killer in the USA. It severely restricts activity and higher altitudes are deadly. Like most of us with COPD, I am on oxygen 20-to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, plus lots of varied and expensive medications, to include my liquid oxygen, mostly supplied to me at low or zero cost by the Veterans Administration.

Additionally, and this may apply to many of your readers, my wife and I are the primary care givers, in our home, for her mentally disabled older brother. He too is a vet, Korean War Era and age 79, and receiving 100% of his medical care from the local Veterans Clinic, as I do. The Veterans Administration (VA) is a terrific source of excellent health care. All eligible vets should enroll ASAP a the VA web site. Go there and get in before the Obama National Health Carelessness Agency gets to their house! I expect the VA will be forced to shut out all non combat vets soon!

My wife and I, and a few friends, all sorta elderly fellow military vets, have been like minded about preparedness since well before the Y2K era. About 20 years of learning and prepping! We have the basic stocks of food, water, meds, clothing, and appropriate security items. We have learned to help one another and to be able to give to others in need. I have stocks of dvds to enjoy and to use to teach others. We have a 2,100 Watt solar system for power. We have devised a simple system to safely filter irrigation water for our local water needs, to include drinking, cooking, and laundry. We've worked together and planned together successfully. We are a team and care for each other as an extended family.

We live in small town in rural Utah. My wife and I are pleased to live in a close knit town of about 500 good caring folks. This area is highly LDS, about 50 - 60 %, and they are mostly "not very well-prepared" .... surprise! surprise! The [majority of] Mormon people--and I can say this as an active LDS--are not ready for any disaster. Less that 10% have a emergency response mindset. The LDS Provident Living web site is great, and while the LDS Church strongly promotes and enables provident living, far too few members are prepared for any emergency. Many have a little bit and very few have enough. As a people we are not well prepared. [JWR Adds: But on average far better prepared than most other Americans, and that is commendable.]

As a family, we've done all that preparation, and still I have a serious problem with no answer. You see, I will be dependent on solar power to enable my oxygen concentrator to produce O2, power the kitchen, and the computers, and to recharge the batteries. I can't leave our home area for more than about 6-9 hours (maximum battery life for the portable concentrator). In an emergency my darling wife of 43 years will not leave me. My Veterans Elderly "A" Team / Extended Family wants to "zip cuff, gag, and bag" me and take me out of danger, but they too recognize the travel difficulty and are without a solution. Moving the solar array and the necessary ancillary equipment is a two day exercise.

We seniors are a large portion of the community and an even larger part of the preparedness group. I have yet to see or hear any preparedness help for folks like us. Many seniors are just like me; older, somewhat ""less abled physically, somewhat less able to travel, and more dependent on local medical services. 20% of us are raising our grand children... At the same time we are surely more knowledgeable, more able to lead, more experienced, more secure financially, more able to teach and to mentor, more equipped, and more likely to have lived through hard times and to have serious military training. And very importantly, many of us have real time combat experience. We have been to see the "Elephant Country". The younger folks need what we have to offer because they will die without it.

My problem is very simple. I have done all of the right preparedness chores and now I find that my family can not get in the truck and bug out. And I'll be 69, next birthday. What do I do now?

thanks again. - Old Bobbert in Utah

JWR Replies: My general recommendation for retirees is to set yourself up as the retreat destination for the younger members of your extended family. You can provide them with their bug-out location, and storage for their supplies, and the benefits of your years of preparation. They can provide you with the young and healthy hands, strong backs, sharp eyes, and sensitive ears you will need after TEOTWAWKI. I often stress the need to pre-position retreat logistics. By having your extended family's supplies at your locale, it provides insurance that they will be there to help out, when the balloon goes up.

OBTW, you mentioned oxygen. For anyone that heavily dependent on medical oxygen, I strongly recommend buying a portable oxygen concentrator. Many of the portable models are compatible with 12 VDC power. This means that you can run them from your alternative power system battery bank, without the need to run a DC-to-AC inverter. For much greater "range" away from your retreat, you can keep a charged pair of deep cycle 6 VDC golf cart batteries in your vehicle.

While we all dream that perfect place in the country it is important to emphasize how much that can be accomplished on a small city lot. My home sits on about 6,000 square feet of land, a small suburban house in a cookie-cutter neighborhood . The house and garage and drive way take up about half of the lot . Of what's left, I'm slowly converting the ornamental landscape to organic food production. My current garden consists of 48 tomato plants (4 varieties) 2 beds of sweet corn, 2 rows of cucumbers staggered 2 month s apart for continuous harvest, 2 similar rows of pole beans, one row of lima beans, 30 sweet pepper plants, 6 pumpkins, 12 winter squash, 12 summer squash , 6 cantaloupes , 4 peach trees, 2 nectarine trees , 2 pear trees , 2 apple trees, and one fig. In addition, numerous herbs –(basil , dill, rosemary, sage, and thyme) and 4 artichoke plants . Could easily plant enough onions and garlic to last us all year and I plan to do so as I add beds.

Last year I grew enough popcorn to last two years. Next year I plan on a large bed of dent corn for corn meal. Am still experimenting with winter crops but peas, beets, carrots, and kale all do well and I'm anxious to see how many potatoes I can get from 100 square feet.

I figure that I' ll pull about $2,000 worth of food from the garden this year and that ’it is going to increase because I still have about 1,000 square feet of ornamental beds and lawn to tear out and plant and the fruit trees are still young . Over the past 8 years I've spent less than $1,000 for tools and equipment: two spades (one all metal for my heavy clay soil) , a Mantis tiller, metal fencing stakes for pole beans, tomato e s, and cucumbers ( they last forever, much better than wood) , various clippers, twine, a bit of organic fertilizer , and the bare-root fruit trees . This year I've spent less than $25 ( seeds, twine, and a bit of seaweed spray) since I have all the tools already. Could rent out my tiller at $ 30 / day if I took the trouble to post at the local store. Meanwhile, we're eating healthy and free and will start putting up food as I expand my beds and grow enough to save as well as eat.

I love the work so it is not drudgery for me it is great exercise and a relief to be outside after working in my office all week . Weekends in late winter and early spring are a bit busy –-- perhaps 5 or 6 hours per weekend for a month or so . But once the winter garden is out and the spring garden is planted, it requires about two hours per week for the rest of the season.

Yes, we all want to life in the country. But until then there's free food for eating and survival storage right in your backyard if you're willing to do the work. - Patrick C. in Southern California

Mr. Rawles,
Just a quick comment on Gentleman Jim's excellent letter. He wrote:" [U.S. Silver Eagles] are obviously more valuable than the pre-1965 junk silver coins, and thus you can get a great store of value into fewer coins. ... Plus, they get very heavy very fast."

Silver is silver is silver. You shouldn't be too concerned with what particular impression or markings are on the coin, or where it was minted, or what year, etc etc. All those things have their place, but when it comes to investing in silver and gold for the type of wealth storage and protection we're discussing here, they are irrelevant at best and can in fact be a detriment. You're buying silver, period. The silver content should be your primary concern, and the coin/bar/ingot/whatever that allows you to acquire the greatest amount of silver at the lowest price per ounce should be your choice. Melt value is what matters.

Thus his comment that "you can get a great store of value into fewer coins" is somewhat misleading, and "they get very heavy very fast"—while being technically true from a mere scale standpoint—is missing the point. An ounce of silver is an ounce of silver is an ounce of silver. 100 ounces of silver in the form of Silver Eagles is no more or less valuable than 100 ounces of silver in the form of pre-1965 coins. Either way, you have 100 ounces of silver. True enough, 10% of the weight and space taken up by 90% junk silver coins is "wasted" on irrelevant [hardening, for circulation] metal content, and thus for a given dollar amount the pre-1965 coin stash will weigh a bit more, but for most folks the practical differences are moot. I'd rather pay a much smaller premium than be concerned with the marginally different storage and handling requirements. The same ["buy with the lowest premium"] principle applies to gold. - CH

Regarding the "Jim from Colorado's" article I agree with his premise, however there are a few errors I'd like to correct.

He states:

"Look back to the 1930s in the United States.when the devalued dollar led to such extreme measures that in 1933, FDR confiscated nearly all of the gold in the country-and reimbursed owners at a fraction of the value of their gold (absolutely true statement; I have a copy of the Executive Order, if you'd like to read it).
o Yes, households were allowed to keep a small fraction of their holdings, no more than $100 worth of gold, and also numismatic collector's coins were exempted.
o Yes, industrial concerns and business were allowed to continue storing "appropriate" amounts of gold for things like making jewelry, etc.
o The point here is-the government literally came and took people's gold from them.at bargain basement prices."

The correct timeline for "confiscation" and subsequent devaluation of the dollar was as follows:

"March 6, 1933
Using a wartime statute passed in 1917, Mr Roosevelt issued a proclamation closing every bank in the U.S. for four days. The banks were closed from March 6 to March 9.

April 5, 1933
President Roosevelt, acting under the sweeping authority passed to him by Congress on March 9, signed Presidential Executive Order 6102 which invoked his authority to make it unlawful to own or hold gold coins, gold bullion, or gold certificates. The export of Gold for purposes of payment was also outlawed, except under license from the Treasury.

January 30, 1934
The "Gold Reserve Act" became law. It had passed through Congress in five days, with minimal debate. Under this act, the Federal Government took away title to all "Gold Certificates" and gold held by the Federal Reserve Bank (the independent Fed?) and vested sole title with the U.S. Treasury. The Fed banks were to be provided with "Gold Certificates" in return for their Gold, but these certificates had no specific value in Gold assigned to them.

January 31, 1934
The day after the passage of the Act, President Roosevelt fixed the weight of the Dollar at 15.715 grains of Gold "nine-tenths fine". The Dollar was thereby devalued from $20.67 to one troy ounce of Gold to $35.00 to one troy ounce of Gold - or by 69.3 percent. The Treasury, which had become the possessors of all the nation's Gold on the previous day, saw the value of their Gold holdings increase by $US 2.81 Billion. The Treasury now "owned" the Gold, and no one else inside the U.S. was allowed to own any Gold except by the express permission of the Treasury.

The new ratio of $US 35 [per ounce] was adopted at Bretton Woods in July 1944. The U.S. Dollar was made the world's Reserve Currency and the IMF and World Bank established in 1947. The now international ratio of 35 U.S. Dollars to one troy ounce of Gold lasted until August 15, 1971."

In short they called in the gold and paid $20.67/oz on April 5, 1933, but it wasn't until January 31, 1934 that they devalued the USD to $35/oz. And the so called "confiscation", never really was. They were simply ordered, under threat of imprisonment to turn it in and it was declared illegal. They never went door to door and took anything. There was IIRC only one attempt at prosecution and it involved millions of dollars in gold bullion. Many (most?) people never turned in anything. Also, from what I can gleam from passed down second hand stories the safety deposit box line from the Executive Order was not strictly enforced either. All the best, - O.E.

JWR Replies: You mentioned: "They never went door to door and took anything." Yes, that is correct, but only because government officials didn't have to. By declaring possession of gold coins illegal, they "smoked out" nearly all the gold coins that were in circulation. People dutifully exchanged their gold coins 1-for-1 (at face value) for FRN paper currency, knowing that they wouldn't be able to spend their gold coins after the new law went into effect. A $20 gold piece got them a $20 FRN. Wow, what a bargain! Only later were they stabbed in the back by the official revaluation of gold. This was larceny on a grand scale, committed by the FDR administration. There is no more powerful coercive force than that wielded by an ostensibly constitutional government, acting under color of law. In short, FDR did what was expedient, and his administration robbed the American people of their gold. What would be a felony for an individual to do was deemed "lawful" for a government to do.

From "Kevin Lendel": China airs fears on US debt, dollar: lawmaker

10 big banks get OK to repay $68B in bailout money (Thanks to H.D.K. for the link) "Experts say allowing 10 banks to return $68 billion in bailout money illustrates some stability has returned to the system but caution that the crisis isn't over. Some worry the repayments could widen the gap between healthy and weak banks." Cheryl N. notes. "Just remember, these banks suddenly were able to pay their bills after the FASB changed some accounting rules. It's just more "green shoots" based on falsified accounting records.

HPD spotted this piece by Mish Shedlock: Eight Step Program to Improve Fed's Image

Items from The Economatrix:

Charles Hugh Smith's commentary: Why The Current Depression Will Be Deeper Than 1929

Justice Ginsburg Delays Chrysler Sale

Geithner to Sen. DeMint: Bailouts May Never End, No Exit Plan. JWR Adds: Gee, that sounds like the very definition of the MOAB...

Obamanomics: How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

The Economy is Still at The Brink "We have both spent large chunks of our lives working on Wall Street, absorbing its ethic and mores. We're concerned that nothing has really been fixed. We're doubly concerned that people appear to feel the worst of the storm is over —and in this, they are aided and abetted by a hugely popular and charismatic president and by the fact that the Dow has increased by 35 percent or so since Mr. Obama started to lay out his economic plans in March. But wishing for improvement and managing by the Dow's swings are a fool's game."

Bank Profits From Accounting Rules [Relaxation] Masking Looming Loan Losses "The revival may be short-lived. Analysts who have examined the quarterly profits and government tests say that accounting rule changes and rosy assumptions are making the institutions look healthier than they are."

Economist: Housing Bubble Caused Great Depression, Too

Skousen: Something Rotten In Auto Bankruptcy Deals

Medvedev: Russia, China Should Dump Dollar In Trade "Medvedev said bilateral currency deals between trade partners ease impact of the economic crisis in an environment when many countries have difficulties tapping international capital markets."

Russian Rouble to Go Palladium

US Expert: India, China Ready to Rule World Economy
"... the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a London-based economic consulting firm, had predicted emerging market economies may overtake the US and the rest of the Western world this year instead of 2015 as predicted earlier."

Peter Schiff: The Charm Offensive "...no matter how slick the sales pitch, no amount of lipstick can dress up this pig."

From my old friend "John Jones": Solar Storm Threat Assessment

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson spotted this video clip. Bobcat wood splitter. Wow! As my dad always said: There's nothing like power tools!

   o o o

Christopher T. flagged this: Texas company offers ethanol mini-refineries

The folks at Ready Made Resources, mentioned that they just received a limited supply of genuine made in the U.S.A. stainless steel surgical hemostats. These are not made in Pakistani, (some of which will rust in an autoclave) .Still sealed in original packages $17.95 for a pair, in 5-1/2" and 6-1/2" length.

"...compared warfare to a grand ballet, where every minute, every second, is carefully choreographed and orchestrated, but when the conductor raises the baton for the first note, two homicidal maniacs jump out of the orchestra pit onto the stage with bayonets and begin chasing the ballerinas - that is warfare. Much the same is true for disaster planning. Nevertheless, because you went through the planning process, you understand the key challenges, the key questions, and the critical issues regarding your specific business - and that is what will give you the flexibility to adapt in a crisis." - General Norman Schwarzkopf

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Our SurvivalRealty spin-off site has several new retreat property listings in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Also, a very unusual underground house in Colorado has also been re-posted. Check them out. These properties represent some of the best available to get yourself ready to zurück. Find a good retreat and head for the hills!

No matter who you are, where you live, or whatever your political proclivities, economic trends such as inflation/hyper-inflation/deflation simply don’t care which party you belong to, who you voted for, or whether you’re believe in Keynesian “prime the pump” spending by the government, or not. The laws of economics may be somewhat fungible and give us surprises from time to time, but overall:

* They don’t care whether you love the earth, hate the earth, drive electric tiny-cars or huge Hummers or travel by foot or horse.
* They don’t care whether you’re in a blue state or a red state or a purple state or a pink state.
* They don’t care whether you rent a tiny apartment in the city or own 10,000-acres of ranch land with a huge mansion thereon.

Let me say it one more time: inflation, hyper-inflation and/or deflation don't care who you are! They’re like unwelcome guests who stop by uninvited and visit you and help themselves, no matter who you are or where you live or what you believe.

Did you know that in the modern history of our world, there are over 500 currencies (systems of money) that simply no longer exist? Yep, the only folks that even know about all those currencies are the coin collectors and a few historians.

* But almost universally, they all share one feature: they died due to hyper-inflation and subsequent devaluation.
* In nearly every one of those cases, the corresponding governments fell, and quite often the societies pretty well ceased to exist—they were subsumed by other nations with stronger currency.

Can’t happen here? Please, do some reading and allow yourself to be impartial.

* Check out the recent cases of [mass] inflation and hyperinflation in Zimbabwe and Argentina.
* Look back to Germany’s Weimar Republic in the 1920s—it is quite easy, via the Internet, to find pictures of everyday Germans taking a wheelbarrow full of money to the store to buy just a loaf of bread.
* Look back to the 1930s in the United States…when the devalued dollar led to such extreme measures that in 1933, FDR confiscated nearly all of the gold in the country—and reimbursed owners at a fraction of the value of their gold (absolutely true statement; I have a copy of the Executive Order, if you’d like to read it).
o Yes, households were allowed to keep a small fraction of their holdings, no more than $100 worth of gold, and also numismatic collector's coins were exempted.
o Yes, industrial concerns and business were allowed to continue storing “appropriate” amounts of gold for things like making jewelry, etc.
o The point here is—the government literally came and took people’s gold from them…at bargain basement prices.
o Today…what might they take? Your 401(k)? Your military retirement pay? Your teacher’s retirement pay? Your extra cars--and the government gets to define what constitutes “extra”. After all, it isn’t fair for some to have, and others not, right?

· Scary? Over-wrought?

· Again, read the 1933 FDR gold confiscation order. It is real, it happened, and you can even look it up on the Internet or any encyclopedia.

Now then…if you’ve read this far…you’re probably asking yourself the question: “Okay, so what should I be doing about all this? What should other people be doing about it?”

First and foremost…try to staunch (or at least quell) the storm. Contact your city, county, state and federal officials, representatives, senators, presidents, etc.

· Ask them…beg them…demand of them…that spending be reigned in.

· That our governments at all levels live within their means.

· That taxes be kept at lower levels.

Because if we don’t get our spending under control, all of us will suffer. From the top to the bottom, east to west, north to south, rich to poor, old to young.

* Do something…now…before it is too late. Reign in our governments’ spending before it is too late!

Second: You need to start considering the possibility that the looming storm will break right down on top of you…me…us…our children…our grand-parents…everyone we know.

* So, yes, you need to prepare yourself against that day. You don’t have to believe Armageddon is here, to read a couple of history books and understand what happens in a classic deflation—inflation—hyperinflation—government collapse type of situation. And, fortunately, there are some common-sense things you can do to at least reduce the eventual impact on yourself and your loved ones.

For example, pay off all debt. Immediately! Okay, if not immediately, pretty darn fast. Remember that during the Great Depression, many a farm was foreclosed upon because there was a mortgage on it, but sometimes for only a few hundred dollars. It’s just that no one had even that few hundred dollars with which to redeem that mortgage, and thus family homesteads were lost forever.

Understand that one day your bank may close or be closed. Your bank accounts may not be accessible for days…weeks…or even months. It doesn’t really matter if those accounts are FDIC-insured for up to $200,000. If you can’t get it out for six months…and inflation is running at 20% per month…your money will be worthless by the time you can get it out. So, buy a safe and keep a few thousand or few hundred dollars stashed away, just for emergencies. How much do you need to stash away? That is up to you and your particular circumstances. But you should break up the currency into mostly tens, fives and ones…and probably 30% of it should be in coins (quarters, dimes, nickels—but don’t bother with pennies). (BTW, don’t let the neighbors know that you’re doing this!)

If you have the resources, it would be exceedingly wise to store some silver and gold coin, preferably in coin form. Since most of us can’t afford that buy-in prices of gold (now well over $900 per ounce), that means buying silver. Survivalblog has some excellent recommendations in this area, and you should check that source. However, for most of us, you can break it down into two easy-to-remember areas:

1) Pre-1965 U.S. “junk silver” coins (back when U.S. coins were still mostly silver-based, at about 90%). These include quarters, dimes, half-dollar and dollar coins of the era. But check the silver content of half-dollars—those made from 1965 to 1970 are only 40% silver. Look at places like SurvivalBlog and Coinflation.com to understand why buying pre-1965 coinage is a good idea; for this article, suffice to say that these are a good idea. Your budget will of course determine how much of these you can buy. Potential sources include local coin dealers, local coin collectors (potentially the cheapest sources, if you can find an elderly couple who are liquidating their collections), eBay, Goldline.com and many others. You should be able to buy these junk silver coins for between 10 and 12 times the face value of the coins selected, depending on your source.

2) U.S. Silver Eagle coins. Now, many smart folks like Jim Rawles of Survivalblog are not fans of the Silver Eagle series of coins—check his web site for those opinions. On the other hand, I am personally of the opinion that Silver eagles represent a very strong option. They are obviously more valuable than the pre-1965 junk silver coins, and thus you can get a great store of value into fewer coins. After all, the space considerations of storing a zillion dimes and quarters is pretty significant. Plus, they get very heavy very fast. Silver Eagle coins, on the down side, may represent too large a store of value in one coin….you don’t want to be buying a loaf of bread with a U.S. Silver Eagle, when a 90%-silver Mercury Dime will do the job.

1. On the other hand, I can’t see anyone carrying thirty pounds of silver through what could be very dangerous streets, on their way to try to bribe some embassy official to provide a visa to a more stable country. Heck, even the Silver Eagles might be too big and heavy for that purpose, so you probably will need to have some gold coins, as well.

2. Don’t laugh too hard at that concept. Remember, gold & silver were how many Jews and other ethnic minorities bought their way out of Nazi Germany and occupied Europe, at least in the early years of the Hitler era. Today, a few of the minority farmers in the Zimbabwean countryside are using gold & silver to buy passage to safety, once they have been driven off their farms by the mobs.

If you can afford to buy some gold, as well as silver, be sure to include a lot of the smaller [fractional] gold coins. You don’t want to be getting out a hammer and chisel, trying to cut a gold coin in half, in the middle of a long immigration line. But never forget that U.S. government has confiscated gold once before (1933), and could well do so again. You might want to be discreet in how you purchase, store and transport your gold.

Finally, remember that such silver and gold purchases are not investments. They are insurance! Just as you pay “XXX “dollars a month for your auto, home or life insurance, yet count yourself lucky if you never have to make a claim for your policies’ benefits…you should look at Gold and Silver the same way. Try to buy consistently over time, and try to buy a little more whenever the prices drop some.

* But recognize that you are buying insurance against the partial or total devaluation of our nation’s currency. Don’t expect to make any money off of these purchases in an investment sense—but I’ll bet you sleep better at night, once you have stored a small amount of silver & gold in your home safe.

Third, you need to invest in commodities and hard assets—“things.” The good news is that you can do this without owning 50 guns or living on the Canadian border.

* If you think inflation/hyper-inflation is coming….having a few months of food in the pantry is a sure money-maker.
* If you believe deflation is coming…having some food on-hand is even more important—because in a deflationary environment, many farms will be going out of business and cease production…meaning that no more how little it might cost or how much money you might have…if the corn is never grown in the first place, it can’t find it’s way to your dinner table.

If you find the pantry & storage room getting cluttered with canned goods and boxes, invest in some shelving units. I recommend specialized food storage shelving units such as those sold at Rocky Mountain Home Solutions (Disclosure: my wife owns and operates this company.) Or, check out the various advertisers on SurvivalBlog

* Think about buying a four-wheel drive SUV or truck. If not, at least make sure your vehicles are in good repair, with excellent tires and brakes, recently tuned-up, and with new air filters.
* Buy some new/extra camping supplies…and then use them to take the kids camping this summer. You’ll save money over hitting places like Disney World or Six Flags, probably have more fun, get closer to your kids, create some lifelong memories, and then still have the camping equipment that could be used “just in case.”
* Think about a means of self-defense, keeping in mind local, state and federal laws.

1. How, How Much and What Kind are completely up to you, within the bounds of your budget and your good conscience.

2. One good rule of thumb is that for any means of self-defense to be useful, you must also invest in initial and ongoing training.

3. So, if you want to use judo or karate as your self-defense means, then you need to stay in shape and practice on a regular basis.

4. If you want some knives—you need to take a couple of courses on how to effectively defend yourself without risking harm to yourself or innocent bystanders.

5. And if you buy a firearm of some type, then you really need to know what you’re doing. Don’t put yourself in a bad situation by not knowing how to handle your weapons. This is not meant to discourage you from owning firearms—we own several—but to emphasize that they require an investment of your time and attention, as well as money. [JWR Adds: Get training from well-qualified instructors. Start with an NRA firearms safety class. Then take advantage of the inexpensive training offered by the RWVA (the Appleseed folks) and WRSA. Then move on to advanced training offered by schools like Gunsite and Thunder Ranch. As time and budget allow, move on to advanced force -on-force training.]

6. And of course, firearms require an investment in ammunition—or you risk having only large clubs to defend yourself with.

After taking these initial steps toward preparing for an uncertain future, consider other resources for further information and “next steps. Obviously, SurvivalBlog is an excellent source—very even-handed and stays on topic. We’ve also found the Mountain Steps Blog to be a great source of straightforward, honest advice—perfect for the beginning or “early” preparer. Stay away from any radical blogs that focus on conspiracy theories and potential violence—they simply spend too much time focusing on “why” things are happening, and you probably don’t have the time for that. Instead, focus on preparing for a broad spectrum of potential scenarios that will give you the widest scope of options in any real-world emergency.

Well, that’s probably enough advice for now. I hope some of you have found it useful, and perhaps even inspiring. As my old basketball coach used to say: “Don’t be caught watching the paint dry!!” Do something, because anything is going to be better than nothing.

The new class divide: Debt; In hard times, how much money you make matters less than how much you owe. Many of today's have-nots are yesterday's gotta-have-it-alls

Matt B. and Cheryl both sent a link to an animated map that shows job growth and losses for the past few years. Cheryl's comment: "As the timeline progresses to August , 2009, it looks like a nuclear blast map." Correlate that map with my Recommended Retreat Areas. Where will crime be higher in the next few years?

Items from The Economatrix:

Obama, Facing High Unemployment, Defends Stimulus

Betting The Fed

Bankruptcy Filings Rise to 6,000 a Day Due to Job Loss

Bankruptcy's Hidden Toll: The Little Guys

Celente: Exclusive Interview

13 Cities Post Unemployment Higher Than 15% for April

Real Unemployment Situation
26,000,000 unemployed or underemployed, $10/hr jobs growing, $20/hr jobs disappearing
The article begins: "On Friday, we learned that the unemployment rate jumped to 9.4 percent from last month’s 8.9 percent. The BLS data surveys 160,000 businesses and government agencies that affect roughly 400,000 people so the data does cover a large portion of Americans and gives us a good sample size. The markets were largely moving sideways on Friday unable to make sense of the mixed data because we are still largely living through a highly volatile market."

Gold At $2,000

Steve G. sent this: Save Money (and Water!) With Rain Barrels. Coincidentally, F.R. sent this: Set Up a Rain Barrel to Save Money and Water

   o o o

KAF sent this: Real Life Hobbit House

   o o o

Also from Steve G.: Formulas to get rid of insects in your home

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." - Edwin H. Chapin

Monday, June 8, 2009

"Welcome to the savage world of the year 2009". That was the tag line of the 1992 sci-fi film Freejack , starring Emilio Estevez. Do you remember it? The movie that featured Cadillac Gage V100 wheeled APCs painted in bright colors? My old friend All-Grace-No-Slack-Really-Reformed Kris just reminded me about this movie. Kris noted: "It was a bit corny but it had some good scenes and characters such as Amanda Plummer as the gun-toting nun." This film provides an insight on what futurists then thought 2009 would be like, as well as a retrospective on life in 1992.

Let's look back at 1992: It is amazing how much the world has changed since 1992. To me, it doesn't seem that long ago. In 1992 I was 32 years, old, and our first child was an infant. In 1992, .308 ball cost $180 per thousand rounds, a Colt M1911 cost around $350, and cases of MREs could be bought at gun shows for around $30 each. Back in those days, I was running a mail order business from home, selling magazines. I was buying M1 Carbine 15 round magazines in cases of 100, for $90 per case, and re-selling them by the onesees and twosees for $3 per magazine. (One of my "get rich slow" ventures.) In 1992, you could still buy a plane ticket for cash, and stroll right up to the departure gate without a ticket in hand. Yes, there was a metal detector, but you could board a commercial flight with a pocketknife with a single-edge blade less than 2-1/2" long. (Remember when knife catalogs had "Airline approved" models?) In 1992, gasoline was $1.05 per gallon ($1.09 for premium), and a good loaf of bread still cost 49 cents. In 1992 you could take a car trip into Mexico or Canada, with a smile and the wave of your state driver's license.

In 1992, I owned a small ranch near Orofino, Idaho. House prices there ranged from $39,000 to $155,000. (In 1989, we had paid $29,000 for an unfinished house on 40 acres.) Silver started that year at $4.20 per ounce, but drifted down to under $3.70 in December. (It was still in the midst of a two-decade long bear market.) A semi-auto AK-47 cost $179, an AR-15 was around $500, and an M1A was $800.

Fast forward to 2009: The local gun shops are chronically short of ammunition, and what little they do receive from their wholesalers sells out immediately, at an average of $1 per round. Today .308 ball costs $900 per thousand rounds, a Colt M1911 costs around $1,200. A case of MREs can cost upwards of $90, and a loaf of bread is anywhere from 99 cents for the dreadful "air bread" to $4.69 for the good stuff. Gas is back up to more than $2.50 per gallon. A semi-auto AK-47 costs around $700, a low-end AR-15 is around $1,200, and a standard grade M1A is $1,600 if you can find one. Today, people line up like sheep and remove their shoes before boarding an airplane, and opening a checking account requires umpteen pieces of identification. Now, thanks to "Homeland Security" regulations, they will turn you down if you don't have a physical street address. (BTW, that gets a bit sticky here in The Unnamed Western State, where lots of my neighbors live so far back in the boonies that they don't have a street address. The bankers get all befuddled if you start quoting the Township, Range, and Section numbers of your quarter-section.

In 2009, house prices are still plummeting from their 2006 highs, but still quite "spendy." A house around Orofino with a good spring now costs around $400,000. Who knows? In the current bear market, the price of houses may not bottom until they are close to their 1992 levels. Oh, and wait a minute! Firearms manufactuers are now working around the clock, and prices are expected to soon come back down. In 1992, a Steyr AUG cost $800, but then they peaked in 2008 at around $4,000. But now new production AUGs (made by Steyr in the US) have hit the market for under $1,800. You gotta love a free market economy. Maybe the more that things change, the more they remain the same.

The "Freejack" script was loosely based on Robert Sheckley's novel "Immortality, Inc." The screenwriters had a few things right, but plenty of things wrong. For example, the "destroyed ozone layer" hasn't wrecked our health. And I don't feel at risk of my brain being hijacked. But, then again, I don't own a television.

Some tips to ad on to your good advice [in reply to the letter "Advice for an M4 and AR-15 Newbie"]:

The field manual is good, but these two books coupled with some classes from Front Sight, EAG Tactical, Magpul Dynamics, Viking Tactics, Vickers Tactical, CSAT (Paul Howe), or another reputable school are the most valuable.

Green Eyes and Black Rifles: Warriors Guide to the Combat Carbine  by Kyle Lamb.

The M16/M4 Operators Handbook by Mike Panone. Kudos to the writer for "buying right, buying once" with the LMT. That is a very nice rifle.

Regarding spare parts: The BCM SOPMOD Extractor Upgrade kit is a "must have" in the spare parts bin.

Regards, - Matt L.

After reading "Patriots" one thing that has stuck with me is the non-availability of writing paper: No paper, no envelopes. Now there won't be any mail delivery either but envelopes have many other uses. One of these is garden seed storage. Keeping notes together in ones jacket etc.

So i have been taking the envelopes that come in my monthly bills ( I pay with my online banking) and those that come in all the various offers that you get for magazines, insurance quotes etc. and put them in a box.

They don't take up much room and can easily be tossed if this proves a non-issue but if i need them , well , they will be here.

To top it off this is a no cost prep effort. - Paulette

traded for crack, Syracuse police say

The Hardest Jobs to Fill in America: If you're looking for work in any of these fields, you're in luck.

Items from The Economatrix:

Weiss: Feds Giving "Lip Service" to Fiscal Responsibility "Weiss recommends everyone 'make severe sacrifices in order to save money and to build up cash reserves for future bad times.'"

Appeals Court Upholds Sale of Chrysler to Fiat

Federal Jobs Lost in May: 345,000 Is "a little better" now the measure of success?

Securitization: The Biggest Rip-Off Ever; Financial Dereg Has Opened Pandora's Box "The former head of the FDIC, William Seidman, figured it all out back in 1993 when he was cleaning up after the S&L fiasco. Here's what he said in his memoirs: 'Instruct regulators to look for the newest fad in the industry and examine it with great care. The next mistake will be a new way to make a loan that will not be repaid.' (Bloomberg) 'That's it in a nutshell. The banks never expected the loans would be paid back, which is why they issued them to ninjas; applicants with no income, no collateral, no job, and a bad credit history.'"

The Most Important Economic Indicator You've Never Heard Of (The Baltic Dry Index, and yes, you've heard of it at SurvivalBlog.)

GM's Dismantling Opens Doors for Foreign Carmarkers

New Bull Run Called By Tracker of Dow's Historical Trends. [JWR Adds: My Barbra Steisand meter is pegging.]

Science Reinvents the Economy: Bubble Math

Biden: Obama to Ramp Up Stimulus Efforts
"Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost a net total of 6 million jobs. "

Most US Stocks Fall, Led By Banks, On Interest Rate Concern

KAF found this: Hey Homebuyers, Beware A False Bottom Before You Make That Bid

   o o o

Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned that they are offering special pricing on their photovoltaic (PV) power systems. They offer systems scaled for all budgets. Since I expect that the Federal 30% tax credit on alternative energy systems will soon be cancelled, I most strongly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to go ahead and install a PV power system soon.

   o o o

I noticed that the 2008 movie Defiance has been released on DVD. This film was based on the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec.

   o o o

KT mentioned eh good news that Tennessee now has a "Made in..." Federal exemption gun law much like the ones that Montana and Texas have already enacted.


"Every collectivist movement rides in on a Trojan Horse of 'emergency'. It was a tactic of Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini." - Herbert Hoover, Memoirs: The Great Depression (1951)

Sunday, June 7, 2009


[For for wood heat forced-air room heating], I recommend using one of these switches that opens when the temperature drops below 115 degrees, and closes when the temp rises above 130 degrees. Mount it where it will "see" the heat but not be exposed the maximum heater temperatures. On the support legs would probably be sufficient. This might have to run through a small relay that has contacts that can handle the motor starting and run currents. Depends on the fan motor ratings. Regards, - David H.

Hello JWR:
I recently bought my first AR-15[-family firearm], a Lewis Machine and Tool (LMT) Defender Carbine. I was wondering if you had any advice as to a good starter "book" on the AR generally, but also one that would assist in my rifleman's training. I am an intermediate shooter on rifle, but am finding the AR to be a beast unto itself as far as "how" to shoot it.

Can you recommend any text on complete takedown, best cleaning practices, replacement parts, and marksmanship with the M4 version of the AR would be very helpful. Thanks! - JB in Michigan

JWR Replies: In terms of field stripping and general maintenance, the Army's old standby M16 User Manual (M16A1 Rifle Operator's Manual TM 9-1005-249-10 ) will suffice, but it is so simplistic (small format, and little more than a glorified comic book) that it is probably not worth paying more than two bucks for one. Look for these in bargain bins at gun shows. OBTW, I noticed that it is also available as a Kindle book for 99 cents.

The US Army's M16/M4 marksmanship manual is available for free download. FM 3-22.

Walt Kuleck and Scott Duff's The AR-15 Complete Owner's Guide: (AR-15 Guide Volume 1) is a bit dated but still quite good, and discusses spare parts. (Note: Although I authored the chapter about AR-15 magazines that is included in this book, I do not earn any royalties from the publisher. (That chapter was based, with permission, on my AR-15.M16 Magazine FAQ which I make available free of charge.) OBTW, Walt Kuleck and Clint McKee also authored a companion AR builder's guide, which is particularly useful in these times of scarcity: AR 15 Complete Assembly Guide (AR-15 Guide Volume 2)

You might also look for a US Army armorer's manual: Rifle, 5.56MM, M16A2 W/E/ Carbine, 5.56MM, M4 Unit and Direct Support Maintenance Manual TM 9-1005-319-23&P

Note: In hard copies, army field manuals (FMs) and Technical Manuals (TMs) are fairly expensive to mail order, but they are often available inexpensively in PDF format in compilation CDs from folks like Survival eBooks. As I recall, this compilation CD includes FM 3-22.

In terms of weapons handling and tactical use (fire and maneuver), I strongly recommend getting a copy of The Art of the Tactical Carbine DVD. (At first glance, this DVD might look like just a promotional piece for Mag-Pul, but there are actually some real gems included!) I also recommend the book "Some of the Answer: Urban Carbine" by firearms trainer and M4 guru Jim Crews.

Spare Parts:
Ideally, it would be best to a have a complete spare carrier assembly, to provide a quick "in the heat of battle" replacement in case you break a firing pin or extractor, or you have the misfortune to gall an ejector. In-the-field swaps are possible because 99% of AR-15 bolts are "automatic headspacing", if the bolt and barrel are both made to proper specifications. Hence bolts or complete bolt carrier assemblies are drop-in replacements. If you are on a tight budget, get just one each of these critical high breakage/high loss subcomponents from the bolt carrier group:

  • Firing pin
  • Firing pin retaining pin
  • Ejector
  • Ejector spring
  • Ejector retaining pin
  • Extractor
  • Extractor retaining pin
  • Extractor spring (with nylon insert)

The only other parts that I've seen break (or get lost) are ejection port cover springs and buffer retainers. However, both of those are non-critical to the function of the rifle. Buttstocks and handguards also break. (Albeit, less frequently). If you have a generous budget, get spares of all of those in addition to a complete spare bolt carrier assembly, and perhaps even a complete spare lower parts kit ("LPK").

Good evening, Mr. Rawles -
I always enjoy reading your site and find it informative, with plenty of links and good advise on just about everything.

One site I'd recommend for your readers is GovDeals.com. It has a wide variety of goods on an ongoing basis, with generators, trailers, tractors, and a
lot more.

I spotted one lot in particular that seems to be a kind of 'starter barter kit'.

I'm not connected with this web site in any way. In fact, most of the best ones seem to be too far away for me to take advantage of. "Them's the breaks", I guess. - Mark

JWR Replies: Thanks for that link. A similar site that I've found useful is GovLiquidation.com. If you keep an eye out there for items like concertina wire, commo wire, sand bags, camouflage nets, medical freezers, and trailer-mounted diesel gensets, then you can find some real bargains. Warning: Government surplus auctions can be habit forming. Seek counseling and intervention if you become addicted. A key symptom: Your barn and shop begin to overflow with "bargain" military surplus.

Reader Ken M. mentioned that the full text of the book When Money Dies: The Nightmare of the Weimar Collapse is available at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute web site.

Frequent content contributor KAF suggested a piece at the Fuelishness blog: Oil Prices Continue to Spike Despite Massive Surplus - Outpacing Economic Recovery

Items from The Economatrix:

Illinois Bank of Lincolnwood Fails, 37th For Year, 6th in State

Dr. Gary North: Stock Market Investors Mindset of Guaranteed Economic Destruction

"And when things turn out much worse than even most newsletter writers are forecasting, you will be hated. Are you prepared for this?
Do you have a real plan to deal with what is obviously an unfolding disaster: rising government ownership, massive deficits, rising unemployment, falling house prices, busted retirement pensions, rising interest rates (falling corporate bonds), and Federal Reserve inflation on a scale never seen in American history?
Or do you think you can delay. "No problem!"

Either Stocks Will Fall 37% or Gold Will Rally 60%

No US Bear Market Bottom Until 2011

US Housing Mortgage Market Meltdown, More Pain to Come

The Great Crash Not Over, Stocks Bear Market Rally Built On Sand

Stock Market Rally: Focusing on the Facts

Crude Oil Imminent Trend Reversal

Ending of Deflation Fears, Big Inflation Coming
"In fact, per the US government’s own GDP data, since early 2006 the US economy has only grown 11.0%, a far cry from the 40.4% the Fed has grown MZM over this span. And since early 2008, GDP is actually dead flat at 0.4% while MZM money has soared 16.8%. In both cases the excesses are pure inflation, new dollars created out of thin air that are now chasing a relatively smaller pool of things. Higher general prices are the inevitable result. And boy, if you exist you know this! Over the past several years, have your costs of living risen or fallen? Is your food at grocery stores and restaurants getting cheaper or more expensive? Are your utilities bills and insurance costs rising or falling? Do you feel like you have more disposable income after necessary expenses or less? We all see this relentless and very real inflation no matter what the government statisticians try to tell us. The nominal cost for existence just keeps rising and rising thanks to the Fed."

This Stock Market is a Fool's Paradise

Grandpappy (a past prize winner in our writing contest) has posted a timely new article on low-cost ammunition at his site.

   o o o

Not surprisingly, this news story comes from Madison, one of Wisconsin's most liberal meccas: Wisconsin City Cracks Down On Fake Guns. "Madison police are starting to tell children as early as first grade that the fake guns are dangerous and put both the holder and officers in dangerous positions."

   o o o

JHB flagged this: Obama Now Wants Your Pocket Knife. Let's nip this in the bud. Germany now has a ban on "ein hand messers". If we aren't vigilant, we could be next.

   o o o

From KAF: Can We Count on Native Bees to Replace Honeybees?

"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, June 6, 2009

Please keep The Memsahib in your prayers. Her health and strength are failing, but her faith in Christ is strong.


Today we present another entry for Round 23 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 23 ends on July 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.

Have you heard of a Bug out bag (BOB)? If you have read even a few articles on urban survival then you have heard of this mysterious thing. Loosely defined, it is a bag packed with supplies and equipment for a few days to a week. It is intended to be something handy to grab, if you have to get out of where you are quickly. The thousands of items that could possibly be packed in a BOB are often a source of great debate among people building, packing, and storing their own bag.

But what about the times when you won't need to evacuate your residence, home, business, or other location? Then you will need what I humorously term an Anti-Bug Out Bag (ABOB.) If, like me, you work from home or are not traveling out of town, you are rarely more than a few miles from where you spend most of your time, your home. It is often overlooked that you will more than likely be at your home, or close to it, should something happen. Some events like bad weather you may even have a few days notice of the threat.

So let's start with the big picture of maintaining your gear.

When planning your Anti-Bug Out Bag (ABOB), you are only limited by your storage space and budget. However, for the average person, a big closet, basement corner, or wall of the garage should do fine. After deciding the location, it is time to identify the contents. I will not even begin to list individual items, but will attempt to address the logical process of determining what is most important for you.

The very first consideration of any item is: how many uses does it have? One? Two? Each and every item should be able to serve at least three uses. And yes, I do realize there are a few items that may be very specific, but those rare items will be obvious if you try to find other uses as you evaluate each piece of gear.

An example would be a basic tool kit. Instead of a regular hammer, what about a dry wall hammer with a hammer head and hatchet back. This type of hammer also has a nail-pulling notch under the blade of the hatchet. This adds an extra purpose and increases its value and usefulness. Another great example is types of rope. We all know the value of heavy rope, para-cord, twine, and even bungee cords. But you can add 1" tube webbing to your supply and it can serve many more needs. Straps for packs, slings for tools and weapons, and even belts for your clothes. The heavier type designed for rock climbing and mountaineering is fairly inexpensive and is strong enough to pull a car out of a ditch. Try that with nylon rope from Wal-Mart!

The important part is to add the items that will help you in as many ways as possible to reduce waste and increase efficiency in your work.

The next major consideration is quality and durability.

With today's wasteful use of resources we have all become conditioned to throwing things away and replacing them when they break again. This has the bad effect of putting a lot of junk equipment to be on the market. I do caution you against just using price as an indicator of quality. We all have things we paid almost nothing for that will outlast the most expensive piece of equipment.

The fact that many of these items simply are not made to withstand daily use in a rugged environment will be a disaster when you need them to work the most. Make sure you get the best you can afford. Learn to take care of them, and be able to repair them if needed.

For an example of this, take the spade shovel in my garage. I saw it on sale at a bargain store for under $10 dollars. It has a solid wood handle, with strong rivets to hold it all together. I have had it for almost seven years and put some hard use on in my landscaping days. I had another one that was bought as extra equipment for one of my crews at a name-brand hardware store for over $30. Within a month the cheap aluminum rivets twisted out and the handle came out. After repairing it with large stainless steel bolts, a weld came apart on the handle assembly. This shovel just couldn't take the abuse we were putting on it. But the less expensive one thrived on the rough use. So evaluate each piece in your ABOB based on quality and craftsmanship.

After filtering your selected items throughout the first two steps it is on to the third. How many of these do I need? Everything has it's limit of usefulness. And everything can wear out and break no matter how good the quality. So you must determine how many of each item you need. Do you need two pry bars? Probably not, because other items can be used if needed. Do you need two pick axes? If you plan on doing a lot of farming with no tractor, then you might. How about an extra sewing kit to repair clothes and packs? Most assuredly.
So determining the items life span in a survival environment is critical to deciding how many to have as back up.

Of course I haven't discussed weapons yet, but this is one of the most crucial things to evaluate with the above rules. My preference has always been the 12-gauge shotgun. And as a hunter and outdoorsman I own enough guns to make my wife roll her eyes every time I open the safe. But when I applied this to my own supply, I realized that in a survival situation I need to look for which ones would I be most reliable. The autoloaders? Great on the dove fields but can be prone to jamming on occasion.

I choose the pump shotgun as reliable and simple. But I had to add another because I wanted two of them in case one is damaged, I always have a backup. It is the same model so that there are spare parts. Also I decided to go one more step and add a single-shot 12-gauge break action. So now I feel I will have one that works.

This also includes ammo. How many of each caliber you need is your choice, but I would be thinking in the thousands, not the hundreds. So whether you are looking at just one extra box or dozens, you have to decide before you need them, because after you realize you needed them, it will just be too late.

These three rules are designed as guidelines to help you prepare your supplies. If you apply each one to every selection you make you will most likely have an edge if and when it is time to use your ABOB. The most important part of any item is knowing how to use it. So as you add equipment, take the time to learn to use it. Just that simple step can help you increase your odds of survival in difficult times.

I have gardened a lot. The topic of tractors is one that you need to think about before you purchase one. If you have one acre to plow a Ford 8 or 9n is to big to utilize in fact I would not think about a riding tractor unless the plot size reaches three acres or more. There are tractors that will plow that you walk behind and then utilize a tiller.

SurvivalBlog reader LRM is right in the fact that a tiller can be hard to use if you do not prepare the ground before you crank the tiller up. Before you plant you will need to break the ground with a fork to loosen up the ground, then till, irrigate the ground. Then you will either spread out fertilizer either commercial or compost you have manufactured. Then you till a second time mix in the fertilizer or compost,now you are ready to plant. Once you have worked a garden plot the ground gets easer to till and not as much work is needed to put in a garden.

The other factor you need to think about is if you are not doing it now it will be much harder to do once TSHTF. The learning curve is very steep. Get to gardening now, learn all you can. Store seeds in the refrigerator. Start a compost pile. Raise chickens. Their manure makes great compost, combine chicken manure with lawn clippings and compost for 14 days then turn the pile then compost another 14 days and turn the pile and about 1 week you are ready to use. [JWR Adds: Chicken manure just by itself is too "hot' for use as fertilizer, in most cases.] Keep a compost pile going and you'll have an endless supply of fertilizer.

What about container gardening they work great for Tomatoes and Potatoes and there are raised beds. Raised beds will produce more per square foot than rows. A two- acre raised bed garden will produce more than a three-acre row garden.

There is a lot more to gardening than plowing with a tractor. - Curtis M.

Several readers mentioned this piece at the Lew Rockwell web site: Preparation, by Michael Gaddy

   o o o

Cheryl sent this: Where The Frugal Mommy Bloggers Are

   o o o

Also from Cheryl: Betting The Farm (Higher crop prices ahead?)

"The economics of disaster commence when the holders of money wealth revolt. It is as simple as that. The government has little or nothing to say or do about it…They do not fly flags or demonstrate in the streets to express their revolt; they simply get rid of their money…The duller the holders of money wealth are, the longer the government can go on storing up inflation but, by the same token, the more cataclysmic must the eventual dam burst be. The Germans [of the early 1920s] were among the dullest and most disciplined of all holders of money wealth, and this alone permitted the government to build up so huge a pool of unrealized inflation before the burst." - Jens O. Parsson, Dying of Money: Lessons of the Great German and American Inflations

Friday, June 5, 2009

Last day! Safecastle's 25% Off Mountain House storage food sale ends at midnight, eastern time (June 5th.). Safecastle Royal members will also 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.

The ongoing discussion about tractors is interesting. I was recently able to purchase a fully restored 1952 Ford 8N for $3,500. The tires, front end bushings, everything is new, and the motor is rebuilt. This is a deal of a lifetime to be sure. But, there are plenty of other good deals out there, this is the time to look. Check with farmers to see if they have an extra tractor to sell. Many farms own multiple tractors and if they need money you might get lucky. And if you get real lucky you might find an old one restored. The farmer is more likely to want to keep the bigger newer air conditioned tractor over the smaller old one.

It is pointless to debate which tractor is best. But allow me to point out a few things that I have learned about these Ford 8Ns. Any part you could want is available online. Many parts are in stock at Tractor Supply and similar farm stores. I have never used a tractor before, and I'm not a good mechanic. But this is such a simple set-up that it is very easy to learn the mechanics. The manuals are available online or stocked at Tractor Supply. There is nothing to them, a huge advantage over a modern computerized tractor that will be fried by EMP. And there are countless 8N and 9N tractors still being used, and a potential future source of parts. Common items have a big advantage.

In the past we have worked a garden by hand. We added a hand plow and then a big rototiller. But we were able to increase the speed of tilling with this tractor beyond measure. It is not very noisy, and certainly quieter than a lawnmower or rototiller. In less than a day you can easily plow and disk a small field. And we used very little gas the entire day, never having to refill the small tank. We used 3-4 gallons of gas to put in a massive garden. We plowed up ground that was last plowed over 50 years ago, and it was fast and easy. With the rototiller it would have taken days, more fuel, more exposure outside. We hope to grow more food than we can eat, preserve and root cellar and still have plenty left to donate to others.

A person can get into a decent used tractor with used plows and other implements for a few thousand dollars. Compare that to some of the other things people buy and it's a cheap investment. If you don't overspend, they will likely keep their value. Stock up on fluids and basic spare parts in advance. For a few hundred dollars you can fill your shelves with any fluids and common parts that could be needed. 5 ounces of gold will get you set up. Maybe less. You can plow for neighbors in exchange for a few loads of firewood, or something else you can use. You will have a machine that can help you and your neighbors out and keep everyone from being hungry.

Get all non-hybrid seeds and learn to save them and you never need to buy seeds more than once. Extra seeds are excellent barter items. Learn what plants can cross breed and avoid this. You can grow a lot of corn to grind for animal feed. If you save your own seed to grow this, your animal feed will be almost free.
And for those of us that aren't getting any younger, sitting on a tractor all day compared to running a rototiller, well, there is no comparison. - Don in Ohio


Dear Mr. Rawles,
As a landscape contractor and private gardener who during the last several decades has worked on three continents and used more types of equipment than I'd like to think of, I feel qualified to stick in my 2 cents regarding the proper equipment to use on small holdings.

Landscape contractors cannot afford to waste time of money on unreliable or unsuitable equipment so we chose with care. We do any type of work you can think of that's exterior to a home, commercial building, park or highway. While our work is mostly decorative, it is the same type that would be necessary in a post apocalypse world. Planting bed prep, irrigation, retaining walls, etc.

A few lessons I've learned:
The equipment used for a particular job must maximize power, reliability and agility into one unit. In my opinion, most walk behind tillers, trenchers or tractors lack both power and surprisingly, agility. You will wear yourself out doing the work the machine is supposed to be doing and you may injure yourself in the process. Holding onto one of these things is like holding onto a bucking bull. A twisted ankle, back or badly pulled muscle means a few days off work in this world. During the bad times it means a lot more. Personally I hate em.
While 5-10 acres is mentioned as the size of a survival garden, the reality is more in the range of 1 acre. 1 acre is a lot of ground to prepare, plant, water, weed and (hopefully) harvest. A heavy duty real tine tiller could probably do a decent job if the ground had previously been cultivated but a 20 horsepower (h.p.) or so tractor would do it in a fraction of the time and do a better job leaving time for other things. Front tine tillers are toys suitable for backyard kitchen gardens. The same goes for ATVs and their "farm" implements. Why ruin a perfectly good ATV by dragging a plow at 1 mph? You wouldn't hook up your SUV to a plow would you? Well at least I wouldn't.
So I'm recommending you find yourself a good 4 wheel drive hydrostatic drive medium size tractor.

These tractors do have a tendency to roll over,but they have roll bars and if your smart enough to wear the provided seat belt, you'll be okay. Anyway, all the gardens I've seen are dead flat so if you run one along the side of a hill you're not gardening but doing what I do. If you are on a slope, go up and down not sideways, keep your front loader bucket low and don't do anything rash. It isn't much of an issue.

Four wheel drive is obvious. They work great anywhere there is loose dirt sand, mud or snow. They also save wear and tear on the tires (less tire slip) and less drive train stress. I used one to plow my Colorado mountain driveway which was both long and steep and frequently had several feet of snow in it. If you do get stuck the front bucket will work you out.

Hydrostatic drive means the engine runs a variable pump which drives the hydraulic system that does all the work. It allows you to set the engine speed for power and vary your speed, both forward and reverse, by pressing your foot on a floor mounted rocker arm. No shifting or clutch involved. In my work that means we can do 300% more than if we used the older style tractors. These pumps never seemed to wear out although we did have one failure on a new tractor. Unless you just plan on plowing the back 40, it's the only way to go.
The engines were 18 h.p. on up and all were diesel. We never had a problem, ever. A 18 h.p. .tractor will work hard all day on 5 gal or less of fuel. Anything under 18 h.p. is a toy.

The rear implement on each was usually a 5' tiller. With it we could do most anything. Need to cut some hard rocky ground? Just back till. The rocks would "hook out" (be careful) and we'd be left with 8" of soft rock free soil. When we needed to amend the soil, which was always, we'd spread a few inches of peat/manure with the front bucket, then run the tiller over it a couple of times. Back dragging the bucket would firm it back up for planting. What took one guy 3 hours would have taken four guys all day to do with a rear tine tiller and wheelbarrows and they would have done a poorer job of it. If a backhoe wasn't available, we would use the tiller/bucket to dig holes in hard ground. The front bucket makes a great dirt mover, snow plow or firewood carrier or anything else you could fit in it. You can use it to hoist the tractor into a trailer or pick the front end up to change a tire (with a block under the axle pivot point of course.

In my experience light tractors make poor backhoe platforms and semi-okay trenchers with the proper attachment on the 3 point.
Now here's the real key. The manufacturer. I've used all of them. Most are not up to task and are a waste of money. I've broken more than one in half. Several others just died or were put out of their misery. Sadly, the "American "made" ones never were any good. A few Asian manufactures weren't any better (Yanmar was one that broke in two). In fact the only brand I ever buy now is Kubota. They are rock solid and the only one to buy (and no I don't have anything to do with them except give them money on occasion.) I'm also partial to MF40s but they're somewhat large for the work we're talking about.

Cost: Well... they're not free, but they do enough work that every neighbor around will want something from it and that's not a bad thing, now or during the bad days. Charge about $75 an hour and a cold one. Kind Regards, - LRM (from Perth, Australia)

JWR Replies: Your comments add credence to my assertion that a large family garden plot (at least one acre), makes the most sense for a self-sufficient garden. Not only will you have room for more crops, but you will also have the room needed to maneuver a tractor. One important note: When fencing your garden, plan ahead: You'll need at least one large gate for tractor ingress/egress. Even if you don't own a tractor, chances are that you can borrow or rent one, especially for the first time that you turn the soil. Without a tractor, that first turning is often a monumental effort.

WHO: Swine Flu Alert Closer to Pandemic 64 countries, 18,965 cases, 117 deaths (mostly US & Mexico) "'We still are waiting for evidence of really widespread community activity in these countries, and so it's fair to say that they are in transition and are not quite there yet, which is why we are not in phase 6 yet,' Fukuda said."

NYC Reports Two New Deaths From Swine Flu
Both aged 25-64, 553 total cases, 341 hospitalizations

Swine Flu In All 50 States
More than 10,000 US residents confirmed infected. Confirmed cases represent about 1 in 20 of actual cases. (JWR Adds: I guess its a little to late to pull a "Madagascar.")

The welfare state, firmly entrenched: Benefit spending soars to new high (1 in 6 dollars of income come from governments checks. Let's not forget: Every dollar that is "given", must first be "taken" from someone.) Thanks to G.H. for the link.

Currie sent us this: Latvian debt crisis shakes Eastern Europe. When sovereign debt markets disintegrate, you can expect governments to topple. And it won't just be pipsqueak nation states like Iceland and Latvia that are at risk.

From reader C.S.: Medical bills underlie 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies: study

Julian Robertson's Steepener Swap Play (Shorting US Treasuries) When Julian talks, people listen. And now, he is clearly saying "mass inflation ahead." (A hat tip to GG for the link.)
Also from GG comes this article at Barron's: V-Shaped Recovery Outlook is in Vain The bulk of the economy's credit problems are still to come

Items from The Economatrix:

Handwritten Notes Show Fed Oversight Bill Neutered On Senate Floor (No surprise)

Banks Run the Country

Biden Says Some Waste Inevitable Part of Stimulus Program

Paul Craig Roberts: as The Dollar Falls Off The Cliff

US Retailers Report May Sales Decline

Canada Mint Can't Account For Missing Gold

Study: US Dollar "Seriously Overvalued"

US Private Sector Axes 532,000 Jobs in May

German Debts Set To "Blow Like A Grenade" "An internal memo by the regulator's office suggested that likely write-offs may reach €816 billion, twice the entire reserves of the country's financial institutions."

Holes in the China Recovery Story "According to the CBRC (via Dow Jones), "the country's economy faces growing downward pressure as the global financial crisis has yet to run its course." The regulator added that "the banking industry faces 'serious' credit and market risks as the domestic economy encounters its 'most difficult year in the new century.'"

Financial, Energy Stocks Pull Market Higher (Thursday)

We were thrilled to attend Maker Faire, in San Mateo, California, last weekend. It is an amazingly educational and inspirational gathering, and I highly recommend it, if you ever have the opportunity. (Maker Faire events are also held in Newcastle, England and in Austin, Texas.) These annual events, sponsored by Makezine, bring together an eclectic and often wacky group of creative geniuses. Among the huge roster of exhibitors, I saw lots of practical displays and demonstrations there that have applicability to preparedness--including steam engines, gasifier experimenter kits (GEKs), umpteen human-powered machines (including a way-cool pedal-powered rail car, made with box beam construction), PV panels in profusion, and three different groups of ham radio wizards. Even those famous guys in lab jackets that create Diet Coke fountains with Mentos were there, and they put on a live demonstration before a cheering crowd. (Two of my kids were up front, getting soaked.) To get a taste of what the event is like, see this video from the 2008 Maker Faire.

   o o o

Administration to Reveal Plans For Katrina Housing Transition. It's been 4-1/2 years! And they are now just getting a "plan"?

   o o o

Don't miss these useful rifle marksmanship training films, circa 1943. These public domain films were posted courtesy of the RWVA.

   o o o

From reader WW: Government to sell FEMA trailers to Hurricane Katrina victims for $1 or $5

"Beware of Geeks bearing clipboards." - James Wesley, Rawles (In response to a question posed by a consulting client about building permits and zoning bureaucrats)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I have expanded the SurvivalBlog Bookshelf page. Most notably, I have added some survivalist fiction book lists, and greatly expanded my "Second Tier" list of recommended specialty books. Note that if you buy any items from Amazon.com (even radios, band-aids or Break Free) via our links, SurvivalBlog will earn a small commission. Thanks!

I just wanted to respond to the recent article on small tractors. In 1981 my wife and I bought 12 acres and started market gardening, selling produce locally. I grew about 3 acres of produce each year and put up hay for animals. Our first big investment at the time was a BCS 725 machine with the tiller and sickle-bar mower attachments. We used that machine, and used it hard.

Today it's 2009 and I just finished cutting hay and putting in my green bean patch, using that 725. It's still on the original engine, which has never been rebuilt, only annual oil changes for the last 27 years. It no longer starts on the first pull, these days it starts on the second pull each time, but guess I can't complain too loud about that.

In my life I must admit I've made very few incredibly good investments, but that Model 725 is definitely one of them. It's saved me untold labor and has just simply worked for 27 years without a bit of trouble. It's like an old Ford 8N, it just keeps running and doing what it's supposed to do. Old farm equipment was made to last forever, the BCS machines are farm equipment, not cheap consumer toys. The price reflects it, but from my opinion they're a bargain in the long run. Highly recommended. - Bobalu


Hello Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the recent letters on micro-farm tractors, I have another viewpoint for your consideration.

In addition to the Troy-Bilt Horse rear tine tiller and other tools scaled for 1-2 acres, I have also purchased a larger farm tractor to better suit the conditions in and around my retreat. The recent letter mentioned Ford 9Ns and Farmalls. While these are still very common and many 9Ns are still in service, they are of 1940s-1950s vintage. My personal choice was a Massey Ferguson 100 series diesel tractor (135 or 165, for example). These were built between the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, and have decades of excellent service history with much information available online (for you to save on paper now).

There were several factors leading me to this decision:

I obtained the tractor from a seller on Craigslist for a bargain price. This allowed me to retain a budget for maintenance rather than blowing it all up front on a new machine. While the peripheral systems needed attention, the engine and transmission were rock solid. The Perkins Diesel engines are renowned for reliability and durability. My updates and repairs serve two purposes: Restoring the mechanical soundness of the machine and its systems, and forcing me to become familiar with the repair and upkeep now. This is a mechanical restoration only – it needs to work, not look good. Surprisingly, every part that my 40 year old tractor has needed was both in stock and relatively inexpensive. While it’s comforting to “gear up”, eventually you will have to repair what you buy. Two years after TSHTF is not the ideal time to start the learning curve on your life-sustaining equipment. An old tractor you have mechanically zero-timed before the world comes to grief will give years of reliable service, and you will have the experience of your earlier work to guide future repairs.

While a larger tractor is overkill for a few acres, it is compatible with most all the equipment on surrounding farms. 1960s and 1970s tractors will have modern 3-point hitches with the ability to add additional hydraulics. The Massey-Ferguson 165, at 53 horsepower, can run a myriad of equipment that might overtax a smaller tractor. In addition to your own needs, you will have the option of volunteering to help your neighbor prepare his field or bring in his crop, using your extra muscle and standard 3-point hookups. That would be a Grade-A trade for food, fuel, or assistance when you need it, as opposed to showing up with a shovel and asking “what can I do to help?”

A larger tractor will also turn and disk your two acres in a hurry! I have collected smaller 3 point hitch equipment, like a two-bottom moldboard turning plow and a disk harrow, very inexpensively. The equipment is old, but made of such heavy steel that it still has decades of life left in it. Another barter option is to quickly prepare ground for other small-scale neighbors that may have purchased less durable equipment. Attempting to till up hard, fallow ground, even with a rear-tine tiller, is tough on the equipment and the person. Your tractor with plow and harrow would make short work of that fallow ground, allowing the rear-tine tiller to finish much more quickly and without the mechanical abuse.

The other posts mentioned diesel-engined ATVs. I respectfully submit that this may be a case of can rather than should. While you can pull a disk or maybe even a small all-purpose plow, the machine simply does not have the tractor-like durability to stake your family’s future on using the ATV as a tractor long-term. By the time you have bought a rare diesel ATV with ATV-specific implements, you might as well have bought an older, real tractor with standard 3-point implements for the money. Remember, from a duty cycle perspective (if I may anthropomorphize), I’d want my tractor to think: “wow, that was only two acres” as opposed to the ATV thinking: “Wow, that was two acres!”

On the issue of noise, I agree that a stock machine can be heard a ways off. However, the noise can be significantly reduced by using non-standard exhausts. If your goal is to prevent advertisement of your activity, it is time well spent to install a series of mufflers which will deaden the roar of a working engine. That slight drop in horsepower might be worth the relative quiet. This is true of your rear tine tiller as well as any other equipment. As an example, I have an old Onan generator with a high volume double muffler that some guys at a muffler shop helped me rig up. I can stand right next to the thing while it’s running, and carry on a conversation with only slightly raised voices.

Thank you for your efforts, Mr. Rawles! - J.I.C.

Mr Rawles,
I read the article "Many Weeds are Actually Edible Plants" with much interest. I am a botanist not a horticulturist. I was trained in the taxonomy of native plants not commercial flowers and such.
Taxonomy is the identification of plants. I did three years work at my school's botany department doing field research continuing the longest prenuclear botany studies of native plants in the US. I was required to be able to identify by sight more than 1,000 native plants. My taxonomic mentor was Mr. Howard Reynolds, Ph.d., University of Nebraska and former Marine Corpsman, in the Pacific Theater of Operations in WWII.

The article you displayed was commendable and accurate using the correct scientific names.
However it should be noted that common names are a minefield.
The absolute reference book to correct common names is the National List of Scientific Plant Names. [A two-volume set,published by the Soil Conservation Service.]

One of the plants you displayed I know under a different common name.
This is the problem of common names.
Many are regional and have become accepted as correct...
Example: Throughout the plains states there are many thousands of trees called "Chinese Elm".
This is an incorrect common name.
These trees are in reality the "Siberian Elm".
Siberian Elms bloom in the spring and the true Chinese Elm tree blooms in the fall.
Because the public has heard these trees called Chinese Elm by their grandparents they assume the name is correct.

Copies of the National List of Scientific Plant Names are available through Amazon.com.

I would like to see all articles that describe plants for some use to identify the source used for the scientific name and the common name.
This is the way diverse people can talk about a common plant and know they are both focusing on the same entity.

Yes, names do change. Regularly-held botanical congresses hear the evidence for projected changes. A panel of taxonomists can recommend a change.
But that happens only once in a blue moon. It is not a common occurrence. With the ability to identify the sequencing of the DNA molecule plants that appear to have small taxonomic differences are frequently given a subspecies identifier.Or noted that they are the "variety described by and a name of the researcher is given". But DNA analysis can solve this problem and if the differences are significant the two subspecies or varieties are given separate scientific names and the subspecies/variety gets a new common name.

Two ways to be sure a plant is correctly identified:
1. Contact a trained taxonomist or your county agent. who in turn can send your plant specimen to the state university for identification.
2. Learn how to use a real taxonomic key .... which took me two years of classes and many hours in the field to really master

Using common books with pictures can be very frustrating.

Native plants represent a long lost resource that could again become important in a resource stretched world.
Just do not let the complexities of plant identification keep you from learning this skill.
But it takes practice to build a working knowledge of the local plants...so get going now.

Local: here in our town several businesses are showing significant increases in prices, especially groceries. The local lumber yard is having significant problems getting "hardware items", many being back ordered...but lumber and building materials seem to be plentiful at this point.

I read your postings every day if I am not too tired. Every day I do something to get us ready for a coming time of significant conflictual change. We have facing us a kind of "coercive consensus" descending on us like an upside down tornado. I will be 68 years old on Saturday and never suspected that I would see these kinds of events in the U.S.A.

Best Regards, - JWC in Oklahoma

Frequent content contributor GG sent this: Toxic assets ‘bridge too far’

Also from GG: come this from mainstream (Wall Street Journal) commentator Brett Arends: Is Your Portfolio Ready for Hyperinflation?

Germany Blasts 'Powers of the Fed'

Reader A.C. flagged this: Experts Fear U.S. Will Suffer Zimbabwe-Level Inflation

From Trapper Mike: Dollar Declines as Nations Mull Reserve Currency Alternative

Items from The Economatrix:

Bernanke: Start Work Now to Curb Deficits "Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the panel's highest-ranking Republican, raised concerns about the budget deficits and the Fed's own actions to stimulate the economy, including buying government debt. "This can be a dangerous policy mix," Ryan warned, adding it could lead to "runaway inflation." With the recovery likely to be subdued, inflation will remain low, Bernanke predicted."

Signs of a New Financial Storm for September Coming from Dubai and Saudi Arabia

California's Day of Reckoning a Warning to Europe

40% Unemployment in the US?

31-Year-Old "Almost Law Student" in Charge of Dismantling GM

Citigroup Stuck with Bernanke Plan Rivals Plan to Refuse

US Newspaper Revenue Slide Continues

GM Shuts Part of US "Arsenal of Democracy" "During its finest hour in World War II, the retooled Willow Run car factory here could make an operational B-24 heavy bomber in just 59 minutes."

Chinese Students Laugh at Geithner

Stock Market Dissonance: Why The Market No Longer Reflects Main Street Economics And The Dow Jones Industrial Average
"One of the biggest bankruptcies in history occurred on June 1st yet you would not know this by looking at the stock market. In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) shot up by 220 points. If we look at total assets, this is the fourth largest bankruptcy in history. The Dow is made up of 30 companies that show a supposedly wide cross section of the American economy. The company that filed for bankruptcy was General Motors and was actually one of the 30 components. A company that dates back to 1908 and survived the Great Depression. So how can it be that a company that employs 250,000 filing for bankruptcy is actually good for the stock market and makes the DJIA rally so strongly? The easy answer is the stock market no longer reflects the economic reality on main street."

Dollar Declines as Nations Mull Reserve Currency Alternatives "The dollar weakened beyond $1.43 against the euro for the first time in 2009 on bets [that] record U.S. borrowing will undermine the greenback, prompting nations to consider alternatives to the world’s main reserve currency."

The Simple Solution (The Mogambo Guru)

Northwestern Mutual Insurance Makes First Gold Buy in 152 Years! [As a hedge against further asset declines] “Gold just seems to make sense; it’s a store of value,” Chief Executive Officer Edward Zore said in an interview following his comments at a conference hosted by Standard & Poor’s in Brooklyn. “In the Depression, gold did very, very well.”

Just one day left! Safecastle's 25% Off Mountain House storage food sale ends tomorrow, June 5th. Members 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.

   o o o

Has Twilight Come to the Sun Belt?

   o o o

Richard at KT Ordnance mentioned this essay: When Guns Are Outlawed ... Only Government Will Have Guns

   o o o

Marketers Fear Frugality is Here to Stay

"Do not move unless it is advantageous.
Do not execute unless it is effective.
Do not challenge unless it is critical." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The producers of NBC's Today television show have already interviewed two SurvivalBlog readers, but they are looking for one more family, for a taped segment. They are looking for a "typical suburban survivalist family" somewhere within 200 miles of New York City, for an interview. E-mail: Josh Weiner of NBC.


Today we present the first entry for Round 23 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 23 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 it comes to preparedness for disasters, people can be very imaginative. Thinking through every possible scenario, difficulty or danger helps them in choices such as, “what type of firearm is the most practical?” “What medicines is it a good idea to have on hand?” Or, “where is a good place to go if it is no longer safe where I live?” These questions are all sound, practical thoughts for anyone who wants to be prudently prepared for emergencies.

One factor, however, largely gets neglected, if not ignored. Perhaps that is because you can’t simply purchase this most central and important factor of preparedness: yourself! Fitness is a huge asset in any dangerous or challenging situation, and is key to coming out on top of a survival situation. If you are reading this but are out of shape, you have some work to do.
Another problem that needs to be addressed is identifying what, exactly, fitness is, and what about fitness better prepares you for survival?

Fitness, like firearms, must be practical to be worthwhile. That is, it must be functional. If it’s not, it isn’t doing you any good. So what is functional fitness? What physical abilities and skills should every person have? And why is this important for survival preparedness, above firearms, food or any other supply gathering?
To demonstrate the point, let’s take a look at two scenarios. As a throwback to many of our childhoods, they are written in a “choose your own adventure” style.

Scenario #1.
In the first scenario, you are walking down a street in the city. Times are tough, and crime is on the rise. Due to legal restrictions, you are unarmed. While you wait to cross a street, two men approach from your right. You turn, and see one of them holding a knife down low. They demand your money. You decide to resist, and in an instant, your plan is to strike the one with the knife and then get out of Dodge.
Option A: Functionally Unfit: You’ve been taking yoga classes and maybe some bicep curls and crunches a few times a week, and you feel pretty strong. You wind up, and put those “strong arms” to use. The blow you land surprises the man, but it barely moves him. You turn and run. Adrenaline’s pumping, but after only fifty yards of sprinting, you’re winded. The two men catch up. The End
Option B: Functionally Fit: You’ve been doing old fashioned core lifts (dead lift, squats, etc.) along with gymnastic and military exercise, and even interval running mixed in. You wind up- your powerful lower body muscles generate a huge amount of force, transferring it through your strong core into your arms. The blow you land comes from your whole body, which you have learned to use properly. The man is on the ground with a busted nose. You still run, because the other man might be armed, and knives cut strong people too. After a quarter mile, you’re still going strong, but your assailants have slowed down, winded. You round the corner and lose them for good.

Scenario #2.
During the Trojan War, Aeneas needed to escape the city with his family and other survivors. The Greeks were massacring, raping, looting and destroying so to stay was a death sentence. Aeneas’ father was an elderly man, incapable of keeping up with the group as it fled the carnage.
Option A: Functionally Unfit Aeneas: Aeneas has a weak lower back, and cannot lift his father, let alone carry him. He must choose to either abandon him to a certain death, or walk slowly with him, until they are both captured and killed. The End.
Option B: Functionally Fit Aeneas: Aeneas is of sound body, and is physically trained and ready for battle. His strength is not about looks but about ability. When his father falls behind, he picks him up, carrying him with his strong back and legs, and not only keeps up with, but leads the others to safety.

These scenarios should hopefully paint a picture of how important real fitness is in emergency situations. There is more to evaluate, of course. Ask yourself the following questions: Could you subdue an attacker? Could you carry a wounded person to safety? Save a drowning man? Can you lift a heavy load? Carry heavy gear for a long distance? Are you capable of hard manual labor for long times? Can you climb? Can you catch someone you’re pursuing, or escape pursuit yourself? Could you survive in the wild? In an emergency, are you more of an asset or a burden to others?

In evaluating yourself, are you sounding more like a warrior or more like a weakling? Capable of coming to others’ aid, or incapable of even defending yourself?
The problem is, this is the point where most of us (guys especially) lie to ourselves. Admitting weaknesses or even pulling your head out of you-know-where enough to see your weaknesses is a difficult thing. As a man, I know that most of us guys would prefer to ignore the question, or inflate our heads with bicep curls and other non-functional exercise built for looks. For women, this is also a big temptation- to either do nothing, or to do everything with their dress size in mind instead of their overall athletic ability.
Functionality shines a light on our physical condition, and in a way, on the condition of our character. Take, on the one hand, the couch potato. His flab, his atrophied muscle and pathetic lack of stamina are the physical manifestations of his laziness and lack of discipline.

On the other hand, you have the bodybuilder. He can bench 400 lbs, but he can’t run a mile. He dead-lifts huge weights with a hex bar and a belt, but he can’t lift a heavy object in real life without hurting his back. He works hard for a beach body, but what good does it do him? His hard work has been for the wrong reasons, and his lack of functional fitness is because he was too vain to let go of exercises designed to make him look better.

Functionality brings clarity, helping us to see what’s important, and humility, helping us to make an honest assessment of our own strengths and weaknesses.
Functional fitness is well rounded. Strength is important, but so is endurance. Power is important, but so is stamina. There are multiple ways we can evaluate our fitness. One very good list was written by Bruce Evans and Jim Cawley of Dynamax, Inc. It has been adopted by well known groups and is a good, rounded list of skills and capacities every person should have.
1. Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance - the ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen
2. Stamina – the ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
3. Strength – the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units to apply force.
4. Flexibility – the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
5. Power – the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed – the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
7. Coordination – the ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movements.
8. Agility – the ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
9. Balance – the ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy – the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Having looked at what skills or capacities men should have, what exercises help us achieve those? There isn’t room in one article to list and describe all of the many great exercises that are functional, but for further reference, we list, explain and discuss these, as well as daily workouts at my web site. For the time being, we will list some fundamental exercises, and some basic principles of functional fitness. After that, we’ll take a look at how this can be done at home, for little to no expense.

Example Exercises:
1. Front Squat
2. Romanian Deadlift/Deadlift
3. Kettlebell Swings
4. Overhead Press
5. Pullups
6. Pushups
7. Ring Pushups/Bench Press

Body Mechanics and the Real World:
Programs based on aesthetics tend to use movements that isolate muscles. But the body was designed such that multiple muscle groups work together. Furthermore, in real life, very seldom will you lift or move anything without using multiple muscle groups. While this doesn’t mean every isolation movement is therefore useless, it does mean that exercise should be focused upon compound and whole-body movements.

Fiber Over Filler:
Most non-functional exercise programs utilize a 3x10 format: three sets of ten repetitions ("reps") of each exercise. This is the bread-and-butter of a program designed to maximize the growth of muscle cells mainly by way of the fluid in the cell. The strength gains made this way are not proportionate to the size gains.
A functional exercise program chooses performance over appearance. To build strength it utilizes a low repetition, high weight format. This maximizes the growth of the muscle cell primarily via the number of muscle fibers within the cell. This will build muscle size too, but it is primarily geared towards gains in strength-to-mass ratio (i.e., how strong you are for your size).

A functional program also makes use of very high repetition, low weight movements. This is done to build endurance, stamina, etc. This cannot be overlooked, because strength is only good as long as it lasts.

If the exercise you’re doing is comfortable, you’re not getting anything done. Without challenging yourself - without pushing yourself to a level that is genuinely hard for you, what are you doing? Because you’re not progressing.

In exercising - particularly in a functional way - you are saying you care about your body, your potential, and living more as God intended. There’s some irony, then, when our steps back towards our natural design and fulfillment are made with machines, fancy equipment and chemical supplements. If we’re moving towards a fulfillment of how we were designed, why do we need those things? What we are able to accomplish with simple gear, our bodies themselves, and with our surroundings in nature can be as good as and even better than with treadmills, hydraulics, isolation machines and so on. Why run on a treadmill if you can run outside? Why run on a flat surface if you can run on a trail? Why seek out fancy or even gimmicky gear when simple, rugged, time tested gear - or even no gear at all - can work so well?

Premium Fuel.
Closely aligned with the notion that the closer to natural movement, the better, is the basic premise of simple natural diet:
If you can’t pronounce it, don’t consume it.
A simple diet consisting of as much whole foods and as little processed foods as possible is a realistic step towards letting our bodies function as God intended. Fueling our bodies with simple, natural foods will fuel us the same way we have been fueled since the dawn of time.

Austere is Good.
Gym memberships are prohibitively expensive. Owning your own fancy equipment is no better. Most people are at times like these scrimping to invest wisely into supplies they may need in emergencies or hard times. Expensive gear just doesn’t fit into that plan. However, as said above, expensive gear is neither necessary nor what is best. So what are some types of gear that are functional and inexpensive?
For those that can afford it, this gear is absolutely the best “bang for your buck”:
1. Olympic lifting set- an Olympic bar plus solid rubber bumper plates. Nothing beats this for safe, amazingly effective training. If not, an iron-set is an ok alternative- just be careful with it!
2. Kettlebells - kettlebells are the “AK-47” of fitness. They can be used for strength, power and stamina. They are getting more common on the market, which means prices are coming down.
3. Pull-up bar- whether for hanging in a doorway or outside, a bar to practice pullups on is absolutely essential for training those upper back muscles- so important yet so underrated!
4. Gymnastic rings- these can be used for everything from pullups to other drills to strengthen your chest, arms, and especially your core! Hang them from your deck, rafters, a stout tree branch, and you’re good to go! Rings are also very portable, which is a plus for those that need a gym in a backpack.
5. Dumbbells- these are on the bottom of the list, but they are practical and relatively easy to find. Even Wal-Mart has them. [JWR Adds: Used weight sets are often available free for the asking, via Craigslist or Freecycle.]

If you do not have any money budgeted for gear, or if you want to supplement on the cheap, you can make very, very effective gear from items at hardware stores like Home Depot!
1. Sandbags- These are the biggest, most all around useful money saver in a do-it-yourself gym. Get yourself an army surplus duffel. Better yet, get two. Go to a hardware store and buy yourself several bags of either sand or wood stove pellets. If you choose sand, wrap them again in contractor grade trash bags. Place the amount of weight you want into your duffels. You now hold a super-tool. Any of the basic Olympic, core strength lifts or kettlebell motions can be performed with this ultra simplistic bag.
2. Pull-up bar- no, this is on both lists on purpose. You can easily make your own pullups bar with some steel pipe from the plumbing section. Place it between some deck columns, between rafters, etc. $10-to-$12 gets you a solid bar to strengthen your upper body.
3. Your own body! While bodyweight training is not the end-all-be-all, it can accomplish a very great deal. Gymnasts are incredibly strong, and this is with years of bodyweight training. Your body comes with you, and any space where you can move at all becomes the gym. Check out Fatal Fitness for examples of bodyweight training.

Sound Mind, Sound Body.
In training physically, you are also preparing yourself mentally (and in a way, spiritually) for any difficulty that you might face. Overcoming extremely challenging tasks, overcoming laziness, the need for comfort… all of that will form your character, so that when exceptionally difficult times come, you will be strong enough to adapt and survive. Improve yourself, harden yourself! Take on the challenge; prepare yourself for whatever may come. Whether that means a survival or emergency situation, or simply living your life more fully now, it is worth it! Dive in to functional fitness, and watch as you begin to transform into a stronger person, more able to deal with anything!

About the Author: Mike Hussle is Vice President of Fatal Fitness. He has trained many people in strength and overall conditioning, for sports, military preparation, and general health and wellness. He is also the founder of DailyStrong.com. This article was adapted from a chapter of his upcoming book, “Austerity.”

When I saw the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I couldn’t help but notice how similar it was to the rigs used by a lot of farmers in Thailand (and I would assume a lot of other places in Asia). When traveling around Thailand I couldn’t help but notice what appeared to be effectively motorized donkeys. Men had them rigged to trailers.

A little research showed that they are known as “Walking Tractors”, are made all over the planet, the and serve the same function as the BUV. One thing that I like about the idea of using them is their interchangeability of parts. Assuming your trailer gets hit by a truck, your tractor is still good. If your tractor is breaks down, you attach your trailer to a mule.You can hook up, plows, trailers, tillers, and every other sort of thing you may find useful on a tractor

Some Images of Walking Tractors:

There is one in here that has a nice image of some guys hauling logs using them

Clear image of a trailer for Walking Tractors

Regards, - Jeff C.

JWR Replies: These next two items were first posted in the early days of SurvivalBlog (circa October, 2005) regarding rear-tine tiller/tractors and ATVs:


The Micro-Farm Tractor, by "Fanderal"

My goal, like so many of us, is to be able to pre-bugout, to a retreat I can live on full time. I dream of having a few acres out in the country where I can mostly support myself on what can be produced on my own land. When I first started to think about it, and plan for it, the first question of course is “How much land?” After getting past the obvious answer, “As much as possible”, came the more reasonable answer of: “enough to do accomplish my primary goal of optimal self-sufficiency.” After more study I came to realize that five or so acres is about all I could really work. Five acres, when worked intensively, will produce far more than a family of four can consume. This five acres would contain everything, House, Barn, a one to two acre garden, chickens, Rabbits, Goats, et cetera.

So having settled on five to seven acres, I turned to the issue of what tools, equipment, and other assets would be needed to make my micro-farm work. Beyond the usual hand tools. And shop tools, my research led me to study power equipment appropriate for the Micro-Farm. What I found was the Two-Wheel, or "Walk-behind" Tractor. A good example of the class is the BCS 852 with a 10 horsepower diesel engine. It has a single cylinder engine mounted in front of a trans axle. The Trans axle drives a pair of wheels that are from 3.5 to 6.5 inches wide, and 8 to 12 inches in diameter. It is also equipped with front and rear Power Takeoffs (PTOs) used to transfer power to a variety of implements. For me this is the optimum retreat utility tractor. To justify that statement I need to go into a bit more detail as to why. As with all things, this selection is based on my plans and intentions, but I believe that they are generic enough to qualify as a general solution for most people, but as always Your Mileage may Vary (YMMV).

The factors I am taking into consideration are:

Size of Farm.
Number of people available to work it.
Fuel availability/economy
Life expectancy under the projected load

The truth is most of us have not, or will not be able to acquire more than five to 10 acres of land. If you can get more, fine, get it; you can’t have too much land, but you can leave yourself short on other things by buying more land than you really need, or can work.
In most cases the garden will be run by just one or two people, either because of off farm employment or the kids may be grown and gone before you make the move. People that are already doing this will tell you that one to two acres, if worked as intensively as is reasonably possible is all one person can handle. If you have more land, then you have the option of bartering produce, for labor to work more acres. But I would still keep it in two-acre units.
The core concept of survivalism/preparedness is independence; you can’t be independent if you can’t do most, if not all the maintenance yourself. While yes, most anyone with any mechanical aptitude at all can work on most regular tractors, however they have four times as many cylinders, fuel injectors, and fuel lines, twice as many tires, use much more fuel, and mostly are too much tool for two to five acres.

When the world ends there will be no more fuel deliveries from anywhere, and if there are then they will be prohibitively expensive. So you need a fuel that you can produce yourself, to me this means biodiesel. It’s a fuel you can make yourself; it will substitute directly into the tank with no modifications to the engine, and gives almost exactly the same performance, as regular diesel.

So with these concepts in mind I started thinking about what the ideal tool would be. I eliminated most regular four wheeled tractors like the Ford 9N and the International Harvester (IH) Farmalls because to buy one of their modern counterparts new is very expensive, and to find parts for older ones that you can buy on the cheap can also be expensive. While there has been a lot of development in compact and subcompact tractors in the last few years, they are mostly compact technical wonders that have all kinds of computerized fuel injection systems, high volume, high pressure hydraulics, and just lots and lots of things that need to be maintained or fixed. Simplicity is crucial.
My search for information about small farm tractors, as with most things today, started online. I started from the position that a Walk-behind Tractor would be the optimum choice because on the surface it met two of the most important criteria, Fuel requirements, and maintainability. The most important question remained, how much land could be worked with it and still expect it to last a lifetime.

Dean M., one of my online sources, who has actually been running a Market Garden since 1989, says that much of that time was spent downsizing his garden to it’s current 1.5 acres. According to Dean,one to two acres is about all one person can work, when trying to maximize the production of a garden. The general consensus is, that the limit on how large a garden you could work with one of these machines,is really set by how much labor was available, rather than the capacity of the machine. To answer that question I needed input from an expert. In my web search I found many companies that make and sell this kind of equipment, but they are almost all overseas. Of the domestic companies most only sell Walk-behinds as a sideline. I found Earth Tools, a company in Owenton, Kentucky, which specializes in small-scale commercial agriculture equipment. Joel Dufour founded Earth Tools in 1977, and all they sell is Walk-behind tractors. .

I asked Mr. Dufour about the capability, capacity, and requirements of walk behind tractors for a TEOTWAWKI scenario. He recommended not the largest one he sells, the 948 but rather the model 852, which comes with an optional 10 hp diesel engine. He says the 852s are far more versatile than the 948. Based on what his customers are actually doing with the units, and have been doing for nearly 30 years he gave me the following information about capabilities, and requirements of these units.
You can work up to two acres of Market garden per person, and/or about 15 acres of Haying for livestock. With proper preventative maintenance, used in a commercial agricultural operation, a tractor like he sells will last 20+ years. They can haul up to one ton on a two-wheel trailer. Depending on the specific task, running 8 hrs on a gallon of fuel is possible. He has several customers that make their own biodiesel and run their 852s on it, and have reported no problems.

When it comes to maintenance requirement the diesel engines are designed for 5,000 hours TBO (Time Between Overhauls), and are meant to be rebuilt twice before replacing crankshafts or connecting rods. That means that the engines have a 15,000 hr life span minimum (with proper maintenance). For routine maintenance they only use 1.5 quarts of oil per change, which needs to be done every 75 ours or annually--whichever comes first. The oil filter is cleanable and the air filter is replaceable. The conical clutch lasts 1,000 – 2,000 hrs, and can be replaced in less than 2 hrs. All maintenance, including overhauls can be done with regular hand tools, the only exception being one $25 tool for working on the transmission if it’s ever needed.

One point that Mr. Dufour thinks is undersold is safety. He pointed out that one of the most common fatal accidents on a farm is a tractor rollover. When operating one of these units on a slope, even if you were on the downhill side of the machine, and you couldn’t get out of the way, they only weight about 300 lbs, so it is very unlikely you would suffer a life threatening injury. Where as with even the smallest of standard tractors if it rolls over on you, death is the very likely outcome.

So let’s look at how these machines match my original requirements:

Size of Farm:
A 10 HP machine will work as much land as most of us will be able to get, and work, without being too big for the job.
Number of people available to work the land:
The constraint is number of people vs. planting/harvesting schedule; again it is well matched to the 5 to 15 acres, with which most of us will wind up.
There is nothing that the owner can’t do on these machines, from routine maintenance to a complete overhaul, which would require more than basic mechanics hand tools, and one inexpensive specialty tool.
Safety: I don’t care how much the machine can do or how well it does it, the one thing that you absolutely cannot afford in the post-TEOTWAWKI world, is an injury. So the machine that is least likely to cause me harm is way up on my list
Fuel availability/economy:
These units can be had with Gas, or Diesel engines. Gas engines can be run on alcohol with modification. Diesel engines can be run on biodiesel without modification.
Life expectancy under the projected load:
You can work as much acreage as you have time and people to work without over working the tractor. They are truly an agricultural grade machines, not glorified Home duty units.
While I’m not trying to sell this particular tractor, however if we use its characteristics as a baseline then I think it is fare to say that a diesel Walk-behind Tractor would make an ideal vehicle for a Micro-farm. It is the core power unit for almost all farm tasks, can be adapted to do just about anything else that requires up to 10 HP; from electrical generation to pumping water, with the right connection to the PTO. It also meets or exceeds the core requirements that I laid out at the beginning. This is not to say that there might not be other machines that would also work, but if you are starting from scratch like most of us, then this is a good objective solution.
Related info:

JWR Adds: 
From the standpoint of a small acreage survival retreat, a walk-behind tiller/tractor makes a lot of sense. When the Schumer hits the fan, fuel will be at a premium, so it is logical to get something that will give you maximum useful work with minimum fuel consumption. And as Fanderal mentioned, they will also minimize tractor rollover accidents. This is especially important at a retreat with a lot of newbies. (Just because you are accustomed to thinking "safety first" at all times doesn't mean that your recently-transplanted Big City friends and cousins will be!) 

If you need to cultivate significantly larger acreage, then a full-size tractor makes sense, but only of course with significantly more training and more voluminous fuel storage.  BTW, the new "crawler" (rubber tracked) tractors have a lower center of gravity that traditional wheeled tractors and hence are much less prone to rollovers.

I used a gas engine Troy-Bilt Horse tiller for several years and found it very reliable. The BCS products are made in Milan, Italy. At a list price of $3,799, these are not cheap.  But if you go with the principle of "buying something sturdy and reliable once, versus buying something flimsy, multiple times", then this sort of purchase makes sense. To get the most for your money, shop around for a slightly used, diesel-powered unit.

One other consideration: Tractors are noisy and can be heard from a long distance. Wear hearing protection whenever operator a tractor or tiller.  In a post-TEOTWAWKI survival situation, this may mean one individual wearing earmuffs operating the tractor, and another individual that is concealed 50 to 100 yards away, on dedicated security duty.  (Otherwise, operating noisy equipment like a tractor or chainsaw might be a noisy invitation to get bushwhacked.)

Here are some additional useful URLs:

Here was a letter in reply:

In response to the excellent article, "The Micro-Farm Tractor", I have to say my best bet for all-around small farm tool would be the diesel all terrain vehicle (ATV). ATVs have quickly infiltrated into many farms today, as haulers, sprayers, snowplows, transport, and so on. You can purchase many available farm accessories that make it into the equivalent of a mini-tractor, as well has many hunting related accessories, since they appeal to the hunter's market as well, like gun racks, camo, storage, and essential noise-cutting mufflers (very effective units can be had at Cabela's). I would suggest a diesel unit, since they are longer lasting, more reliable, and you can use stored (for several years with proper preservation) or improvised diesel (biodiesel.)  I was out elk hunting last year in foul weather and I immediately saw the advantage hunters had getting around in the muck with an ATV. If we had actually taken an elk, we would have had to spend all weekend hauling pieces of it out! (In a way we were glad we didn't get one where we were hunting, seven miles down a mucky old road, with steep hills to the right and a steep ravine to the left). With an ATV, we could have gotten a whole animal out in one or two goes, with a lot less slogging in the muck. Just make sure you've got a winch, and maybe even a come-along. Also, many of the hunters were able to cruise with an ATV on trails that would (and have) gotten me stuck in the mud. To sum it up, I plan on purchasing one or two as soon as our move to a few acres of rural property in southern utah is completed early next year to use as my mini-tractor, hunting companion, snow plow, all-around hauler and 4 wheel drive short distance transport. - Dustin

JWR Replies:  In addition to biodiesel, you can also legally use home heating oil if operating off road. (The only significant differences between diesel and home heating oil are the "no tax cheating" added dye and the standard for ash content.) There are several options for diesel-powered ATVs. These include:

The Kawasaki Mule.


The John Deere Gator.

(The U.S. Army Special Forces uses John Deere Gators, but I'm not sure if that's because they are the best ones made, or just because of a "Buy American"  contracting clause.

Note: Polaris also made a diesel quad back around 2002, but they were reportedly problematic, so they were quickly discontinued.

Swine Flu Pandemic Likely to Hit UK tn Early Autumn Before Vaccine Ready John Oxford, Prof. of Virology at St. Bartholomew's said "the number of cases in Britain unrelated to travel suggested the H1N1 virus was "silently spreading around. When children go back to school in September the virus has an opportunity, and normally it takes it. That's the scenario we should prepare for and that's what we are preparing for."

Swine Summer Spread Raises Pandemic Concerns

WHO official says world edging towards pandemic

GG sent this: Europe Unemployment Rate Rises to Highest Since 1999

Also from GG; India Exports Fall by Record Amid Global Recession

Wow! Spot silver is pushing $16 per ounce. I stand by my long-term prediction: The Dollar in the dumpster, and silver "sky high." Note that there will probably be another sell-off during the upcoming Summer Doldrums for the precious metals. It is just about as predictable as the hills turningbrown golden in California each summer. Just look at that dip as another buying opportunity.

Items from The Economatrix:

Peter Schiff: Wall Street Unspun

GM Bankruptcy Watch: Woe to Main Street Bondholders

GM to Sell Hummer to Chinese Company

Getting Out of GM While the Getting is Good

GM Bankruptcy Spells Disaster For Small Suppliers

GM, CitiGroup Removed From Dow Jones Industrial Index (Gee, this ongoing index shuffle sure makes everyone included smell like a rose--when in actuality the "missing" companies smell more like fertilizer.)

Consumer Spending Dips, Savings Rates Surge

Silver Posts Biggest Monthly Gains in 22 Years

To Hell in a Bond Basket

Chapman: Gold To Stand Against Big Devaluations "What we are about to tell you may be the most important information that we have imparted in almost 50 years. something very bad is looming – we don’t know the exact configuration yet, but we think the key is the collapse of the dollar, which will send gold and silver to considerably higher prices. These events could unfold over the next 2 to 4 months. There could be devaluation and default of the US dollar and American debt. You must have at least a 6-month supply of freeze dried and dehydrated foods, a water filer for brackish water, and assault weapons with plenty of ammo and clips. You should put as much of your wealth as you can in gold and silver coins and shares. You should not own any stocks in the stock market except gold and silver shares, you should not own bonds the exception being Canadian government securities, you should not own CDs, cash value life insurance policies and annuities. And, needless to say, except for your home you should be totally out of real estate, residential and commercial because it will remain illiquid for many years to come."

Peter Schiff Vlog Report 29 May 2009

Safecastle's semi-annual 25% Off Mountain House storage food sale ends on June 5th. Members 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.

  o o o

Cheryl and Brett both sent this: Study: Global Recession Making World More Violent, Unstable

   o o o

More news from Cousin Kim's Proletarian Paradise of Paranoia: North Korea Nuke Progress Sign Of "Dark Future", and North Korea Preparing to Fire ICBM

   o o o

Reader "OSOM" mentioned that Gary North has just launched a free web site, Deliverance from Debt, to help Christians get out of the debt trap. It would also doubtless be useful for non-Christians.

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." - Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'm not very certain Solar Panels or photovoltaic (PV) Modules if you prefer) are up to surviving electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Solar Panel manufacture is akin to basically creating large scale photosensitive semiconductors and few manufacturers will quote even static electricity resistance, much less EMP resistance. Additionally, most PV modules have bypass diodes to protect cells. Some designs put these diodes in the junction boxes, while others incorporate them more integrally in the PV assembly.
Obviously the controllers are at great risk, but the modules themselves are not free from risk.

About the only references to PV and EMP you can find are discussions concerning space deployed PV Modules being at risk to solar flares, which have many characteristics of an EMP event.

I just made some queries with contacts at University of Manchester and Michigan Tech. They told me that there that almost no EMP test results have been released to public domain, but that their Aerospace departments feel that PV Arrays are vulnerable at the junction level as well as the wiring diode matrix and controller levels.

The [PV-powered] satellite literature repeats the observation that even a minor solar flare can wipe years to decades off of the life of a PV array and a full coronal mass ejection (CME) will take the array out. Though an EMP [cascade waveform] is not exactly the same radiation, the corollary is there.

Several of the Disaster Shelter Builders state that PV Panels are at risk in EMP and include shielded storage for "after the event panels." I wonder whether that is marketing hype or good science? For now, this is the best that I can find. - Steve W.


Mr. Rawles,
There is a very detailed 4-part article about EMP protection for Amateur Radio equipment. It's a study that was done by the ARRL in the mid 1980s. Product model numbers and such have changed, but the basic concepts haven't. If you want to just skip to the recommendations, go to "Part 4 of "Electromagnetic Pulse and the Radio Amateur".

In a nutshell, they make the following recommendations:
1. Your equipment will not survive a direct lightning hit no matter how well protected. EMP or near-misses can be protected against.
2. Install a high-quality surge protector on all AC power cords. You'll need to shop around to find one with the highest possible rating.
3. Install coax surge protectors (available from most ham radio suppliers) within 6 feet of the radio equipment to be protected.
4. Install a grounding antenna switch and keep the antennas grounded when not in use. (Note: antenna switches are often used when folks have multiple radios/antennas, such as a CB and ham radio or a 2 Meter VHF radio and a scanner. Make grounding the antennas part of your checklist when shutting down the station after use.
5. Get a piece of Copper plate or thick sheet metal, install it on the wall or workbench your equipment is on, and attach all equipment grounds and protection devices to this. Install a good Earth ground, per their guide. This basically consists of 2 or more standard electrical grounding rods connected with #6 solid Copper wire that is buried. I've found that the electrical panel bonding lugs sold in [building] contractor stores work great for this.

Finally, the book Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearney [Available for free download] states that equipment such as hand held radios with short antennas (less than 14") should be okay against EMP. Grid connected electronics would be more vulnerable, and stuff with long antennas worse still.
Here are some quick links to EMP protection devices:

Solar Panel charge controller protection.

Coax lightning protection (manufacturer)

Cheers, - JN-EMT

Jim -
I've been reading your blog for a while now. Just thought I'd weigh in briefly on the anesthesia issue. For background, I am a general pediatrician with experience in emergency pediatrics. Also, I am a fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.

Three quick points:

1. Under the vast majority of circumstances it is possible to work on mild to moderate traumatic injuries in children without anything more than local anesthesia. Papuses work great and should be considered as part of an advanced medical kit that is intended to treat children. If a papuse is too expensive or bulky, there are all sorts of ways to immobilize children with sleeping bags, pillow cases, sheets, etc. (one just has to use imagination - for example, try both arms in a pillow case across the back). Obviously, the papuse idea only addresses immobilization of the patient and does not assist with pain management. However, even in an academic pediatric emergency department, we often concluded that the risks of non-anesthesiologists administering anesthesia outweighed our concerns about pain.

2. Dermabond is one of my favorite products. The screaming and struggling at the University of Chicago pediatric emergency department dropped by 95% when Dermabond was introduced to the market. It's a bit pricey but very simple to use. I never had any "formal" training in dermabond use because it was simply unnecessary. Carefully reading the instructions should suffice for survival oriented self-training on the product. My biggest concern would be to avoid gluing an eye shut. Even a glued eye is not a disaster as can slowly be reopened with cooking oil and massage. People have suggested on your web site, as well as at Wilderness Medical Society meetings, that super glue (same active ingredient - cyanoacrylate) could be used for the same purpose. However, I have personally found it to take much longer to dry and to be far less reliable at keeping the wound closed. Just last weekend I tried a new rubberized formulation of super glue on a laceration of my own and was disappointed to find that it peeled away the very next day - something I have never observed with Dermabond. Lastly, Dermabond can successfully be used on joints as long as it they are immobilized. This is less of a concern in children than it might be in adults who might have to remain physically active.

3. I've personally experienced a hematoma block. Several years ago, I had a broken rib that was so painful I couldn't breathe except in small gasps. Worried about the possibility of a secondary pneumonia, my doctor injected hydrocortisone and lidocaine directly into the fracture site. The block worked great and I was able to breathe normally again.

On another note, I have noted a number of formulas on your blog for mixing up wound cleansing solutions. The current research based consensus at the Wilderness Medical Society is that wounds may be cleansed with plain drinking water. So, simply treat questionable water with a filter, by boiling, or with an appropriate chemical agent and leave it at that. In fact, a Camelbak (or similar system) is an ideal wound cleansing device. Just put the bladder under an armpit and squeeze a large volume stream of drinking water from the tube directly into the wound. The mouthpiece itself can either be carefully washed or simply removed prior to use. - A.F., M.D.

In what must be one of the the most monumentally bad investments in history, the American taxpayers are now the majority owners of General Motors (GM), which presently has a market capitalization of around $480 million. The cost? We bought our 70% stake in GM for a paltry $50 billion. When I last checked, shares of GM were selling at 64 cents each, and GM (now nicknamed "Government Motors") has filed for bankruptcy protection. I suppose that they'll tell us that we can "make up for it, on volume." Not wanting to miss out on a piece of the action in the deal of the Century, "the Canadian and Ontario governments are putting in $9.5 billion for a 12.5% stake."

Reader HPD mentioned Mish Shedlock's most recent missive (or should I say "Mishive'?): More Prime Foreclosures; More Re-Defaults

Also from HPD comes this Wall Street Journal piece: Black Swan Fund Makes a Big Bet on Inflation

Fred The Valmetmeister recommended Chris Laird's latest commentary on the commodities markets posted at the Kitco site.

L.L. sent this: Geithner tells China its dollar assets are safe. L.L.'s comment: "Yes, perhaps they'll get their money back, but will the dollar be worth anything in five or ten years?"

From GG: A Pessimistic Assessment, Especially for Europe; Commentary from Niall Ferguson, Transatlantic Author and Academic

Also from GG: Elliott Wave Guru Sees Dark Days Ahead

From Florida Guy, a New York Times article: Industry Fears Americans May Quit New Car Habit

Lorraine sent us a link to an informative video clip on how to use a Food Saver to vacuum pack mason type jars. The creative part is in the second half of the video. Don't miss it.
   o o o

The Risk of Coastal "Pop-up" Hurricanes . (Thanks to Roy D. for the link.)

   o o o

Seth sent us a link to an interesting PDF: Freedom Rankings of 50 States

"Once again, recall the story of banks hiding explosive risks in their portfolios. It is not a good idea to trust corporations with matters such as rare events because the performance of these executives is not observable on a short-term basis, and they will game the system by showing good performance so they can get their yearly bonus. The Achilles’ heel of capitalism is that if you make corporations compete, it is sometimes the one that is most exposed to the negative Black Swan that will appear to be the most fit for survival." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007)

Monday, June 1, 2009

It was tough to judge the 24 excellent entries in the most recent round of the SurvivalBlog Non-Fiction Writing Contest. The grand prize winner is: Mike U., for his article "Unconventional Wisdom for CCW Permit Holders", which was posted on May 19th. He will receive a three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for his choice of three-day civilian courses. He will also receive two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

2nd Prize goes to RangerDoc, for "Health, Hygiene, Fitness and Medical Care in a Coming Collapse", posted on May 8th. He will receive a"grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of $350.

3rd Prize goes to Jim B., for "Preparing Your Family for 'Interesting' Times: A Covenantal Christian Perspective", posted on April 8th. He will receive a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, courtesy of Arbogast Publishing

Honorable mention prizes go to four writers. They will each receive a $30 Amazon.com gift certificate.

Note to the prize winners: Please e-mail me to let me know your snail mail addresses!
Today we begin Round 23 of the writing contest. This round of the contest will end on July 31st.


Since our readership is still growing rapidly (nearly doubled in the past 10 months!) , I've just increased the SurvivalBlog advertising rates by 10%. (At this point I have almost too many advertisers!)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read your blog every day and enjoy all of the helpful information that you and your readers post on a daily basis. I just wanted to pass along this information on edible weeds that can be found in ones backyard or about anywhere where plants can be grown. To most people weeds are just that, weeds that need to be destroyed to keep the yard or their property looking nice. But some weeds can also be eaten if a person knows how to identify them and cook them properly. In the event of a worst case scenario these 'weeds' can help sustain a person or a family for a brief period of time or be a nice addition to stored food, providing needed fresh veggies and nutrients.

The following is a list of some of the most commonly found 'weeds' in a yard or field that can be edible:

Burdock (Arctium lappa) Cultivated as a vegetable in Japan where it is known as gobo. The stalks are scraped and cooked like celery. The roots can be eaten raw in salads or added to stir fries.

Cattail (Typha latifolia)
The pollen can be used to enrich flour. The unripe flower spikes can be cooked as a vegetable and the young shoots and inner stems are eaten raw or cooked.

Century plant (Agave americana)
The flower stems and leaf bases can be roasted and eaten. Certain species can be made into alcoholic drinks such as tequila.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Can be added raw to salads or cooked as a vegetable.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
The roots of this plant are used as a coffee additive. The sky blue flowers are also edible and make a terrific addition to salads.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
The flowers can be made into wine or jelly. The roots are sometimes used as a coffee substitute. The young leaves make a nice addition to salads.

Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides)
A tropical American weed commonly used in Mexican cooking to flavor corn, beans, mushrooms, seafood, fish, soups, and sauces.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis)
The young leaves add a mild garlic flavor to salads, sandwiches, and soups.

JWR Adds: Exercise caution when gathering weeds on any land--whether public or private--that is outside of your personal control. Don't overlook the risk that you could collect weeds that have been recently spayed with herbicides! Also, just as when mushroom picking, be absolutely sure that you are gathering the intended item. A mistake could prove fatal.

Dear JWR:
As a practicing anesthesiologist, I felt it necessary to respond to Scott N.'s article about TEOTWAWKI anesthesia. First, let me complement Scott N. for the well written article as well as bringing up the issue in the first place. Although it may be interpreted as self serving, I also have to strongly agree with JWR's admonishment that this is not something to "try at home".

In a sense, we in the anesthesia field have somewhat become victims of our own success. It wasn't that long ago that the risk of anesthesia (not the risk of the surgery) was the main consideration in whether a surgical procedure was even attempted. Today, you are probably more likely to die in a car accident driving in to the hospital for your electively scheduled surgical procedure, than from anesthesia. Anesthesia practitioners used to have one of the highest rates for medical malpractice insurance, now it is one of the lowest. These advances in patient safety are multi factorial. Anesthesia providers are some of the most highly trained individuals in the medical field, advances in monitoring (both invasive and non-invasive) has completely eclipsed what was available even 20 years ago and medications, while becoming much more potent, have also become much more precise in their effect. These three factors have led to the risk of anesthesia becoming almost an afterthought.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, all three of these factors would likely be unavailable. One should be reminded that "lethal injection" is in effect an induction of general anesthesia (the initial medications are the same), and the only difference is the absence of an anesthesia provider at the patients head. It has been stated (although a significant exaggeration), that sodium thiopental (Pentothal) killed more Americans at Pearl Harbor than did the Japanese.

There are three main types of anesthesia. The first being General Anesthesia (GA), which is a state of unconsciousness and is the normal public perception of what anesthesia is. General anesthesia is described as a triad of states: Analgesia (lack of response to painful stimuli), Amnesia (lack of memory of the event) and Muscle Relaxation (a reduction or obliteration of muscle tone). General anesthesia is accomplished by a combination of medications administered by intravenous and/or inhalational routes. General anesthesia requires that the anesthesia provider take responsibility for the patient's ABC's (Airway, Breathing and Circulation). The second is Regional Anesthesia, which is accomplished by injecting local anesthetics (numbing medicine) around a central or major peripheral nerve, thus effecting anesthesia in a "region" of the body, such as an arm or leg or "below the waist". Spinal, epidural and brachial plexus blocks are routine examples. The third is local anesthesia, which is accomplished by injecting local anesthetics into the soft tissues around the area where a procedure is performed. Typical examples are dental procedures and wound closure (stitches). Even though the latter two do not necessarily include a state of unconsciousness, supplemental sedation, which frequently causes amnesia, leads many people to believe that they "went to sleep" (i.e. were under general anesthesia) when in fact they were not.

In a survival situation, infiltration or local anesthesia would be the preferred technique. An experienced surgeon can even perform an appendectomy under infiltration anesthesia. While local anesthetic drugs (lidocaine, bupivicaine etc.) do have toxic side effects, these can be mostly prevented by avoiding injecting directly into an artery or vein (aspirating the syringe before injecting) and avoiding a "toxic dose" by using no more than one bottle for an adult (this is an oversimplification but is correct more times than not). Having an inexperienced individual stick needles into major nerves or take responsibility for a patient's ABC's raises the risk profile to astronomical proportions. - NC Bluedog


I feel compelled to say that as a subject matter expert--an MD Anesthesiologist, in fact--on administering anesthesia, the publication of the article, " Anesthesia for Traumatic Times, by Scott N., EMT" is fraught with peril. I wouldn't have published it.Your web site lends an aura of credibility to whatever people read there, at least it does to me. It can however encourage people to try things that they ought to think twice about. More to the point, it can make people believe they are more medically trained than they actually are. As such, the article on anesthesia shares in that aura which it simply does not merit!

Although the author begins to describe the classic "Stages" of General Anesthesia, he should point out that while we in the business still do refer to "Stage 2" under certain circumstances; proper use of these stages is described only for ether anesthesia. Even though the author then goes on in fact to describe the use of ether; I will describe why no one should.

The author then confuses these stages with the goals of an anesthetic: Asleep (unconsciousness), Analgesia, Amnesia, Akinesia, and Autonomic Stability- colloquially known as the Five "A's" of Anesthesia. I guess that I am a purist, but if the author is going to describe such a "make do with what you have" in a SHTF scenario on such a serious and potentially deadly topic, then the terms should be used as they are professionally understood.

As a matter of background and to make a point, the most standard sedation scale we use is the Ramsay Scale, which describes everything in six stages from mild sedation (peaceful, tranquil, awake and aware) to deep anesthesia (stone-cold out; complete with loss of airway, respiratory arrest, and vital sign changes). The point is: As a rule, a practitioner must be trained to manage an airway of a patient one level deeper than the anesthesia you plan to administer. In other words, at Ramsay score of 3 (what is commonly referred to as "moderate sedation", "conscious sedation" or "twilight anesthesia"); the patient still maintains their own airway; but at stage 4 can begin to lose airway reflexes; even the practitioner of moderate sedation needs to be able to manage a [compromised] airway. You are not only substandard; you are dangerous if you can't!

How does this relate to the original article: vinyl ether was never popular since it induced deep anesthesia too quickly. Oops, that was fast- hope for your patient's sake that you know how to manage the airway! The author, an EMT, certainly can- what about your readership at large?

Also, ether doesn't just make you a little sick; it is (or was) notorious for causing post-op nausea and vomiting. It caused intra-op nausea and vomiting! Vomiting is one thing, but sucking the vomitus back into your lungs, called aspiration, is a catastrophe. The mortality approaches 30% in young, healthy patients, and leaves them with the lungs of a 70-year smoker if they survive. Aspiration gets worse from there. Prevention of aspiration, for those who don't know, is the main reason we ask people to fast before surgery- so their stomachs are as empty as possible.

In addition, giving herbal extracts and whatnot by mouth increase the amount of stuff in your stomach. Since adding ether to a stomach full of anything is a recipe for aspiration. Do not be fooled by saying that its barely a mouthful of total volume. The standard for having higher risk for aspiration is a paltry 25cc's in your stomach. The average adult single "mouthful" ranges from 80-150cc's.

Indeed, ether was almost abandoned in its infancy because of an aspiration death. A historical anecdote for another time.

There are some other bad effects, both pharmaceutical and physical, of the agents that need to be discussed. Ethers are associated with both acute and delayed hepatic necrosis, and even hepatic failure; they are flammable as both liquid and gas. The liquid is lighter than water and the gas heavier than air, so they can flow and migrate long distances to pick up a spark. And where diethyl ether is flammable (and explosive in enclosed spaces/high concentrations), vinyl ether is explosive! In fact, old operating rooms had extensive protections against heat, flame, sparks, even static electricity (rubber mats and rubber soled shoes in place, after a few demolished hospitals and personnel deaths! The fire potential of these agents is no joke.

More, is the "survival source' of ether going to be pure? Common contaminants include peroxides, formed spontaneously by exposure to air(oxygen) which are explosive. Inhale that? not me.

Ultram, Toradol, etc- good drugs for their intended purposes- again if you know how to use them. I haven't got too much to say on them at this time.

The herb that Mr. N spends a bit of time describing, Salvia divinorum, has of course not yet made it into the mainstream medical practice. I remain open to the idea, especially since I know Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) would potentially be a boon to anesthetic practice; but because of bad press [about its nefarious and now notorious use as a "date rape" drug] will not be anytime soon. The "establishment" in medicine is well-known for badmouthing things that they don't like (GHB, anabolic steroids, etc) even when faced with much evidence that the drug has useful medical purposes. So while I can't say how effective the salvia is, I also can't say its safe. Also, while inhalation anesthesia is well established in anesthetic practice, smoking is not. Especially smoking near [explosive] ether!

I have long thought of how I can potentially contribute to your work. Even though anesthesia is the skill I can most confidently share; I have resisted writing on the subject for the reasons expressed and implied in this letter. Sincerely, - Dr. Gaston Passer

I pray all is well with you and your family.
Scott N.'s article on Anesthesia is a fine piece to which I would add but little:
Creative use of local anesthetics can preclude the need for a general anesthetic.

1.) Hematoma Blocks: This involves injecting the local anesthetic (no epinephrine) directly into the blood collection at the site of the fracture, etc. This method provides excellent relief for setting bones or otherwise dealing with the appropriate trauma.

2.) Regional Blocks: This method combines a knowledge of anatomy with local anesthetics to block sensation in a nerve bundle supplying a specific region. Although easy in practice, it is best to use a textbook to guide you.

Look around for texts like Regional Anesthesia: An Illustrated Procedural Guide, by Mulroy. There are many fine ones out there. {Remember latest edition is not always greatest edition. Many times medical book edition changes are there to just add the newer drugs and many times they drop "older", but more practical information.}
Hypnosis is a relatively easy to learn and very effective technique for pain control and anesthesia. Most people are susceptible. I've seen it used in major knee replacement surgery with success. I have personally used self-hypnosis it for pain control at times.

One other note: Tramadol is an excellent painkiller. It has a fairly rapid onset, relieves a high degree of pain effectively and is a non-schedule (not subject to DEA scrutiny) drug. On the down-side, it is addictive (although the PDR denies this). Having worked with numerous patients who began taking it according to recommendations, I have seen that even those who never exceeded the proper dosage have a difficult time withdrawing off of it. It appears to affect the serotonin system (same system affected by newer antidepressants and ecstasy) in the brain to a degree beyond the measurable blood levels after taking it for even a short time. I have not precluded use of it in my kit, however. Forewarned is forearmed. My recommendations are to use it sparingly and infrequently. In those instances where a continuous high degree of pain relief is necessary, expect the withdrawal to occur. It can last up to two to four weeks. Thanks to Scott N. for his excellent article and to you, James, for your efforts to assist all of us. - Doc Gary

JWR Replies: I must repeat the proviso to SurvivalBlog readers that anesthesia is an art and science that should be left to professionals. Don't kid yourself into thinking that reading a few textbooks somehow qualifies you for anything beyond administering a light local anesthetic, if and when times get Schumeresque. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the letter "DIY Baking Powder Solves a Shelf Life Dilemma", Baking soda can be used alone with any acid, whether powdered -- like what's added to baking powder -- or liquids like buttermilk (the fermented kind, not the leftover liquids from sweet butter), yogurt, kefir, sour cream, lemon or lime juice, vinegar.

Since baking powder is made with baking soda, I didn't understand why some people claim they don't like the [alkaline] baking soda taste. But then I found
this on the Ellen's Kitchen site:

"The problem with baking soda is that it releases the gas all at once! So if the cake batter sits around for a while before you get it in the oven or it you beat the batter too much, the leavening will be lost and your baked goods will be flat. You don't want to add too much either, because the taste is rather salty and you'd have to add more acid too. If you don't have enough acid to react with the baking soda [then] you won't release the gas, plus your cake or muffins will have a bitter or soapy taste because of the unreacted bicarbonate."

Since I live in a humid area, I store mine in a Mason jar that's been put into a vacuum device similar to this one at the Instructables site. [JWR Adds: A jar lid ar adapter can be used with a Food Saver vacuum sealer, to the same effect.]

Thanks for your info, - Shreela


The recent discussion of baking powder prompted me to remember a book I inherited from my Father titled "War-Time Guidebook for the Home" published by the Popular Science publishing company.
This out-of-print book is in in my opinion is second only to the Bible as the next most necessary book a citizen devoted to serious preparedness needs to have available, rating even higher than the Foxfire series.

Though some formulae in the first part of the book are archaic, many are virtually lost to "modern" society and relevant if or when the supply chain most rely on collapses, including how to make glues, cosmetics, poultices, beverages, etching compounds, cements, medicines, etc.

The second part of the book is a general fix-it guide for the home and farm and covers woodworking, plumbing, painting, electrical, heating, furniture and is a how to guide to "make do or do without" Thank you for your helpful web site. - E.C., Whitefish, Montana

Navy to Try Swine Flu Vaccine on Human Subjects

Eton Closed After Positive Swine Flu Test

The WHO's tally of countries where H1N1 has spread does not bode well for next winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Let's just pray that it doesn't mutate into a more deadly strain.

Reader DEK sent this: Zoellick Warns Stimulus ‘Sugar High’ Won’t Stem Unemployment

Long known as a propaganda outlet, Pravda occasionally gets a few things right: American capitalism gone with a whimper.(This piece was mentioned by more than a dozen SurvivalBlog readers.)

Items from The Economatrix:

GDP Drops For Second Consecutive Quarter

Troubled Bank Loans Hit Record High

BofA Lead Director Resigns; More Pressure on CEO

Jefferson County, Alabama, Out of Money in Two Weeks After Tax Repealed

Financial Markets And Economic Crash, The Next Leg Down Will Be Worse "Make no mistake - we are selling off our future and the future of our children to prevent the bondholders of U.S. financial corporations from taking losses. We are using public funds to protect the bondholders of some of the most mismanaged companies in the history of capitalism, instead of allowing them to take losses that should have been their own. All our policy makers have done to date has been to squander public funds to protect the full interests of corporate bondholders. Even Bear Stearns bondholders can expect to get 100% of their money back, thanks to the generosity of Bernanke, Geithner and other bureaucrats eager to hand out the money of ordinary Americans."

Bottoming Consumer Prices And Commodities "It is utterly preposterous to assume that Mr. and Mrs. America dug in the couch and found that kind of money [Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 increased $2.4T from March to May 09] and decided to invest it. It is even more preposterous considering the environment that the real economy is dealing with at this time. Job losses have been staggering and persistent, it is demonstrably difficult for the unemployed to find work, and house prices are still falling like an elephant dropped from the Empire State Building. How else do we know this increase didn’t come from the real economy? Let’s look at past behavior. When the government handed out $168 billion in stimulus checks – essentially ‘free money’ - did the public invest it in the stock market? No. The public paid bills, or saved it – much to the consternation of the government. So where did this dramatic bear market rally come from? In my opinion, it came from large institutional investors – many of the same people who had their coffers stuffed with TARP money over the past 6 months and the same folks who were essentially given a free pass a while back when the rules for mark to market accounting were relaxed. So what we have here is largely an inflationary rally. ... But it isn’t just the stock market. It is the commodities markets as well, and this is where it gets bad for consumers. We are about to witness a wave of inflation, a magnitude of which has never before been seen in America."

Still Working, But Making Do With Less

The recent AP wire service article on survivalism certainly has grown some long legs. To date, it has been featured on CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Breitbart, Yahoo News, the Drudge Report, NPR, the Huffington Post, newspapers in more than 40 states, at least a dozen television news web sites, and even overseas in The Jerusalem Post.

   o o o

NOAA Issues New Solar Cycle Prediction. (Thanks to Paul B. for the link.)

   o o o

From reader R.M.: Ideas For Self Sufficient Living During Financially Turbulent Times

   o o o

Jim W., a missionary, recommended a visit to the Basic Utility Vehicle web site

"The best things in history are accomplished by people who get tired of being shoved around." - Robert A. Heinlein

All Content on This Web Site Copyright 2005-2014 All Rights Reserved - James Wesley, Rawles - SurvivalBlog.com

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2009 is the previous archive.

July 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Visitor Map



counter customisable
Unique visits since July 2005. More than 320,000 unique visits per week.